For November, most of the work was done in getting controller support in the game, but other improvements were made, such as the addition of squad formation bonuses and adding different engagement types for enemy encounters. Adding controller support is something I wanted to do for quite a while since I personally like playing RPGs using the controller, so I'm happy that I can do most of my future testing using the controller!
Squad Formation Bonuses
The position and stance that your party members have in the squad formation matter now, since a squad formation bonus is given to all party members during combat if the formation requirements are met. The three factors that are taken into consideration are: position, weapon type, and stance. Each party member fits certain archetype roles based on their weapon (i.e. the shotgun user is the "tank"), so the weapon type is noted when figuring out a valid formation bonus. You can look at the requirements of your known squad formation bonuses by looking at the formation book.
When updating Bright Red Skies to use controller support, every interactable UI element needed to be refactored to be able to understand what to do with the controller input. To make the controller input more generic, I'm using an asset called InControl which allows the game to support almost all controllers. Also, since the UI contains a lot of similar container types like single direction lists (main menu buttons, player menu buttons, item lists, etc.), or toggle lists (unit selector, item type selector, equipment type selector), it was a good idea to make these into generic container types to make the refactoring of the old code much faster.
One of the things that needed to be tested a lot was in the current focus of the controller. For UI like the player menu, the movement stick of the controller needs to act differently for each screen. This means that the transition for one UI container focus to another needed to be set and unset as you move through the menu. Like in the equipment screen, you can go from toggling through the party members and equipment types, to start changing your weapon attachments.
The controller also needed to be able to understand non-linear movement such as in combat where you need to be able to select different hexes on the map. The direction from one hex to an adjacent one is going to be angled so this needed to be taken into consideration in the setup.
Enemy Engagement Type
How you interact with a patrolling enemy now matters, since it determines if there's going to be an advantage or disadvantage in the fight. Like most other RPGs with patrolling enemies, approaching the enemy from behind will be recognized as a "First Strike" and being approached by the enemy from behind will be recognized as an "Ambush". The gameplay difference isn't currently in place, but the interaction is recognized.
Behind the Scenes
This is a section of the devlog where I like to talk about the parts of the game that were improved but aren't necessarily big enough to have their own section. For November, not many extra improvements were done behind the scene other than refactoring a lot of the UI. But some of the other things that were done are:
- Fixed issue with party member using a healing item on itself.
- Added sound to buttons missing them.
- Audio changes based on enemy encounter type.
- Going into the player menu freezes time.
Getting the controller to work feels good, especially since the control system implemented can be used in any other game that might be created in the future. I think I want to take it a little easier in December though. I've been working on Bright Red Skies for about one and a half years of my spare time and taking things slower for a month would do a lot of good for me. I always want to move this game forward, so for December, the things I'm looking to get done are:
- Tutorial popups explaining how to move/interact with enemies/the combat gameplay elements.
- Make the UI more scalable since a player who played the demo mentioned it not working for widescreen.
- Clean up the project to reduce the size of the executable.
I'm optimistic about the future of Bright Red Skies and hoping for a great 2020!
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