Build 45

Changelist for build 45 of Grid12:

  • Fix some broken disarm visuals
  • Fix bug where some augments were not working when newly purchased
  • Add new stats widget that shows Stage3d draw calls and triangles
  • Batch ground panes into shared textures

Build 44

Changelist for build 44 of Grid12:

  • A new test client produced by the Flash Builder 4.7 compiler
  • Adjust Silver shields
  • Buff Mustang shields
  • Buff Corsair damage
  • Reduce Wildfire lightning range while buffed; reduce rate of fire
  • Increase Wolverine shield regen trigger cooldown; decrease DoT damage
  • Attempt to improve server performance by ticking offscreen objects less frequently
  • Adjust width and height of healthbars based on amount of health and minion vs building
  • Remove lenses
  • Recolor some loot bags
  • Log Stage3D driver info to chat at startup

Build 43

Changelist for build 43 of Grid12:

  • Add VP tank unlock system
  • Remove Cobra, Scorpion, Pegasus & Peacekeeper
  • Reset everyone's victory points and augments
  • Remove XP indicator
  • Rearrange HUD just a bit
  • Reduce Hurricane's "infinite" target limit to 8
  • Take target radius into account when deciding what target is closest
  • Make shotguns work even if center of target is not hit

Build 42

Changelist for build 42 of Grid12:

  • Add health bars (enable/disable them with 'J')
  • Add Fury triggers: Micronova, Differential Grav Mine, Chronoton Hyperboost, Mass-Energy Transform
  • Add Wildfire triggers: Mass Projection, Positive Target Lock, Dimensional Shift, Plasma Injection
  • Fix bug giving Wildfire infinite lightning targets
  • Add more info to region tooltips including personal stats
  • Fix bug that was causing hangs in login/register screen
  • Preserve HP & cooldowns, and deplete shields, on tank change
  • Restrict /leave and /tutorial to tutorial and overworld respectively
  • Fix turret spin bug, I hope
  • Require that all /choosename names be alphanumeric
  • Add cooldown on /choosename
  • Add /help command
  • Update title screen to reflect closed alpha status

Grid12

Today we at Jetbolt would like to introduce the project that we've been working on for the last few months, a co-op Flash MMO called Grid12. In Grid12, you and lots of other players drive tanks, battling the enemies who've taken over the world. You collect loot, discover bases, unlock new tanks, build facilities and work together with your friends to reconquer the grid.

Since our initial launch last August, we've enjoyed working with a terrific group of pre-alpha testers. These folks have really helped us out. Thank you!

Grid12 now moves into its "closed alpha" testing phase. You are welcome to help us! If you would like to playtest the game, you'll need to get an invite code from an existing tester. Try asking for a code in the Grid12 forums.

We hope to see you in the grid sometime soon!

Autoaim, autofire

Aiming and firing a weapon are fundamental actions in most combat games. It's pretty much all you do in first person shooters. Certainly my previous project Realm of the Mad God relied heavily on aiming and shooting. On the other extreme, Gratuitous Space Battles gives you no control at all, over anything!

In my current project at Jetbolt, players have vehicular avatars: tanks and other heavily armed vehicles. Some of the tanks have forward-mounted guns, but other weapons may point to the sides or rear. Some weapons are turreted, rotating a full 360 degrees. Some guns can hit only aerial targets, some can hit only ground-bound enemies, while others can target anything. There are single-target laser beams, area-affect shotgun sprays, delayed-blast mines and more.

Although Jetbolt's MMO has plenty of guns and shooting, players can neither aim nor fire. We are striving for a mouse-only control scheme that lets players operate the game with one hand free. We'd also like the control scheme to scale up to big vehicles with 10, 20 or more guns. Rather than make the player control all of that, we're having the computer do the aiming and firing, while the player concentrates on positioning and orienting the vehicle, bringing the biggest guns and the thickest armor to bear on the situation at hand.

There is risk in this approach: it may not work at all, or it may work but be unappealing to an audience used to aiming and shooting manually. But in some sense we have no choice but to try strange new things. Small indie projects can't compete with big-budget studios on quantity of 3D assets, dialogue voiceover coverage or cut-scene fidelity. Innovation is the only viable strategy for a small team in a field dominated by giants. So I hope it will work!

Class customization

My introduction to role-playing games came from Dungeons and Dragons, the red box. Of course I was captivated. You could be a fighter, a magic-user, even an elf. What an awesome concept!

A few years later, I played another pen-and-paper game called Champions. This was a superhero game, and the amazing thing about it was that you could be any kind of hero you wanted. There were no rigid character classes; instead, you bought your hero's abilities with character points. There seemed to be no limit to what type of character you could make.

These days, most people experience role-playing games on a computer. But the old "fixed classes vs point-buy" debate still goes on. Some games make you pick from a menu of predefined classes, while others let you heavily customize your class through skill trees or even build your own class from scratch.

Although the number of choices in a point buy system seems limitless, in reality, dedicated players quickly figure out which builds are the best ones. As these builds get published on wikis and message boards, the community converges on a very small set of viable character types. Meanwhile, newbies faced with a near-infinite set of choices shrug and just pick something, and that something tends to have sub-par effectiveness.

With fixed classes, the game designers carefully curate the types of experiences that the players will have. Designers make each class unique, and they carefully balance them to achieve the target gameplay. By contrast, the designers of a point-buy system essentially leave the set of classes up to the vagaries of emergence. And so I think predefined classes are better.