Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

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Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#1 Post by Jake » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:44 pm

So I had this more or less ready a week ago, needed probably about a day's more solid work... then got pretty ill for about a week! So I've just about managed to put it together now. The download below is Act 1 of 3 - I was unsure whether it would be better to do a single route all the way through the game with no choices or just a single act with the whole works, and decided that the latter was more representative of what I want to do with this game.

Important part:

Updated 20130425 23:17BST - v0.26

Windows Download (35.5MB)

All Platforms Download (47.3MB)

PR Part:

Image

Image

In Chronicle of Mars you play as Dana Roberts, a young Lieutenant in the security service of the Candor Mining Union, operating out of Candor Chasma on Mars.
Events come to a head when the CEO of the company is assassinated on the cusp of introducing a bold new benefits package for workers in the CMU's mines - before long, Dana is pulled in different directions by her sense of duty and loyalty, the requests of her superiors, and the machinations of the government of Mars.

Some other characters from the game, all drawn by the talented Ren, who makes the following statement of intent:
Ren wrote:More noses, more wrinkles and more beards: people over the age of 16 can be attractive too!
(Which is somewhat undermined by the fact that in Martian terms, our protagonist up there is a grand 13 years old.)

ImageImageImageImageImage

Over the course of the first act you'll be required to make several decisions - some more easy than others - which will determine Dana's course through events and ultimately, the fate of hundreds of thousands of citizens of Mars. But I dislike the black and white "rescue the orphan or drown the kittens" morality of a lot of games, and I think that presenting each and every choice as a "do you want to do this or that" to the user is a bit demeaning and detracts from player agency. So I've tried to do something a bit different; few of the players choices are presented as choices, and your actions speak louder than your intentions.

Of course, there's also an SRPG battle game in here, complete with experience and levelling and equipment-shopping and a variety of enemies over a variety of battlefields. You may want to stop by the in-game Marspaedia to read about the system in the Combat section, to get a heads-up before you start; there's no in-game tutorial, although the game does ease you in somewhat gently.
In keeping with the presentation of the game part of the game, I've gone for dialogue scenes featuring the same sprites as used in battles, rather than traditional VN big-screen-filling-character-sprite scenes.

ImageImageImageImageImage

Caveat Part:
  • The UI still has a couple of rough edges, particularly around save/load, since I've not customised all the screens yet; that'll happen in due course, but it's non-essential so for now it's just a bit rough.
  • Saving and loading can take a few seconds just because of the sheer amount of data that Ren'Py serializes. It's partly unnecessary, and I'll work through pruning some more of it for the next release, but partly it's necessary - all that experience data for different characters and so on can't just be thrown away. The replacement save/load screens should have a nice "saving, please wait" message or something, at least.
  • The AI is basically on easy mode, just because the generic AI for my battle engine was originally aimed at melee characters, and ranged combat isn't its forte. I know what I need to do to improve it, but it's not an urgent task for me right now.
  • Click-and-dragging to pan the battlefield needs more work... but again, it's functional enough to play the game, so it's not an absolute priority.
  • If you just want to play around with the battle system, there's a couple of set-piece battles accessible from the first menu in the game; these originated as balance-test battles during development.
  • If your PC has rubbish graphics drivers or it's really old, there's a chance it may not be able to draw everything at a decent framerate. If this happens, odds are it's thanks to the in-game scanline effect (which is totally anachronistic, but I like it)... sorry, but I ran out of time to add a prefs option to turn it on and off. When I do a release with an updated UI, that'll be an option.
  • Bonus points awarded to anyone who can spot the historical scenario the story is loosely based on from the first act. ;-)
Last edited by Jake on Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:17 pm, edited 8 times in total.
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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done]

#2 Post by SundownKid » Mon Apr 08, 2013 9:11 pm

The fact that this is possible is seriously cool. It's nice to see a full-fledged game done with it instead of just a demo.

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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#3 Post by DaFool » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:02 am

Got a crash instance when trying to exit a vehicle in the first battle:

Code: Select all

I'm sorry, but an uncaught exception occurred.

While running game code:
  File "game\act1.rpy", line 444, in script
  File "game\act1.rpy", line 446, in python
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 325, in python
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 722, in python
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 730, in python
  File "game\chronicle_mechanics.rpy", line 30, in python
  File "game\chronicle_screens.rpy", line 155, in python
  File "game\engine\engine-vehicles.rpy", line 74, in python
AttributeError: 'NestedFighterStats' object has no attribute 'Level'

-- Full Traceback ------------------------------------------------------------

Full traceback:
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\bootstrap.py", line 254, in bootstrap
    renpy.main.main()
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\main.py", line 328, in main
    run(restart)
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\main.py", line 90, in run
    renpy.execution.run_context(True)
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\execution.py", line 509, in run_context
    context.run()
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\execution.py", line 288, in run
    node.execute()
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\ast.py", line 718, in execute
    renpy.python.py_exec_bytecode(self.code.bytecode, self.hide, store=self.store)
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\python.py", line 1297, in py_exec_bytecode
    exec bytecode in globals, locals
  File "game\act1.rpy", line 446, in <module>
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 325, in Start
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 722, in RunBattle
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 730, in RunBattleRound
  File "game\chronicle_mechanics.rpy", line 30, in RunBattleRound
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\display\screen.py", line 564, in hide_screen
    renpy.exports.hide(screen.tag, layer=layer)
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\exports.py", line 350, in hide
    sls.remove(layer, key)
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\display\core.py", line 832, in remove
    self.hide_or_replace(layer, remove_index, "hide")
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\display\core.py", line 756, in hide_or_replace
    d = oldsle.displayable._hide(now - st, now - at, prefix)
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\display\screen.py", line 189, in _hide
    hid.update()
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\display\screen.py", line 266, in update
    self.screen.function(**self.scope)
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\screenlang.py", line 1217, in __call__
    renpy.python.py_exec_bytecode(self.code.bytecode, locals=scope)
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\python.py", line 1297, in py_exec_bytecode
    exec bytecode in globals, locals
  File "game\chronicle_screens.rpy", line 155, in <module>
  File "game\engine\engine-vehicles.rpy", line 74, in __getattribute__
AttributeError: 'NestedFighterStats' object has no attribute 'Level'

Windows-7-6.1.7600
Ren'Py 6.15.4.320
Chronicle of Mars 0.2

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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#4 Post by Jake » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:09 am

DaFool wrote:Got a crash instance when trying to exit a vehicle in the first battle:
Well, then don't do that. :P

(Seriously, I didn't test it much late on 'cause there's nearly no reason at all to exit a vehicle at all in the first act. The thing that's breaking is just the stats display, because it references level and the vehicle doesn't have a level on its own, it inherits it from its pilot. I'll fix it, but it's an easy workaround.)


Updated download which fixes this issue (also in first post):

Windows Download (35.5MB)

All Platforms Download (47.3MB)
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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#5 Post by DaFool » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:58 am

This is very slick. It's only the slow performance that's holding the game from full potential.

I can't seem to get past the convoy mission. The crash happened twice now, exactly when
Right after the convoy leader says "Don't shoot the supplies", you continue the mission anyway.
Then one of the armed units, particularly a Quaestor, reaches the exit point.

Code: Select all

I'm sorry, but an uncaught exception occurred.

While running game code:
  File "game\act1c.rpy", line 208, in script
  File "game\act1c.rpy", line 255, in python
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 325, in python
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 722, in python
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 730, in python
  File "game\chronicle_mechanics.rpy", line 28, in python
  File "game\engine\engine-schema.rpy", line 244, in python
  File "game\engine\engine-fighters.rpy", line 956, in python
  File "game\engine\engine-fighters.rpy", line 887, in python
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 531, in python
  File "game\chronicle_skills.rpy", line 164, in python
  File "game\engine\engine-battlefields.rpy", line 197, in python
AttributeError: 'NoneType' object has no attribute 'X'

-- Full Traceback ------------------------------------------------------------

Full traceback:
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\bootstrap.py", line 254, in bootstrap
    renpy.main.main()
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\main.py", line 328, in main
    run(restart)
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\main.py", line 90, in run
    renpy.execution.run_context(True)
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\execution.py", line 509, in run_context
    context.run()
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\execution.py", line 288, in run
    node.execute()
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\ast.py", line 718, in execute
    renpy.python.py_exec_bytecode(self.code.bytecode, self.hide, store=self.store)
  File "D:\Chronicle-0.2-win\renpy\python.py", line 1297, in py_exec_bytecode
    exec bytecode in globals, locals
  File "game\act1c.rpy", line 255, in <module>
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 325, in Start
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 722, in RunBattle
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 730, in RunBattleRound
  File "game\chronicle_mechanics.rpy", line 28, in RunBattleRound
  File "game\engine\engine-schema.rpy", line 244, in RunFighterTurn
  File "game\engine\engine-fighters.rpy", line 956, in Act
  File "game\engine\engine-fighters.rpy", line 887, in PerformAction
  File "game\engine\engine.rpy", line 531, in GetTargetPositions
  File "game\chronicle_skills.rpy", line 164, in FilterTargets
  File "game\engine\engine-battlefields.rpy", line 197, in GetFacing
AttributeError: 'NoneType' object has no attribute 'X'

Windows-7-6.1.7600
Ren'Py 6.15.4.320
Chronicle of Mars 0.2

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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#6 Post by jack_norton » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:14 am

Don't have time to try it now, but I wanted only to say that just looking at the screenshots looks really great :)
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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#7 Post by Jake » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:42 am

DaFool wrote: This is very slick. It's only the slow performance that's holding the game from full potential.
If you have an old PC and/or rubbish graphics drivers, you'll probably have to wait until I get around to an option to turn off the scanlines effect for the performance gain, I'm afraid!
DaFool wrote: I can't seem to get past the convoy mission. The crash happened twice now, exactly when
...

Code: Select all

Chronicle of Mars 0.2
So you didn't update, hmm? ;-)

I'd forgotten to pass a couple of flags into event conditions in a couple of places, that was one of them. I did actually sneak a re-release of 0.21 with this fix a bit after the first upload of 0.21 earlier, but it looks like it wouldn't have made any difference to you anyway, since you're still on 0.2. I also just realised that I forgot to credit the font I used (!) so I've done another another release and still called it 0.21, so if you're really worried you can check whether you have the latest version by checking whether there's a credit for the font in credits.txt. ;-) The links in my previous post and the first post in this thread both point to the latest release.
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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#8 Post by DaFool » Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:56 pm

Okay, I will update ^_^. Thank you.

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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#9 Post by Jake » Tue Apr 09, 2013 4:21 pm

Typically, there was one more instance of the same bug reported above, so here's another build. This one affects the very first mission only, so if you're past that you're already safe.

Windows Download (35.5MB)

All Platforms Download (47.3MB)
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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#10 Post by Samu-kun » Tue Apr 09, 2013 5:33 pm

I got my ass handed to me in the second battle. I forgot who was who and let my hero unit get destroyed. And I probably would have won if I just hadn't forgotten who was Smith. (Maybe changing the colour of the hero unit would have helped.)

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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#11 Post by saguaro » Thu Apr 11, 2013 9:47 pm

This is very cool, I wasn't expecting to see anything like this for NaNoRenO. I totally dig the Marspaedia. The GUI, the graphics, and the music all work well together. The art style for the headshots is awesome. From a programming perspective do you think Ren'Py is a better fit for a game like this than an isometric engine? Basically I like your use isometric graphics for dialogue scenes and I'm wondering how much of a PITA it was to incorporate that in Ren'Py.

Just caught one small thing so far, in the third battle Weissman died, and after the battle I had a conversation with him but his sprite didn't come back so I was talking to an empty space.

Above you said, "I've tried to do something a bit different; few of the players choices are presented as choices, and your actions speak louder than your intentions...."
I wasn't comfortable taking on unarmored, lightly-armed workers, but I couldn't figure out how to get past that part without killing everyone. Sometime during the second battle I figured out I could withdraw by going to the edge of the map. I guess what I'm wondering if my choices include actively circumventing or avoiding conflicts, or if, when there's a battle, I pretty much gotta kill 'em all.

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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#12 Post by Jake » Fri Apr 12, 2013 3:27 am

Glad you like it!
saguaro wrote: From a programming perspective do you think Ren'Py is a better fit for a game like this than an isometric engine? Basically I like your use isometric graphics for dialogue scenes and I'm wondering how much of a PITA it was to incorporate that in Ren'Py.
To be honest, I've not tried any isometric engines - I don't know of any off-hand which aren't tied more closely to specific game types than Ren'Py is. That said, I've also not looked at any for a while, so maybe they've changed! The battle engine was originally written to support battles in VNs rather than VN sections in battles, so it wasn't a question I was thinking about originally. ;-)

If I hadn't written the engine already, and I were to sit down with the explicit intention of writing a tactics/SRPG game of this kind... I'd probably start with MonoGame or JS/HTML5 or something - because 2D graphics aren't the trickiest to code, and there are a couple of things with Ren'Py that I wouldn't be upset to get away from, and I think it'd probably perform better on the whole. My choice between those two would probably come down to how much I wanted it to be easy for me (professionally, I'm a C# coder) or easy to run on various platforms (which should be the strength of an HTML5 solution). But having written the engine part already and knowing that it works (and how it works!) I'd need a more compelling reason to abandon it!

The isometric dialogue scenes were only a little harder to do than regular Ren'Py scenes, for the most part... for the most part they were just lines of dialogue! Early on in March I wrote a method which would take a dict of fighters mapping to tuple commands, like ("move", 3, 8) or ("remove",) or ("state", "shoot", "W", "sfx/gunshot.wav"), and execute them simultaneously... so all the parts where people walk around and do stuff could be written in those terms. The bit which was probably the most annoying was moving the camera to point at particular people when they were talking or did stuff, 'cause I had to call a 'PointOfInterest' method in the engine each time, which I kept forgetting had to be prefixed with a '$' 'cause it's a python command. ;-)

The next tranche of improvements to the engine will include extension Ren'Py script commands to set up fighters, battles, skills and so on to make it easier for people to add battles to their games without programming, and I'm seriously considering adding script extensions for the cutscene stuff as well. I found it useful, so odds are someone else may as well.


(Of course, if you know of any engines which support this kind of game and allow customisation/scripting, I'd certainly be interested in checking them out!)
saguaro wrote: Just caught one small thing so far, in the third battle Weissman died, and after the battle I had a conversation with him but his sprite didn't come back so I was talking to an empty space.
Damnit! I tested that a couple of days before release, I'll have to go back and look it over again. Did he join your party after the battle? [EDIT: Never mind, I found the problem - thanks for letting me know.]


In response to the concern in your spoiler:
A large proportion of your choices in the first act involve killing or not killing people. It's not always possible, because how much you fight sometimes depends as much on your opponent as your own preference, but for the majority of the battles in act 1 at least, there's an option other than 'kill everyone'.

I did consider allowing withdrawal from every battle in the same way you can do it in the second one, but I think it'd get in the way a lot of the time and of course it would also multiply the number of branches I had to write! I'm certainly going to use it in more than just one place, though.
Talking about the first mission in particular, if you want to know the 'full answer':
You have to kill a few guys in the first mission, because - well, they're shooting at you. If you ignore them, then they'll eventually plink all of your guys to death and be happy about it (you don't get to see them rejoicing 'cause you're dead, but take my word for it ;-). However, you don't have to kill them all. After you've taken down a few (off the top of my head, three) of the armed ones the rest panic as they realise they can't win and start to run away. If you let them all run to the edges of the map and/or into the buildings, then the mission ends with much less bloodshed. This was definitely intentional; everyone who's played these games before will be expecting a kill-em-all approach, but at the same time hopefully everyone has at the very least a tinge of moral qualm about shooting the unarmed ones, so I was hoping it would push people to consider whether they have other options.

(And if you feel bad about taking down a couple of the armed ones - remember these guys are trying to kill you, and they've already killed a couple of other security guys.)

Naturally what you do in the first mission will affect to a degree the way your Dana Roberts behaves for the rest of the game - which in some cases will mean dialogue which may point the player in one direction or another, but in other cases may mean decisions she takes outside of battles, to take the player down one branch or another of the story.
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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#13 Post by OneHitPoint » Sat Apr 13, 2013 3:55 pm

Hi, long time lurker, first time poster. Congrats on getting me to go to the trouble of registering so I can post this.

I was going for an ethical playthrough (cease fire whenever the enemies declare their intention to retreat) and the below eyesore of an error message popped up when one of the fleeing units reached one of the escape points. It was not the first enemy to escape that battle, so I'm not sure why the error occured. It's from the battle to retake the city that the government occupied after asking you to leave. For that battle, I also made a point of only targetting the enemy mechs and not firing upon the infantry. They issued the order to flee while 3 mechs remained.

Code: Select all

I'm sorry, but an uncaught exception occurred.

While running game code:
  File "game/act1.rpy", line 1495, in script
  File "game/act1.rpy", line 1496, in python
  File "game/engine/engine.rpy", line 325, in python
  File "game/engine/engine.rpy", line 724, in python
  File "game/engine/engine.rpy", line 732, in python
  File "game\chronicle_mechanics.rpy", line 28, in python
  File "game\engine\engine-schema.rpy", line 244, in python
  File "game/engine/engine-fighters.rpy", line 954, in python
  File "game/engine/engine-fighters.rpy", line 885, in python
  File "game/engine/engine.rpy", line 533, in python
  File "game\chronicle_skills.rpy", line 164, in python
  File "game\engine\engine-battlefields.rpy", line 197, in python
AttributeError: 'NoneType' object has no attribute 'X'

-- Full Traceback ------------------------------------------------------------

Full traceback:
  File "C:\Users\Owner\Saved Games\Gamefiles\chronicle-0.22-win\chronicle-0.22-win\renpy\bootstrap.py", line 254, in bootstrap
    renpy.main.main()
  File "C:\Users\Owner\Saved Games\Gamefiles\chronicle-0.22-win\chronicle-0.22-win\renpy\main.py", line 328, in main
    run(restart)
  File "C:\Users\Owner\Saved Games\Gamefiles\chronicle-0.22-win\chronicle-0.22-win\renpy\main.py", line 90, in run
    renpy.execution.run_context(True)
  File "C:\Users\Owner\Saved Games\Gamefiles\chronicle-0.22-win\chronicle-0.22-win\renpy\execution.py", line 509, in run_context
    context.run()
  File "C:\Users\Owner\Saved Games\Gamefiles\chronicle-0.22-win\chronicle-0.22-win\renpy\execution.py", line 288, in run
    node.execute()
  File "C:\Users\Owner\Saved Games\Gamefiles\chronicle-0.22-win\chronicle-0.22-win\renpy\ast.py", line 718, in execute
    renpy.python.py_exec_bytecode(self.code.bytecode, self.hide, store=self.store)
  File "C:\Users\Owner\Saved Games\Gamefiles\chronicle-0.22-win\chronicle-0.22-win\renpy\python.py", line 1297, in py_exec_bytecode
    exec bytecode in globals, locals
  File "game/act1.rpy", line 1496, in <module>
  File "game/engine/engine.rpy", line 325, in Start
  File "game/engine/engine.rpy", line 724, in RunBattle
  File "game/engine/engine.rpy", line 732, in RunBattleRound
  File "game\chronicle_mechanics.rpy", line 28, in RunBattleRound
  File "game\engine\engine-schema.rpy", line 244, in RunFighterTurn
  File "game/engine/engine-fighters.rpy", line 954, in Act
  File "game/engine/engine-fighters.rpy", line 885, in PerformAction
  File "game/engine/engine.rpy", line 533, in GetTargetPositions
  File "game\chronicle_skills.rpy", line 164, in FilterTargets
  File "game\engine\engine-battlefields.rpy", line 197, in GetFacing
AttributeError: 'NoneType' object has no attribute 'X'

Windows-7-6.1.7601-SP1
Ren'Py 6.15.4.320
Chronicle of Mars 0.22

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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#14 Post by Jake » Sat Apr 13, 2013 7:38 pm

OneHitPoint wrote: Congrats on getting me to go to the trouble of registering so I can post this.
Thanks for doing so! That's another (hopefully the last!) instance of the same missing flag that caused the issue DaFool reported above, I'm really sorry about that. :/

I've uploaded a fixed version - v0.23, below and in the first post - which also fixes the Weissman issue Saguaro mentioned above. Next time I should probably just put up with being another week late rather than release while I'm not well and making all kinds of stupid mistakes! ;-)
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Re: Chronicle of Mars [Sci-Fi] [SRPG] [Done] [NaNo 2013]

#15 Post by Jake » Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:55 am

Watching Ren play through we noticed a few more bugs - mostly minor, although one could prevent you from finishing the final mission on one route. So a fixed-up version has been uploaded (also updated in the first post):

Updated 20130414 14:53BST - v0.24

Windows Download (35.5MB)

All Platforms Download (47.3MB)
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