Friday, February 21, 2014

A Little Detour To Revisit a Old Side Project

Hello everyone!

My buddy Andrew contacted me the other day and asked if I wanted to help him redo a lot of the stuff that we made for SpaceWings now that we have a bit more experience. So, we dredged up as many of the old files that we could and got to work figuring out what we needed to redo. He wanted to tackle most of the base code himself, while I took on getting the menus put together.

Unfortunately, the only assets we had from the original menus were screenshots. A bit of Photoshop magic and I had almost all the elements I needed. A major thing I was still missing was the font. None of the other guys that worked on it before that I talked to had the name of the font we used in the original. So, I had to find some new fonts. I then had to try and replicate the effects that Justin Bucher made for the originals. He's much more proficient at Photshop than I am though, but I did my best.

Here are some of the HUD assets:

Once I got the main aspects of the menus done I decided to start working on getting the pickup system working. This has four main parts to it: Picking up and classifying an item, adding to the inventory if applicable, updating the HUD if something was added to the inventory, and checking to see if the player has a particular item. 

Picking Up and Classifying

Getting the item to be picked up proved to be surprisingly difficult for me. I haven't really worked with skeletal meshes/skinning/animation before in UDK. I got almost all of it set up thanks to some help from Andrew, mostly setting up the anim tree. The part that kept throwing me off was the collision. To get collision on a static mesh is really easy, but I was having a trouble with a skeletal mesh. Turns out I was looking at too much code and over looked adding BlockNonZeroExtent = true default properties of the skeletal mesh component...

As for classifying it, there is a variable in the actual pickup that holds what type of pickup it is. When the pickup is touched it calls a function in the player controller class that takes that variable and decides what to do with it. Here is my base pickup class:

class SW_Pickup extends Actor abstract placeable ClassGroup(SW_Pickups); var string PickupType; var SpaceWingsPlayerController PC; var SpaceWingsPawn P; event Touch(Actor Other, PrimitiveComponent OtherComp, vector HitLocation, vector HitNormal) { PC = SpaceWingsPlayerController(GetALocalPlayerController()); P = SpaceWingsPawn(PC.Pawn); PC.MyLog("A" @ PickupType @ "Pickup was touched", 'PickupTouch'); //If the instigator is the player, then process the pickup if(Other == P) { PC.ProcessPickup(PickupType); Destroy(); } } defaultproperties { PickupType = "None" Begin Object Class=SkeletalMeshComponent Name=PickupMesh Scale3D=(X=1.0, Y=1.0, Z=1.0) CollideActors=true BlockNonZeroExtent=true End Object Components.Add(PickupMesh) CollisionComponent=PickupMesh bCollideActors = true bBlockActors = false CollisionType = COLLIDE_TouchAll }
And then all you have to do is extend off of that and add the relevant skeletal mesh properties in the defaultproperties of the child class and assign the item type to that variable I mentioned earlier. For example, here is the the red key card pickup class.
class SW_RedKeyCardPickup extends SW_Pickup; defaultproperties { PickupType = "RedKeyCard" Begin Object Name=PickupMesh SkeletalMesh=SkeletalMesh'SW_Meshes.KeyCard.KeyCard' Materials(0)=Material'SW_Meshes.KeyCard.RedKeyCard_Mat' AnimSets(0)=AnimSet'SW_Meshes.KeyCard.KeyCard_Anim' AnimTreeTemplate=AnimTree'SW_Meshes.KeyCard.KeyCard_AnimTree' PhysicsAsset=PhysicsAsset'SW_Meshes.KeyCard.KeyCard_Physics' End Object }

Adding To My Inventory

Adding it to the inventory was really simple. Since the inventory can hold a maximum of 3 items I didn't need to implement a grand inventory manager. For simplicity I assigned each pickup that could be added to the inventory a number instead of trying to save a class into the array, or something overly complex like that. I could have done a string, but I end up using the id number when updating the HUD. Here are the functions that manage my small inventory:
exec function AddItem(int ItemID) { local int i; if(ItemList.length < 3) { i = ItemList.length; ItemList.length = ItemList.length + 1; ItemList[i] = ItemID; HUDGFx.UpdateItems(); } else { MyLog("ItemList is full", 'AddItem'); } } function bool CheckForItem(int ItemID, out int FoundItemID) { local int i; local bool bHaveItem; bHaveItem = false; for(i = 0; i < ItemList.length; i++) { if(ItemList[i] == ItemID) { bHaveitem = true; FoundItemID = i; } } return bHaveItem; } //This would be used like this in whatever function needs the check //If not being called from this class, get PC reference like normal /* local int FoundID; if(CheckForItem(1, FoundID)) //If we have a keycard (ID 1) { RemoveItem(FoundID); //Insert the rest of the code that happens if they have the keycard } */ exec function RemoveItem(int ItemID) { ItemList.Remove(ItemID, 1); HUDGFx.UpdateItems(); }

Updating the HUD

Now that I have all of that in order I have to update the HUD to show which items I have in my inventory. As I do more and more Scaleform projects I try and migrate as much code as I can from AS3 to Unrealscript, since Unrealscript runs faster than AS3. Since I will be spawning movieclips directly from Unrealscript I have to keep a reference to them in order to adjust them or delete them. To help manage my references I decided to make my AttachMovie function a bit more dynamic on what parameters are passed. The first step was to create an array that holds the linkage names(to match the ones in Flash) and the desired instance names for all of the different item types that can be added to the inventory. The element number then corresponds to the ID I gave the items when I added them to the inventory. Here is how I have the AttachMovie and the reference array set up:
var struct ItemInfo { var string LinkageName; //Name used in Flash var string InstanceName; //Desired Instance Name } ItemReference; //ItemSlot[0] holds the id number of the item assigned to that spot. ItemOneSlot.AttachMovie(ItemReference[ItemList[0]].LinkageName, ItemReference[ItemList[0]].InstanceName); ItemOneMC = GetVariableObject("_root.itemOneSlot_mc." $ ItemReference[ItemList[0]].InstanceName); //In the defualt properties ItemReference[1] = (LinkageName = "redKeyCard_item", InstanceName = "redKeyCard") ItemReference[2] = (LinkageName = "blueKeyCard_item", InstanceName = "blueKeyCard")

CheckForItem Kismet Node

Since I like using Kismet for setting up triggers and other level specific things I needed a way to check if I had the correct item before the actual action could be executed. For instance, if they have the red keycard when trying to lower the force field. If they don't have it they shouldn't be able to lower it. So I made a custom Kistmet node that calls my check inventory function in my PlayerController class(see above), then outputs the correct result. I wanted to be able to set which item was being checked and also if I wanted it to be removed when the check was made. If I had like a master key card or something that could be used over and over again I wouldn't want it to be removed from my inventory. Anyway, here is my Kismet node:
class SeqCond_CheckForItem extends SequenceCondition; var bool bResult; var int ItemID; /**Remove the item if found? */ var(Items) bool bRemove; /**Expected Item Type*/ var(Items) enum ItemTypes { ITEM_RedKeyCard, ITEM_BlueKeyCard } ExpectedItem; event Activated() { local SpaceWingsPlayerController PC; PC = SpaceWingsPlayerController(class'WorldInfo'.static.GetWorldInfo().Game.GetALocalPlayerController()); bResult = PC.CheckForItem(ExpectedItem + 1, ItemID); if(bResult && bRemove) { PC.RemoveItem(ItemID); } //If the check result is true, activate the first output link, else the second OutputLinks[(bResult == true) ? 0 : 1].bHasImpulse = true; } defaultproperties { ObjName="CheckForItem" ObjCategory="SpaceWings" bRemove = true InputLinks(0)=(LinkDesc="In") OutputLinks(0)=(LinkDesc="True") OutputLinks(1)=(LinkDesc="False") VariableLinks(0)=(ExpectedType=class'SeqVar_Bool',LinkDesc="Result",bWriteable=true,PropertyName=bResult) }

Wow, this post ended up being a lot longer than I had anticipated. I was going to throw up a video of the pickups and HUD in action, but that will have to wait until later. Time to work!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Returns and Removing Children

Hello everyone!

I don't really have much to report on Winds of Commerce, I wrapped up the transaction list/receipts feature. When you bring up the receipts menu it will show you a list of all the cities you've been to, what day of the journey you visited it on, and how much you spent or earned there. You can then click on a city in the list and it will bring up an itemized list of what commodities you purchased/sold, how much you spent/earned on each commodity, and how much you spent on purchasing information.

The next thing I have to tackle is the navigation system. Right now I'm using exec functions to simulate going between cities. This will probably be the biggest system I've had to tackle developing this game. Unfortunately, before I can even start coding I have to get the routes figured out. That way I know how many days away each city is from one another and try and make the shortest route to each city. The hard part is trying to make it logical. Each time I get a route down I look at it and think, "Is that the most efficient route to that city?" then proceed to convince myself it isn't... and redo it again!


While I was working on getting this game put together I ran into how to use returns in a function. I had only used them a handful of times before, and didn't quite know how to use them. I knew you had to have 'return SomeVariable;' but I guess the usefulness didn't really hit me. Since I read more about them and did some tests I have started to use them more. I find them very useful for doing calculations, conversions, or simply checking if a function has completed running.
Setting up a function to return something is really simple, though it is different in Unrealscript and AS3. In Unrealscript the function setup looks like this:
function ReturnType FunctionName() { local ReturnType SomeVar; //Set SomeVar return SomeVar; }

Here is an example of a function that returns an int:

function int GetSum(int A, int B) { local int Sum; Sum = A + B; return Sum; } //To call use it Total = GetSum(5, 10); //GetSum would return 15

The return type can be any of the standard variable types: bool, int, string, array, and even a class. An example of a class being returned can be found in the GameInfo class, with the SetGameType function. This function returns the GameInfo class to use for the game.
static event class<GameInfo> SetGameType(string MapName, string Options, string Portal) { return Default.Class; }

A bool return can be useful if used in an if statement to make sure that function has ran completely before moving on with the if statement. An example of this is in a lot of the bot AI code that is floating around the internet. It is being used to make sure that a path has been found or not, basically:
if(FindPath()) { //Commence moving }

Return functions work the same in AS3, just with the different declaration. Here is how you would declare a retunr funciton in AS3:
function functionName():ReturnType { var someVar:ReturnType; //Set someVar return someVar; }

Speaking of ActionScript, in my last post I mentioned the different ways to call a function in AS3 from Unrealscript(ActionScriptVoid, ActionScriptBool, AsctionScriptInt, and so on). These are there to allow you to receive a return value from your AS3 function. For instance, if you had the GetSum function in AS3 and needed to call it from Unrealscript it would look like this:
//In AS3 function getSum(a:Number, b:Number):Number { var sum:Number; sum = a + b; return sum; } //In Unrealscript Total = ActionScriptInt("_root.getSum");

Now you have several examples of how to use a function to return a value!

Removing Children

The next code bit I found extends what I talked about in my last post with the removeChild function. Sometimes it is necessary to remove all the children from a MovieClip, and since there isn't a function for removeAllChildren there is a work around using a for loop. It's pretty simple, you get the number of children in the MovieClip, then go backwards through the children and remove them one at a time. Here is an example of what I'm talking about:

for (var i:int = container_mc.numChildren-1; i >= 0; i--) { container_mc.removeChildAt(i); }
I think that is all I have for you this week. Hopefully by my next update I'll have all of the routes figured out.