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Adventure Camp: masscolder’s Posts

Posted by ballightning on May 18, 2009

Masscolder has been the most helpful in reporting to the community the various aspects of Galactic Adventures. Which is why will have done some exclusives with him which will be appearing soon on the adventure camp page, in the mean time here is some of his posts.

 

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The mission I did had 3 acts. And each act took place in a different setting. I worked the full two days on it, and what I managed to do is lay down the terrain, outfit my captain, and work with units, effects, and game items. But I still have to work on some of the goals, triggers, and AI. So I would envision myself working at least a few days if not a week on a single mission. It’s hard to estimate what an average mission build time would be. Keep in mind that all the guys who were at the camp are pretty dedicated and quite the perfectionists, so maybe we’re not the best people to ask that. I can tell you that a good mission that is thoughtful, well detailed, well executed, and glitch tested would take at least a few days to make.

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The sound effects are like items, you drag and drop them in your mission, and they have a radius and that would be the area in which they will play. Big kudos to the person who did the sound effects (can’t remember his Maxis handle). They are really impressive and range from ambient to single time to music/orchestra.

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Actually acts and goals are bit… more fluid. That took awhile to get used to but basically they are just two different advanced tools to manipulate content in your mission. Each act can have up to 3 goals and there are 8 acts max. So total of 24 goals. I’m not sure about destroying 20 vehicles… There might be some way to do it but the way the goals work you drag and drop a goal to a creature or unit. There could be some sort of keeping a score of it or counter or something… Im sure there has to be, I just personally didnt get a chance to play around with goals too much. The advanced options are quite a jungle.

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I know for sure that you can disguise a game object as a spaceship and then have it held. A lot of it is out of the box thinking. Like you can give the illusion of a lot of things without them actually being that. By using the disguise function.

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How does the planet moulding system work?

Well as you can see in the screen you have a bunch of pre-mades. 3 pages of them. Then you get into customizable stuff. That color palette is really cool, basically it’s related to the height of the terrain and you can choose what color that particular height terrain has. You can add or remove the height points to very accurately regulate color.

I’ll give you an example of how this comes in handy. The very first take on the mission I worked on I had it set up in a volcanic planet but then I had a plateau that I had looking like an oasis by using green colors to simulate grass. Add to that plants to suit and effects and sounds to match and you can create two very different environments within the same planet by simply tinkering with the colors and terrain height.

Speaking of plants you could randomize them from here, you have a slide to choose the density and you can load up the ones you want but I found that for the most part Id rather load up plants as props because that lets you do some very precise placement, while the slider in the terra editor is quite unpredictable.

If you choose to use it tho, you can make plants flower and also you can use a tool call plant remover or something like that that will ensure no plant is present in its radius. You can adjust humidity which will effect sky color and visibility, and you can also adjust temperature and water level.

And oh yea, there is a hazard check which will do things like geysers etc. The terra tools don’t work like they do when you terraform. Instead they are items you drag and drop, and then adjust the scale and size of. There are A LOT of options here. Most tools have 2-3 pages to them.

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Did you run into any issues with sizing things? Were the scaling limits what you expected? 
Scaling seemed fine to me. 

Did any of you do interiors? 
I didn’t. 

How did you feel about the camera in general? 
One of the editors had a tribal stage like camera which I found a bit annoying, but there are a lot of cool shortcuts to get to stuff. Like right clicking on a prop or creature takes u to it on the map. Now if youre asking about the camera in game… it felt alright. Could be better, could be worse. 

Could I make a “disarm the bomb” mission if I wanted to? 
You should be able to, bombs have timers. And then you can use acts to serve as triggers 

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Sound effects and lighting

Both the sound and light effects are like props. You place them on the terrain. The light effects you can angle in 3d, which is actually extremely useful. I used this laser fire which is intended to give the sky battles feel to convert it into laser rain hitting the ground. 

MaxisKate who designed the lights (and did such a fantastic job at it, I can’t thank her enough) showed me a demo mission she had made to showcase the different effects. It’s too bad she didn’t get a chance to show it to everyone else but they were too enwrapped in mission making. As I played through it, I saw all kinds of fantastic things done with the lights. 

It started off in this high tech environment and she had used a couple of the molecular effects (there is one that looks like a molecule, another one that swirls up and builds a DNA spiral), a couple of portals, some shimmering transparent walls, and she had done this really cool thing to where she had used a building as a prop and then run electric currents through connectors, which made the building look like it was powered up. I then teleported to a dancefloor which was glowing and there was a disco ball and all kinds of other stuff like that, and she had loaded up an upbeat sound effect that really made the scene work. Then you followed a Billy Jean kind of a walkway with kites, balloons, and confetti everywhere. There was another scene in an ice environment where she had snow flurries (which make snow flurry sounds!) and another one through this green grass land that had rainbows, bees, and butterflies. The last scene was absolutely stunning, you get teleported on this tiny planet (again building prop), so you’re sitting on it, and then everything around is black (building walls) and all these cosmic galaxy effects were laid out around. There was a milky way which MKate said she wanted to give that Men In Black feel of a small universe and then a black hole an aurora and a bunch of other stuff. 

She had used all of the effects for the mission, I’m missing a ton. I hope we can have that mission released when GA ships out. They need to fix some glitches but it really showcases all the cool things you can do with the lights. 

There ARE some color variations but no, you can’t change their color, at least I don’t think so. They just give you a couple of color options in the fx menu.

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1. The adventure creator tabs are: Creatures, Vehicles, Buildings, Fixed Objects, Game Objects, Sounds, Effects, and Objects in use (which is cool, cause you can load up a TON of stuff and then pick and choose what to use, and then when you go to the Objects in use tab you see it all and double rightclicking any will take you to where its at on the map) 

2. They are… interesting. Like we’ve been saying there are a lot of things you can do, and there are a lot of things you can’t do and you’re going to have to think creatively how to give the illusion of whatever it is you want to do without actually doing it. A lot is drag and drop. When you drag a goal to an object it opens up a dial that gives you your options. Each object icon in the workspace to the left has Delete, Randomize, and Open Sporepedia mini button, and some have a Behavior button (which opens up the intermediate behavior panel and then u can access Advanced behavior from there). The terrain controls are bars (adjusting water, temp, or vegetation level for example), checkmarks (hazards and flowers for example), and objects you again drag and drop. The height/color adjusting panel is really cool, cause you can use it to create different environments within the same panel by creating breakpoints in the height that contain a certain terrain color. Those are really intuitive and easy to work with, you can just click where you want them and to choose a color or drag them out to clear them.

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You cant adjust terrain between acts, its a separate thing. It’s really different editors that they’ve put in one so you can easily jump between, which is VERY handy (say I need to level terrain somewhere to place a building, or improve the pathing in a certain area with terrain ramps etc.). But yes, you can create illusions of different environments. Light and sound FX along with props use will be very vital to making it believable tho. And of course you gotta make sure people don’t just fly or swim over. Lava does an amazing job of taking care of the latter 

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I’ve used a bunch of editors before, most recently the WC3 TFT one (I used to make maps etc). And this one strikes me as very different. Things are more fluid with the Disguise as function, it allows you to use a lot of things to do a lot of other things and yet again, it’s much more out of the box thinking than the editors I’ve used in the past which were extremely linear in their trigger system. 

The game, I played through a demo mission showcasing effects and saw the demo missions that Parkaboy, shattari, dannandna, and Ceece had made. It will take some time to polish things, there seemed to be a bit of pathing stuff. And I’m sure given enough time that could be ironed out. I also saw what Genji and Gryph were working on and it seemed really cool and playable. 

A good mission will take time, no doubt about it. In fact, when I had a chat with a couple of Maxis peeps they said they expect a lot of people to tinker a bit with the editor to make simple missions, edit existing missions (great that we have lineage, this way credit goes where credit is due), but mostly play the ones that others have made, missions that people have spent a lot of time on.

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You cant make buildings move. What you could do is have a landed position spaceship. You may not even need to make it as a prop. You may be able to disguise say a crate (game object) as the spaceship (vehicle) and then adjust that. It really will be a matter of trial and error.

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I dont think you can fight with the objects you pick up, in fact people were saying that monsters have a habit of dropping whatever they are holding to fight. So although you could make a character carry pretty much whatever, there are limitations. Also if a character doesnt have hands it will use its mouth. Shattari made a point that you could potentially make a creature carry something vastly bigger than it and completely disguise the base creature. Not sure if he got to try it out.

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1. How big can the terrain stamps be? could I make a circular plateau that could house a medium-sized city? 
Sure. You can also expand a plateu by using the level part. 

2. How many different assets can you get? like how many different creatures, buildings, objects? not on the planet, the kind of assets… 
Im not sure. I see people post different things. From what Kip said you can get 100 of each thing regardless of its complexity. This does not mean you’ll actually be able to crank up gazillion of things. The complexity is very generous but not infinite. And thing is I really really doubt anyone would need that many things. I was able to create a very convincing battle scene with no more than two dozen creatures, vehicles, buildings. 

3. Did in-game textures improve with GA? 
For buildings, most def yes, also the preview textures have been improved. Vehicles however not. Not sure why, shattari talked with them about that. 

4. Are those alienware laptops you guys were gaming on? 
ASUS actually. They had all the blue lights tho, gleaming. It’s our life line, man. 

5. What are the new parts for the outfitter? and what are their effects? 
I dont recall all, I sent an extensive answer to SMLightning. I’ll post it here if I can dig it out in my PMs. 

6. How high can you go with the jetjump/jetpack and how far can you go with the hover pack? 
Again, a technical question, pretty high is the best I can offer. 

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Regarding the factions, you say we can have one allied team and 2 enemy teams… but can we alter faction standing without changing acts? 
Gosh, you guys sure are specific with the questions. >.< No, you can’t. Acts are your tool to make changes of that manner to a unit or a prop. I haven’t tried this so I don’t know if you can do it. But in theory you should be able to make a team switch between two acts. However that question would be better directed at Maxis. 

In other words, can I make certain creatures mad by shooting at them, or generally increase relations with certain creatures socially, even if these aren’t specific mission goals? 
Well you do have social tools in the captain editor. There was some sort of a social song item for sure. So you theoretically should be able to use that somehow. 

Could I have “cops” and “robbers” and have the cops turn on me if I start shooting them instead of the robbers? 
You’ll have to tinker with the advanced AI and see if you can condition that. You may be able to do something like “Attack when attacked” 

What was your biggest “holy crud my adventure is going to be awesome” moment? 
The stuff I was doing was really funny, so I think thats the highlight. You don’t get completely annihilated by crazed cute little llamas every day.

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Oh okay, yea, those are under effects. There is a waterfall one, and there is a water spurt one I think. As for trickles you can use rocks and tile a waterfall horizontally or at water angle and resize it so that it looks like its running water hitting rocks. Which reminds me they really changed the water texture in game. It looks beautiful. Much more believable.

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Well one cool thing the Maxis folks showed us is you can make the door of a building into a teleport and then teleport people into a place that is nice and spacious. This way you can make something that is aesthetically pleasing on the outside but doesn’t look bulky and has a nice and spacious and well decorated inside. And you can use different sound effects etc to create the in/out feeling.

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1. What are the adventures maxis created? please tell me the names and a brief description of those you recall. 
The demo Kip showed was the Mothership mission, he also showed an adventure that was a museum planet I think, it was really fun, upbeat music, and lots of confetti and dancing bunnies. MaxisKate (who made the effects) and MaxisCactus also showed me an effects mission meant to demonstrate the use of effects. 

2. What is the most striking feature of galactic adventures? 
I gotta give it to MaxisKate for that one. Her effects are amazing, and make the game feel so much more alive. If they can add even more effects with patches etc. that would be awesome. 

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You cant re-outfit your captain mid mission. You could make him carry the item but you can’t make him fight with it. You could have the captain collect the item though. You could also disguise a power up as the item. I didn’t get a chance to play with power ups, not sure if they are temporary, permanent, or whats the deal.

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One Response to “Adventure Camp: masscolder’s Posts”

  1. Chosenoneknuckles said

    Wow, thanks for the IN-DEPTH post, masscolder. It was real interesting to read!

    Hopefully, this MaxisKate has a Sporepedia profile [if not already?] or / and will have her missions in the final set of Maxis-made ones. 🙂

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