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  • Android Build and Performance

    By lawnjelly

    In the last few weeks I've been focusing on getting the Android build of my jungle game working and tested. Last time I did this I was working from Windows, but now I've totally migrated to Linux I wasn't sure how easily everything would go. In the end, it turns out that support for Linux is great, in fact it was easier than getting things up and running on Windows, no special drivers needed. Definitely Android studio and particularly the emulators seem to be better than last time, with x86 emulators running near native speed, and much quicker APK uploads to the emulators (although still slow to the devices, I gather I can increase this by updating them to high Android version but then less good for testing). My devices I have at home are an old Cat B15 phone, 800x480 with a GPU that seems to date from 2006(!), a Nexus 7 2012 tablet, and finally an Amlogic S905X TV media player (2017).  Funnily enough the TV box has been the most involved to get working. CPU issues My first issue to contend with was I got a 'SIGBUS illegal alignment' error when running on the phone. After tracking it down, it turns out the particular Arm CPU is very picky about the alignment of data. It is usually good practice to keep structures aligned well, but the x86 is very forgiving, and I use quite a few structs #pragma packed to 1 byte, particularly in serialization. Some padding in the structures sorted this. Next I had spent many hours trying to figure out a strange bug whereby the object lighting worked fine on emulators, but looked wrong on the device. I had a suspicion it was a signed / unsigned issue in values for diffuse light in a shader input, but I couldn't see anything wrong with the code. Almost unbelievably, when I tracked it down, it turned there wasn't anything wrong with the code. The problem was that on the x86 compiler, a 'char' defaults to be a signed char, but on the ARM compiler, 'char' defaults to unsigned!! This is an interesting choice (apparently on the ARM chip the unsigned may be faster) but it goes against the usual convention for short, int etc. It was easy enough to fix by flipping a compiler switch. I guess I should really be using explicit signed / unsigned types. It has always struck me as somewhat wierd that C is so vague with the in-built types, with number of bits and the sign, given that changing these usually gives bugs. GPU issues The biggest problem I tend to have with OpenGL ES devices is the 'precision' specifiers in shaders. You can fill them however you want on the desktop, but it just ignores them and uses high precision. However different devices have different capabilities for lowp, mediump and highp both in vertex and fragment shaders. What would be really helpful if the guys making the emulators / OpenGL ES on the desktop could allow it to emulate the lower precision, allowing us to debug precision on the desktop. Alas no, I couldn't figure out a way to get this to work. It may be impossible using the hardware OpenGL ES, but the emulator also can use SwiftShader so maybe they could implement this? My biggest problems were that my worst performing device for precision was actually my newest, the TV box. It is built for super fast decoding video at high resolution, but the fragment shaders are a minimal 10 bit precision affair, and the fill rate is poor for a 1080P device. This was coupled with the problem I couldn't usb connect up to the desktop for debugging, I literally was compiling an APK, putting it on a usb stick (or dropbox), taking to bedroom, installing, running. This is not ideal and I will look into either seeing if ADB will run over my LAN or getting another low precision device for testing. I won't go into detail on the precision issues, I wrote more on this on a post here:
    https://www.gamedev.net/forums/topic/694188-debugging-precision-issues-in-opengl-es-2 As a quick summary, 10 bits of precision in the fragment shader can lead to sampling error in any maths done there, especially in texture coordinate math. I was able to fix some of my problems by moving the tex coordinate calculations to the vertex shader, which has more precision. Then, it turns out that my TV box (and presumably many such chipsets) support an extra high precision path in the fragment shader, *as long as you don't touch the input data*. This allows them to do accurate uv coords on large texture maps, because they don't use the 10 bit precision. Menus I've written a rudimentary menu system for the game, with tickboxes, sliders and listboxes. This has enabled me to put in a bunch of debugging features I can turn on and off on devices, to try and find out what affects performance, without recompiling. Another trick from my console days is I have put in some simple graphical performance bars. I record the last 60 frames into a circle buffer and store things like the frame duration, and when certain game tasks took place. In my case the big issue is when a 'scroll' event takes place, as I render horizontal and vertical tiles of the landscape as you move about it. In the diagram the blue bar is where a scroll happens, a green bar is where the ground scroll happens, and the red is the frame duration. It doesn't show much on the desktop as the GPU is fast, but on the slow devices I often get a dropped frame on the scrolls, so I am trying to reduce this. I can turn on and off various aspects of the scrolling / rendering to track down what causes performance issues. Certainly PCF shadows are a big ask on mobiles, as is the ground (terrain) shader. On my first incarnation of the game I pre-rendered everything (graphics + shadows) out to a massive texture at loadup and just scrolled through it as you moved. This is great for performance, but unfortunately uses a shedload of memory if you want big maps. And phones don't have lots of memory.
    So a lot of technical effort has gone into writing the scrolling system which redraws the background in horizontal and vertical tiles as you move about. This is much more tricky with an angled landscape than with a top-down 90 degree view, and even more tricky when you have to render shadow maps as you move.
    Having identified the shadow map pass as being a bottleneck, I did some quick calculations for my max map size (approx 16384x16384) and decided that I could probably get away with pre-rendering the shadow map to a 2048x2048 texture. Alright it isn't very high resolution, but it beats turning shadows off completely.
    This is working fine, and avoids a lot of ugly issues from scrolling the shadow map. To render out the shadow map I render a bunch of 256x256 tiles and copy them to the final shadowmap. This fixed some of the slowness, then I realised I could go a step further. Much of the PCF shadows slowdown was from rendering the landscape shadows. The buildings and objects are much rarer so I figured I could pre-render a low-res landscape shadow texture, and use this when scrolling, then only need to do expensive PCF / simple shadows on the static objects, and dynamic objects. This worked a treat, and incidentally solves at a stroke precision issues I was having with the shadow shader on the 10 bit hardware. Joysticks As well as supporting touchscreens and keyboards, I want to support gamepads, so I bought a bluetooth / wireless gamepad for xmas. It works great with the TV box with wireless dongle, unfortunately, the bluetooth doesn't seem to work with my old phone and tablet, or my desktop. So it has been very difficult / impossible to debug to get analog joystick working. And, in an oversight(?) for the emulator, there doesn't seem to be an option for emulating a gamepad. I can get a D pad but I don't think it is analog. So after some stabs in the dark with docs I am still facing gamepad focus issues so will have to wait till I have a suitable device to debug this. That's all for now folks!
    • 2 comments
    • 594 views
  • ANL Editor, GC Editor, The Future

    By JTippetts

    Following along from the previous post about the node graphs, I have lately pulled the node graph stuff out and have started work also on a standalone editor for noise functions. https://github.com/JTippetts/ANLEditor The editor uses the node graph functionality, along with an output node that provides various functions, to allow one to create graphs of noise that can be used to create textures. The output node allows you to map either a Grayscale or RGBA image output (the Volume button currently does nothing, for now). It can analyze a connected grayscale function to give you a histogram graph of how the function output is distributed, and calculates a set of scale/add factors that could be used to remap the output of the function to the 0,1 range. It allows you to specify seamless mapping settings, and to export images to file. It's all still fairly rudimentary and I still haven't settled on a final save/load format, but all that is in progress. I have also started creating an editor of sorts for Goblinson Crusoe, using some of this editor functionality. It's still in its infancy, but eventually it will allow me to create areas and area pieces for use in randomly generating maps.  Lately, I've been doing some thinking about what I want to do with Goblinson Crusoe. It has become clear to me that it will probably never be a commercial release. It will probably never be on Steam or anything like that. I just don't have the time. I wasted a LOT of my early years spinning my wheels and going nowhere, and now I have so many other things that have to come first (family, full-time job, home-ownership, etc...) that I just don't think I'd ever realistically finish this thing. If I could work on it full-time, perhaps, but mortgage, bills, and the necessity of providing insurance and safety nets for my wife and kids means that isn't feasible. However, I do enjoy working on it, and don't want to just abandon it. Nor do I want it to never see some kind of release. And I would like to see some kind of return on my huge time investment over the years. So I've been thinking of making GC a free and open-source project, linked with a Patreon and/or PayPal for goodwill donations. At least that way, if I die or life gets in the way of further development, at the very least it wouldn't disappear completely. Plus, I might get at least a few dollars from appreciative people along the way. What do you all think? Any advice on how to structure such a thing? Good idea/bad idea?
    • 0 comments
    • 965 views
  • Why Troll Purse Migrated to AWS

    By Martin H Hollstein

    Originally posted on Troll Purse Dev Blog Recently, Troll Purse made the decision to migrate from the cloud in Digital Ocean to Amazon Web Services for cloud and website services. There were several reasons behind this critical decision. These reasons are infrastructure, flexibility, and future plans. Infrastructure Digital Ocean has a nice setup. They have a slick looking User Interface, easy to find services, and awesome community driven documentation. Troll Purse quite liked Digital Ocean if not for a few issues regarding infrastructure in comparison to Amazon Web Services (AWS). Cost Digital Ocean was not overly expensive. However, their base monthly rate ($5 / month + $1 / month for backups), was still higher than hosting a static website on AWS. This is because, to host a static website and blog, Digital Ocean achieves this via Droplets. This does not scale the wallet very well - especially if traffic started to boom. Digital Ocean only offers referral bonuses. So, if we were famous - we could potentially host everything for free. Big gamble at this moment. AWS charges $0.50 / month forRoute 53 (DNS Name Servers) and a variable cost for S3 storage of our static website content. Based on traffic trends, the variable costs of AWS were a huge benefit. Finally, it helps that AWS offers a full year of various resources for free. Continuous Delivery Digital Ocean had a lot of APIs for Continous Delivery of our website, but it didn't offer a full suite of solutions for proper Developer Operations. Digital Ocean would require a lot of extra Developer Operations overhead writing build and deployment scripts using their APIs. AWS integrates with Bitbucket and Github - two services we use for source control. AWS also offers managed build and deployment services that Troll Purse will be leveraging. Architecture Digital Ocean is limited to Droplets. This pales in comparison to AWS's robust EC2, ECS, or serverless services. In AWS, Troll Purse can decouple services and code for various solutions. To do the same distributed computing in Digital Ocean as Troll Purse is enabled to do in AWS would require a significant investment in architecting infrastructure. In AWS, this is vastly done for Troll Purse - once an architecture is designed, only configuration of the services need to be done. With Digital Ocean, Troll Purse had to setup an Nginx server for serving static website content. It did not scale well (without more invested time in building an architecture and more configurations) as all content was stored on that server. In AWS, Troll Purse can distribute web content using Cloud Front for CDN and server static content from S3. Totally serverless and decoupled from the blogging platform and the forum servers (the latter is yet to be deployed). Flexibility In Digital Ocean it was difficult to manage servers and logical groupings of services. AWS offers tagging of resources and services to help better monitor health, costs, and grouping of application services built and provided by Troll Purse. Unfortunately, Digital Ocean does not offer the robust services and infrastructure needed for a company built with development speed in mind. A lot of services need to be hand crafted, as well as servers. This slows development efforts and makes iterative development a nightmare. Using small, simple services each with a specific purpose in mind, Troll Purse is better able to develop an experiment based on the offerings provided by AWS. Digital Ocean only provides five real services, Compute, Object Storage, Block Storage, Networking, and Monitoring. Each of these are small in comparison to comparable AWS services such as Compute Services (ECS or EC2), Storage, Virtual Private Cloud (Networking), and Cloud Watch (Monitoring). In AWS each of those services / categories work with each other or are umbrellas to a myriad of other flexible offerings. Finally, AWS has way more to offer - just take a look! Future Plans After much discussion, Troll Purse concluded our future development needs will be implemented faster and scale naturally in AWS over Digital Ocean. While we enjoyed our brief experience with Digital Ocean, we are excited to build using AWS as our cloud and hosting provider. While we do not plan to build anything with Lumberyard now, we have some exciting projects that will easily leverage the power of AWS. Such projects are backend analytics of our games using Amazon API Gateway, Lambda, and data services. We also hope to build an integrated environment so that each game shares common interfaces into our development and publishing environment.  Conclusion While this blog post is mostly given as an explanation of our tactical decision to migrate to AWS, Troll Purse hopes it will serve as guidance to future developers facing the same decisions. We found that AWS provides a lot for small and large companies when it comes to infrastructure, flexibility, and accommodating future plans. Originally posted on Troll Purse Dev Blog
    • 3 comments
    • 598 views
  • Starting 2018 with GameDev.net - Projects, NeHe, and more

    By khawk

    It's been a few months since the last staff blog update, and I apologize for that. It was a busy end of 2017. We've recently announced several new community features here on GameDev.net that I'd like to go through - if you haven't spent time exploring all of GameDev.net then you might have missed these! GameDev Challenges Spawned from this forum request: GameDev Challenges is a new community "game jam"-like event for developers looking to test their skills or learn through short-form projects intended to take no more than a month or two to develop. Developers who complete the challenges in the allotted time earn a badge on their profile. Of course, developers can complete challenges after the allotted time, but right now the badges are not awarded. Right now we are using the GameDev Challenges forum to manage these (Forums -> Community -> GameDev Challenges), and we're currently on the 3rd challenge where developers need to create a clone of the arcade classic Missile Command. The first two challenges were for a Pong! clone and an Arcade Battle Arena along the lines of the classic Bubble Bobble. I encourage everyone to check out the threads and entries for all the challenges! In the near future we'll integrate Challenges with our latest announcement: Projects and Developer Profiles. Projects As we announced: The Project profile is pretty extensive. We recommend setting up a developer blog for each Project, which can then be used to provide updates for the Project and will show on your Project page. A Gallery is also automatically created for your Project (if you don't already have one), and from there you can upload screenshots and videos of your Project - these will also show in your Project page. The rest of your Project profile includes links to your Project homepage, store links, descriptions, platforms, and other details about your project. You can even upload and manage files for others to download. Here's the feature list from the announcement: Browse, download, and comment on projects from other Developers Provide updates to your project by linking your GameDev.net Blog Create your own Developer profile, including with a GameDev.net subdomain (in progress)! Showcase your Project with screenshots from your project's linked GameDev.net Album Manage your projects through your Developer Dashboard Market your project's website, Facebook, Twitter, Steam, Patreon, Kickstarter, and GameDev.Market pages Track project views and downloads through Google Analytics Upload and manage file downloads for your Project, allowing others to try it out and give feedback Link to your project with an embeddable widget (link auto-embeds on GameDev.net) Showcase your project with a trailer on YouTube or Vimeo Import your project from IndieDB or itch.io Developer Profiles Developer Profiles are a new feature of your GameDev.net profile for showcasing your development team(s). We have basic features for this right now with plans to expand it. You'll find all the settings for your Developer Profile in the Project Dashboard mentioned earlier. NeHe Source Code on GitHub Also mentioned recently is that we've put all of the NeHe tutorial source code on GitHub at https://github.com/gamedev-net/nehe-opengl. We will accept updates to the source code via pull request. NeHe is our long-running OpenGL tutorial site for developers wanting to learn OpenGL in a very accessible, straightforward manner, and is available at http://nehe.gamedev.net. GameDev Loadout Podcast And finally, if you're into podcasts then I suggest checking out our new Podcast section. We've recently partnered with Tony at GameDev Loadout to showcase his podcasts on GameDev.net. Tony interviews industry professionals and indie developers about a number of game development related topics. He's approaching his 80th episode, which is quite a feat! Next? We have bigger plans with Projects, Developer Profiles, and GameDev Challenges, so keep an eye out for more updates. We'll also be re-evaluating the home page in the near future (yes, again) to try to make it easier to find content you're interested in seeing across the entire site. Oh, one last announcement - the Game Developers Conference is quickly approaching, and GameDev.net members can get 10% off All Access and GDC Conference passes using this code: GDC18DEV As always, please share any thoughts and feedback in the comments below!  
    • 3 comments
    • 943 views
  • Learning UniRX

    By ferrous

    So, it's been a while, but @Eck posted, and it inspired me to do a post as well.  I tend to code in spurts when something interests me.  And I get distracted easily.  I came across UniRX as a possible solution to the doldrums of writing event systems and doing SendMessage all over the place, and then decided to learn it by just starting a game from scratch with it.  And using it everywhere, even if it might not be the best fit, just to see what it could do.  What's UniRX?  Well here's a small presentation, and here's a link to the github. So, the game?  A simple RTS, a much simpler version of that turn based tank game that's forever on the back burner.  So the short version Mech Commander, with Tanks instead of Mechs. Let's start with our PlayerController, it basically does two things, unit selection, and sending commands to the selected unit. public class PlayerController : MonoBehaviour { UniRx.ReactiveProperty<Controllable> _selectedObject = new ReactiveProperty<Controllable>(); void Start () { LeftClicks().Subscribe(p => { RaycastHit hit; GameObject go = null; if (Physics.Raycast(Camera.main.ScreenPointToRay(p), out hit, unitLayer)) { go = hit.collider.gameObject; } _selectedObject.Value = go ? go.GetComponent<Controllable>() : null; }); RightClicks().Where(_=> _selectedObject.Value != null).Subscribe(p => { RaycastHit hit; GameObject go = null; if (Physics.Raycast(Camera.main.ScreenPointToRay(p), out hit)) { go = hit.collider.gameObject; if(go.GetComponent<Targetable>()) { if (go != this.gameObject) { _selectedObject.Value.CommandStream.SetValueAndForceNotify(new AttackTargetCommand(go)); } } else { _selectedObject.Value.CommandStream.SetValueAndForceNotify(new MoveToCommand(hit.point)); } } }); } public IObservable<Vector3> LeftClicks() { return Observable.EveryUpdate() .Where(_ => Input.GetMouseButtonDown(0)) .Select(_ => Input.mousePosition); } public IObservable<Vector3> RightClicks() { return Observable.EveryUpdate() .Where(_ => Input.GetMouseButtonDown(1)) .Select(_ => Input.mousePosition); } Okay, so on a basic level, each unit has a Controllable component that is fairly simple, it's basically just a ICommand queue public class Controllable : MonoBehaviour { public UniRx.ReactiveProperty<ICommand> CommandStream = new ReactiveProperty<ICommand>(); public IObservable<GameObject> LatestTarget() { return CommandStream.Where(cmd => cmd is AttackTargetCommand).Select(cmd => ((AttackTargetCommand)cmd).Target); } } And then we have optional components that look at that command stream, like Moveable and Turret.  Lets look at Moveable first, it's really simple at the moment. [RequireComponent(typeof(NavMeshAgent))] public class Moveable : MonoBehaviour { void Start () { MoveCommandStream().Subscribe(p => this.GetComponent<NavMeshAgent>().SetDestination(p));} private IObservable<Vector3> MoveCommandStream() { return this.GetComponentInParent<Controllable>().CommandStream.Where(cmd => cmd is MoveToCommand).Select(cmd => ((MoveToCommand)cmd).Position); } } The turret is a little more complicated public class Turret : MonoBehaviour { IDisposable rotateTowardsSubscription = null; void Start () { this.GetComponentInParent<Controllable>().LatestTarget().Subscribe(target => { if(rotateTowardsSubscription != null) { // Stop any rotations rotateTowardsSubscription.Dispose(); rotateTowardsSubscription = null; } if (target != null) { rotateTowardsSubscription = EveryUpdate().Subscribe(x => { if (target != null) { RotateTowards(target.transform.position); } }); } }); } private RotateTowards() {} // not showing this for brevity's sake, and I'm cheesing it at the moment anyway } And then the WeaponMount which does the actual firing, with a bunch of non-uniRX code culled out, I abstracted it out into separate components for multi gun turrets, or fixed guns, etc, as well as code clarity. public class WeaponMount : MonoBehaviour { [SerializeField] float ReloadTime = 1.0f; BoolReactiveProperty weaponLoaded = new BoolReactiveProperty(false); IDisposable fireSubscription = null; void Start () { this.GetComponentInParent<Controllable>().LatestTarget().Subscribe(target => { // Stop any fire subs if (fireSubscription != null) { fireSubscription.Dispose(); fireSubscription = null; } if (target != null) { fireSubscription = EveryUpdate().Where(_ => CanFireAtTarget(target)).Subscribe(_ => Fire()); } }); weaponLoaded.Where(loaded => loaded == false).Delay(TimeSpan.FromSeconds(ReloadTime)).Subscribe(_ => weaponLoaded.Value = true); }   What's interesting is just how different the code looks from standard Unity code, even coroutine code (Though that's perhaps the closest).  I started to really enjoy it once I managed to wrap my mind around it, it's a rather small amount of code to select, move and attack with units.  Once I'd built up my vocabulary of Linq-like syntax, it makes it very easy to see whats going on and do things like the weapon reload, which is just one line.   Minor quibble: I do wish Unity had greater C# version support, I want to do foo?.Dispose() and be done with it already.
    • 2 comments
    • 738 views

Our community blogs

  1. Hi there,

    this week I was working on following stuff.

    Forest Strike - Dev Blog 4


    Scaling issues

    I was struggling with the scaling issues. As you might have seen, the "pixels" displayed on the screen did not always had the same size. Now, this issue is fixed and it looks way better. Check it out:

    Forest Strike - Scaling issue fix

    Mouse dragging

    Because of the scaling issue, now not all the tiles are visible on one image. In order to navigate through the map, you can now use the mouse and drag the camera around. You're going to use this feature in greater maps in order to navigate your characters and get an overview.

    Forest Strike - Mouse dragging

    Title screen

    Finally, I implemented a title screen. From here, you can navigate to a new game, your settings and exit the game. It is currently under development, so it might change a bit. The background image should stay the same.

    Forest Strike - Title Screen


    That's it for this update. Be sure to follow this blog in order to stay up2date. :3

    Thank you for reading! :D

    As always, if you have questions or any kind of feedback feel free to post a comment or contact me directly.

    Additionally, if you want to know where I get my ideas regarding pixel arts from, you can check out my Pinterest board.

     
  2. Hello everyone!

    Oh, I'm so delighted with the number of views! And gamedev.net even featured our entry on their Facebook page! Thank you for finding this blog interesting! 

    In the last entry, I made a brief introduction of our Egypt: Old Kingdom game. It's not just based on history, we're basically trying to recreate the history in a game form. Of course, it requires a tremendous amount of research!


    Sometimes people ask us: "Why did you choose Hierakonpolis/Memphis as the main location, and not Thinis or some other important settlements?"

    The reply will be: because in order to make the game really historical, our location of choice has to be very well researched. We need a lot of information about the location: events, personalities, buildings, lifestyle. 

    The research was done by the game designer, Mikhail, and I think he can now get his master degree as an Egyptologist because he knows A LOT about Ancient Egypt thanks to his research!  xD He did the research by himself for Bronze Age and Marble Age, but then it got too hard to keep up with both research and game design. For the next game, Predynastic Kingdom, we contacted the scientists from the Center For Egyptian Study of Russian Academy of Sciences (CES RAS). We're lucky they agreed to help! Predynastic Egypt was the first game made with their support.

    For Egypt Old Kingdom Mikhail created a huge database containing most of the known events, places and personalities of the Old Kingdom period:

    5a64470c34901_dffca616076ebecc0b4ebead239864a41.thumb.png.72ad3711babe7a4f859a3caca6d4afbe.png

    Every little thing about the period is studied thoroughly in order to immerse the player deeper in the game. We learn about kings’ deeds, their authority, did they properly worship gods or not, did they start any wars or not. We study climate, soil, vegetation, natural disasters of that period. We learn about the appearance of ancient Egyptians, their dress, their food, their houses.

    Sketches of Egyptians' appearance:

    5a64479231389_4c1e49e02c7cbef62c4d37a685bfcddd1.png.ea1763c326a99dad0ad0f6a0a19e9d10.png

    When the database is ready, Mikhail goes over it with the scientists. They check everything, correct what's necessary, provide more information and details. Like every other science,  history has a lot of controversial points. For example, "The White Walls" of Memphis is something that scientists can't agree about. There are two major opinions about what could it be:

    1. It is the walls of a palace. 

    2. It is the walls of burial grounds.


    In our game, we don't want to take sides, so the scientists of CES RAS inform us about such "dangerous" topics as well. This way we can avoid the controversy and let the player decide which theory he prefers.

    This is Mikhail (left side) discussing the game events with scientists :) In the middle - Galina Belova, one of the most famous Russian Egyptologists. The director of CES RAS to the right.

    5a644bfd20667_de9a44b1a23e268d5a7f26dd5510e15b1.thumb.jpg.adb125edf29c7c9fc6eec38db75997c2.jpg

    During this part of the work we sort out all of the events and divide them in groups: the most important events which must be in the game;  less important events which can be beneficial for the atmosphere of the game; insignificant events.  

    When this part of work is done, and all of the information is sorted out, the design of the game begins. In the process we still keep in touch with the scientists, because some events are not easy to turn in a game at all.

    For example, one of our goals is to make the player fully experience the life of Ancient Egypt. We want to make player think like Ancient Egyptians, to make him exparience the same difficulties. In order to do that we have to know what Egyptians were thinking, and also through the gaming process, we have to put the player in the same conditions as Egyptians had.

    Ancient Egyptians strongly believed that if they would not worship their ancestors and gods properly, the country will experience all kinds of disasters. This belief was unconscious and unconditional, that’s why they were building all those funeral complexes, made sacrifices, trying to please their ancestors. Even cities were built only as a way to please gods and ancestors! They were sure if they will stop properly worship them, the country will be doomed, because ancestors will stop to protect them.

    We wanted to nudge the player to build all these pyramids for the same reasons as Egyptians, and this is how stat “Divine favor” appeared. This stat is mostly necessary to worship the gods’ cults, and player can earn it by working in temples and worshipping ancestors. But what really makes the player to feel like Egyptians did is the feature of “Divine favor” stat – it degrades by 0,1 every turn. It happens because people are dying; hence, there are more and more ancestors that must be worshipped. If player will not pay attention to this stat and it will degrade too much, more and more disasters will start to happen, such as fires, earthquakes, droughts, etc. If will greatly influence the economy and the result of the game.

    That's how we turn history in a game. It can be fun and challenging! There are many other examples of similar transitions. We'll definitely keep working with the scientists, not only Russian, but also foreign. In fact, we hope to engage more and more people in the process of game making.

    That's it for now. Thank you for reading! Comments are very welcome!

    If you would like to know more about the game and follow our social media, here are links:

    Egypt: Old Kingdom on Steam;

    Predynastic Egypt on Steam;

    Our community on Facebook;

    Our Twitter.

  3. Three weeks have passed, a few new people have installed the game. I had the chance to deploy the game also to juniors x86 tablet, where it currently crashes. The tablet does have a gyro sensor, which I thought worked fine when using it on Windows Phone, but apparently the code isn't crash proof enough.

    I've been looking mostly for crashes now, and a handful (well, two in the last 3 days) did appear. The crash info is all over the place. Some have a really great stack trace, other nothing. Some seem to be in between. I reckon this is heavily affected by fiddling with telemetry settings. 

    What I'm also missing on a first glance is the configuration of the crashed app. Since the compile builds executables for x86, x64 and ARM it'd be nice to know which of these were the cause. What's always there is the name, IP, Windows build version and device type of the device that was running the game.

    While the stack traces sometimes help they are only that. You don't get a full dump or local watch info. So you can get lucky and the location of the problem is clear, or you're out of luck. In these last two crashes the stack traces hints on a null pointer on a method that is used throughout the game (GUI displaying a texture section). I suspect that it happens during startup and the code path went inside a function when it wasn't ready. In these cases I can only add a safety check and cleanly jump out of the function. Build, upload, re-certify and next try in 1 to 3 days.

     

    Currently I'm struggling getting remote debugging done on the tablet. I can deploy the app via enabled web portal, but the remote debugger is not properly recognized by Visual Studio. I was hoping for USB debugging as that works nicely on the phone, but had no luck with it.

     

    Well, here's to the next version hoping to get those crashes fixed!

     

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    Recent Entries

    Latest Entry

    1.png.1f031b7b43238d7170f55af0367bfcbd.png

    Here goes my game.

    This challenge is sooooo convenient to me for I have no ability of drawing... :(

    3.png.b3d3a24587e40fb00c4964ae3bda5b20.png

    By finishing it I learned lots of Cocos Creator, which is good at UI effects.

    Thanks a lot for the Challenge!

     

    Download (Windows only):

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/q0l37r5urhqgtup/MissileCommandRelease.zip?dl=0

     

    Source code:

    https://github.com/surevision/Missile_Command_Challenge

     

    Screenshot:

    Spoiler

    1.png.1f031b7b43238d7170f55af0367bfcbd.png

    title

    2.png.9fdfd0204fa9f90ae63e86c7050f8773.png

    gameplay

     

  4. For QLMesh (and some other projects), I am running my own fork of Asset Import Library.  The difference: it is amalgamated build - all sources are merged into one file (including dependencies). Since Assimp recently switched to miniz, I have replaced remaining references to zlib with miniz - so zlib is not required too.

    drwxr-xr-x  85 piecuchp  staff     2890 Jan 17 23:34 assimp
    -rw-r--r--   1 piecuchp  staff  4921627 Jan 17 23:34 assimp.cpp
    -rw-r--r--   1 piecuchp  staff  2893785 Jan 17 23:34 private\assimp.h

     

    Everything you need to buid the assimp is:

    g++ -c -std=c++11 code-portable/assimp.cpp
    

    or just add assimp.cpp to your project/IDE (you can find code-portable directory in my repo.

    One disclaimer: I have only tested this amalgamation under OSX with QLMesh). Main reason for this amalgamation is that it makes compilation/recompilation on different platforms with different configurations rather easier.

    Side-effect is that single-file assimp.cpp compiles really fast (like 10x faster on my MacBook).

    (http://pawelp.ath.cx/)(http://komsoft.ath.cx/)(https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/qlmesh/id1037909675)

    model2-9.jpg

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    I have released my first free prototype!

    https://yesindiedee.itch.io/is-this-a-game

    How terrifying!

    It is strange that I have been working to the moment of releasing something to the public for all of my adult life, and now I have I find it pretty scary.

    I have been a developer now for over 20 years and in that time I have released a grand total of 0 products.

    The Engine

    The engine is designed to be flexible with its components, but so far it uses

    Opengl, OpenAL, Python (scripting), CG, everything else is built in

    The Games

    When I started developing a game I had a pretty grand vision, a 3D exploration game. It was called Cavian, image attached. and yep it was far to complex for my first release. Maybe I will go back to it one day.

    I took a year off after that, I had to sell most of my stuff anyway as not releasing games isn't great for your financial situation.

    THE RELEASE

    When I came back I was determined to actually release something! I lowered my sights to a car game, it is basically finished but unfortunately my laptop is too old to handle the deferred lighting (Thinkpad x220 intel graphics)  so I can't test it really, going to wait until I can afford a better computer before releasing it.

    Still determined to release something I decided to focus more on the gameplay than graphics.

    Is This A Game?

    Now I have created an Experimental prototype. Its released and everything: https://yesindiedee.itch.io/is-this-a-game 

    So far I don't know if it even runs on another computer. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!

    If you have any questions about any process in the creation of this game design - coding - scripting - graphics - deployment just ask, I will try to make a post on it.

    Have a nice day, I have been lurking on here for ages but never really said anything.....

    I like my cave

     

    ScreenSat27.jpg

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    Last week we made a draft design document to visualize the global structure of the game. 
    choconoa_levels.png

    Because the levels are linear with a lot of verticality and the camera free, we are trying to find a good solution for the boundaries. Of course it will be heavily filled with environments deco but we want don't want to spend a lot of time making sure there are no holes! And we don't want invisible walls which are not obvious. So I tried with a depth-faded (using depth fade for the intersection between the wall and the other objects, and a camera depth fade) magic wall like this:

    giphy.gif

    Now the chantilly path automatically conform to the ground:

    giphy.gif

    As much as possible we try to save time by creating tools like this:

    giphy.gif
     

  5. This will be a short technical one for anyone else facing the same problem. I can't pretend to have a clue what I was doing here, only the procedure I followed in the hope it will help others, I found little information online on this subject.

    I am writing an Android game and want to put in gamepad support, for analogue controllers. This had proved incredibly difficult, because the Android Studio emulator has no built in support for trying out gamepad functionality. So I had bought a Tronsmart Mars G02 wireless gamepad (comes with a usb wireless dongle). It also supports bluetooth.

    The problem I faced was that the gamepad worked fine on my Android tv box device, but wasn't working under Linux Mint, let alone in the emulator, and wasn't working via bluetooth on my tablet and phone. I needed it working in the emulator ideally to be able to debug (as the Android tv box was too far). 

    Here is how I solved it, for anyone else facing the same problem. Firstly the problem of getting the gamepad working and seen under linux, and then the separate problem of getting it seen under the Android emulator (this may work under Windows too).

    Under Linux

    Unfortunately I couldn't get the bluetooth working as I didn't have up to date bluetooth, and none of my devices were seeing the gamepad. I plugged in the usb wireless dongle but no joy.

    It turns out the way to find out what is going on with usb devices is to use the command:

    lsusb

    This gives a list of devices attached, along with a vendor id and device id (takes the form 20bc:5500).

    It was identifying my dongle as an Xbox 360 controller. Yay! That was something at least, so I installed an xbox 360 gamepad driver by using:

    https://unixblogger.com/2016/05/31/how-to-get-your-xbox-360-wireless-controller-working-under-your-linux-box/

    sudo apt-get install xboxdrv

    sudo xboxdrv --detach-kernel-driver

    It still didn't seem to do anything, but I needed to test whether it worked so I installed a joystick test app, 'jstest-gtk' using apt-get.

    The xbox gamepad showed up but didn't respond.

    Then I realised I had read in the gamepad manual I might have to switch the controller mode for PC from D-input mode to X-input. I did this and it appeared as a PS3 controller (with a different USB id), and it was working in the jstest app!! :)

    Under Android Emulator

    Next stage was to get it working in the Emulator. I gather the emulator used with Android Studio is qemu and I found this article:

    https://stackoverflow.com/questions/7875061/connect-usb-device-to-android-emulator

    I followed the instructions here, basically:

    Navigate to emulator directory in the android sdk.

    Then to run it from command line:

    ./emulator -avd YOUR_VM -qemu -usb -usbdevice host:1234:abcd

    where the host is your usb vendor and id from lsusb command.

    This doesn't work straight off, you need to give it a udev rule to be able to talk to the usb port. I think this gives it permission, I'm not sure.

    http://reactivated.net/writing_udev_rules.html

    Navigate to etc/udev/rules.d folder

    You will need to create a file in there with your rules. You will need root privileges for this (choose to open the folder as root in Nemo or use the appropriate method for your OS).

    I created a file called '10-local.rules' following the article.

    In this I inserted the udev rule suggested in the stackoverflow article:

    SUBSYSTEM!="usb", GOTO="end_skip_usb"
    ATTRS{idVendor}=="2563", ATTRS{idProduct}=="0575", TAG+="uaccess"
    LABEL="end_skip_usb"
    SUBSYSTEM!="usb", GOTO="end_skip_usb"
    ATTRS{idVendor}=="20bc", ATTRS{idProduct}=="5500", TAG+="uaccess"
    LABEL="end_skip_usb"

    Note that I actually put in two sets of rules because the usb vendor ID seemed to change once I had the emulator running, it originally gave me an UNKNOWN USB DEVICE error or some such in the emulator, so watch that the usb ID has not changed. I suspect only the latter one was needed in the end.

    To get the udev rules 'refreshed', I unplugged and replugged the usb dongle. This may be necessary.

    Once all this was done, and the emulator was 'cold booted' (you may need to wipe the data first for it to work) the emulator started, connected to the usb gamepad, and it worked! :)

    This whole procedure was a bit daunting for me as a linux newbie, but if at first you don't succeed keep trying and googling. Because the usb device is simply passed to the emulator, the first step getting it recognised by linux itself may not be necessary, I'm not sure. And a modified version of the technique may work for getting a gamepad working under windows.

  6. NeutrinoParticles is a Real-time Particles Effect Editor and it is a new extraordinary editor on the market.www.neutrinoparticles.com

    What makes this editor recognisably different than other editors is, it allows you to export the effects to the source code in JavaScript or C# which makes them extremely compact and fast, and it is absolutely FREE.

    MacOS and Linux users may use WINE to run the editor for now. Native packages will be available soon.

    Particles Effect Editor, JavaScript, C#, Unity, PIXI Engine, Generic HTML

    The software has some renderers for JavaScript (PIXI Engine, Generic HTML) and for C# (Unity, C# Generic).

    For example, if you use PIXI on your projects, you only need to copy/paste several lines of code to make it work.

    Moon2.png

    Fire3.png

    Birds5.png

    Home Page (54).png

  7. We've uploaded a video to our Dailymotion account that is a full length recording of the intro text scene we've been working on for the game.  This was interesting to do because we've never done animations that are timed and sequenced.  The intro quickly details the lore a bit, who you are (good), who's the bad guy, and some history behind your powers and training.  This is one of the first things we've made for the game that is actually a playable part (not a test level, or rigging to get controls right).  Follow for more updates on the game, hope to show the tutorial section of the game quite soon.

    Crystal Dissention Intro Text Trailer - Dailymotion video

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    Game Programming Resources

    5a610531495ba_gameprogrammingresources2.thumb.png.0024fd7e0c8f4a6533bb2b56faab4c32.png

    Rodrigo Monteiro, who has been making games for twenty years now, started a thread on Twitter for sharing his favorite game programming resources. I then collected those and a few responses and indexed them into a Twitter moment here:

    Here’s what was in the thread: 

    Game Networking: https://gafferongames.com/categories/game-networking/

    Development and Deployment of Multiplayer Online Games by IT Hare / No Bugs’ Hare is a multiplayer game programming resource split into nine volumes; the first of which is available here on Amazon.

    Linear Algebra: 

     

    Geometry – Separating Axis Theorem (for collision detection): http://www.metanetsoftware.com/technique/tutorialA.html

    How to implement 2D platformer games: http://higherorderfun.com/blog/2012/05/20/the-guide-to-implementing-2d-platformers/

    Pathfinding: https://www.redblobgames.com/pathfinding/a-star/introduction.html

    OpenGL Tutorial: https://learnopengl.com/

    Audio Programming: https://jackschaedler.github.io/circles-sines-signals/index.html

    OpenAL Effects Extension Guide (for game audio): http://kcat.strangesoft.net/misc-downloads/Effects%20Extension%20Guide.pdf

    Entity Component Systems provide an alternative to object-oriented programming.

    Entity Systems are the future of MMOG development: http://t-machine.org/index.php/2007/09/03/entity-systems-are-the-future-of-mmog-development-part-1/

    What is an entity system framework for game development? http://www.richardlord.net/blog/ecs/what-is-an-entity-framework.html

    Understanding Component-Entity-Systems: https://www.gamedev.net/articles/programming/general-and-gameplay-programming/understanding-component-entity-systems-r3013/

    Alan Zucconi blogs about shaders and game math for developers on his site: https://www.alanzucconi.com/tutorials/

    AI Steering Behaviours: http://www.red3d.com/cwr/boids/

    Bartosz Olszewski blogs about game programming here: gamesarchitecture.com

    How to write a shader to scale pixel art: https://colececil.io/blog/2017/scaling-pixel-art-without-destroying-it/

    Here’s podcast on C++ programming: http://cppcast.com/archives/

    http://gameprogrammingpatterns.com/

    Note: This post was originally published on my blog as game programming resources.

  8. Main character : Zoile.

    First shared concept art ! Please give me your tough about him (comment below, share and subscribe). My first intention was to reveal the plot, but I felt like the blog was missing some more visual support. 10 followers and we will unlock a new character next week :)

    Today's question: who was your favorite game, cartoon or comic book heroes and why ?

    Zoile.png.bc3430c98f2c83225c6ed0b94e0e13e7.pngZoile_noarmor.png.723aa0325d5b87b6871647fcfa155b01.png

    Zoile is the main character of a group of three. In our game, you will have the chance to control 3 main character, each having individual weakness and strength. You will be able to control them all at the same time and all the time ! How you will control them will be covered in an upcoming post, but promise to be a fun and unique way of handling different skill set. I remember one of my old time favorite arcade game 1989 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. My favorite character was Michelangelo, but Donatello had this long stick that could reach enemy from a much further distance making him the best choice to fight the first boss Rocksteady which I felt was the strongest of the game beside Shredder. It was always annoying to have the choice between the one I liked and the one that was most capable to handle that situation. I felt the same thing playing many RPG like Diablo, II and WoW where you just can't invest enough time in all classes and you always dreamed to mix and match class skill to get the best possible character you could build that would match your play-style. How we approach that problem will be reveal soon.

     

     

    Quote

    At this point in time, you may feel that ETs are old-dated, unrefreshing and filled with "cliché", think again. I swear that our anti-heroes are different and that the plot and the phylosophical humorous twist that will be explored in this universe is very different and refreshing from what you have in mind.

    Zoile is the self-proclaimed leader of our squad. He is particularly strong physically for his race and possesses a quick wit, few have dared to challenge him. His descent gave him a high level of  self-confidence and Zoile quickly became imbued of himself. Afraid of none, he sees himself as one of the best fighters of his race and has an unwavering pride of his homeland. He was born from a war hero and has always dreamed of becoming a full member of the prestigious flying squad of the 452b Pekler Interplanetary Army. After several failures in the admissions exam, Zoile became very mean and bitter towards others. After 4 years of attempts, he finally was accepted as a low rank recruit. It is said that his father intervened with the council so he could have the chance to demonstrate his value. Unfortunately, many disciplinary problems and conflict with other members have confined him in low rank function. After several difficult years with the squad, the high council allowed him to create a small squadron with two members of his choice for his first mission. He, unsurprisingly selected the only two members with whom a sincere friendship was developed. The two members accepted the honor after a convincing patriotic speach from Zoile and since then he has taken his role with the great honor. Despite is strong wrong and frequent fight with his two friend, he is willing to give everything to show to everyone that his team is the best, because he is the best leader and a good leader can bring weak soldier to great honor.

    You can see Zoile with and without his armor set and a typical ray-gun weapon. The Zarin are a humanoid skinny race from a nearby planet.

    Zarin, as a race, are mostly peaceful, minding their own business and seeking knowledge. They have an equivalent length of evolution compared to human, but they took a different path. They are scared about a recent discovery they made that put their world at risk of what they call the "multicolored tall people invasion". More info about the Zarin will be shared in an upcoming post !

     

    Thanks, please share your opinion, it's very valuable. 5 comments and we publish a video tutorial on how to draw it.

     

     

     

  9. I'm a man on a Mobile Gaming Quest (MGQ) to play a new mobile game every day, and document my first impressions here and on YouTube. Below is the latest episode.

    Run, swipe, die. Rinse and repeat. Seriously, Glitch Dash looks gorgeous but might just be the most difficult arcade game I've played on mobile (well, apart from Flappy Bird). Avoiding the swinging hammers and laser beams is pure torture, but extremely satisfying when you finally complete each level. 

    The game's currently in beta, but I decided to include it as I was having a lot of fun with it, and I figured some of you might want to signup for the beta.

    In terms of monetization, you start out with ten lives, which you'll quickly burn through, and get 10 new lives after 120 seconds, or immediately by watching an ad. Luckily, we can also remove the life system entirely through a $2 IAP. 

    My thoughts on Glitch Dash:


    Google Play: https://www.signupanywhere.com/signup/nvip99qq
    iOS: https://www.signupanywhere.com/signup/nvip99qq

    Subscribe on YouTube for more commentaries: https://goo.gl/xKhGjh
    Or join me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mobilegamefan/
    Or Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nimblethoryt/
    Or Twitter: https://twitter.com/nimblethor

  10. Latest Entry

    New inventory interface framework

    DOMEN KONESKI

    I established a new inventory interface framework by writing a new logical layer on top of the current system. By doing this we can now save a lot of coding and designing time. The system is generic which means UI elements are built on the fly and asynchronously. For example, we load sprites from the pool if they already exist in the memory, else we load them asynchronously from the resources – disk. Everything feels seamless now, which was the primary goal in mind while recreating the system.

    UI_inventory_lowpoly_floatlands.png?fit=

    New logical layer introduced new item manipulation techniques while having your inventory open:

    • By hovering over an item, a description panel shows which holds information about your item such as item name, description and quality;
    • By dragging one item onto another one, swapping or merging becomes possible;
    • If you right click on an item, you can split it if there is enough room in your inventory;
    • If you left click while holding left-shift, you can transfer an item instantly to another inventory panel.

    giphy.gif

    Harvesting world resources

    DOMEN KONESKI

    World resources such as stone veins, metal veins, niter veins, crystals and trees now have a harvesting feature – items (wooden logs, ores) now drop while mining/harvesting the resource which significantly improves resource gathering feature of Floatlands:

    resource_gathering_lowpoly_floatlands.pn

    Critters

    ANDREJ KREBS

    We started adding some more critters to the game. These will be harmless small animals and robots that will add some more life to the game. So far I’ve modeled, rigged and animated the hermit crab and the spherical robot. I also added a missing animation to the rabbit.

    Foliage

    ANDREJ KREBS

    I have prepared some undergrowth foliage to make the nature more varied and interesting. They’re made in a similar way the grass, bushes and treetops are made, with alpha transparent textures on planes.

     

    giphy.gif

     

    Companions

    MITO HORVAT

    Roaming around the world can sometimes feel a bit lonely. So we decided to implement a companion to follow you and keep you company as you play. Companion won’t just follow you arround and be useless, they’ll be a valuable asset early in the game. For instance, they’ll help you gather resources with their set of utilities. They’ll even provide the source of light during the night!

    As with any concept design task I’m given, I usualy sketch a bunch of ideas on a small collage. In this case we then printed it and everyone in the office picked their 3 favourites.

    companion_concepts_lowpoly_floatlands.pncompanion_sketch_lowpoly_floatlands.png?

    Based on that decision I combined the elements of the companions everyone picked and came up with the following concept. It’s also important that the companion has elements that you can find in the game, to give it the unique aesthetic look.

  11. I took the last two weeks of December off for holidays, so no production was done for Spellbound during that time. I met up with my friend Russel (Magforce7) for an afternoon at my office and gave him a demo of Spellbound in VR. He works for Firaxis, so it was interesting to compare notes on development and production. Without a doubt, he's a lot more experienced with production and development, so I tried to glean as many tips and tricks as I could. It was also his first time trying VR, so I gave him a bunch of quick VR demos so that he could get familiar with the medium and how to interface with it. It's interesting to compare the differences between producing a traditional video game vs. a room scale VR video game.

    In terms of production, I've written out the complete narrative manuscript for Episode 1 of Spellbound and have begun shopping it around to anyone willing read it. It's not "done" by any stretch, it's just the first draft, and the first draft is always going to be susceptible to lots of revisions. Currently, it's about 40 pages in length. That's about what I had expected. Now, I need to go through and do a ton of polishing passes. I think of the story sort of like one of those JPG images which loads over a slow internet connection. The very first version of the image is this highly artifacted mess which barely holds a semblance to the actual image, but with each pass, the resolution of the image improves and the details get more refined each time, until you end up with a perfectly clear image.

    With regards to writing narrative for a VR game, I think the pass process is going to be a lot more convoluted. The first pass is just trying to write the story itself and figure out what the story even is. The writer explores a bunch of different directions and the final product is the choices by the writer which yield the most interesting story. But, you can't just take the story of a writer and plop it into a VR game and call it perfect. In fact, the writer must keep in mind the medium they're writing for and what the capabilities of that medium are. If you're writing a script for a movie, you have to think about what scenes you're going to create and possibly consider a shot list, and also think about the actors who will portray your characters and the acting style. You can effectively frame the shot of the scene to show exactly what you want the audience to see. That's a great amount of power and control over the audience experience. Writing for VR is completely backwards. I have to preface this by saying that I'm a novice writer and have never written a script, much less, a script for VR, so take my words with a hefty grain of salt. My writing technique mostly consists of putting myself into the body of the character. I am that character. That character has a personal history. A personality. A style. Stated interests, and unstated secret interests and ambitions. Character flaws, and character strengths. I see the scene from the eyes of the character, see the state of the world, listen to what was just said, and then react based on the traits of my embodied character. The character should always be trying to progress their ambitions. Character conflict should happen when ambitions collide. When it comes to VR games, the protagonist is the player themselves, so you have to keep in mind that the protagonist has agency which the writer can't control. They experience the story from the first person perspective, through the eyes of the character they embody. So, whatever happens to the main character also happens to the player. With VR, the player brings their own body and hands into the scene, so those are things the writer can interface with. Maybe the player gives a bow to a king? What if they don't bow before royalty? Maybe when you meet a new character, they extend a hand to give a handshake? What happens if you don't shake their hand? Maybe a character comes forward to give the player a huge hug? The secret sauce for VR is finding these new ways to develop interpersonal connections with characters in the world and using that to drive story and player experience. I try to keep this at the forefront of my mind when writing for VR -- first hand player experience is king. I also want to give my characters depth, so I do this mostly through subtle narrative exposition, mostly in the form of ambient banter between characters. For the sake of simplicity of production, the main character doesn't have narrative conversation choices. This means I don't have to create conversation trees or user interfaces for dialogue choices and the flow of dialogue can be seamless and uninterrupted.

    I am starting to audition for character voices. I've got a list of local voice actor talents and am asking a few of them to send me a few demo lines from the manuscript and a quote for their day rates. It's hugely inspiring to hear the voices of the characters saying the lines I've written. It feels like these characters might actually exist somewhere outside of my imagination, and I owe it to them to give them the very best lines I can come up with to portray their nature and ambitions correctly. A few people have read my manuscript and given mostly positive feedback, so that suggests that I'm roughly on the right track. I'm going to spend a few days taking it to various writers meet up groups and getting critical feedback, so this will help me immensely to get to a higher level of polish and clarity. If you're interested in reading the manuscript and my production notes, feel free to read the google doc and supply feedback in the comments below:

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IvNYNf9NqtdikD6UZuGq-rUo9yU5LVqqgIlWsz6n2Qs/edit?usp=sharing

    (Note: It's a work in progress, so you can see changes happening live as I edit it.)

    The ideal is to write a story which is so compelling that it grabs people and makes them want to read it. I want to be able to drop a 40 page manuscript in someones lap and tell them to read it. They'll be thinking, "oh god, more bullshit. I don't want to read this crappy novice writing. I'll humor them and read two pages." So, they read two pages. It's good. They decide to read another page. It's also good. In fact, it's getting better. They turn to the next page to keep going. Wow. It's actually a decent story. They keep turning pages. Forty pages later, they're surprised to have read the whole thing and they are left wanting more. It's a pleasant surprise. The story should be good enough that it stands strongly on its own legs. It doesn't need anything else to be a compelling experience. Now, if you experience the same story in VR, and characters act out their lines, and the voice acting is stellar, the experience of the story is just multiplied by the talent and quality. This is the ideal I'm shooting for. Spellbound will be a story centered VR game, rather than a game which happens to have a shallow story layered on top. It's worth taking the time to nail the story and get it right, so I'm taking my time.

    When the manuscript is complete, I'll have voice actors voice out each of the characters. I really don't want to have to do a lot of dialogue resamples, so I need to make sure that the first time a line is voiced is also the last time it's voiced. The goal is to avoid revisions. So, how do I do this? My current plan is to polish the story and get it as close to perfection as possible. Hiring voice actors costs money. When I drop voiced lines into the game, I am going to need to know whether the line works in the current scene with the current context. So, a part of the creative writing process will require for me to experience the scene and adapt the writing for context and length through a bunch of iterations. I'm going to voice act my own characters with a crappy headphone mic and use these assets as placeholders. It'll be a really good way for me to quickly iterate on the character interactions and player experience. I kind of feel silly, like I'm just playing with dolls who are having a conversation with each other. But hey, maybe that's really the core of script writing in hollywood too?

    On a personal note, I've decided to give up all social media for a month. No facebook, no twitter, no reddit, no youtube, etc. The primary reason is because it costs me too much time. Typically, my day starts by waking up, pulling out my laptop and checking twitter and facebook for updates to my news feed. That costs me about 30-45 minutes before I get out of bed. Then I go to work. I get to work an hour later, start a build or compile, and since it's going to take 5 minutes to complete, I decide "Hey, I'll spend five minutes checking facebook while I wait.". That five minutes turns into twenty minutes without me realizing it. And this happens ten times a day. I can easily waste hours of my day on social media without consciously realizing it. It adds up, especially over the course of days and weeks. And for what? To stay updated and informed on the latest developments in my news feeds? Why do I actually care about that? What value does it add to my life? How is my life better? Or, is my life actually better? What if social media is actually unhealthy? What if its like cigarettes? Cigarettes cause lung cancer with prolonged use, so maybe social media causes mental health problems like depression, low self worth and narcissism with prolonged use? What if social media is inherently an anti-social activity? Anyways, I've consciously decided to abstain for a full month without social media as an experiment. So far, I'm five days in and realizing how much I was using it as an outlet for self expression. Something happens to me and my default reaction is, "Oh, this would be good to share in a post!", and now I realize "Oh, I can't share this on social media. Who am I actually trying to share this with? Why am I trying to share this? Can I just forget about sharing and just relish the experience in this fleeting moment?" The secondary effect of abstaining from social media is that I'm also trying to pull away from technology a bit more so I can find a more healthy balance between technology and life. Currently, if I'm not staring at a screen, I'm at a loss for what to do with my time. Should I really live my whole life staring at glowing rectangles? Is there more to life than that? How would I feel if I'm laying on my deathbed and reflecting on my life, realizing that I spent most of it looking at screens?

    I need new hobbies and passions outside of screens. So, I've picked up my old love for reading by starting in on some fantasy books. Currently, I'm well on my way through "The Way of Kings" by Brandon Sanderson. I'm reading his first book slowly, digesting it sentence by sentence, and thinking about it from the eyes of a writer instead of a reader. It's an amazingly different experience. He's got some amazingly clever lines in his book, and there are some amazing pieces of exposition which the author uses as a proxy to share his own attitudes and life philosophies. I am going to steal some of the writing techniques and use them myself.

    I'm also still doing VR contract work on the side in order to make money to finance my game project. The side work is picking up slightly and I'm getting better at it. I have this ambitious idea for a new way to create VR content using 360 video and pictures. Most clients are trying to capture an experience or create a tour of something in VR and taking audiences through it. Essentially, it's mostly just video captured in 360 and then projected onto the inside of a sphere, and then setting the player camera at the center of the sphere. It's somewhat simple to implement. My critique is that this isn't a very compelling virtual reality experience because it's really just a passive experience in a movie theater where the screen wraps all around the viewer. There's very little interaction. So, my idea is to flip this around. I'd like to take a 360 camera and place it at various locations, take a photograph/video, and then move the camera. Instead of having a cut to the next scene, the viewer decides when to cut and where to cut. So, let's pretend that we're creating a virtual reality hike. We incrementally move the 360 camera down the trail, 50 feet at a time, for the entire length of the hike. A hike may not be perfectly sequentially linear, there may be areas where you take a detour to experience a look out on the side of the trail. So, on the conceptual data structure level, we are going to have a connected node graph arranged spatially, and the viewer will transition between connected nodes based on what direction they want to go on the hiking trail. I'll have ambisonic audio recording, so you'll be able to hear birds chirping in the trees and a babbling brook in the side of the trail, etc. The key difference here is that the viewer drives the pace of the experience, so they can spend as much or as little time as they want, experiencing an environment/scene, and since they can control what nodes to visit next, they have agency over their entire experience. This is the magic of VR, and if I get a prototype proof of concept working, I think it can be a new type of service to sell to clients. I can go around Washington State and go create virtual recreations of hikes for people to experience. There's some beautiful hikes through the Cascade mountains. We have a desert on the eastern half of washington, filled with sage brush and basalt lava rocks. We also have a temperate rainforest on the Olympic peninsula, where we get 300+ inches of rain a year, with six feet of moss hanging off of tree branches. The geography, flora and fauna are somewhat unique to Washington state, so if I can create a library of interactive virtual reality experiences of various parts of our state, it would be a pretty cool experience, where you can get virtual tours of various parts of the state. It would almost be as good as visiting in person and a good way to preview a place you might want to experience. IF it is a popular form of content, I can expand my content library by offering virtual reality tours of other parts of the world people wouldn't otherwise be able to visit. Would you like to explore the tropical jungles of Costa Rica? Would you like to climb the mountains of Nepal? Would you like to walk around in Antarctica? Would you like to go to the Eiffel Tower? If I do this right, I could create a fun VR travel channel and combine some educational elements to the experience. It would be a good way for me to get out of the office and experience the world. I'm currently working on building a prototype proof of concept to figure out the technical side and user interface, and will probably have something rough built out by the end of the month. This could turn into a cool new way to do interactive cinema in VR. I haven't seen anyone else do something like this before, but I may just be under informed.

  12. Meteor Bombardment 1 Devblog 01

    • Genre: Fixed Shooter
    • Engine: Unity
    • Platform: PC
    • Art Style: 8-bit Pixel Graphics
    • Current State: Technical Design Phase - 30% Complete

     

    Game Description

    Aliens from a distant planet have begun redirecting meteors and attack ships at earth in order to wipe out as much of the population as possible before they invade. Using the only salvaged alien attack ship, you must work to destroy the meteors before they impact with earth and kill off its population.

     

    Development Status Overview

    Conceptual design for the game is completed. Technical Design has begun, which involves defining how meteors and attack ships will travel, how many hits needed to destroy meteors and attack ships, as well as level design theory.

    Attached to this blog is the album for the game which includes the conceptual design image. When Technical Design is completed images regarding the technical aspects will be uploaded to the same album, with a new developer blog posted.

     

    Project General Goals

    1. Concept Design
    2. Technical Design
    3. Recruit Team
    4. Develop Game
    5. Test Game
    6. Launch as Free Title
  13. 2018 has already been a busy year. The Gears of Eden team has been hard at work as we prep for our Alpha 2 release. For our art and dev team, that means designing and implementing in-game resources. For our writing team, that means research and planning. But, combined, that means we get the chance to test our cool new toys and show them off for everyone to see.

    To accomplish this, our team recently held our first Gears of Eden Discord Day. In case you don't know, Discord is an app that allows gamedevs to make their own chat servers and share images and info with people who join (here's YOUR invite). We shared our new rover design, talked about influences for the game, explained how this project got started, and streamed the first meeting between our old rover and the new one. Check out the first meeting: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/208097308?t=12m04s

    Since then, the art team has been hard at work on base design and updating our UI. We've gone over quite a few models looking to find the right fit for our game. Because the bases are to be used by rovers, and modular (read expandable!), we decided that design must be functional rather than just aesthetically pleasing.

    GearsOfEden_SmallBase_Form-Langu.thumb.jpg.c80456b2dc2e538cf3b0dc9d51e7b26f.jpg

    The images above were just a few samples that we reviewed, and we are getting closer and closer to deciding what the base design will be for Alpha 2. Based on these images, our team was able to render a sample of the base in-game.

    DRLh22sUIAAvY8k.thumb.jpg.7e35a5a415186f74d311a87a29f4d4da.jpg

    As mentioned, our UI is being updated to be more intuitive and provide better information for players. Instead of clicking on the gears to craft using the inventory, there will be separate tabs implemented. The Crafting tab will show all blueprints collected, which you will then be able to craft from if you have the resources.

     

    With that in mind, we've been doing some more Twitch streaming. Some of that has been development videos, and some of that has been members of our team showing off some games we enjoy playing. Here you can see Sledge going over the new UI, testing out the new rover, and doing some crafting: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/210491947?t=02m54s

     

    We're making a lot of progress, but Alpha 2 is going to be a critical phase for us. Right now, we're doing all our development at our own costs, with a small team. Once Alpha 2 is out, we're going to have to find a way to secure some financial backing if we want to finish our demo in a reasonable timeframe. That's where you come in. We really, really need your help in growing our audience. Please engage with us, and follow us on our various social media accounts to help spread the words to others. Like, comment, share. And, if you're able, you could always support our endeavors at our donation rewards page, or through Patreon. We literally cannot make this game with you. Thank you so much!

    This is going to be so fun! We can't wait to show you everything we've been working on these past few months, and it'll be a great stamp on this stage of development! If you want to see how we get all this done as we get it done, follow us on Twitter, Twitch, and Facebook for all the latest and greatest news on Gears of Eden.

  14. Corona’s engineers have slipped a couple of really cool features into recent daily builds that may have not caught your attention.

    Emitter Particles and Groups

    Previously, the particles emitted from an emitter became part of the stage until they expired. This would create problems with the relative positioning of the particles if your app needed to move the emitter. If you moved the emitter as part of a parent group, it didn’t create a natural look. Emitters can now have their particles be part of the parent group the emitter is in. This was added to daily build 2018.3199.

    emitter.gifTo use this feature, you can set emitter.absolutePosition to the parent group of the emitter. Previously you had the options of true or false to determine if the positioning was absolute or relative to the emitter. By passing a group, it’s now relative to the group. You can download a sample project to see the feature in action.

    Controlling iOS system gestures

    On iOS when you swipe down from the top, it shows the Notifications panel. When you swipe up, you get the control panel. If you have UI elements in your game that are near the top of bottom in areas that are likely to result in swipe gestures, it would be nice to be able to control that. Now you can! Starting with daily build 2018.3193, you can use native.setProperty( “preferredScreenEdgesDeferringSystemGestures”, true ) to have those swipes just show a swipe arrow and a second swipe to activate the panels.

    We have more great things in the pipeline so watch this space for news and updates.


    View the full article

  15.  

    Mobile games still represent the highest growing niche among apps. The mobile game market worldwide is supposed to touch $46 billion in the present year. In spite of this staggering growth, just 10% of the game apps can actually be called commercially successful as per the growth and ROI they achieved. Naturally, rethinking the strategy and planning for something effective to market mobile games will continue. Based on the experience of the near past, what are the key marketing tips for mobile games we can consider in 2018? Let us have a look.

    5a2b8e97bcf6b_8WaysYouCanRetainYourGamePlayerforLonger-Nimblechapps.thumb.jpg.af5d3f68ecb1632c34f9da7a2710d244.jpg

    1) Localization will be key

    To make your game connect its audience in different parts of the world your game needs to speak the language of your audience in different local markets. There are many markets that are far from dominated by any single language, and often these markets offer the bigger untapped potential for new game apps. While localising the game language is crucial, there are other considerations as well.

    Localisation should also be offered through a selection of payment methods. The selection of payment methods should be made available as per the penetration of such methods in respective markets. For instance, markets having lower credit card penetration should be given other methods of payment for the game players. In some markets, third-party payment solution or third party publishing rights may be good solutions while in others they may not.

    2) Consider the latest In-app purchase (IAPs) trends

    Throughout 2017 In-app purchase has dominated the mobile app marketing space, and it has been the most effective and revenue earning strategy. In-app purchases have earned $37 billion in app revenue in 2017 alone. In spite of the fact that just 5% of game players actually end up spending money through IAPs, this monetisation avenue is credited for 2000% more profit compared to other avenues.

    In the months to come, In-app purchase (IAP) will be more specific in targeting game players with new tools and tweaks like limited period events, behavioral incentives and dynamic pricing. We can also expect more games to adopt several different types of virtual currency for payment. Specially targeted offers for some game playing audience will also be a key trend.

    3) Consider these social media hacks

    Social media will continue to feature more prominently in the mobile game marketing. There will be a few effective social media hacks and effective strategies that will dominate mobile game marketing in 2018 and beyond.

    When planning marketing for your new game apps on social media, you need to prioritise social platforms based on the type of user your game app will be entitled for. There are plenty of social platforms, but the app that can work on Facebook may not work well on Pinterest. It obviously depends on the audience.

    When it comes to marketing your game on Facebook, you need to build up excitement for the game for several months prior to your launch and based on the reaction of your launch should launch the game app to generate maximum buzz.

    Pinterest can be a great medium if you can register various screenshots and app related images in an appealing manner to the visual database of the platform. Pinterest works great if you have a separate website for the app to draw and engage traffic.

    Reddit, on the other hand, can be a good platform to track information and spot marketing opportunities of your game app. Lastly, make use of social analytics to track and monitor your game playing audience and activities.

    4) Paid games

    You may have discarded paid apps already as a monetisation strategy, but in the last year only there have been several highest grossing paid mobile games. In fact, there has been $ 29 billion revenue from the paid apps alone. Yes, we know that nearly 98% of paid apps in Play Store are free apps, but to your surprise, many of these apps are now coming with a mix of strategies by offering paid sister apps. Often value additions like new graphic contents with these paid sister apps can actually boost engagement from the audience.

    5) Game ads rewarding players

    Mobile game players are more habituated with promotional contents compared to other app users. With the traction and engagement for in-app ads to garner any substantial revenue often a game needs a huge audience or players to earn a substantial value. This is why game ads need to be thought in a completely new light. Rewarding game players for watching game ads have come up with a really effective strategy. Around 80% of game players prefer watching video ads for game rewards.

    6) In-game sponsorship

    Sponsored contents within mobile games continued to remain another popular aspect of many mobile games in the recent years. It started way back in 2015 when Angry Birds players were allowed to kill the awful pigs by Honey Nut Cheerios as long as for 2 whole weeks and thus promoting another game app. Soon, several other games followed this trend which incorporated elements of other game apps in the gaming actions for the purpose of sponsorship. It works great specially for developers who have multiple game apps with a few successful ones across the board. In the present year, we can see mobile game developers to reduce dependence on the in-app purchase by embracing these rewarded and sponsored ads.

    7) Merchandising game products

    Merchandising your game-related products to the game players is still effective for too many mobile games. But it needs at least a certain level of commercial success for the game app. Only when your game has a widespread following and enjoys a niche branding, you can come up with the marketing of in-game characters shaped into real life products like t-shirts, stuffed toys, game-inspired cars, and even notebooks or coffee mugs.

    In conclusion

    All these strategies and avenues seem to have one thing in common, and it is more about connecting audience more specifically and in a targeted manner. In 2018, we can expect these strategies evolve further.

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    Recent Entries

    It's been awhile since I've been on this site.  Been busy at work, but as with all contracting, sometimes work gets light, which is the case as of the new year.  So I saw this challenge, and thought it might be fun to brush up on my skills.  I've been working mainly with embedded systems and C#, so I haven't touched C++ in awhile, and when I have, it's been with an old compiler, that's not even C++11 compliant.  So, I installed Visual Studio 2017, and decided to make the best use of this.

    Time is short, and I don't exactly have media to use, so I decided to just go out and start to learn Direct2D.  I have little experience with any modern form of C++, and zero experience with Direct2D and XAudio.  Whereas I didn't mind learning Direct2D, I fully admit XAudio presented a bit of problems.  In the end, I blatantly stole Microsoft's tutorial and have a barebones sound system working.  And unlike the Direct2D part, I didn't bother to spend much time learning what it does, so it's still a mystery to me.  I'm not entirely sure I released everything correctly.  The documentation said releasing IXAudio2 would release objects, and when I tried to manually delete buffers, things blew up, so I just let it be.  There are most likely memory leaks there.

    As you can plainly tell, this is by far the worst entry in the challenge.  This is as much of a learning experience as an attempt to get something out the door.  I figured, if I couldn't be anything close to modern, at least be efficient.  And I failed at that miserably.  Originally I wrote this in C.  Excluding the audio files, it came out to a whopping 16 KB in size, and memory usage was roughly 6 MB.  And then I decided to start to clean up my spaghetti code (I said start, never said I finished), and every time I thought I was getting more clever, the program grew in size and memory usage.  As of right now, it's 99 KB and takes up roughly 30 MB RAM on 720p resolution.  I haven't really checked for memory leaks yet, and I'm sure they exist (beyond just the audio).  In reality, I'd prefer to clean up a lot of the code.  (And I found a few errors with memory management, so I need to track down where I went wrong.  I removed allocating memory for the time being and pushed everything onto the stack.)

    The other thing is, this code is ugly.  Towards the end, I just started taking a patchwork approach rather than keeping it clean.  I was originally hoping for modularity, but that got destroyed later on.  And I'd love to replace the pointers that are thrown liberally throughout the code with smart pointers.

    Unlike the other entries, I only have missiles for the gameplay.  I didn't include UFOs, airplanes, smart bombs, nor warheads.  I just don't feel I had enough time.  Yes, there's still a couple weeks to go, but I'd prefer to cleanup what I have than add new features.  And unfortunately, I was a bit shortsighted, which caused problems later on.  There are multiple places where the code is far more verbose than it needs to be, because I wasn't properly focused on the correct areas.  I wanted to make it scalable, and I focused making the game a 1:1 ratio internally, yet displayed 16:9 to the user, which caused massive problems later on.  I ended up having to do math on pretty much every piece of graphics and game logic whereas if I had just displayed it as 1:1, or handled the internals in 16:9, I could have shaved off a thousand lines of code.  And it also caused problems with hit detection, which is another reason I didn't bother adding in anything but missiles.

    The hit detection was a mess.  I had everything mapped out.  The game was going to work whether a missile went 1 pixel a second, or 1000 pixels a nanosecond.  Calculating moving objects and collision with circles or boxes is easy.  Unfortunately, I was using ellipses.  And while there are formulas for that, I'll admit my eyes started to glaze over at the amount of math that would be required.  In the end, I decided to leave it buggy, and only detect if it was currently in a static ellipse, which is easy and fast enough to calculate.  I mean, I guess if the program freezes up, the user was going to lose a city/silo anyway, or lose it if the missile was traveling at light speed, but it's still a bug, and still annoys me, especially since everything else was calculated regardless of what the user sees. (*EDIT* Thinking about this more, the solution was right in front of me the entire time.  Just squish the world back to 1:1 and do the hit detection that way).

    Controls:

    1,2, and 3 control the missiles, and the arrow keys control the cursor.  Escape for the menu, and Enter for selection.  I've only tested this on Windows 10, as I'm pretty sure it requires those libraries.  It's a 64-bit executable.

    MCDemo.png

  16. I am looking for a programmer who is interested in making an indie game called Space Hockey. The design document can be downloaded from my blog on GameDev.Net. There are also over 600 pages of material relating too my 14-game Pirate Dawn Universe on this blog.

    For now I am only looking for a programmer who is capable of making Space Hockey, and together we can assemble the rest of the team from there. I am looking for someone who is at least near 30 years old and has finished at least one game before. I don't want to distract younger people from establishing themselves in a career with the lure of making games, and I want someone who has made at least one game before so that they understand going into it how much work that entails even for a simple game like Space Hockey. It doesn't have to be a game that was published, the whole point is just that you understand how much work it is to actually finish it.

    I am not looking to just make something to post on an indie site somewhere, the goal here is to eventually have Space Hockey for sale on Steam. As can be seen in the design document, once that has been achieved there is a lot of expansion of this that could take place resulting in half-a-dozen or so DLC expansions. This would begin as a hobby/indie project but will, hopefully, someday become a commercial game company. Assuming that Space Hockey and its DLC expansions were successful, the goal would be to transition into a commercial game company and begin work on the 14 games of my Pirate Dawn Universe.

    I have been designing games and simulations since before the computer game industry existed, for about 40 years now. I don't say this out of arrogance. It is simply a fact of time that today, in 2018, I am one of the most experienced and knowledgeable game and simulation designers in the world. Although the very simple Space Hockey does not use it, a physical construct that I call “Rube” is the fundamental basis of what you know as “The Matrix”. Rube is also the fundamental basis of cyberspace, an insubstantial holodeck, and a self-programming computer with omniscient communication. The later games of the Pirate Dawn Universe such as Territories, Mission, Clash of the Titans, and the Struggle of the Ancients games are all based on Rube.

    The Pirate Dawn Universe is a sci-fi universe focused on space ship games. Lost Art Studios games are based on the 300 years of game design that came before computer games. They are not, for the most part, based on past computer games. This is only one of the things that makes these games unlike any computer games that have ever existed before. As a former member of the SFB Staff, there is no competition out there for Lost Art Studios when it comes to making space ship games for the computer. If LAS can get off the ground, competing within this genre in the modern game industry would be like hunting rabbits with a 120mm cannon.

    This will begin as a hobby/indie project to create Space Hockey, and we can establish a typical deal where those who contribute to the creation of the game receive some form of payment if and when the game actually makes money. I really don't care about the money very much and am open to anything that works. The true goal, however, is to get Lost Art Studios off the ground as a commercial game company that will very easily dominate the space ship game genre with its 40 years of accumulated knowledge of the Star Fleet Universe community. And, of course, Rube... which also partly comes from the SFU. Even if Lost Art Studios manages to get off the ground, we would not attempt to develop a truly large or complex game at first. Part of the plan within the design of the games of the PDU is that the first three games are smaller and more simple games to make.

    Territories is a prequel, that “Civilization scale war game” is first chronologically but can be made at any point during the telling of the PDU story. The actual first three games are intentionally simple to make. As an MMO Pirate Dawn is “massive” from the player's perspective, but it it is actually a fairly small and simple game too make. The “massiveness” of Pirate Dawn is an illusion too the player. The game itself isn't actually “massive”, the simple arcade game maps are. Manifest Destiny and The Trade Wars, what would be the second and third games, are both smaller and easier to produce than Pirate Dawn is. They are both intentionally minimalist strategy economic war game “scenario generators” where the focus is heavily on the tactical combat resolution (which is not 3D). Lost Art Studios would not even attempt to make a “big game” until we were on our fourth release.

    If you are interested in helping to create Space Hockey, with a plan already place to keep going from there, you can contact me through my blog on GameDev.Net or my e-mail address:

    From Astral Invasion...

     

  17. I've created a project page for the U3DTerrainEditor I have been working on. Project now includes a downloadable Windows binary so you can try it out. Warning: rough code ahead. It's still a pretty unpolished project, but you can do some cool stuff with it regardless.

    Your first terrain:

    1) Download the archive, unpack, and execute either run_opengl.bat or run_d3d11.bat. Alternatively, you can execute TEdit.exe or TEdit_D3D11.exe directly, passing arguments on the commandline; ie, 

    TEdit.exe LuaScripts/terraineditor.lua -w

    to run windowed instead of borderless. The batch scripts execute in borderless windowed mode.

    2) Click on the NodeGraph button in the toolbar, represented by 3 boxes linked by lines. A window will popup in the lower right. Click new to create a new Node Group, then click Edit to edit the new node group. An overlay window will popup with a + button to create nodes, and an output widget.

    3) Click on +, navigate to library, then click on ridged. A node for a Ridged fractal should appear. Change the value of the Frequency input to 3. Click and drag on the output link of the node, and drag the link to the input of the output widget. When the link is established, click the Preview button. The preview pane should fill with a preview image of the node function.

    4) At the bottom of the output widget, ensure that Terrain is selected as the Output Target, then click Execute. After a brief processing pause, you should see the terrain change in the background. Press 'm' to close the node window.

    5) Click on the Filters button. (It looks like a magic wand). From the list of filters, select Erosion. In the Power box, enter an erosion power (or just stay with 0.3, which is a decent choice). Power values can range from 0 to 0.5. Click Execute. After a brief prcoessing delay, the terrain should change again showing the results of the erosion applied.

    6) From filters, select the Cliffify filter. In the dropdown box for Layer, select Layer 7. Press execute. After processing, the terrain should change so that steep areas show a cliff-like texture.

    7) Select the Cavity Map to Layer filter. In the Layer dropdown box, select Layer 2, then press execute. The terrain should change again, showing sandy texture in the bottom of hollows and depressions.

    8) Press the Terrain Options button (represented as a gear wheel). Select the Save button next to the Terrain: label, enter a filename, and hit Save to save the terrain heightmap to a PNG file. Heightmap will be saved as a standard RGB PNG, with height stored in the Red and Green channels. Red is the coarse height, and Green is finer detail data, allowing the heightmap to represent more than just 256 levels of elevation and making a smoother heightmap. Height can be extracted as Red + Green/255.0f.

    Of course, there is a lot more you can do with it. There are brushes for manually editing terrain, texture layers and masks. You can use masks to protect areas from being edited or modified. You can create a spline (use 'q' and 'e' to remove and create knots) then use the Road filter or River filter to create areas of road and river. You can export the texture blend layers as well as a normal map. Some stuff still might not be hooked up right, and as always this is a work in progress.

    If you have any feedback or suggestions, let me know.

  18. Hi everyone!

    It has been more than two months since I released I Am Overburdened and since I wrote a devlog entry. Please accept my apology for this, I was super busy with the release and support of the game. But now I’m back with an in-depth analysis how the overall production and final numbers turned out ;) .

    Summary

    I want to do a fully detailed breakdown of the development and business results, but I don’t want break it up into a typical postmortem format (good, bad, ugly). I’ve drawn my conclusions, I know what I have to improve for my upcoming projects, but I don’t want to dissect the I Am Overburdened story this way, I want emphasize how much work goes into a game project and focus more on how a journey like this actually looks and feels like. If you really want know my takeaways, here it goes in a super short format: I consider the game a success from a development perspective (good), but I failed from a marketing and sales standpoint (bad and ugly).

    Now I go into the details, but will focus more on the objective “what happened, how it went, what it took” parts.

    Development

    The game started out as a simple idea with a simple goal in mind. I partially abandoned my previous project, because it ballooned into a huge ball of feature creep, so I wanted to finish a more humble concept in a much shorter time period. The original plan was to create a fun game in 4 months. I really liked the more casual and puzzle-y take on the roguelike genre like the classic Tower of the sorcerer game, or the more recent Desktop dungeons and the Enchanted cave games so I set out to create my own take. I designed the whole game around one core idea: strip out every “unnecessary” RPG element/trope and keep only the items/loot, but try to make it just as deep as many other roguelikes regardless of its simplicity. From this approach the “differentiating factor” was born, a foolishly big inventory, which helped me to define and present what I Am Overburdened really is.

    A silly roguelike full of crazy artifacts and a “hero” who has 20 inventory slots.

    Most of the prototyping and alpha phases of the development (first two months) went smoothly, then I had to shift gears heavily…

    2017_02_11_screenshot_1

    Reality check

    After 3 months of development, when all of the core systems were in place and when I deemed big parts of the content non-placeholder, the time came to show the game to others. I realized something at that point, forcing me to make a huge decision about the project. The game was not fun :( . The idea was solid, the presentation was kind-of ok, but overall it was simply mediocre and a month of polishing and extra content in no way could change that!

    2017_04_01_screenshot_3

    Back than I was super stressed out due to this and I thought about this as my hardest decision as a game maker, but looking back I think I made the right choice (now I feel like I actually only had this one). I decided to postpone release, explore the idea further even if it doubles!!! the originally planned development time (and it happened :| ) and most importantly I decided to not make or release a “shovelware”, because the world really isn’t interested in another one and I’m not interested in making/publishing one…

    Final scope

    So after 4 months of development, feeling a bit glum, but also feeling reinvigorated to really make the most out of I Am Overburdened I extended the scope of the design & content and I also planned to polish the hell out of the game :) . This took another 4 months and almost a dozen private beta showings, but it resulted in a game I’m so proud of, that I always speak of it as a worthy addition to the roguelike genre and as a game that proudly stands on its own!

    screenshot_2

    Some numbers about the end result:

    It takes “only” around 30 to 40 minutes to complete the game on normal mode in one sitting, but due to its nature (somewhat puzzle-y, randomized dungeons & monster/loot placements + lots of items, unlocks and multiple game modes), the full content cannot be experienced with one play-through. I suspect it takes around 6 to 12 full runs (depending on skill and luck) to see most of what the game has to offer so it lends quite a few hours of fun :) . There are 10 different dungeon sets and they are built from multiple dozens of hand authored templates, so that no level looks even similar to the other ones in one session. They are populated by 18 different monsters each having their own skill and archetype (not just the same enemy re-skinned multiple times). And the pinnacle, the artifacts. The game has more than 120 unique items, all of them having a unique sprite and almost all of them having unique bonuses, skills (not just +attributes, but reactive and passive spells) and sound effects. This makes each try feel really different and item pickup/buy choices feel important and determinative. The game was also localized to Hungarian before release, because that is my native language so I could do a good job with the translation relatively fast and this also made sure, that the game is prepared to be easily localized to multiple languages if demand turns out to be high.

    boxart_animated_art_portrait

    Production numbers

    How much code I had to write and content I had to produce all in all to make this game? It is hard to describe the volume/magnitude with exact numbers, because the following charts may mean a totally different thing for a different game or in case of using different underlaying technologies, but a summary of all the asset files and the code lines can still give a vague idea of the work involved.

    2018_01_09_chart_files

    Writing and localization may not sound like a big deal, but the game had close to 5000 words to translate :o ! I know it may be less than the tenth of the dialogue of a big adventure or RPG game, but it is still way larger than the text in any of my projects before…

    2018_01_09_chart_text

    I’ll go into the detailed time requirements of the full project too after I painted the whole picture, because no game is complete without appropriate marketing work, a super stressful release period :P and post-release support with updates and community management work ;) .

    Marketing

    If you try to do game development (or anything for that matter) as a business, you try to be smart about it, look up what needs to be done, how it has to be approached etc… I did my homework too and having published a game on Steam before I knew I had to invest a lot into marketing to succeed, otherwise simply no one will know about my game. As I said this is the “bad” part and I’ll be honest. I think I could have done a much better job, not just based on the results, but based on the hours and effort I put in, but let’s take it apart just like the development phase.

      • Development blog/vlog
        I started writing entries about the progress of the game really early on. I hoped to gather a small following who are interested in the game. I read that the effectiveness of these blogs are minimal, so I tried to maximize the results by syncing the posts to at least a dozen online communities. I also decided to produce a video version because it is preferred over text these days + I could show game-play footage too every now and then. I really enjoyed writing my thoughts down and liked making the videos so I will continue to do so for future projects, but they never really reached many people despite my efforts to share them here and there…
        icon_simple_mono_round_small
      • Social media
        I’ve tried to be active on Twitter during development, posting GIFs, screen-shots and progress reports multiple times a week. Later on I joined other big sites like Facebook and Reddit too to promote the game. In hindsight I should have been more active and should have joined Reddit way earlier. Reddit has a lot of rules and takes a lot more effort than Twitter or Facebook, but even with my small post count it drove 10 times more traffic to my store page, than any other social media site. Since the game features some comedy/satire and I produced a hell of a lot of GIFs, I tried less conventional routes too like 9gag, imgur, GIPHY and tumblr, but nothing really caught on.
        icon_twitter_small
      • Wishlist campaign
        I prepared a bunch of pictures up-front featuring some items and their humorous texts from the game. I posted one of these images every day starting from when the game could be wishlisted on Steam. I got a lot of love and a lot of hate too :D , but overall the effectiveness was questionable. It only achieved a few hundred wishlists up until the release day.
        2018_01_08_wishlist
      • Youtube & Twitch
        For my previous Steam game I sent out keys on release day to a 100 or so Youtubers who played any kind-of co-op game before, resulting in nearly 0 coverage.
        This time I gathered the contact info of a lot of Youtubers and Twitch streamers upfront. Many were hand collected + I got help from scripts, developer friends and big marketing lists :) ! I categorized them based on the games they play and tried talking to a few of those who played roguelikes way before release to peak their interest. Finally I tried to make a funny press release mail, hoping that they will continue reading after the first glance.
        I sent out 300 keys the day before release and continued the following weeks, sending out 900 keys total.
        And the results?! Mixed, could be worse, but it could be much better too. 130 keys were activated and around 40 channels covered the game, many already on release day and I’m really thankful for these people as their work helped me to reach more players.
        Why is it mixed then? First, the videos did generate external traffic, but not a huge one. Second, I failed to capture the interest of big names. I also feel like I could have reached marginally better results by communicating lot a more and a lot earlier.
        icon_youtube_small
      • Keymailer
        I payed for some extra features and for a small promotion on this service for the release month. It did result in a tiny extra Youtube coverage, but based on both the results and the service itself all in all it wasn’t money well spent for me (even if it wasn’t a big cost).
        icon_keymailer
      • Press
        This was a really successful marketing endeavor considering the efforts and the resulting coverage. I sent out 121 Steam keys with press release mails starting from the day before release. Both Rock Paper Shotgun and PC Gamer wrote a short review about it in their weekly unknown Steam gems series and the game got a lovely review from Indiegames.com. Also a lot of smaller sites covered it many praising it for being a well executed “chill” tongue-in-cheek roguelike :) . The traffic generated by these sites was moderate, but visible + I could read some comforting write-ups about the quality of the game.
        2018_01_09_press
      • Ads
        I tried Facebook ads during and a bit after the release week + in the middle of the winter sale. Since their efficiency can not be tracked too well I can only give a big guesstimate based on the analytics, sales reports and the comparison of the ad performances. I think they payed back their price in additional sales, but did not have much more extra effect. I believe they could work in a bigger scale too with more preparation and with testing out various formats, but I only payed a few bucks and tried two variants, so I wouldn’t say I have a good understanding of the topic yet.
        icon_facebook_small

    Some lifetime traffic results:

    2018_01_09_traffic

    So much effort and so many people reached! Why is it “bad”, were the results such a mixed bag? Well, when it comes to development and design I’m really organized, but when it comes to marketing and pr I’m not at all. As I stated I never were really “active” on social media and I have a lot to learn about communication. Also the whole thing was not well prepared and the execution especially right at the release was a mess. The release itself was a mess :( . I think this greatly effected the efficiency! Just to be more specific I neglected and did not respond in time to a lot of mails and inquiries and the marketing tasks planned for the launch and for the week after took more than twice as much time to be completed as it should have. I think the things I did do were well thought out and creative, but my next releases and accompanying campaigns should be much more organized and better executed.

    Time & effort

    I don’t think of myself as a super-fast super-productive human being. I know I’m a pretty confident and reliable programmer and also somewhat as a designer, but I’m a slowpoke when it comes art, audio and marketing/pr. For following my progress and for aiding estimations I always track my time down to the hour level. This also gives me confidence in my ability to deliver and allows me to post charts about the time it took to finish my projects ;) .

    Important thing to note before looking at the numbers: they are not 100% accurate and missing a portion of the work which were hard to track. To clarify, I collected the hours when I used my primary tools on my main PC (e.g.: Visual Studio, GIMP), but it was close to impossible to track all the tasks, like talking about the game on forums & social media, writing and replying-to my emails, browsing for solutions to specific problems and for collecting press contact information, you get the idea… All in all these charts still show a close enough summary.

    2018_01_09_chart_time_final

    2018_01_09_chart_time_final_pie

    2018_01_09_chart_time_implementation

    2018_01_09_chart_time_content

    2018_01_09_chart_time_marketing

    288 days passed between writing down the first line in the design doc and releasing the game on Steam. I “logged” in 190 full-time days. Of course more days were spent working on the game, but these were the ones when I spent a whole day working and could track significant portion of it + note that in the first 4 months of the project I spent only 4 days each week working on I Am Overburdened (a day weekly were spent on other projects).

    Release

    So how the release went? It was bad, not just bad, “ugly”. After I started my wishlist campaign, close to the originally planned date (2017. Oct. 23.) I had to postpone the release by a week due still having bugs in the build and not having time to fix them (went to a long ago planned and payed for vacation). I know this is amateurish, but the build was simply not “gold” two weeks prior to release :( . Even with the extra week I had to rush some fixes and of course there were technical issues on launch day. Fortunately I could fix every major problem in the first day after going live and there were no angry letters from the initial buyers, but having to fight fires (even though being a common thing in the software/game industry) was super tiring while I had to complete my marketing campaign and interact with the community at the same time. The game finally went live on Steam and itch.io on 2017. Nov. 2 :) ! I did not crunch at all during development, but I don’t remember sleeping too much during the week before and after launching the game. Big lesson for sure :| .

    2018_01_09_steam2

    I saw some pictures about the game making it to the new and trending list on Steam, but it most probably spent only a few hours there. I never saw it even though I checked Steam almost every hour. I did saw it on the front-page though, next to the new and trending section in the under 5$ list :) . It spent a day or two there if I remember correctly. On the other hand, itch.io featured it on their front page and it’s been there for around a whole week :) !

    2018_01_09_itchio2

    With all the coverage and good reviews did it at least sale well, did it make back it’s development costs, if not in the first weeks at least in the last two months?

    Nope and it is not close to it yet…

    Sales

    In the last two months a bit more than 650 copies of I Am Overburdened were sold. Just to give an overview, 200 copies in the first week and reached 400 by the end of November, the remaining during the winter sale. This is not a devastating result, it is actually way better than my first Steam game, but I would be happier and optimistic about my future as game developer with reaching around 3 to 4 times the copies by now. To continue as a business for another year in a stable manner around 7 to 8 times the copies total (with price discounts in mind) during 2018 would have to be reached. I’m not sure if the game will ever reach those numbers though :| . If you do the math, that is still not “big money”, but it could still work for me because I live in eastern Europe (low living costs) + I’m not a big spender.

    2018_01_09_sales

    Of course this is an outcome to be prepared for and to be expected when someone starts a high-risk business, so I’m not at all “shocked” by the results. I knew this (or even a worse one) had a high chance. No matter how much effort one puts into avoiding failure, most of the game projects don’t reach monetary success. I’m just feeling a bit down, because I enjoyed every minute of making this game, a.k.a. “dream job” :) , maybe except for the release :D:P , but most probably I won’t be able to continue my journey to make another “bigger” commercial game. I may try to build tiny ones, but certainly will not jump into a 6+ months long project again.

    Closing words

    It is a bit early to fully dismiss I Am Overburdened and my results. It turned out to be an awesome game. I love it and I’m super proud of it. I’m still looking for possibilities to make money with it (e.g.: ports) + over a longer time period with taking part in several discount events the income generated by it may cover at least a bigger portion of my investment. No one buys games for full price on PC these days, even AAA games are discounted by 50% a few months after release :| , so who knows…

    If you have taken a liking to play the game based on the pictures/story you can buy it (or wishlist it :) ) at Steam or at itch.io for 4.99$ (may vary based on region).

    icon_steam_small icon_itchio_small

    As an extra for getting all the way here in the post, I recorded a “Gource” video of the I Am Overburdened repository right before Christmas. I usually check all the files into version control, even marketing materials, so you can watch all the output of almost a year of work condensed into 3 minutes. Enjoy ;) !

    Thank you very much for following my journey and thanks for reading.
    Take care!

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    Recent Entries

    I've always loved video games.  As a child, I spent hours playing on my Atari 2600, on our home PC, or at a friend's house on his Nintendo and Super Nintendo.  As time went on, I discovered QBasic and started to learn to make simple programs.  It clicked - this is how the creators of the games were doing it!

    From there, I became very interested in learning about the creation process.  I experimented, read articles in magazines, and as the World Wide Web took off I ventured online to learn more.  Games got bigger and fancier, and some of them in special editions with documentaries about the creation, and I loved all of it.

     

    Well funded teams of hundreds of people were now working to create fantastic games with hours of gameplay and breathtaking visuals.  I read articles and watched "making of" documentaries which described how developers would work long hours, forgoing days off, working late nights, and sometimes even sleeping in the office to meet deadlines.  I was so impressed with the effort and dedication they put in.

    How much must you love a product to give up your nights and weekends, and spend time away from your family to finish it off?  This was how great games were made, and I was in awe of the industry and the process.  This was what I idolized.  This was what I aspired to.

     

    I was wrong.

    The process I have described above is not necessary, and it is not cool.

    Developers do not need to sacrifice their free time, their sleep, and their health to create great games.  The science is in.  Numerous studies have shown that well-rested people are more productive and less prone to mistakes.  The stress of this schedule and lack of sleep is profoundly damaging to people's health, causes burnout, and drives talented developers away from our industry.

    Just think about a cool feature that you loved in a AAA game.  If the team went through a period of crunch, the developer who created that feature may have burned out and left the industry - they might not be creating awesome things for gamers anymore.

     

    We should not idolize a process that is harmful to developers.  When we hear about crunch, the overwhelming reaction should be that this is not ok.  Crunch is not cool, and developers still using this process should work towards a better way.

    Happier, healthier developers will produce better work, and in the long run, they will produce it more efficiently.  Happier, healthier developers are more likely to stay in our industry rather than seeking greener pastures, resulting in more people with extensive experience who can then work on more advanced tasks and ideas, and push the industry forward.

     

    Thankfully, a growing number of developers have moved on or are moving on from this toxic culture of overtime and crunch, and a growing number of people are willing to speak up.  Unfortunately, it's far from everyone, and there are many developers still exploiting workers.

     

    I'm putting my foot forward to say that I do not support a culture of overtime and crunch.  We can do better, and we need to do better.  I'm not the first person to share these sentiments, and I'm not an influential person, but I hope I won't be the last, and if I can convince even one more developer to stand up for better treatment of workers, then hopefully I've made some small difference.

    If you agree with me, next time you hear someone discussing crunch as if it's just a normal part of the process, let them know that there's a better way and that you don't support crunch and overtime.  Let them know that crunch isn't cool.

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    • Why exactly do you think so? You say you designed your games in detail in your mind, and they exist, you know they work, etc. That's exactly what a programmer is doing. (But it's easier for us: If our algorithm fails, we can figure out the reason discovering an aspect of the problem we did not think about. So programming is both helpful to understand a problem and to proof its solution, and its an iterative process - no need to think about every tiny detail beforehand - mostly.) You define detailed rules for your games and imagine exactly how they play - again that's what a programmer is doing. We think about what data we need, what we want to calculate from that and how results affect logical decisions. we let the program flow happen in our mind before we code it. Programming itself is not hard. Working on difficult problem is hard, but that has nothing to do with programming. From what you say you have already solved all problems for your games. (I know nothing about the games you mention, but i'm sure none of them tackle difficult problems like physics simulation, high performance rendering or AI - how should they? Luckily the game engines available nowadays have all this built in already. You don't need to be a top programmer anymore.)   What is hard is getting started. Learning programming gets quickly hindered by starter questions like: What Programs do i need, how do i get input and output, how to draw something, how to load from HD, etc. This is frustrating, and by using a game engine this only gets worse (but it saves you years of work in return - all those years you wasted in not learning programming ). Maybe you should give it another try - you don't want a young and inexperienced programmer, you don't get get the experienced guy... what other options do you have than do it yourself? Download Unity, look for a Pong (or in your case Asteroids) tutorial project, get it to work and then play around just for fun...            
    • Looks great! Really enjoying this adventure of your's. Keep it up. 
    • Programming isn't my thing, I would never be a good one.  I am a game designer, I spent my life learning that.  Becoming a great game designer and programmer would be the same thing as becoming a great doctor and engineer.  The people in the computer game industry have always said they hire game designers, but they don't really mean it.  They hire level designers.  The games are designed by committee, in the vast majority of cases there is no game designer... although they use the title for level designers.  By our definition, they don't have game designers.  But they think they do, because they have a completely different definition of what that term means.  It took me a long time to realize that this had been the main issue throughout most of my life. I'm not a programmer and I'm never going to be, and I am never going to make games because the modern game industry doesn't use game designers.  They think they do, but that's just because they think a level designer is a game designer. The thing is... I really am four decades ahead of you when it comes to space ship games.  Not because I'm special, but because I am a part of an entire community that is four decades ahead of you in this area.  Your space ship games really are very close to Candyland compared to the PDU, it really can't be overstated.  That makes this all particularly frustrating too me. I'll add something just in case there is anyone out there that has actually read the story on this blog and liked it enough to really take it in.  If you exist, you are probably pretty blown away by the lyrics of Magic Power.  There are five different valid interpretations of it, for one thing.  Another is that early on I didn't want to reveal Marvin's last name so I just replaced it with the very uninspired "Cayce".  As a thank you to you if you are out there, and this would reveal one of the possible interpretations of Magic Power, Marvin's last name is actually "Vaith";-)  
    • Congrats, if you've got the game sketched out in your mind then you're way further ahead than most of us, but you probably already know that.  o.k, you say that you're about to give up on getting your game out there.  I'd focus on the bolded portion of what I quoted, that is unfortunately your short coming.  If you don't get around to learning that skill, your games will probably never see the light of day because what you're hoping for, I suspect, is someone to come along and read through your documentation and learn how your games work and then agree to help you out.  But... you're forgetting one important thing, most of us here are here to program our own games.  Learn to program and this community will help you out immensely, till then you're likely talking in the wind. I hope one of your games is realised one day Cheers
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