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Christmas Mapping Miracle

Hello again all you beautiful people! It's that holiday season with chestnuts roasting on an open fire (because everyone still does that, obviously) and cold weather blowing in across the globe. We hope you all are having a wonderful time across your respective hemispheres, and we've got a special programming and map system focus for you this month, so strap in for the ride of your life!

Mapping Maven

We introduced Patrick, the handsome, fresh-smelling savant of all things programming for Arcadian Atlas a while back, but we wanted to let him shine this month for all the work he's doing on the coding foundation of the game. So we asked him a few questions about how he got into programming in the first place:

What drew you to the programming side of games?

"Modding! It's a common answer for game developers and I'm no exception to the rule. After seeing how awesome "Rhye's and Fall of Civilization" and "Fall from Heaven 2" were for Civilization 4, I dipped my feet into topical content-swap mods for that game.

Around this time I had been incubating a fantasy setting for a total conversion mod for Civ 5, but the modding tools weren't all there, so I decided to learn XNA, which was then a light framework for ground-up game development. I started Red Tactics as a 2D tactical RPG prototype, and then applied my skills to learning 3D game development well enough to resurrect it as Vindis Saga Tactics. Though it's currently shelved, my love for tactical RPGs demands that I wrap it up one day."

What challenges have you faced with Arcadian Atlas that you haven't had previously?

"Squeaking out as much functionality from a 2D tile system as possible. I jumped from 2D to 3D a couple years ago, and used raycasting, camera rotation, lighting, animation blending, implicit depth from Z-axis, and all of those fun things three dimensions offer.

A 2D tile system has its advantages and disadvantages, especially when it comes down to map design and map features."

Arcadian Atlas needed a pixel-perfect world, and that's difficult to do with a 3D system when textures are rotated and overlaid on 3D objects. 2D allows for meticulous details not just in the sprites, but the world and maps, and we've always loved the nuance and character you can get through those little pixels.

Introducing OtterBlox

I've been a bit spoiled this past month and a half, working with Patrick to get some usability additions to our internal map editor: OtterBlox. We've been re-building the maps and working on some neat features like multiple layers on tiles and props for even more customization. It's been an addicting experience.

We've created some gifs of the engine in-progress for you guys, and we dub the mapping engine OtterBlox for allowing Twin Otter Studios to build the world of Arcadia block by block.

And just look at all the buttons it has! So many shiny, beautiful buttons. Makes building this bad boy below slick as can be, and if you're a bit sad that the engine is internal only to our team, we can totally understand. Perhaps one day in a galaxy far far away others can get their otter paws on it too. Here's to hoping, but we've got a game to make first!

Until Next Time, Merry Gaming!

We hope this holiday season sees you with a lot of free time with family, friends, and of course, games! There's no better time to finish up those campaigns you left un-done, pick up a few new gems, and ring in the new year in style.

And our very our gift to you: a sneak preview of our newest map's work-in-progress, Dantalion's Throne Room. Look forward to seeing this map develop in the coming weeks!

~This is Taylor signing off!

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