APOCALYX is a...

free Game Engine based on OpenGL (MAIL) (SITE) (FORUM) (BLOG)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Radar screens

The core of MekaWars is its simulator. Ships, cargos, bombers, fighters and robots must interact in a "realistic" way with asteroids, laser beams, missiles, torpedos and so on. To test effectively the wanted behaviors is not always the best choice to develop a fully featured 3D view. In fact, since MekaWars is, for simplicity, based on a 2D map even if outer space is its environment, a 2D view is faster to develop and easier to understand. Once the simulator will reach a sufficient level of development, the next step will be the design of a nice 3D viewer full of advanced effects, while a slighly improved 2D view will become useful to emulate schematic radar screens.
Also in my past games 2D views were important. In JROBOTS, the top map is the main and only available view to players. In that case, the choice was driven by the limitations of early Java applets, since JROBOTS is completely Java based.

However, dots, lines, circle, sectors and texts, that you can see in the screenshot depicting a running online match (visit the Online Arena page to see live fights), show in a clear way what's going on in the arena.
Of course, our PCs are equipped with powerful 3D graphic cards and it's a sin to take not advantage of them. That's why in the JROBOTS' successor, that is GUN TACTYX, the fighting robots took the shape of Wrokdam, a legendary post-apocalyptic arena gladiator, and the fights could finally take place in a 3D environment.

Obviously the 2D view wasn't dropped at all, because 3D scenes are nice and involving, but a player need to clearly understand what's going on to find the better strategies. The 2D dotted view was the preferred one during GUN TACTYX tournament, even if players always get involved by the 3D view at the beginning.
Finally, it's MekaWars time. Its simulator is still in development, but there are already interesting features available. Also the 3D viewer is not available yet, except for the demo scenes, but a simple 2D viewer is already up and running.

It's purpose now is to debug movements and collisions, but it's amusing to see that astro-pool at work: asteroids bounce one against the other, while fighters try to keep away from their trajectories. It's not far the day when fighters will shoot missiles, while their targets will flee away trying evasive manoeuvres, all tracked down by the radar screen dots.

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