Improved Orders Symbology!

The changes between the two systems are quite subtle - that is until you start to see them moving. That said, what is immediately apparent here is that the new system's curved and straight arrows are now harmonised in terms of look and feel.

In a static picture the changes between the old and new systems are quite subtle. You have to see the system moving to experience the full effects of the enhancements (see video at the end of this post). That said, what is immediately apparent above, is that the new system’s curved and straight arrows are now harmonised in terms of look and feel.

Although most of my time is tied up learning ASP.Net MVC in preparation for my next job, I have found a little time to tweak some of the existing subsystems in Ancient Armies.

First to come under the spotlight was the orders symbology subsystem.

There was a lot about it that really grated against my engineering perfectionism….

Firstly, there’s the ghastly oscillation of the symbols when the units are moving. If you watch any of the previous Ancient Armies videos you will see the movement arrows bouncing up and down as the units moved!

Not on my watch! This kind of amateurish behaviour has to go!

Secondly, and perhaps much more importantly, was the issue of how the units interpreted the orders:

On the left is the old system. Here one can see that a unit will stop when its centre reaches the tip of the order arrow. However, on the right is the new system, where the unit will move right up until its leading edge arrives at the tip of the arrow.

On the left is the old system. Here one can see that a unit will stop when its centre reaches the tip of the order arrow. However, on the right is the new system, where the unit will move right up until its leading edge arrives at the tip of the arrow.

Having the units move until their centre points rested on the end of the movement arrows makes for a system that it is very difficult for a player to accurately order a unit to a specific location.

As a result I felt this behaviour had to go too!

Under the new system, units move up to their leading edges. This makes it much easier for a player to align a unit with other units and any linear terrain features that are on the map – something that would have been quite difficult to pull off in the old system.

Sorting out the rather dodgy animations and the way the orders were interpreted sounds rather noddy and trivial, but alas it was not. Consider the following screenshot:

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Triangles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :P

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Triangles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ๐Ÿ˜› (Click for full sized image)

In reality everything in the game is composed of triangles – regardless of what theirย outward appearances might otherwise suggest. This is because video game cards are optimised to only work well with triangles.

The upshot of this is that I have to write code that calculates every triangle in a scene in realtime! If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, the system also demands that all triangles are to be drawn clockwise, further adding to calculation complexity.

So despite being a small subsystem, it certainly gave my brain a good work out! ๐Ÿ˜€

The video below compares the old system against the new system, so that you can judge for yourself whether the improvements are worthwhile. In addition, as an added bonus, I include some footage of Ancient Armies operating in raw triangle mode so that you can see the calculations happening before your eyes! <Cue Circus drum roll!>

Best viewed in HD!

That’s it for this week. Time to play with ASP.Net MVC, Razor and IOC containers!

Laters

RobP

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4 thoughts on “Improved Orders Symbology!

  1. Very nice Rob… looking very professional, in fact its looking far better than many professional games.

    I still wish you had maintained the 3D map… having both 2D and 3D options would really be nice… especially because you could have a headquarters in the Saddle mode, where you restrict the view to the commanders… then have a friendly FOW system that impacts the 2D map view. I know, off topic. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Thanks Bil. The 3d maps were a casualty of time and the lack of my artistic skills. Hopefully, if the game gets off the ground, it will enable me to hire a graphics artist, then I can look at bringing it back ๐Ÿ™‚

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