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celebrating a greater generation of games
Entries in this blog
with the growth of my development team
the quality of the sounds and graphics
and my increasing knowledge of 3D coding using DX and OpenGL
ive decided to pull the space game from the 4E5 contest
ill be submitting a humorous small scope casual game instead
but as for the more important space game - tentativly titled Project Sparrow (in honor of jack sparrow)
here is a cap of the spaceship
have at ye
Eventually, we would like to have Lego-style ship building process. For now all the ships are static in appearance and functionality. For simplicities sake, we will be recycling a lot of graphics and ships for this demo. The following is a list of ships scripted thus far. We're still working on a classification system, but I don't think that it's very important at this moment. At the end of the list is a link to an image showing #'s 1 & 2 (circled in red).
1) Dog Leg - The Dog Leg is a craft whose name derives from its unique, angular shape. It is a short ranged, lightly armored, maneuverable vessel equipped with light gunnery. This craft is almost usually controlled autonomously from their carrier vessel although there is a cockpit installed so that they may be used as escape vehicles.
2 Swordfish - Dog Legs never stray to far from their carrier, and in many cases (in our game) that carrier is the swordfish. Swordfish are versatile armored craft which are designed to be easily modified to support docking with virtually any craft. They are so named due to their large nose section with which craft can easily dock and depart.
3) Forca-Class battleship - This heavy patrol craft is designed to catch up to, and detain ships attempting escape it. The one you encounter in the demo is called Meili, has been heavily modified with experimental technology.
4) Breva-Class Transport Vessel. - This ship is technically composed of two components. These are its cockpit and atmospheric flight vessel, and its cargo mounting, or more commonly: its "trailer". Breva class ships are older vessels who's expensive upkeep has landed most of them at junk-stations. However, when well kept the ship is highly durable and incredibly quick, though it lacks much maneuverability when in an atmosphere. This ship is essentially a large, heavily armored rocket with wings and a minor self contained storage area. This is your ship.
5) Police Patrol Craft - Lightly armored and gunned, these hovercraft are designed to be quick, and agile in atmospheric engagements. Mostly found on earth, these ships can be modified for space defense as well.
6) Bounty Hunter Rig - These ships, like many others, bear no standardized classification as they are usually custom created from spare and salvaged parts. Identification then results in lengthy descriptions of the vessel.
7) Civilian Vehicles - These are simple, small, unarmed craft carrying non-hostiles.
My project and my team have grown so large and ambitious that i dont know if we can still fit within the bounds of the 4E5 contest. think x beyond the frontier (thats about the level of graphics we have), but less 2 hour trade runs and more battles.
I'm in Ft Lewis (seattle/tacoma washington) right now for work on the Land Warrior System tests.
this post is much less formal than what im used to putting here, but im stretched thin on time, and felt like i needed to report in.
afterall the point of this devjournal and my GD+ status is to keep a timeline.
right now my team is composed of.
1) cody wyers -- myself -- story art and programming
2) jeff wyers -- my cousin -- scripting sound effects
3) Lee ..something -- jeff's friend who is really into mixing
4) Shannon - an indie director who is doing some guitar work for us and a lot of creative commentary
5) melinda wyers - creative commentary - vector art - textures - coloring
6) douglas waltman - textures - 3D modeling - and level design
7) *forgotten name* - another of jeff's film/music buddies -- working on music and concept art
8) the rest of my entire family - Voice Acting
9) random film folks from Baylor Univ who have expressed much intrest
even assuming i only can count on 1/2 of these folks -- thats still a sizable team. we still meet all of the criteria for 4E5, but the scope of the project has grown quite a bit and i dont know about time constraints, well thats a cop-out. a lot of the story takes place in europe anyway.
anyways were a bit behind schedule programatically - and ahead of schedule artistically and scripting-wise.
im having to duel as artist for the comic-style movie cutscenes and ive been focusing on a lot of concept and design work which ill post as soon as i get back to Tejas from Washington.
even if the project bombs ill still have a lot of material to work with for future projects. look forward to screens shots and art soon.
Now that the design documentation is almost done -- ALMOST
and my 3D engine is starting to almost be almost working
and the sound effects guru is making theme music and explosions
and the artist is pumping out models
im ready to release a very step-1 untextured screenshot.
here you have it. Were keeping polygon count very low and detailing with textures, then we will progressivly upgrade graphics until we maximize the balance between performance and appearance on our test machine
I might be over-estimating my abilities, but since I have a team now, instead of going solo, I think it's slightly more plausible. Plus I'm tired of 2d. I'll be using torque probably.
Emblem: The Characters personal symbol integrated into his organizational symbol
Europe: Various obvious land-marks
Emotion: Fear based reduction of ship stabilization - counteracted by confidence
Economics: character supplies self through trade between underground organizations in-between mini-levels
300 years in the future. After the resurgence of space exploration by major world powers due to colonization of Mars by the Chinese, space flight soon become the modern-day equivalent of air travel. As more and more corporate colonies are created, the organizational structure becomes less and less maintainable, and breeds a highly organized and complex underground civilization. Thus, these un-taxed pirates, stealing and trafficking goods illegally are met with stern measures. Mainly a well equipped police force licensed to kill pirates if need be. You are an entopic freedom fighter and an anarchist. You are a pirate. All though all planets are heavily colonized, trade between them is slow due to distances, and earth is still the central beacon of humanity.
I will do comic-panel graphics, set with voice over acting (and sub-titles). Panels will be shown one at a time then animated transitions between the current and next frame will be used to further pronounce the action or scene. IE if the movie is of the pilot taking a hit, then the panel showing the explosion will shake slightly during the rumble sound effect immediately following the transition. This will be awesome, and I already have the animation engine. All I have to do is script the order and do voiceovers. Luckily, my cousin does voice acting for fun: check it. Depending on my modeler's time, we might have a 3D animated final cut scene. Who knows?
The game is a fast-paced, 3D flight-simulator which takes place from the cockpit view only. Or you have the option to buy a rear mounted camera for an optional (if I have time) 3rd person ship view. We will make use of rudimentary particle effects, and rough 3D equivalents of European land-marks. We will then upgrade as needed to allow for maximum appearance and performance on the test system. Probably the only thing that will look nice will be the characters ship.
Cockpit view. There will be no HUD view to turn off visual effects and give a wider, bare-bones display showing only crucial information. The cool part will be how most of your weapons surround your cockpit; you can see them in action. Remember Mechwarrior's pilot-view rotations? That was cool...but again that will be an optional feature, I highly doubt the game will appear as cool as I want, but I feel like dreaming today.
Manually targeting specs of light on the horizon is un-realistic. In the future (even today) there are many, many assistance utilities. Thus Targeting will be similar to Robotech Battle Cry, in that the computer will automatically highlight other vehicles. It will also automatically determine hostilities. It will be your job to place your reticule on the enemy highlight and attempt to lock on. Locking on will take about 3 seconds. To lock on you must hover over an enemy for at least .5 seconds. Then as the locking-on bar progresses, you will have a larger and larger threshold of movement, because obviously, it would be impossible to keep it exact for 3 seconds. Once locked on your turrets will automatically compensate for enemy locations to an extent. You will have a boundary of motion you can move around in, but you have to keep your reticule in the general area of the enemy. The turrets compensation is rough approximations, and does not guarantee hits however. If another enemy flies within your reticule while you already have an enemy targeted you must unselect your current target via a hotkey, or hold your reticule over the enemy for one additional second.
Twin Vulcan turrets: These cannons fire high-velocity armor piecing rounds and are the cheapest ammunition to purchase. These partially rotating turrets are the weapons that lock-on and auto adjust to an enemy's location. This is the only ammunition offered for this weapon.
Center Mounted 115mm Cannon: This is weapon uses either armor piercing round for quick kills against larger targets, or explosive rounds for use against more maneuverable targets. Accuracy is low as these projectiles are entirely unguided. This is the second most expensive ammunition.
Twin missile launchers: This weapon fires either explosive tracking rockets similar to the mounted cannon, or encased plasma rounds. Plasma rounds do no explosive damage but ignore physical armor creating hull breaches. This is a good weapon for very specific occasions, but is incredibly expensive.
The concept: The pilots focus is affected by damage which affects the way the user must pilot.
Fear - Fear is increased by taking any form of damage. Under normal conditions, the pilot instinctively stabilizes the ship from debris collisions and drafts, etc. However, the more fear accumulated, the less the pilot is able to focus. Thus, transparent his stabilization is, and you have to start picking up the slack. The ship will begin to rock and bounce slightly, and damage effects from enemy weapons and debris will be much more noticeable. As an immediate result to these effects, it will be harder to aim, obviously.
Recovery - Fear diminishes over time naturally. However scoring kills against an the enemy, or avoiding damage from a hostile entirely and escaping increases your confidence level which acts as a buffer which permanently reduces the amount of fear you take in combat. Essentially you're getting used to the environment.
Infamy - This is not really an emotion. At the end of the game you will be classified as various forms of pirate or privateer. In a commercial release this would determine how other companies think of you and what types of jobs you are offered. Infamy is determined by the amount of people you kill. A good privateer keeps a low profile because he doesn't want to get caught. A blood thirsty pirate doesn't care and just wants fame and fortune. The problem with infamy is that you become more and more 'wanted'. Thus the amount of enemies per level increased based on the previous levels report. Regardless you keep escaping which increases your infamy anyway. Basically anytime you break a law and are noticed, you gain infamy. Some organizations won't let you in unless you've proven yourself very infamous. This wont be noticed in the demo game, and the only effect infamy has is the amount of units sent to stop you. In the future infamy might also have a similar effect to confidence.
At least 4 notable locations throughout the European continent will be displayed. These places will be background features and hold no other significance other than marking your progress to your final destination, the impound yard.
You stop at each of these locations to restock your ammunition and refuel. You be careful to manage your funds from the beginning though. You receive only a models income from the Moonrunner's (see below) and the more infamy you gain the less likely the guild is going to support you.
Organizations: subject to change
Interplanetary Union: The ruling body of the colonies, presiding over interplanetary trade and travel. Each planet and colony is represented by its own individual government. Think of the IPU as the UN.
The Democratic Union of Earth: The chief ruling body over the earth. Most of your opposition will hail from this group.
Advocates of Mutual Exchange: The chief corporate sponsor of 'privateering'. This group is a political party which officially has no direct ties to pirating, but lobbies for their cause in the political channels.
Merchants for Free Trade and Transactions Most guilds hold the guidelines and ideals of this organization to be the true law o-the-verse(firefly rawks)
The Moonrunners The private organization the character is a part of. They are a privateer group who shy away from violence unless necessary. Focus strictly on trade of all goods.
This is yet another game concept. I'm seriously starting to fall behind in this contest and it's starting to worry me.
Europe: exact setting unknown
Emotion: psionic powers based on emotional state
Economics: character supplies self through faction based trade between underground and official organizations
The world will be in a post apocalyptic state, probably 20 years in the future.
Realistically, the game will have to be 2D and tile based, using sprites and particles. I've never used 3D before...ever. And since I'm essentially going solo on this project aside from creative comments from the forums and friends/family in real life, I don't have the time to model a bunch of stuff either. Creating sprite animations is time-consuming too, but at least it's a medium in which I am familiar
I really want to bind the number pad to spells descriptive elements. I'd like for the game to play like a console to eliminate use of the mouse entirely. I know for a fact that most information will be given to the player in context clues. However if you wish to know specific details about your characters status you can hold down 'alt' to bring up a character menu which does not obstruct or pause game play. The menu will surround the character and display all information on the characters emotional state.
The concept: Based around two emotions with opposing effects. They are fear (self-preservation/defense) and rage (selflessness / destruction). Getting your emotion bar in either of the states to its maximum level initiates the correlating breakpoint effect. If your fear bar is maxed then you temporarily loose control of your character while he attempts to escape the immediate vicinity, meanwhile abandoning all allies to their own fates. If your rage bar maxes, then you temporarily go berserker, attacking anything and everything that opposes you, endangering yourself and others by exposing them to unnecessary risk.
Breakpoints: Every time you reach a breakpoint (a bad thing) you loose a point representing your characters identity as a human. Reaching 0 Ego points results in permanent insanity. When this happens you loose the game.
Prevention: You obviously must have a means to control your emotions, thus, you many have psychotherapeutic abilities available to you. These abilities are resultant of your mastery of your brain's own inner-workings. The first and most important ability will be called something along the lines of 'mind-purge'. This effect will at the cost of additional 'fatigue', reduce both your rage and fear meters by a significant amount.
Fatigue: This is the culmination of the total amount of stress placed on your mind, body, and soul. It is represented via the alt screen as a silhouette surrounding the player model. It is full of a bright blue when completely rested. The more fatigue you gain the blue begins to dip down vertically leaving a dark gray behind. Visualize pouring water from a pitcher. The amount of fatigue you have determines the capability of the character to cast spells, and the rate at which emotional-state is lost or gained. A fatigued character is more likely to become fearful, where as a rested character is more likely to become enraged.
Varying Emotions: Emotions are things that we never have complete full control over, although it maybe possible for temporary mastery in the later stages of the game. Because of this general lack of control, we must have situational influence over the states of a character. Entering a combat situation increases the fear meter. Taking damage increases both the fear and rage meters. Dealing damage reduces both your fear and rage meters. In this aspect fear is lost more quickly than rage. Taking damage without dealing it creates increasing fear effects. Don't think of fear as a 'whiney whimpering' kind of emotion. It is defiantly more of an instinctual will to survive.
As opposed to 'mind-purge', other psychotherapeutic abilities are available to increase emotional state. These will usually increase one at the cost of another and additional fatigue. Examples would be 'enrage', and 'cower'.
Items may also be used to affect your state-of-mind, for example taking an 'IAM' or 'I Am' pill (slang for Ibotenic Acid / Muscimol - Vikings consumed mushrooms which contained both of these in order to induce their berserker state) would cause you to drop fear and gain rage without fatigue points being generated.
History - rough first draft, another post on it coming soon
All of this emotional variance is representative of the characters mental instability due to the procedures and genetic manipulation done on him. This change he has been forced to undergo has been taking place since childhood. Constant psychological maintenance has kept him stable up until this point, but now that he lacks the therapy, he has to work on maintaining his own balance.
One day during an enhancement session unlocking his potential psionic powers, a rebellious faction sabotages the evil corporation's facility, and the adolescent child is left alone in a ruined building, protected by his newly awakened abilities. The child escapes the facility and lives in the ruins of a once great city where he begins to learn the plight of the city's new occupants.
It'd be neat if the kid could see in the ultra-violet and infrared spectrums. Also, he has an enhanced IQ of at least 220 due to genetic and chemical manipulations, though without his treatment this slowly begins to average out to its natural level, a solid 170-190. This will account for his rapid adaptation to the new environment and quick mastery of his body, mind, and abilities.
Staff members have contradicted my ideas on several occasions. You can view the differences in opinion here. Their statements on what is and isn't acceptable is obviously more valid than my own, as they are going to the ones who are making the judgments. This, therefore, is meant to be more of a guide for myself, and perhaps also to be an influence for someone who is otherwise stumped.
There is a fundamental weakness in the concept presented in my previous entry. As intriguing as the story may have been, it simply lacked the ability to incorporate an emotional element. I did not want to; as one of the staff put it, 'bolt it on'. Doing so makes the emotional features seem out of place and superficial.
I am going to explore the exact wording of the definition of the element, emotion. Here it is in its entirety: "Your game must heavily feature, or make a clear effort to evoke in the player, a particular feeling or Emotion, or the concept of Emotion(s) in general. For example, you could have your game try and evoke fear in the player, or set your game in a world fuelled by greed.
"Your game must heavily feature..."
It is clear that the emotional element in the game must have importance. There are four elements in this contest, and they should compose the four prime distinguishing features of your game. From this I gather that the emotional element should not simply be in the game as a background influence. Fundamental game mechanics involving characters and the player should revolve around this type of emotional inclusion.
"...make clear effort to evoke in the player..."
This is a different type of implementation of the emotional element. Thus, we have two options available for us to pursue to in this category. The definition does say, "OR", but we are obviously not limited in choosing one or the other as it would be near impossible to create one without remnants of the other. We are expected, then, to generate a feature set which explicitly focuses on one or both. An example of the later would be an FPS which attempts to create suspense and fear in the player, but in addition to the dark music in the background, and the dark corridor ahead, the main character has a fear bar which affects his performance in or around these scary areas. It's a lame example, but it is just meant to be descriptive. I think that those who manage to integrate the emotional element in both the player and the characters will have a distinct advantage over those who focus on only one.
"...a particular feeling or emotion..."
Singularly choosing one emotion will be the option of preference for those focusing on invoking emotion in the player. This option allows one to focus all of their writing, visual content, and game play features towards the chosen emotional mood. I fear, however, that fear will be the emotion of choice for most developers. Fear is an over-rated, and over-used emotion, and while its not too easy to actually inspire fear in people, it is too easy to "...make clear effort". I foresee many people making games trying to scare you, but because of either lack of clever dialog, quality sound effects, or awe-inspiring graphics, will fall short, and instead of ending up with a terrorific game, will end up with a giant piece of moldy cheese.
"...the concept of emotion(s) in general..."
This will be the choice of most developer's, as it doesn't require psychological analysis of the reaction content will produce. In addition, it doesn't require a target audience for said analysis, as the judges will most likely be composed of people whose traits and responses greatly vary. Unfortunately, because of these two reasons, choosing this option will allow people to pass through the elimination process without actually focusing on an emotional significance for their project. Having your NPC's posses a "happiness" trait that influences the cost of their goods, and an aggression trait which influences how much insubordination guards will put up with is neat. However, it does not satisfy the very first requirement listed, "heavily feature". These things are background features, and are most likely transparent to the average player. Simply, listing these variables somewhere on the interface does not make their existence essential to the game, as the elements are intended, but instead, simply makes their presence obvious.
I understand the generality of the examples listed. They don't want to give away solutions to the problem, as it ruins an opportunity for those who would otherwise come up with the concepts themselves. However, I need to expound upon what they are saying, and clarify some misconceptions many people may have.
The element Emotion should not be treated as a secondary economic factor. Having emotional settings such as in Civilizations IV where your populace is represented by an emotional state is not only insufficient as a sole inclusion of the element; it also lacks personal links with the player. Do not turn emotions into statistics. Even if you are going for the RTS/Sim theme, the concept of emotions, and a statistic is different. A player must deeply associate themselves with characters and the setting in order to feel an emotion. However, if you are using the other approach, a player must still understand the emotions of characters. In a purely stat based environment, there is no understanding; there is the acknowledgement of arbitrary numbers. The way units feel must have an effect on the actions they take. You must help the player to know why things are feeling the way they are. But most importantly, you must make the player want to know these things.
Using the element of Emotion as a concept allows you to create a more free-form environment. However, it doesn't exclude you from trying to invoke emotion in the player. It simply allows the player to choose the emotional associate on their own terms. If your city is mad because of an opposing force's presence, you should be mad too. However, if your city is happy because of the great harvest and the recent treaty with a neighboring nation, you should be glad too. These emotions are less defined, and you have less control over them than those who choose to focus on a specific mood, but they are sill emotions. Keep them that way.
ALL of the four elements should be given equal importance in your game design. Falling short of one can not be made up for by enhancing another. The elements Emotion and Europe are definitely the easiest to 'ignore' or 'write-off'. They are also the two elements that will, in most cases, uniquely identify your game from another, and thus, keep it from being labeled in terms of other games. You do not want to be labeled as a Diablo or Fallout clone. These contests are designed to encourage creativity and growth in our field, not regurgitation of pre-existing games. Be creative and distinct with your games.
Genre: Adventure - Mysteryish...
Setting: Modern Europe - All over, but the only confirmed actual locations is Stonehenge and Vatican City
Concept: Explore the origins of Stonehenge and its relationship to ancient cultures through means of an archeologist thrown into a world of secrets, sabotage, and self-deception.
Emotion: Wonder, Amazement, Awe - whichever you prefer. I hope to inspire a feeling of curiosity through my fictional story as it makes correlations and connections to previously unconnected historical events. I hope that through these interesting coincidences the player will get that feeling that happens during a "Eureka! moment". At the very least I hope to get a "ha ha, that's cool." out of people.
Emblem: The symbol for pi. I hope to explore the origins of the symbol Pi and its currently unknown, but misconceived relationship to Stonehenge.
Europe: Most people know that Stonehenge is one of humanity's (maybe) earliest relics, and that it is now a ruinous shadow of its former glorious self. What purpose did it serve? Was it really just a calendar? Who built it? All these questions are asked and answers are slowly discovered throughout various European locations.
Economy: Throughout the story, the main character (the player), must make use of currency obtained through archaeological commissions from four major organizations. It is these commissions that the main character first becomes interested in Stonehenge. These factions have different relationships with each other and based on current standing will affect information able to be bought, bribed, or allowed access too. In addition, with this money, you can buy better equipment and resources for personal use. The four faction's economical status can vary as well. Financial status of a faction, coupled with your faction standing and the nature of the request, greatly affects requests for commissions.
The Grand Lodge of the Ancient Order of Druids
The Royal Archaeological Institute
The Vatican Secret Archives - Conservation Lab
STO - Stonehenge Theory Online
The Druids are a counterpoint to the Holy See. The online theorists (tin-foil hat types) are the counter point to the British organization. Favoritism of one organization will affect the opinions of the counterpoint.
The Druids are interested in exploring the nature of their relationship to the ruin. As they are not truly related to the ancient druidic order that was known to use Stonehenge in rituals, they do not have definitive answers. They are also curious into their true role in the creation of the relic, since there is evidence against their involvement in the original site. They hold disfavor towards Vatican researchers as they generally show intolerance to their society and their refusal to allow access to ancient, rare documents that reference the site.
The Catholics are not truly interested in the Stonehenge relic, although they do hold several ancient tombs with much information on the subject. They do not tolerate the presence of eccentric religious heretics who would use their library to further their cultic practices however, and thus deny several organizations access. The druidic order is only one example of this.
The Royal Archaeological Institute is an un-biased scientific organization interested in only the facts of historical sites and items. They do not care for religious explanations for issues, though are tolerant of those who believe them. Only approach this organization if you wish to conduct purely scientific investigation. For these reasons the RAI dislikes STO as they believe the organization to be composed of silly, over-anxious children bent on discovering proof of extra terrestrial involvement.
Stonehenge Theory Online is an online BBS and resource database for those who do not hold to traditional theory and beliefs. The organization is open to all alternative theories about the Stonehenge monument although many of the ideas they present lack or oppose existing evidence. They are biased against the RAI because of the intolerance of their ideas.
The RAI - STO faction trade off is unbalanced. RAI faction is normally affected by involvement with STO, however STO faction is only slightly affected by RAI involvement. This is because the STO accepts the need for scientific involvement in the process, but believes that once all information is known, current scientific theories will be debunked in favor of their own.
I still haven't decided if I want the game to take place from the perspective of a time traveling historian, a modern day archaeologist, or from maybe an extra terrestrial investigator of some kind. Obviously the change in POV from the player would modify the economy a bit, but the other 3 emotions would remain basically the same.
Aside from buying standard resources such as rope, flashlights, tools, etc.; I would like money to be used to occationally bribe organizational leaders into approving research commisions, as well as used to purchase various types of teams for dig sites. For Example:
You could hire the expensive team of undergrad students who actually care about the dig.
You could hire the subcontracted team of people who are just doing their job.
You could hire the starving natives who are very likely to steal some of the finds for personal profit.
This will be my first post on this dev journal. My friends and I formed an organization called Mindrot Development... or Mindrot Games. We haven't fully decided on the name yet since we develop things outside of the gaming universe. Mostly utilities that we never publish, but I digress. I will refer to the group as simply 'Mindrot' henceforth.
I have decided to enter 4E5 not because I think I will win but because it inspired a pretty cool idea which I think perfectly encompasses this years 4 elements. Those elements are: Emotion, Emblem, Europe, and Economy. More detail can be found here
I noticed many people are scared to share their ideas because of fear of theft. However intellectual Property (IP) is usually protected by the 'who has proof they did it first' rule, so a game dev blog that I do not have complete control over is ideal for my needs.
First, I need someplace to record my thoughts and ideas in a coherent fashion. Second, I wish to publicize my ideas in order to get criticism and feedback on my development practices, plot progression, dialog, etc., etc. Third, the ability to view the progression of my game in a neat visual format that I can laugh about years-to-come. And finally, fourth: Use this as a point of reference as proof of originality for my ideas should I ever get into a 'rights' conflict concerning code or IP.
I have already come up with my concept, title, and game play style, and will probably use this blog as a semi-design document. Many more posts to come. ^.^