Dev. Journal Entry 05 Last Updated:
October 22nd, 2012
Vectorzone --- Development Journal
Considering the problems I was running into with collision detection I wasn't quite sure if I'd have a new alpha released today or not, but after I got past the bulk of the collision issues (there are still some minor ones) the remaining elements went by much more smoothly, so here we are with a new public alpha to download! :)
Firstly, the beginnings of the weapon system are now in place, as is the energy system. At the top right of the screen you now have an energy gauge. As you fire your weapons, energy is "Drained". Drained energy will rapidly regenerate so long as you stop firing. I put that in quotes because energy is not only used to fire your weapons, but it also functions as your health. Once there's actual gameplay going on and enemies to fight, when they shoot you, energy is "Depleted". Depleted energy cannot be regenerated automatically and has to be restored by picking up energy bonuses dropped by destroyed enemies, or by returning to an Mainframe System Interface (MSI) Access Node, which there will be one of in every sector.
The idea behind having an energy system like this is that as you take damage, you have to be more and more careful about how you attack, since your connection to the Vectorzone will be terminated if you hit 0 energy, depleted OR drained. However, all of the VACs you start with will have a special module installed that will protect you from draining energy to zero and will simply refuse to fire your weapons if you get that low. This is why energy doesn't presently bottom out and goes into negative numbers, which is a bug but will be remedied as more features are implemented.
This isn't actually my idea entirely. The very first game I ever played with a similar energy system was Air Fortress for the NES, which is a very fun but extremely difficult game in the later levels. (It's also one of the few games I own which I've never beaten.) In it, your energy can be drained and will restore on its own when you stop moving, but as enemies shoot you your maximum energy is drained instead.
There will be other considerations too in Vectorzone. For instance, you can modulate any weapon to use Plasma instead of Energy, which will drain from a separate Plasma tank, but this tank doesn't refill on its own. The incentive to use Plasma instead of Energy for some of your weapons is that Plasma weapons do enhanced damage over Energy weapons. You will keep a selection of up to four weapons at a time so you can decide for yourself how to set these up. There will also be ways to modulate weapons to use neither Energy or Plasma, but the modules necessary will be difficult to acquire.
Having weapons now also finally gets the point across as to just how tiny the tiles are, since you can now carve your way through the walls around you! Presently, the weapon you're given has been enhanced so that it's guaranteed to blast walls away, but later on you'll need to install modules to give your weapons better mining capabilities. Without these special modules, you can still damage the walls but it will take a lot longer to actually burn a tunnel through to an adjacent room. Basically, enjoy easily blasting away walls while you can. ;)
One other big change is the mapping modes and glow setting. Actually, these features were implemented in v0.021a, but I've perfected them a bit. The default setting is to show the glow effect and provide a solid depth effect with the map. However, the glow effect burns a VERY large amount of GPU power, requiring a pixel fill rate of roughly 3 GP/s or higher when running at high glow quality in order to maintain 60 FPS at 1920x1080 resolution. Most mid-end graphics cards, even from a few years ago, should suffice, but low-end cards or mobile/integrated chipsets probably won't cut it. In these cases, you'll need to turn the glow effect off to get your framerate up, but then the solid depth effect doesn't look so great.
So for people who can't get a decent framerate with the glow effect, there's now a second mapping mode which produces a translucent depth effect. This mode requires very little GPU power but looks much better without the glow effect enabled. This way, players now have the ability to choose what kind of graphics they want out of the game, though solid depth with glow and translucent depth with no glow are the two best combinations. You can also turn the depth effect off entirely if it bothers you, but again, the depth effect uses very little GPU power, it's the glow effect that can kill the framerate. Below is a comparison table of each combination of depth mode and glow mode. At present, these settings are temporary, though you can permanently alter them from the configuration file that's created.
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