Posted by Ross

Catching Fire… beware of the rug!

Hello all,

Since last week’s blog where we described some of Flame Over’s basic gameplay, this week I’ll be telling you about the game’s fire system, the beating heart of the entire Flame Over experience!

Interspersed in this post are 4 screens from Flame Over’s Unity scene view, showing how a typical fire spreads over 25 seconds if left to its own devices… ;)

Above: You can see the fire in this room has started in the top left corner. Doesn’t look too dangerous at the moment, right?

The goal at the outset was to create dangerous fires that can be set randomly and then relied on to spread and endanger NPCs and the player, without faking any behaviour. Here’s how we did it…

Each room in Flame Over is designed and built by hand (from a resource of hundreds of different fuel objects) over a tile map that all furniture and level geometry must fit within. Larger stuff like desks might stand inside multiple tiles, while little things like pot plants can fit sit inside a single tile.

Above: After around 10 seconds the fire has jumped to the nearby sofas. These are made of fabric which is nice and combustible! The temperature has climbed high enough to create the danger of backdrafts on nearby doors…

Each tile in a level holds data enabling it to constantly ask various questions, like:

                 “Have I got a burnable object on me?”

                “What is my object made of?”                   (fabric, wood, metal, etc.)

                “Does my object hold an item?”                 (More on that in the future!)

                “Am I wet?”

                “Am I on fire?”

                “How big is my fire?”

                “Can I spread yet?”

                “How much fuel do I have left?”

All of our tiles are asking these questions all of the time, which means Flame Over is really pushing the Vita’s CPU, but luckily it’s a powerful beast and is more than up to the task. The great thing is that because all these calculations are being handled in the background, you can concentrate on guiding the game’s hero - Blaze Carruthers - around the levels, squirting your hose, rescuing cats and generally being a legend! ^^

Above: Just five seconds later and the oldest fires in this group have grown in size enabling them to ignite more distant objects instantaneously, such as the poor pot plants in the centre of the room.

Although Flame Over is a real-time game, fires update on a turn-based system. We can set how frequently each turn occurs, and how things like different materials or fuel amounts or flame sizes alter those values, to ensure fires behave in predictable, but interesting and dangerous ways.

Currently, for example, carpets and rugs are very dangerous as they ignite pretty quickly and can spread underfoot, spreading to burn poor Blaze scarily quickly. You’ve been warned: keep those carpets soaked!! O_o

Above: After 25 seconds the tougher wooden desk has all succumbed to the flames, as has the computer on top and areas of the rug behind it… This is going to need a lot of water to put out!

One last thing to mention – which I’ll be touching on in the coming weeks – is that depending on how much fire is in a room, various fire-related hazards can appear. This can make life even trickier for poor old Blaze, but more on that in future posts! ^^

Well, I’ve already written far too much so I’ll leave it there, but be sure to drop back in next week to find out more about Flame Over’s art style.

Bye! ^_^

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