TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Everything about this tennis manager game

Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 12 May 2018, 12:34

Just a little word to let you know I took 3 weeks of break, mostly to take care of my son so my wife could change her mind... :P

It didn't happen at the best time as I had a lot of motivation just before that break, but hopefully, it will still be there once it ends.

Just before to go I did the better injury handling, although it may need further improvements. I also started to do the Retired player screen, so it's easy to find them (before you had to check old tournament draws).

I'll be back on duty on the middle of next week, and I have a few bugs and a couple of crashes to find in TEM2 so if you have any issue, thanks to send me your saved games, it'll help me to find & fix then..! :yes:
ManuTOO
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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 17 May 2018, 16:03

sccriabin asked me here why I was working alone, and added :
I'd also be curious to know if you received any offer from any company to support the game. I love TE2013, but I'm sure that TE4 would benefit from some investors or a bigger team


I thought the answer could be long and thus deserved a blog post, so here we go !

So I'm working alone mostly because of the amazing overall freedom it gives to me, and the reduced hassle it brings to me : there's no fighting, no arguing, I'm the one who decides most of the things (although I usually let freelancers I hire take the decisions they feel comfortable with).

Moreover, I don't like to share the risks. As I like to decide almost everything, it means I could make bad decisions and tank my projects, leading to financial issues. I'd not be happy to bring other people down with me. So far, only BALLOONrain failed financially, but future is never sure... :blackeye:

And even without making a bad decision, my current situation shows I can't partner with anyone : I took all the time I wanted & needed to take care of my baby. If I had partners, they would have likely not been happy with this.

This is not a so special case. In my young years, I tried to partner many times, and it always failed. For example, 1 guy got taken on his own project and never participated in our shared project ; another one got into paid freelancing work and thus gave up on our project ; another disappeared without a word after months doing barely anything ; etc. The only partnership that worked out for me was with my brother, to create the 1st Tennis Elbow. He came back home to live in the bedroom across the hall to make this happen.

And actually, I have been contacted by the publisher of one of the 2 titles released recently. Before the meeting, I was thinking we'd be talking about what game he wanted to make, and thus talk about gameplay and realism, which was my expertise and the reason he should hire me. But he talked only about marketing and licensing. He wasn't interested in a game : he wanted a product to sell. It could have been a soap or a car, it'd have been the same to him. There was a market opportunity and he just wanted to seize it. Making the best tennis game possible wasn't in his mind, at all.

And that's exactly why I can't look for investors.

Investors want to invest their money so they'll get back more money. And as quickly as possible. They're not interested in creating great things. They are interested in getting richer.

Having investors mean instantly putting pressure on the release date, as they'd want the game to be out as soon as possible so they'd get back their money and some more ; whether it's actually a great simulation or not, they'd not care.

Moreover, the bigger the team, the more chances the decision process would slipt away from me. And unfortunately, there are not much people in the world that know both tennis and game development as well as I do (or for a matter of fact, fortunately for me, as this allows me to make a living out of it ':D ). It's not because you go to watch a couple of matches at a Grand Slam every year that you become a tennis expert.

So many little decisions would be in the hand of people who have no idea what they should do to create a great tennis simulation. And I couldn't be behind everybody, even if I wanted to, because we would be time-pressured by the investors.

So in conclusion, I'm afraid you are all condemned to wait for me to create the best game possible mostly by myself, spending my little money on a few freelancers... :yes:

But I still have something that all money in the world can't buy : all of you who have played and enjoyed Tennis Elbow over the years..! Without your help & your feedback, TE2013 would have never been that good, and I dearly hope you'll stick around to help me create the best TE4 possible, so stay tuned & patient for at least a few more months..! :salute:

PS: and if you still haven't bought TE2013 and/or TEM2 (depending of your tastes), buy them now, it'll help me not to worry about money... :P
ManuTOO
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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 20 Jun 2018, 15:53

Ok, I hadn't written a post for a long time, because when I have time, I work on TEM2 (or other little things). Before I used to write the posts the afternoon, but now I'm very often busy with my baby during that time...

Anyway, 2 weeks ago I started a heavy medical treatment which destroyed my tummy so I wasn't able to work on creative stuff (still managed to fix bugs and add a couple of small requested features :P ), so I spent a few hours playing Top Spin 4 instead.

Lately, with the release of concurrent games, I read many times, both from journalists & users, that Top Spin 4 was the pinnacle of tennis games, and a great simulation. So after many years, I finally made the jump and tested it thoroughly.


"In tennis, timing is everything"... Whaaat ?

When you start TS4 training mode, you read : "In tennis, timing is everything".

No, it's not. Nadal & Federer aren't the best players because their timing is the best. Did you ever hear that ? No ! It's because they have phenomenal technical skills and mastering of their shot making decisions (ie: do the right type of strikes in the right situation), plus an incredible mental for Nadal, and an incredible consistency for Federer.

A good timing ( = hitting the ball at the correct time) is not a cause, but a consequence : it's the consequence of a good positioning, not rushed preparation, and a body coordination learned from thousands of hours of training (it's called muscle memory).

By inverting the process and making timing the cause, by asking the user to press the button at the "correct time", TS4 (and many other games) fails totally at representing what tennis is about.

On a real court, any decent club player won't have an issue with hitting the ball at the correct time if he's not rushed nor badly positioned.

Being late on the ball means you're late and rushed, not that you mistimed.

Being early on the ball means you hit the ball during its ascending phase because you stand closer to the bounce, but you still hit at the correct time according to that special positioning.

Tennis is not a rhythm nor timing game. It's a technical, physical, mental and strategic game. Failing to see that and thinking that it's only, or mostly, swinging the racket at the correct time is missing an extraordinary game and sport..!


Gravity called, but no one answered

Overall, ball physics is completely off, with ball speeds way under real life, nearly no air resistance, and strange low-gravity overall feelings.

Difference between topspin and flat strikes aren't obvious in term of spin, it feels more like the gravity changes ; and slice is incredibly effective.

The gold medal of the worst physics goes to the sliced serve : it looks like someone mounted a small reactor on the ball and that it changes direction whenever it feels like it.


Mistimed

Earlier, I said that TS4 asks you to press the button at the "correct time". And actually, even on that, it fails at delivering a realistic approach. If there's a correct time, it's not to start the whole swing (backward + forward), but only the forward one. Because the backward one can be started very early (or even very late for the pros) and thus you'll slow down or speed up during that strike preparation, without real consequences on the strike itself (except if you're really too rushed).

So in TS4 you have to hit the button way before the "trigger" time of what happens on a real court (ie: the time you start to accelerate your racket forward), and thus we often have to press the button even before the ball bounces.

Moreover, our player often moves by himself after the "correct time" has passed, actually changing what that "correct time" should have been, and thus you're stuck with a bad timing that isn't your fault.

Not only that, our player also takes the ball very low, even on high bouncing balls, making the timing completely irrealistic.

All that shows that the "correct time" idea is garbage if you want to play realistic tennis. (I guess it's ok for people enjoying rhythm games, though)

In TS4, when you release the button too early, you strike will very often go near the center of the opposite court. As a decent tennis club player, I can tell you it's something that nearly never happens. Either the ball is hit correctly and goes where it should go at worst by a +/-3° margin (which already gives a +/-1m precision at 20m) ; or it's not hit cleanly and it goes banana, but surely not nicely to the middle of the court. In TS4, it's like we have a magnet which pulls the ball to the center.


In Top Spin, the topspin sucks

Other little things, showing this is not a simulation.

I started to play with only the topspin button, thinking, hey that's modern tennis strikes since Borg (1971, 47 years ago) till Nadal & Federer, so I'd put my opponent on the defense and get relatively easy balls. How f*ucking wrong I was. After a couple hours of suffering and having difficulty to win, I decided to try to switch to the flat strike and there I almost didn't lose a point anymore and had to rack up the difficulty level (from Normal to Hard at that point).

We are literally glued to the court ; very often after a strike your player can't move for a while ; same for the AI, which often leads to a situation where you and the AI can move only after the opponent has struck the ball again.

Coz of that glue, returning a 150km/h serve on the line is titanic task (on a real court, I'd have my racket on it quite often), and running left/right proves to be a nightmarish challenge.

To hit a powerful strike, you have to prepare very early, and thus you're best to just press the button before your opponent hits his next strike. It's just much more effective than reading your opponent strike and decide what to do consequently. This means shot selection isn't done according to your opponent strike. It's totally anti-tennis.

Strike efficiency feels very often rigged to their timing, not their actual speed and direction ; ie: the CPU can reach very hard balls struck with a wrong timing, but will let go similar balls struck with a good timing. Freaking awful.


Gameplay is king ?

Gameplay wise, the game is ok, and probably can be nice if you don't really know tennis and thus don't have to constantly fight your tennis instincts. However, I managed to beat the game on Super Hard while playing like an *ss, waiting for the perfect timed strike. If I'm lucky and put enough of them, game gets super easy ; if I start to think about something else or my eyes get tired and I mistime too often, game gets impossible to play as the opponents put the ball in the corners and our player is slower than a glued turtle.


Game design fails

This part isn't about realism, but about little other things :
- there's no cup when we win a tournament ; TS4 budget was at least 100 times bigger than TE2013, but they didn't manage to get a single cup, even not in 2D ; you only get a poor screen with the tournament logo when you win a tournament

Horribly slow stuff :
- the saving function takes ages (vs 0.5 seconds on TE2013 while saving at least 100 times more stuff)
- the autosave pops way too often and can trigger between 2 screens for no reason
- navigating the menus constantly brings a "loading please wait" for loading a basic layout ; ie: there's no 3D models, no HD textures change ; it needs several seconds to load only a menu layout
- Stopwatch in hands, it requires at least 3 minutes to start to play a match in TS4, vs 20 seconds in TE2013 (or a bit more if you have a Mod with many HD textures for the menus in the wrong format)
- during matches, there are constantly cutscenes that require several seconds to stop when pressing the button frenetically

All that makes you feel you spend more time waiting than playing when you start the game... :sad3:


Final words

With a wheel, pedals and gear, a car simulation can approach a 1:1 simulation level (you'll mostly just miss feeling the acceleration in your head and body). In a tennis game, without actually running nor handling a racket touching a real ball, you can't have a nearly 1:1 simulation. So you have to make sacrifices, it's obvious ; TE2013 is full of them. But if you can't get any realistic bases, it's sure the overall result will be irrealistic, even with mocap anims.

When I play a tennis game, I'm expecting to incarnate a player who is better than my real-self on a real court. Compared to Federer, I'm just a minuscule grasshopper, but even so, I'm able to keep the ball in the court, hit the ball in the direction I want on a constant basis. In real life, these are not struggles for good club players when they are not rushed by their opponent, but it is in TS4 with supposed top tennis players, even more on easy balls as their timing is different than normal ones. Huge, pathetic, immense fail at being a simulation.

So to conclude, if you're really into tennis, calling TS4 a simulation is an insult to the beauty of the game and sport tennis is.

All in all, in term of simulation, I'd give TS4 a 2/10. For comparison, I'd give 1/10 to Virtua Tennis 3 (not 0 coz court dimensions are ok, and there's no rocket launcher ;) ), TS3 2.5/10 (it was only slightly better than TS4), and TE2013 6.5/10. I'm aiming for at least 7.5/10 on TE4 (it might be almost easy to reach that coz I just need to remove the irrealistic constraints I put in at 1st when I started to work on TE2009 ':D ).


That's all for today.

My treatment being over, I hope I'll feel better fast enough and get back to serious stuff..! :yes:

PS: you still can comment here => http://www.managames.com/Forum/viewtopi ... 05#p251105
ManuTOO
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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 15 Jul 2018, 17:00

Finally, a post about development..! :blackeye:

So in last December 2016, more than 1 and a half years ago, I reworked the physics of the ball in the air, to get a more realistic result. The improvements were convincing but it lacked something, so last month I went back into it, and actually it was the bounce physics which was somewhat incorrect. So I did a complete rehaul of its formulas. The result is relatively close to the previous version, but with one very noticeable change : the spin effect on the bounce !

Moreover, one of my goal to improve the realism is to shorten a bit the average ball length, as in TE2013 it's too easy to constantly make very long balls (once you have 100% Consistency). So to test the new air & bounce physics, I made the topspin strike relatively short (around the service line), as well as the acceleration (around mid-distance between the service line and the baseline).

So right now, the ball physics looks better, but all the strikes with topspin need a complete rehaul and some tuning to get a good balance ; ie: not too easy nor too hard to attack.

In the same vein, I also shortened the normal acceleration ; the main result is that it gives a better angle when aiming cross-court and so it's easier to do winners with it. So it'll be another parameter to tune.

Another big change I did is now the imprecision is physics based instead of 2D based. Before, the engine was sending the ball randomly somewhere in the 2D aiming zone you can see on the screen when you use the Aiming Preview, making sure the ball would pass the net whatever point was picked (with a few extra rules for special cases). Now, the engine modifies more realistically the speed, the spin and the angle of the shots. Again, it needs some serious tuning to work perfectly. For example, right now, way too many balls end touching the net, or are too down into it.

So to tune and balance everything the next step is to do a complete rehaul of the strikes. Before to proceed, to get an idea of what I'm doing, I have to display correctly the new physics-based imprecision zone, and if everything goes well, it'll be done tomorrow, and afterwards I'll dig into the different strike parameters.

So hopefully, within a couple of weeks, the whole new physics basis for TEM2/TE4 will be done. It'll likely still require a lot of special cases handling (the most important one being when striking with a very short reaction time), but the final global result should be perceivable. Then I'll be able to switch to finally improving the AI... :blackeye:

Cu in a few weeks for another dev update ! :jap:
ManuTOO
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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 23 Jul 2018, 09:12

Often, I write these posts partly for myself, to keep track of what I'm doing, but this time it's really mostly for myself as I need to write down what I have done last week and what I want to do now, as many things changed in the engine ; hopefully, reading my progress & thoughts will be of some interest for you as well... :)

=== ALERT === BREAKING NEWS !!! === ALERT ===

In TE2013, the net is 3.3cm too high (ie: the ball radius), or at least it is for the collision detection..! :shock:

While checking the high net-cord rate in TEM2, I looked closely at each net-cord and noticed the ball was always a few centimeters above the net on the net-cords, and thus I checked the code and found out the detection was wrong... :oops:

Overall, it's not too much of an issue for TE2013, because the ball almost always passes the net with a decent margin, but for TEM2/TE4, it was an issue as now the margin varies a lot with the new physics-based rules.

So I fixed that and tuned a bit more the imprecision rules and now the net-cord and ball-in-net rates feel more correct, although it might still need some additional tuning.

Back to normal :P

Except that, I updated the aiming zone preview, and now it shows where the ball will land at least 50% of the time. The 100% zone can get quite big because the new rules almost always allow for exceptionally badly hit ball. So it made more sense to show only the most probable zone.

After that, I reworked all the strikes, mostly about their topspin, to give a more realistic and consistent result. So now a 50% topspin skill is more of an average value, instead of already being the topspin of a clay specialist like in TE2013.

However, to get the topsin right, I also had to tune once more the ball physics in the air.

I also tuned the service so it's possible to play matches.

I tried to get a feeling of the balance between defense and attack. Right now, the shoulder height acceleration is really very powerful : above 160km/h and up to 185km/h ! And even the normal acceleration can often lead to 150km/h, so it's much harder to defend with a heavy topspin. It is still possible though, but I'll have likely to tune down a bit the many topspin penalties and also make the efficiency of the acceleration even more dependent of the positioning. This is the next big step to put everything together in the new engine.

The slice might also require more positioning sensitivity, as right now it might be a bit too easy to slice our opponent to death, as a lower ball means less power for our opponent strike. A mishit on slice produces a slower and higher ball, which is much more easy to attack, so once again it's a matter of fine tuning... :yes:

And then I'll have to check the volleys. For the little I've seen they seem ok, except they might be less accurate than before.

Once all this will be done, I guess I'll be able to switch to CPU vs CPU matches. Maybe I'll be there at end of this week..! :)

Wanna give it a try ?

If you want to try all these changes by yourself, download the TEM2 demo from here => topic11-29241.php . And then edit "C:\Program Files (x86)\Tennis Elbow Manager 2\Tennis.ini" (or your Profile .ini if you have created one) and change this line, under [3dEngine], from :
DevMode = 0
to :
DevMode = 1
Then save & launch the game, click on Back, Training Club and there you'll be in the messy land of old TE2013 menus with the new TEM2 menu parameters... ':D


Cya soon enough for some more update !

Comment ? => viewtopic.php?p=253454#p253454
ManuTOO
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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 05 Aug 2018, 11:22

We're in the middle of a heat wave in Europe, so work has slowed down a bit lately... ':D

Plus, Google Chrome tightened its policy against non-HTTPs websites and thus I had to take some action to get the beautiful green lock you might now see next to the URL of managames website in your browser ! To achieve that, I had to update the OS of my server, and not once but twice ! That's how much behind it was, as I hadn't updated it for 5 years when I started to rent this server... :blackeye:

Anyway, despite all that, I managed to finish the volley ; ok, it was easy, I didn't do anything as it was already working correctly. With the new physics rules, they are more realistic than before, as now volley vs volley fights end very fast and the ball goes banana pretty right away.

I also greatly lowered the rate of the shoulder height acceleration, by making the trigger height smaller.

So after that, I was finally able to move to the CPU vs CPU matches. 1st impressions were very good : it works pretty nicely. But it's not perfect so I started to do changes, fearing to break everything... :fear:

I hadn't worked on CPU vs CPU since 2010 or 2011, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how well it worked in recent matches of CPU vs CPU in TE2013 I had seen on Youtube. So I'm a bit concerned to corrupt everything by changing how a few parts work. But so far, the new physics rules bring better trajectories and more natural variations to them, as well as more believable errors, so it's a very encouraging start.

With the version released today, there are too many faults and winners, as I lowered the running acceleration & deceleration, because wrong-footing wasn't effective enough. So now, wrong-footing is alright, but ball reach isn't... :sweat:

But it's ok. Next step will be to force the CPU to play a bit more far from the lines, so he'll do both fewer faults and fewer winners, and hopefully the balance will be back.

Cu next time to know how all this will turn around ! :blackeye:

And if you have comments, don't hesitate to let me know ! :yes: (check the previous post to know how to see the 3D matches)
ManuTOO
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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 21 Aug 2018, 09:29

How long time before we arrive ?

It has been more than 2 weeks since the last post ; it's not coz I didn't work : quite the opposite actually !

I worked a lot, but on something that doesn't produce a big noticeable result right away.

So it all started by checking CPU vs CPU matches on grass : the CPUs were just doing too many net faults. Then I realized the CPU wasn't aware of net clearance ! I had done previously a few tricks to avoid having too many balls ending in the net, but on grass, with many low ball trajectories, the CPU had to become aware of the chances for the ball to go into the net, and then when having too much risk, he should select a strike with fewer chances to net.

I did that relatively quickly and thus the CPU started to slice very often to keep the ball in play. On grass, it felt alright with 1 big downer : as the CPU was selecting his strike on ball impact, he was ending doing slices without using his slice animation, which felt pretty weird !

So I had to do something I had already planned for TEM2/TE4 : let the CPU chooses his strike before starting his strike animation, to be able to play different animations depending on his choice. There was already such kind of system in place, but it was pretty basic ; it was only to do a slice on end of the run when hitting the ball at the last instant, when turning around the backhand to do a forehand, and when doing a drop-shot.

So I just fused the 2 systems and it was done relatively easily, but again with 1 catch. The early strike choice was very dependent on a tricky calculation : determining how long time the CPU will need to run to reach the ball. The calculations I had in place were very approximate but ok for the few choices I had before, but were not ok anymore for the complete set of choices, which required a lot of precision to give a consistent result. As you know, in TE2013 and still in TEM2/TE4, the earlier you prepare your strike, the more accurate & safe it gets, and thus knowing how long we'll be able to prepare our strike is primordial to determine which strike to choose.

So I spent nearly 1 week working on improving this calculation, to handle all the different possible cases. The result in the most usual case, standing in A then running to B, is nearly perfect. It's less good for volleys, especially when the net jump comes into play, but we're still into an acceptable margin for error.

So now, with this new system in place, I was able to remove the nearly systematic end-of-run slice and let the CPU choose more smartly his strikes. So he still does that slice, but less systematically.

And in the long term, I'll be able to add special animations for the CPU ; for example, sliding on the end of the run (for the human player, it might be more complicated to handle).


TE2013 was fun & realist ; TE4 will be realist and fun !

So after that, I did a couple of test matches to check the CPU behavior and the resulting stats.

To do so, I'm using 2 players with 80% in all their skills, except in Topspin with 50% for the CPU set to Power-baseliner and 100% for the CPU set to Defender.

And I tested all that on the clay court, which is the one giving the most problems on TE213, as you can see in the following stats (with the Powerbaseliner having 35% in his topspin skill, as it's a better equivalent to the new TEM2/TE4 50% Topspin skill), which are a typical result :

2018-08 - TE2013 - CPU vs CPU - 100% Topspin vs 35% Topspin - 7-5.png

You can see the rally length is very high at 10.9 which is actually 11.9 as TE2013 doesn't count the serve as the 1st strike. There's only 1 ace despite extremely high 1st serve speed average, and there's a ton of net approaches, meaning there was nearly no winner from the baseline..! Not so great for the greatest tennis simulation of all times... :blackeye:

And here a typical result for TEM2 :

2018-08 - TEM2 - CPU vs CPU - 100% Topspin vs 50% Topspin - 6-4.png

Stats are overall much more realistic ; the rally length is down to 7.4 (which is really 7.4 as TEM2 is counting the serve as the 1st strike), which is still 1 or 2 points too high. The serve speed averages are close to real life, while giving a realistic number of aces ; and the number of net approaches is totally believable. It might have a tad too many winners for the defender (who won that set) and a bit not enough forced errors overall.

For the rally length, I'll tune a bit the winner & error rates to lower it a bit, and also I'm going to tune a bit the efficiency of the service, which should lead to a few more forced errors on return.

One very satisfactory point is there's almost no deep counter anymore, which means they nearly never occur on the return of serve anymore. Instead, we regularly see long & slow returns ending fault, which feels much more realistic than before..! :woohoo:

All that makes me feel that if TE2013 was fun & realist (as advertised on the game page :P ), then TE4 will be realist and fun !

Basically, it means I built TE2013 on some very irrealistic bases, by choice for the gameplay, then I corrected that irrealism by adding stuff and tuning here & there ; and now for TEM2/TE4, I'm doing the opposite : build the most realistic tennis simulation possible, and then I'll add stuff and tune the result to make it enjoyable to play ; hopefully, it'll turn out well enough... :)


Slow players buffed !

One important limitation of TE2013 is that the speed skill is primordial for a player efficiency, as reaching the ball earlier means getting more time to prepare our strike and thus having a safer and sometimes more efficient result.

So for TEM2/TE4, we will have a new mental skill : the Focus. Its effect will be relative to the (Speed+Tonicity)/2 . If above, your strike preparation will be faster, and if under, it'll be slower. And boom, it's now possible to have a slow but still efficient player ! :dance:

eg: if you have a player with 100% in Speed, Tonicity & Focus, you'll reach the ball faster than a player with 80% in Speed & Tonicity, but if he has 100% in Focus his strikes will be about as efficient as yours.

It's already working in the current TEM2 build, except it's using the Concentration skill, as the Focus skill is still not implemented.


What's next ?

As said above, I'm now going to tune the serve efficiency, and then I'll check the CPU vs CPU matches on grass and finally on hard court (usually, if it works on the extreme that are the clay & grass courts, then the hard court isn't too much an issue). Then I should be able to add new stuff in the 3D match engine : talents & skills from TEM.

Hopefully see you soon for some more good news ! :jap:

Comment ? Idea ? Thought ? => http://www.managames.com/Forum/viewtopi ... 54#p253454
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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 29 Aug 2018, 11:50

Serve on the Spot !

So last week I worked on the serve efficiency. I had noticed the CPU was doing too much body serves, so I wanted to severely tune them down, thinking it'd lead to a higher serve efficiency and a bit shorter rally length.

So I studied very closely the serve placement of real players and once I did everything so the new hit zones are relatively close to the real ones (depending of course of how good the server is !), then the service efficiency of a good but not great server (ie: 80% in Power, Consistency & Precision) slightly lowered, and thus the rally length slightly raised..! :sweat:

So I tuned a bit the winner and error rates, but actually I couldn't do any significant change on these ones without doing more deep changes in the core rules. So I guess it'll stay like that for now.

One possibility would be to add a small random chance to miss any strike, even when perfectly positioned and prepared early. This would even enhance a bit the realism, as real players do random mistakes all the times. But for the user, it'd be hard to interpret and thus to understand if the error comes from trying too hard (eg: aiming too close to the lines) or just from a stupid mistake. Maybe I'll change my mind on this point after some feedback, though... :)

I calculated it'd require only a ~3% chance to miss per strike to lower from 7.5 rally length to 5.5, which would be really close of an average tough match on clay. But it could be hard to tune if I want this chance to not be completely random ; eg: making dependent on the strike consistency, and/or of the mental skills, and possibly of the surface or ball speed (so a good player would do a bit less stupid mistakes when facing a less skilled opponent).

So I spent the best of the last week on that serve placement. I even added a tool to analyze it that should please you if you're a stat fans :
2018-08 - TEM2 - Serve Placement.jpg


Deadly Grass

So after that, I went to check the CPU vs CPU matches on grass. As expected, the serve efficiency there was much higher than on clay and pretty close to the reality as well. The rally length also raised a bit, though.

But the CPUs were still doing too many net faults, too many slices and not enough accelerations, so I tuned once more the net clearance, especially on the normal strike, and the result is pretty nice.

Moreover, I got an idea to shorten a bit the rally length : now the CPU will want to do accelerations more & more the more a rally lasts (in magnitude depending on his style, of course), which gives a more realistic feeling, as nowadays, most players want to try something to end the point after a few strikes.

However, the Defender looks like less and less like a Defender now, as he can get so much aggressive. I think right now he's actually really close of the future new Bulldog style, which is intended for Nadal.

So I'll have to tune down a lot the aggressivity of the Defender and find some way to boost noticeably his defending abilities, because when he doesn't attack enough, he has very low chances to beat a 50% topspin Powerbaseliner on clay (which might explain why the pure Defenders almost all disappeared in real life ; that's just how good TE Engine is getting, as it can show and explain the real-life tendencies of tennis ':D ).


Bases : (almost) done !

So now I did almost all the bases needed for TEM2 CPU vs CPU matches (and thus for TE4, gameplay aside).

I'm really happy with the result. It's not perfectly realist, but it's already a really noticeable improvement over TE2013, and it's still far from being done !

Now, I only have a couple of little things to tune from the old TE2013 engine : how far from the baseline the CPU stands (it's mostly an issue for the volleyer on hard court & clay). And the tiredness : as the rallies are shorter, it never depletes ; plus it didn't work very well in TE2013 anyway. I might wait to see how everything evolve after I add new stuff before to upgrade and tune it, though.

And thus, I'm going to work very soon now on adding new stuff to the engine, as I said last time : talents & skills from TEM.

Cu next time to see how everything will turn out ! :)
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== Mana Games ==

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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 08 Sep 2018, 18:54

A quick post today, as I don't have too much to say... :blackeye:

The 1st thing is that after I had written the previous post, I then tested the CPU vs CPU match on Hard court. There, they were doing too many slices, like on grass ! So I checked in detail, and actually I had miscalculated the chances for the ball to pass the net. I fixed that and now they slice less often, although maybe still a bit too often. I'm counting on user feedback (ie: you ;) ) to let me know if it's the case.

The 2nd thing is that I finished implementing the missing skills & talents in the 3D matches, with the exception of the Cold Blood which is a special case. Although I might have to tune them in the future, this still sets an important milestone as now I'll be working on new stuff (mostly new player styles, but also checking the AI from your feedback here) and then the real-time coaching and its interface (which should be relatively simple). This should take me a couple of weeks, if there's no bad surprise. Once it'll be done, I'll start to port the game to the Unity engine. This one is a huge task, so I'm not really sure how long it'll take. I hope to do it in 3 months but it's not sure. Once it'll be done, TEM2 will be more or less on v1.0, once the 3D Coach Center will be there as well.

And after that, I'll move to TE4..! However, I'll likely go back to TEM2 on occasions, to add & improve stuff from user requests. And as TEM2 and TE4 will share the same engine, TE4 will be already almost at its prototype stage once TEM2 will be done.

That's all for this time, see you soon for hopefully some nice new stuff ! :yes:
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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 21 Sep 2018, 20:15

Let me start by saying the last 7 days weren't much productive : I have been taken by everyday life small & bigger issues ; I had also to take care of the production of the 3D stadiums for TE4, which are now almost all done, and well done ! :yes:

New Player Styles

So today I released a new version of TEM2 bringing a good bunch of changes & new stuff, the most noticeable & important ones being 3 new player styles :
- the Counter Puncher : it's a mix between defense and offense, to match Djokovic style
- the All-rounder : it's a complete player, who can play from defense to net, including baseline attack ; it's meant for Federer, as the Varied style didn't work that well for him
- the Bulldog : a defensive player who can get very aggressive by putting a lot of pressure on his opponent

And I renamed the Varied style to All-court Attacker to clarify his behavior.

The new styles have been implemented for the management, score matches & 3D real-time matches.

The Bulldog is very close to the old Defender style, and so I tuned a bit the Defender style to make him defend a bit more and attack a bit less.

New Talents

I also added several Talents :
- Forever Young : lowers the physical skill loss by 15%/30% when getting older
- Rich Kid : you start with $250'000 instead of $5'000, but you'll lose 2 hours of training per day to study till the end of the year you'll turn 22
- Prodigy : you get your maximal potentials 1 or 2 years earlier if you start as a Junior, and a 5 or 10% bonus to all your skills if you start as a Pro
- Spinny Backhand, Flat Backhand : these ones are to fulfill a very old & repeated request from many users. Indeed many of you wished to be able to define a different topspin for the BH than for the FH. Allowing a totally free choice on these would likely lead to an overpowered build with a very flat FH and a very spinny BH (or vice-versa), so instead these talents will let you tune your BH topspin by +/- 20%/40% from your FH topspin, at the cost of talent stars (which will also be important when playing online with TE4)

Mental Skills Done or not ?

Last time I wrote I was done with implementing the mental skills in the 3D matches. Actually, while working on implementing the new player styles in the Score Matches, I noticed the Concentration & Consistency skills were important for the rally efficiency of the player. But actually, they also matter a lot for the Form of the Day, as the 1st one defines the frequency of a bad day, and the 2nd one defines how much bad such a bad day can be. So I had completely forgotten they mattered for the rally of the Score matches as well.
So I'll have to find a way to make them matter for the 3D matches, and/or lower their importance in the Score matches, as in the end I'd like the Score & 3D matches to give similar results, even if it will never be perfectly the same.

It's kinda challenging to implement these 2 skills as their effects can be very subtle. I already use a tiny bit the Concentration to determine the speed for the CPU player to see how deep a ball is going to be, but it'll need more than that to have a more noticeable effect on the game.

What's next ?

So I'm going to see what I can do about these 2 mental skills, while I'll start to connect the 3D matches to the Career mode and implement the real-time coaching.

So I'm still a couple of weeks away to finish that part. Hopefully I'll be able to focus my time more on my work than this past week... :fear:

Cu soon to see how all this will turn out ! :blackeye:
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== Mana Games ==

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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 25 Oct 2018, 15:51

Pfffffffffff !

Pfffff ! (again :blackeye:)

It has been a hard month since the previous post of this mini-blog !

Again, life struck little and bigger blows into my work schedule & focus ; nothing too bad, but the repetitiveness is getting really boring.

As a quick example amongst other things, I got a dental filling leaking, which led to 2 tooth decays under it, going relatively deep. It's not horrible on itself, but my new dentist is against anesthetic and promised me I wouldn't hurt without using it. Spoiler alert : it wasn't true. Moreover, she refused to do one while I begged her for it, so I ended quite in shock, with high heart rate and nearly shaking. And now I have to find a new dentist as I may be masochist sometimes, but not that much... :sweat:

Anyway, let's get back to tennis.

So although I had finished nearly everything for the real-time 3D matches, it turned out I left a few big chunks and thus doing the final connection between the world tour and the 3D match has proven to be more challenging and tedious than anticipated.

It started with the Cold Blood : this mostly required to copy over the existing functions from the text-based match, but as the 2 systems aren't identical, it took me a couple of days to adapt everything correctly.

I also found out how to handle the Concentration & the Constancy in the real-time match : having the Concentration above your FH or BH power lowers the ball difficulty on the short acceleration and the speed handicap on the regular acceleration ; and having the Constancy above your FH or BH power lowers the speed handicap on your strike when you lose a bit the control of the ball. So in short, it gives : higher Concentration = more efficient accelerations against difficult balls ; higher Constancy = more constant ball speed on strikes hit without enough precision

Real-time match ? Connected !

I also did the Form of the Day (which now can give good days and not only bad days), the Surface Skills, the Doubles Spirit (it lowers or raises all the skills during a doubles match), the Injuries & Bearable Injuries, and I added a control bar to speed up time. And now, the match presentation screen can finally have a big "3D Real-time Match" button :

2018-10 - TEM2 - Match Screen.jpg

And when I tested a bit the result, using a saved game sent by a user, I found out that a player having his FH & BH Precisions significantly under his FH & BH Powers was making him way too weak because he was doing too many faults : in the real-time match, he almost couldn't win my test match, while with the text-based match, he was almost always winning 6/2 6/2. So I had to find a solution to this : now, the CPU is smarter when his strikes lack of precision, especially when his tactic skill is high, and now that player can win most of the time the test match.

However, this test match shown me that the 3D matches are more random than their text-based counterpart, especially when the difference of level between the 2 opponents is noticeable : in the text-based match, the victory of the best player is nearly 100% sure, but it's not with the 3D matches. I'm not sure if it's a bad thing or a good thing. I guess it means that coaching correctly the player will be more important to avoid a bad loss, so if it's case, it won't be too bad... :)

Lastly, I also revamped a bit the text-based match and the skill system, so they now work like in the real-time match, ie: like in TE2013. eg: the Forehand & Backhand Precisions are relative to respectively the FH &BH Powers, and the Service Consistency & Precision are relative to the Service Power.

Ok, that was a lot of work done during that month, despite the interruptions...

Now, I have to add the real-time coaching and the game will be nearly done in term of features. Hopefully, it'll take me about a week. Although in these times, my son is again really hard to handle, but my mum is taking care of him several days per week, so it gives me some quiet & productive time... :blackeye:

Me, I'm very impatient to be done with that part and start to port the engine to Unity, as I very wonder how long it'll take me, and how many headaches it'll give me... :unsure:

Hopefully, cu soon to see the result in action ! :bounce:
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== Mana Games ==

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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 13 Jan 2019, 13:13

Nom de Zeus, more than 2 months since last update ! :shock:

This is actually because I put all my available time into coding (and some other work as well).

If you follow the forum or the newsletter, you might have seen the release of the Beta version of TEM2 on last November 10th, once the real-time coach management has been done.

This was followed by a series of bug fixing, tuning and polishing till the end of November. I also put in place the pre-order of Tennis Elbow 4, so if you want to help me not worry about money, you can... :blackeye: (but right now it should be ok, I think :fear: )

Unity, here I come !

So after that, at end of November, I started to port the TE game engine to Unity.

The main task here was to port ~120'000 lines of C++ code to C#. My hope was to do that in 3 months.

Very quickly, I realized that a good bunch of the time will be spent on more than just porting the code : for many parts, I'd have to adapt or rehaul the code to use the Unity functions instead of my previous ones (eg: keyboard/mouse/joystick/files access, sound system, rehaul of the custom shader handling, etc.).

Fortunately, the raw porting part is much faster than expected, so the 120k lines of code will likely need something like 1 month and a half to be ported. As you can see on the screenshot below, I already spent 2 weeks to make the menu system work in Unity (the process has been greatly sped up by using all the stuff I already had from Dungeon Guardians :dance: ), so that will leave me 1 month to do the remaining stuff : most of this time should be taken by the stadium & crowd rendering and the animation system rehaul.

2019-01 - TEM2 - Menu Test in Unity.jpg

So right now, I hope to have TEM2 running on Unity by the end of February, and then I'll have 1 more month to redo the save system (it can't work the same way in C#), the replay system (it likely can't work the same because of Unity animation system), add the 3D coach center and do a few requested features if I have some time left, and boom, we'll have a v1.0 and a Steam port following shortly after..!

Fingers crossed so everything will go as planned ! :blackeye:

A comment, cheer or question about this mini-blog ? => viewtopic.php?p=255397#p255397
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== Mana Games ==

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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 29 Jan 2019, 12:06

Just a quick update to let you know I have finished porting the code from C++ to C# (ie: it's compiling without any error), as for once, things went as planned. :woohoo:

And it's good because I was more than fed up with this part ; even though it was fun at 1st, after 2 months I had more than enough, as it got very repetitive.

So now, my hope is to have the whole tour & management part running within Unity by next week (minus the 3D player display and the save/load system), as only very few things aren't working the same in Unity for these parts ; actually, I guess it'll be mostly bug hunting for all the typos and small mistakes I had done during the port.

If I can do that, then we should still be on-track on the plan exposed in my previous post.

Hopefully, cu soon enough for more updates ! :aureola:
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== Mana Games ==

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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 05 Feb 2019, 08:44

Are we there yet ?

So the past week has been difficult.

Again I got taken by the little & bigger things of life, plus my baby (who soon shouldn't be a baby anymore) sleep pattern exploded once more and thus brought havoc on my work rhythm and schedule... :sweat:

Anyway, I still worked and did some progress, but there were a lot more issues than expected that required to be fixed in order to be able to launch the game in Unity, especially in the menu system which was still not bug-free, both in its initialization and in its processing.

But since yesterday, the game launches and gives this :
2019-02 - TEM2 - Main Menu in Unity.jpg

So now, we're not too far from a working management-only version !

As you see in this screenshot, the fonts are too big, the "main menu" tag is missing on the top left and the exit button is slightly misplaced, so there's still a bunch of issues to fix, but we're getting there... :blackeye:

Once everything will be fixed, I'll still need to add the keyboard binding assignation and the text input, as both need new handling for Unity.

I might change a bit the plan : now I'd like to put the save system in place ASAP, so it'll be possible to get some beta testing done. (if anyone is feeling very adventurous ':D )

Cu soon for more mini-updates !
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== Mana Games ==

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Re: TEM2 mini Dev Blog

Postby manutoo » 14 Feb 2019, 18:51

It's done !

Ok, not completely, and we're still far from getting the 3D matches running, but after nearly 3 months of work and ~120'000 lines of code converted & debugged, the TE Tour is finally running smoothly in Unity !

And here's the proof :blackeye:
2019-02 - TEM2 - Tour Running in Unity.jpg


My son is still waking up way before sunrise, so my work schedule is still destroyed, but I managed to track down and fix most if not all of the Tour bugs that have arisen from or have been revealed by the port to C#.

So now, I need to put the new text edition, and the new save/load system, and it'll be possible for the most adventurous of you to test the management part, if you want to help me track down the remaining glitches and bugs.

The save system may take me 1 week. It took me that time when I put it in place in Dungeon Guardians. Here it should be faster as I already know the best way to proceed, except I can't work a fulltime week, so I'm not sure how it'll go.

I'm also afraid that now the v1.0 might not be here for the end of March, except if things go really well with a pinch of luck... which is almost never the case. ':D

Anyway, we're getting there, so cu soon for more good news, hopefully ! :aureola:
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== Mana Games ==

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