Working on a 3D A* algorithm for Embers of Empire

It’s been a bit of gap since my last post and that’s not for want of doing gamedev! I’ve been working on completing a Web Developer program over the last 6 months so I generally have not had much head space to work in Unity and C#. I have become a better programmer, however, and hope that I can apply some of the things I’ve learned to my gamedev sideprojects.

(Sorry if I am talking too quietly on video – everyone was asleep in my house!)

Recently I been working on Data Structures and Sorting Algorithms and it made me think back to my pathfinding problems I was working on last fall. Getting a better understanding of algorithms made me want to tackle A* and see if I could create a version adapted to a 3D space game without grinding the framerate to a halt. If I can get it to  work, I can get my AI to navigate the giant Ember ships during dogfights much more convincingly. One challenge is the A* complexity increases as you add a 3rd dimension since you go from testing 8 neighbor nodes per pass to testing 26! Not to mention the vast playing field makes the grid huge!

A couple things I am doing- AI ships will still do some Raycasting to see if they just have a clear shot to their target. If they get too close to an obstacle and its in the way they ask the A* pathfinder to find a path.

I plan to add a way to check if the path brings the ship to an open shot to the target early thus they can abandon the path. Also I could figure out a test that determines if a pathfinding can end at an early node because that node has line of sight. This will cut down on lots of searches when an AI is just jumping around one asteroid. I also want to add a way to cancel a path if the target moves into the open, etc.

Additionally, I may tap Unity’s job system to let a new thread handle the pathfinding to keep the program from stuttering as it calculates. I figure paths could be generated async with far enough lead time that the ship wont crash.

Making a Space Game with Unity and Blender: Modeling Space ships and Sci-Fi Interiors

Welcome to the first in hopefully a series on making a space game. For some time I’ve been thinking of creating blog posts and videos about how I am creating Space Warfare: Infinite and creating a resource for other aspiring developers. I’ve been messing around with programming games since I was 11, but I am completely self taught so I never feel like an expert enough to really tell people how to do stuff in this world. However, I do lots of research and have been collecting lots of resources. So while I might post some vids / tuts on how I did things, I also want to share some places I found helpful. Below are a number of videos on how to model sci-fi scenes, space ships, and other related things. I am storing them here for myself and my own work as well as for you!

Blender Specific Videos

Space Ship Creation in Blender Tutorials

Hull Plate Tutorial from Daniel Brown on Vimeo.

Interiors, etc

Blocking out – Design Videos – Not Blender Specific

The video above does not use Blender, but watching how he designs and his commentary is really cool for your process. No matter what software is used or what language, you can always learn from people who know what they are doing and then try to apply that learning to your own world. So don’t only look at Blender or Unity tutorials when you can apply overall concepts.

Reference and Idea Videos

Blender Artists Giant Spaceship Thread…

Random Spacey Stuff

New Let’s Play Video – Space Warfare: Infinite Plays Angels Fall First

I’ve decided to do a series of Youtube Let’s Plays of games that I enjoy playing that I also draw inspiration from. I plan to show off some of the game’s features and discuss the things I am working on in Space Warfare: Infinite. So, first up is a game I’ve been playing a lot of – Angels Fall First. This game has been in development for awhile, and I’ve always been inspired by their Space, Air, and Ground combat. They cover both space sim combat and first person shooter combat. You feel like you are in a big war every time you play. I love the feel of the game when you touch down in a warzone and I think the ship models and locations are pretty cool. I definitely look to some of their fighter models for inspiration. I also love being able to run around inside the big ships.

Angels Fall First came out on Steam Early Access Oct 1. You can grab it here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/367270/

They also have a website at http://www.affuniverse.com/