Story Time: Of sandstorms and time loops

Back in the year 2005-2006, while working on Evil Islands: Spring on Jigran project, we have noticed something really weird. Evil Islands has this weather system, where to each game zone one of the three weather types (rain, snow and sandstorm) is assigned, and the game would at random times activate the weather. Rain and snow were just particles that would fill the visible on the screen area, but sandstorms were… well, they were particles as well, but they were also actual in-game objects that communicated with units on the map – dealt damage to whoever got into contact them. Sandstorms would last for 10-15 seconds before disappearing, though, so it wasn’t that big of a problem. And it was a rarity to have more than one sandstorm active at a time.

But on one map something strange has happened. When a particular quest was active, and only that one quest, the sandstorms were EVERYWHERE. Dozens of them, roaming around, killing poor unsuspecting citizen NPCs (and also players who at that point in the game didn’t have enough armor to protect themselves from sandstorm damage). What could possibly happen?

Now, obviously, it had something to do with that quest, but the scripting language didn’t have any commands to control the weather, it was all done by the engine (for which we didn’t have access to the source code itself). We were pretty much clueless. I was really baffled myself, because that particular quest was scripted by me. However, we did notice that the command that would set the day time to midday for this mission was caught in a permanent loop. A little accident. Quickly fixed. Now, back onto trying to figure out what to do with sandstorms and… there were none anymore?

As it turned out, if the command for setting the day time is looping, it constantly activates the weather effect of the game zone we’re in. We still don’t have any idea how in the world that makes any sense, but, hey, at least we could turn this into a feature if so desired, right?

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Posted on April 23, 2014, in Story Time and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Too bad that Spring Of Jigran did not see the light of the day.

    Maybe in Todays world where we have kickstarted and indiegogo the story would turn out differently.

    • Hey, thanks for the feedback. Honestly, it’s more about the combination of inexperience and ambition than anything, and inability to moderate it. Kickstarter or indiegogo probably wouldn’t have helped.

      There was a lot that we wanted to do and the project was becoming more and more bloated (and I participated in that bloating until me and one other person saw that, you know what, that’s too much, we tried to change things and tone it down but people were already too enamoured with the ideas and ambitions that we had so eventually the already slow progress stopped to a halt).

      Just for a comparison, Evil Islands, a game made full time over the course of 2 years had 80 quests. Total. We had plans for about 100 quests on Suslanger alone (unlinear, so player would see about 30 on a playthrough), and then there were other islands as well. And the team in time was becoming smaller and smaller, but we didn’t do any realignments.

      All that said, those were great times, and our team and people were great and passionate, and I’ve enjoyed it and learned a lot, so as a life experience, even though we didn’t release anything in the end, it was still a positive one.

  2. Hello everyone. I discovered this blog recently. I know you Farlander from GipatGroup site mainly. You were one of developers in Forgotten in Astrale team and the game was published in 2006, so you are happy about it I think πŸ™‚

    Are you interesting in Ei modding currently? Do you hear about Lost Lands project (remake Ei on modern engine).

    • Hi. I didn’t work on Forgotten in Astral πŸ™‚ I worked on Spring on Jigran which never got released.

      I’m still interested, and I did indeed hear about the Lost Lands project, however when it comes to EI modding it’s not something I have enough time for, at least right now.

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