Tuesday, 30 December 2008

XAGE v0.2 Progress

XAGE goes HD: XAGE now accepts any gameScreen size. There are still a few scaling issues to resolve - I aim to add GUI customisation to XAGETOOL at some point. Here's XAGE using a background texture I borrowed from the AGS forums: Clicky.

XAGE on the Xbox 360: The next release will include a XAGE as a library, along with a skeleton VS2008 project for easy assembly and deployment to the Xbox 360. You'll need an XNA Creators Club membership (though you can occasionally get free ones).

Here's a low-quality clip showcasing the following:
1) XAGE running on the Xbox 360
2) Introduction and Menu scripts (essentially non-playable mini-games)
3) Simple loading & saving (one slot only at present) and X360 storage selection

The above two features were implemented due to requests I received after v0.1, so your feedback is taken seriously and is appreciated. I'm not sure on the ETA for v0.2 yet - there's a fair amount of refactoring to do that I've put off for a while. You can still get your hands on v0.1 by emailing me as per the below post. At some point there'll be a online bugtracker to submit bugs and feature requests but it's probably overkill at the moment.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

XAGE v0.1 (Private Alpha)

It's taken a week longer than I had hoped, but the private alpha is now ready. As mentioned previously, there's a bunch of features not yet implemented and a handful of known bugs, but I've been able to test the installation package on another machine and it seems to work fine. There's a dummy game installer included which uses Microsoft's Click-Once installation to ensure you have all the requirements (dotnet 2.0, XNA Framework 3.0) and automatically downloads them if you don't. All this is covered in the readme.

If you'd like to participate, please email clarvalonATliveDOTcoDOTuk and I'll email you the link to the file (rapidshare). Please post any feedback or issues on this blog.

Much obliged.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Minor update

I've been laid up in bed for a few days with a touch of flu, so progress has been slow in the last week. I've implemented a few new features for the creation tool, including the ability to import your own non-compiled graphics. For animation frames I had previously been manually entering the pixel co-ordinates, which is easy enough, but I think most people would prefer being able to select the frames directly from the spritesheet using the mouse, so I'll put that in for the alpha.

The following outstanding features will NOT be in the alpha, as they'll take a while to code and I'm eager to get some feedback as soon as possible:
  • Conversation Trees
  • Global Variables
  • Compression of save files
  • Importing of SOME non-compiled assets (fonts & sounds)
  • Full UI scalability
To answer a question in the comments, XAGE uses a system reminiscent of the SCUMM games in that there is a single executable which essentially interprets a gamecontent file (currently "Game.xml", but an option will be added to use a binary file instead). The gamecontent file is created and updated by the creation tool - you'll never need to touch or worry about the executable.

I'll post again when the Alpha's ready. Note that documentation will be light (read: non-existent), but I'll put in some tooltips so you can at least figure out what each field does. I'm hoping that the majority of the functionality will be self-explanatory.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Custom Animations

One of the improvements Monkey Island 2 had over the original was the use gestures. It made the characters seem more real if they were gesticulating as they talked, rather than just standing there with their mouths opening and closing.

Alongside the scripting system XAGE uses, I've added a simple Custom Animation structure, which simply lets you string together a series of frames at timed intervals. This allows a certain deal of flexibility and enables the creator to add their own gesticulations.

Here's a short clip that shows custom animations, along with character scaling, object occlusion, multiple rooms and background scrolling:

As part of the engine's release I want to include a small sample game (a handful of rooms, characters and scripts). Obviously I can't distrubute Lucasarts graphics as part of the package, so I need to stat thinking about either rolling my own or using the art from a different game.

I really like Murder in a Wheel; it's a good match for XAGE . Are there any public domain adventure game art assets, or is it likely anyone would let me use their artwork for my sample game?