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Uphill Fast

This bizarro weekend was too good to be true, really.  I was actually left to my own devices, had two excellent games to play, and seem to have dodged any sense of major familial crisis this week.  Why does this feel like such a rarity?

When it was time to play, I mostly played Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age for the PC.  My characters are around level 22 now, and I have earned a goodly number of license points to get a smattering of effective skills to pick between.  Hard to say how far I am through the game now, but given the "time to beat" stats I found on the Internet, and how I'm taking the leisurely route, I'm going to say about 1/4th the way through the game.
Though the smaller job license boards in the Zodiac Age lack the flexibility of the original version (where everybody shared the same license board but started on different parts of it), the decisions I have unlocked are palpable enough to be interesting.  For example, a "sleep" spell to "mez" targets when we manage to aggro too many.  A "decoy" spell to keep the enemy focused on the tank.  And lets not forget good old fashioned Final Fantasy elemental vulnerabilities.

The gambit system is the grease that prevents the game from becoming a grind.  Travel though old areas often involves walking through fields of aggressive, easy fights, so it is nice to have some standing rules of engagement set so I can simply mosey through them and let the AI clean them up while the game runs at double speed.  Perhaps I'm simply too much the RPG burnout when I would rather let the game play itself, but there is still just enough potential for interaction that I need to pay attention for the greatest rewards. 
My 900m deep Subnautica base has everything I could want.  Except perhaps a source of Stalker teeth.
I managed to rekindle some interest in Subnautica, and I seem to be approaching the last few biomes the game has to offer.  As I mentioned in the last entry, just about everything in the game is a spoiler, so I can't say much about it.  However, I have largely conquered everything above 900m, and now am about to move on to the 900m-1300m biome.  There is one further depth module I can unlock after that, but I do not think there are that many biomes down there, just the start of the end game.

More importantly than what I have been playing, I managed to invest quite a bit of time into my own game development endeavors.
Though I have a goal of adding gameplay, it seems I am too easily distracted with the world building.  Perhaps that is more important to me.  This week saw me adding:
  • A whole different method of biome initialization.  Before, I was just scattering tiles directly to the map on a pattern derived from Perlin Noise.  Now, entire biome maps are scattered instead, and then the biomes have their own generation rules that lay the tiles.
  • Now that I added water biomes to the game (essentially oceans), I decided to split the world up into continents.  Thus, I added a world zone class that is basically just that: a zone in the world.  I could now do things like look up the largest land mass in the game.
  • I finally figured out how to make class/structures with multiple variables visible in lists/arrays the Unity inspector.  Turns out you just have to add a [System.Serializable] attribute before their definition (and of course make sure all the variables are declared as public).  This greatly opened up my ability to add cool procedural generation functionality to prefabs. 
  • Since my chunks looked really ugly when they were right next to each other, I brought back some Perlin Noise for blurring the edges of chunks so it neatly organically blends together.    
  • Created some special procedural generation rule sets that can get injected on top of the already existing biome rules in order to provide even more varied contents.  For example, the forest biome is just a bunch of loam, but I added an additional rule on top of that which adds trees.
  • Added coroutine-driven world generation.  I can now watch something happen on the screen while the world is being initialized.
  • Found out that empty Update() functions do get called, and when you have a lot of GameObjects that gets quite laggy.  Simply removing the function prevents that from happening.  Regained about 100FPS from about 30,000 empty calls across three components on my 10,000 chunk maps. 
It's all pretty cool and very encouraging to be making progress, but I am basically allowing myself to be sidetracked from the main goal of a playable game.  Well, in my defense, when a virtual world emphasis is as important as it is to my design, I really need some palpable places in order for the gameplay to make any sense.

Overall, it was a great bizarro weekend.  Only trouble is, when things go this well, time flies.  Back to the slog.


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