Just in time for Halloween, I have implemented something that gives the game an ominous feeling… that something is coming… for you! Muahahahaha!
In other words, I have implemented radar.
Now now, I know the original game did not have “radar”… or, did it? The original game would tell you “Movement detected” and give you X and Y coordinates that are relative to your ship. So the original game DID have radar… albeit it was a text-based one!
In the spirit (yes, another Halloween pun) of the resto-modding of the original game, the radar I have implemented is a graphics-based one, but it works exactly as the original did. Once in a while the radar will detect something and let you know it’s position relative to you, and the distance to the encounter is indicated by the loudness of the beep, and also by how intense the green detection dot appears.
This is all very much a work in progress, so there are still some things to do to improve this radar. For example, I want to make it so that if nothing is detected for a bit of time, the radar fades out.
Here is a video showing the radar in its current state. Watch this at midnight tonight with all the lights off, and pretend that monsters are coming for you…
After a little discussion with the team, we voted on proceeding with encounters as the next big feature for this remake.
So, in order to do encounters, we need something to encounter. The logical choice for the first encounter would be to create the Mechan race and ship because they are close by (you encounter them early in the game) and there is only one ship type for the Mechans (the scout).
Here is what their ship looks like in the original EGA version (the purple area at the top right corner).
So, I brought that screenshot into 3D Studio Max 2019 and started creating a ship, using that screenshot as inspiration. One thing to note, in the original screenshot the cockpit alignment is off center by one pixel. Weird. In my 3D model recreation, the cockpit is perfectly aligned.
Here is a series of screenshots and renderings that I took while creating the ship model. I got as far as modeling the entire ship – but I am not completely satisfied with the back half of the ship. I plan to spend a few more hours improving the back half, then it will be time to throw on some temporary materials and texture maps and then prepare it for importing into Unity.
After some searching, I came across a free Unity Asset store add-on called Simple Dynamic Clouds by Butterfly World. It’s a very simple dynamic cloud effect that incorporates moving UV coordinates to simulate fractal Brownian motion (FBM) using some specialized texture maps. However, it was too simple to use as-is as it generated only the color (albedo). So… I went into the code and added support for bumps (normals) and specular lighting. That made it look much better.
To add the clouds to the game, I created a thin shell around each planet and applied the new clouds material and shader to it. The atmospheric density of each planet controls how thick the cloud layer appears. Also, if the planet is a molten planet, the clouds will appear dark instead of white and fluffy.
Here are some screenshots! All of this is included in the latest game download. Note: The clouds animate very slowly – you’ll see different patterns form up and dissipate.