In last week's blog, we were delighted to announce that our game engine team had finished recreating a map editor, an interface editor and a set of graphics compilers for use with Old School RuneScape, thus enabling us to offer a far wider selection of features that you've been requesting over the last few weeks. Since we got these resources, we've spent a fair bit of time in the last week getting to grips with using them.
The map editor, in particular, has been invaluable in preparing the 4th stage of the Goblin Invasion series. In the 3rd stage, last weekend, the army's scout reported that he'd tracked the goblins back to their lair, and he escorted players into the cave to fight the goblins and gather the cursed weaponry. That cave wasn't a new piece of map at all; you might have recognised it as part of the Skavid caves from under Gu'Tanoth.
For that raid, we duplicated the Skavid cave mapsquare, dynamically spawning a temple entrance as a quiet teaser for this weekend's follow-up. But there was no new mapping work; we just chose a suitably cavernous piece of existing map and copied it. We were expecting to do the same for the forthcoming weekend's raid, copying an existing cave and customising it slightly to become the goblin temple.
Suddenly we received this shiny new (or old!) map editor, and we needed a simple job to test it out. So we spent a busy few hours constructing a goblin temple on a completely new mapsquare, building it up from scratch.
Bear in mind that we can't create new models. We can only re-use existing ones, maybe scaling them up or down, or applying a recolour if the model in question supports it. For the temple, we've chosen a centrepiece model that's taken from somewhere in the Underground Pass. The raised podia are constructed out of a wall from Evil Dave's basement, with a tatty fence from Varrock forming a railing at the top, and some rope bridge graphics from Ape Atoll forming the ramps. The rope bridges have had been darkened slightly to blend in better against the wooden walls.
The raised podia are similar to the Turrets arena from the other RuneScape's Clan Wars minigame. We put them in because the high priest's a spellcaster, and they give him a slight tactical advantage. Also, it's quite satisfying to equip a cursed goblin bow and lay waste to the goblins below.
Building a raised podium is surprisingly fiddly due to the abrupt changes in heightmap. It's not the kind of mapping work that Mod Nexus or I have done very often, since developers normally leave mapping to the professional environment modellers, but we've poked around with the map editor until it worked. You have to define the podium's walls on the ground level, and define the podium's railing and ramps on an upper level, as if they were upstairs in a two-storey house. Then you find the map editor property called "link-below", and apply it to the upper level. This forces it downwards so that it pretends to be part of the ground level, so that players can walk freely onto it from the ground level without needing to click on a ladder or staircase. After that you have to tweak the heightmap of the upper level to make the ramps bend down to touch the mud floor.
Many Hans make light workTweaking the heightmap is tricky, especially in a version of RuneScape where the floor tends not to have visible textures. A handy trick is to map down a character to make the height variations more visible. In the illustration, we've been using Hans, everyone's old friend. You just have to remember to delete him again before launch, otherwise the extra Hans teleports to Lumbridge and joins the original Hans walking round the castle.
At the end of the work, we'd got a rough goblin temple for your community event, and - perhaps more importantly - we'd confirmed that the map editor and its accompanying compiler were working as expected. This means we can safely start offering you updates in the polls that involve mapping work. We'd have hated to run an important poll, get 75% support for it, and then find the map editor had issues that stopped us delivering the feature.
We've got a near-complete version of the God Wars Dungeon in the archive of unreleased content from August 2007. To integrate it into Old School RuneScape, we'll need to copy all the relevant files into the OSRS repository and run the compilers to integrate them into the game's data. From the initial launch of OSRS we had compilers that worked on code and data definitions, but the compilers that work on models and animation definitions were only available from this week.
As a test, we started by trying to add the godswords to the Nightmare Zone development branch. That doesn't mean that godswords will come out with Nightmare Zone in September; the point is that if we can successfully copy godswords into Nightmare Zone, we can be confident about being able to launch GWD features in a future update if the God Wars Dungeon passes its poll.
This took a surprisingly long time. We'd hoped it'd be a matter of identifying the model files, the animation files, the data definition and the special attack code for each sword, and copying them into the Nightmare Zone folders. Broadly speaking, this is correct. However, it's easier said than done.
A godsword has a model for when it's in your inventory, and a different model for when you're wearing it (generally with a gap in the hilt where your hand goes). It also has a special attack with a flashy effect of its own, so that'll have a model for the flashy effect, plus a set of animation frame files to define how it animates. There are some sound effects too.
Looking through the repository, we found that these are distributed through a whole series of different folders. Sometimes these are intuitive, such as the equipped-godsword models that are in a folder called \human\weapons, and sometimes they're plain annoying, such as the Bandos godsword's special attack animation which is in a folder called \area_godwars\spotanims\godsword_armadyl\ along with a load of other stuff that turned out not to be required.
Furthermore, the godswords make you stand in a new stance when you have them equipped. That stance was intended for use on lots of two-handed swords throughout RuneScape, not just for godswords, so the animation files are not saved alongside the other God Wars files. Furthermore, godswords were the first weapons to have a "defensive attack" animation, which needed tying into the combat system separately.
Once we'd identified most of the files we needed, and copied them across, the compilers promptly threw up red flags complaining that things were missing. So we tracked down and copied the missing files, and repeated over and over again until the compilers confirmed we'd got everything. At this point, we booted up a test world only to see this:
It looks like the head's in the right place, and so are the sword and the hands, but the armour has shifted downwards into the floor. Eventually we worked out what was going on. In 2007, the model folders had little .txt files saved in them that modified the appearance of all the models in that folder. In particular, most of the human armour models are saved in a folder that contains a file called offset.txt, which consisted solely of "-92". There's no documentation saying what this means. But we hadn't got one of those in the folder where the godwars models were now saved. Presumably it tells the compiler to make all the models shift upwards by 92 pixels!
We eventually got a working version of the godswords and the armour. Mod Reach has done some extra testing of Nightmare Zone wearing these, since he'd like to make sure the game wouldn't become unacceptably easy if the GWD gets released some day. Most importantly, we've confirmed that we can successfully take unreleased content from the other archive and integrate it into OSRS, graphics and all, so we can safely offer these things in future polls.
We're pretty much in a place where we have the resources to offer you the God Wars Dungeon. Over the last week we've been using the forums to gather your comments on this as an idea. We're still seeing a fair bit of concern about the dungeon leaving the combat triangle too biased, or devaluing existing high-end armour, and people have posted various promising ideas for how these issues could be addressed. However, other players would prefer to see the GWD released in the form they remember. Still others don't want it to come out at all.
What we intend to do now is write up a detailed dev blog, clarifying what you'll get if 75% of voters say Yes to bringing back the GWD. Where the dungeon's changed over the years, such as by turning the boss doors into one-way entrances and making the altars teleport you out, we'll confirm which version we're proposing to bring out. We'll also give details of the critical changes that we're obliged to make, such as remapping the boss rooms to inhibit safe-spotting. This blog should come out next week.
We'll then open a poll, inviting you to say Yes/No to whether you want the God Wars Dungeon back. This will be Content Poll 9.
Where players have suggested extra items that we could add to the dungeon to rebalance the combat triangle - possible examples include an item that augments the set effects of Barrows kit, or a new magic weapon - we'll offer those as those separate questions. Provisionally, we'd expect to offer those in the same way we offered extra rewards for the Nightmare Zone, where a 75% threshold was required for the minigame itself, and separate questions required 75% support for additional items that could come along with it. If the extra features don't pass their polls, but the GWD itself does, we'll still be able to offer adjustments to it in future polls after its launch, based on your feedback.
Along with the God Wars Dungeon, the 9th poll will offer a selection of smaller updates from your suggestions, including such things as a bank search feature. We can compile 2D graphics now, as well as models, so we can potentially take interface buttons from the other RuneScape for use on your OSRS.
So, to sum that up into a few words, we used the goblin High Priest environment to test the map editing tools to ensure that we could use it to help deliver God Wars.
Over the next week we will be reviewing your feedback and ideas about God Wars and next week's dev blog will contain the details of how we think it should be introduced. During the week following the release of the dev blog, we will poll the return of God Wars. During this poll we will also be able to offer some smaller updates too, such as a bank search update.
Finally, Mod Philip has been looking at the PID issue that many PvPers have been facing. The PID issue arises when players make the same action in the same game cycle (for example hitting each other over the heads with a blunt instrument) and the game has to decide who makes the action first. Players were able to predict who'd get priority, and even try to manipulate it in their favour to get themselves an advantage. Mod Philip's engine change is being tested now, and we hope to be able to launch it next week so that this is no longer an issue.