Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Smouldering In The Heat

Once again it’s been a while since my last post.

My current classes have been shuffled about which has left me on an extended break! Woo! So I’ll be spending much more time focusing on developing our next game.

It’s also been Hot, Cold, BLAZING Hot, Freezing Hot and Blazing Cold. With meanderings of smokey air from a number of fires that have been burning lately. It’s not entirely known whether they are accidental or intentional, but its making the air a little soupy and dry.

The weather in general has really been making it difficult for us to stay on schedule without making our brains melt. Our rooms literally become a sauna, with our computers being the hot rocks in the middle. Not very pleasant, but great for shedding a few kilos at least. So we’re a little behind schedule, yet we’re still making progress.

So what else has been happening?

Disabling Story Games

This year, Elise and I have sworn off doing any story related or driven games, at least until we’ve made a few other ones that aren’t story centric.

This comes after realising that the types of story driven games we want to develop in 3D are a little outside of our technical capabilities right now, touching on multiple levels of tech which greatly exceed our current level.

So you can expect more arcade-y style of games from us which we hope will help us to work out a number of limitations we currently face for creating some of our complex story games.

Next Game Developments

Our next game is coming along quite well. We’ve been working on it as much as we can in spite of the heat to get it together. There’s been a lot of sweating, a lot of learning and a lot of revision of our tech in order to meet the new requirements we’ve laid out.

Part of that has been working on setting up networked multiplayer, which has been quite challenging. Couple that with procedurally generated levels, it has been even more challenging. But we’re slowly getting there.

A number of people have also asked for The Very Organized Thief to have multiplayer, which originally we wanted to do but we felt we would only mess up the current experience. So instead, we decided to work on a game that would use multiplayer in a more fun and co-operative way. This should allow us to focus on that experience without overriding an existing one resulting, hopefully resulting in a better game.

We’ve also never experimented with using networked multiplayer before so its very fresh territory for us. Primarily we want to get our hands dirty with making a networked multiplayer game to see how it can be used to contribute to some of our future titles.

But for now we’re a little while off of release for our next one. But we are aiming within the next month or so for something to reach the public. Even if it means leaving out multiplayer just so people can start to play it sooner.

Time, and hopefully good weather, will tell!

The Very Organized Thief

We will be continuing to make small updates to The Very Organized Thief.

You’ll be happy to know, we’ve also been working on what we can do to turn it from a small web game into a full featured title.

But more on that in future posts ; )

Updating This Website

I’ve been trying to find some extra time to fix this website and start making some space for more things, like free tools and tutorials. But I just haven’t had the time to do it unfortunately. There be bigger game developing fish to fry.

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And that’s what been happening as of late.

If things go well in the next few weeks I’ll be making a new post with hopefully some sneak peaks of our new game *fingers crossed*. But until then, I hope to all those who are reading, you are well, and staying cool. Or if you a freezing your ass off in the Northern Hemisphere, you are staying warm and cozy!

-Alex

Heat Tsunami!!!

As heatwave rips through Australia for the next few days there isn’t really much I can do but blog on a laptop.

It feels more like a Heat Tsunami. But Elise says that’s just confusing. Also, just googled it, and it is a term!

I’ve been keeping pretty busy lately despite all the fun awesome things to be had over the holidays. I’ve also been a little sick with a really annoying cold, and only just getting over it. So progress on our new game has been a little slow, but still very fruitful.

I think I’ll keep to the subtitling format because it just makes things so much easier to explain without creating mega-lo-blogs (like a Megalodon, just in blog form).

So here’s what’s been happening!

New Years Resolution!

As part of my new years resolution this year, I’m going to spend a bit more time drawing, and art in general.

Since I’ve had my head buried in books for the last few years and learning everything I can about every necessary to make a living as Indie Game Developer, I’ve kind of neglected the skills that really kind of started it all.

So expect some drawings to come!

Our Next Game

Our next game is moving along well, but slowly. With all the madness and fun-times recently, there have also been a number of technical advancements we’ve had to research and integrate. Plus the Heat Tsunamis don’t help.

It has been quite challenging, with a lot of new things to learn and existing systems being revised. We probably could of made more progress going a little simpler.

But in order for us to get to the games we really really want to get, we have to throw ourselves in a little deeper on this one. This one has been quite the hurdle but it’s only the initial hurdle to doing bigger and better things!

Elise has been working when she can to create some new props to be used in the level. She’s had a pretty busy schedule lately which has been difficult to make leaps in progress with the art. With the crazy weather we’ve been having it is also making it even more difficult.

I’ve been modelling, rigging and making some new animations for some of the new characters. They’re in the same style as The Very Organized Thief owner, except we’ve been trying to make them a little less scary looking.

We’ve also been using articy:draft (from Steam) to plot out the flow of our game. It’s probably one of the most useful things you can get for yourself as a game designer, especially for working out flows. Whether it be dialogue, game events, or even story. It just makes it so much easier. Writing things like that into a monolith document, really doesn’t help with clarity sometimes. We highly recommend it.

Working with Red

The Red Framework has a significant overhaul during the start of the project. Mostly to help standardise the workflow and iron out some issues.

I’ve been refining Red AI (our AI system) to be a little more easy to use. Also fixing some limitations which we encountered in The Very Organized Thief. Still some work to be done but it has had some major improvements.

I also recently bought Reactor AI from the Unity Store, which is a system for AI Behaviour Trees. I’ve been using it as an extension to RedAI. I had already partially built an Behaviour Tree system for Red AI but it had no tools to make it easier to work with. Reactor does! Making my life a little bit easier and giving me a great opportunity to work more with Behaviour Trees!

With those changes Red AI is now a hybrid AI system which uses a combination of two different types of AI systems, which is State Driven, and Behaviour Tree Driven. Allowing us to define States which can either be coded specifically for more control or use behaviours trees. For what we have planned in future games, it’s the most robust solution which will allows to build complex AI much more rapidly.

Red also has a Dialogue system, which was originally called DKit. But more about that system another blog post : P

The Very Organized Thief

I have been working on The Very Organised Thief a little here and there. Nothing major that a new version needs to be built and uploaded. But Elise and I have been talking about what we want to add to it.

With Australia Day coming up, and having the ability to have Seasonal related content. We thought it might be fun to have an Australia Day update. We’ll also been talking about doing Valentines Day update as well!

If things go well this week we should be releasing an Australia Day version!

Crowdfunding Planning

Elise and I have been spending a lot of time discussion how we’re going to do it. And we’re still kind of holding off on jumping on it too soon.

We do know that if we do, our primary goal will be to get Elise a Maya LT license. Many alternative solutions we’ve looked at have only proved to be more frustrating, buggy and requiring us to do more work when bringing them in Maya (the one on my computer). Many of which I’ve written MEL Scripts to counter, but still leaves some additional rework.

If she gets a Maya LT license, it’ll be a much more familiar environment for both of us and things will hopefully require less rework. And less spontaneous bug crashes and poorly translated interfaces…

We’ll see what happens in the next few days and or weeks, but we plan to do it soon!

Playing Games

I’ve been making an effort this year to play more games.

I’ve recently been playing Castlestorm and Okami-den on the DS. I’m also still playing Final Fantasy VII… so good!

Castlestorm was an unexpected surprise. A little juggle-y at times considering all the things you can do. But it’s satisfying to play, really fun, and looks fantastic. The game is casual and feels like it would be easier to play on some kind of touch interface, but despite that it’s still very fun. Give it a go if you get the chance.

Okami-den. If you’re a fan of the original Okami game, you’ll love this one. I’m a little ashamed that I only just started playing it recently, since I it was originally given to me for Christmas … in 2012 … it’s been a busy year v_v”. Despite it feeling like it’s missing a little detail, it holds true to the art style and gameplay. If you have a DS or you have it, and haven’t played it. Play it! Takes a little to get into but it’ll eventually suck you in completely!

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And that’s what I’ve been up to lately. That and melting into things.

CURSE YOU HEAT TSUNAMI!!

Christmas Hol…i…day?

As usual it’s been pretty busy as of late. That plus the added heat-wave, christmas craziness, Boxing Day and the New Year coming up. It has been much more manic crazy then usual.

To help summarise the goings on. I’m going to use sub headings!

Website Updates

I’ve been spending a bit of time updating Elise’s website and the Redefinition Games website to support displaying projects and games in multiple layouts.

I ended up writing a WordPress plugin that manages the information it displays as well as lets you control how it gets displayed. I’m quite pleased with how it’s turned out. It still needs some work. The websites also need a bit of work, but it’s a lot better then what was originally in place. Especially for the Redefinition Games ‘Games’ section.

I’m also in the process of updating my own website, but when that gets done, I’m not sure. I’m hoping soon at least LoL

Moving Deathspuds to a Repository

After recently blowing up our Dropbox, we moved Deathspuds to a Repository on BitBucket. To summarise why, I’ll just say I’m probably never using Dropbox ever again, at least for something that large and increasingly delicate. The last few weeks we’ve been moving across and fixing problems, while trying to enjoy a much needed holiday away from our regular daily routines. So it’s been pretty juggle-y.

But so far it’s all looking good, and I can already feel the increase of productivity of using it.

Our Next Game

We’ve been working on it as much as we can considering the chaos of Christmas.

I’ve been updating some of the code in our now named “Red Framework” which we’ve had for a while. I’ve mostly been re-factoring it to fulfil the requirements for the current game.

A lot of the systems we have been developing, have only been tested in their own local test scenarios and some are very specific test cases, so there’s been some fleshing out of the usability of them. We’re hoping the more we do this, the less we’ll end up doing it for future projects.

Elise and I have also been talking in depth about the Game Design as well, which is pretty much worked out in terms of the core gameplay. I won’t be saying exactly what’s going on because we like surprising people.

The title you ask? Some of you may already know the title. If you don’t you may realise you always knew ; )

The Very Organized Thief

We’ve mostly been watching and taking on board everyone’s suggestions. And thinking about some things we would like to add to this version to keep it going a little. We won’t be doing any major changes to the games core mechanics. But we will hopefully add some things to give people a few laughs.

But for now, other plans are taking priority! No point making plans and not following them right? We do have a very good idea of what we are going to do with The Very Organized Thief, that much we can tell you ; )

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So that’s basically what’s been going on for the last few weeks. Busy busy busy. I’ve managed to squeeze in a few hours of actually playing games for a change.

Currently replaying Final Fantasy VII on the PC reliving the nostalgia of my 1998 youth, chilling out with Proteus, and trying to find some time to delve deep into Eldritch. Check em out if you’ve got the time!

But that’s it from me for now. I hope everyone has had a awesome Christmas filled with good memories and presents. And I hope your New Year is grand!

-Alex

Keeping Busy – Deathspuds, Animation & Painting

So I’m hoping to make “things I’ve been up” to a more regular thing on my blog. It has been pretty hard finding time to write and revise some good useful articles which I’m hoping to post soon. But until then, rather then writing something useful. I figure I’ll just write what I’ve been up to. At least that way this thing gets used and maybe some of the stuff in it may be useful, and/or even interesting!

So what’s been happening recently.

I’ve recently completed Milestone 3 for DeathSpuds. 

This milestone saw the implementation of Enemies which can melee and/or shoot projectiles at the player while moving through a level. The behaviour was a little bit whacky at first, mainly because I tried to condense the melee and Projectile shooting into a single Attack State but it just made it as confusing as the AI was behaving.

I ended up splitting the Melee and Projectile shooting into 2 separate AI States. It made more sense considering the Enemy would either do one or the other or both. And it was easier to determine when to switch between or leave these states by checking per state, rather then all in one.

The enemies also avoid walls now to. The also find a way out when they get backed into a corner.

Enemies that also just specialize in shooting projectile will also maintain there distance, running away when you get to close. Ones that can do melee will move in if you get to close to them. At the moment it’s set to be 3/4 of the closest possible firing distance. I’ll probably end up tweaking this or even making it an available factor in the Unity inspector to get better control over this distance.

This milestone also saw the implementation of enemies spawners, such as enemies spawning from a point and out of the ground. This presented a small problem with Unity’s Mecanim, which is handling all of our animations. It just doesn’t give you much control over using a single Mecanim Animator Controllers which defines the animation behaviour of a character given certain values, at an initial starting state. Forcing you to duplicate the controller file, renaming it, and setting a different starting state.

For example, one of our enemies can spawn out of the ground and also just be standing idly in the scene. But in order to do that, your need to define 2 specific Animator Controllers for the 2 different types of starting states. The controllers are basically identical, accept one has it’s initial starting state as “Idle” and the other as “Spawning”. It would be nice if it were possible to force a particular state onto the animator for purposes such as this.

I know it doesn’t sound like much but imagine making adjustments to one and having to duplicate and set the starting state. Now imagine doing that a hundred times with just minor adjustments over a long period of time. It would get quite annoying.

In all the Enemies are pretty fleshed out and it’s going quite well. I can see some issues popping up which I’ll probably address if and when they arise, such as line of sight  of projectile shooters with enemies blocking the way. But it could just be a matter of making them simply move their position, I doubt it… but here’s to hoping it is.

There was a whole bunch of other things which went in. A lot of which was for to improve performance at run-time for the first level. Which Josh has made to look damn awesome. But I’ll leave it that for now.

Today, I also integrated some core animation components into my flash framework. It hasn’t been much of a priority before because most of what I was doing with flash was being driven by code or physics. Since I’ve been working on point and click / hidden object engine, having a means to control animations and animatable things has become pretty important.

My goal was to have an item you clicked from the scene move themselves into the foreground, and spin and fade into your inventory. I ended up implementing an Animation Manager that let you pass in Animates, basically animations that define a particular behaviour, such as spinning and fading. Basically setting values on this animates and passing it to the Animation Manager will cause the animation to occur.

I also had to make sure that it was pretty easy and straight forward to do for people who may end up using this engine the future. Mainly Elise. The way you use it was kind of inspired by how you use [UIView beginAnimation] in the iOS Core Animation Framework. Of course what I’ve implemented is nothing compared to how Core Animation actually works. But I based my design purely on it’s ease of use, minus the static call.

I’ll most likely be tweaking this over time and adding more features to it and even more animate types but overall I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

I’ve also been doing some digital painting for the backgrounds in our game.

Point and Click Background 1

Elise did most of the line work for the painting. I’ve just been colouring it in. It’s a work in progress. We’re still working out the final look of some other areas, so some things are likely to change.

And that’s what I’ve been up to lately.

A Little Break

So I managed to give myself a break this weekend. A little one. It had been about 14 days since my last so when I started finding loose screws on the floor, its was definitely a sign I was past due for one.

Elise got me onto a great thing this year which was keeping a log of the things you do in a day. Work related things of course, not really mundane related things otherwise that would just be weird. It really helps quantify just how much you are actually doing over a period of time and when any key events occur, like when you last gave yourself a break. It also clearly indicates just how much your performance drops off since then *pulls collar*.

A lot of this month for Elise and I has been focused on ourselves, mainly on health and motivation. No I’m not going to say “go running down your street” and “think rich” because that’s not really helpful. Unless you want to do that by all means run down the street screaming your rich.

We’ve been working behind the scenes on Redefinition Games for a long time now. The belief in what we are doing often dwindles at times, which is normal I guess with lots of creative projects and people (not just artist). So it’s really important to understand, and acknowledge, the effect that working all the time has on you. The key difference being the acknowledgement part. Knowing when you’ve burnt yourself out and not doing something about it is just outright silly.

Sometimes you may be acknowledging the fact you’re burnt out but what your doing is dismissing it, especially if your saying something like this “I’m really tired, but I still need to finish something off first” or “I’ve got to much work to do, and I need to get it done”. The right thing to so would of been to step back, give yourself some time unwind, think about something other then the work you need to do, and come back and tackle it again. I know it’s simple to say, and remembering to do that sometimes just as hard, but god damn it people. REMEMBER! It will improve your performance and ability to solve what ever challenges your working on/with.

So I gave myself a break this weekend, finally. Fourteen days straight of code, art and everything in between really takes a lot out of you. I ended up buying “The Cave”, a Double Fine game, on the PS3 (available on XBox360, PC). If you haven’t played, add it to the top of your things to do list!

The Cave is fantastic. It’s about 7 characters who seek something that they want, going into a cave to find it, reveals their story about how they get it. And all of them, have dark sided little secret. I’m not going to give to much away, so I’ll just leave it at there. A really charming game like most Double Fine games are. The stories are also quite funny. Lots of good one liners that’s for sure.

The Cave really reminds me a lot of point and click adventure games I use to play when I was kid on the good ol’ 486 computer. The only difference is its in platformer form (Super Mario style for you non-aficionados reading). It sounds strange and you wouldn’t think of putting those two types of games together. But it really does play pretty well and much like point and click adventure do, just minus the pointing and the clicking. It’s also simple and challenging enough to make you scratch your head without ridiculously obscure puzzles as a lot of adventure games suffer from. So if you got some time, a little bit of spare change, go give it a play. Your bound to enjoy it, especially over a shot break!