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Current Projects: Americana Engine (Game Engine Development)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Americana Dawn: Programming Standpoint

First Challenge of the month: Making sure the music from the composer can be played in the game.

The general game flow is mentioned in this post in Bit Bonton.

It was 18 months ago that I made a mention to Americana Dawn, and maybe longer that I was aware of it. In recent weeks, I was asked to help out with the project, which I accepted.

The demo was originally set for July 4 2012, but this was pushed back. Twice. The Kickstarter for the game was successful, but the game went way over budget.

After choosing to commit, two things were realized: One, I can no longer do a review for this game - after all, I am part of the team that makes the game, so I could essentially add features that I would otherwise say in a review as 'not present in the game', and work my way towards an ideal highly rated RPG. Two, this occupies the timeframe of a standard 3 or 4 unit class (has regular meetings, building the game, etc), and the term project for this one is... the completed game (by Apr 28) so I'm in for something new. Like an intern position for an game company, except that pay is based on how much people donate*.

The last time I remember programing something of this depth was three years ago, where my entire class worked on an airplane simulator, and it became the class term project. (It ultimately didn't reach completed status). It's like this now - only it's just me and whatever reference manuals I can find on the internet.

My experience with programming the game will be described in several posts over the next eight months or so, and will fall under the Americana Dawn category.

The App Planning Stages

The requirements for the app were the following (updated as I go along):

  • 16-bit style RPG
  • Keyboard controlled (I may add mouse support of people ask for it)
  • Linear gameplay (although it will be open world to some degree and may have sidequests)
  • Dynamic music - ability to change out music on the fly based on location and on-screen events.
  • Be able to handle various environmental effects as well as support large map sizes
  • Complex Large Scale Battle system (sometimes handling hundreds of units in a single battle at once)
  • Deep storyline and character / gear progression system, and ensuring there isn't any excessive grinding.

The program was originally generated using RPGMaker using multiple scripts to handle custom features like pixel (instead of grid) movement and battle systems, but the engine was not geared towards many of the heavy modifications this game would otherwise require, especially the sound and larger character sprites. So I'll have to build a custom engine for this one.