After almost a year finally a new article. I wasn't idling, but on the one hand I had lots of other things to do (changed job, moved to a new country, made many new friends and discovered new activities like wall climbing), on the other hand I could not make significant progress on any of my projects, so there was nothing to write about.
I did not abandon the platformer engine, now and then I was tinkering with it. I have implemented the audio component, so game entities can have sound effects and music can be played in the background; I have added support for joysticks; and migrated to SFML 2.1 from 1.6, which was not trivial due to api changes, but was not hard either.
After a while there was not much work to do on the engine, it was time to start creating artwork - I could not postpone it any longer. So I designed a character, painted the required body parts, scanned and processed them with Gimp, tried to make a simple walk animation, and failed miserably. It just couldn't get it look good. The main reason is that the animation system I designed did not turn out as good as I expected. Without a skeleton it was hard to keep body proportions and find the correct positions and orientations of the parts. So I designed another animation system based on a skeleton, but could not find motivation to actually implement it.
Slowly the decision reaped in me that I should change to a game which does not require much animation, and then I decided I would try my hand at a GTA style game. Not the modern 3d GTAs, but the oldschool GTA 1 and 2 with top-down view. I researched my possibilities for physics and graphics, and finally decided to modify the platformer engine to be suitable for this game style instead of implementing a new engine from scratch. I went into a three day coding spree, and in the end I had the car and pedestrian physics, pseudo 3d buildings and very basic gameplay implemented.
The physics is based on this nice Box2D car example which I reimplemented in C++. It uses a body for the car, and a number of steered and/or driven wheels. The wheels can be placed anywhere on the body, so many different vehicles are possible: cars with front, rear or all-four-driving, motorbikes with 2 or 3 wheels, trucks and limos with 6 wheels. So I did not have to reinvent the wheel.
The game logic and physics are 2d, but buildings are drawn in 3d, which gives a sense of depth; just like in the original games. Vehicles and buildings do not need animation, but I’ll have to implement it for humans. I plan an animation system based on separately drawn frames (like in The Silliness of the Lambs), nothing complicated (like my attempts for the platformer).
The gameplay should be full with action, gunfights, speeding, blood, gore, explosion, all that is fun. Maybe I’ll add RPGish features as well. But I don’t promise anything, I have many other things to do in The Outside, and I also want to experiment with some other ideas… so eventually something will happen to it.