4 Hugues Ross - Blog: Halberd - Actors, Part 1
Hugues Ross


Halberd - Actors, Part 1

One of my goals for this month is to get myself back on the right track with Halberd's development. To recover from my little detour, I decided to implement one major new feature: NPCs. So far, I've had some good success!

Defining The Problem

Before starting, I decided to put together a to-do list of sorts. My overarching goal is to have placeable characters that the player can talk to, and in the following two issues I laid-out a general roadmap for the feature as lists of sub-tasks.

I broke my goal in two because I felt that I had a good strategy for separating dialogue from NPCs: By making dialogue part of Halberd's existing collection of triggers, I could design NPCs in a way that would make it pluggable later without any effort. The final design of NPCs (now called Actors) is very similar to Halberd's trigger volumes, but with different criteria for triggering actions.

The process of getting actors in place was uneventful, so much so that I apparently forgot to take any screenshots! Oh well, better luck next time.

Hitting A Snag

Once actors could be added to maps, the next problem was making them trigger actions when the player collided or interacted with them. This turned out to be much harder than anticipated, but not for the reason you might expect.

DFGame's property grid is still very young, and I've been trying to limit my work on it to features that I actually need. At the time that I started on actors, the property grid was completely static. That meant no triggers, because triggers have different fields depending on what they do. So, before I could finish my actors I had to revamp my property grid code accordingly.

In the end, I refactored the code and added support for the <choice> XSD element. This took a little over a week on its own, so I did take a few screenshots:


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First Draft - Initial Support

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Second Draft - Style Fixes

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Third Draft - Changeable Element Types

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Final Version - Slightly simplified UI

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Wrapping Up

The new possibilities offered by <choice> gives me pretty much everything I need to convert the rest of Halberd's UI to use the property grid. With the new tech in hand, I finished adding actor triggers then merged the actor and trigger editors into a single 'Objects' tab. I also converted the encounter list while I was at it:
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Let's Talk

The first step to adding dialogue is getting a trigger in place to do it:
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That's the latest thing I've accomplished, so my next move will be to get that text on-screen. To that end, I'm looking into merging my UI work so I can get some pretty dialogue boxes in place.

Once that's done, I'll be making a proper editor for dialogue trees. In addition to letting devs add more text, I also want to add support for choices and triggers in dialogue. The latter in particular excites me: It'll let dialogue have a real effect on gameplay, while tying into future additions (such as items and plot flags) very well.

Watch this space for a follow-up!

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