Tanks VR devlog #10 - bots, tracks physics, native oculus support & more


First of all, we want to wish everyone a happy 2019! The last months we have silently, but steadily been working on a major update that we just released. In this devlog we will discuss that update, which has introduced bots, realistic tank tracks, improved VR interactions and native Oculus support. We're very happy with how it turned out and we're looking forward to more improvements.

Bots
In a previous devlog, we showed off an implementation of a "utility based" AI system. The months following that devlog we continued our work on that system, but as it progressed it became clear to us that is was too ambitious. We noticed that our development time was fully being taken up by the bots and around the beginning of November, there was still no clear end in sight. We decided to drop our utility based AI system and go for a more conventional state machine AI system. After two months of development we managed to get the bots in practice mode.

Bots rolling out


Bots battling it out on the main road of Saltzheim

The bots behaviour is simple, but feels more realistic than we could have hoped for. The bots hunt for enemies, chase down fleeing players, angle their tank for more ricochets and drive around like real players do. If a bot sees an enemy tank, but isn't able to get a clear shot, they'll maneuver around till they are able to shoot. We have been able to reflect most of a real player's behaviour, as the bots pose  a significant challenge when fighting them. Furthermore, the bots actually move all the levers in the tank to control it. This will make it easier to later add bot character tracking, where you'll be able to see the bot's character move around in his own tank.
 
A bot battle in the main square of Kreuzstadt

At the moment, the bots are only available in practice mode where you can play a 2v2 match. In the coming updates we will increase this to a 5v5 match, as well as release the bots for multiplayer. As a lobby owner, you will be able to add a custom amount of bots in the lobby. This allows interesting matches where you're maybe 2 players, playing with 3 friendly bots against 5 enemy bots. We're also planning to make the bot look around randomly, scanning the environment for enemies and looking at teammates. A couple of updates from now, the bots will probably be difficult to distinguish from other players.

Tracks physics
In another devlog we had showed off our new realistic track physics. At that time, there were still some stability problems where tanks would suddenly fly up in the sky and other strange problems. This made it difficult to implement bot movement correctly. We continued to improve it and we now feel that the tracks are stable enough for release.

Tank braking and driving off

The result is buttery smooth driving compared to the previous movement system, where the tank just floated around the map. Due to the previous movement system, the current maps are still fairly flat with almost to no rubble. In future updates we'll have new maps that feature a lot rougher terrain and rubble. That's when you'll really notice that you're driving tank.

Tank driving off a concrete block

Native Oculus support
We have implemented native Oculus support for Tanks VR! Since almost 50% of all VR users own an Oculus headset, this will allow many more people to play the game. We are hoping that the playerbase will gradually increase due to Oculus owners getting the game.

Native Oculus support added!

Improved VR interactions
We have redone our VR interaction system, which has now introduced nice tactile feedback when turning levers, knobs and pressing buttons. This gives a greater feeling of control. For example, when turning a lever, the grabbing controller will "tick" every X degrees. So in time, you'll start getting a feeling for how many "ticks" will give a certain speed. You might notice that you’re not able to slam the fire button anymore, but we are going to add that back in soon.

Coming up 
As with every major update, we expect bugs. Please be so kind to report them on the Tanks VR Discord channel. Our focus now is to remove the present bugs and to optimize/improve the bots, such that we can have more bots in a match at once. After this, we'll continue on our roadmap as planned.

Changelog
[v0.4.3]
  • Added 2v2 bot matches to practice mode.
  • Added realistic track physics to all tanks.
  • Added native Oculus support.
  • Improved VR interaction. 
  • Practice mode will randomly select Kreuzstadt or Saltzheim to play the match on.
  • Removed the capture zone from the matches, since it was almost never used.
  • Removed the crosshair that was in front of the tank, players can now only use the scope to aim.
  • Fixed bug where tracks were always bouncing incoming shells.
  • Fixed bug where voices would repeat in the lobby, until the player whose voice was repeating left and rejoined the lobby.
  • Fixed bug where the M5 Stuart tracks were moving in the wrong direction.
 Some known bugs:
  • Sometimes the game crashing after finishing playing a match in practice mode.
  • Sometimes the left hand is unable to grab the turret throttle.

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