Here comes Alpha 12!

Today, let’s go over what we expect to include in our twelfth alpha release, out on Sunday, February 3rd.

Over this month, we’ve been focusing heavily on code work while giving out assignments to current and new artists. For the most part, this release will be heavy on engine adjustments, while in later months you can expect to see quite a few art updates. In terms of engine-side graphical improvements, we have some new work by gimhael, who fixed our bloom implementation last release. Besides fixing the lighting on the new creep texture, he has also fixed rim lighting and has now added a new effect, motion blur. Rim lighting is essentially a different sort of lighting that brings out added detail, and we have it working off ambient lighting. As for motion blur, it functions very much like you’d imagine, blurring most of the screen when you move fast enough. This can be triggered by falling down a steep vertical drop, pouncing as a dragoon, or even dodging as a human. In the above shot, bloom, rim lighting, and motion blur are all enabled. It’s kind of hard to show off in a screenshot well, but you’ll be able to see it in-game.

Another major feature has been added by Fuma, who has at last committed his overhaul of the bot code. Unlike the old system, which was rigid and produced strange behaviors, the new one is much more flexible, and functions off behavior trees. In general, the bots are much more competent than they used to be, but the most exciting implication of using behavior trees is that it should now be fairly easy to script your own bot behavior. This could be useful for server owners that want their bots to behave in various ways, or even for a potential tutorial mode. Each individual bot can be given its own specific behavior tree if desired, which could prove amusing when observing bots fighting each other. Sooner or later, we’ll get right to documenting how you can write a behavior tree and what sorts of actions are available.

Although it isn’t part of the core gameplay yet, since it’s still very much in an early testing phase, you’ll be able to playtest our resources system, coded by `Ishq. We’ll have a server up for you to experiment with it, and we’ll possibly stick the new bots on it too. Considering that it’s a very major shift in the fundamental gameplay of Unvanquished, we’re very much eager to hear your feedback on it. Rather than focusing on balance at the moment, we’re trying to get the implementation right, and we’re still exploring new features to add to it. If all goes well, then we’ll expand further on new avenues of design in the future. There’s still a lot to do, and plenty more that we’re discussing amongst ourselves.

We’ve made a lot of other fixes and small changes, too. As mentioned last week, there are the alterations to flamethrower and shotgun behaviors, to better fit their effects. The team overlay will show credits and evolution points that your teammates have, which should help with organizing rushes. We’ve also done some more code cleanup as well, and you can follow the progress of these changes in greater detail on our Git repository. Lastly, danmal has been doing more work with fixing the installer, and I’ll give more details on his fixes next week on release day. In general, you can expect less annoying behavior than in the past.

See you next week, when we make our release.