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Adventure Camp: Fotosynthesis’ Recap

Posted by ballightning on May 24, 2009

Fotosynthesis has posted on the official forums about his experiences with Galactic Adventures while on the Adventure Camp.


GA Camp Recap 

Now that I am back for a week and have had some time to recover from the trip, I thought it might be nice to make a summary of some of the things I noticed during my time with GA. I hope it will be interesting and/or useful for you guys. 

The mission I made is called SILICA (It’s in caps because my fancy laptop could only type in Chinese or capitals) 
Here is a screenshot: 
Mission setup: In the center of the map is Nightwatch, a giant invincible creature. The player gets the assignment to free 3 out of 4 powerful creatures (Silicores). The Silicores are found at the end of the 4 plasma tubes going from the center and they will follow the player when they are freed. Each of them has their own special power, that will help the player free the other Silicores faster and eventually destroy Nightwatch. Because you only have to free 3/4 to activate Nightwatch, and the order in which you free them is up to the player, there are many ways to complete the mission. 

Notes on the terrain editor: 

Coloring: I wanted my planet to have blacklight colouring. To achieve that effect, I made the atmosphere blueish and the ground color black. I colored the water yellow/green and added a green colored layer on the top of the highest mountains. 

Terrain: I was surprised that adding terrain was done with stamps instead of just painting them on. But there were a lot of shapes to chose from and they all blended very well so I pretty much got the terrain the way I wanted: I made a swamp area by stamping an ocean and then stamping islands on top of that. (I had to adjust the height of these islands later because they were to steep for creatures to walk on, and creatures on follow would get stuck on the edge). 
I made a Canyon by stamping steep mountain ridges on both sides of a path. Other areas were a flat highland and a valley, both made by adding the surrounding hills. 

Vegetation: I added vegetation by selecting the plants I wanted and adjusting the slider to get the right amount of them on the surface. They are distributed randomly so on some places (like near or in buildings) I had to remove some using the remove vegetation tool. 
The terrain editor was nice to work with, although stamping terrain in very specific shapes might prove to be hard (but not impossible). Adding different colours to certain layers really gives a lot of options to customize the look of your planet and will allow for some very trippy surroundings :] 

Notes on the adventure editor: 

Buildings: Most of the buildings I prepared were made in the spaceship editor. I did this because of the lighting effect that are available in that editor. I was able to use the spaceships as buildings by adding a gameplay component called the “blue gate” and disguising that as the spaceship. I was then able to resize and move it like any other building. The only problem with this work around was the clipping detection. For example, the creatures were able to just walk through the plasma tubing that I had placed around the level. I could have corrected that by adding invisible walls around them (a blue gate set to invisible) but I decided that for gameplay purposes it would be better to leave them like this. I did the same thing to get my Spaceship platforms to work..strangely enough, they did work as intended and my creatures were able to walk on them without problems. My spacehip trees also didn’t have any clipping problems. Conclusion: using spaceships as buildings is definitely possible but the clipping for them will be unpredictable. 

I did use some regular buildings and they all worked as expected. I did not try to make any indoor environments yet. One little detail that somewhat annoyed me is that you still have to have at least 3 parts of a building to be able to save it. I made a couple of supporting platforms which could have been just 1 part, but in order to be able to save them, I had to hide 2 more parts inside it. It’s a detail but it might make a difference on the complexity meter if you use a simple item, like a wall or pillar many times. 

I also build a cage for the Silicores made out of 4 walls and a roof (no bottom). I was able to place the creatures inside them, by first placing the building and then putting the creatures inside them. Ingame they were locked inside until you destroyed the cage, which I had changed from being invincible to having 50 hp. 
Vehicles: My adventure didn’t use many vehicles. I only added 2 of them to fly over certain areas, just for show. I did this by giving one of them a few waypoints, the other was set to patrol a certain area. I did notice that you can’t set the altitude at which they fly. However, if there is a high building in it’s path, it will gain some altitude to fly over it. 

Creatures: I used many different creatures in my adventure. I set the hp, strength, speed and awareness for each type and just dragged them onto the area (see AI). I tried to use an epic sized creature as a statue that is activated at the end (Nightwatch), but it is not possible to completely turn off animations. If you set a creature to Idle, it will still move in its place. 

I gave some creatures a weapon in the Captain editor so they would shoot the player instead of bite them. 
I tried to find a captain that would be suitable for this mission but because most of my creatures have pretty crapy stats, I wasn’t able to find one that felt right. Making a captain that is cool looking and has the right stats for your adventure is going to be a challenge on it’s own… 

Effects: The effects were awesome. I have used lots of them. You can drag, drop and resize them just like buildings. Some of the effect is used are (names might be wrong): 
– Aurea Borealis: Big clouds of Polar Light, high up in the Sky. 
– Fireflies: glowing, floating blue particles covering the surface ( I had to add like 20 of them on max size to have the effect visible on every reachable part). 
– Light Pillars: Columns of pink light, I overlapped this with certain parts of the plasma conductors. 
– Particle: green floating atom-like animations, used these in the abstract desert part of my mission. 
The effects really add a lot and I don’t think there is a real need to make buildings in the spaceship editor just for the light effects. 

Music: You can drag drop and resize the play area of music just as buildings. I a different music file to each of my 4 areas and adjusted the sizes so that they slightly overlapped. If a captain walks through these areas, the music will change smoothly to the next song. I also made these music files invisible for the last act and added another music file to cover the entire planet. This last music file starts playing as soon as you enter the last act and you will hear it no matter in which area you are. I didn’t have time to add any sound effects. 

Gameplay items: There were some great gameplay items that could be disguised as any vehicle or building. The ones I used were: 

The blue gate: I used a disguised version of this to use all my spacehip buildings as buildings. I also used an invisible version of them to lock of the for different areas with invisible walls. 

Jumppad: In one of the areas there is a short platforming area. I used jumppads on top of these platforms to allow the captain to bounce from one to the next (Creatures that were following me did not take the jumppads but dropped down). You can set how high the pad will boost you and setting them to max will lauch you really high into the atmosphere :] 

Teleporters: I wanted to use teleporters to go quickly from one area to the next but it was hard to get the creatures following me to enter them as well. That’s why I decided to remove them again. 
I’m afraid these are the only gameplay items that I have really tried. 

AI, goals and acts: Because I had a pretty good idea of what the gameplay in the mission should be like, I have spend a lot of time trying to get it to work the way I wanted, giving players different ways to complete the mission. I started off with making a new goal and act for freeing each of the four Silicores. I had them set up as invisible, only to become visble after destroying a certain building (start of a new act). The problem with this setup was that you had to free them in a preset order, eliminating the possibility of choice for the player. After some discussion with some of the devs and some creative thinking, I reset all goals and acts to make only two acts: act 1: free 3 silicores, act2: destroy nightwatch. I then locked up the silicores inside the cages I build and put the following into advanced AI options: 

Idle Always When Aware of Cage 
Attack team 2 when in range 
Follow player always 

This made sure the Silicores are idle as long as they are in the cage. When you destroy the cage, the Silciore will attack and follow. As goals for act 1 I added destroy markers to each of the cages and set the total amount of goals to destroy to three. This means it will go into act 2 as soon as you have destroyed 3 cages (and freed 3 silicores). Act 2 changes Nightwatch from invincible to a beatable epic with 13k hp. 

I did have some problems with getting creatures to act the way I wanted. For example 1 Silicore would get stuck on the same point every time it was following me. After 5 different devs looked at it, It turned out that the slope that the creature was trying to walk across was to steep. Making it less steep in the terrain editor solved the problem. Another example was a creature set to full aggressive that wouldn’t attack me even if I hugged him. It turned out that this creature was trying to get to another creature that was unreachable for him, making him ignore all other AI commands. In both cases the problem was eventually solved but it wasn’t very obvious what the cause was, which made solving it pretty much a trial and error process. This was actually kind of fun but I lost a lot of time in this, which is also why I wasn’t able to completely finish my mission. 

Some of the things I remember you can set in AI options of creatures: 
Health, speed, strength, awareness 
Aggressive, neutral, friend, etc. 
Team 1, 2 etc 
Advanced AI: Attack, follow, move to, pick up idle, Player, team, any item on the planet, always, when aware of, when in range etc. (sorry I don’t remember more :s) 

This was pretty much all the useful information I remember from making my mission. If I remember anything else, I will add it later. I will finish my mission as soon as I get the full game and I hope you will all enjoy it! :] 



7 Responses to “Adventure Camp: Fotosynthesis’ Recap”

  1. […] to know what else Fotosynthesis has to say?  Visit Sporedum to read the rest! Share and […]

  2. Primadog said

    This one in particular is very informative. Light, did you collect ’em all (interviews with creators)?

    • ballightning said

      There is one more to come. Just waiting on the final answers. We didn’t interview all the creators as we just didn’t have enough questions 🙂

  3. Parkaboy said

    That’s a nice idea, making a description of the creation of the adventure. Lightning, would you like me to do a report on mine?

    • ballightning said

      That would be good, many people would like to here more about the missions and what you guys did with them.

      Also did you get my PM’s?

  4. Maninora said

    Thanks! I needed to know about all(Or most) of the stuff you can do!

  5. Excellent website. Plenty of helpful information here.

    I am sending it to some buddies ans additionally sharing in delicious.
    And certainly, thank you for your effort!

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