1.5 person years
Sep 03 2012 10:12 AM
I'm glad to present a gameplay screenshot from Entropy, our upcoming 3D puzzle-platformer game for Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) and PC.
Many of the gameplay elements can be seen here: the green bubble is the "gravi-tilt-machine", a device that lets you tilt gravity of the entire world with all the nasty side-effects that you would expect.
The big temperature scale is part of the puzzle shown here, to proceed you have to activate it - preferrably by pushing some hot lava on it. As you may have guessed, the screenshot shows the maze after it has been solved, initially the lava is spread across the room and you have to tilt gravity to move it. Without getting killed of course and without burning all the lovely vegetation!
About the game
Entropy is a 3D puzzle action-adventure set in a mystic world. Combine elements such as lava, water, acids and stone to solve tricky mazes! Make clever use of electricity, but try not to get killed by it. Spawn gravity zones using your gravity gun to avoid touching dangerous matter and go back in time at any time, even after you died. Explore all the hidden secrets of the world and find out what all this means and who YOU are. With its main storyline spanning across 25 levels, Entropy offers about 5 hours of gameplay. (Rumours are, there is even cake in the game.)
We ("we" is Autotivity Entertainment, a small group of Indie devs from Stuttgart, Germany) have worked on this project for about a year and we're looking forward to releasing it on XBLIG this September and on PC later this year.
The biggest struggle we had to deal with was the .net compact framework on the Xbox 360. We totally bypassed the garbage collector, which is excessibly slow (non generation M&S) by not allocating anything during runtime (i.e. everything is statically allocated at the beginning). Since we could not avoid GC runs alltogether (XNA's sound system seems to leak instances), we also optimized our data structures to have less explicit references and thus less GC time (yes, this is gruesome).
Another issue was the physics. We do have a full physics-enabled environment and floating point ops (especially JITed flops with no altivec units used) are really slow on the 360. Finally we managed to get the Open Source Jitter physics engine integrated well enough to deliver the performance we needed.
XNA itself was quite ok to work with. Being the 3D graphics programmer of the project I missed some Direct3D 10-level features, but nothing serious. I doubt a renderer based on the native Xbox API would be more than 10-20% faster (I never programmed the native Xbox API, though).
This game is part of the XBLIG Uprising III, a joint promotion action of the XBLIG community to showcase its funniest and most diverse games in 2012. Be sure to look out for it on the XBLIG marketplace after its release on 17th September 2012!
Entropy is based on an in-house developed 3D engine optimized for highly dynamic lighting scenarios. Since we are releasing for XBLIG, we had to base it on XNA 4.0 (with C#). Coming from a D3D/OpenGl background I must say that the experience has been altogether very pleasing, even though I definitely missed some Direct3D 10 level features.
We have some tools for level design and QA. For our 3D and 2D arts, lots of work has been done using FOSS software: Kudos to Blender and the GIMP.