Sporedum Exclusive: Adventure Camp – Parkaboy’s Mission Recap
Posted by ballightning on June 2, 2009
Mission setup: at MaxisCactus instructions, I started creating props for my adventure. I decided to use the Bauder as the main species, since I already had a lot of cool buildings made for them. I made a simple script, based on the kind of stuff I knew from preview videos that would be feasible.
I planned a little story that would fit well in the logic of the game, so it would be a nice adventure to play from the Space Stage. I intended to make it relatively easy, since it would be one of the first adventures uploaded and the in-game captains wouldn’t have that many parts unlocked by then.
I also invited other creators to make props for the adventure, and chose a few creations they made. Unfortunately, when I arrived at Maxis, I noticed some of the stuff were missing from the Sporecast, including everything created by other people…
So I started the “Red Planet Crisis”…
The Terrain Editor
I began by messing with the planet, to see if I could create what I wanted. I was planning to have polar regions covered in snow, with a desert planet of red dirt and rock. I managed to achieve that by changing color on certain elevations, and then proceeded to see if I could create the effects I had planned.
The “permafrost” building I created to simulate snow worked as planned, but I had to start over the planet to create the cracked ice effect I wanted: basically I used a low elevation for the snowy areas, and placed my “Cracked Permafrost” building over a small lake, resulting on a very believable frozen lake with real water inside a crack.
I used the terrain stamps to put details over the rest of the planet, chose a “rocky” ground covering, and left the temperature and atmosphere really low, but still survivable.
I originally planned to have no flora, but I felt that the planet was a bit too dull with just the rocks, so I chose a couple of mushroom-like plants in a sparse setting.
The Adventure Editor
I started placing the scenery for the adventure. Basically I needed a farming colony for the Bauder, who were the player’s allies, and a mining colony on the polar region.
I had created a dome-like structure that worked really well. I managed to make it huge and build a cool Bauder city inside. The terrain painting stamps really completed the illusion, creating ground covering, streets and squares.
I put the modular greenhouse together (you can see the inside of it in the panorama published on the official site), and tested it by placing the player creature nearby. It worked really well. I could go inside it and the camera didn’t go nuts.
The permafrost camp also worked as planned. I only wish we had more time to make more detailed landscapes… But it’s cool how we can use our own creations as decorations. I used the props I created for my polar set and they looked great.
Then I started placing the characters. I added Captain Baudrino, who would explain the mission details to the player, and then dragged a goal to him. The “Talk to” goal allows up to 5 balloons of text, and each one can have a different emotion, giving real flavor to the exposition.
I placed a few other key characters, and put a few creatures for the extermination part of the mission. The little critters were disappearing inside the dome walls, though. It seems that when you resize buildings to maximum size the clipping becomes more noticeable. I solved the problem by reducing the radius of each creature’s “wandering”, so they wouldn’t go into the walls.
I also used an epic version of my Metallotron. The giant robot was actually a creature, and that allows us to do stuff that we can’t do with vehicles. I didn’t really used the advanced options, though. I only set its attack and health points to high, and made it have a smaller awareness radius for the first acts (so the hero could sneak around it), while having a larger radius towards the end, detecting the player at the climax of the mission.
Gameplay objects and effects:
Then I placed a teleport to take the hero to the polar camp. I used a couple of effects to make things more interesting. I placed the teleport on top of the Bauder Spaceport building, on the center of a platform, and made it invisible. Then I put a “lightning field” on the same place, and programmed everything to work only on one specific act. That way the teleport station would activate only when Captain Baudrino gave his permission.
I covered the polar regions with a bunch of white fog effects, enhancing the impression of cold. I also placed a “Mushroom Cloud” effect in the enemy main building, on the last act. The main goal of the mission was to destroy it, so there would be a huge explosion when the player managed to bring it down.
Then I used a few invisible gates to “close” my dome, so the player can’t fly through it. And a few other gameplay items such as health packs and grenades (well hidden to help the hero destroy the enemy building).
Finally I chose the descriptions and a theme song for each act, to set the mood (epic songs for the big battles!).
I was a bit disappointed that there was no advanced AI option for vehicles, what somewhat restricts our options. But by tweaking with act triggers, invisibility and awareness I could make so the enemies would attack the hero only after the enemy boss ordered it, and that the allied bots and planes would come to the rescue at the same time.
I found I could use gameplay objects such as exploding barrels disguised as vehicles. That way I could have a few ships parked at the spaceport (otherwise the ships keep hovering at a fixed height). Just don’t shoot them, or they’ll explode in flames!
Time to test the adventure! The play mode is a very important tool, similar to the test drive mode for creatures. We’ll probably use it to test everything we put on the planet. I, for instance, placed the captain near every building I put down, so I could go to play mode and check it from the player’s perspective. Sometimes we don’t notice the gaps between buildings and ground, or other buildings, until we get really close to them.
The play mode also allows us to skip any act of the mission, so we can check and recheck how the adventure plays out and if the AI is working correctly. It’s also important to play it through to see if it isn’t too hard or even impossible to complete.
I had Kip Katsarelis (one of the producers) play through my adventure, and he managed to complete it without my help, so I guess the players won’t have trouble.
In the end there were a couple of mistakes I only noticed after sharing the adventure on the Maxis server, mostly stuff on the dialogs that didn’t matched what was happening. I planned on having a NPC give a bomb to the player, but gave up on that, and somehow forgot to change the dialog… I hope everyone who plays it will overlook this and enjoy the adventure. Just remember we only had two days to complete it, and that it was our first time playing the expansion pack.