Today has been a pretty good day, with some cool new functionality demonstrated in the latest raw DarkAI prototype. As some of you DBP coders might know DarkAI uses containers to separate vertical slices of a scene to emulate a 3D environment.
The downside is that these containers cannot be connected together and effectively exist in isolation. My work today was to create a new sub-system to DarkAI which would build and administrate 'container bridge paths' which informed any AI entity where to go in order to cross over to a new container. Typically the scene is divided into about 20 containers, stacked vertically so that the terrain would be container zero, and the first floor of a building would be container one, and so on. For a cave system level, your terrain might be container five, with subterranean levels below.
The current prototype offers up a new building template that has a door at the ground floor leading to some stairs to level one, and some ladders outside which go all the way to the roof on the third level. Wish I could show you the screen shot but I am awaiting the professional 'developer art banner' as recommended by Rick. Maybe tomorrow..
Explosion Floor Smoke
One of the small side projects for this evening will be to mock-up a smoke system that will hide the rather horrid sharp line often see when you place a vertical decal aligned to face the camera as it cuts the floor of the scene.
It's only an idea of mine right now, but if it works, it should really improve the impression that the explosion we have for Reloaded is more 3D (without resorting to a true 3D particle explosion which would require DX11 and a LOT of graphics card grunt).
State Machine VS Real-Time Planning
I was sent a white paper on the AI system used in FEAR which was quite enlightening, and went about the problem of AI by creating a real-time reasoning system to figure out what AI entities should be doing at any time during the game.
I see no problem implementing such a system, but it would take months to lay out and test, and that's before adding any in-game behaviors that fit our goals for Reloaded. As it stands, I am pretty sure what I want to see from the AI at the moment, and have all the animations on standby ready to go in. Before I dive into a whole new approach, I want to complete the current plan and see if my ideas for a new and improved AI system works out.
I already have the AI entities hiding around corners, and navigating around large terrain features, and finding their way around multiple floors of a building. Paul is helping me work on new things such as diving for cover, jumping over low lying obstacles and perhaps a few more small tweaks.
While I wait for these new features to DarkAI, I might side track a little and tie in the current AI behaviors to the character animations so they appear smooth and connected, rather than disjointed and glitchy which can so easily be the case without careful consideration.