A Small Addition: Making Yourself Smaller
In the new year's update I mentioned that I've added a bunch of features and changes to Ronn For Your Life that I initially never planned to include. All of these will be covered separately here on the blog throughout the year. This is the first of many to come, and we're starting small... Quite literally! It's a small addition that makes you smaller (or at least shorter); crouching!
Just like a crouching player character, this blog will be on the short side, since there's not much to cover. But basically, I've added the ability for the player to crouch, which actually opens a few doors for a variety of things. It allows me a little more creativity and flexibility in terms of level design; For example I can now add obstacles that the player needs to crouch below in order to access.
But crouching is not just crouching - it's also considered sneaking, which ties nicely into the stealth system that I also added (which will be covered in a dedicated and much longer blog post). When you're crouching / sneaking, you will move considerably slower, but you will be harder to spot and you will make less noise. You will also be harder to hit, since your hitbox is more than halved in height - which in turn also lets you sort of crawl underneath things.
Finally, another by product of this is that the "down" key is now a general control key in the game on the same level as left, right, up, attack etc., which it wasn't before - and it is used for more than just crouching... But more on that later.
As always, all graphics presented here on the blog (until otherwise officially stated) are 100% placeholder and for demonstration purposes only. I always find this point important to stress, but particularly so in this case, since the crouching does look really unintentionally hilarious.
But with that disclaimer out of the way, here is a crouching Ronn:
This is the smallest (get it? harh harh... okay, I'll stop now) of the "unplanned additions", but it fits nicely as the first in the series of updates covering them, as things will only get bigger from now on. So stay tuned for more coverage on the unplanned features!
Making Grass Fun(ish)
Videogames are interactive - whether it's a character reacting to user input or an epic RPG ending in wildly different ways based on player choices, it's all consequences of interaction. But while implementing fancy dialogue trees, adaptive story design and other interactive goodness, it's important not to forget that it's often the smallest interactive elements that makes the biggest difference - they can make or break our subconscious perception of the game's feel and overall quality.
Today's example - grass. When you're standing on a hilltop overlooking the realm in your favorite game, there's nothing quite as good for immersion as seeing all those tall blades of grass slowly swaying in the wind. At the same time, there's also nothing quite as bad for that same immersion as crouching through those tall blades of grass and literally nothing happens - making you feel more like a ghost than the grand adventurer you're supposed to be. And I get it - reactive foliage can be quite demanding, as I discovered when I implemented it. But I wanted it in Ronn For Your Life - so here are my challenges and solutions in the implementation.
First, let's take a look at what it looked like before:
While overhauling everything, it was clear that the grass pictured above was just one of many things that had to go. I wanted something that looked more natural, gave me greater control of programmatical influence (like changing wind forces), was lighter in terms of performance, and most importantly had the ability to be interacted with by external forces beyond wind - like a character walking through it, bending to its movements.