Jump to content

  • Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account

We need your help!

We need 1 more developer from Canada and 12 more from Australia to help us complete a research survey.

Support our site by taking a quick sponsored survey and win a chance at a $50 Amazon gift card. Click here to get started!

Dan Violet Sagmiller

Member Since 27 Dec 2012
Offline Last Active Jul 14 2015 06:59 AM

#5142860 4D Games...

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 28 March 2014 - 09:18 AM

Perhaps remodelling the future doesn't need to be a Real-Time operation.  Perhaps it sits on a lower thread, processing the changes to the model, and the player would have a meter indicating how 'caught up' they were in the time shifts happening.  then in front of their eyes, see the changes unfold piece by piece.  Once the model has determined that a car should be at position 2 instead of position 1, Instead of just 'snapping' into position, it could set some kind of gravity like pull that visually shifts it into place.  


Only the characters interacting with multiple times notice the changes.  Everyone else is oblivious.  You could get away with larger more interactive worlds this way.  You could even process time travel the same way, so when you jump into the future by ten minutes, you see things shift around you until you are settled in your new time.  Could make for some great visuals.

#5142325 4D Games...

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 26 March 2014 - 09:57 AM

There was a game concept I had worked on with a student a while back.  I don't mind sharing it.


The idea was to allow time travel to affect a game, and allow multiplayer in different instances.


Premisis: You are a detective in a crime squad.  You are teleported to a city where a bomb just went off.  You have the ability to teleport back in time, up to 2 hours from the present track of time.  You can bounce around to any 15 minute increment between there.  You quickly get the clues you can.  1 thing is that you know the location, but you don't know what the bomb looks like.  


Most of the time, you are investigating clues.  If you change something in the past, it changes things in the future.  Your team can talk to each other if they are in different time zones.  once your target a suspect, you can have another team member go back and try to track them, see what they are doing.  If they make changes in the world, things might snap out of place in the future.  If the police/detective hover too closely to the bomb site, the terrorist might set the bomb somewhere else.  Causing the explosion to have happened in a different point of time in the future.  I.e. it blows up a building that one of your team in the future happens to be on the second floor.  The drop as there is suddenly no second floor and only rubble left.  


Never jump times in a car or the street.  A car could be their, traffic will change.  don't cross the street when someone on your team in the past is about to change something.


The coding premise is that a closed off sand-box city, has 9 stages of time (Time Zone = current time, or a 15 increment up to 2 hours in the past.  Initially, the enemy AI/AI's have event times, where they are walking, talking to people, buying things, setting up the device and escaping.  Each time zone becomes a mirror of the previous time zone + whatever changes have happened to it.  this can include parked cars, locked doors, broken things, accident scenes, etc...  When someone in TimeZone 9:15 gets in a car and crashes it, it might take the cops 30 minutes to clean up the scene.  which means that any player at timezone 9:30 or 9:45 standing near by, would suddenly see a crashed car their, with police taking care of it.  


If a door was kicked in early in the investigation time zones, that door will still be off the hinges in the later time zones.


Its a much different interaction in time than I have seen any other game have.

#5139965 Why is Candy Crush so Successful?

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 18 March 2014 - 05:13 AM

I've been studying Candy Crush lately, looking for reasons why it is successful beyond so many other Swap games (Is there a better description for the genre?) it is similar to.  After a while, I started realising that they put pressure making the parts that are proven fun as good as any other, and added features to really keep you pulled back in.


Here are some of the things I've come up with, but I'm hoping to increase the perspectives on this, and also what you hate about it (try to keep the positive and negative specific please :).

1.  The basic swapping of adjacent tiles to connect a pattern of 3 is a pattern that the human mind is incredibly capable of doing.  

 - It is a satisfying experience, the player can see what they can do, and constantly prove it out.

 - The training level is minimal, the simplistic nature of the game allows you start fast, and apply easily.


2.  Unlike many other Swap Games, Candy Crush, provides a variety of challenges.

 - Some pieces can't move, and must either have patterns made next to it, or have it be part of a pattern to be destroyed.

 - The jelly forces combinations in particular areas of the map, assigning more value to completing the puzzle in that area.

 - Some required destruction areas are inaccessible to patterns of three.  I.e. you must make power pieces that have larger effects on the board.


3.  Lasting Power Pieces give more abilities. (Wipe out a line, blow up an area, etc.)

 - In other similar games I've played, the powerups were uncommon, but these pieces give added power by their use in normal puzzles.

 - They also offer more power if you can combine power pieces, including only in pairs.

 - - They missed Bomb + donut.  I'm betting that seemed too powerful to convert every similar color into a bomb.  Any other thoughts on why that was skipped?


4.  Slow but fast menus.

 - I've payed games where is takes more than 10 seconds to navigate menus, even though its just one menu.  I.e. level loading time took a while, menus where just unresponsive.  

 - their menus are fast, and it seems like it helps force a cool down on the mind.  Despite the menus being fast, there are still many of them.  


5.  Limited Lives

 - this makes sense from a monetary stand point, but increasing the lives cost 99 cents.  5 lives..  They have really pushed the envelope with prices, but it worked.  Personally, I haven't spent a dime.  but I can see the constant reasons that pressure us into wanting to to pay.  More lives, more turns, more time, power up pieces, 1 click fixes  I.e. we are so close, I only need to spend 99 cents and I could complete this level.  As the lives dwindle down, they become more precious.

 - It seems like on your last round they could have milked more out of their customers by pointing out you are on your last life when you start the round.



I have a lot of other ideas on this, but I have to go to my day job.  Please let me know your ideas on this.  What works and why?  (preferably avoid the rants, but it is candy crush, so I understand that might not be avoidable.  :)

#5120148 Designing "leveling up" in competitive multi-player games.

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 30 December 2013 - 04:23 PM

While I can't say I can recommend the "best" Level Up system for a Multiplayer Free for all, I can offer this idea:


Something like king of the hill.  Multiple terraces, each terrace can only be accessed at certain levels.  I.e. terrace 1 can be accessed by anyone.  Every person you kill is worth % exp to the next level.  higher level people are naturally worth more points.  


Terrace 2 can only be accessed by people level 2 or above.  Which means if you die and restart, you can get back to level 2 quickly, but if you run through the open of Terrace 1, you leave yourself exposed to lower level players hoping to level up faster on your corpse.


Each terrace would provide new weapons or abilities, but you don't get them until you reach that level.  (I.e. if you die, you come back with level X exp, but you can't use the bonuses until you are in the levels.)


You can shoot at people in other terraces.  Lower terraces make you very little points, so it mostly waists ammunition.  Higher level terraces are worth a lot more for taking people out.  


Each terrace may have look out towers that make it easier to take out high level individuals, but they are easier to target from lower terraces and even your own.


It would really suck with just a few players, so you would really need NPC challenges as well.  AI's that spawn out of sight of all other players, and then run to take tactical positions.  Worth no more than someone at that level.  


As the game would be terraced, I like the idea of exploding debris, like trucks and dumpsters that keep getting launched into lower levels from explosions higher up.  And of course objects that keep respawning when players aren't looking, 


Terrace 1 might only have a hand gun, with minimal armor.  (3 shots dead)

Terrace 2 might offer short burt machine guns.

3 grenades

4 rockets.


#5103853 I've released my game dev book for free

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 23 October 2013 - 01:40 PM

Could we get some e-book format please?

Definately.  I've have multiple requests for this.


I'm working with some people about redeveloping the book, and ina bit we will be re-releasing this, but in smaller sections, taking into account nearly every request I've gotten so far, and then some.

#5103291 Is XNA still worth learning?

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 21 October 2013 - 09:18 PM

Coursera is offering a free college course on it right now, about halfway through. I believe you can still sign up.  https://class.coursera.org/gameprogramming-001


Over 22,000 students are enrolled in it.  Not exactly a small number of people still interested in this...



Also, a few weeks ago, I released a book on learning XNA and C#, for free.  http://learnbuildplay.com/Training/IndieGameDevBook


this is a over 300 pages.  It was intended for print, but I decided to release it for free.  Enjoy.



I think its fun to use and learn.  However, Unity also uses C#, is free to work with, is Multi OS, and will gain support for XBox One in 2014.  I use Unity now, but I still Use XNA with my students as a precursor to start learning about back buffers, Init/Update/Draw methods, and other common game architectures/models/methodologies.  And as is, XNA still has better 2D support.  Nearly anything you build in XNA (2D or 3D) will run in MonoGame.

#5103162 I'm releasing my game design book for free...

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 21 October 2013 - 10:38 AM

At the first glance it seems this is written from your own experience and perspective rather than as an overall game design guide. While it gives a basic outline of things it seems to focus heavily on programming and largely exclude the actual design part of game development. How to write a good story, how to make appealing graphic content, how to understand and use music, how to have interesting gameplay and intuitive controlling schemes? Etc.

That's an eye opener for me.  It didn't even occur to me how much I skipped in that process.  I spoke about the design, only at a high level, and didn't actually get into them making decisions, discussing levels, physics or AI.  That will definitely be in better focus during the rewrite.  Thank you.  


For getting a good grasp on game structure and game development process I feel it could seriously use more graphs, diagrams, concept maps or other forms of data that is quick and easy to overview and process. But I understand all of that takes time which you might not feel comfortable spending now that you're publishing it for free.

This is a good point as well.  I am planning on putting serious work into a rewrite, I think I'm going to change the comics to a team and see about changing their format to be myself giving direct instruction, but then a far better/more focused comic structure where we see them interacting and making decisions in the real product.  I was treating myself as a character at times. - This would allow you to easily separate the instructional from the reasons why for the team.


1) Add some art and graphics to break up blank text pages. You're publishing digital media, ink and color do not cost you. Many digital books even have white-on-black basis to help with on-screen reading and it also presents art nicely. You can also consider finding a novice graphic designer to help you improve on the visuals. It's not all just aesthetics but good visualization helps you make your points.

I have a strong interest in getting far better art involved in this.  I'm not afraid to say that I am a terrible artist.  This art was originally supposed to be place holders.  Now, my intention, based on this and other comments, to alter the comic characters to an isolated comic, where they begin to face issues, the instruction will then show what they know/have learned, and then the end of the chapter will show them resolving choices with this new knowledge.  For this, I'm going to need a real comic artist.  During the instruction, I'll add charts and diagrams where applicable.


Also the intended topic hierarchy is currently a bit hard to read both in table of contents and the written part. So while you might adjust your hierarchy, you could use visualizing that better as well. You could indent the chapters and topics more, use different font formatting (some color shades perhaps) in different level titles and text.

When I get someone to start looking into the UI of the book, I'll have them consider this as well.  I'm using default Word 2013 headings.  I agree that could use some improvement.


3) Check spelling and grammar but mostly try to improve on sentence structure and variance. Also check your big scale chapter structure is logical.

If you don't want to polish on this yourself you could search for an editor for your book that might be able to point you better direction in many aspects. For the right demographic it could be a book that practically reads itself but at this phase it looks like something you wrote chapter at a time on a subject on your mind and just assembled it all together.

 - Getting an editor.  Definitely getting an editor.


Thank you so much for your insight.  These have been some excellent clarifications, and given me some good targets to start considering.

#5102869 I've released my game dev book for free

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 20 October 2013 - 10:31 AM



Last December, I finished my game development book for XNA and was beginning reviews and conversations with publishers.  In February, Microsoft announced that it had no plans to expand XNA any further and that Support for it would be dying out.  Exit publishers.


But it turns out that the open source version, Mono Game, has been taking off.  Coursera/University of Colorado has released an XNA game programming course (about half way done right now) on XNA, and over 22,000 people signed up wanting to learn it.  Given the free nature of this, and the fact I had this book decaying in backups, yet still current in technology, I decided to release it for free.  


You follow a small indie team as they take an initial concept, design it out, learn to work together as a team, learn to program, learn AI & physics, produce the game, and then even learn how to approach testing, investors and releases.


I'm hoping this will be a valuable resource for many, but I'm also looking for advice to improve it.  I don't want this to become a stagnant training material.  I'm actually working with some top notch artists, musicians and market agents on addressing new versions of this.  I want your feed back.  Tell me the good, the bad and the ugly. 


The next releases of the book will be split out more, and focusing on the different areas more.  The specialists I'm working with will help re-author and add content to improve it.  I hope you enjoy the book as is, but don't hesitate to suggest changes, tell me how terrible the current art is, or even express that the comic training in it is terrible.  


I use this book in my classes, and I don't want it to be from my head alone, not when I have a whole community of awesome game developers and those starting out, who may be able to help make it better!  



#5102868 I need feedback on my game programming book.

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 20 October 2013 - 10:21 AM



I've just released my game programming/XNA book for free.  And now I'm working with a marketing agent and some other specialists on a rewrite of it, particularly into a series of smaller books.  All will remain free.  


What I'm hoping for, is some feed back on this book, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.  I want your real opinions on this.  If you think something would be better done differently I want to know.  If you think the art sucks, let me know.  (By the way, I think the art sucks.  I'm not an artist.  I'm planning on hiring a real artist to redo this graphics, cover and comics.  But I want to get your ideas on that as well)


Negative feedback is exactly what I need now.  How do I improve this.  



#5102867 I'm releasing my game design book for free...

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 20 October 2013 - 10:15 AM



I had created a book on Game design, programming, AI, marketing, etc...  300+ pages.  I had originally intended to print this, but decided to release this for free.  


I'm releasing this for free, but it will not be stagnant.  I'm looking to improve it from other game designers.  I'm working with some marketing people right now, and we are discussing a re-write in smaller sections.  I would really love some feed back as to what you think of its design.  I'm really looking for making the version 2 of this to be great.  I've had over 2000 downloads so far, so I don't need any "You rock" responses.  Though I'm not opposed :D.  What I'm really in need of is real critiquing.  even to my comic character approaches, the art work, anything.  


I really want to know what you think is good, bad and ugly.  



#5084798 What's so fun about city builders?

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 10 August 2013 - 05:22 PM

I'm working on a City Builder game at the moment, and I have a few basic ideas of what I feel makes the city builder games fun and addicting.  What I'd like to hear are other peoples opinions of exactly what makes a city builder so fun.  If you could, please include a reference to a city builder game you like, what compelled you to start playing, and what kept you playing.




I'll start:


I really like Galactic Reunion, an older game, which involved wars with alien species, advancing technologies, discovering new solar systems, establishing colonies and mining for resources.  I can't really say what drew me in in the first place.  I think it was a 5$ game box that I passed by and just thought to try it.  I found it quick and easy to start placing buildings in my world, and then expand to my local moon.  What kept me involved and loving the game for so long was that it had a long game play time to get around to things.  There were always different ways to expand.  If/when you run out of funding, you can start looking at back logs of new discovered planets.  And switch mining resources to work more on the materials of value to you.  I liked that aspect a lot.  It was one player (no multi-possible).


I really liked that the advancement of my own people helped improve things.  I could hire the best advisors to begin with, or I could start with cheaper ones and send them to college.  I had a lot of ways I could push things to get to my core goals of the game.  

#5054590 Random Map generator needs improvement

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 18 April 2013 - 09:02 AM

I have a random map generator, that essentially uses the X/Y location of the tile as the seed to identify its tile type.  (infinite terrain without needing to save it)


However, its too random.  the terrain is peppered with any terrain type.  I would like it to be more splotchy.


What I was planning, was to divide it into regions (like x >> 4, y >> 4) of 16x16 to increase the likely hood of a particular type, but then I end up with squares.  any thoughts? 


Here is the code I use:  


    public static int PickANumber0ThoughN(int seed, int x, int y, int range)
        uint hash = (uint)seed;
        hash ^= (uint)x;
        hash *= 0x51d7348d;
        hash ^= 0x85dbdda2;
        hash = (hash << 16) ^ (hash >> 16);
        hash *= 0x7588f287;
        hash ^= (uint)y;
        hash *= 0x487a5559;
        hash ^= 0x64887219;
        hash = (hash << 16) ^ (hash >> 16);
        hash *= 0x63288691;
        return (int)(hash % range);
int tileTypeId = PickANumber0ThoughN(playerid, tileX, tileY, TileTypes.Length) - returns a seemingly random tile, that is the same every time the method is called.  I'm considering ways. to improve that to make larger blocks of random code, without adding much cost here.  Any ideas? I'm not opposed to using polar coordinates, 

#5054189 A good site for kids to work on games together and share them?

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 17 April 2013 - 08:41 AM

Does any one know a good site where younger kids, say ages 8-12, can go to work on game development together, with forums, and content sharing?



#5048885 How should a Mini-Map work on infinite terrain?

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 01 April 2013 - 09:55 AM

-Compress the minimap near the edges. First you see people, then you see houses, then villages, then big cities(, then huge landscapes?) but all the same size. This might be difficult to pull off, but would be certainly interesting. Near youre interested in the small stuff, far youre interested in things like big cities, mountains etc.
Imagine like if it was a sphere, more land area near the edges.

I like this, instead of a rectangular minimap, I could use a magnifying glass.  With each ring out being a lower resolution.  Probably will end up being a lot of work/processing though.


a [+] and [-] key

That seems like a good idea.  +/- buttons/key responses.  


What was the game like btw?

City Builder Game.  Web Based, 3D.  Like Sim City classic but fairly expansive.



Minimaps are kinda useless unless they have symbolic content, such as quest-givers, doors, walls, your mount or pet if it's possible to lose it somewhere, an of course nearby enemies. Water, unclimbable slopes, and gatherables would all be nice too.

You also bring up a good point.  Its not the map that is important, but the content.  It seems that instead of a Map, I need to be looking at how to identify what is important to a player.  And how to get to that.  It doesn't "need" to have a mini map.  More along the lines of another way to list the buildings, alerts, events, etc and get to them quickly.  Such as events show up with an arrow pointing off screen.  you can move to follow the arrow, or you can just click on it, at be taken there.  



I should also consider something else.  I built the engine to have a near infinite map, because the terrain generator was fairly easy to build  (procedural, based on TileX/Y & PlayerId)  Just because I built it, does not mean I should use it.  Limiting a players range could also be part of the games increase over time.originally a 20sqkm to begin with, but then increase it as bonuses.  The range would be limited, but I could set up a function where you just buy more land, each time essentially doubling it, as much as the user wants to spend.


There are several considerations here, and I'll need to weigh them carefully for their value in the end product.


Thanks for everyone's help so far.

#5047315 Rediscover CPU: a very niche educational game

Posted by Dan Violet Sagmiller on 27 March 2013 - 12:15 PM

I think instead of taking on the whole thing, take on just a part or two.  For instance, You get a certain number of drag and drop commands, and a certain problem that must be solved with it.  You explain how the pieces work together, like a push, or a copy, and ultimately get the final value that you need.  You can make the other additional notes available, so people can understand that this game actually is assembly, setting the registers, etc...   As you add more layers, you can slide over to the next section, where you interact with different parts of the processor, and as command types come in, you route them to the different parts of the processor.  Then in another section dive in further. by getting basic gate logic, and create the IC's.  Presenting puzzles to resolve.  Even dive down to the electron, and how it is pushed through the wire at a very slow rate.  Push electrons through like water/pipes game.  but showing how it works.  Add a resistor, a capacitor, and see how it affects the flow.



I think a key trick to this is finding existing games that you can apply the same logic to. IC's could be part of a pipe game.  Some let water through some slow it down, some store it up, but each "pipe" carries the IC symbol.  giving a realistic approach to the nature of it.  Diodes producing one way.   Then you have to get the power back to complete the pipe circuit.  


Handling x86 instructional sets, like having a mask to identify which area of the ship to route the rest of the command through.  This could be like a mail sorting game, or a canal game, opening up the gates based on the first 4 colors on the tip of the ship.  and relating that to binary.  or Hex, 16 color codes for the first letter.


Each style of game play could be continuous.  As the player is working with IC's to control the water flow/return/use, it comes across with quiz questions related to what you've been doing, then continues with the level, and repeats the process.  Once all the quiz questions for that starter level are completed, a new level of that puzzle is introduced.  For instance, proven the use of resistors and lights, now you move on to capacitors and diodes, then add transistors and potentiometers, etc...   then introduce logic gates, to give decisions to the pipes, Not, And, Or, Xor, then memory, etc....   Then add commands structures.  Building the whole thing in pieces, trying to make a game that is fun on its own.  I think I would play this game.