Dev Blog 52: 2017 Brings a New Perspective

January 3, 2017

Happy New Year and as we say in Sweden, “god fortsättning” which sort of translates into “good continuance” which means one wishing the other to have not only a merry Christmas or a happy new year but also to be well from this point and onwards. Now you know. Sorry for the heavy load on your bandwidth by the way, but that’s what large .gifs captured with a bad optimizing tool do to you. If you have tips on great tools or practices on capturing .gifs we’d love to hear about it!

We finished 2016 and started 2017 by having a really productive week and after having everything picked apart it now really feels once again as if its coming together as a whole product. The feeling is very similar to the sensation of a years worth of cleaning where you’ve even pulled out the stove to make sure you’d get every last bit of grease. Starting of 2017 with a much more logical grid system and a physics free code base results in a multiple times faster building system and ultimately a much faster and more fun game.

Assembled and Improved

This week started with us both simply digging into the dirty work of having to revamp and downsize all placeable objects and all simulated agents to match the new grid size. The biggest technical debt in the ACEO code base was until 2017 having a grid system with the distance 2.5 between each node, which makes no sense, and now has been converted to 1. Since all objects were aligned with a node distance of 2.5 but now suddenly were simulated in a world with a node distance of 2.5, everything had to be downsized with a factor of… 2.5. This means that a total of 57 placeable objects have been given adjusted sprite sizes, adjusted boundary values and adjusted simulation values and a total of 13 simulate agents have been given adjusted sprite sizes, adjusted pointers for various purposes like lights and navigation, adjusted simulated values and adjusted animations. It was an extremely tedious and time consuming task but it was a necessary must. In the meantime we also overhauled the overlay sprite system (the box indicating if an objet placement is possible) which in it self is a massive task but proved to be easily incorporated to the downsizing process of all the other objects.

What do we gain with this adjustment? A multiple times faster building system for constructing roads, baggage belts, various areas and etcetera as well as a better framework for future CEOs to add their own objects into the game.

In addition to transitioning all objects into their new sizes we have recorded, and solved, a multitude of bugs related to this. However, there is still work to be done on the surrounding systems such as demolition, selection and various builders that too have to be adjusted and tested to properly function.

A New Perspective

Literally, actually! As you could see in the previous devlog, precipitation no longer fall from the side but from the z-axis, essentially top down. ACEO has previously been rendered using an orthographic camera, a means of representing a three-dimensional object in two dimensions since we’re building the game with 2D sprites. However, this is no longer the case and while all objects still will be represented from a top down perspective and with 2D sprites, the incorporation of a perspective z-axis scroll allows us to utilize a more true sensation of depth. The result is, as always, best explained with a number of .gifs:

The change might be subtle but it does makes a huge difference. Since the .gifs are quite color intensive, they are very large. Worth noticing here is that the direction and speed of the smoke is moving in accordance to the game’s simulated wind speed and direction, which also affects the direction of precipitation such as snow, wind, and hail as well as the direction of which aircrafts land. Ultimately the wind will also affect the rotational landing angle of flights (crosswind landings) and swaying of trees but this is yet to be implemented.

We will continue to play around with, test and give the placeable objects and simulated agents new senses of depth which we hope ultimately will result in a more beautiful game world.

This Week’s Changelog

New Grid System:
  • 57 placeable objects have been resized and adjusted
  • 13 simulated agents have been resized and adjusted
Building System:
  • Resolved a bunch of new placement legality issues
  • Resolved a weird overlay offset issue with the taxiway builder
  • Resolved an issue with the baggage belt builder and its node connections
  • Resolved an offset issue with the automatic zoning system related to certain items (check-in desk, security station, security exit etc.)
  • Replaced several broken fonts with Unity compatible font types, turned out to be a massive task since there was no viable automated option for replacing over 250+ text components with missing font links…
  • Revamped the selection canvas system and adjusted it to the new grid system, implemented as an interface system and wrote smarter code
  • Dragger overlay flash issue resolved

New Aircraft Vote Coming Up!

Later this week we’ll unleash a new opportunity for you to vote for the next aircraft to be implemented! Three options will be presented and while Fredrik has some ideas of his own he will gladly listen to your opinions. What is the next aircraft you’d like to see implemented? Drop you suggestion below or on the forums!

Edit: The currently implemented models are Cessna 208 Caravan, DHC-6 Twin Otter, ATR 72, CRJ 700 and Boeing 737-600!

That’s it for this week but as a bones we’ve included a picture showing the difference details can make. We’ve implemented a small system for randomly rotating and moving (within reasonable bounds) sprites so that objects do not look identical, as you can see on the picture below the chairs, lamps and monitor screens have different rotations. While there is more we can do here, such as perhaps not all desks having the magazine and so forth, it does remove that total copy paste feeling.

Fly safe and see you next week!

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