You may have seen Ray Harryhausen credited with Technical Effects (meaning special effects) for his amazing stop-motion animation in movies like Mighty Joe Young, It Came From Beneath The Sea, and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. Well, this column isn't really about special effects, just technical game details and behind-the-scenes programming stuff that we thought you might find interesting. We'll be updating it regularly, or whenever Lars thinks of something.
04/22/03: MINI MAP MADNESS
WHAT'S THE DAMAGE?
Our maps are rather large, and you can't see much of them on the screen at any given time. As a monster you don't come to the big city very often, so like most tourists, you get lost easily. The minimap is a staple of RTS games, but we opted for a macrosized minimap so you could see the whole game map in some useful amount of detail. Unlike a traditional RTS, in TCFH you generally don't need to keep track of units scattered all over the map, so having the minimap on screen at all times isn't a requirement. Therefore we went with a large pop-up window display. The game auto pauses when you're looking at the minimap.
Keeping track of where you've been, what you've smashed, what's left to go after, where the landmarks are, etc. is something we figured you'd want to know when looking at the whole city map, so we provided those as overlays. Right now we've got overlays for value, landmarks, population density, enemies, kills, damage, and trail (plus the basic terrain, neighborhoods, and terrain features map). You can enable one of three Fog-of-War options on these maps: all always visible, visible permanently once seen, and decaying visibility. The layout isn't 100% finished yet, and we'll probably come up with another useful overlay or two as well, but here's the basic idea. (Click for bigger):
Trail (Billy Map)