Sunday, 20 July 2014

Keeping it Moddable

I've always been a huge fan of heavily moddable games, and I derive a bit too much pleasure from creating purely data-driven game systems. Not only for the benefit for the end user, but for my own sanity, I like fast turn around times and quick iterations, and if that means editing a simple JSON file vs recompiling the source I'll happily put the effort in to make things work this way.

Up till now, everything generated in HTP has been defined by node templates, as shown briefly in my last post. But till now, these node templates have only defined the structural qualities of a node. The size, name, requirements, provisions and children. Not the functionality.

In keeping with the data-driven approach, I want to keep as much of the functionality of these nodes in their template files as well. So I've introduced the concept of 'functions' to the templates. As an example, here is the new CPU template:

   "ShouldScale": false,
   "StaticNodes": true,
   "MinSize": 0.1,
   "MaxSize": 0.1,
   "Needs": ["Power", "Network", "Storage"],
   "Provides": ["Cycles"],
   "MinimumNeeds": ["Power"],
         "Type": "ProvideResource",
         "ResourceType": "Cycles",
         "Amount": 1,
         "Interval": 5
         "Type": "Relay",
         "SignalTypes": ["Network", "Storage"]

Here you can see that a CPU node offers two functions. First, when it is powered up and active (determined by the new 'MinimumNeeds' property), it will produce 1 'cycle' every 5 seconds. These cycles will be carried down bus connections to other nodes, notably the OS node, which will power up and start providing its functionality. The second function of the CPU is it to act as a middleman and relay certain types of signals from other nodes to all connected nodes, in this case network and storage signals to the network adapter and hard drive respectively.

It's still early days with this new system, but the goal to keep as much functionality in the data files as possible, to the point where I might look into replacing these function definitions with some kind of scripting language in the future.

In other news, I picked up a copy of Light the other day, not because it's my kind of game especially, though it is very good. But mainly because some of the visuals are exactly the kind of thing I've been imagining for HTP. The glitchy, staticy menu effects are fantastic, I've actually emailed the developer hoping for some friendly shader advice if they don't mind giving it.

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