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May 7 Chat Log

*** MAX2Chris ( has joined #interplay

[MAX2Chris] Hi, all.

[MAX2Chris] Tonight's chat will be unmoderated.

[LeJohn] so Chris when will be up?

[MAX2Chris] Meghan can't make it, and Paul cannot for various reasons.

[MAX2Chris] is undergoing testing. We added another programmer about a month ago, and he's been working out. Right now we're just banging on it and optimizing it.

*** MAX2Chris changes topic to 'Interplay Chat Room - MAX2 Chat!'

[Sir_Adam] so what is this chat for?

[MAX2Chris] Just general QA. Any feedback about the Power rules since you've been playing it for a while would be appreciated.

[MAX2Chris] It's probably going to be an early chat tonight.

[Lancelot] I find it hard to keep my energy up and build an army. I also find it weird that constructors can move over water?

[Dakamgi] gages are much better, easier to see and understand

[VicNice] I find it hard to know when is time to add a new power plant

[MAX2Chris] Lancelot, construction units move over water to make it easier for you to build, and for you to be able to build on water.

[MAX2Chris] Dakamgi, good.

[Lancelot] But I would think that having to build a bridge would make the game more lifelike

[MAX2Chris] VicNice, we are adding more warnings when you get close to using all your power.

[LeJohn] yes, the graphics are impressive but where is the next unit button?

[Sir_Adam] I find it hard to keep track of everything

[CaptAway] I am playing MAX2 on my other computer ... on turn 8 with 6 units out scouting and still no sign of the computer at all (I have uncovered over half the map looking).

[MAX2Chris] Lancelot, sure -- but lifelike isn't always the best game decision.

[Lancelot] Oh well :-)

[CaptAway] The AI seems to be a "chicken" to me!

[MAX2Chris] The NEXT UNIT button will probably be back. There is a hotkey to do NEXT UNIT, but I forget what it is.

[LeJohn] . and ,

[VicNice] I like the animation effects... and the AI seams to wait and not attack also it lands close to you

[LeJohn] but I move the keyboard when playing

[Sir_Adam] Chris, have you ever thought of a better building info system?

[MAX2Chris] We are working on the AI. It's still getting a workout.

[CaptAway] I like Keyboard Shortcuts

[Sir_Adam] providing more info on things when you click on it

[CaptAway] Chris ... does our Beta have only one AI regardless of what we set it at?

[MAX2Chris] Sir Adam, we are planning on two different types of unit building selection screens. One for beginning players, with more information, and one for more advanced players, with less info but a lot smaller.

[Lancelot] Let us customize the keyboard shortcuts if possible

[LeJohn] not on my laptops, I can never find the right buttons..

[MAX2Chris] Capt(Away?), no -- it should have all the AI levels.

*** CaptAway is now known as CaptComal

[MAX2Chris] Lancelot, that's a great idea. I'll suggest it. It might be possible to do it in a text editor, at the very least.

[Lancelot] Thx

[Sir_Adam] text editor... pls

[CaptComal] Lancelot ... that was a good idea!!!!!

[Sir_Adam] I want to fix up arty

[MAX2Chris] I'm thinking something like Quake, in terms of remapping keys.

[Lancelot] Hate using right hand with left arrows to scroll map

[LeJohn] Chris what ever happen with the customizable logos for the units?

[MAX2Chris] Artillery is going to get an area of effect.

[Sir_Adam] can it shoot over hills?

[CaptComal] Is Assault Gun considered Artillery?

[MAX2Chris] LeJohn, still on the list, but with a low priority.

[MAX2Chris] Artillery is a Line of Sight weapon, not Line of Fire.

[MAX2Chris] Assault Guns are a direct Line of Fire weapon. They cannot shoot over hills like Artillery and Missiles.

[CaptComal] So what are Artillery?

[Sir_Adam] I don't think the missiles should be able to go over hills

[CaptComal] Only the one unit (turret?)

[LeJohn] someone has to ask... next beta have animals and/or when?

[Sir_Adam] makes them too good

[MAX2Chris] Artillery turrets are currently the lameduck of all the human defensive structures. We are working on fixing that.

[Sir_Adam] can we help u in any way?

[MAX2Chris] Animals aren't in the beta? I didn't know that.

[Lancelot] Never have been

[CaptComal] Is a Rocket Launcher considered a Missile (shoot over hills)???

[VicNice] Chris I like the LOS on the game and the way the fog helps out to determine your LOS

[MAX2Chris] Hmmmm. Probably for space reasons... Hmmm. You should get them with the Sheevat units.

[LeJohn] I like artillery, one the research/upgrade is fixed Bug#123 no animals =)

[MAX2Chris] Rocket Launcher is a missile weapon, yes.

[Dakamgi] make the ARTY shoot over hills and have an area effect, that should help bring them up to speed.

[Lancelot] How can artillery shoot over hills if there using bullets?

[Sir_Adam] don't you know anything about ballistics?

[LionDog] Lancelot: basic physics!

[Lancelot] Not much :-)

[LeJohn] artillery as in shoot UP in are and come down?

[MAX2Chris] Trajectory. Shelling. Artillery can be fired at a location, as long as you have an observer watching that location.

[Sir_Adam] so no guess and shoot

[Lancelot] ok

[Lancelot] nevermind, just got it , lol@self

[MAX2Chris] Sir Adam, actually -- yes, you can shoot at something that you cannot see. I don't think it's very practical, but yes, you can do it.

[Sir_Adam] oh

[Sir_Adam] if you need to do that, you are probably dead anyway

[MAX2Chris] Perhaps when artillery gets an area of effect, it will be more effective at blind shooting.

[CaptComal] Chris: is this a bug? Our scanner could see a TURRET that was not in line of sight (kind of like the turret was higher than the ground level)

[Dakamgi] very good way to kill infiltrators

[Sir_Adam] true

[LeJohn] nope, just get that idea out of your head Dak

[Dakamgi] =8^)

[MAX2Chris] CaptComal, you probably saw that building (the turret) at some point. Buildings are not removed from the map by fog of war, since they don't move. If you never saw that location in the first place (i.e., never the saw the turret with a unit), then it was a bug.

[Sir_Adam] that is if you are caught off guard

[MAX2Chris] That's a change from MAX1, which did not remember the location of buildings for you.

[CaptComal] OK ... we had been in the area earlier! Thanks.

[LeJohn] Like the fog and targeting area but l tad too red

[Sir_Adam] Chris, is there any way that you can make it so the comp DOESN'T know where you are?

[Sir_Adam] From what I see, it builds a bridge across the water right to me and pounds me with missile crawlers

[MAX2Chris] It should not head right towards you. It should scout the area first.

[Sir_Adam] well, it heads right for me

[Lancelot] Chris, it just seems to find us fast

[MAX2Chris] Hmmm. It sounds more like a bug.

[Dakamgi] but scouts will head right for you

[Sir_Adam] and it knows your weapon's ranges even if it can't see them

[Sir_Adam] i.e. missile launchers

[Dakamgi] that is very irritating

[Sir_Adam] 11 range

[MAX2Chris] The AI doesn't know where your units are, but it does have an idea of what your units can see. This gives the AI a human-like ability to look at the map and "see" what is happening the game.

[Sir_Adam] that is major cheating!

[Dakamgi] the AI should ONLY remember what it sees. !

[LeJohn] naw, has to be some challenge or it would be boring

[MAX2Chris] Sir Adam, it should not do that (re: weapon ranges and sight.) I have seen the AI drive right up to my missile turrets. It *does* remember the location of your defenses, and play the outside of your base very well.

[Sir_Adam] ok... if it does that, can you change one little thing?

[CaptComal] Chris ... that is a good way to implement the AI!

[Sir_Adam] don't make them "play" their range

[MAX2Chris] It should not be using the info it gets from your units to attack you, however. It should only use it to avoid building right in the middle of your base.

[Sir_Adam] make them stay away until they attack

[MAX2Chris] Sir Adam, why not? Human players can. Click on RANGE, then click on an enemy unit. You can get the same information the computer can.

[Sir_Adam] it is sooo annoying when they make a ring of guys around your base

[Sir_Adam] who does that though

[LionDog] I do the same thing to a lesser degree, of course.

[MAX2Chris] The AI can do somethings better than a human, and the human can do somethings better than the AI.

[Dakamgi] were is the lock button?

[CaptComal] I do!!

[Sir_Adam] which game?

[LionDog] Especially with missile cruisers and an infiltrator!

[IceFire] MAX2Chris: you can say that again

[Sir_Adam] 1 or 2

[Dakamgi] 2

[Sir_Adam] your playing TB

[MAX2Chris] Dakamgi, just select a group of units, and it will show you their entire range -- the lock button cannot work with the new fog of war and range system, too slow -- far too slow.

[Sir_Adam] I'm talking the HARD AI

[Sir_Adam] it doesn't let you do that

[Sir_Adam] the AI in RT mode

[LionDog] Simultaneous, and sometimes RTS, but it is easier to do it in simultaneous or tb.

[MAX2Chris] Liondog, yep.

[LeJohn] Chris I noticed in your post that the power/timeout bug was squashed... how much did the power stations have to do with this?

[MAX2Chris] I don't know, exactly, sorry.

[LionDog] Chris, back in January, it was mentioned that the multiplayer internet mode would not have computer opponents. Any changes to this? (I know several RTS players who like to play COOPERATIVE game against a CHALLENGING set of computer opponents - a standard feature in several RTS games?)

[Sir_Adam] nobody plays with computers

[Sir_Adam] in multiplayer

[MAX2Chris] LionDog, it's purely a question of optimization and bandwidth. We are schedule to implement computer opponents in internet mode, but it's a low priority.

[Lancelot] I do Sir_Adam

[LeJohn] ??? I do

[LionDog] So, do I if it is a good computer opponent.

[Sir_Adam] I have seen ppl prefer to quit than play with the comp

[Lancelot] Descent 2 is awesome in Coop

[MAX2Chris] We have nothing against making it an option for players, but we have technical issues that need to be resolved. We only want to implement well, not just implement it.

[Dakamgi] can you just give me range and scan circles with a lock button, no FOW.

[Dakamgi] for the enemy of course

[CaptComal] What is a lock button?

[Sir_Adam] makes the range/scan circles stay

[Dakamgi] MAX1, look like a padlock

[MAX2Chris] Dakamgi, I'll bug the programmers about it, but they were pretty adamant about it. We are running into some speed issues, so they are trying to keep the feature set to a level where the game doesn't bog down too much.

[Sir_Adam] when you click on something else

[CaptComal] Oh ... so there is no lock button in MAX2 then.

[Sir_Adam] what is making the game bog down?

[Sir_Adam] not sure

[MAX2Chris] It's not so much a problem with Scan, but the range (which is really, really important) has changed due to the terrain.

[LeJohn] graphics?

[Dakamgi] basic circle is OK

[LeJohn] having to recall the hit area?

[Sir_Adam] can you make the range circle comfort to the terrain

[MAX2Chris] Currently, our major problems are: graphic size (swapping of art), map size, map terrain, number of sprites that need to be processed and placed on the map, the number of animations, decompression and loading of audio files...

[MAX2Chris] Dakamgi, the basic circle doesn't show the effect of terrain on line of sight.

[Sir_Adam] to better show where it can shoot

[Sir_Adam] I don't understand...

[Sir_Adam] other games have better graphics...

[Sir_Adam] and are a lot faster

[Sir_Adam] same w animations

[Sir_Adam] other things I can see

[MAX2Chris] Well, we are still optimizing the code, but we have to be careful about what things go in at this stage in terms of slowing the game down too much.

[LionDog] They are "Tile" based...which makes them quicker.

[CaptComal] But don't have 50 zoom levels and multi degree map tilting

[LionDog] The other games also fail in the area of elevation.

[CaptComal] Yes ... elevation in MAX2 is much more complex

[Dakamgi] but it give an approximation, that's good enough to decide where to attack. when I'm closing in I can use the select units method to get exact information

[Sir_Adam] what about TA?

[LionDog] True, TA has elevation. Did they implement that with polygons?

[IceFire] well...glad I found it, cya laters

[LeJohn] in real time dak? the unit would have moved or attacked or destroyed

[MAX2Chris] Dakamgi, with flat terrain -- the range circle worked just fine, but now, there could be squares that are within the numerical range, but not within LOS. Range has to show LOS, and that has to be calculated -- which takes a lot of processor time -- do that for a lot of units, and you take a *lot* of processor time, seriously slowing the game down.

[Sir_Adam] what system specs are you basing this on?

[MAX2Chris] P133 is our minimum. P166+ is suggest, if I remember correctly.

[MAX2Chris] 32 megs of RAM.

[MAX2Chris] 2 meg video card.

[MAX2Chris] mouse

[MAX2Chris] monitor

[MAX2Chris] desk

[MAX2Chris] chair

[MAX2Chris] er, chair

[LionDog] Instead of a circle what about a series of points in the radius of the unit range. You could even connect the points. This would be an approximation, but faster.

[Sir_Adam] house

[Sir_Adam] power

[Sir_Adam] life

[Sir_Adam] money

[Lancelot] and best of all, a good pair of speakers

[MAX2Chris] Liondog, it doesn't matter how you represent it -- the slow part is calculating the actual LOS to each square within that range.

[MAX2Chris] The drawing part is very fast.

[Sir_Adam] no.. sneakers

[Lancelot] hehe

[LionDog] With points wouldn't you have to calculate fewer ranges?

[MAX2Chris] The slow part is doing the math so you can draw it.

[MAX2Chris] You calculate it based on squares.

[Sir_Adam] is that the reason why a grid is still used?

[LeJohn] coloring grid is the same as coloring a point

[MAX2Chris] Yep.

[Dakamgi] that's very disappointing, it was a MAJOR item in MAX during an attack.

[LionDog] So the distance to each point has a range in squares?

[LeJohn] yes

[Sir_Adam] you can count them

[MAX2Chris] Yep.

[LeJohn] and varies by terrain

[Sir_Adam] does it?

[LionDog] Fewer points = fewer range calculations.

[Sir_Adam] Chris u said this was out

[Sir_Adam] ixnay on longer range from higher ground

[MAX2Chris] Errr. I read that comment as talking about LOS. In other words, that terrain blocked vision.

[LionDog] I think I am getting mixed up with the attack range...sorry.

[LeJohn] nope based on a grid flooding a grid is the same as displaying a point

[Sir_Adam] oops

[MAX2Chris] Lets see. In other topics, all 60 of the missions are now in QA.

[MAX2Chris] Do you all still read the [STATUS] messages? Any comments about them?

[LeJohn] 60 single player any multi(team)

[Sir_Adam] they are weird

[CaptComal] I read them

[LionDog] I read them....would like the see the changes in the beta. : )

[CaptComal] And save them in a WORD doc file too

[Sir_Adam] there are all these messages about fixed bugs and new animations

[LeJohn] but haven't see much of what's listed yet =(

[Sir_Adam] no offense, but I don't have the time to read them because they are so long

[Dakamgi] just having the bug # doesn't help, please provide the bug name (or description) that will help us check if they are really fixed.

[MAX2Chris] The messages are relayed from all the programmers and artists on the team. They are talking about the full version.

[Sir_Adam] well then I don't think we need to know

[MAX2Chris] Dakamgi, I sort of figured that -- but that document is over 100 pages in length.

[LionDog] Any ideas when we will see some of the final unit graphics?

[MAX2Chris] It's mostly so you can see that progress is being made.

[Dakamgi] mail it to me

[CaptComal] Keep the STATUS coming for those of us taking time to test seriously.

[LeJohn] yes

[Sir_Adam] hey

[Sir_Adam] sorry I have a real life that gets in the way

[MAX2Chris] Liondog, soon -- I hope.

[LionDog] thx.

[MAX2Chris] Dakamgi, I'll ask -- but it's a QA document, the MAX2 team doesn't "own" it.

[LeJohn] so when do we get to see the alien stuff?

[MAX2Chris] Should be the next beta. There is still a hold-up on getting the Sheevat art in the game. We are working on it. As soon as that happens -- that's the next beta.

[LionDog] will it be the final Sheevat art?

[MAX2Chris] Liondog, it should be. With maybe some minor touch-ups, depending on any bug reports.

[MAX2Chris] We have new interface art going in, and it slowly but surely being "finalled."

[Dakamgi] has the wobbly radar tower been fixed?

[LeJohn] I like it

[MAX2Chris] Not yet, it's in that batch of artwork that is waiting to be paletted. It has been done for over three months, but until they figure out some technical stuff with the palette -- we can't use it.

[Sir_Adam] jiggles like jello

[LeJohn] ahh color shift

[LeJohn] color shift

[MAX2Chris] Currently, the images are all 24-bit. We need to convert them to their own 256 color palette (every item in the game is paletted, but everything has it's own 8-bit palette -- which is really nice from an art point of view.)

[MAX2Chris] Did the latest beta come with new cursors?

[LionDog] yes

[LeJohn] yes.. like them

[Sir_Adam] yes

[Dakamgi] very nice

[MAX2Chris] What do you think of them?

[Sir_Adam] I think they might be a bit too extravagant

[Sir_Adam] they ok (IMO)

[LionDog] I don't like the main menu cursor; I do like the unit load cursor, though.

[MAX2Chris] Are they understandable? Too large, too small? Easy to tell where the hotpoint is?

[Sir_Adam] too big

[LionDog] The main one is too extravagant.

* MAX2Chris nods.

[LeJohn] and large

[CaptComal] Cursors: Pointing hand is OK ... Hate the building cursor and Waypoints ... Attack cursor is good

[CaptComal] Cant see anything with the building one

[Dakamgi] the placement coursor makes it hard to tell where the building/turret is being built

[MAX2Chris] Hmmm. I happen to like the waypoint cursor (but I think they are all a little too big.)

[LeJohn] a clawed hand would be better =8)

[MAX2Chris] Dakamgi, good point.

[CaptComal] The normal and select cursors are too similar ... both are C like in shape, but one is just tilted

[LionDog] Clawed hand does sound fitting.

[Sir_Adam] From what I remember, they all look the same

[CaptComal] YES ... they are too big!!

[Sir_Adam] just have something different in the circle

[Dakamgi] the art is nice, but remember KISS

[MAX2Chris] Yep.

[LeJohn] joke.. old running gag.. never mind smaller would fix them

[MAX2Chris] What other product has really nice cursors?

[Sir_Adam] TA's

[CaptComal] Chris ... keep in mind that you have 50 zoom levels

[Dakamgi] Nintendo

[Sir_Adam] they are obvious

[LeJohn] Diablo, HOMM, MOO

[CaptComal] The cursors stay big even when you zoom out

[MAX2Chris] Good point, Capt.

[CaptComal] And then they block several grids completely

[Sir_Adam] I don't need fancy

[Sir_Adam] I need easy to understand

[Dakamgi] accurate and simple

[MAX2Chris] Are the new cursors an improvement over the older MAX1-style cursors?

[CaptComal] Maybe change the color of the cursor

[Dakamgi] NO

[Sir_Adam] no

[CaptComal] depending on if it is selecting a unit or selecting a grid to move to

[LeJohn] sorry no

[Sir_Adam] for all I care...

[Sir_Adam] rip them right out of M.A.X.

[Sir_Adam] and put em in

[CaptComal] The new cursors are more fancy ... but fancy does not make the game more fun. Need accuracy

[MAX2Chris] Are there any of the new cursors that are improved over the older ones? (Loading, for example.)

[Sir_Adam] not that I can remember

[Dakamgi] the main screen cursor looks neat

[Sir_Adam] the M.A.X. ones were perfect

[LeJohn] you can tell if your going to build by the cursor but changing a hand to a hammer would do the same thing simpler

[Dakamgi] the map cursors = use the MAX1 cursors

* MAX2Chris nods.

[Sir_Adam] excellent... he gives the nod

[MAX2Chris] I'm actually in complete agreement with you guys over the cursor issue.

[Sir_Adam] so what's wrong

[MAX2Chris] We'll send them back to the artist, and get another attempt.

[Dakamgi] politics

[Sir_Adam] cool

[LeJohn] a lot of time went into the artwork

* MAX2Chris peers at Dakamgi. "What, reading my mind, again?"

[Dakamgi] Vulcan mind meld

[Sir_Adam] what were your instructions to the artist?

[MAX2Chris] Shhh! No Vulcans here.

[CaptComal] I just ran the older game ... the cursors there were quite usable!

[MAX2Chris] Sir Adam, pretty much -- "Here are the old ones, redo them with more colors." Or something like that.

[LeJohn] you have an art director that's worried about aesthetics a mite bit to much

[CaptComal] Just not as pretty.

[MAX2Chris] We'll have the artist do another set.

[Dakamgi] KISS

[CaptComal] Tell him/her to try them at various zoom levels

[MAX2Chris] Okay. Any other questions?

[LeJohn] hand to pick, hammer to build, sword(gun) to attack, rabbit to run away!

[MAX2Chris] I need to get going in about 5 minutes (must get dinner -- dying of starvation...)

[LeJohn] no more questions here Chris

[Sir_Adam] ok, go forth and munch

[Dakamgi] both taste the same

[LeJohn] go for and feed thyself then the baby =)

[Dakamgi] thanks Chris

[CaptComal] Are some air units going to need to rearm?

[MAX2Chris] CaptComal, that is the tentative plan -- all air units would need to return to a base (hangar or air plant) to rearm. It's something that will happen shortly, or it won't happen at all (due to balancing reasons -- we don't want to make that type of change at the last moment.)

[CaptComal] OK.

[Sir_Adam] I made a mistake, can we start the chat over again Chris

[Sir_Adam] :)

[MAX2Chris] We may leave it up to the defender to make sure he has enough air defenses, but I would really like to balance the planes a little better... :)

[MAX2Chris] Thanks all. No chat for next week. The week after that is the next planned chat... (Except that I might be at E3).

[CaptComal] Planes are unique ... everyone always seems to have tons of ground attack forces

[CaptComal] Thanks Chris!

[MAX2Chris] pax!

*** MAX2Chris has quit IRC (Leaving)

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