Forensic Friday 70: A Short Interlude


Hey Readers! #

Just as a little preface, this Forensic Friday was lost to time, being delayed for several weeks! This Forensic Friday will be short and sweet.

Welcome to Forensic Friday 70. It’s honestly insane we got this far, 70 is a big number! Though our readership may not be huge, these blogs have gone a long way in helping us stay consistent and on top of development. Regardless of whether the game finds a player base or not, when we get this game done. It’ll be a great achievement for us. Hopefully, that time is soon! Though the definition of done is a blurred one, just completing the roadmap itself would be a great achievement for us! Anyways, this Forensic Friday, we are tying up loose ends with Category C onboarding features as we push forward (well both forward and backwards actually, but that’s beside the point) towards the end of the roadmap.

Wandering and Stargazing #

We removed the ability for NPCs to wander quite a while back when we started implementing the utility AI back in Forensic Friday 45. Well, that ability is back, and works well for making the NPCs feel more alive, even though wandering is largely unuseful! We also gave NPCs the ability to stargaze! There is still some polish to do here, as with every feature!

Flooding #

The water flooding system has had a revamp. The original implementation was quite horrific looking back! The problem was that the cellular automata ruleset was running on each water cell instead of all of them at once! So it leads to a lot of race conditions and undesired behaviour. Water now behaves a lot nicer, and has better visuals which help integrate them with the game’s world. See below:


I also took the time to implement interactions with rain! However this is likely to be removed as the rainwater created is negligible, but the performance impact is not! Talking about rain, and weather systems in general will hopefully get a complete redo when we start implementing planet systems. Aside from the only features left are water being able to put out fires, NPCs drowning in water etc.

I also think it would be worth redoing fire to use a cellular automata approach rather than the mess that exists right now! The old me was a lot worse at coding than the current me!

Clearance UI #

Another addition our other programmer worked on was the UI for clearances which you can see below! Neat! It allows you to quite easily change the clearances of individual NPCs, divided into their separate designations. One aspect of polish would be linking these various menus together, so when you click on one menu, it brings you to another!


Onboarding Category Cs #

Another feature I worked on was finishing up the onboarding of Volunteers, or Category C. The volunteers come to the site via a shuttle bus, and you have to process them through 3 regions before they are fully integrated into your site.


The setup looks something like the image above! This whole feature heavily relies on the new NPC AI which we seem to love to mention in every paragraph. Did I mention we have a new AI system for NPCs?! Anyways, jokes aside, issues with the NPC AI are still being ironed out, but we are closer than ever to having a system that will last for the long haul. The more features we implement using it, and the more those features inevitably break and have bugs, the more mature the AI systems get as we fix those bugs. The hardest thing will be balancing all the various attributes that define the AI system, and making it reflect the personalities of NPCs. But that is something we will figure out as a continual process!

Cycle Information & Actions #

As an extension to the last feature, we implemented all the relevant stuff into the menu for volunteers on site. You can now schedule volunteers for release, view how long they are into their cycle, define whether they will be memory wiped, etc. It’s pretty neat! You can see how the menu looks below.


Issues #

One issue we ran into while building things is that it’s sometimes hard to tell when something is off. Whether that is a region that doesn’t have all of its requirements or some process that is not able to complete, certain things are not immediately obvious. So to solve that problem we made a small notepad which shows any outstanding issues that require resolving. It’s pretty simple, but very powerful, especially for the more advanced players. Eventually, you’ll be able to click on an issue and ping to where it is giving even more information. But we’ll leave it simple for now. You can see an example of it below.


Waypoints & Patrols #

As a part of the security measures batch, I worked on implementing waypoints & patrolling. A waypoint looks a little like this. A nametagged entity in the world.


Through this very rudimentary UI, you can create waypoints. It’s all quite self-explanatory.


Waypoints are used to define patrols, which are paths that security personnel will follow when working! Neat! You can see what that looks like in the video below:

Security NPC following patrol route

Waypoints will find other uses in the future, but for now, they are predominantly used for patrols. One can imagine them being used for weapon systems targeting, landing spots for deliveries etc. Who knows!

Restriction Zones #

I also spent some time implementing restriction zones, which link well to the id card system. Restriction zones are coloured areas that define how NPCs can move.


Zones in the architect menu, and placed in the world

NPCs need the appropriate clearance cards to traverse into restriction zones if they are being compliant. However, if they need to move through a zone to escape, then they will! So they aren’t stuck, but they will try their hardest to respect zones unless again, they are not compliant. Compliance is a feature we’ll introduce when we allow Category C to misbehave. Below you can see two rules in action.


Case Closed #

That’s about all we have for Forensic Friday 70! If the goal is to release the game by Forensic Friday 100, we definitely will make it with the pace we are going! But this is if every Forensic Friday is a feature-packed one! Anyways, time to close this case file, it’s overdue and Forensic Friday 71 awaits!

Case Closed.
The Team
Plasmarc Studios