More Progress On Obstacles

I’ve made a bit more progress on Obstacles since my last post.

The Fire Wall ability felt a bit lacking since it doesn’t block projectiles. This leaves your monster vulnerable while casting for very little payoff. The only real reason to use it would be on reaction to an incoming melee attack, but that seemed too situational for me.

Luckily a viewer on YouTube(Bleck Jimtarters) suggested to me that Flame Wall could combo with friendly projectiles in some way. I’ve taken his suggestion, and currently Flame Wall will buff Fire type projectiles by increasing their damage +10. Non Fire Projectiles will gain the burn effect but no damage buff.

There is a visual effect on the projectile after it passes the Flame Wall to let you know that it has been buffed, though it may be a bit hard to tell since projectiles move pretty fast.

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Flareball passing through Flame Wall. Yellow ring added to projectile as well as a size increase to let you know the projectile has received a buff.

For EX Flame Wall, the damage buff on Fire projectiles is upped to +20 and it replaces the Burn effect with the Ignite effect. Non Fire Projectiles just gain the Ignite effect.

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Flareball passing through EX Flame Wall. Blue ring added to projectile and a larger size increase.

I still don’t know how much use Fire Wall will see but it’s at least strong on paper now so we’ll have to see once the patch is out.

I’ve also been working on an Earth type obstacle, Rock Wall. Rock Wall is an obstacle that does block projectiles. Also, unlike Flame Wall, Rock Wall does no damage to enemy monsters. So it’s really a more defensive move. When you throw out Rock Wall, you know you are safe until the Rock Wall is destroyed or the enemy dashes out of its way. It’s also a useful way to trade vs expensive enemy projectiles. It should be useful to cast and buy some time to regenerate Stamina.

While Rock Wall might seem pretty straight forward, it has been a lot of trouble to get it to work properly. First I had to be careful to not make it too cheap, because you could infinitely delay the game. But if made too expensive then it wouldn’t really serve its purpose as an ability that let you regenerate resources.

This became a big problem because Earth abilities all had a Mana and Stamina cost. The combined cost was something I felt made Earth monsters more unique, but in the end it’s causing a lot of problems.

So for now I’ve made Earth abilities like the other types, where they only cost Mana unless it’s a hybrid ability like Rock Punch. With Rock Wall costing only Mana, it can now be used to regen Stamina.

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Terram Spawned a Rock Wall. Art is temporary.

The Rock Wall has 25 Health, so it will block 2 Flareballs, but only 1 Fireball.

Another big problem I had was dealing with incoming melee attackers. One way to handle it could have been like Flame Wall, where enemies take damage for running into the wall. But that also meant your own monster would run into it when doing melee attacks, and it also made it feel less like a defensive obstacle and more like a Flame Wall.

Right now the way it works is that any monster performing a melee attack that comes into contact with the wall, will target the wall rather than trying to go through it. So If the enemy performs a Haymaker and they run into a Rock Wall, they will stop and Haymaker the Rock Wall.

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Here is an example of Terram using Haymaker on its own Rock Wall.

I feel like this is more appropriate since it keeps it very different from something like Flame Wall while also not making your monster look too dumb running into the Rock Wall and taking damage. Taking some damage might be more appropriate for charging attacks like Tackle so I might work that in later.

So this is some progress I’ve made with Obstacles. There are so many cool things I can still make, like force fields that slow projectiles or shoot them back. Maybe an Ice Mine that freezes opponents on contact. Make sure to leave me some ideas if you think you have any cool ones.

DevLog #15 Obstacles

I’ve been working on getting obstacle abilities into the game. Recently, I’ve been making some good progress.

 

This should serve as building blocks for many more abilities to come. Hopefully these types of abilities find their use in the game.

Cooldown System didn’t work well for the game

After a lot more testing, I realized that the cooldown system was causing a lot of problems and ended up not feeling right for the game. While I enjoyed how precise the system was in letting you know when an ability would be available again, the current resource system lets me quickly glance at my Mana and Stamina bar as well as my enemy’s and I know more or less what we are both currently capable of. With the cooldown system I had to look at each of my 4 abilities individually, my cooldowns and charges, as well as look at my enemy’s.

I thought the cooldown system would make it easier for players to know when an ability is available or not. It instead created more instances of players attempting to perform abilities that weren’t available. What’s nice about the resource system, is that as long as you have the mana and stamina available, you can perform any ability. Should have been obvious I guess. Looking at 2 things is easier than keeping track of 4.

I’m glad I experimented with this though. It would have still been in the back of my mind if I hadn’t. I will now work on ways to refine the current system. I also really like the circular progress bars I came up with. Maybe I can use them for something else?

Testing Cooldown Based Abilities with Charges

This is all WIP and subject to change

Being in Early Access, I think that now is the time to experiment and make big changes. In the build I’ve been working on since the v0.0.8 patch, I have been trying out cooldown based abilities with charges. I figured I would make a post to just let everyone know what I was up to.

Here is an example of the UI (WIP):

CDAbilitiesUI.pngWith this system, Mana and Stamina aren’t being used. The bars are still present in the screenshot because I simply haven’t removed them.

Instead, abilities have cooldowns and charges. When an ability is used, a charge is removed from that ability, and that charge goes on a cooldown. When an ability has zero charges left, it can no longer be used until a charge is back off of cooldown. The ability circles are made darker to represent when an ability is out of charges. In the example above you can see that Rock Shot and Rock Throw are both out of charges. Abilities that have more than 1 maximum charge have their current charges displayed inside the ability circles. Rock Throw has a maximum charge of 3 but is currently at 0 charges.

The cooldown duration can be seen by the timer above the ability circles, as well as by the circular progress bar that fills up. Flareball for example has a maximum charge of 2. In the example above you can see that Flareball was used once, reducing the current charge from 2 to 1. The charge that was used is currently on cooldown as shown by the timer and the circular progress bar. However, the circle isn’t made darker like it is with Rock Throw, because there is still a charge available, meaning the ability can still be used at this time.

The EX meter is still present and using an EX Ability still consumes 1 bar of EX Meter and also consumes a charge for that ability, putting that charge on cooldown.

While this might all sound a bit confusing, I think that managing cooldowns should make the game a lot less cluttered than managing a mana bar and a stamina bar. It makes it much easier to balance individual abilities without it affecting the other 3 you have equipped. Another thing it does is it encourages players to make use of all four of their abilities and find some synergy between them instead of using all your resources to spam a single ability. As a player I also feel much more in control since I know exactly when an ability will become available for me. In comparison, with mana and stamina you would have a rough idea but it wasn’t as precise.

I will have a lot more testing to do and still have some things to figure out, but so far battling vs AI and watching AI battle each other is just as exciting and a lot more varied.

Patch v0.0.8 Hotfix

I just put up a hotfix to clear up some issues

  • Fixed AI using melee abilities from far away
  • Fixed Charging and Tackle attacks hitting monsters that are in the way but are not in the battle
  • Fixed Server Name not showing up when looking for games

Patch Notes v0.0.8 (NameUrBuddy Patch)

M.EXE Patch Notes v0.0.8

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NameUrBuddy Patch

Online Improvements

A terrible bug that was causing lag for clients in multiplayer seems to be gone. Online battles should now be smooth and not cause any lag as long as both players don’t live too far away. Overall, you should see a huge improvement to online play.

  • Fixed an issue where a bug was causing lots of players to lag in online matches.
  • Added the ability to name your game when you host an Arena. Players will see the name you gave your game when the look through the list of games available.

Name Your Monster

You now have the chance to name your monster. When you start your game up, you will be asked for your gender and then will be asked what you feel your monster’s name would be. Remember that in M.EXE, a player only has 1 monster that changes through different bodies/shells. So calling your monster FireDino might not be the most appropriate name. It’s of course all up to you guys, but know that there isn’t any way to change your monster’s name once you’ve chosen one. There might be a way to do so in the future, but for now if you are truly unhappy with your monster’s name, then contact me directly through Steam and I can attempt to change it for you.

Gameplay

Melee abilities have still been a bit risky when going up against projectile abilities. In this patch, melee abilities have received a change to help balance the scales.

Melee Abilities

  • Melee Abilities have had a significant buff. While a melee ability is activating(wind-up time) monsters will move at a faster speed(*1.5), allowing them to reach their target faster. This speed increase is taken into account when a monster calculates when to start winding up a melee attack, which means that melee attacks now begin activating from further away.

Projectile Abilities

  • With the buff to melee abilities, I have decided to alter the penalty for using projectile abilities up close. The range from an opponent at which projectile abilities are made to cast slower has been reduced from 800 units back to 500 units. This range matches the range at which the battle camera zooms in closer, so the zoom in will serve as a visual queue to let players know that projectile abilities in this range will receive the cast time penalty.

Optimizations

Monster LODs

  • Monster models now have LODs which use less than 20% of the monster’s original polygon count. These LODs have little visual impact and are what all players will see almost the entire time they are playing. The only time when the high poly model is used is when the camera gets very close(which is rare) or when you go into your monster menu. The entire time you battle, even when the camera closes in, you will only be seeing the LODs. This should be huge for anyone who was having trouble running the game at an optimal level.

 

Balance

Stamina

Stamina was a bit too easily available in the game after EX Abilities were introduced. To make Stamina and Stamina Regen more valuable, the total amount of Stamina available to monsters has been reduced across the board. Stamina also regenerates at a slightly slower rate.

I will have to look closely at monster types that use stamina regularly, such as Earth and Psychic monsters, as they might need some help in cost reduction for their abilities.

  • Total Stamina reduced by 20 for all monsters.
  • Stamina now regenerates every 1.5 seconds instead of every second
  • The Stamina bar now becomes darker when a monster doesn’t have enough stamina to dash

 

Abilities

I wanted to make charging attacks more useful and making tackle attacks a bit harder to dodge. With the buff to Melee Abilities both charging and tackle attacks now much much faster.

Tackle Attacks(ex. Tackle)

  • Tackle attacks still go past their targets and can hit walls. However, these attacks will not lose track of their targets until they are within activation range. So if you are very far from your opponent and use the Tackle ability, your opponent can no longer dodge the ability while you are still far away. They will have to time their dashes like they do vs other melee abilities.

Charging Attacks(ex. Charge)

  • Standard charging abilities now move the user at an increased speed(*1.5) for the whole duration, matching their EX counterparts in speed but still with no armor.

Now that they match the speed of their EX counterparts, I will likely give them the same penalty of being able to go past their target and hit walls. For now, they remain only buffed.

Ice Drill

  • Upped the mana requirement from 25 to 30

Rock Punch

  • Cast time has been reduced allowing it to hit more reliably

Spit Abilities(ex. Acid Spit)

  • Cast time reduced. These projectiles should come out much faster now.

Acid Bubble

  • Damage increased from 20 to 25

 

New Abilities

Lava Rock

  • Just like Rock Shot, but throws a rock of full of lava, doing increased damage and applying a burn at the cost of mana.
  • Damage: 25
  • Cost: 15 Stamina, 25 Mana
  • EX Lava Boulder Damage: 45

 

Miscellaneous

AI Improvements

Many improvements have been made to the AI. Monsters now check which direction is best for them to dash to depending on obstacles in the way like the arena walls. They check to see whether a projectile is heading towards them or not so they can ignore those that aren’t. They no longer play cautiously when their opponent is low or when they are low themselves.

They still make mistakes and I have more work to do, but they have definitely become more challenging, especially at Hard difficulty.

There is currently a bug that makes AI monsters perform melee abilities from far away. This will be fixed very soon since this dramatically brings down the difficulty.

Arenas

Arenas have all been changed to have a circle battleground to match the newer arenas. I would like to make the shape of the arena something that players can customize, but for now all arenas are circular. Check all the arenas out for other visual changes.

Monster Skins

The Monster Skins store has been delayed and will likely be there in a patch coming soon. Monster Skins are still in the game though. You will see NPCs in the PlayerHub and ArenaHub with different skins equipped. You will also see different monster skins when you spawn AI opponents in arenas. In an upcoming patch, you will be able to unlock and select these skins to customize your monster, as well as earn in-game currency. Monster Skins will replace the Hue-Slider.

Matchmaking

Lots of progress has been made on getting some sort of matchmaking going. Matchmaking would pair 2 players up and instantly start a battle with whichever monster and abilities you currently have equipped. After the battle is over, both players would be sent back to the PlayerHub. Here the winner would receive a reward and the opponent would receive a lesser reward for completing the match(not surrendering).

MChanger

The MChanger now uses the same visual display as when you press TAB. You will see 3D models of your monsters rather than images of them as well as some additional info.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed a bug that made monsters twitch when reaching their battle location.
  • Fixed a bug that made monsters twitch while laying on the ground after a knock down, making it seem like they were getting back up only to lay back down instantly

M.EXE using Simplygon

Simplygon.jpg

The next update for M.EXE will feature the use of Simplygon technology, which allows me to quickly optimize 3d models, specifically the monsters.

Thanks to Simplygon, the monster models are now using less than 20% of the polygons they were using before with no noticeable difference. This should be pretty big news for people on lower end computers. The monsters will still be in full detail when the camera gets close enough and the polygon reduction has been disabled for things like the monster menu(pressing TAB). For 99% of the game though, monsters will be using less than 20% of their polygon count.

Big Database Updates

We’re updating the database in order to be able to do more cool things with the game. This might affect some players and cause some issues during the update. Things should settle down soon though. Just letting everyone know.

Thanks for your patience.

Patch Notes v0.0.7 (EXtra Patch)

M.EXE Patch Notes v0.0.7

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The EXtra Patch

Gameplay Changes

An EX Meter and EX Abilities have been added to the game. This changes the game quite a bit and should help improve the game in several ways. For one, you now have access to 8 abilities rather than 4, but the game doesn’t become too confusing with these 8 abilities since 4 of them are just enhanced versions of the other 4. Managing your EX Meter also adds a new depth to the game and helps strong abilities be more balanced by requiring a bar of meter to use them.

EX Meter

  • A new resource has been added to the game, visible above your monster’s health bar during combat. The new EX Meter is completely empty at the start of a battle and begins to fill up as the battle progresses. Meter is gained by attempting to perform abilities, blocking a hit of damage, and by dashing. You can have up to 3 bars of meter filled up at a time.

EX Abilities

  • Every ability now has an enhanced(EX) version. In order to use an EX move you will hold down Shift(RT on Xbox controller) and then select the EX ability you wish to use. EX moves do not cost mana or stamina, but instead require you to spend a bar of EX meter.
  • Due to this change, some abilities have been merged by having one be the EX version of the other(ex. Heavy Fireball is now the EX version of Fireball). Many new abilities have been added to the game. Mostly weaker version of existing strong abilities or new stronger versions of existing weaker abilities, but there some completely new things in there as well.

Cast Now

  • Re-issuing the command for certain abilities will now cause them to cast immediately. This can be useful for countering enemies that are still on their way towards your monster(ex. Using Water Blast to counter a Tackle).

Increased Projectile Cast Time Nerf Distance

  • Projectiles were nerfed in the last patch by making them longer to cast when in close range of the opponent. This range has been increased from 500 units to 800 units, further nerfing projectiles at close to medium range. There is currently no real indicator to let you know whether your monster is within this range but I plan to add one in the next patch.

Projectile Speed Increase

  • Most straight line projectiles have seen a significant increase in travel time. This is to help projectiles be a bit more effective at longer range, especially since close range use of projectiles was nerfed in the previous patch.

Balance Changes

It’s basically a whole new game now with EX Abilities so it’s hard to really say too much about balance without a lot more testing first. I will say that all monsters on HARD AI difficulty are completely beatable by any monster, and while that doesn’t say much about PvP, it’s a good starting point.

There have been lots of number changes with this patch, too many to really list due to all the major changes. I will make an effort to be more detailed for number changes in the future but for now I will simply list the most major changes.

Ice Abilities

  • 5 Freeze stacks are now required to freeze an opponent(Increased from 4). This nerf comes from the introduction to EX abilities which allow for multiple ice projectiles being fired at once(Iceball Barrage) as well as Frost Breath being more viable. Just the fact that EX Ice abilities are available for use when you are low on mana or stamina also adds to this being a necessary change.

Electric Abilities

  • The Electric Slow effect has been removed. It was too annoying and made electric types not too much fun to play against. It also caused some weird behavior with certain melee abilities and also made electric abilities hard to balance. In exchange for this, electric projectiles now travel much faster than other projectiles. Electric abilities also don’t cost stamina to cast anymore(hybrid abilities like Spark Bite still cost stamina).

Poison Abilities

  • Current EX poison abilities might seem a bit weak, but they apply a new status effect called Toxic. Toxic is identical to the Poison status which drains 2 health every second. The difference here is that Toxic and Poison can stack, which results in 4 health being lost every second.

Acid Abilities

  • Acid abilities no longer require stamina to cast. Some EX Acid abilities apply an Acid Ignite status rather than an Acid Burn, which does 2 damage every second for 3 seconds rather than 1 damage.

Fire Abilities

  • Some fire abilities have seen an increase in mana. Fireball is now the only non-EX ability that does 25 damage, which results in a knockdown. Some EX fire abilities now apply an Ignite status rather than a Burn, which does 2 damage every second for 3 seconds rather than 1 damage.

Miscellaneous

Visual Style Changes

  • Significantly increased the brightness of monsters to make sure they are always clearly visible and stand out more during battles. An outline effect has also been added to the game which results in more clarity. In combination, these changes give the game a bit more of an anime style look.

Gender Selection

  • Starting the game you will be given the option of boy or girl. Once you select one the choice will stick with your account. I’ll probably add a way to change this later on but for now you’re stuck with your choice.

Circle Shaped Arenas

  • Circle Shaped Arenas will replace the rectangular arenas and become the standard Arena for the game. I plan to keep rectangular arenas as an option. Circle Arenas allow for more open space to maneuver as well as not getting stuck in corners.

Look At System

  • Monsters and Trainers now look at their targets. Your monster will look up or down at you and will look up or down at their opponents during battle. This helps battles feel much more alive.

Battle Tutorial

  • A basic tutorial was added, located on the bottom left side of the PlayerHub. This tutorial walks you through the basics of battling, including the new EX system.

Alternate Battle Camera Improvements

  • The alternate battle camera(Back Cam) has seen some improvements. It is now a bit smarter and has a better angle in order to keep your monster and it’s target on screen. Toggle the alternate battle camera by pressing Tab during battle.

Automated Ability Descriptions

  • In an effort to speed up development as well as to keep ability descriptions accurate, I’ve been working on a system that automatically generates the descriptions for abilities. There is still a lot of work ahead, but the current system already works pretty well for most abilities. The automated descriptions don’t yet describe any status effects that are applied or the range of melee abilities, but it’s already more accurate at describing abilities than manually updating descriptions. As more abilities are added and along with the whole EX abilities, this was a necessary effort that should improve over time. (I apologize for the lack of detail for certain abilities)

Testing Trainer Color Customization

  • This feature isn’t finished yet, but I wanted to leave it in for this build. You can access the Trainer Color Customization menu through the Monster Style menu. Here you can customize your avatar’s colors. (The colors currently don’t persist after you leave a map. This will be added in a future patch, as well as ways to unlock colors rather than them all being available at the start. But for now, try them all out and make yourselves look stylish).

Extra

  • New Health, Mana, and Stamina bars UI
  • Changed look of damage, cost and regen numbers
  • Added a description for the EX version of every ability

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed a bug where AI would not do anything after casting a Heavy Psy Bubble
  • Fixed a bug where projectiles would sometimes not move for clients
  • Fixed a bug that resulted in Mana and Stamina regen numbers during battle to read as 1.1 rather than their true values
  • Fixed a bug that had clients see a monster’s starting animation up in the air rather than the default idle animation
  • Fixed a bug where the AI Spectate map wouldn’t let you access the Escape Menu after first pressing Esc to exit Spectator mode.