Posts Tagged rovers

Rover AI Feature Creep

I played with the Rover UI while I working out exactly how I was going to apply the (now completed and working) torques to the creatures in a realistic fashion. This led to the following thought processes, presented in conversational format for readability and not because I pay heed to the voices in my head. Because I don’t. I am sane.

“I promised to do thing X with the rover AI for 0.7.0, but with the upgrades to the code it should be possible to make it do interesting things Y and Z as well. But there are a variety of sensible, practical reasons to leave those for a later version so I can get 0.7.0 out earlier. I would have to be completely insane to distract myself with additional feature creep at this point in time.”
“I make a very sensible point. Does the opposition wish to provide a counter argument?”
“DOOOIIITNAAAAAOOOOOOWW!!!”
“Yes! Now! THIS IS A PERFECTLY RATIONAL AND SANE DECISION!”

So, umm… this (click for full size if you can’t read it):

RoverUI

In addition to the promised “creatures with genetic distance to” option, we’ve now got “trees with high/low stat”, (this should be helpful for encouraging reforestation), “Species” will be good for cladogram pruning (I’d also like to add a “plus descendants” option, since it’s hardly a proper genocide if the Rovers ignore branches of the species), and most importantly, “Population when total creature count is higher/lower than” will be great for controlling population explosions and preventing mass extinctions.

It’s already mostly implemented, so this hasn’t set me back too far.

You’ll also notice that the Rovers now have randomly-chosen names. This was another small, unplanned feature. It has absolutely no effect on gameplay, and some of the names are a bit silly, but overall I’m quite happy with the addition. It gives the game as a whole a tiny bit more personality than before.

Still sane!
Qu

– – – – –

“It gets harder to not talk to yourself when there’s so many of you.”

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Progress Report for 0.7.0

Some of the things of which I have been the doing… (that’s totally a sentence and anyone who says otherwise will be EMP’d)

Rover AI

Rather than just adding an option to allow rovers to prioritise differently, I completely overhauled their AI. It does the same stuff as before, but in a much more versatile, object-oriented manner which will allow:
– Task queue. Allows for sequential tasks, waypoints, and 2-part actions like move and gene splice.
– Arbitrary targets. Rovers can now target anything with the “Entity” base class, which includes trees, fence posts, devices, other rovers…
– Arbitrary actions. They can now call any method in the game when they reach their target, rather than just picking through a predefined library (feed/kill in 0.6.0))
– Arbitrary prioritiser. The system for choosing which entity next merits their attention is now versatile enough to support any prioritisation method, rather than just picking highest/lowest statistics.

To test the system I added a routine that appends a “DoNothing” task tied to the camera entity. The rover finishes murdering whatever they were murdering, then comes to the camera, says hi, then runs off again on its eternal killing spree. It’s adorable.

I then implemented the UI for Targeted Rover Programming (would it be tacky to shorten that to ‘Rogramming’?).

New Rover UI

It’s not quite as user-friendly as it was, but it’s capable of a lot more. And it was really easy to hook into the aforementioned AI system! Configuring the UI itself, on the other hand… let’s just say the UI code rather desperately needs a cleanup.

The end result? I targeted Primum Specium and let 4 rovers get to work on a randomly generated species…

I'm meeeeltiiingg...

I’m meeeeltiiingg…

This “forced devolution” sequence took about 2 in-game hours, (12 minutes at 10x). I had to switch them from killing to feeding a few times to keep them from driving the creatures to extinction, and I learned something in the attempt: it seems that selectively killing a large, thriving population is a much more effective way to apply selection pressure than selectively feeding a small, struggling one. There was a different population that caught the attention of the feeders, but ultimately they were incapable of surviving even with assistance.

There will be a major change to the game as a result of this feature: the Creature Editor which has been an unofficial part of the game since 0.4.1 will enter the game officially as a means of creating your own selection targets for your rovers. You won’t be able to use it as a creature generator: designed creatures will appear in the export list as “Genome Only”.

Finally, another potential major change: this rover AI system marks the beginning of the end for the godhand tools. The goal has always been indirect gameplay, and replacing the direct “Feed” button with a way to give the rovers that command is a step in that direction (plus it steers the game away from god games like Black and White).

It should also work well with a few planned changes to the UI (not for this update, but later): rather than “Select Mode”/“Select Tool”/”Click Target”, I’m thinking of a more context sensitive “Select Target/”Click Tool”, where the mode is determined by the target. So you’ll get different tools if you’ve got a creature selected than if you’ve got a rover or a tree selected. Such a system should be more extensible for things like group selections, as well as easier to use.

Climate devices

Climate Devices

Placeholder models, but they work! They look a bit odd in 10x speed though: the optimisation that causes the biomes around forests to ‘pulse’ causes the same effect from the climate devices, except even more noticeable. I may have to work out a solution for that problem, but initial results are promising: it should now be possible to keep creatures alive on a glacial map without simply changing the global temperature.

They’ll need a UI too, though: at the moment I’m just generating them with the “G” key. Once more unto the breach!

Torques

I’ve got all the forces in play, including reaction forces, but the 3d torque calculations are still giving me trouble. Can’t work out why the tail torque is backwards. Heck, I can’t work out whether the tail torque is backwards: it’s possible that my display arrows are the things that are backwards. I’ll get there eventually.

Overall progress report!

• Mutation Map Editor: 100% done. Just need to get around to actually using it for new content.
• Fences: 90% done. A few bugs to fix, mostly AI related: creature’s need to ignore objects on the other side, and rovers need to path around.
• Targeted Rovergramming: 90% done. Some minor cleanup and bugfixes.
• Skeletal Analysis. 75% done. Slowly getting there, but the aformentioned torques are still giving me Fun.
• Physical Values: 70% done. Volume is defined, and Mass is calculated from a placeholder value for density. Should be easy to hook in the material system, which is being developed off to the side, when it’s ready (no idea when, but not for 0.7.0).
• Metric Units. 70% done. Same as “Physical Values” because they’re effectively the same thing Comes with volume and density. Not in genes, so conversion is performed in BodyPlan and fed through to the boneses.
• Climate Devices. 40% done. Mainly I just need to make a UI for them.
• Animation. Not started. If anything, my forays into step-size adjustment have just introduced more problems.

Overall? Hard to say: some of these jobs are ginormous (Skeletal analysis is taking a lot of time) while others are tiny (Climate Devices were surprisingly easy to tie into the existing system), plus I keep coming up with new things to add or overhaul.

We’re definately past the halfway point, though.

Cheers!
Qu.

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Rover vs Fence

Working on Rover-to-Fence collision. Here’s a rover learning about this strange new phenomena.

 

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