As last week was the last week of our semester, we worked feverishly trying to get all our content in. The house itself was finally pared down to a reasonable size and we were able to start getting all the textures onto the surfaces. We did an initial pass on the lighting to set the mood and to give us a sense of any potential issues such as light leaks (there were).
Most importantly, however, was we were still trying to figure out how to get the XML data into the game itself. The structure of the document that Articy creates is very confusing, at least upon first glance. Every Node has a connection that leads to the next Node. However, it seems as though the connection itself is the parent object and the Nodes are the children. That means in order to know what comes next, you start by looking for a connector that has the current Node as a source and then you can find the target! It also didn’t help that we are using the software in a way probably not quite intended. We needed to have so much information embedded in the conversation tree that could be used to calculate an outcome. This has meant we had to go even deeper into the Node hierarchy.
Needless to say, Monkey and Jason had to spend a lot of time deciphering what the heck was going on! Even after whiteboarding everything, we discovered other issues. We still needed a few more template pieces to allow us to attach the appropriate items and a set of responses to end a conversation that was independent of the story itself. We also discovered that the data wasn’t always consistent which put up another roadblock for us. Our dialogue strings would often come in with a wrapper [[CDATA ]] but not every time. It turns out that the data was fine, it’s just that if you copy text and paste it, the formatting would stick. This is a feature of the software, not a bug. It’s great that we found this issue, as now our code will deal with this situation, it just sucked that it happened so late in the project when we are trying to wrap everything up.
We have one week left (not even) to try and get something playable. We feel bad that we have missed our original milestone and are working hard to try and finish, but the problem has been way more difficult than we expected and we have been trying to ensure a solid foundation to continue building. For that we can be quite satisfied!
“I felt that I breathed an atmosphere of sorrow.”
― Edgar Allan Poe