Friday, May 4, 2012

Hero Tower Defense Thursday: Day 37 - Decisions, Decisions

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Welcome to Hero Tower Defense Thursday!



HTD Logo


Go here to read Day 36 of Hero Tower Defense Thursday.




This week we have some good news and some bad regarding the current state of HTD. As some of you may have noticed the game has started to run rather slow as we've been adding more and more to it. This was a worrying sign as we knew it would only get worse as we continued to develop the game. We also want to release HTD on other platforms, particularly the phone markets. The phones run far slower than the PC so we knew we were in trouble and needed to start looking into a solution.

After some research we did find a solution and did a few tests which were giving us some positive results. However, in order to take advantage of this solution it requires the graphics to be processed a different way than how we've been doing it. There are a lot of little details involved in this that affects how the graphics are drawn and animated but essentially we have to revise the majority of the graphics. So with that in mind we started discussing our options and other concerns that we might be able to fix since we have to adjust the graphics. This led to the concern of the armor requiring a lot of work, which we were already aware of but if we could somehow make it easier it would save a lot of time. We didn't want to reduce the amount of character customization that the players would be able to adjust using equipment and other items because we know a lot of people enjoy that aspect of the game. Plus, it was something we really wanted to have as developers.

We spent some time thinking about it and discussing it and decided that perhaps the easiest path to take would be to make all the graphics in 3D instead of 2D. It would still have a similar cartoony/anime style to what we have now because the 3D graphics would be rendered out using a cell shading method. The reason for going to 3D is because it removes a lot of tedious work after the upfront work is finished. Here's a few numbers to give you an idea of what we're talking about here. On average we have around 3 frames per animation and estimate to have about 8 animations for the characters. So right there we have 24 frames, now that's only one angle. HTD has 3 angles (Front, Back, and Side which mirrors) so now we have 72 frames to draw, per item. So take a helm for example, that requires 72 frames ot be drawn. A full suit of armor (6 parts) is 432 frames that have to be drawn and that's just for one character, one race, one gender. The female would require a different set of 432 frames for the same suit of armor. A different race would require another 864 frames for both genders, etc. As we add more more races the amount of work required for adding a single piece of armor increases by a lot.

So with that in mind let's go back to 3D. I work 8 hours a day doing 3D for my full-time job and Evan has been working in 3D for awhile and taking some classes in it as well. Kevin and Bill are more specialized in 2D but their talents aren't lost because we need lots of concept art for both designs and animations, and both of them are very good at it. So how does 3D help us solve our problem? Let's take the helm as an example again. First, we'll have to model it based on concepts. Then we set it up on the character. That character would be animated to match the concepts. Once he is set up with the animations we never need to deal with them again. Since it's 3D we can just attach the helm object to it's proper location on the character and it'll position itself for all the animations automatically. Sometimes we might have to manually adjust it for certain frames but it's still a one-time set up. After that we have cameras and lights set up for each angle all we have to do is hit the render button and it'll give us all 72 frames or 432 frames for a full suit within minutes. Adjusting it to work on another gender or race is also far easier, just some slight adjustments and it'll be all set. Also making different colors and such will also be much easier and faster.

While 3D does require a bit more upfront work, in our case it's very much worth it and we'll be able to keep all our customization that we wanted to have available to you guys. Now, this isn't like we're redoing the whole game, it's just the graphics really. Sam has to implement the new method of processing the graphics in order to speed up the game, which he's working on now, but once that's done we'll be right back to developing the rest of the game using placeholders and whatnot. We'll be leaving all the current graphics in as is for now. We may or may not add them as we go or just wait till we have a bunch done and do it all at once, we'll see.

So that's where we're at. It's a speed bump but worth working through. This is just part of the developing process, it's nearly impossible for a small team to prepare for every obstacle and plan everything out perfectly. Plus the way we are doing it with giving you guys updates as often as possible through the whole process can complicate that a bit as well but it's more fun for us. We should be able to catch up graphically in a reasonable amount of time since all the concepts and animations are already done for the assets we have now. There won't be an update this week and maybe not next week but we'll still be posting about our progress as we go. We're certain this is the way to go so bare with us while we make this transition, it'll be worth it!

In the Works:

  • Design

    • Pet System (50%)
    • Interface Revision (25%)

  • Graphics

    • Unit: Human Male - Revision (10%)
    • Unit: Fire Gecko - Attack Concept (25%)
    • Unit: Skeleton - Concept (50%)
    • Unit: Meerkat Non-Combat Pet - Concept (25%)
    • Unit: Goblin - Concept (25%)

  • Programming

    • Graphic Processing Revision (10%)
    • Saving Inventory and Equipment Setup (0%)


    Check out Kevin's blog, KXN @ HTD for HTD art-related concepts, WIPs, polls, and more!

    As always any feedback is welcome, let us hear what you have to say in the comments! Thanks!


    -Dan

    38 comments:

    1. Yay for pets, but perhaps from now on don't list the name of the pet, or give it an actual name not revealing its species so we can be surprised in game when we encounter said species. :)

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      1. Yeah, I had thought about that but figured it being the first one that it would be worth naming since people would probably ask what it is. But yes, we won't be giving out the names of everything as we go and just giving more general statements.

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      2. I'm actually gunning to look for more community feedback in regards to pets. Meerkats are just my favorite, so I had to go there for the first. You should be able to catch this new community input opportunity over on my blog as soon as tomorrow (sunday). It'll probably be both asking for ideas, and then a poll to narrow them down after we have enough.

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    2. Good luck on the 3d thing. Also did you put skeleton twice?

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      Replies
      1. Thanks! Why, yes I did. I fixed it. :)

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      2. The skeletons are just that sweet. I'm looking forward to unveiling some concepts of them but it probably won't be until next week.

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    3. Can't you atleast make an update with the weapons which was finished last week?

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      Replies
      1. Yeah, we'll be adding those and progressing with the game as whole still, we just got caught up having to deal with other issues this week. Also Sam is working on the new graphics process so that may or may not push things another week. We just have to see.

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    4. 2nd last

      Ister199

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    5. Because of Minecraft, I imagine the skeleton's walking towards you with bows.

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      Replies
      1. Haha, maybe some will! :P

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      2. TARANTULA MOUNTS. I don't know. It would be cool but I imagine it being too much of a "me too!" in regards to Minecraft. Maybe we can come up with our own ideas though.

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    6. i love the idea of 3d, and for pet so many games lack this a platypus( and for the record i was into platypus's before phinease and ferb

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      Replies
      1. Your love for the platypus has been noted!

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    7. my i ask what hero tower defense is mainly about?

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      Replies
      1. In it's simplest form it's a TD mixed with a RPG. So you have character progression like leveling and stats, equipment, skills, etc. Then you use those characters as "towers" that you can actively move around.

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    8. is there going hacked version of htd

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    9. It is amazing just how far HTD has already come. Looking forward to the 3D graphics.

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      Replies
      1. Plot twists are so remarkable

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      2. Indeed they are! We have a story established now but not going to talk about because we don't want to spoil anything! :)

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      3. Oh of course. Wouldn't want to spoil anything, now would we.

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    10. i know about 3d modeling so i could help the sam&dan team with the grafics.
      so guys what you say?

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      Replies
      1. Can't promise anything but if you want feel free to send a resume and portfolio showing your work to dbell1984@gmail.com and/or sotero86@gmail.com

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    11. As long as this does not end up the same way as ninja-ja did, then i am happy

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      Replies
      1. Yeah I know :( Ninja-Ja will be resumed at some point. I think about it all the time but just so limited on time.

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    12. theres a hero tower defence facebook that i found check it out
      http://www.facebook.com/HTDOfficial

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    13. Since there's goblins I know there will be orcs in the game. :)

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    14. Found a bug. But first a long boring story about how i found it:
      I just got a new computer today (yay). I wanted to play some HTD, so i went to this webside. On my old computer i have done so it saves the password and the username, so i am used to just press login. I did that too this time, but because there where no username or password, the browser froze.

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    15. ok Keven you made my day with your response -platypusboy

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    16. Woohooo!!! Moving into pets and 3d =D WIN WIN!!! Laters the mounts then the invasions (if you remember the rats and stuff XD) and then... the WORLD!!! XD

      Well a platypus invasions would work out also XD with a big fat platypus male with spurs and poisonous mooves XD and... lol don't worry I won't get into invasion berserk again XD (for now!!! XP)

      miss this place you know?

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    17. gostei muito gostaria que alguem trocasse comigo um shinx por um jirachi se possivel! TradeID (150c74adf52ec4)

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