June 30th has come and gone and the game has become far more playable now. I've completed some essential artwork, gameplay, and storyline content. It feels richer as a result.
This week was spent setting up the movement framework. The game already has the basic mechanics built in (up arrow to move up, left arrow to move left etc) but storing data related to the player's movement and position needed work.
I programmed in a few variables that the game will keep track of as the player moves through the Antarctic. Namely, the total distance travelled, total Southerly distance travelled, and the constant tracking of the player's X and Y coordinates. The last piece of data will be used for some basic vector mathematics. It's the most simple version of what NASA scientists do when they're trying to figure out where the rockets are going and when they'll get there. But rather than land a rover on mars, I'm figuring out if a couple of guys pulling some sleds will ever make it to the South Pole.
The data collected by the framework can be manipulated to make energy cost deductions and reveal useful information to the player. As I introduce useful tools like the compass, altitude scale, sextant, and distance measuring wheel into the game, the player will be able to retrieve the information stored in the framework in a more human friendly way, but also an early 20th Century way too. Miscalculations will be added.
So, the data is all being carefully calculated and tucked away in the background until the player reaches for it using in-game tools. Meanwhile, the data will also be used to calculate which map to load next, remember the order in which those maps appear, and store unique geographic locations. This way, as a player travels forward from map to map they will almost always encounter a randomly (most likely hand crafted as opposed to procedural) selected map, and yet on the return journey encounter those same maps in the order they appeared. Random away, ordered return. That is the primary work I am doing this week and the following weeks, along with continuous efforts to get The Formula under some sort of earthly control.
Here's an inkling of what the programming looks like "in words:" (it reads right to left.)
The Formula is a function of several equations all working in tandem to establish the energy cost of moving a fraction of a mile in the antarctic at any given point in time. It is complex. When complete, The Formula will model terrain types, wind conditions, weather conditions, visibility, sledge weight, type of transportation, temperature, wind chill, and some smaller factors. And beautifully, the player won't have to worry about any of the math, just understand their surroundings as if they were a century old explorer.
Just to give you an insight into the complexities of some of these formulas let's discuss visibility - how far the explorer can see. In historical terms, that would mean our heroes Scott or Shackleton would have to stop every few yards, place a large unstable compass into the snow, wait for it to stop wobbling, and then spend several minutes calculating their direction and compensating for any errors. It slows down travel, and the idle time spent waiting makes the explorers feel colder. That costs energy.
If you graphed the visibility formula, it would be S shaped (the top half of the S). At Maximum visibility, the energy cost will be zero. As visibility drops, the explorer becomes less and less sure of his direction and spends more energy making sure he isn't lost. But the energy difference between no visibility and almost no visibility is quite minor because there's a maximum impact that lack of visibility can have. The result is an S shaped graph and to calculate the exact number requires the of use of the natural logarithm.
So yay math to work out.
Meanwhile, two new books have arrived that I'm diving into - one is a biography of Shackleton and the other is a biography of Scott. I'll add them to the research page soon. I'm using the information in those books to give me perspective on the diary entries I've been reading. I've also been reading some excellent journal articles that discuss human physiology and travelling on foot through the Antarctic.
Here I take a look at the work I've been doing and share status updates and any of the interesting bits that might appeal to you.