Post news RSS Party of Sin: Status Update

News in all departments including new cartoon sprites and AI behaviour trees.

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Hello all, we took a short break from our weekly updates since things were getting crazy. The good news is it’s all over now. School projects have been handed in, two members of the team are officially graduating (Vince and I) and we’re ready to pump more hours into Party of Sin. There’s been a lot of progress in the last three weeks.

Art Updates

We’ve had the pleasure of bringing our new artist Fronc on the team. Fronc is a Montrealer and has some pretty amazing art (portfolio here). He applied for a job at Crankshaft and when we told him about Party of Sin, he got really excited. We’re all excited to work with him as well!

Liz has returned to animation duties. She started animating the boss (many legs!). I worked closely with her to implement Linear Blending (this is in addition to the Additive Blending we were already using. I will be continuing our series on animations soon!). She’s going to be working on increasing the expressiveness of all of our characters in the coming weeks. We decided to try some new and interesting cartoon elements as well. One of these is the new “Boom!” sprite which appears on certain explosions. Here are a couple of screenshots:

I’m not sure what you think, but I like the cartoon style. Liz purchased the font and will be making many more of these sprites including Pow! Kablam! Splat! Zing!

Sound Updates

The sound team has been keeping busy as well. Blake created a TON of new sounds for everything from cages to torture machines to sounds for our menu buttons and transitions. Andy has been working hard to get them all in game. We’ll have to have another update with music and sound examples as the highlight.

Code Updates

Most of the coding work in the past weeks have been focused on two things: AI and GUI. The AI went through a complete rewrite and our new Behaviour Tree system inspired by the likes of Halo 2, Halo 3, and other interesting sources like Bjoern Knafla’s blog and this wonderful book. The amount of documentation available for Behaviour trees is awesome, and it beats the crap out of our old HFSM system. We have a full blackboard system with event signaling included in it and we’re now building our library of tasks. These tasks are the building blocks for building full behaviours. I explained the whole system to Vince just last week and he was excited at all the new possibilities.

Another core change we went through was the way we handled waypoints (or hint nodes as we call them). Previously, enemies had to seek out hints for things like throwing a grenade or finding cover. This was great, but it meant the AI wasn’t very opportunistic. It meant they had to be programmed to decide when to throw a grenade based on no feedback at all. This led to boring behaviour… like a type of angel that does nothing but throw grenades. We turned this around and made hint nodes more like opportunities. Rather than the AI looking for hints, the hints look for an AI to execute it. This means that when an opportunity presents itself (like the player being in the perfect spot to be thrown a grenade), any nearby angel with grenades will go ahead and throw one. This simple change is going to make all the difference!

Henko and EFF

Lastly I’d like to give one last announcement. The game we talked about in previous blog entries (Arrow) has been renamed to Henko. We released it for free and you can download it HERE. We had to pull out of the contest due to dubious business practices, but that doesn’t mean something good will come of it. We decided to accept donations for the game and we’ll be splitting those donations 50-50 with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I won’t go into the details, but check out the Henko blog for the full story.


While such comic font signs work, these in the screenshots are too pixel heavy, make the smoother so that they look similar to the rest of the art design in the game.

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