So today I started work on the GraveShip, which I’ve mentioned a few times in the past. In MMORPG Tycoon, the graveyard is treated as the intersection between the development world and the in-game world. Everything that enters the world or leaves the world comes in or out through these graveyards. (The only exception being new subscribers, who appear in Starting Areas)
The question that one has to ask, then, is “If everything comes into the world through a graveyard, then where does the first graveyard come from?” In MMORPG Tycoon 1.1, the answer was “It just appears magically.” For version 2.0, I have a better answer. In 2.0, we have the GraveShip, which is essentially a flying graveyard. In order to place the first graveyard in a region, you must first fly your GraveShip into that desolate region; your AI developers are able to enter and leave that region via your GraveShip until a proper, permanent graveyard can be established. In fact, the player can expect to spend much of his time on the GraveShip; it can give a much higher viewpoint which is great for placing buildings and roads, and travels much faster than trekking about on foot. My current goal is to aim to have the player spending approximately a third of his time on the graveship (which will mostly be building towns and large-scale map design), a third of his time on foot (which will mostly be placing small rewards and inspecting individual subscribers), and the final third of his time in the super secret game mode which I haven’t talked about yet. :)
In this screenshot you don’t get a good view of the graveship; that’s because I’m currently standing on it. You can only see one of its corners, in the bottom right corner of the image. Like most of the other graphics in the game, it’s currently placeholder, but functional. In your button bar at the bottom of the screen (not pictured) is a Summon/Dismiss GraveShip button, which calls a GraveShip to your location, or sends it away. I currently have the GraveShip spawning and moving to where you call for it, and the player can jump up onto it and walk around on top of it, but cannot yet actually fly it around (not much more work will be required to make that functional, though).
Other stuff going on.. in the screenshot above, you may notice (but probably not, as it’s rather subtle) that I’ve made some large changes to the heightmap generation algorithm, and substantially raised the clouds. The upshot of this is that (in my opinion) the structure of the terrain looks a lot better, and we can now have much higher mountains before they clip into the cloud layers. This change should hopefully also allow me to cheaply generate low-detail versions of the terrain further out into the distance, for very little extra cost in terms of rendering speed.. but I haven’t actually tested that yet.
Tomorrow, GraveShip flight, and UI switching.