Development Blog 4 - Castle On Wheels

Hello everyone, welcome back! If you are reading this, that means we have just finished the 4th sprint for Castle On Wheels! What a rough ride especially with all that is going on. Regardless I am very proud of our team pushing through the adversity and getting a lot of work done! I won’t keep you waiting so, without further ado, here is how sprint 4 went with our team. 

The first image above illustrates our future level 5. The significance behind this is that it is the halfway point of the game so in design we want to open the player the possibilities of what is to come. The Annotated map can be difficult to understand without the concept to back it up but the spiral that you see is actually the level making its way around a tree. This means that the player will start a little bit away from the tree and then make their way around the roots, and up the tree in a gradual spiral elevation to the top where the player then is led off to a high platform to take out the enemy stronghold. 

This being just one of the levels the levels that follow are just below. The goal for the levels, which is something I spoke to them about, was to wow me. I told them that I wanted to be excited to play that level the instant I saw it. The results were astounding. Seeing the potential for some very interesting gameplay with the use of our fun mechanics.

The level above is level 6, which takes place first in a valley then moving up to the higher elevations within the rocky mountain sides. The thing that is important to mention here is the ability to choose a path. This is so far the only level to have this feature and will allow the way this level is played to alter as you replay the map. This map going from one visual style to the next also acts as the segue from the other maps before it to the more dangerous part of the world map so the player can feel a visual difference in difficulty. 

The level above is the 7th level of the game which is designed around mountain tops, This means snow! I have always been a fan of snow levels, and seeing the textures and styles of colder themes. In this level we have the opportunity to have a more adventurous feel and continue our seemingly fun and dynamic levels that we have seen prior. 

The image above shows our 8th level which is set inside of a cave. Allow me to explain cause it may be sort of confusing at first. The initial faded brown bridge is the primary bridge that the player will be looking to cross. This bridge seems to cut the whole level off but the player would only see this bridge and not what lies below. The bridge would then break away creating an element of misdirection and having the player have to traverse through this cave. 

Of the levels above, I am truly excited for all of them and I cannot wait to be able to implement the final levels into the finished product of our game. We spent a good amount of time on this last sprint also coming back to the start and revisiting our original levels and painting the terrain, resizing our maps to optimize and add the mechanics and things that would be in the game as we move forward and actually play this game.

I am so very excited for every part of our game from the models to the individual lines of code that make our AI function appropriately and that said I will move onto what the modeling team has accomplished this sprint. Speed Bumps were definitely expected given that we were moving to a home environment when many of our team members were expecting to use the facilities and amenities that the school had offered on campus but as a team we were able to come together and create so many great things. That said there was some pushing and pulling from both ends to make it happen, but enough of that, here’s some of the awesome models.

These are some of the houses that were created to create a city that we would have in level 1. Although far from finished, the city looks has come a long way and you can see this in the image below. There are some other crude models but those are some place holders to show play testers the difference between the buildings they would see. Another thing to note are the textures that are simply Unity generated textures that we had painted on to give the look we wanted but we will be creating our own textures to place in there so the houses are the main focus in the image below. 

After seeing these houses placed in the scene I was nothing short of pleased to see that our little city scene is coming together really nicely. The next step is the kingdom at the other end of the level that you can see. Part of it has been placed and is working currently, these are the archer towers that are placed on the far end looking like the images below.





Something to note, our action shot reveals a little bit of what I had worked on aside from setting a lot of the houses in place on the map. I decided after a little bit of time that I was tired of looking at a big red elongated cube as an object being used as our projectile and decided to model and texture my own arrow and here are the results. 


While I’m no professional and there are flaws. I was happy with the way this turned out and the object is small enough to not be seen at such a close view that the errors would not be noticed. As a lead you might ask why didn’t I add it to a list of things to be made by the modelers and the answer to that is that I did not want to add something this small task to someone when I was able to crush this out in about an hour and half and no one knew the wiser. This brings me to some of the larger tasks that the modelers were working on which gives me an opportunity to introduce a cast of characters that were hoping to include to the game as soon as they are completed, textured and animated. 




This cast of characters has yet to be discussed but here are our main characters, so let me introduce you. The first, at the top left, will be who is known as the Heavy Horseman. Yes, the rest of his character is currently in production, therefore, there is the horseless horseman who will carry a devastating AOE attack next to his counterpart the Goblin Brute. These two are the large units that the allies and enemies, respectively, will have at their disposal. 

Next is the Archer and the Militia who is very similar in character and still has some changes to be made such as the helmet on archer will be removed and of course the weapon they will carry. On the bottom row we have the final two characters which are the Goblin Slinger and the Goblin Grunt. These are the base melee and ranged units for the enemy army which in my opinion are very well done and I could not be happier to see these guys making their way through the pipeline toward the animator. 

Since the allies have a castle the enemies are already put at a disadvantage other than their numbers however what about the classic siege engines that were around in this era. This game is no different and we have the first one modeled and ready for texturing as seen below. Another thing we needed to add to take care of this was a cannon for the castle to fight these in coming threats.


The images above show the start of our medieval weaponry come to life and seeing these take shape and take place within our game makes the vision I had at the beginning of this game come to life. 

I mentioned the animation earlier, we really have a strong animator, capable of pulling every bit of his weight through this project and I couldn't be happier with the progress he has been able to give us these last few sprints. Below is some of the work he has done, completing the rigs to set up the animations we need and having the majority of the rigs done. We only need the animations to get them set up and then we are off and running.

The gif’s above show the rigs in place on the Archer character and the Grunt character which was nice to have done by this stage so we can add their animations together. One thing we did do for our animator was make the walk cycles and base idle for the Militia and Archer identical, while using very similar characters to be able to speed the process up on those characters which we hope can allow us more time to add to other animations like the horseman who will have the horse and rider animated.

For the majority of the modelers we found it necessary to have concepts to work off of. For this sprint we were able to create a lot of concepts for things we would see in level 4 that is coming ahead since a lot of things we will not have base concepts for. One of our concept artists gave us the following concepts for level 4 and needless to say we were very happy with them. 

The last image on the bottom right is actually our concept for the spawner which gives us a structure that we want to go forward with our modeling team but including things like a cloth cover for the door and my personal favorite, the top half of a dragon skull acting as a awning over the doorway to add an element of fear to these Goblin enemies which I hope to see in the next few weeks as we handle these models. 

Our other concept artist focused heavily on our UI as she put together some buttons to assist with the control that we will be giving the player. The results of this are as follows, the first set of buttons are for the players units, when you select these they give you the unit you tap on spawning in the battlefield. The second set of buttons are for the control of the units when in the field.


For the character portraits we wanted the player to see a little bit of an action shot of each one so you could see who you were putting into battle and have an idea of what they may do when they are in the game. For the buttons on the right the top is for the traditional movement. RTS games that I have played all have a generic button so you can see how to move your units if you do not know that you can right click to move your troops. 

Next in the middle we have what I call the disperse command or the attack command. This applied to all units and will send the units to the closest enemy target and then the next followed by the next and so on. This will work in contrast with the last button which is the defend button. This pulls all units to your castle in use to defend your castle and they will remain there till you give them another command.

This brings me to the programming portion. Our programmers crushed it this sprint, tackling loads of nit picky things that always caught my eye or bugged me when we were playing as well as a working AI! The excitement is radiating off of me because we were able to put in an AI that somewhat listens to player commands and does what we need and was surprisingly decently balanced when combating enemies.



The gif’s above may not be obvious in showing the mechanic at work but the user is right clicking with the mouse and the units track to the target. This will force them to attack the target if you right click on a target that is marked as an enemy such as the stronghold in the bottom gif. 

Since we have the model for the siege engine, we better have the behavior to implement it, and that we do! Another programmer of ours was focused on not one, not two but three different siege engines and they are shown below with their behaviors. The First is the siege tower which is more of a melee or short range type of attack and the second is the Ballista which has a much higher range to be able to challenge the player to go out and attack it before it can get within range.





Just for context our concept for the Ballista looks like the image above and will be a very interesting mechanic to add to our game when the models get implemented. 

In conclusion the game we wanted to make is still moving right along, just as planned. Of course given the issues we are faced with we will have setbacks but there's already a lot of features that we wanted to put into the game that had to be cut that I won’t even mention as they still may have a possibility to make it into the game at a later date. We appreciate you keeping up with our progress. I’m aware that this post was a little long winded but there was so much to be proud of and there will be even more to be proud of so go ahead and try out what we have so far if you haven’t had an opportunity to play and keep up with our progress. We still have a lot more to add!

- C.O.W Development Team

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