Friday, January 31, 2014

What is The Merging?

The Merging is a turn based, tactical battle game where two or more forces collide in combat in the twisted landscape of the post-merged world. The world has many names. Which name is used depends on which world the speaker is from. The world as it stands now is what is left after several were merged together in an event called The Merging

Some time ago, The Merging happened. No one is quite sure how long ago because no one is sure what the passage of time is anymore, or that it even passes. Each of the realms of existence - Earth, Heaven, Hell, and the Elemental Planes - merged together into one.

Entire sections and all that occupied it were replaced with the corresponding section from another realm. What was once a forest is now a blasted fire plane. What was a icy tundra pleat with ice elements is now a towering city of white filled with angels. What became of the those sections no longer around and the entities that inhabited it, no one knows.

The exact cause is not known, but the leading theory is that the use of magic by humans in the Earthen realm caused the fabric that holds all of existence together, and at the same time separate, to twist, buckle, and break bringing the different realms crashing together. Everyone blames everyone else for it happening.

From the chaos of the aftermath from The Merging, several factions emerged. 

Heaven was able to largely maintain its' order, albeit scattered. Their discipline served them well. However, their zealousness and pride forces them to act on everyone they have deemed unholy. Those who refuse to submit are destroyed.

The denizens of Hell were also scattered and within each region of Hell that survived, fiefdoms arose lead by the demon with the most might and cunning. Their greed and drive for power has them pushing out attempting to take everything for themselves. Those who survive their onslaught on turned into slaves.

The elements from the Elemental Planes were the ones that created the rest of the realms and created the fabric that binds existence together. The fabric was created in order to keep out The Void, the nothingness which attempts to consume everything. 

Before the creation of the other realms, the elements were primal and savage beings. After some time, eons and eons of time, some of them discovered a way to end the chaos by separating those things within them that caused them to act in this way and seal it away in a different partition of existence. Thus, they took their pride and zeal and locked it away in the realm of Heaven. They took their greed and megalomania and sealed this away into the realm of Hell. 

After some time, the war between Heaven and Hell began after it was discovered that the fabric was starting to merge together over time. The elements created a new realm to anchor the realms in order to prevent the things the elements sealed away from themselves from returning. This realm was Earth, and from it was born the humans. 

While it anchored the realms together, it did not prevent their traversal. The armies of Heaven and Hell saw the Earthen realm as just another battle ground for their war and began to bring the war into the Earthen realm. However, they discovered that they could not exist there for long and the toll it took on them was great. Their magical beings could not exist in the physical realm of Earth. This lead them to instead use the humans as pawns and conduct a proxy war in the Earth realm. 

Now, after The Merging, the elements fear that being exposed to the things they once sealed away to create peace will cause them to revert back to their primal, savage nature. In order to prevent this, they strive to wipe the slate clean and start their grand plan anew.

The Merging caused the fabric that kept the void out to weakened, and in some areas break. The Void is now leaking into existence and consuming it. 

However, only pieces of The Void are able to get in and the existence inside the realms forces these pieces into shapes analogous with the world. These are called agents of the void. They are subject to some rules of existence, but not all. It is this fact that allows them to be fought and defeated, and it is also this fact that makes them possibly the greatest threat to the people of the world. They are never ending, new pieces are always leaking in and begin roaming and devouring.

The magical fallout from The Merging caused many people in the Earth realm to mutate into beasts of varying kinds. These new creatures found no home with the remainder of man and were outcast. They formed groups and tribes with other beast mutants and banded together for their own survival amidst a world filled with people that did not want them around.

Those that were affected by the fallout and not turned into beasts were turned into something worse. It rent the very essence of their being and soul and turned them into undead abominations; Mindless zombies, ghosts with no physical form, creatures that feed off the life force of others and even some that become immortal by locking their very souls away from harm. The more intelligent of the undead horde lead the less intelligent in roaming mobs in pursuit of their own goals. 

The humans formed two key groups. One group is known as the Magi, humans who continue to use magic. The second is a group that has forsaken the use of magic and instead returned to using science to improve their lives, drawing on the rules of the Earthen realm's physical instead of magical nature. Many of those rules have been changed after The Merging, but they are quick learners. 

Both groups have one thing in common though, and that is to eliminate the elements, angels, and demons, however, their reasons differ. Some want revenge, blaming them for the state of affairs in the world. Others want revenge for treating man as puppets and pawns in their war and creating strife and conflict in the history of man. Yet others see them as competitors for the things they covet.

The remainder of man formed bandit groups, filled with psychotic individuals that were either mad before hand or driven that way after the world changed. These bandit groups are known collectively as The Marauders. They have no goal. They have no method. They live in the moment and sow chaos and mayhem wherever they go.

It is these groups that battle in the merged world of realms. The times are desperate and the measures severe. Time works against all as less and less remains from the slow tide of nothingness that seeps in. Who will be left in the end, if anything is left in the end, is perhaps the greatest mystery of all in this strange, new world.

The Beginning

I've been plugging away at making my own computer game for about two weeks now, which I've taken to call The Merging. I'm doing it pretty much from scrap with SFML as my only library inclusion using C++ as my language. I've done a lot of short starts on games, but I've always had someone else saying they would be helping and not really contributing much (for valid reasons), and that always hampers morale; not getting help you were expecting. I started on this project with it in mind that I'd be doing all the work myself so I've not been suffering that (now it's just the mountain of work I have to do by myself that is dampening morale but so far it hasn't been that much of an issue).

The basic idea of the game is to have a table top miniature game, such as Warhammer 40k for example, in a multiplayer computer environment. Each battle will be fought between two or more players in different configurations ( 1v1, 2v2, 1v1v1, etc ). Each player will build a force of a handful of characters beforehand using a points system for purchasing units and upgrading them in various ways. They will then take this force and fight a battle with it in different setups and scenarios against other players either in a casual game or a game that will be scored for their overall ranking.

Turns will progress either in a you-go-i-go on a character by character basis, IE I activate one of my characters and do stuff with it, then you activate one of your characters and do something with it, and back and forth until all characters that can do something have done done something. The alternative, which is the way I'm leaning heavily towards, is to assign at the start of the match an order of initiative, very much how Dungeons and Dragons does it (at least 3rd edition, have not played the newer ones). A list would be made and it would be iterated through one by one until it gets to the end, then it starts over.

It is just a simple 2D top down game environment.

Battles will be of different point values, IE 500, 750, 1000, etc ( or whatever scale of points I come up with). Forces will be made before hand so all a player will do when they join a game is choose a force of the appropriate points value and wait for the game to start.

The mechanics would be much more in depth and complicated than in table top games, but that can be achieved because a lot of it is automated within the computer. Instead of two people having to keep track of everything on paper or with tokens, the computer can do it for them instantly. Complex rules and systems can be done without being a hassle during the game. It will give players much to think about as they build their forces.

My current progress so far is pretty good I think. I'm still embroiled in things like GUI elements, but I develop them as I need to following the YAGNI principle. All the work has just been done client side so far, but I'm getting to the point to where I need to start doing some server side stuff. 

Players will log onto a central server which will act as a news channel for me to broadcast info, a chat channel for players to talk to each other, a section for browsing games available to join or to start a new one, a place for doing ranked matches (if it gets that far, last on the list), and a section for creating and modifying forces. 

When a game is launched, the players will then be sent off in a peer-to-peer connection setup to have their game, which will then have the results reported back to the central server for tracking. At least, that's the idea for it so far.

I chose to do it from scratch so it would be a learning experience in general. I've had two years of schooling in computer science which was enough to learn C++ ( this was about six years ago ), and also math and physics classes. I've been figuring everything out on my own and learning by looking things up on the internet.

My ultimate goal is to release either this game or another game for sale and have my own indie game development company. Failing that, I think having a game such as this in my portfolio would greatly enhance my ability to get a job somewhere. Even if that doesn't happen it would still be a success in my mind because I have made something that most people only ever sit around and talk about.

The purpose of having this blog here is to share my experience with like minded people. I am slightly apprehensive about it because I am a pretty self conscious person when it comes to things like this. No one wants to be told their work is rubbish. I figure though, sharing my experiences and ideas might help move me along, help me to think about things ( I often think of several ways and/or better ways to do things as I'm doing them, kind of a curse really when I'm writing my code ), and get opinions on how to do things better or different ways to do things.

There will be a lot of updates coming soon as all the undocumented progress that has been done plays catch up on here and the story environment gets described.