———– Call For Playtesters ———–
Firstly this week, before anything else: I’m still looking for a small team of playtesters to test out all the AI stuff in the next URR release, probably starting some time next month. If you’re interested, please send me an email to mark at this domain name, and also link to your Twitter, or Facebook, or something that shows me a little about who you are, and just give me a line or two about why you’re interested and how much time you’d realistically be able to give it – please be honest! I want people who can really contribute to making 0.8 the best it can possibly be. I’m recruiting people to basically wander around the map, go into every building they can, check the NPCs are there and behaving sensibly, and do everything they can to mess up the schedules of the important NPCs. I’d suggest being able to commit at least 6+ hours would be a decent start, but I might ask for more if someone quickly finds a major bug, which I correct, and then upload a new playtesting version. Either way: if you’re interested, give me a shout! I should add, though, that’s it’s possible I’ll just decide to upload an explicit “beta” version with some massive warning saying THIS VERSION MAY NOT BE STABLE and let everyone test it… or I might not. So I’m not yet certain whether I’ll do a closed or open playtest for 0.8 (which I’ll probably just call 0.7.5). But to give me an elite team in case I do decide to do a “closed” test, please let me know if you’d be available by the method outlined above…
This week we’ve been continuing to really push Roguelike Radio towards a major re-launch: our recent episode on Strategic and Tactical decision-making is particularly excellent, I think, and I highly recommend it. Meanwhile, we have another fairly big update this week, which is pleasing, since it shows that things are progressing at a good pace (although I do have a fortnight’s work here, so naturally there’s bound to be a lot). I’ve covered a whole bunch of new NPC types in the last two weeks, and it’s proving very reassuring that the pace at which I’m moving through these things continue to accelerate. Much like I said in the entry before my Umberto Eco post, at this point the task is more “check each bit of code works for each kind of NPC” than “add major new bodies of code”. It’s slow and difficult, but it’s coming together, and it feels so reassuring and pleasing each time a particular class of NPC seems to be working correctly and I can move onto the next one. Here’s a run-down of what we’ve had added since I last URRpdated you all:
It turned out that merchants weren’t even close to finished, due to a significant complexity in getting NPCs to spawn at the right time when they are moving between things on a single grid of the world map, i.e. in this case they both live in work in the same district. This needed a lot of new code that would note when they should be spawned in certain scenarios, even if the player hadn’t seen them acting before then, but as far as I can tell this now works perfectly. The code should also carry over into a range of other NPCs that I’m slowly working towards testing, but suffice to say, merchants now appear in their shops at the right times and don’t appear at the right times. Here’s a merchant going from their house, leaving it, wandering across the map, and going into their shop to start the day’s business.
Priests in standard religious buildings now behave appropriately, find their way up to the correct floor when they sleep, etc. Here’s a priest deciding to turn in and going to their bed – and this would happen in the abstract too, of course, if the player wasn’t nearby:
And then later on, they wake up, head downstairs (I foolishly let them get a few tiles ahead, but you can still see that we’re following them in a few glimpses on the upper floor), and start going about their way, in this case first settling down in one of the chairs in front of the altar.
And here’s a priest in another church going up to their bed late in the evening:
Archives – found in crypts, below cathedrals, and only in theocratic nations – now always have their guards switch over correctly. This necessitated a little extra complexity because they aren’t on the ground floor, but I’m pretty sure this now works correctly no matter what. Here’s a changeover from the outside, into the crypt, where the guards switch…
…and then the other guard heads upstairs, and out! (From a different crypt that was generated later, hence the change in layout)
Arena guards now change over correctly, which means that at this point, I *think*, all guards, whether inside or outside, all work correctly on their schedules. It’s very possible that some other weird bugs still lurk out there, given the complexity of the thing, but I’ve been going around trying everything I can think of to break the game, and thus far I haven’t been able to.
And they get home, and I immediately barge in:
Archivists have a super-simple schedule – get up, work, go back to bed – but they now do it correctly regardless of the player’s actions. I entered crypts at various times of day at various points in their schedule, and always found them correctly sleeping or working at their desk regardless. Here’s a gif of an archivist deciding it’s time to call it a day (they do sleep in the crypt/archives beneath a cathedral, which might make them a little peculiar once the conversation system is implemented). These NPCs were also quite tricky because they have various bits of special code determining where they should be sitting most of the day, and their relationship to the guards around them, and they aren’t on the ground floor of the building which adds to code confusion, but still, here we go:
A little bit of dialect generation…
In a spare couple of hours in the evening of Friday 19th, I officially started work on dialect, and therefore speech, and therefore conversation, generation. I have almost nothing to show for it yet, and I’m not really going to dedicate much time to it until all the AI stuff is working, and I’ve distributed the special playtesting version, and I’ve taken a week or two off, but: even from the earliest things I have right now, the variety is going to be amazing. More on this in a month or something, but I just had to take a minor break from coding this never-ending AI nightmare, and I’m incredibly excited about how speech generation is going to look.
I’ve been doing the AI for around three months now. You all know the drill. MORE AI STUFF!!! As I’ve said before, though, the amount of new stuff I’m adding is slowly decreasing as time goes, and most of the time now is testing the existing code for every variation of NPC in every scenario. There will come a time when the issues of URR’s AI are finished… but alas, it is not this day. But soon!