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kseh's blog

Original vision vs actual result

Posted by , 21 September 2012 - - - - - - · 970 views

I found some, early brainstorming notes from before I started my Egg Hunt project. I've added the notes (with a little extra formatting) to my website here. Though at the time I wrote it I think I saw it as less of a brainstorming thing and more of a part of an actual plan. The original idea I have written down as June 2nd, 2010. That's 2 years less a day from the point when I called the project closed. That's not working for 40 hours a week on it though, that's making time during lunch breaks and after work. If I made the project more of a full time job sort of a thing it probably would've been done much faster but I don't think I would have had as much fun.

There's quite a few differences between what I had originally intended and the result I ended up with. I think the original image in my head was something that'd look a bit like an early Metroid game. Didn't come even close to that. I think the differences actually started from about the point where I started coding. Even with my original vision, from the time I started coding I intended on making it a "simple" project. The various attack mechanics that I originally thought of were pushed to the side knowing that they would be a lot of extra work. Besides, what I really wanted to see, above all else, was my character jumping and moving around a randomly generated maze. The vision evolved to something that would be highly kid-friendly. Actually, I was also aiming to make it quite friendly for people like my non-gaming parents. Less arcade twitch, more time to think out what you want to do.

I don't remember referring to those original brainstorming notes at all while I was working. So when I came across them it surprised me a little bit that some of the ideas I thought of as solutions to game play issues were actually written down in some way over a year earlier. For example (though I never implemented it), I was considering a problem I was having with really large mazes with wide spaces between the walls. Not knowing how far it was from where you're standing to the next wall made it difficult to plan how you would traverse the space. After thinking on it awhile I thought of a sort of sonic bark that the snark could do that would travel outwards and bounce off any walls. This would give an indication of how far the player might have to build a bridge. When I read last week, in the original notes, that I was thinking of a sonic attack that would bounce off walls, I wanted to kick myself because coming up with the idea for the distance problem took quite awhile to think of and had I just referred to my notes I would've had the answer right away.

When I rediscovered those notes, I couldn't help but think of those posts that you commonly see in the Game Design forum. Big long wall of text that you don't really want to read (I haven't even reread all of those notes), full of lofty ideas and bright eyed ambition, and one person is going to do it all... well ok, maybe he's gotta find someone to help with the art or something but that's ok because he can code it all himself. He hasn't made any full games yet but has experience programming for quite awhile, is passionate about making games, and is going to see his vision through. It's not a bad attitude to have going in, it is what gets you started after all. But you gotta be prepared to let your vision change as the development flows on. Because it will change anyway.

For those that are curious:
Latest build here.
General instructions can be found here.
Project notes here.

The best screenshots I have handy I posted on this previous journal entry.

Platform game project - Egg Hunt - Post #7

Posted by , 29 June 2012 - - - - - - · 1,004 views

Very little progress with the finishing touches. But one nice little addition is the ability to select level sizes in a settings screen.

Near as I can tell, what would be left to call this thing finished would be some music & sound effects, a title on the title screen, a proper instructions screen, a save feature, an improved game over screen, and maybe moving the maze size setting to main title screen as it's the only setting I'm inclined to make available (unless some crazy motivation suddenly kicks in). If for some reason motivation does kick in again, I'm likely going to just do what I listed there without getting into any further additions. If not then this current build looks like the last one.

I've reached the point where I'd rather play the game than work on it. Between running smack right into the wall of project fatigue and some assorted family unpleasantness, I've severely lost motivation to finish this project. Probably doesn't help that the music that I had hoped to use for this game will never be recorded. It hurts my musician to pick up his guitar any more and so it has been given a permanent place in my home where, despite being warned not to, my failed attempt at tuning it has popped a string. Not like I could ever play the thing anyways. And yeah, my musician not being able to play anymore and the family unpleasantness are the same thing.

Latest build here.
General instructions can be found here.

Platform game project - Egg Hunt - Post #6

Posted by , 01 June 2012 - - - - - - · 681 views

Just want to mention quickly that I have a new build of Egg Hunt available on my website. Over the past week I finally put aside my fear of graphics programming and got some code in to re-size the window and stretch the image accordingly. Hopefully people won't need a magnifying glass to play the game anymore.

A quick thanks to Digitalfragment for confirming that the obvious ratio solution for dealing with objects changing in size was indeed the right way to go. I was second guessing the formula I was using and the whole technique in general but it turned out I just had to stick to it and work out what was missing. It's good to bounce things off of someone from time to time to make sure you're on the right path.

A more extensive bit of rambling about the project can be found in the dev notes on my website here.
Latest build here.
General instructions can be found here.

Platform game project - Egg Hunt - Post #5

Posted by , 25 May 2012 - - - - - - · 818 views

Quick update on the Egg Hunt project (and a couple screen shots).

I've added in a feature where when you eat one of the flowers a "dream" starts up which shows you the relative direction the eggs are. The dream kinda looks like eggs appear from the snark's head and move in a clockwise circular sort of thing, more or less floating around the direction to travel to find the egg. The snark has a sleep animation playing while this goes on and can't be moved. After a while, the eggs go "poof", and you can move again. It really helps you find where all the eggs are and lets you come up with more of a plan to fine them all. I'm a little concerned it makes it too easy but I think by playing around with settings for the number of flowers and the size of the maze, a good balance will be found somewhere.

I have started looking at making settings available before you begin a level. The variables I need are all ready to be used but I'm finding all sorts of code that I want to refactor. I'll probably be spending a bunch of time cleaning up code like that before making a UI available to change the settings.

The version of Egg Hunt that's on my website now has the dream flowers available. No settings are available to change things yet but will probably be in the next build. Also, it's a debug feature that got left in at the moment but after you start a new game, a file called test2.txt gets generated which is a map of the cavern maze. The egg positions aren't given away but it gives an idea of the entire level's layout.

Any feedback or advice would be appreciated.

A more extensive bit of rambling about the project can be found in the dev notes on my website here.
Latest build here.
General instructions can be found here.

Also, just for the heck of it, a screen shot of the game.
Attached Image

and one more showing the snark dreaming about which way to find the eggs.
Attached Image

Platform game project - Egg Hunt - Post #4

Posted by , 20 April 2012 - - - - - - · 1,074 views

Last update was awhile ago and probably the most interesting development is having my nephew test the game out a bit.

I have updated the build on the website. You now have a little title screen that doesn't actually have a title on it yet but there's a button to press to start the game. Doesn't sound very impressive but I think I only had one other game project with any sort of title screen before and none with any real buttons support.

Oh, and the current build has the vertical wrap around removed forcing a player to do more climbing through the maze. As I mention below, I think I'm going to have the vertical wrap around is going to be a difficulty option.

Latest build here (it's still a little rough around the edges).
Some general instructions can be found here.

(from 2012-04-10 dev notes)
I Watched my 5 y/o nephew Thomas play a round of Egg Hunt for awhile on Easter Sunday and it was cool that he said he liked it. It was interesting to watch him play and clearly there's a few things that I need to look into making the game a little more playable for younger people even though he's in a bit younger of an audience than I was aiming for.

I definitely need to have some difficulty setting. He quickly got stuck at the bottom of the world and had a hard time getting out of an area. I think after awhile he would've gotten the hang of the controls more and eventually be able to have become unstuck on his own but I wonder about frustration level. At what point does someone loose interest and just give up? The other side of that though is what I asked before. Why would someone bother trying to learn to ascend through the maze if all he has to do is fall? But then again, I suppose ultimately they have to climb a little. It's unlikely that you can complete a game without jumping. (Is that another badge?)

I'm also thinking that I need a setting for the maze size. Looking at my nephew and knowing the size of the maze, it just felt way too big for him and I have a hard time imagining him finding 5 eggs in that big a maze. I also have a hard time seeing him using the tail pointer effectively. So I'm thinking options for a smaller maze is the way to go. One where you're not aimlessly wandering for hours like I was in the early days.

Other than that I think I still want to do something with the sleeping flowers. Thomas got a kick out of seeing the snark take a nap but I'm sure the novelty would wear off eventually. I do still think a map of some kind might be the way to go.

His positive reaction has revitalized me a bit and makes me want to get back to work on this thing. Logically the next step is the opening menu and settings screen. I can't help but wonder a bit about trying to get this thing to a smart phone. I think control wise simply pressing on the screen to the right or left might work for movement and upward flicks for jumps. Perhaps little icons on the side to eat or spit. I'd have to see what works but it seems plausible. Thomas' issue with playing Angry Birds later on was that he kept hitting the function buttons on the bottom of my phone. I may want to think about that.

Platform game project - Egg Hunt - Post #3

Posted by , 09 March 2012 - - - - - - · 925 views

It's been over a month since my last update. Part of the reason is that I was figuring on not posting anything until I had a video I could post as well (sorry, I still don't have one). And somewhere in there I had managed to convince myself that I haven't gotten much accomplished since my last entry. The day after my last post I had the basic game that I had set out to create. A randomly generated set of caverns that you could interact with and search through to find a few eggs that have been scattered around. Looking back at my Dev log I realize that I've since added a few things that I've come to feel as always having been there.

Additions have come about as I test play and wonder if the game is too easy or too hard. It has certainly been both since my last journal post. Currently I find that it takes me about a half hour to play through a game from start to finish which I think is about the right level of difficulty. At first the lime green eggs stood out very plainly against a black background. I added in a sky background so that the eggs wouldn't stand out so badly which led to adding grass to the ground tiles to camouflage the eggs a little better. The whole thing with camouflaging something behind the grass sprite that I had was something that has been in my mind for years now and I finally could see the results and I was pleased. The graphics are little more than programmer art but it works and I think it works well.

I do wonder a little though if I have some kind of blinders on. I love what I have and I find the game fun to play when I get started but I wonder about a few little things. I added in some various flowers to provide a decorative and distractive element to the game as well as an excuse to provide the snark with powers to help find the eggs. I had found that without any aid it was very difficult to locate all the eggs particularly when it was down to just the last couple. I figured on going with these flowers as they weren't too bad to draw and I figured they'd go nicely with the grass. I now have one flower that gives a sort of egg locator power, I've got one flower that increases jumping ability (which is actually quite useful), and one that increases speed (not as useful as I had though). At that point I ran out of power up ideas and I had 5 flower sprites and I wanted to make sure I use them all. So I figured I'd make them power down sort of things so now one slows down your movement and the other makes you sleep for awhile. They all do what they're supposed to and it's cool that they do what I wanted to but I can't really see why the player would eat any flowers other than the one that gives the egg locator power.

Anyways, some days it feels like I'm running out of steam and some days I get into doing work and I don't want to stop. It's a little harder to get motivated about adding in the title screen and UI stuff. I'm also wondering if I should have a settings screen to enable and disable just about every feature in the game but then I realize that's more UI and I get even less excited about doing that. Still, I want to get this thing to a state where I can feel like I have a finished product not just a mostly finished game.

Oh yeah, and if you can't tell by the title of this journal entry, I've decided to call this game Egg Hunt. Simple, to the point, self descriptive, and I think it draws you in a bit.

Anyways, I've updated my website with the latest build here (it's still a little rough around the edges).
Some general instructions can be found here.
And development notes are here.

Any feedback on the game so far would be appreciated.

Platform game project - post #2

Posted by , 01 February 2012 - - - - - - · 829 views

I think I've mistakenly called the project I'm working on a side scroller when I should've called it a platform game.

I've continued to work on my platform game with some results that I'm pretty happy about. I've been able to eliminate the main issues that I figure would be things people just naturally expected to work right. Little things like the sprite floating above the ground in some cases when you land from a jump or the scrolling not following the character properly or falling in through middle of a tile. I don't think I have ever had any game that I've done work this well. I had a design issue which I discussed in the game design forum and even though the solution I went with wasn't specifically suggested thinking about the reposnses got me on the right track. It's cool how sometimes by just stating a problem to someone else the solution can come to you sometimes. I also added in an egg to the game which can be kicked around like a ball. Eventually I'll have a few of these eggs hidden in the maze to retreive to some location as the main goal of the game.

But for now there's still no actual end game condition yet. I need to add a few more things before I can have an official end. Even then, I find myself almost leaning towards an entirely "achievement" based game. I'm suprised at this because I generally don't find earning achievement badges a very engaging game element. It frequently seems to be something that's tacked on because people are expecting to see that sort of thing these days. But as I've been testing things out I found myself thinking of a couple feats that I wanted to try to accomplish partly for testing purposes and partly because it seemed like something worth trying to do. So I see no reason not to include something to recognise a player's completion of the same tasks.

But then I think about what I plan to have as my main goal (egg retrieving) and I'm not sure if it's a large enough accomplishment compared to the other achievements for it to be an appropriate end game condition. A game that has a bunch of achievement tasks to complete might be fun and all but do they all come together to make the game feel like a cohesive whole? It could just be that I've been watching too many competition shows on Food Network and the things that the judges say about food aren't relavent to creating a game. But I do want this thing to come together well in the end and I'm not sure I'm headed in the right direction.

Anyways, I've updated my website with the latest build here.
Some general instructions can be found here.
And development notes are here.

Any feedback on the game so far would be appreciated.

I don't know if anyone has any interest in reading the development notes but I write them anyways as part of the process I go through when working on stuff so it's nothing for me to make them available. It's basically the thought process I've gone through when working on something in case I ever wonder what the hell was I thinking down the road. I like to think it shows how I've gone from one step of development to the next but it could just be exposing my ignorance and bad practices to the world.

Side Scroller Project - Lab 13

Posted by , 04 January 2012 - - - - - - · 743 views

The past few weeks I've been trying to get something that looks like a side scroller game going. Over all, I'd say things are going well.

Back when I was learning to work with the ANL library I was going all through the documentation that was available trying to figure out what's what. And a little over half way down this page there's this image that looks something like a bunch of smooth interconnecting caverns which made me say, "Dude, I just have to get a map like that going, put a guy in it, and walk through it like a side scroller." Though I suppose most of my words weren't quite that well chosen, I probably did actually use the word, "dude" as the idea seemed pretty cool and I was excited and compelled to try it. That's what this project, Lab 13, is about. A download is available here and development notes and stuff can be found here. It's a work in progress so it's still has its flaws but it's a fun project to work on that's making progress that I can see and I'm thinking I'll do my best to see it through to a polished end.

Attached Image

Working on this project I figured I'd make a point of taking a step back and look at my game loop. I don't know whether I just googled for the wrong things or if my attention span was too short to look harder but it seemed to me that everybody has a different opinion and nothing is reliable. And I really have a hard time believing that the conventional wisdom is that using all of the processor time is fine. It just seems to me to be an improper thing to do unless maybe you're trying to do something that's really cutting edge. Anyways, while working on Lab 13 I'm going to look a bit more into making a few improvements to the base loop that I have going and noting anything I figure might be relevant in the project notes on my website. If I come accross any articles I feel are worth sharing or if I'm otherwise able to collect my thoughts on the matter into something useful, I'll be sure to share them here.

Some experiments with island generation

Posted by , 25 November 2011 - - - - - - · 482 views

This month I've been playing around with JTippetts' Accidental Noise Library to try and get some semblance of a world generator started that I'm happy with. It's been pretty fun to play with and so far, I'm pretty happy with what I've been able to piece together(though not done experimenting yet). I think originally I found the Lua code that he had posted in his journal somewhat intimidating but when I finally noticed the C++ example he had on the Basic Concepts page of his website, I got the courage up to give it a shot.

After a few tries on my own I had some results that I liked much better than what I got from a mid-point displacement test project I tried earlier this year. Not that I thought that mid-point displacement was a bad way to go, it's just that the ANL library made it quite a bit easier to process and add to the data in different ways without having to write and test something on my own. Sortta the whole point of using a library, really.

(attempt at mid-point displacement result)
Attached Image

(after some attempts using ANL)
Attached Image

The results I had come up with were alright but still seemed a bit off so this week I took a stab at following the Lua code that Joshua posted here and rewriting it in C++. I have to say that after working with the library in C++ I can see the advantages the Lua code provide; although personally I'm not quite prepared to dive into using Lua just yet. Anyways, I stopped about half way through his code where he starts on the colorization of the map. Although going on to add the colour would've been cool, at that point it was possible to see the basic results which was what I really wanted to see.

(results following JTippetts' source (minus the colorization) )
Attached Image

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with any of this yet or if it'll actually mean that I'll have a completed game project done at some point but having the tools to get a world together a little easier is very nice to have. Maybe I should look for more libraries for other stuff.

Oh, and a quick thanks to JTippetts for making his library available.

Brief Update

Posted by , in Uncategorized, Noter 21 October 2011 - - - - - - · 718 views

Just a brief update mostly on non-game related stuff.

I've placed the latest build of my Noter project on my website. I've been using it exclusively for about the past month for taking notes at work since the web based wiki that I was using started having issues I didn't care to pursue a solution for. I hadn't really planned on doing much more work on Noter but being forced to actually use it I found a number of issues that were intolerable to live with. I think I'm at a point now where, though it's still rough around the edges, things that you just naturally expect to work do actually work. Also, if anyone is interested this sort of thing, I plan on getting a copy of the code and development notes up next week sometime.

The other thing going on programming wise is that I've joined a group of people at the office that are looking to take the "Microsoft Certified Technical Specialist (MCTS) exam 70-515" which seems to be a certification that says that a you know the basics of .Net web development. We're meeting once a week, going through an exam training book chapter by chapter discussing whatever the chapter was about. Mostly the group is supposed to be an incentive to keep pace and it seems to be working for a few of us. If the various multiple-choice review questions in the book are an indication of what the exam is like, I'm pretty optimistic. Although I can't help but have the sense that I'm not studying or working through the material closely enough. It's a lot of basics that I already know with some specific things are new, none of which is very complicated. But this would be the first cert that I've tried to take since I got my 2 year diploma about 15 years ago that, although centered on a lot of programming, it wasn't really focused on the IT industry. So, I'm a little nervous.

Game wise, I've got nothing. Not even a little work on a sub-project of some kind. I am thinking of spending some time to try and get a handle on programming something for touch phones though that's probably not going to be too game related at first. And as always, I'm always thinking on lots of ideas for life long projects that will probably never see the light of day.

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