I’ve just uploaded the first version of the Placeholder Software website. Keep an eye on it for a greenlight release of Heist.

Prisoner Zero Has Escaped

I’ve been very busy over the last few months - the change of the engine from Lua to C# scripting has put me closer than ever to being in a state to actually build a game instead of fiddling around with engine tech. Over the last few months I have built most of the scripting new API, built a load of entities in it, constructed a deathmatch gamemode and then rebuilt the underlying network system of the engine to work with Steam. The result of this is that I now have a really simple playable game running on the engine. This has been my aim for first proper release all along, to be honest it’s pretty scary now I’m actually here.

Over the Christmas period I have been working on the things needed for an initial release (on greenlight). The most important part is a New Website, check it out (seriously, go check it out right now). Tomorrow I will be working on brushing up the Steam greenlight page so that it’s ready for me to make public. Once the greenlight page goes public I shall have to look into contacting the gaming press and drumming up some attention.

Cracks In The Wall

There is still a little coding work to do before I can properly call the website complete. Next week I will be working on brushing up the bits of the game needed for a trailer:

  • A better DM map
  • A small chunk of city to show off
  • Some character animation would be nice!

Then I shall have to write a script, film the trailer and edit it. Once that’s all done I can get the greenlight page up and call the website properly done.

The Hard Bit

Heist has always been a difficult idea to communicate. Do I focus on it being a game about breaking into stuff, or do I focus on it being a really flexible engine which can be extended with loads of new gamemodes very quickly and for little cost? My not-really-a-solution at the moment is to have a main trailer which shows off the basics of the game (explorable cities, stealthy theft) and then to have some other trailer/tutorial videos which talk you through modding the engine.

The Rabbit Hole Never Stops

This might sound like the engine is complete and from here on it’s all building the game itself. It’s not. There are still two very big changes to the engine that need doing:

World Generation V3

The current world generator system is an improved version of the very first prototype I made 2 years ago. It’s good at what it does, but I’ve come to realise that the entire way in which it works is pretty flawed. The current generator generates the entire world as fast as possible (prioritising parts of the world close to the observer). A better way to do it would be to instead only generate parts of the world as needed which would effectively reduce the processor load of world generation by spreading it out over more time. This new system will also pave the way for introducing NPCs into the world by generating pathfinding navigation meshes on-the-fly as the world is generated.

Luckily I think this change will probably only take about 2 weeks and is a sufficiently well encapsulated change that nothing about the procedural world generation API for scripting will change (i.e. this isn’t a breaking change).

Artificial Intelligence

I’ve talked about AI a bit before. I have a lot of bits of AI tech mostly complete and tested but not integrated into the actual game engine. Obviously this needs to change and I need to start exposing AI components in the scripting interface and then building some generic NPCs which can be used as “drop-in” NPCs for mods. My immediate goal here would be to build a bot which can play deathmatches - this is a sufficiently well explored area that I’ll have lots of other games to compare my bots to.

This is, obviously, a pretty massive piece of work. A stealth game is very dependent upon good AIs, indeed a stealth game is entirely about playing against NPCs.

But When Can I Play?

Right now! That’s actually a lie, the game is currently only available to my friends who are serving as closed alpha testers, but if you’re one of those people it’s true because the game is actually playable as a very basic deathmatch. It will take about 1 week’s work to properly polish this upon in a decent game (which I’m slowly chipping away at as I complete the publicity work). I’m also going to be adding a few more experimental modes in a similar vein to DM:

  • Team Deathmatch
  • Capture the flag
  • King of the hill
  • Assassination (Team 1 tries to kill a VIP, team 2 tries to get him to the objective)
  • Hunted (every person is given a single target to kill)

None of these are particularly groundbreaking, but they should all be fairly simple to implement and will serve as a pretty good testbed.

TL;DR When Can I Play?

Keep an eye out on this blog for an announcement of the game being on Steam greenlight. Once it’s through greenlight (or maybe before) the game will be available for everyone to play.

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