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The One Man MMO Project
The story of a lone developer's quest to build an online world :: MMO programming, design, and industry commentary
8 Years of Development
By Robert Basler on 2017-11-04 15:53:48
Homepage: email:one at onemanmmo dot com

Next Thursday is the 8 year anniversary of my start on The Imperial Realm::Miranda. That's a really long time to work on a project, particularly a game, but I can see the end now so that's something to look forward to. I don't have anything exciting planned to mark the day, I expect I'll still be working on the next update.

The most frustrating thing about working on a super-secret new feature is that you can't talk about it! Or even ask questions about it. Sure you can talk to people you know won't spill, but sometimes you just want input from the people who play the game.

[The Monolith - I made that!]

I figured out the art problem I was struggling with last week, and spent most of two days this week rigging the new art assets to work in-game. For each model I add specially-named cubes for dust around the treads, damage smoke, sometimes exhaust, and for where weapons shoot from, then I properly parent and name all the weapons meshes so that the game can manipulate the turret and barrel, animate the treads and do all the particle effects. Then I create in-game materials for the models so that the game can render them. It's a bit of work for each one.

After looking at the new models, a change in the handling of symmetrical weapons seemed necessary. Previously each weapon had a single barrel, so if a tank had small weapons on each side of the turret, only one would be visible if the unit had one weapon. Or if a weapon had four barrels, it would only actually shoot out of one. I've modified the game to allow multiple barrels for a single weapon which should make some of the units with multiple guns less lopsided and more exciting looking. Unfortunately, older models won't get this automatically, so I'll have to revisit the art for those. This doesn't affect the damage output of the weapons, just the visuals.

Several players had complained that Ctrl-groups weren't saved when they logged out. My original thought on that was that most groups would be short-lived, and that it wasn't worth the trouble of saving them. I was wrong, so last week while I watched the first episode of the new Stranger Things (so good!) I modified the server to save them. The game will also save your current selection of units provided you've given them at least one command. Thank goodness I had the foresight to put a version field in that data, it would have been a major hassle to make this change if I hadn't.

A player reported a bug a while ago that he was getting the same component in multiple inventory slots. That isn't supposed to happen, inventory slots hold a practically unlimited number of any component. The problem was that he clicked so fast buying components that while the server was creating an account to put the first purchased component in, it would process another request for a purchase, see that there was no account for that component yet, and create a second one, and sometimes even a third one. The problem was fairly obvious, the server checked its local list of accounts, rather than the authoritative list of accounts on the database server when deciding to create a new account. I had to stare at the accounting code for a really long time before I could decide what to do about this, but the solution was simple. When I ask the database server to create an account, it now checks to see if the account already exists and if it does, it returns the existing account ID rather than creating a new one.

If you have duplicate accounts for a component, you can get rid of them by selling all the components in one account to a vendor, then log out. The zero balance account will be removed. Repeat until you are down to just one account.

I was looking through my list of planned additions this week, and my current update is the last big game-changing update on my list. I still have a lot more things I want to do, but they're all relatively small-ish, so I'll be bundling many related-ish updates into larger updates going forward.

Playing Guild Wars 2's Hallowe'en events I realized it would be nice to have seasonal events on Miranda at some point. Those dour Imperials probably at least celebrate the ascension of the Emperor.

I've also been thinking a lot about Miranda's next update which I've tentatively titled "Miranda Remastered." Everyone's remastering old games with newer graphics, so why can't I do it with a new game? I have a lot of ideas I'd like to do. The big one is really experimental so I'm not at all sure how that will work out or how long it will take. Miranda's giant, seamless open world and deformable terrain makes things tricky. I've been looking really closely at other games with similar artistic goals to see how they work (Grrrr Homeworld Deserts of Kharak with your pretty baked shadows!) Will be fun to be able to post some new screenshots.

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