< published August 02, 2014

DarkFO Devlog Part V


Wow, it's been a while, hasn't it? A lot of work has been done on DarkFO in the past weeks, major and minor both. Let's review them.

Gameplay

Stats and Skills have been more properly implemented. They're both bounded. There are dependent stats like Critical Chance whose formulas depend on other stats.

You can now click through the transparent parts of objects. This means that clicking in the open part of a door or some other object no longer uses that object, but the one below it that you actually clicked on.

Z-sorting is also now implemented, meaning when objects move, they are drawn in the correct order. Before, they would just draw over half of the other objects, even when they're behind them. The caveat to this is that walking animations are not really perfect -- moving/Z-sorting will only happen every partial animation. This will have to be fixed in the future.

You can now move objects to your Item 1 / Item 2 slots (your hands), so you can equip weapons now, to use things like spears.

Using certain objects has been implemented. You can use containers (they will open and then let you loot them), and explosives (you can arm them for some specific time and they will explode, damaging things in a radius. The damaging part hasn't been implemented (it just hasn't!), but it does hook up to the scripting engine (this is required to beat the game -- you need to blow up the impenetrable door (how ominous!) in the Temple of Trials starting area with Plastic Explosives. You now can. It's also useful in the last areas of the game -- the Oil Rig -- where you can blow up a nuclear reactor control station. Not necessary, but cool.)

UI

This is a big one. Instead of the makeshift UI of yesterweeks, I just went ahead and tried retrofitting the original Fallout 2 UI into HTML5/CSS3/JS. What a horror and a half that has been, but it does look pretty. See for yourself.

DarkFO UI

It's scaled up slightly to fit the current screen size, but it will likely be better scaled in the future. It's also highly moddable -- most of the UI elements' styles are controlled via CSS, or in the worst case, JS. It supports extending and reskinning.

The little "end turn/combat" button (as you see in the lower right with the yellow and black stripes) animation is done with CSS3 animations. Reasonable browsers have vendor prefixes for this as of the time of writing (around August 2014).

Dragging and dropping is done via the HTML5 Drag and Drop API. While probably not the best choice (especially for dragging between same-page elements), it is reasonable and allows it to be fairly fluid.

The world map is actually a huge hassle to implement because it's just a bunch of images stitched together that are composed of tiles covered in a fog of war with 3 states (undiscovered, bordering, and discovered. "Bordering" tiles are uncovered when you visit one of the adjacent neighbors, and are pretty much just grayed. Discovered tiles are entirely uncovered.) In addition to that, you also have a presence in it. It's your main method of transportation between areas -- if you want to go from Klamath to The Den, you need to traverse the desert wasteland, possibly encountering (randomly, based on set conditions in a mini-language and an encounter rate) special and/or hostile encounters. That will be a major thing to be implemented in the future.

Smaller screens like dialogue (pictured above), inventory, bartering, looting, etc. are implemented as well. This makes it look a lot more like a game -- heck, I even confuse it for the real game when I'm glancing at screenshots.

Still, some work is needed to smooth some rough edges. That will be in the future.

Scripting

Not much major has gone on in the scripting language area. There are a bunch of random and miscellaneous improvements (like imported map variables being referenced correctly) that make a lot of things work better, but it's still using the same engine.

Scripts can do somewhat silly things, sometimes. Objects (like wells) sometimes have scripts that recursively add a timed event every tick (1/10 a second). Hypothetically if my timed event scheduler were to also evaluate events made during events, it would result in an infinite loop. Good thing that didn't happen! Heh!

There are also brahmin that act weird if they cannot figure out if they're inside their pen (say, if tile_in_tile_rect were not implemented...) They would do things like walk into a wall repeatedly in a slaughterhouse and then run your pathfinding algorithm ten times a second. What a mess that would be! It just really wants to be cheezburger.

Spatial Triggers

These are interesting.

Spatial triggers are scripts attached to a coordinate in space and a range such that when a critter walks within range, the script's spatial_p_proc procedure is called.

This is used for elevators (more on this next!), mines (notably in the entrance to Navarro), traps (Temple of Trials, etc), and certain script triggers.

These are wrapped up in the script section of maps, which is mostly undocumented. I reverse engineered the fields I needed via experimentation, but I later discovered a Russian document also makes these finds (why they're not mentioned in the map format documentation by the same team/website, I'm not sure. They're just labeled as unknown.)

Elevators

Ahh, elevators. Such a simple concept. Well, the Fallout developers decided that wasn't good enough, so they made it complicated.

So, here's a rough outline of how the elevatoring process works in Fallout:

Now, WTF? Every elevator in Fallout / Fallout 2 is hardcoded in the executable. Sigh. Yes, this means that it's difficult for modders to add new elevators. They have a few choices in the matter:

Clearly this was not the best way to implement elevators... Please, if your game has elevators, don't hardcode them!

Anyway, the result of parsing out this table and writing all of the necessary code to hook it up results in:

DarkFO Elevators

Beautiful.

Conclusion

Fallout 2 is a really complex game. It was way ahead of its time. There are a lot of complex and emergent behaviors inhabiting the game and its community. It's just unfortunate that they had to take a lot of shortcuts to get the game to run (and perform decently on the PCs of the time.) It's more complicated to emulate the game and its idiosyncrasies. In that way, and that way only, it's fitting that I'm using JS to implement most of it.

Hope you enjoy reading. Go play some Fallout 2.