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About this blog

A Game-Guru specific indy dev blog which covers a weekly report on Game-Guru, lightweight analysis on AAA titles, tutorials, and custom content for the Game-Guru engine.

 

Entries in this blog

This week's update will be short and brief.

A few major components that are worth mentioning in my area at the end about my own works.

ENGINE UPDATE PROGRESS REPORT

This week was a HUGE week for Game-Guru.  Lee dropped a new public preview update onto our heads and aside from a minor issue with one of my levels loading a strange view (due to something wonky with the AI waypoint system causing my camera to screw up) it is a MASSIVE improvement.  Speeds are way up.  Weird stutter and lag is gone.  Crashes caused by decals are gone.  Other associated fixes are still on the way.  Impressively, Preben (a forum member who does a lot of code fixes for us) has been getting increasingly involved and it shows.  Updates to the update came in quick succession with minor bugfixes deployed often times in several same-day hotfixes.  It's a huge jump.  Expect a little delay before the next major release as they transition this PP to an actual Game-Guru release around April.  For now, it's a great gift and seems to really run well on my system.

Full notes and information can be found both here: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219024
And on the news update here: https://www.game-guru.com/news-post/gameguru-new-public-preview

NEW PRODUCTS IN THE STORE

This week on the store we have several new items.

store-0219.PNG
You're not dreaming, my name is actually up there for once.
Mstockton has put in a low-priced 'burn pile' for junkyards.  I like it though I do wish the texturing was a little better.  That said it's impressively low priced so it could definitely find a home in your inventory.  https://www.tgcstore.net/pack/11005

Also we have several updates - Teabone has added a 'gain health by drinking water' script.  It's expressly listed as being similar to the ones in Skyrim and Fallout.  https://www.tgcstore.net/product/31049

Graphix has also included something eerily reminiscent of fallout - a 'mech hangar'.  This is a nice piece though I do wish he'd have done a little more to differentiate it from Fallout 4's power armor station.  I worry that one might run into some snags legally if they used it in a product for sale.
https://www.tgcstore.net/pack/11006

AlexGCC has put together a DAMN fine building called the 'derelict building'.  This building unfortunately has a slightly ajar door but the overwhelmingly high quality output of the model makes up for that little misgiving I have.  It's priced to sell.  https://www.tgcstore.net/product/31046

Lastly my own product - the Camerakit (aka camkit) is on the store.  This product is expressly designed to make camera work for security monitors, cutscenes, etc much easier for the average user.  More on how and why down below but for now, check out this video:


It can be picked up from the store here:  https://www.tgcstore.net/product/31048  (NOTE - IT'S on sale until 2/25!)

FREE STUFF

The realm of free stuff has really slowed down a lot. 

This is all I could find this week - an updated copy of the sandstone building that comes with the base Game-Guru system: https://forum.game-guru.com/attachment/18255

THIRD PARTY TOOLS


Looks like OldPman is still improving the normalizator utility which I understand will have full PBR support if not now, then soon.  Latest update is as follows:

Hey. Pirate Myke and Earthling45 , thanks for the feedback.
I'm working on expanding the toolkit at the moment and there will be many opportunities added. A square brush, applying text, stamps is the first on my desktop. Adding the color of the texture and several other filters are now also in development. If you had in mind the choice of the color of the brush, then to the left of the alpha under the paint button, there is a rectangle clicking on which you open the colorpicker.

- OldPMan

This is a really good utility I need to get my mitts on when I get some free time.

RANDOM ACTS OF CREATIVITY

There's a lot of stuff on youtube.  I found a new project with a purported '239 hours' of development.  That's quite a lot for a single project!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xP4I-Xq1auA

There's also this great lighting tutorial by DuchenKuke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6-7m6QLQMA

He also made a pretty good mountain-making tutorial showcasing an interesting method of using the flattener tool to create realistic shapes.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RlLS7Kts9mI

And a totally Russian (I think?) tutorial.  Feel free to watch it if you dare, though I recommend using auto-translate to read it.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb1zCS8kPxw

Lastly Teabone (a generally awesome forum-bro) has been doing some really great scripting work of his own: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVjoOoSRzwg

IN MY OWN WORKS


So I just wanted to bring up a few things, things which are going on in my world here.  Foremost, I have my Camera Kit (shown above!) on the store.  This project has been a while in the making and has some really cool features such as tracking, re-use, multi-camera setups, cutscene style location triggers and more.  I may add a trigger zone in the future but for now I have more than enough to get people started.  This kit came from my work with the Notepad++ API I made.   I realized camera controls in this game engine could be fairly complex.  I wondered if maybe it'd be easier to have a camera that had a place you could easily point to instead of calculating Euler angles and rotations.  I mean who really wants to use a rotation matrix just to figure out where to place a camera?!  So I created a very simple camera system which sort of blossomed from there into an easy to use kit for the 'everyman'. 

Simply place an object, attach the camera initiator, then choose it's target.  Easy!

The multi-cam system works the same, except the camera and initiator are separated so you can multiple cameras. 

Next, I submitted my proposal to a publisher.
What, you ask?

Let me say that again - I submitted my Game-Guru book proposal to a publisher.  I've been in contact with several prominent forum members,  Lee, Rick V, and a publishing house (CRC Press).  I am currently working on a very lengthy print-on-paper book which will be a start to finish guide to Game-Guru.  I'm looking forward to working on that over the next year.  It will be eating a lot of my spare cycles but I don't mind even in the slightest.

The book is probably going to be on the order of 430 pages, tons of pictures, tutorials, a complete walkthrough of how to build a high quality game, and more.  Keep an eye out for more details as I complete the work on it.


View the full article

Sorry for the delayed update this week.  Family's been sick and I'm not feeling that great myself.

ENGINE UPDATE PROGRESS REPORT


Currently the engine appears to have a PP version brewing for mid-February which should resolve many of the issues we've seen with a quick followup (hopefully) to a regular release.  That'll put us on track for Lee's usual 6 month release cycle for major changes.  

Beyond that it appears there's ongoing work on previous download content and add-ons for Game-Guru getting the 'PBR treatment'.  This includes now the Mega Pack 1 DLC as mentioned here.

NEW PRODUCTS IN THE STORE

store-0212-1.PNG

Mad lobster keeps adding more and more to his laboratory kit.  I'm astonished he'd continue to give current owners extra value on what was ALREADY a good value.  The price of the kit HAS gone up to reflect that, but if you're a current owner make sure you download the latest goodies for the laboratory kit. 

store-0212-2.PNG

It looks like the venerable (and somewhat wacky) Colosso has increased his proficiency at modeling considerably and his newer objects continue to add quality and value to his portfolio.  His newest pack and objects are proof of that.
store-0212-3.PNG

Teabone has added some fine clutter objects, including the best looking food object I've seen in a long time.  Not sure how he does it, but definitely worth a purchase for that low of a price.

Also, as a side note, purchasers of my Advanced Time of Day and Weather kit will have an update available to them.  It's a fairly major bugfix and update.  You can see the details below in the 'in my own works' section.

FREE STUFF


The big news here is that Lafette has given away a very major piece of work for free out of what seems to be boredom with the project.  It's an extremely high quality science fiction kit that can be found here: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219315

THIRD PARTY TOOLS


Heightmap import (HIMP) tool is on hold due to BOTR having a newborn son.  Congrats!
Entity welder is also on hold for the same reason.


RANDOM ACTS OF CREATIVITY


Looks like Dimoxiland is doing some more work on his project "Space Losers" for GG.  These updates are always exciting because he's pretty much the cream of the crop for Game-Guru developers.  Check out this screenshot!

wipmeu.jpg


That's what I'm talking about. All custom code, graphics, etc. It's impressive beyond any reason and if he finishes it will probably put Game-Guru on the map.


IN MY OWN WORKS


As mentioned my Advanced Time of Day and Weather kit has had some fairly major updates.

 02/12/2018    
  • Added specular effect for snow to give it whitish appearance for terrain objects on highest values.  I basically changed specularity to 50x for white.  This can be commented out if it's not desirable but overall I think it works well enough considering the engine itself.
  • Repaired broken build with files specifically from PP dev build of mine cross-pollinating live non-pp (DX9) build. 
  • updated test map file
  • Fixed/repaired time function(s), they sync to states now and also rollover seamlessly day to day 
  • Fixed broken cycleloopcounter pointers which were still working in old code (singleuse/singlestate/etc). 
  • Fixed bag_w_indoors script, huzzah!
  • Added 'pp' versions of the weather effects.  If they don't work, let me know the error you get. 
So to sum up I basically had a non-pp build get mixed with a pp build that accidentally got uploaded. I basically made separate FPE files at this point for the PP weather effect decals which can be used in place.  The script remains the same for both as it will function on both.  I'm also including both .fx files for the effectbank folder which should resolve any conflict between the two versions.  The biggest fix is the resolution of the w_indoors script, which now functions seamlessly.

Camerakit is almost ready to be bundled up and posted to the store, expect that very shortly!

View the full article

ENGINE UPDATE PROGRESS REPORT


If you keep an eye on https://github.com/TheGameCreators/GameGuruRepo/issues you can get an interesting sense of what is being looked at and what isn't. Currently there isn't a huge amount of 'buy in' for the github repo but it is coming along and in 6-10 months I expect it to be trucking along fairly well.  There's a good body of issues being brought to the attention of Lee and company.  So we'll see but for now, mum's the word.





NEW PRODUCTS IN THE STORE


store graphic

What you see above is the whole of it.  Gtox is adding new weapons (this knife apparently has an alt-attack, which is pretty cool!) and M Stockton has done some great work making a skate parka nd some parking blocks.  High quality models are always good thing!




FREE STUFF


https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219294 - DuchenKuke has offered a really great variety of free music from his old fallout work.  I love this type of thing and highly encourage people to use it to help differentiate their product from stock offerings.
https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/215012?page=15 - Bod has given us a great deal of things over the years and he continues to deliver.  This time it's a Mallard train, carriage, and a really fantastic looking train station (check out the picture below!).  Make sure you tell him how much you appreciate his work - I think he's getting fatigued a bit and it always helps to hear some encouraging words. 

bod's train station
This is a really brilliant new piece, in my opinion!


https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219211 - In HonkeyBoy's thread about his survival system, there's a new Lathe that's been added by GraphiX which is pretty impressive and definitely worth a download.

THIRD PARTY TOOLS


Nothing really new and exciting here.  Preben did make an interesting change to GG Loader which apparently improved framerates significantly by reducing draw-calls.  Hopefully this will have some future implementation in Game-Guru.  I have more to do for my notepad API but it's going to be a bit.  I simply have too much on my plate at the moment..





RANDOM ACTS OF CREATIVITY


https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219296 - DuchenKuke's new project looks promising. 

post apoc, DK style


I love post-apocalyptic games and this one looks like a solid piece.  It's interesting, I've asked him what his method is and he mostly just wings it.  I guess some do have a natural talent for level-building.  Lucky bastard was apparently gifted with it more than I was, apparently. 


https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/217908?page=3#msg2595102 - Dimoxiland has done some major reworking to his "Space Losers" game and I think it's really going places. 



Check out the above video for details.  Very cool stuff.  Check out how clean the scripting and game play is!  Definitely one to keep an eye on.


https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219258 - Honkeyboy's latest creation - Death by Daylight shows a remarkable increase in level design and proficiency for Game-Guru's most prolific author.  He's got rapid development down to a science at this point and it's really starting to make strides.


https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219277 - Teabone has done some... very curious...  things with scripting and automobiles in Game-Guru.  Definitely worth a look.

IN MY OWN WORKS


I've made some progress on the Camera system I'm working on.  I have 3 out of 4 of the major pieces I want before I release it.  Once I get the last piece in play, I will build a demo level, zip it up, and sell it (for about $4).  It'll start off on sale at 3.50.  The camera kit will have some very interesting components which I believe most will appreciate.  I may add some niceties to it but that's not required at this point so it may get added down the road. 

After that I have to finish my other two kits.  So keep an eye out for some interesting news there.


View the full article


Minor update: In the lower portion I have some errors which were corrected by Sylvain Douce, the Senior Technical Designer @ Eidos Montreal (who made DEMD).  He states:

"Very good piece! One minor things: AI middleware we used for DXHR and DXMD is Navpower ( http://www.babelflux.com/ ), everything else was built in-house."

Also, it's extremely awesome of him to read it, enjoy it, and retweet it! Thanks a lot Sylvain!

---------------------------------------------------

I don't think it's any great secret that I love Sci-Fi, especally cyberpunk dystopian themed sci-fi.   While I find Bladerunner a bit droll, the environment it helped create persists as one of my favorites.  So Deus Ex games have long fit into my inventory of favorites and this game was no exception.  I absolutely loved Human Revolution so it was only natural I'd eventually get around to playing through Mankind Divided.

Now for reference I should mention this was played through on PS4.  This means it almost always is going to be somewhat graphically optimized to improve the speed and provide a fluid experience on a console.

I've decided to do a rather lengthy deconstruction of the game as it pertains to Independent Gamedevs specifically using Game-Guru.  Others may find it useful, your miles will invariably ... vary.

First of all, it bears mentioning this game was developed using the 'Dawn Engine.' created by Eidos- Montreal.

The engine is not without some controversy due to some issues with load times.  Overall though, it's a fairly stable engine that ran relatively well in my instance.  It did, however, seem to lack some of the really high end features that can set apart an engine.  From what I could tell though:

  • It seems to have been developed directly for DEMD as no other games have used it since it's inception in 2014.
  • it has reasonably high graphical fidelity with low framerate cost.  I will discuss this in greater detail below.
  • The AI package used was very good, albeit it's middleware (APEX AI).  There's actually a fair amount of middleware, but that's not tremendously surprising. (SEE ABOVE)
  • The game engine is apparently a heavily modified glacier 2 engine.  For those not aware, that's the 'Hitman' game engine.  I recommend reading the linkthrough for a highly technical summary of what the Dawn Engine encompasses.

That all aside, let's begin our lesson.

Graphical/Lighting tricks

Deus Ex: Human Revolution gave us great gameplay in a fantastic looking game.  Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is no exception.   There are a lot of extremely fancy tricks used to produce great framerates while providing a very impressive visual experience.

The first thing you'll notice, if you're new to Deus Ex, is there is no more 'gold filter'.  This means the scenes feel less cohesive if they're not built specifically to match.  While the gold filter is a bit of a bludgeon, it did give a sense of character to DEHR that is somewhat lost in DEMD.  DEMD however makes up for it in spades by having a significant amount of purpose built coloration in the scenes while at the same time using giving identity to each area.  On one hand they lose the 'Deus Ex' filter but gain individuality in each scene.  It was a reasonable tradeoff.

Gold filter comparison
Modders removed the gold filter and added some fidelity in DEHR, but it also serves as a good example of the type of difference you see between DEHR and DEMD.


I am big fan of using colors to 'unify' the palette so that a scene feels more cohesive.  This technique artistically speaking is useful for helping to help join together disparate textures which I have a massive quantity of due to many different artists providing many different assets for my use over the years.  In my case, I'd have kept the gold filter or color tone map (assuming you are using reshade).  All in all though if you have a ton of custom art in a lot of wildly different locations like DEMD did, it makes more sense to not filter them all through a gold lens.




PBR and resource management.

DEMD uses a physically based rendering pipeline which allows for some really impressive visuals.  While mirrored surfaces don't look particularly impressive, the shine on the floors is really good.  Certain elements of the environment really stand out, notably pipes.  These shiny surfaces help you realize that in terms of our own engine (GameGuru) which recently obtained PBR capabilities we'd want to use them selectively on things that BEST show them off.  While it's nice to have every single thing in your game use it, it simply eats too many resources.  Selectively choosing the best scenes for it (shiny metal, hardwoods, glass, etc) is a much more attractive option than putting it on bland surfaces where you receive minimal visual 'pop' like concrete.  This in turn helps us save vital resources, which is a struggle with a 32 bit engine like Game-Guru.



The reflections used localized cubemaps which are definitely available in Game-Guru so that's a nice addition on Lee and Preben's part which will allow us to create beautiful reflections  on pipes and mirrors.

Transparencies on light planes

DEMD cleverly uses light planes with alpha-transparencies to create the illusion of 'dust' in the air.  The game supposedly has volumetric density for the engine, but I suspect they de-tuned it for the PS4.  If that's the case, at least it's given us a specific example we can draw from.

Streams of light
Those streaming beams of light look more like vertical 'planes' from head on.

Take for instance the above picture.  I walked back and forth and noticed several clear planes (2 dimensional flat objects in a 3d space).  Now granted, it was probably algorithmic or volumetrically done but we can reproduce the same effect with this basic texture for our plane in Game-Guru:


Poorly drawn image by yours truly
Yeah, I got lazy and made the last line too wide.
So basically what we have here is a series of blank spaces that are alpha masked completely open.  Then I took the 'filled' areas, put in a white to grey gradient, then created an alpha mask off those as well.  This gives us a semi-transparent 'beam' of shadowed area.  So we basically get the OPPOSITE effect of what we see above.  Give it a try with your own plane.  I'll probably put one of these on the store (for free) once I correct the mistakes made in the above file.

Flares on lights that  get a lot of attention

In the opening area of the main game you begin in Adam Jensen's house, which acts as a sort of technical demo for the game.  In that location if you look up you'll see a significant amount of studio lighting but notably they use a flare decal that is facing the player.

lightflares example
Those are circular lights with a line-shaped flare.
 We can achieve this same effect using a decent flare and the player_facing.lua script that is included with game-guru.  One thing that DEMD did really well though was it's occlusion; when you are NEAR a corner the flare switches off subtly so that it looks seamless.  Overall, a fairly simple but nice looking effect is achieved.

Baked lighting 90% of the time. 

These days, a lot of games really rely on  dynamic lighting.  It's fancy, it looks nice, and it's GPU intensive.  It also has clear limitations which are another topic for another time.   Deus Ex uses an updated older technique, notably Tiled Lighting that's baked in.  This allows high speed renders of scenes where the light is not likely to change and also allows the artist a great degree of control if they're willing to invest the time.

DEMD Prague outdoors static lighting example
You start to see it everywhere the more you start looking for it.

Unfortunately Game-Guru cannot do dynamic lighting very well and as such it leaves us in a pickle a lot of the time. However in DEMD they do a LOT of baked lighting and it shows.  This game is virtually a showcase for 'how to do static lighting the right way'.  Color choices are not obtrusive, are placed to provide windows with indoor light.


Jensen's apt indoors static lighting example
The red circle shows where the light is, outside (approximately 30ft behind the wall).


Note the placement of the light and how it streams in through the window.  It bakes cleanly onto the surface and gives it a nice 'early day' feel.   This same technique can be done with Game-Guru, rather than relying on 'sunlight' - we pre-bake static lights outside of a window to provide the building interior with realistic lighting.

Clever transitioning

One interesting element I think is worth mentioning is, as the heading suggests, 'clever transitioning'.  While many levels simply pop you to a loading screen, moving about the main city of Prague gives you a varied scene (depending on where you are going to or coming from).

Jensen looking bad AF on a train
The screen changes perspective several times and the characters all move around to provide a sense of 'aliveness'.
The only downside is the animation is repetitive, but that makes sense given it's literally just a facade over a loading screen.  While I realize loading screens are effectively the devil I thought it was worth mentioning it.  I don't have an answer for Game-Guru in that respect as our loading system is vastly different but I think it at least underscores the need to give people something to look at other than the basic 'Game-Guru loading screen'.   The best answer is probably something like the other loading screens in Deus Ex, which effectively consist of a picture and some information for the player to read.

Have a mini-game 

The hacking mini-game remains mostly unchanged from DEHR but really felt at home in this game. While it's a lot of extra work, at the same time it can really provide a payoff for the player who needs some variety in their game beyond the usual 'shoot or sneak' methodology.

Dat hacking minigame bro
Oh no, only 2 seconds left! ABORT! ABOOOOOORT!

Often I found myself in a higher sense of tension from the hacking minigame than the actual game itself.  Sometimes even the threat of discovery while hacking (the world doesn't just stop while you're hacking) provided it's own 'sinking feeling' while you were ferociously attempting to subvert system nodes to bend an non-compliant computer to your will.  While the additional 'sink' of adding a mini-game is seemingly unnecessary, it also adds a lot of play value to a game.

A living city

I have a good friend who also is very into Deus Ex; he's actually the one who first pointed me at Human Revolution, even bought my copy back when I was flat broke.

I asked him what he thought of Mankind Divided, without spoiling anything.  He replied "it's a great game, they really did a great job of making it feel like a living city."

I felt that was worth mentioning here given how spot on his analysis is.  This game really does a great job of making you feel like you are in a living, breathing, ALIVE environment.  Each area has tons of sandboxing and detail which makes every single space different and independent.  So how did they do it?

Lips on a building!
The red light district, for instance, really takes it's name to heart.

Well, foremost - each area is it's own 'scene'.  It's as if they built one overarching area, built the major components, then filled in the rest with minor story pieces.

Meow
This room exemplifies the microcosm within macrocosm feel.
 
There's a world of microcosms within the macrocosm of the individual 'global' level and it really provides this deep sense of uniqueness to each specific room.  The stories for these rooms aren't anything significant most times.  Often they are simply something as simple as 'this is the asshole gang dealer who doubles as your local black market shop' room.  Other times small rooms take massive twists and turns, such as the crazy cat lady who ends up having her own miniature story that makes her a much CRAZIER cat lady.

While often the rooms are 'revisited' for story purposes and such you can pretty usually boil them down to a basic, simple story.   Obviously the indy dev can't afford the time to write a massive, engrossing story for each sub-mission in their game.  Which apparently, neither can AAA devs.  Which brings me to my next point.

Secrets are simply unexplored areas 

In my "Lessons learned from Doom's Level Design (part 1) (part 2) (part 3) (part 4) " I discuss use of secrets and their necessity for gaming.  It's something that helps reward a player for investing even more time in their game than absolutely required.  I mean let's face it, most people play games to feel rewarded, to enjoy the satisfaction of accomplishing a challenge.  Deus Ex rewards this in spades by ensuring that every single hidden area is replete with it's own set of rewards ranging from extra ammo to hidden secret rifles.  I still remember being in the ARC headquarters level and going down literally 5 or 6 stories on tiny rails just to find a hidden rifle.  It was an insane amount of detail for a single secret, but these are the types of things players remember.

ARC: the throat secret gun
I was being literal in the literal sense.  That yellow dot is where you start at before worming down to the gun.


Try to use your dead ends and open spaces to provide the players with additional reward for looking at your hard work.  Open up your single alleyways into branching paths that lead them to interesting rooms that really are just there to provide life and depth to the game.

Open ended level design

Deus Ex games have been renowned for their  open ended level design but it's worth discussing, at least briefly here how it was implemented in DEMD.  DEHR had a fair amount of 'open-endedness' to it, but I think in this case DEMD gets the upper hand.  You literally had piles of avenues to perform different possibilities.  Missions had more than one failure or success condition and you often had branching trees that could spell serious disaster later on.

I remember in mission one, I was helping out an agent (Singh).  You are to save his life at the end which is no small feat as you're attacked by masked assassins in a sandstorm.  It is, in short, a train wreck of a situation. Keeping him alive is incredibly difficult.

Dubai: sandstorm
I'm sure you'll see him if you just keep staring long enough.
 I did this, but only to have him die later in the game because I neglected one small sub-objective on that same mission of disabling a communications tower.  This causes him to get killed while undercover as his cover was blown.  Little things like this are like a spaghetti plate of decisions, which require lots and lots of planning.  That means writing things down.  Which also means, you guessed it, a design document - and we all know that's basically the same thing to an indy dev as garlic to a vampire.  Sure, it won't kill you... but it's damned uncomfortable.

Multiple answers to singular problems.


Moreover level design is incredibly fluid; you have lots of answers to single problems.  This means you often have the choices of going in loud by shooting everything in sight, hacking your way in via a console, taking rooftop access stealthily, running through vents to come up behind your foes, or a myriad of other alternate choices that often boil down to 'get from point a to point b'.

Palisade bank
There are about a dozen ways in and a dozen ways through the 'uncrackable' Palisade bank.


This depth of level design is a big draw for this game type, allowing players to really dig in and pick how they want to do things.  Sometimes you just want the pure visceral thrill of unloading a 28 round magazine from a fully automatic pistol into some poor bastard who dared to wander too close.  Other times hitting people with tranquilizer darts in the neck out of sight of others is the better tactical choice.  These types of dynamics often aren't so much planned as they are a result from thorough level design and planning with a focus on building multiple avenues of approach for a single objective. 

Intelligent AI design

The AI in this game is something else.  There are a lot of times where you feel like you want to really get in there and mix it up and find yourself dealing with attacks from both sides.
While a lot of this has to do with level design (alternate routes, enemy placements, the location of an enemy taking the shortest route to your location) it also has a lot to do with an intelligent system that is attempting to find the best way to kill you.  It's impressive and not easily duplicated.  Maybe one day we'll have that depth in Game-Guru, though at this point in time your best method will be use of lots of navigation nodes and good enemy placement.

Wrapping up

All in all, I found myself least interested in the main story, which is the unfortunate side effect of having an impressive game with great mechanics.  I can't think of anything about the game I really hated.  Everything played well and it served as a great teacher to a willing student.  I highly recommend you give it a run through and see what you can learn from it too!

Addendum: 


There's a pick up objects script you can use to create a similar style to Deus Ex found here:
https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/207801?page=16#msg2562166

View the full article

There's been a lot of changes this week; things that sort of shattered the situation as it stood and put us in a very interesting place.  One that could either be precarious or one that could be a significant boon.  Time will really tell.  Check out the Engine Update Progress Report section below for more details. 

ENGINE UPDATE PROGRESS REPORT


This week Lee made a massive update by placing all of the source code to Game-Guru live on github.  He's created an issues tracker (link here) which can be used to publicly follow all of the ongoing developmental issues and bugs.  He's got old hats who worked on FPSC (classic) code working on Game-Guru now.  He's literally paying outside developers to work on features that are taking him too long to develop personally.  This is what you do, folks, when you truly want to reinvent a brand.  Game-Guru has stalled in development and has had a massive amount of 'under the hood' changes.  Unfortunately as a usable product, it's maybe 30 or 40% more than what I could use a few years ago when it was FPSC:Reloaded.  That's only because of additional Lua extensibility.  The core engine itself hasn't really added much in terms of functionality within the GUI driven IDE.

So this is a huge step and in a sense a massive gamble at the same time.  It's what's needed though, if Game-Guru is going to thrive in a market increasingly dominated by AAA providers like Unreal, Lumberyard, and Unity.  

I believe Game-Guru has a lot of potential.  It's easy to get into, easy to work with.  It's got too many flaws to be functional though and until those are addressed, it's really caused a lot of project stagnation for many, many people. 

NEW PRODUCTS IN THE STORE


This week on the store can be summed up in the following picture:

Store image


So a few things here.  First, it really looks as if Colosso has improved a lot.  His newer stuff is coming along well and that's saying a lot - I can plainly say his art style was not my cup of tea previously.  This current style fits him well.

Second we have a relative newcomer putting up an interesting looking boat.  While I can appreciate anyone trying to market their first real go on the store... it's plainly not up to spec for the price they're asking.  If I were 1CE I'd lower the price by at least 50%  until my texturing matched other artists pushing that price point.

Of particular note is the fact that Wizard of Id has put his newest sewer pack up as both a PBR and Non PBR asset sets.  This is important because frankly a lot of people may not want or need PBR.  While I'm a little disappointed in his pricing (it always is a lot higher than this crowd can afford, initially), I am happy with the quality of his work.  If you're going to spend 29 dollars on a product Game-Guru, usually you want one of his.  I've spent the money and have been satisfied.  His are the closest to 'professional grade' products available on the Game-Guru store.






FREE STUFF


Free stuff this week is pretty substantial.  We got not one, but TWO free weapons!
Weapons are like solid gold.  They are something we don't get a lot of, that are expensive on the store because they take just so much work to do.  We got two of them!  It's really awesome of both Graphix and Gtox to produce these for us.
First we have a chainsaw provided by Graphix: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219263

Chainsaw
Vrrrrrrrrrm!


All I can say is FINALLY.  Being a Doom 1/2 freak, this is something that's been desperately missing.  I could nitpick the sort of rapid animation and overly chromatic textures, but I mean comon - it's a freaking chainsaw!  Best part is there's no hands rigged to it so it can literally be used with any other game.


Next we have Gtox's damn fine work on a crowbar, Ala Gordon Freeman.

What a great looking crowbar!

This thing is freaking gorgeous.  I mean it just looks fantastic.   And Gtox even included an alt-attack (he's done this for some of his other weapons too) where when you hit left-alt it will do a secondary attack.  Very good stuff indeed.

Some freebies by Honkeyboy were posted as well.  One is a set of  'English trees' , the other was a few items for his crafting survival script: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219211 which include things like a furnace and workbench.



THIRD PARTY TOOLS


This week in third party tools we have  nothing really new.  I need to update my Lua API for Notepad++ to include global variables like g_Entity and g_PressKeyE(etc).   That should show up later this week in a separate post.

RANDOM ACTS OF CREATIVITY


'Death by daylight' - Honkeyboy's latest creation.  This zombie shooter looks promising and while it lacks the maturity in graphical refinement it does offer a crafting system which should help tilt the balance in favor of this being a more interesting title.  What impresses me most about Honkeyboy is how many irons he can keep in the fire and how many he keeps throwing in.   The guy has endless energy, which is a good thing to have when you're an Independent Gamedev.

'Cowboy Shootout' - Len the Man has been working on this title for quite some time but it's coming along well. He's obviously putting a lot of effort into it and it's really  starting to show.  Lots of custom models and interesting components in a much needed cowboy action game.

Len the Man's Cowboy Shooter Image
Pretty high end for GG!


As you can see, the quality is definitely there.  Nice to see someone sticking with it, through all the ups and downs.

IN MY OWN WORKS


I have too many irons in the fire myself.  I really ran into some stumbling blocks with my upcoming kits and it's just.. frustrating trying to find the time to sit down and work on them uninterrupted.  Life has been hectic enough, but it just keeps adding more and more to my plate.

Currently I have too much going on and need to clear some items before adding new ones.  Look for any of the following to have something on them later this week:

  • any of 3 different scripting kits
  • a new sky pack for 2018
  • a new terrain PLUS very interesting foliage (includes custom script)
  • one of two books I'm writing
  • one of two tutorials I'm writing on this blog
  • A final(?) update to the notepad ++ Lua API.  
You get the idea.  There's simply too much going on upstairs and I need to clear some room.
I'm glad I am able to keep all this rolling and was able to get the Lua API workable.  The scripting kits are about 10%, 30% and 40% there, respectively.  Any one of those could get completed this week depending on how my brain decides to plop out it's workload.

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In response to a pretty high quality developer for Game-Guru saying he was done with Game-Guru after making a fairly phenomenal piece of work, I replied with something I think a few more would benefit from.

https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219060

Example of his work:

CC1_2017-12-09_15-07-50-49.png
Game is 'Cold Contract' by DuchenKuke


So I'm posting it here too :)

"I'll just throw this out there:
I've used a lot of different game engines over the years. I've worked in modding the original quake 1 engine going back to 1997/98 making a 10000 line AI program (500 pages or so of code) which someone else took to use to make the core 'reaper bot code' everyone knows and loves, worked in the MW4 engine making a mod called siege that the developers then used as the basis for a new multiplayer mode they added in the black knight expansion, I've worked in pie 3d gcs DOS/windows (required learning fortran/forth for ai programming!), worked in Acknex 7, 8 using their Lite-C system.

More recently I've worked in Unity, Unreal, heck I even played around in Lumberyard (not recommended for the average indy dev, btw) ... but the one thing that is a CONSTANT for all engines:

They all have problems. Every single one has stupid, obnoxious problems that require constant mucking around with to make them function. GameGuru is no exception.

That said, when you've exhibited the level of proficiency you have and then drop a project because you're frustrated with the errors - I get that, I do.

However you are going to run into problems in other engines too. I recommend taking a short break then getting back to it. Finishing a project, no matter how bad it is, is a skill a lot of indy devs lack. I myself suffer from 'I got bored and annoyed' syndrome. In spite of that, if you want to be successful you have to power through it and grind it out.

Use innovative solutions to deal with your memory issues or problems with long load times.

Also, best advice I can give for fixing your errors:
Read the log files! Enable logs if they aren't setup to (I think you have to modify a setting in setup.ini) and read the logs. There's a lot of info in there that's pretty plain to see like 'error loading model such and such.'. Great - then remove that model! Done. Problem solved.

I've made a lot of games I don't release that are just private endeavors. I'll post my most recent one here shortly, which has a whole 'five nights at freddy' vibe to it. It's all doable. It requires testing and fixing. It requires reading log files. It requires 'adding things the standalone builder missed'. It's all there part of the game making process.

In the end I have functional games that play well. You will too, if you don't take the easy way out and quit.

Good luck either way, I enjoy your work and look forward to more."





--------
Unrelated, on an aside I have a lot of really great coding projects for Game-Guru in the works.  Then I will, most likely be taking a move up to bigger and better things by adding Lua functionality to Unreal 4.18 and bringing my coding skills with respect to Lua over the Unreal.  My most major hangup with Unreal has been that god-awful blueprint system.  I get it's meant for the non-programmer but I don't like being stuck choosing that or straight up C++.  No ... thank... you.  Call me spoiled, but Lua is just so damn nice it's hard to not want to KEEP working in it once you get a handle on it's dynamic typing.

Projects should be complete within the quarter.  I also have a larger, longer term project being done for Game-Guru that only a few are aware of.  Once I get further along (80% of the way) I'll post here about it.  In the meantime the current rash of projects to watch for on the forums and TGCstore will be:
  • A very easy to use camera scripting system
  • A roguelike toolkit
  • Another toolkit I refuse to mention currently (separate of other project I won't mention).
And that'll be all!  Anyways, take care everyone and  keep up the good work, independent developers. 

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As mentioned previously I should probably get off blogger soon.
Is it just wordpress these days or is there anything else of value out there?

It dawned on me I'm basically doing the job Lee and crew did years ago back when Game-Guru was still fresh and had life to it.  

ENGINE UPDATES:

The following video has all of the latest details and updates on the Game-Guru engine.

That's right, literally nothing, zip, zilch, nada.  Just one cryptic post from Lee about another unrelated project (here) that was received rather poorly by the increasingly salty natives.


NEW ON THE STORE


https://www.tgcstore.net/product/30999 - BSP made a new m9 pistol.  Looks very decent!
https://www.tgcstore.net/pack/11002 - Tarkus continues his efforts in the world of audio for Game-Guru.  It's a smart move and he could easily translate it cross platform if he so chose.  I like his work thus far. This 'star cluster music pack' has a really professional feel to it.  The tracks are well done and have a heavy ambient-style synth vibe to them.  It's slower than his other stuff but definitely has a good feel to it for a space-based game that is not fast paced.  The free samples practically sell it for him.  Even though I'm an owner of his previous work(s) I feel this one has a real good flow to it.  I may purchase it myself soon!
https://www.tgcstore.net/product/31002 - Corrosion's 'enhanced AI'.  Probably is enhanced but I'd prefer to see a video if I'm spending that kind of money on an unproven product.  I'm an AI geek myself; I spent several thousand lines of code writing a pretty landmark AI program that went on to be the basis for the Reaper bot code.  Color me hard to impress, if you will.  Without a video to show the differences, it's hard to justify spending 7 dollars on something that could only be marginally better.  Considering how bad the AI is currently, this is significant.  If anyone purchases this, please let me know what your results are!


THIRD PARTY PROGRAMS:


So in more relevant news (to me, that is), there's a lot going on with third party programs.  To me, this and Lua coded items are where the action are at.  Lee simply takes too long to push his updates and as a result, we're forced to do a lot of the heavy lifting if this thing is ever going to be a functional product.

So first off we have OldPMan's excellent "Normalizator" (wow, what a mouthful) tool starting to beta PBR support.  This is a huge boost to people like me who haven't got the time to invest in learning a whole new workflow for PBR assets!

More info here:  https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/216095?page=6#msg2594115

Also we've had some lively discussions on voice synthesis (robo-talk) software: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219214

And also we have a great thread on converting assets from Makehuman to Mixamo to 'FBX2GG'.

Lastly, I should also mention my own work here.  I recently created a Notepad++ Lua API for Game-Guru.  It's a simple piece but was a time consuming slog with 2400+ lines of XML code to write up.  It will basically auto-complete, give hints, etc for Game Guru and it's associated Lua functions. You can get more info on that here: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219215

RANDOM ACTS OF CREATIVITY


https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219234 - Bugsy continues his work on his Wolf's previous FPSC game: Direct Action.  The sequel is called "Direct Action 2" (surprisingly enough) and has some pretty good teaser screenshots:
BiYA5x8.jpg

FbDCyZI.jpg


https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219060 - Duchenkuke has given up on his flagship product 'Cold Contract'; This is unfortunate.  Another high quality potential Game-Guru developer is taking an undefined hiatus from Game-Guru due to production issues.  This is, in my opinion, the biggest plague we have ongoing right now.  We really have a significant hurtle in using Game-Guru with respect to producing titles, primarily our ability to actually 'convert into standalone' and memory issues.  The memory issues, in particular, really cause serious problems in larger projects.  It's a damn shame that yet another great project is being dumped because this issue couldn't get resolved.

https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219206 Lastly, while it's not a WIP, Wolf made a pretty great lightmapping tutorial.  This is the type of thing we need more of.

IN MY OWN WORKS


As mentioned, there's my Notepad++ API that is free for download to help developers get the most out of their Lua coding in Game-Guru.  On top of that I've been intermittently working on my upcoming kit(s) for Game-Guru.  They're heady projects though so it's really eating up cycles to do the things I want to do.  I realize that if I was a slightly better programmer in Lua this probably wouldn't be so tremendously difficult.

That said I've made a lot of progress.  I've integrated weapons and healthkits into my system (ammo was the first thing I used) and now need to find a way to get the enemies to do what I want them to do.  All in all, I'm a solid 2-4 months away from being able to release either of them at this pace.  Maybe as things clear up I'll be able to allot more time.  As it is though, it's only a little here and there.

That wraps it up for this week.  Keep an eye out for an update coming down the pike.  We should see some really great stuff soon if Lee ever deems to open the floodgates.




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There's virtually no value to me being on this platform.
Might be time to switch to wordpress.

I'm obviously shadowbanned on most of Google's services (probably due to my heavy conservative bias elsewhere in the internet); my view rate is virtually nil despite the fact I know approximately 30-50 regulars come here.  Searches on google.com make it nearly impossible to find this blog, despite it being such a singular purpose and having a specific focus that it's almost shocking.  I mean google vs bing, bing shows me as 2nd for results whereas google shows 7th-8th on a similar search.  I'm also unable to use adsense at all, so really I do this for writing practice and literally nothing else.

The blogger widgets are a joke.  Etc.  Etc.  There's just poor integration across the board and I'm not really sure what the purpose of using this platform is.

For now I'll continue as usual but don't be surprised if there's a switch in the future.

I'm going to play with some settings, revisit previous pages that had better labeling, metatags, etc.  Overall, however, this site is frustrating to maintain primarily because of the restrictions imposed by both a bad platform and one that seems specifically intent on crushing my readership's accessibility.


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So while it wasn't tremendously difficult to implement, I made a simple XML Game-Guru Lua ANSI API for Notepad++.  Most of us Lua scripters for Game-Guru are already using NPP(Notepad++) for coding as it has built in Lua support, allowing autocomplete of functions and encapsulation of loops. That said, I desired something that would allow me to autocomplete common functions (which already was happening on projects I have of substantial size) for Game-Guru specific Lua work.

I realized this must be a fairly simple thing to do in NPP as many other groups have done it (Noteably Love, which is a Lua extension that I used as a framework for my work here).

What I've done is gone on and created a Lua API for Notepad++ that will simply and easily configure NPP to auto-fill Game-Guru functions for you, give you a list of functions to browse and give you a simple bit of detail about each function as well as it's inputs and outputs (for instance, if it returns a number or what not).  It's all completely free for anyone interested.

More information is available here: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219215


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This week will be a little brief as well.  Not much overall going on as people still recover from winter.  However, you will definitely want to check out the 'In my own works' section as I've been doing a LOT of really interesting things this week.
 
ENGINE UPDATE PROGRESS REPORT

So a few little things have come to our attention; first of all it seems Lee has an issue tracker he's working on.  This should help keep things more organized and help him knock out bugs quicker.  He will also be able to isolate and track things that are getting out of hand or have a lot of complaints.

And while this isn't 'new' engine news, I did discover that global.lua has a significant amount of fairly new Lua commands.  I mean probably on the order of around a hundred or so new commands.  Things that are exceptionally useful.  I highly recommend you check them out.  ForcePlayer is a fun one, for example.  I created a riverbed with a current, a tornado effect, a conveyor belt, etc.  Lots of interesting stuff now that there's some physics enabled commands in Lua!

NEW PRODUCTS IN THE STORE

There's a few new things on the store.  Teabone has put out a few new scripts, notably an in-game clock system, useful for those who don't want to spend more for my Time of Day and Weather system but just need a simple clock.  It can be found here: https://www.tgcstore.net/product/30991

Also of note, the ever-strange Colosso productions has put out a decent pack if you like a colorful, retro style.

011518store.PNG


I personally like his work on skies though the models for me are not my cup of tea.  Artistically, I understand his desire for bright, crazy colors.  It's not my cup of tea, but it might be yours.  The pricing is decent enough and can be found here: https://www.tgcstore.net/pack/11001


FREE STUFF

While it looks like Bod is working on a few new things, he hasn't released them yet.  Once they're released, they'll be here first thing.

Beyond that not really seeing much else at this time.

THIRD PARTY TOOLS

Someone posted a virtual voice creator by IBM.  Apparently it's pretty sophisticated though I've not had a chance to play with it yet.  Robovoice is not my favorite thing but does have it's uses from a gamedev's perspective.  Check it out here: https://ivva-tts.sl.haifa.il.ibm.com/welcome

RANDOM ACTS OF CREATIVITY

This week brought a pleasant surprise in the form of a new face taking an ambitious series of first steps towards a Game-Guru project.

Peri posted a video for an out of the ordinary promo for a game he's working on.  Overall, I like it.  It lacks polish, but has promise.  If he can clean it up, keep it functional (a big difficulty in Game-Guru!) and produce it he might have a winner.



IN MY OWN WORKS

So in my own works, I'm working on several plug-in and go kits for Game-Guru.  The one I will discuss today will be the 'RogueLike' kit.  The RogueLike kit is coming along nicely, with some interesting code fixes to make it work within GG's Lua framework.

I learned several very interesting things Lua related recently; things which have been a total game-changer with how I handle tables.  First off, is that you can specify the table name with a hashtag in front to get the most recent element of it.   I don't want to say too much without giving away the farm, so ... bing is your friend here (screw google, the goddamn commies).  Second, you can get your object id for direct manipulation by simply using variable 'e'.  So ... if you are trying to build a level you don't have to use g_Entity[e]['obj'] or anything like that.  Just use e.  Then you can call functions off 'e' which will in turn allow you to disable/enable things, hide/show things, etc.  It's really pretty impressive and much better than the hardcoding I did for the lightkit.  I may even go back and redo the code for it to make it more dynamic.


It's really brought me forward pretty far.  Now with respect to the RL kit, the idea is that Game-Guru has significant difficulty with moving between levels and unloading resources.  Memory problems abound.   Ideally we'd do much of our work on several major levels, then build links between them, right?  Unfortunately in implementation this results in frequent crashes.  However what if you didn't have to leave the level?  What if you just kept working with existing resources, over and over again?  You could frame out a single level and just beat it to death with random numbers and automatic generation.  Granted, there's limits to this type of system but it's fairly popular and I can see people wanting to buy it.
At this point I've developed a very sophisticated teleportation system and also an item spawner.  The item spawner I just solved last night and it will really open up the doors to all the other items of this product I plan to add.  Once I can implement it fully we'll have some really cool stuff available!

I plan on posting an update video later in the week to give you guys something more visual to chew on.  That all hinges on whether I can get the enemy spawning code working the way I want.  I'm going to take a few pieces from smallg's stuff but mostly it'll be 90% my own work because unfortunately what I am asking for from Lua is HIGHLY specific.

What this will, in the end, allow you to do, however is build several rooms that link to each other, build enemies, treasure, etc automatically and have some basic systems to use off that. 


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Lee basically added a ton of Lua commands a while ago and I didn't even see it.

https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/218322

"Added 483 new LUA commands to the scripting system to support Player Control Mechanics
Added SetSurfaceIntensity, SetSurfaceSunFactor, SetGlobalSpecular, SetBrightness, SetContrast
Added SetPostBloom, SetPostLightRayLength, SetPostLightRayQuality, SetPostLightRayDecay
Added SetPostSAORadius, SetPostSAOIntensity, SetPostLensFlareIntensity
Added SetOptionReflection, SetOptionShadows, SetOptionLightRays, SetOptionVegetation, SetOptionOcclusion
Added SetCameraPanelDistance, SetCameraPanelFOV, SetCameraPanelZoomPercentage, SetCameraPanelWeaponFOV
Added SetTerrainLODNear, SetTerrainLODMid, SetTerrainLODFar, SetTerrainSize
Added SetVegetationQuantity, SetVegetationWidth, SetVegetationHeight"

... ugh, gonna be a long day.


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I'll admit that I'm being a bit lazy again with this stuff but the fact is I get maybe 50 hits on a good day to this blog and that's being generous so I don't feel an overwhelming pressure to put these things out on time.  You get them, plainly, at my leisure, which is fairly inconsistently available at this point.  That said, the community is fairly quiet as of current.


ENGINE UPDATE PROGRESS REPORT


I got an update from Lee on a question I asked, basically asking me to wait and that an update may *knock on wood* be scheduled for later this month.  That is literally all I have at the moment.



NEW PRODUCTS IN THE STORE







Not a lot going on here.  Corrosion appears to be putting a bunch of scripts up which have good utility.  You can find his store here:

https://www.tgcstore.net/artist/221852

FREE STUFF


Graphix did an 'elf girl' for download (NON COMMERCIAL ONLY). https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/217932?page=6#msg2593436

No new scripts that I saw, anyways.

THIRD PARTY TOOLS


Nothing really new here but there was an excellent infodump by Preben on his shader/GG Loader thread here: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/215236?page=4#msg2588372  .. he did recently add PBR support which is fairly impressive given it's capabilities.  Preben continues to amaze the rest of us.

RANDOM ACTS OF CREATIVITY


Not a thing.  Pretty quiet all around. As usual, updates generally cause a big uptick in activity, a flurry of new posts then it goes silent again for a bit.

IN MY OWN WORKS

It's like 'in my own words' but it's talking about my works so it's very clever, right? RIGHT?  SO CLEVER!  *Pats self on back*.
 
So I'm adding this section to keep people apprised of what's going on with my own stuff.  I have two new code kits coming, both are pretty nifty stuff but they will take some time to create.   They both will have fairly reasonably large impacts on two different game genres so it should be interesting to see who will purchase them.  I don't want to give away too much before it's ready.  Bottom line is simply keep your eyes peeled in this space for more details later as we approach a point where I can release the code on the store.


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Happy New Years, everyone. I hope you all had a great holiday.

I'm super busy getting caught up but I have a few updates to go over.  From my standpoint, I completed several interesting projects in Game-Guru I'll post shortly.  I'd like to wrap up some minor bugs but I am pleased with the results.  That aside, I ran into some serious issues with the engine's ability to make standalone files.  While standalone exports have always been an issue, it seems the latest public preview edition had more and more issues as time went on.  It felt like I was hitting snags on every export, with every third or fourth being the 'good' one.  Really hoping we see an update soon.


ENGINE UPDATE PROGRESS REPORT


No news to report here, sadly.  Holiday usually means Lee disappears off the face of the earth for an inordinate amount of time.  We'll probably hear from him again in march.  :(

NEW PRODUCTS IN THE STORE









In the store, there were a few new products with only a few notable updates.  Mstockton put up some nice locks and keys, which are always useful. On top of that Mad Lobster put up some interesting medical equipment for download.  They're well priced and look great.

010318store.PNG


Grobyken's new stuff is starting to pop up on the site as well and I highly recommend giving it a look as his latest models are a massive leap forward over his previous stuff.


FREE STUFF

The past few weeks have been relatively bereft of any real freebies aside from a few nice ones that found their way onto the scene:

First we have Bugsy's free scooter.  I like Bugsy's models and this one is no exception.  Should be a good city prop.

010318bugsy.jpg

Next we have something a bit more simple that came as a request from a user, a series of 'street party flags'.  The kind of little celebratory banners they post to make a city seem more festive.  Looks like these freebies came out well:
taxi.jpg

Going back a few more days we find a nice free set of characters from Lafette, who has generously provided something that would normally cost a fair amount on the store for free:

010318lonnie.PNG
They've got lots of custom animations as well!


THIRD PARTY TOOLS





While not necessarily a third party tool, this thread on PBR workflows is similar in the sense that it provides a good bit of information on using third party tools to create PBR assets within Game-Guru, something I'm still struggling with.  https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219159

RANDOM ACTS OF CREATIVITY


Some interesting stuff out there but mostly the same old projects.
I did find a new trailer for Kshatriya by Bugsy though:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9SnoHh5m7w

I'm looking forward to posting some of my own recent work online so keep an eye out for that in the near future.

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It's come to my attention that the latest download of the time of day and weather system is busted on the store.  There's a file missing that's necessary.  I've set it unavailable for now.

So I'm going to take some time tonight and modify the zip files accordingly, then upload them again.

I'm also going to see if I can make the time of day system work with public preview while retaining compatibility with previous versions.

We'll see how that goes.
Apologies to those inconvenienced.


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Notice: Next week's issue will be delayed a day or so due to the holidays.

ENGINE UPDATE PROGRESS REPORT


No new updates for us normies.  We're still in beta-test limbo; apparently a beta update was released to the closed beta testers which was labelled as a public preview update.  This accidental update might cause you some confusion if you find yours hasn't updated.  That said given Lee's recent flurry of responses on the forums we can see that there's definitely some renewed emphasis on bugfixes and system stability (specifically with memory).

Also worth mentioning is my own find that you can reduce CPU usage by a drastic amount on most maps by updating the AI scripts to include some changes.  Specifically it appears that 'always active=off' does not actually appear to be functioning.  So you need to manually configure this via a player distance check in the script.  By doing this, you kill the overhead required for the rather intensive AI system.  Details can be found here: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219078

For now though, we're all waiting for what looks like what will be a new-years update to improve stability and performance.   I'm really hoping Lee grinds this one out over holiday though I can understand if we have to wait until February for it.

NEW PRODUCTS IN THE STORE

 

121817store.PNG
Some small, but interesting updates.

This week on the store we have a new artist (Thorus) making a solid go of some residential models and a decently good looking tractor.  These models are well priced, most going in the sub-one dollar range per model.   Moshroom has written a new script which degrades weapon quality and makes them unusable after a point.  Acid has added a ... moving target?  I couldn't really discern this one's purpose but I'm sure someone will find it useful.  Lastly mstockton, who does a solid job on his modelling, added a nice padlock and key set for a very good price on the store.
 
Lastly added to the store was an actual game:
1218sav.jpg

This particular game, Savior V1, has been around a while.  It however, represents a certain threshold for quality that most 'steam game releases' I've seen fail to measure up to.  While it's well priced at .99 cents (on sale at this time for a meager .50 cents), it is worth playing from the standpoint of seeing quality game design and development in Game-Guru.  One can learn a significant amount from osmosis and this situation is no different.

That aside though what's really important about this is it highlights the store as an additional distribution channel.  While we could potentially suffer the same problems as other channels (such as the hot, shoveled garbage games that find their way to steam) it could prove a really interesting way to market your own products to a smaller, more receptive audience.  Definitely worth considering fotr the future.

FREE STUFF

 This week's update in 'Free Stuff' has brought some absolutely incredible scripts.  I mean three really big hitters that all solve a lot of major issues for Game-Guru game devs.  First up is Solar's objective script found here: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219081

1218solobj.jpg


Check out the above picture.  You can see clearly marked objectives which float under the object; this is going to be massively useful for the average FPS game.  The best part is this one is actually very straightforward to use and adapt so it will bring a lot of value to a lot of people.
 
Next up is AmenMoses, who has once again provided a crazy amount of utility those of us who want to really push the envelope in Game-Guru.  He's created a utility library that allows object rotation, connecting decals to objects, and much more.  It has to be seen to be believed, check out the videos and the downloads here at the forum link:  https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219096

HonkeyBoy has been working tirelessly in Game-Guru on several projects for a few years now.  These projects are pushing forward and his toolkit has really grown a lot over the past few months.  Recently he's added a survival and crafting script for people to use and abuse:

1218hbsurv.png


The script, along with some secondary scripts (fire making, shelter making, etc) can be found here: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219061
It's also worth mentioning he's added some new models for download that are free for use as well here:  https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219082

Graphix has added a few impressive glass panels to the forum which I will personally be using extensively.

1218_gr_gp.PNG


My previous 'glass panels' were some really old ones I'd hackneyed together from some pretty old assets.  While they worked ok, they didn't do a spectacular job and looked cheap.  These look exceptionally high quality and use alpha channels well.  Get them here: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/217932?page=6#msg2592415


 THIRD PARTY TOOLS

BOTR has updated the Heightmapping to MDAT tool again with a new GUI and a fix for the Windows 10 machines that were crashing.  It's really coming into it's own.  This brings it up to a current version of 2.1a; it can be found at this location:  https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/218876?page=3#msg2592417

I personally have used the older versions to some good effect though it takes some tinkering to find the right settings for the scaling and what not.  Overall though this is a must-have item for your toolbox if you plan on using any kind of pre-made terrain or imports from terrain building software.


RANDOM ACTS OF CREATIVITY





This week I play-tested Bugsy's Multiplayer Simulator which was fun and interesting.  It ran well, played well, and reminded me a good bit of Quake 3 Arena.  I'd love to see him push this project further and as always it's got some of Bugsy's hallmark humor added in as a dry touch:

1218mps.png
More games need a 'middle finger' model, IMO.
Also after long last we have an update on Wolf's epic flagship game - Shavra.   If you aren't familiar, Wolf is one of the top tier developers for Game-Guru.   He's in a very small group of other talented developers and this is his baby.  The screenshots alone from 4 years ago show the Game-Guru engine stretched to it's limits.  The latest screenshots are jaw-droppingly gorgeous, as you'd expect:

gamegurushavra-2.jpg

There simply aren't enough Game-Guru games meeting this level of quality.  I find it really impressive and have to say I wish I could meet this level on my own work.  It looks like it should be out of Unreal or Unity.  Not something as 'plebeian' as Game-Guru.


That wraps it up for this week.   As mentioned next week will have a delay before I post any new content, I may even skip it entirely.

Keep an eye out for some interesting new work from me too, I've been hard at work developing some new tools for Game-Guru users as well as a secret project that only a few select people know about.  It'll take a good 6 months before it's ready, minimum, but once it's released it should really open a few eyes.  That's about the most I can safely say on it.  That and that it's about 8-10% complete as of this moment.  So I have a long road ahead of me.  Thanks again and see you next week!



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ENGINE UPDATE PROGRESS REPORT

So we've all had a week or so to chew on the new Public Preview aka Open Beta of the PBR-enabled, DX11 configured Game Guru and.... it's buggy.  I mean it's good in a lot of ways, but it's seriously buggy.  I myself have encountered numerous problems with existing media's implementation (mostly based around the old shaders having lack of compatibility with DX11).  This is going to break a lot of people's old media which may not be a bad thing.  I personally am starting to wonder why Lee didn't just split this off into a separate project.  Doing it this late in the game seems ... a lot riskier now that it's actually reached beta phase.

With respect to my own works I tested my Lighting Kit and Weather System.  The Lighting system works fine.  The Weather system requires some adjustment.

Primarily you have to:
  • Open your GG folder.  Mine is in c:\program files(x86)\steam\steamapps\common\game-guru
  • Open the files subfolder, then the effectbank subfolder, then the reloaded subfolder.
  • Edit settings.fx in notepad.  Find this line: // #define ADDSKYBOXFOG 
  • Remove the // from the front.  Save the file.
  • Edit the setup or settings (i can't recall and will update this later), find forceloadtestgameshaders=0, change it to a 1, save it.
  • Restart game-guru.
That takes care of the fog issue not affecting the sky.
To update the  weather so it works (I will update my system after public preview becomes an official release so if you don't want to do this part, just wait):
  • Find the bagweather decal folder in your game-guru entitybank/purchased/bag folder.  
  • Edit the FPE file(s) for each weather decal.  Change effect_animate64.fx to decal_animate64.fx
Done!





I'm hoping Preben and Lee get this stuff sorted and these bugs sifted for a good release post-new years.

NEW PRODUCTS IN THE STORE








Unfortunately people are clearly winding down for the holidays so not much activity going on the store at the moment.

Lots and lots of sales though.

One new thing on the store is Tazman's bloody snowmen.  If you want that kind of thing, it's there for you.

1211store.PNG


FREE STUFF



In the world of free scripts and objects we have some really excellent stuff this week.
Amenmoses has produced a script which does some pretty impressive things with balls and physics.  Specifically it drops/spawns balls from the air which actually respond to physics after spawning.  Impressive stuff.  Check it out here: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219068

Graphix has provided some really nice PBR-enabled free barrels!
https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/217932?page=5#msg2591866

Bod has given us more goodies this week - primarily a hay bale, pitchfork, and this neat laptop:

But this week everyone got eclipsed by LOTGD's release of several character for free use.  They are of exceptionally high quality.  I for one am humbled by this offering as it's really the kind of thing you'd expect to pay 5+ dollars on the store for.   You can find that here: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219057?page=1#msg2591614

steampunk.PNG


There's also this nifty scorpion he made on the same thread here: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219057?page=1#msg2591822


THIRD PARTY TOOLS


Looks like Bored Of The Rings (BOTR) released the newest version of his heightmap to GG tool.  This tool now has a functional GUI and some better tuned settings.  Definitely check it out!
https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/218876?page=2#msg2591885

RANDOM ACTS OF CREATIVITY


In the randomly creative arena we've got some real winners this week but I think this one takes the cake:


I mean wow, this literally makes my week. SCHNEEKY has also made a Christmas-time Yule log, which was pretty cleanly done.

yule.PNG

And in the realm of actually 'Holy crap this should get released' works of creativity:
Duchenkuke has done some really amazing things with his "Cold Contract" game.  Looks absolutely awesome, the lighting is great!

CC1_2017-12-09_15-09-42-05.png
Keep a real close eye on this one.  This is going to be a real show-stopper once it's released.


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Welcome back to my second update.  We've seen some HUGE updates this week.

ENGINE UPDATE PROGRESS REPORT


First and foremost, the public preview was released this week.  The 'beta' is now a public beta.   Get in there and test!  I ran into a problem installing mine that required me to update certain elements of my Windows 7 OS to fix a D3DDIRECT_47.dll not found error.   Other than that though, it works great.  I've had a few assets with problems and am yet to test my own products but as soon as I can verify their function I'll note that here.

More info is available here: https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/219024

snapshot5.jpg
PBR Assets look great!


Beware though; this is a test version.  It's not all there yet and so it's best to make a backup before you continue.  I personally copied my 50+GB of assets and GG to a backup folder.  If you can't afford that kind of space, then I'd recommend either getting another drive or putting a copy on drive.google.com (you get like 15GB free there).

NEW PRODUCTS IN THE STORE


The store this week has some interesting December sales which are worth looking at.  Artists range from "The Wizard of Id", "that model guy" and "grobyken" all having several models or packs up to individual packs like Teabone's new warning sign set.

1204store.png
These high quality clutter objects cost only 70 cents.. TOTAL!  For the whole pack!
Teabone's done a fantastic job of creating high quality assets that are extremely affordable but possibly more importantly - they are very useful!  I have several signs from older packs that just don't measure up.  They look chunky and out of date.  These signs are clear, easy to read, are well lit but yet still have just the right amount of grunge to keep them from looking out of place.

Also on the store I noticed this gem from an artist I've only seen the occasional piece from: AlexGCC.  I took a look and noticed two separate products which appear relatively new that are of pretty excellent quality:

alexgcc.PNG
The Arcade will go well with EAI's set and the playground will go well with dagored's Carnival.
They're both reasonably priced so definitely give these and his other interesting products a look!

FREE STUFF


As always, there's a veritable bevy of free stuff available on the Game-Guru forums.  This week we have a nice freebie from Wolf, a set electrical boxes which he's also put up on the store as well.  I have several of his 'junction box' sets and I've noticed a clear trend upwards in terms of quality and technical skill.  Of note are the illuminated lights on the boxes.

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The perfect touch for all your cyberpunk set dressing needs.
Also on the forums it appears Bod's been at it again.  Now if you don't know Bod, you should.  He's made a titanic mass of free stuff over the past few years.  While his art style and approach might limit other assets you can use with it, it does definitely fill a role and niche.  Very often he's got things you simply can't find anywhere else.  Or things that you'd pay a fair penny for on the store.

In this case he's been working on a ton of railroad assets.  This week he's added a switching booth which looks great.  It's probably one of his best physical models for buildings that I've seen so far.

sb3.jpg
His texturing is really going places.

At some point I'm going to take all my free assets and open up a google drive with them so people can access them freely in the future.  It'd be a shame if this stuff just fell off into oblivion from lack of upkeep or if the forums went away.


sb4.jpg
The interior on this building is top notch.  I love the way it turned out.
One final one to look at is this thread: https://forum.game-guru.com/board/25 which has a repository of all of "tarkus1971"s hard work.  He's got some interesting things there but most notably he has been adding lots of great music for free use in your games.

THIRD PARTY TOOLS

In the world of third party tools, it looks like BOTR's 'HeightMap to Game-Guru' tool is getting a new user interface which will really help with it's function.  On top of that he's added a preview mode which should REALLY shave time off pulling maps from http://terrain.party and importing them into Game-Guru. Granted I'm really thankful for a free tool like this but I have to admit it's always nice when it becomes truly functional.

HM2GG_GUI_draft3.png
This is going to massively help level development for Game-Guru!

Also of note is that OldPMan's "normalizator" tool has apparently reached a new stage of development and will be offered shortly on the store.  Per OldPMan himself:

"Hello everybody!
I'm happy to report that I finally recovered the lost source code "NORMALIZATOR". So I added a height channel and several auxiliary functions, this is copying the image from layer to layer, cropping the image and copying / pasting the selected part of the image. Fixed several bugs.
Now I will have all my time in touch and any questions will not be left without attention.

Concerning people who donated to the development of the application, I sent everyone emails with the keys for NORMALIZATOR in the tgcstore store. I noticed that not all of the keys I sent were activated, if for some reason you did not receive a letter with a key from me, write me a PM and I will give you instructions for obtaining a key in the tgcstore store.

The new version will soon be available at the tgcstore store, now in the status of approval.

For those who expect STEAM version, now you can get access to the closed beta test of the application, just write me a PM and I'll send you the key for access via STEAM client."

RANDOM ACTS OF CREATIVITY


So there's a lot of activity going into the holidays with projects.  I have a lot to cover here.

1204new.PNG
Let's start from the top!
First up we have MrEaKing(YT)'s 'Santa's Workshop(1 week challenge)'.  What can I say?  He's retextured assets and modified some of the soldiers to provide a shall we say a truly 'unique' experience.


Beyond that we have Dark Harbour; Honkeyboy's newest attempt at making a Skyrim Style game which will undoubtedly push the boundaries of how many assets Game-Guru can run without crashing.  He's got some interesting crafting scripts in there that he's working on and it's definitely got some work behind it.

Of particular note here is AmenMoses's 'asteroids-ish thingy'.  AmenMoses is the maker of the quaternion library for Game Guru and he uses it for rotation in very impressive fashion.

asteroids.jpg
I'll have to play with it later but should run great, knowing AmenMoses.
Beyond that we have some updates to the Cogwheel Chronicles 1 and LenTheMan's Cowboy shooter.  Lots of good stuff in the pipeline.

Personally I have my own projects as well that are stalled out but will revive after the new year.  Lots of things to work on and do.  I'd like to get some stuff done for Christmas but it's really going to be tight at this rate.



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So I've decided to start updating *MORE REGULARLY* than I did previously.  There's a lot of things coming for Game-Guru and it's worth reviewing in one place.  So I'm going to begin to try to encapsulate that as often as I can in digest format.

ENGINE UPDATE PROGRESS REPORT:


First of all, progress on the Game-Guru update to PBR/DX11 & bugfixes are coming along nicely.  Recent updates can be found here:

Most recent engine update progress

Lee has basically indicated he's in the bugfixing phase and he's squashing them in pretty rapid fashion.  I'd list them all here but he's put in over 40 items in the changelog this week alone.

He's also giving us a test level to work with that will take an older demo map and show off the fully upgraded engine's capabilities.

NEW PRODUCTS IN THE STORE:

There's a whole host of new products on the store.  Notably very capable artists such as Wolf, Mad Lobster's Workshop, Bugsy and others are adding some really great things.

1128store.PNG
BSP's newest rifle looks phenomenal!
Don't forget to grab your free 'thank you sky' from my store here: https://www.tgcstore.net/product/30955 

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Just one picture of one of my best skies ever, free for you all :)

One thing of note is that Ken "AKA Grobyken"  has made some pretty stunning progress in his work.  He attributes it to using some new tools for development.  I personally can't say I'd have the same success if I had better tools.

1128kenpic.PNG
I'm definitely going to be keeping an eye or three on his upcoming works.

FREE STUFF

Of note this week is Bod (of Bod's Mods fame) has made a very impressive free train set.  It includes Three steamers, a rail model, a coal car, a dining car with functioning doors, and a caboose.  The art is his signature style with clean and simple graphics.

ts1.jpg


It's something I'm surprised isn't selling on the store for a few dollars, but honestly I'm happy for the free stuff, as usual.

THIRD PARTY TOOLS

Obviously my Light Kit is now available on the store, which does in a sense count as third party tools, however the big news here is that it appears that BOTR's  'terrain heightmap importer', 'autowelder', and 'entity welder' are all getting updates.

The one of primary interest to me will be the terrain heightmap importer, which has fit a crucial slot in Game-Guru development by providing us a simple and clean way to import heightmaps directly into the engine.


"for version 1.2, I quickly added a progress bar and will get a fully functional GUI implemented so you don't have to keep editing/saving the .INI file. added .tga format also."

For those who are using it, my personal recommendation is to use terrainxscale = 1, terrainyscale = 6.5 or 7.5 (10-32 if you want especially dramatic elevation changes), and a water level of about 450.  This should give you the best results.

RANDOM ACTS OF CREATIVITY

This is where I plan to put anything in the realm of game demos or videos which are of special consideration for any reason I deem fit :)

First off, we have a really impressive demo of the now updated Cogwheel Chronicles.  It features airship to airship combat done in Game-Guru and is striking to me as a Lua coder at the sheer volume of work that went into making this work.




And lastly there's this great Holiday video done by often quiet forum member shn33ky.  He's done a really good job of recreating a beer commercial from years gone by.



Oh.. and somehow I got user of the month for the first time in four years.  What the heck?  Well, ok then :)  Glad someone's appreciating the work I put into this stuff.


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So lately I've been exceptionally busy preparing for my house to be sold.
That said I've found time to complete my lightkit, place it on the store and begin selling it.
I also made a tutorial video.


Warning: I'm a terrible video editor.

The item on the store is located here:  https://www.tgcstore.net/product/30936

Also I've gone through the trouble of collating important information on Game-Guru (as I've found it) into a reference list.  I used to keep this as a sort of 'private page' but now I'm opening it up to everyone else.  It can be found on the sidebar but here's a direct link in case you can't find it:
http://gamegurureport.blogspot.com/p/reference-list-for-gameguru.html

I've also added 'sparckman.com' as a site in my sidebar list as well.  He's been around a while and has some good scripts as well as tutorial videos on youtube.  Definitely check him out!

Beyond that there's some interesting stuff coming but we are all waiting with baited breath for the latest GG update.

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With respect to projects, I don't know why I choose to do more hard work when I am already busting my buns trying to prep my house for sale.  However, I have some really great stuff in the pipeline.  Primarily I'm working on a toolkit (in the prototyping phase) which will allow pretty heavy duty control of dynamic lights in Game Guru.

We're talking script-based controls of lights which will allow very functional utility for the average game-maker.  It will also be competitively priced, by that I mean very affordable :)  Right now I'm looking at putting it up for around 3.50 or so.

That's what's going on.  I'll post a video here once I finish a few more lighting systems for demoing.

So far I have about half of the following:

  • A steady strobing effect
  • A random strobing effect
  • A 'campfire' effect
  • A light up on trigger zone
  • Several  lights simultaneously
  • Several lights sequentially
  • A single light moving in a pattern
  • Several strobes at once
  • Several strobes in sequence
This should provide some really excellent controls for new and existing users to work with dynamic lights.  As the updates come I'll add further functionality too, for free, to purchasers.

Keep your eyes peeled!


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I always liked totalbiscuit; his style and prose are very good to me.  

This gem relates to the maze discussion I had a few days previous:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q6UQ2QlRH0

Real solid stuff here, totally worth watching.

Also, this is worth looking at:
https://forum.game-guru.com/thread/218797?page=2

It appears that BOTR has made a functioning bmp to terrain generator for GG!


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Recently I was following the progress of this gem:




Dimoxinil is not only a hard to spell username, but also one of the premier Game-Guru creators.

His previous works (though uncompleted) really set the bar rather high for what's capable with this handy little engine we all like to dick around in from time to time.

This newest game is a really well thought out piece of work and we got a little off topic discussing level design principles;  specifically this particular image:

DJY86bpXcAA2KVb.jpg

And also it was noted that there should be some differentiation in the shapes being used by Dimoxinil on this image:

Image1.jpg
It's really hard to believe quality like this can come out of Game-Guru.
So this got me thinking and I had to expand on some of my own thoughts posted there by way of a highly verbose piece written here :)

So I really have no complaints myself about this particular image. It's a little washed out, maybe, but the shapes used are really pretty good at providing a maze-like feel.  If that's what you're going for, that is.  If you are trying to provide a clearly navigable experience, however, you get lost in it.

I personally don't really like the trend of modern games going the route of "This is my linear movie level.  It's highly detailed, but not mentally stimulating in the least."

leveldesignclassic.jpg
An oldie, but a goodie!


The above picture really illustrates once again that no matter how you dress up a simple linear FPS game, it's really just that - a Linear FPS game.

When I read "Masters of Doom", which I consider a must-read by any serious FPS game dev, I saw that John Romero had gotten his start in 3d level design making mazes.  Now this is an important differentiation between modern game design and 'old school' game design. 

Because of the lack of horsepower, gamedevs were FORCED to use more inventive methods to stimulate the player's interest.  This included mental stimulation on the level of insidious puzzles and secrets. This wasn't even a new concept.  The further back you went, the more obvious the mazes were (primarily because of the limitations involved with graphics,storage, and processing hardware).

Originalpacmaze.png
One of the first mazes I recall from my youth showing on my TV screen.
In fact, if you look at video gaming history, it's rife with mazes.  At least, until, hardware improved.

Then we found ourselves in a place where the streets were long and flat but the window dressing was really good.  I noticed a correlation with this in the early 2k's.  Games were getting prettier .. and easier.  Tutorials, controls, everything started slowly getting simplified. 

Maybe our games are making us dumber?  The lack of mazes means lack of higher order thought; people can't process their environments anymore.  It's difficult to really figure your way around a maze with no clear start or end.. with no walls to guide you.  That however can bring it's own enjoyment.  There are, however, certain tricks you can use to make sure your players aren't getting lost (at least, until you intend for them to be!).

Now it's not hard for you to figure out I live in Pennsylvania.  I've lived here my whole life.  I have spent many, MANY hours as a boy meandering around the forests.  It's real easy to get lost because so much of it is just .. so ... SIMILAR.  As I got older my interest in Survivalism and Hiking helped me get a solid sense of navigational techniques.  These same techniques can be used to help guide a player.  Some games virtually beat you over the head with modern methods such as the 'use a light to guide the player' technique:

d2106.jpg
I absolutely enjoyed Doom 2016 but the hell maps were a case study in 'follow the green light to move on'  
While I respect and appreciate some of the things modern level designers have done (the aforementioned Doom, for instance, had superbly designed secrets), I really feel like we've over-simplified some of the bits that made gaming fun for those of us who cut our teeth on the Atari, Nintendo, and 286/386/486 PCs.

Rule One: Try to provide a significant landmark to guide players.

57254953.jpg
That big rock gives you a clear sense of where you are.
When you're out navigating the woods, when you find a major landmark you latch onto it.  It is your anchor, your safety net.  Landmark-based navigation is among the oldest and most easily used methods of finding your way through difficult terrain.  In the above picture, you have two great landmarks.  You have the big rock but ALSO a winding river.  Now if they diverge into separate paths, most people will automatically use that to triangulate where they are.  It's sort of a built in function of the human brain.  Giving people a clock tower, obelisk, large river, mountain, or building can easily change a level from a faceless, winding maze to something where you never truly feel lost.  After all, you're always still anchored to that rock in the distance.

Rule Two:  Light is a landmark, but don't overdo it.

Another time-honored tradition in the real world for navigation is using the position of the sun, moon, or stars to determine where you are.  It's natural for humans to seek light as a source of navigation; cave exits, campfires, houses, all are denoted by lights.   When you get to the point of literally cutting almost every single light out to give people a deliberate trail though of 'green lights' then you are at that point going a little too far, in my humble opinion.

800px_COLOURBOX4271029.jpg
The light is a precious resource; something you don't realize until you are lost in the forest, alone.

Consider this; you are walking through a forest, on a path without a compass.  The path is winding with many forks and the trail is faint.  The trees are like walls, blocking out any landmarks.  You have a watch and know it's 8am.  Suddenly, you get a glimmer of light from the sun; you realize it's to your right and because of that you know that the sun rose in the east - making your direction currently north.  That's opposite the way you wanted to go! You return to your previous fork and try a different path, carefully keeping the position of the sun in line with the direction you wish to go.

These are real world usages of this.  I've been lost in the forest myself before.  I was literally standing on a path wondering where the hell I was.  I knew the path had diverged before.  Obviously I was *SOMEWHERE*.  Until I caught a glimpse of the sun though, I really had no idea which direction I was headed. 

Rule Three: Paths are guidelines, not rules.

1.jpg
Sure, you can keep following the path, but what happens when you go off the trail?
The expression "off the beaten path" is an oft-used one but really denotes that most people tend to follow the trails as given.  Which, let's be fair here, trails exist for a reason.  They are the typically navigated path.  The problems arise when you put the player on a trail they cannot deviate from.  That's not a trail; that's a railroad.  Providing a player a rewarding experience is more than simply giving them a huge art budget and professionally written story.  It's about making the game fun too; exploration is an oft-underutilized component of modern gameplay.  Worse still are examples (I'm looking at you, World of Warcraft) that literally turn exploration into a clinical exercise in boredom. 

Rule Four:  If you really want to get a player lost, take away their frames of reference.

Variety is the spice of life. While it's wonderful to give players a thoughtfully done level that is intuitive to navigate, yet challenging in it's complexity, it's often good to sometimes pull the rug out from under them.

lost-in-the-majesty-of-forest.jpg
Photo by Alex Wise.
When you dump your player into an area with no clear beginning or end and everything looks the same... they're going to feel a type of helplessness that really can't be described in words.  This type of change of pace can often be enough to really help break apart the monotony of longer games.  Putting in a hedge-style maze that's got a ceiling on it, a teleportation maze where every room is almost the same, or just a great big forest with a whole lot of trees can really change the tempo of a game and give you a real hand in the player's fate. 

In conclusion:

I think Wolf really said it best on the original forum post in question:

"I think divisions like this are toxic in a medium that should be about freedom of art and expression. Multiplayer legends like "killbox" or "facing worlds" wouldn't make me an expert?
A lot of very simplistic multiplayer levels are well loved. This also feeds into the culture of bearded, flannel wearing people with a mild depression that tend to overthink and navel gaze game development. This statement is personal, neither objective, nor fair, nor grounded in anything but my own petty dislike for some happenings in the indie scene lately though."


Or if you really want to simplify it, take Bugsy's sage advice:

"remember kids: if your map doesn't have a rotunda, you're not an expert level designer"

Sage advice, indeed.  I'll settle for just telling anyone reading this to maybe think about maybe adding more intellectually stimulating mazes, if only for my own gaming pleasure.






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