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About this blog

Development of a 3D maze game

Entries in this blog

r1ckparker
As well as starting a new project, I am quite keen to keep supporting my existing games, to that end, I have updated Deepfall Dungeon with some new features -

Improved graphics
More monsters
New game mode - Game Plus
Various improvements and bug fixes

I have also produced a new video which shows off the game a bit better



You can download my game, for free, from my web site -

http://deepfall.moonfruit.com/
r1ckparker

Title music

As development continues, I've been forced to think about all the stuff as a gamer you don't usually think too much about, like UI graphics, icons, title screens, music, sound effects etc.

I've done some music for the title screen, which you can listen to below. I wanted to to be synth-y and slightly industrial. It's quite long and repetitive 'cos I figured that you would only hear the first few bars then you'd be pressing 'Start'. It gives a good indication as to the direction and feel of the game. Hope you like!

My title music
r1ckparker
This is just a reminder and some advice to all you developers, make sure you backup your data. Stop for a minute and think - what would happen if you lost your hard drive? If you were flooded? Shark attack:? OK maybe not but you get the idea. Something dramatic happens and your computer is trashed. Would you be able to start again? Would you have the motivation to start from scratch? It doesn't take much to protect yourself from the worst, and believe me, you will thank me one day.

1) buy a cheap 1gb memory stick and write on it 'Backup'. Don't use it for anything else.
2) Make sure you backup regularly. Once a week, once a month. Whenever. Just get into the routine of doing it.
3) Store your backup away from your computer. Put it in a different room in a safe place.

Thats it! You may be asking, why is he telling us this? Has something happened? Well no. But it could, and that's the point. You never know.
r1ckparker
Last week I did a bit of work on lighting and applying normals to my walls. This gives the impression that they are made up of more than just a flat polygon. However because the viewpoint is so fixed (at 90 degrees and no vertical movement) it's really difficult to tell that the normals are even there! I might take them out at some point in the future, or put in a switch so I can turn them off if necessary.

So with the pathfinding in place, my engine is just about complete. I've implemented -

Procedural level generation
Mapped level generation
Movement with collision detection
Item management, with equipment/inventory screen
Interactive objects (doors etc)
Wandering monsters
Combat
Heat management
Automapping

wow, there's a lot of work gone into that lot! My next step is to start putting in the game elements and making it fun. The first step is to design a 'tutorial' level which introduces the elements of the game, tells you how to play, what are the goals etc. When I was playtesting other dungeon games, I found this was a big let down for some of them, there was no help at all so you didn't know how to play the game, what keys to press, what the goals were etc. I'm a big fan of in-built help systems and I think they are especially useful in an RPG game.

So I have started programming the first level, it is mapped rather than generated so it will be the same every time. I have a portrait graphic and a script which runs and gives you the basics from your Mission Controller, 'Theora'.

By the way I found this wonderful site, really useful if you are struggling for art assets.

http://opengameart.org/blog
r1ckparker

Spreadsheets

Wow, making an RPG is hard. I mean you have to be a master of databases and spreadsheets, just to keep track of everything. I have a list of 250 items, all of which can be customised, lists of monsters, to hit tables, spells, abilities, status effects and all these things have to interact with each other behind the scenes.

How do you keep the game challenging? And fun? If you give the player a +5 sword, will it make him overpowered and the next few levels will be too easy? What about if you give him +5 armour? If you don't drop the right weapon will the player get frustrated and just give up? How do you scale the experience so that the monsters get tougher as the player gets better? Do you base it on the players skill or the players Characters skill? Whoa.

I'm currently playtesting and asking myself these questions, but I definitely know one thing - my next game won't be an RPG!

I think I've figured out a few things -

Monsters strength will be based on the players level when he enters the dungeon. A level 5 character entering the dungeon will encounter level 5 and level 6 monsters.
The player should (on average) gain 1 level per dungeon.
Items will be randomly awarded during the level.
At the end of the level there will be a shop where you can sell unwanted items, buy new items and upgrade existing items.
There will be an element of skill when defending during combat, a correct keypress at the correct time will half the damage.
Attacks during combat will be based on a dice roll + the characters skill with the currently wielded weapon.
r1ckparker

Promotions

I wanted to have a bit of a break from programming, so I decided to start promoting my game. I've set a release date and made a Facebook page, updated the web site and added a link on the 'Announcements' forum.

Any other suggestions as to where I can post a link to my game?

I've been doing a lot of bug fixing, it seems that every time I play the game I add another thing to my list of things to fix. I'm quite organised and I have a 'to do' list which I cross off every item I've finished but the list still seems to be getting longer!

I've added a 'look' function, if you hold down the right mouse button, you can look around using the mouse, in a 1st person view. Usually the view is locked to 90 degrees. The player will never use it in-game, it's just there as an added feature.

web page -
http://www.deepfall.moonfruit.com

Facebook -
http://www.facebook.com/DeepfallDungeon

Announcement page -
https://www.gamedev.net/topic/627832-deepfall-dungeon/
r1ckparker

Progress

I've not updated for a while, but I've been hard at work. I've added character stats and a character sheet, I've added keys and locked doors, icons for items, I've made a start on the combat and put some monsters in, it's coming along great now and starting to look like a proper game.

Screenshots and videos incoming!


r1ckparker

Play Testing

It's been a while so I thought I'd post an update, still working away on the game, today I have been playtesting and balancing. I don't want it to be too difficult and I want it to get harder as you progress. So I have been playing it from the start, making sure there are enough health potions, that monsters don't hit you too hard, and that you can actually finish each level!

I did find one strange thing, it is almost impossible to die on the first level. I wanted to check my game loop and make sure it dropped you to the Game Over screen then back to the Title Screen, so I found a monster and stood there while he tried to hit me - it took a good 10 minutes and I still had 1HP left!

I guess it might have been a fluke, I will try and replicate it. The monsters get tougher though after the first level so it shouldn't be a problem after that.

Everything else is finished all the monster graphics and sound effects are in, all the spells and skills are in, I just need to do a little work on my menus and help screens and I'm done!

About time too because I'm way behind schedule.

On another note, I have been playing around with Unity, it's very easy to code for multiple platforms, I'm sure I will be using it for my next project.

But I need a holiday first!

Bye for now.....

Rick

LOD Games - Deepfall Dungeon
r1ckparker

Pathfinding

I've been on holiday this week, so not got much done. Last time I got monsters in and randomly walking around, but when they see the player they should walk towards him and this calls for pathfinding.

There's a fantastic page here which explains how it works.

http://www.policyalmanac.org/games/aStarTutorial.htm

I could have downloaded a library but I thought it would be better to do it myself. Also I couldn't drop it straight into the game, because it would be a nightmare to debug in first person! I therefore programmed it as a separate function and I can just drop it in now. It's my own version of the algorithm called 'A+' because you can't travel in diagonals, just on the x and y axis. This is because the game is grid based (like Dungeon Master or Eye of the Beholder for example).

Here is a demo video, the starting point is the green square and the finishing point is the red square. Purple squares are checked (on the open list) and the blue line is the final path.



So all I need to do is replace the green square with the monsters x,y and the red square with the players x,y and it should work...
r1ckparker

Optimisation

The plan is that eventually the game will be ported to iPhone/android but currently the target is a netbook. These devices have quite low graphics capability and are slower than regular desktop machines.

I've been testing my game on my netbook and as I've been adding stuff its been gradually getting slower and slower. Today I've done some optimisation to hopefully make it run a bit quicker.

The maze is made up of a series of textured cubes. Where there is a wall, there is a cube of 6 sides and 12 polygons. This is wasteful because you never see the top and bottom of the cube, and if you are in a corridor, chances are you will never see the sides either.

So I have replaced the cubes with flat polygons, and I'm only drawing what I need. I'll do some comparisons on the netbook later to work out if this is faster. (it runs at a smooth 60 fps on my desktop regardless of which method I use)

Also, the entire maze is being built before the player starts and I'm just moving the camera around. I could just draw the maze as I get to it, instead of generating it all at once. However this is a big change and I will probably leave it for the moment and come back to this topic later.
r1ckparker
So now my game is complete, I'm ready to start another project. I've had a few ideas about game structure and what I want to do, but I haven't really settled on anything yet. I usually like to prototype my games, before I start them, this gives me an idea of how long the game will take to code, what the controls will be like, and I build it up from there.

For example, I wondered if I could do an 'outdoor' game so within a short while, I had a skybox up and running, with a terrain, some trees and a keyboard controlled camera.

I also had another idea of a 'bullet hell' style game, where instead of controlling a ship and dodging bullets, you would shoot bullets out and try to kill enemies. You would start off with a small amount of bullets and this would gradually increase until you were shooting hoards of bullets out.

I'd also like to have a go at writing a traditional horizontally scrolling shooter at some point.

My final thought was to create a 'retro' platform game, an 'homage' to the old ZX Spectrum games, but done in a modern style. To this end, I created a mapper and a scrolling, tiled 2d map and did some quick sprites on top.

I find this kind of prototyping really helps the development, it gives you a sense of what graphics and artwork you will need, helps with the control scheme and even highlights flaws in your game design - if something won't work or isn't fun then you can go back to the drawing board to fix it, without wasting a lot of time.

How do you guys go about deciding your next project? Am I alone in using this method? I'd love to know, drop some comments in below!
r1ckparker

New Game - Charge!

Hi everyone, even though I haven't been blogging it, I have almost completed my latest game, Charge!

You play as a sorcerer on a tower who must defeat incoming enemies by throwing spells at them. The full game will have 20+ levels, story mode, 3 difficulty levels, extra weapons and spells.

You can download the 1 level demo from Gamejolt.
r1ckparker

More updates...

I decided to make a 'to do' list of what is still left, and I was kind of depressed to discover that I could list 18 items just off the top of my head.

So I'm making a start on some of these, which includes a title screen, logo and proper name. Up until now it has just been '3d dungeon' or 'my game' but now it's

DEEPFALL DUNGEON

Hope you like the logo. A nice, generic, inoffensive name I hope you agree. A quick Google search reveals no other games with that name, that's about as much in depth as I can go without a legal department.
r1ckparker

More bug fixing

Found a horrible bug which only affected people who downloaded the demo (everybody then!). Apparently Windows does not let you save files to the installed program folder, and unfortunately that's where I was saving a text file which holds the controls and the screen resolution information. The game didn't error when it tried to save the information, it just didn't save. So when you changed screen resolution, quit the game and restarted, it defaulted back to 1024x768.

This wasn't a problem when I was testing locally because I was the owner/administrator. Eventually figured out you can save it into the %appdata% folder, so I moved my ini files into this location. Hopefully this won't cause any problems for people with older OS's (eg XP, Vista etc.).

I also re-drew the inventory screen, looks much nicer now and fits in with the rest of the GUI.

Otherwise, feedback from the demo has been positive, thanks to everybody who has downloaded it and tried it!
r1ckparker

Monsters!

It was surprisingly easy to get the monsters in and animated, and facing the correct direction in relation to the player. Basically the player has one of 4 directions (0, 1, 2 and 3) and the monster has 1 of 4 directions (0, 1, 2 and 3) and you subtract the monsters direction from the players direction to give you which sprite to plot. If the result is less than 0 you add 4.

E.g. if player is facing East (1) and enemy facing South (2)

1-2 = -1
-1+4 = 3

Plot monster sprite 3. Repeat!

r1ckparker

Monster graphics

Now I know how many and what type of graphics I need, and I can start replacing my scratch graphics with finals. I downloaded a royalty free model and wrote a quick display program which shows the model and exports it to a bitmap. I then loaded these into Photoshop, tweaked them slightly, added shadows etc. I am going to have 16 frames of animation for each monster -
1 standing still
3 walking towards the player
3 walking left (flipped for walking right)
3 walking away
3 attacking
3 dying

I could, of course, have loaded the model straight into the game but there's a couple of reasons why I'm sticking to the flat 2d graphics. One is aesthetic, the game is a throwback to the old dungeon crawlers so I want it to have a semi-retro feel (even though it's in full 3d). The second reason is the target devices, the main goal is to be able to play this on a netbook which aren't the most powerful machines. If it gets ported to mobile devices there may be even less processing power.
r1ckparker

Maze Game

This is my 3D maze game. It is designed to feel like an old-school RPG such as Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder, Dungeon Hack etc. I am posting this blog mainly to force myself to actually finish it, otherwise it will probably disappear into the ether like so many other projects I've started!

I have set myself milestone targets which I hope to hit regularly and will be updating this journal with screenshots, updates, problems etc.

Hope you enjoy!
r1ckparker

Inventory Screen

I've been working on the inventory screen today, have added -

Tooltips - when you hover the mouse over an item it will show you the details
Icons - each item is represented by a unique icon. This icon is displayed on the Inventory screen
Drag and Drop - You can click an item and drag it to another 'slot'. The item's icon follows the mouse as you hold down the button and when you let go, the item is moved to that slot. If the inventory slot is not empty, the items are swapped.
The number of Inventory and Heatsink slots change depending on the chassis you have installed. Bigger chassis mean more inventory space and more heatsink space.

It's still untidy because i'm using scratch graphics but the inventory background and the tooltips backgrounds are bitmaps so they can be redrawn at a later date with nice fonts, borders etc. I'm also displaying a bitmap of the chassis in the centre of the screen. I will add some animations and stuff later to make it a bit nicer to look at. I'm hoping it will look a bit like the inventory screen from this mech game I googled. Not exactly the same but the same style.

UI work is so boring!
r1ckparker
A departure from my usual ramblings, I'm going to share with you some of my favorite games which will never receive a sequel. Some games roll on and on, and have been with us since the dawn of gaming. And then you have the modern yearly updates which just roll on and on - Call of Duty, Need for Speed, Fifa. And of course, there are millions of obscure games which can only be considered a one-off. The following games, to my mind, could have easily become huge franchises, with more innovative features in each sequel.

Kingdoms of Amalur

k1.jpg
A fantastic and under appreciated RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur was developed by Big Huge games, developed with help from fantasy writer R A Salvatore and Todd McFarlane. Big Huge was closed by their parent company just after Kingdoms was released.

Ico/Shadow of the Colossus

308808-shadow-of-the-colossus.jpg
Team Ico produced the original Playstation 2 games and it seems they like to develop only original games. The Last Guardian has been in development for many years, and it may even see a release one day, so it looks like Ico 2 or Shadow 2 will be the last thing the company wants to concentrate on.

Second Sight

second-sight-20050202041918739_640w.jpg
Second Sight featured innovative gameplay, you can use psychic powers to unravel a very interesting story. Developer Free Radical was also responsible for the Time Splitters series of games, and was wound down after the dreadful Haze.
Honorary mention - Psi-Ops

Blur

blur-game3_w500.jpg
Blur was a fantastic game which managed to combine the shiny cars of Need for Speed with the multiplayer and power ups of Mario Kart. Activision closed the developer, Bizarre Creations, after they produced a poorly selling Bond game, Blood Stone.
Honorary mention - Split/Second

LA Noire

xl_LA_Noire_610.jpg
Games really struggle with facial animation, the subtleties of human movement mean it is really difficult to render a realistically moving face. Team Bondi wanted to remedy this and developed what they called MotionScan, which allowed them to render actors faces realistically in game. Throw in a huge open world, an incredible story and challenging puzzles and you have a huge and involving game. Unfortunately Team Bondi was badly run, with employees complaining of poor working conditions. Rockstar closed the studio in 2011.
r1ckparker

FPS update

Wow a whole 14fps quicker! But I still need to do some work to get it up to 60fps. Perhaps that is too high for a netbook, perhaps it only needs to be 30fps?
r1ckparker

Dungeon Update

I've finished adding magic into the game, it's based on the character's current level, any character will be able to cast basic spells, but as you advance you can only cast higher spells if you invest in your 'magic' skill.

Magic spells are limited by points, so you can't go round the dungeon blasting monsters with fireballs! MP can be regained by drinking potions, eating certain foods or resting.

I'm not sure about how the player will select the spells yet, currently it's a menu where you can select from a list, but if the player knows 20 spells that might get a bit unwieldy! I will have to figure how the player can select their spells more efficiently. Note that everything is in real-time now, so more time spent navigating through menus is more time the monster has to hit you!

I've also been working on the title screen, there's a retro scrolly message down at the bottom for greetz! I'm happy with the way it looks and it fits the 'dungeon' aesthetic nicely.

I read about 5 essential tips from a guy called Reisuke Ishida who made a presentation at Game Developers Conference -

It's important to come up with a catchphrase that is 'easily recognisable', which in turn influences the game's direction.
Try to make elements like the menus reflect the core concept
Strive for controls that are as simple and as intuitive as possible.
Add a little quirkiness to the design.
Ask that developers consider basic questions like the player's environment thoughout development.

So I am hitting point 2 but failing on point 3! Back to the drawing board!

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