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Myriavora » Camp Gladii + Camp Successus

Changes made in revision 8092:

  • Added Camp Gladii
  • Added Camp Successus
  • Fixed a bug that sometimes caused spiders to get stuck after they got caught in a trap.

There are six big traps in Camp Gladii, half of which are active at any one time. Every 15 seconds they switch over to the other half. Although the camp has no armament, it is easily defendable if you keep moving and watch the timers.

Camp Successus provides six frost shocks for defense. They each activate 3 seconds after entering and have a cooldown of 50 seconds. Since there are so many facilities to choose from, the long cooldown doesn’t matter much in practice unless you’re really rushing it.

The delay, on the other hand, is something not to be underestimated. During test play, I experimented with different values and was surprised at how much I had to adjust my strategy each time.

In the heat of battle, every second feels like an eternity. Two seconds is already hard to bear, three seconds is simply torture. And yet I had a lot more success with three seconds! That’s because a longer delay gives more spiders a chance to enter the facility and get caught by the shockwave.

So in the end I decided to go for a three second delay. Yes, it’s more challenging to deal with and can be outright infuriating at times. But I guess that fits the game perfectly.

When testing Camp Gladii, I noticed spiders getting stuck occasionally. It was always at the same spot: near a tree that was suspiciously close to the wall of one of the traps. After some investigation, I realized this was no coincidence.

The problem was that traps were implemented as a kind of force field that pulls trapped spiders inwards when they try to leave. It’s the only thing in the game that works that way and the spider AI isn’t really prepared to deal with that. The algorithms are robust enough that it sort of works most of the time, but when it doesn’t, spiders get stuck.

I contemplated improving the AI, but then I realized that changing the traps to work like actual barriers was a much better idea. That’s because the AI already knows very well how to deal with barriers. It does so all the time as rocks, trees, and collisions between spiders are implemented that way.

Of course, it wasn’t exactly trivial to change the traps. They don’t work like normal barriers as they have to actually let in spiders and allow trapped spiders to roam inside. That’s the reason I implemented them as force fields in the first place.

So, in the end it took me a couple of tries to get it right. But once I did, I immediately noticed an unexpected but welcome side effect. Since the spider AI is aware of barriers, it can now sort of “feel” the trap and tries to find a way out instead of banging its head against the wall. It’s a relatively subtle change in behaviour and you probably won’t see a difference unless you know exactly what to look for and take the time to do so. But at least I can see it, and like a proud father it just makes me happy to see my “babies” deal with their world just a little bit better.