Help Wanted

2011-05-09-lost-and-found

I don’t have as much time for programming as I used to. There are a couple of things I could use some help with, so if you have at least a passing familiarity with Pascal and GearHead then read on.

Understanding the i18n version

The Japanese GearHead fan community has made a lot of improvements to GearHead over the years. nameless provided some links to the changes in a previous comment thread. It would be easiest for me if someone could submit each of the changes as GitHub pull requests; that way, I could quite easily see what each of the changes does, and quickly incorporate them into the main branch. Most of the changes seem to be within $IFDEF blocks, so even an explanation of what each tag does and which tags depend on other tags would be nice.

My main concerns:

  • What is the minimum code that needs to be patched in so that international translations work?
  • Are there any big bugfixes or improvements that should be imported right away?

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to compile the i18n version or run the precompiled binaries on my current laptop. I suspect that I’m doing something wrong.

Importing the GH2 ASCII interface

Right now I’m busy improving the SDL interface. Due to limitations of the console interface, many of these changes cannot be applied to ASCII mode. One way to get around this would be to adapt the GH2 vidgfx, vidmenus, and vidmap units to GH1. In theory, it should be possible to set things up so that most of the $IFDEF SDLMODE switches can be removed.

One possible complication: Are the GH2 ASCII units compatible with the i18n patches?

Even More FieldHQ

GH1_SelectMechaForPilot2

Even more of the Field HQ is now working. You can select a mecha for a pilot and select a pilot for a mecha.GH1_SelectPilotForMechaThe lancemate info display has a big empty space at the bottom; I should add biographies for all of the standard lancemates, and random biographies for all of the random lancemates. Random biographies would be much easier to make if there were a procedural text generator already in place. So, I think after I get the interface completely working again, I’m going to write a CFG token expander.

Today’s Progress: Wargear Menu

GH1_WolframWargear

The menu that pops up when you select a mecha or item from the FieldHQ is now working. To make up for the fact that this display looks just like the FieldHQ display, this time I present my results in glorious AnimGIF format.

New GH1 FieldHQ

GH1_NewFieldHQ

I’ve arranged the new Field HQ display, which now shows info about the team’s mecha in the right side panel. Unfortunately, I can’t find several of the original mecha portrait files, which is a problem because I’m resizing them to 160×160 instead of 100×150*. One of the problems with the 100×150 GH2 mecha pics is that large, bulky units such as the Savin and the Zwar come out looking smaller than tall skinny units like the Ice Wind and the War Cry.

The mecha info panel could probably use some more information:

  • Separate tallies for internal and carried mass, showing the MV/TR penalty associated with each.
  • The number of hands and weapon mounts, as per GH2.
  • Damage status. I just realized that’s not even shown.
  • List of defensive systems: ECM, shields, anti-missile weapons.
  • Daemonward’s encumberance display.

That seems like an awful lot to fit into a single 250×300 panel. Anything else that should be displayed?

*Yes, I’m aware that this Savin is being depicted as a Zerosaiko. The Savin portrait is one of the ones I can’t find. 🙁

Lancemate Switching from Backpack

GH1_BackpackSwitch

Today’s achievement is that you can now switch between lancemates using the left and right keys from the backpack display. This feature should be applied to the Character Viewer and Shop interfaces as well.

Busy Sunday

I will be busy today getting my pages ready for the California College of the Arts comics anthology. No GearHead for me until they’re finished. Instead, please enjoy the Cybertronic Spree performing the theme song from a Canadian cartoon.

The Old Old Days

robots

While backing up files today I found some pictures from GearHead’s past. The initial version of the isometric SDL interface was, as you can see, a mess. There was an earlier graphical version of the game that used an overhead view and a different FreePascal graphics unit for rendering (I think it was called GraphiX? I can’t remember), but I can’t find any screenshots of that one.

I wonder what font I used in pre-release GearHead?

swap_portrait_2

Initially, I planned for each portrait to have five facial expressions depending on the character’s mood. In retrospect I’m glad I didn’t go with that because it would have been tons of work.

GHRPG_PaperDolls

I also found this paperdoll avatar worksheet I started but abandoned. The bellbottom pants would have been authentic to Mobile Suit Gundam, at least.

GHRPG_Lobster

Finally, I was reminded that several of the monsters in the game started out as clay models that I photographed with a webcam and traced in Ultimate Paint.

Looking at these old pictures makes me quite proud of how far the game has come.

New Backpack Display

GH1_NewInventory

The inventory/equipment interface has a new look. Next step: expand and improve the item descriptions.

Knowledge is Power

One of the big problems with GearHead1 is that the game just doesn’t provide all the information that the player needs. Even when information is provided, it’s not always in a useful form. As Powerglide says, knowing is half the battle.

The next interface that I need to work on is the inventory/equipment menu. I’ll be importing the system from GH2 in which item info is shown as the menu is browsed. This makes it much easier to see what you’re carrying, and understand the difference between different items.

GearHead2 Inventory Menu

GearHead2 Inventory Menu

There are a few improvements I plan to make over the basic GH2 model:

  • Show the PC’s name and encumbrance level, and allow switching to lancemate inventories by pressing left or right (as in Dungeon Monkey Eternal).
  • Show volume. It’s an important stat for Mecha Engineering, but at the moment it’s completely hidden in GearHead1.
  • Instead of showing a weapon’s Speed stat, convert that into an exact recharge time. Along the same lines I should show the PC’s exact reaction time on the character sheet.
  • Also for weapons, show which skill it uses. Bonus points for showing the weapon’s attack score (user’s skill + stat bonus + accuracy + MV/TV/Se).
  • Allow some way to see a list of the character’s defenses, in order of precedence, indicating the attack types each is good against.

I don’t think I’m going to import the item images yet since not every item has an image and the last thing I want right now is to add something else to my list of needed content.

Character Generator Arranged

GH1_NewChargenLayout

I’ve updated the character generator with DynamicRect objects that reposition themselves according to the size of the window. I also fixed some of the problems and inconsistencies in the character generation process. For instance, the “Select Job” menu now shows the skill bonuses and staring cash of each job.

Please note that at this stage I am merely arranging panels; making them beautiful will come later. There were a number of missteps along the way…

GH1_NewChargenDev

For design inspiration I’m looking at computer interfaces and HUDs featured in giant robot cartoons.