It's really fun to come back and look at the journals after so many months and see all the progress people are making. Cheers to all of you for cranking on the cool stuff.
What I have been doing? Eh, nothing much. Making games, getting little sleep, reviewing games. Ya know, the usual.
Anyway, in June I wrapped up my latest project, Little League World Series 2008. Talk about stressful. I was the lead programmer and we had a 5 month dev cycle so there was a whole lot of code flying out my fingertips. Despite the pain, it ended up being a fun little game, and has scored alright with the press.
Since July, I've also been a staff reviewer for GameTunnel.com as a member of the panel, reviewing indie games each month. That has been a hell of a lot of fun, and I hope to see some of you fella's stuff up there in the coming months. The last panel: Game Tunnel September Panel
One thing is for sure, I've been in the industry for about a year and a half now, and it is has totally destroyed my indie work at home. Thankfully, I've been able to get some code written, and my faithful artist is always there with new pretty pictures. With some luck, we might get something out next February; a casual action/arcade game. But luck seems to be in short supply of late :)
Although it's hard to believe, I've been at my current job for a year now, and it's unfortunately been damn near the same for a journal entry.
Anyways, to the fun stuff. The first game I was lead programmer on was just finished last month, and is currently going through Nintendo's lot-check. Garfield's Fun Fest is a little 2-D platformer with a couple of mini-games tossed in for good measure. It feels pretty good to finally finish it, and I'm looking forward to seeing it on shelves next month.
Free time has been a bit sparse, but I've been working on a 2D animation tool at home. My goal was to create a tool that could be used for a game such as Odin Sphere, but I ended up scaling it back considerably for the sake of getting it done.
Protonic 2D Animation Tool
Also, here is an early preview of it. I'm looking for any kind of feedback on it: bugs, missing features, difficulty to use, etc. Once finished it will be released free (as in beer) so hopefully any feedback I get will make it into something more valuable for the community.
It's written in C# so .NET is necessary, and there is currently no documentation. The idea is that it should be 'pick-up-and-use' friendly, although I know I haven't achieved that yet.
That's how long it took my brand new 360 to get the red ring of death. A brand new 360 -- the $350.00 wireless bundled with Forza/Marvel UA. 11 days. What the fuck Microsoft?
I didn't even get to finish Bioshock (hell, I only played it like 4-5 times)!
So anyways I take it back to Best Buy tonight and stand in the horribly long customer service line, and the guy working asks me "So you want to go get another one?"
With some reluctance after thinking about the pending releases of Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect I utter "No, thanks. I'll take store credit." -- and thus is the story of me casting down Microsoft's poorly made mega-machine into the depths of red-ring hell.
As for the store credit, well, let's just say my DS library got *much* larger :D
Still working on my pixel-art, and progress is slow but steady on my shooter. I have rewritten a lot of my old 'core' systems, to make them easier to use and less prone to breaking. I expect to have a gameplay video soon ( < 3 days) and a playable demo for anyone curious within 2 weeks.
I would also really like to enter 4E6 this year, but since I always end up crunched for time, I will likely just 'mod' my shooter. I guess we'll see how that goes. Ponies, explosions and crystals seem like a lot of fun though (I hate the thought of incorporating accountants into my game).
In work related news, I am the lead programmer for one of our new DS projects which is pretty cool. It is smaller game, but it is a 2D platformer so that should be a lot of fun.
And finally, I decided to go buy a new car the other day, and finally indulge in the guilty pleasures of having a good job. I knew what kind of car I wanted, so it was only a matter of finding the exact one I wanted.
I ended up with an '04 Nissan 350Z. I really love it -- lots of comfort and lots of performance all bundled up into an attractive package. In the end I chose the Interlagos Fire color, and ended up with the 6-speed 'Track' trimline (different wheels and Brembo brakes all around). I took a picture of mine, but my flash drive is MIA so here is a generic image that is actually 99% the same as mine.
Other than that, life is good (and I finally got a 360 with Bioshock!) :)
The past few days I have finally had some time off from work and went back to hacking away at my 2D stuff here at home. Here is the current state of things.
The game I am going to make: A post-apocalyptic-ish shoot em up. After making the brief Fantasm Fortress a few months ago as an excercise in 24 hour development, I really got the itch to do a shmup right. That is, FF was about 30 seconds worth of fun, and the code behind that 30 seconds was so inflexible and single-minded, it could not be easily extended or even modified for that matter.
I actually intend to make this one a full game (as much as 3-5 levels can be considered a full game), so I want to do things right from the beginning.
Also, this is a great opportunity for me to blind all who see this with my astonishing art skills. The blob of pixels that I can put forth onto a digital image are the very spawn of Medusa's hair. Ugliness aside, creating shitty pixel art is actually kind of therapeutic for me. Weird, eh?
A sampler or two:
So there you can see my first attempts at a soldier, and some environment destructibles. The sad thing is, as bad as these are, I actually took a lot of time to do them, so I can only imagine how things will look later when I don't spend any time on them...
Unfortunately I don't have much to show screenshot-wise at the moment, but hopefully I can manage some screens by the end of the week. The last day or so I have spent a lot of time [re]working my texture/model managers. My custom animation data files are so horrid, that I thought I'd share an example with you. Yep, I am still using .ini files with this particular version of my framework. I have some Xml stuff scattered here and there, but converting the code necessary seems like a huge [and somewhat unnecessary] pain. So it goes.
It is an amazingly deep and complex game for the DS, and actually quite fun. Anyways, it is announced and should be hitting stores in November-ish. If you like me, you will buy it, and if you don't like me, well, humor me.
Having some more time on my hands it is back to developing PC stuff. Zerowolf has put up a 48 hour game dev contest for this weekend, and although I kinda sorta have plans for the weekend, it is hard to say no when his desk is literally 10 feet away.
So we'll see how that goes. I'll finish something, although whether or not it will be a game is yet to be seen.
As the title suggests, I believe a paradigm shift is due in my after hours development mindset. Up to this point, I learned to make games with ambitions of becoming a 'true indie' ie making quality shareware games while living out a meager and poor existence. Sounded like fun.
Well, now I do make commercial games, and although they are in no way indie, it satisfies that itch. So at this point I guess I can do what every developer should be doing from the start: making really fun freeware games. The kind of games that I really want to make. Fun times ahead? We'll see...
Unfortunately I haven't updated recently due to: (1) Being on crunch at work (thank god we just shipped Master) (2) Developing tools for work at home to make my life at work better
I actually feel moderately comfortable with C# these days and love a lot of the .NET library's capabilities. That said, I will only write tools with C#, as I hope to make all of my future hobby works cross platform and possibly open source.
Final notes: The Gearo team has disbanded at the moment due to personal issues in everyone's lives: new cities, new jobs, and newborns. I am sure we will get back together in the future, when it is a better time for everyone.
Hopefully I'll update soon with at least an idea of what kind of game I want to make (I'm thinking small scale at the moment) and then the screenshots and videos should start rolling in. As always, life is good =)
It's been a week since I've started at my new job. In that very short time I have learned how different console game dev is from PC game dev. Specifically, working with the DS. My time with the Wii has been pretty limited so far, and most of my efforts have concentrated on the DS.
It is much, much different. Efficiency is so important on such a limited platform. A good thing I suppose, it's just taking me a little bit of time to adjust. Working on games all day (and for a living) is turning out for the best, and I think I'm really going to enjoy it.
I'll be entering Trapper's MAGIC contest, albeit with a late start. I actually didn't even get started until last night, but it looks like I will be able to finish something decent. David, the artist for Gearo, is going to work with me so it should look ok as well =)
The general idea is that the game will be a vertical platformer, but you will be on the outside of the tower instead of the inside. In this regard, you will 'wind your way around' the outside of the tower, trying to get to the top. There is no ground level entrance into this mystical bastion of evil, hence the outside excursion. The rotating tower thing is basically a direct rip-off of an old atari [c64?] game called Nebulus.
Anyways, what awaits at the top of the tower is TBD. Probably on the 11th, right before the deadline.
Hopefully I'll get some screens up later tonight or tomorrow.
Well, I didn't get to work on it for 24 hours due to apartment hunting, but I did manage to get some stuff into it. The total dev time to this point is 13.5 hours.
Some more gameplay action:
I added in entity/entity collision, shadows, a new enemy type, the frost cannon, and reworked some of the particles. It still isn't much of a game, but you might find it entertaining for 3 minutes.
Controls: WASD/Arrows to move and mouse to aim. Left mouse button to fire the plasma cannon and right mouse button to fire the frost cannon.
There is no real specific aim to the game yet -- it is perpetual. The eyeballs will continually spawn at a successively faster rate and eventually the 'mangler' will show up. You can kill the mangler, but he will continue to respawn as well. The only real metric in the game is the 'souls' counter, which is reset if you die. But even that is a fairly shallow metric.
For now, hopefully it is just enjoyable to splatter things =)
What's next? Well, this was just a small diversion from Gearo, which I am working on right now. I may come back to it from time to time to make it a real game, but I am open to suggestions on how to make it a real game, instead of a spawn-kill fest...
Alright, well, 9 hours have passed since I started on this silly 24 hour game. Out of the 9, a solid 6 were actually spent on development. My art sucks and takes a brutally long time =(
Anyways, the first video:
HopeDagger suggested a 'crimsonland' type shooter only moments after I had already started down that path =) Not much there yet, but I hope tomorrow to add some nifty effects, more enemies, and some gameplay twists to break up the shmup monotony this is.
So, 8 hours of sleep gives me 7 more hours of development. Sounds good!
Getting a job in a new city, and moving in less than two weeks is quite the task :/
Anyways, the 'no-compete' and 'inventions' contracts between myself and BLS have been finalized, so any hopes of commercial indie success are at bay for a while :)
It looks like they will allow me to finish Gearo under my own terms, since so much development has already gone into it, but after that, they own all of my new code. (Strange to think that anyone would actually want to own the messy stuff I call my code).
So what does this mean for my participation on gamedev since I won't be able to disclose much of my project at work? Well, I don't know yet. Apparently I can release freeware games (pending approval by my superiors) so I will probably just make much smaller, shorter games post-Gearo.
Actually, I have about 24 hours from now until I actually have 'to do something' so perhaps a short diversion is in order? Hmmm. Ok, I think so. Ima write a short and sweet game in the next 24 hours as a diversion from all of the pain of moving and from the code mangling of Gearo. I have never written a game in such a time frame, so this should be interesting...
Requirements: No animation SFX and a music track No premade levels -- all levels are random/procedural Single screen of mayhem -- no scrolling 2D (was there ever any doubt) Things must explode 100% Programmer Art ...
Feel free to suggest anything else that should go under the requirements. I really have no idea what I am doing O_o
Things have been crazy and bizarre lately. In short: I am now a professional video game developer =D
The short story: My research work under a federal grant is ending May 31st, so I have been job seeking. A little bit tired of chemistry, I decided to switch careers and look into software engineering. After countless interviews, programming tests, etc. I was offered a job today as a gameplay programmer for Black Lantern Studios working on an unannounced Wii game! The madness of it all!
The long story: For the past three years I have been working as a research associate at the Toxicore Laboratory in Kansas City. The work has been interesting and very good for me. I was lucky enough to attend several national conferences to present my work, as well as get a few publications in mainstream science journals.
During this time, I came to gamedev.net and my programming really took off. I had long attempted to program games, but lacked sufficient knowledge. That changed very rapidly once the resources of gamedev.net came to my aid. So, I started actually making and finishing real, albeit short, games. My interest in programming was renewed and I went back to college for two semesters to finish my B.A. in computer science. Since then, I have continued working at the lab and making games in my free time. The latest fruits of my labor, Fireheart and Gearo, really show the progress that I had made the past few years in game development.
In January of this year, I found out that our grant extension was denied and our work would come to an end this May. Although saddened that I would be leaving the lab that had treated me so well for three years, it seemed the perfect opportunity to switch back into programming and more specifically software engineering. Since February, I have been sending out my resume to several software companies in and around Kansas City. Although there were some opportunities that came about, none of the positions were really a good fit for me or my skills. About 5 weeks ago I started to worry a bit that I wouldn't be able to find the 'right' job. A wee bit of despair set in. I knew I could always stay in chemistry, but I really felt this was my opportunity to get into SE.
Shortly after that, I happened to visit one of my old professors at the University and showed him my latest builds of Gearo, while talking to him about the difficulty of breaking into SE. He asked me how many game development companies I had applied to. Hmm. None. I never really considered it. After a bit of discussions it did seem like the right thing to do, and it is hard for me to describe why I had not done so up to that point. But later that night, I sent out my resume and game dev portfolio to a few game development studios here in the Midwest.
One week later I was taking programming tests out the wazoo. As slow as a start as I had with my SE applications, game dev interviews and tests came raining in. So I took them (some well and some not so well) and did a few interviews. I found a very small dev studio in Springfield, near my hometown, and applied in the off chance that they might have something available. They did.
For the next two weeks, there were interviews, tests, and finally, the glorious moment this morning when I found out that I had got the job. Wow. After so many years of wanting to make games, then finally getting a taste for it, I have now been given the opportunity to do it at a much bigger level. That makes me happy.
I wish there were more of you crazy gamedev.netters in the KC area 'cause drinks are on me for the next few days!
Anyways, what I wanted to say was thanks for everyone here that ever helped me, read my journal, or gave me advice. It is this wonderful community that really deserves the congratulations of getting a chemist-turned-hobby-developer into an actual professional game developer position. Cheers to all of you!
And for those who are curious, I'll be posting about Gearo quite soon. Lots of progress and fun things to show!
Despite my complete lack of desire to write a level editor for Gearo, it turns out that trying to script nice levels by hand is far worse.
So, I got up early this morning (as in, before noon) and went for it. It's lacking some crucial features, but for version 0.1 I'm satisfied.
I have for you not one video, but 3! Yes, 3 videos showing off some things! The first one shows some very basic things in the editor. Loading a map, changing the raw format, etc. The second video shows the placement of actors, and object picking (although it isn't very good). And finally, the third video shows off the world map with some better art, and the beach scene made in the editor in action =)
Video 1: Basic editor functionality.
Video 2: Adding actors to the scene.
Video 3: The added actors coming after Gearo. How do you like your crab?
As always you'll need the XVid codec. Hope it's entertaining =)
Unfortunately I didn't get much sleep last night, but in exchange I made a lot of progress with Gearo.
The game really consists of 4 systems. There is the front end (options/loading/creating characters), the World Map, the Combat, and the Village/location system.
Up to this point I had a good chunk of the front end finished, and have been making progress on the combat. Last night I tidied up the collision, made the enemies a 'tad' bit more intelligent, put in a mock hud, and got some basic attacking based on proximity/attack rates in.
The really exciting part though, is that I also got a really decent part of the World Map in. Basically, you travel the country side trying to engage the enemy at various points as well as liberating towns. The World Map is the representation that is similar to a Final Fantasy overworld. This is also where we hope to introduce some non-linear gameplay, allowing multiple paths and locations to visit, all at the player's discretion.
So here's video number 3. It shows off the world map (yes, my programmer art sucks) and then goes into the "combat". When the player attacks he flashes blue and when the shades attack they flash red. Super simple atm.
Three system video: (xvid codec required)
So a brief break down: Front End System: 80% complete World Map System: 50% complete Combat: 15% complete Town/Location: 0% complete
Didn't work on Fireheart yesterday, but plan on putting some attention there later tonight.
After putting off the collision for Gearo for over a week (which is almost 1/6th of my target development time) I decided to do it today. There was a little trickiness involved, but for the most part, my emulated 3D world is unable to resist my iron hammer of code.
So, I threw together another video. Again, less than 1 MB and you'll need the XVid codec (see below). The enemies aren't exactly smart, and they turn red when collisions occur -- the only practical debugging method I could think of.
In other news, it seems to be incredibly tricky for me to get out of the chemistry business and into software development. I really thought three years of professional research experience in a laboratory and a CS degree would get me in somewhere. Apparently not =/
Next on the list for Gearo: Animations and interactions! Next on the list for Fireheart: The tech tree!
Fireheart: Added some additional collision types to the old "box v box" collision. Now we have box/circle/line collisions, which has helped make the levels feel a bit more organic. Specifically, now we can have proper collision for diagonal edges and the such.
Gearo: Finished the basic ground layering system, adding in scriptable actors (no animation yet though), and spawn points. Below is a very brief video (< 1MB) showing off the prototype as we have it. No collision/animation/interaction really, but it is proof of concept. Comments appreciated.
Simple Movement Video:
You will need the XVid codec to see the action (or lack thereof).
Hey everyone, sorry for the delay in updating. Ran into some technical issues with my account here (thanks very much to Rav,Melissa, and Oluseyi for the help) and then decided to post more content then usual for my 'return' =)
So -- Fireheart is rolling. The dialogue is coming along very well, and is now quite robust. I have added in dialogue branching, and choice selection, so shops and inns and the such should be a snap now, and should be completely scriptable.
One stumbling block thus far: the game mechanics of the combat were not fleshed out enough in design. We have a fairly rich ability to convey a story, and already have some decent puzzle elements, but the combat is...lacking. Basically, you can run around, shoot fireballs, things chase you/shoot fireballs back, and that's that. Not so much fun, really.
So before David and I can get together for lengthy teleconference on what to do, we have been focusing on content, in the forms of level building.
This is a pic from within the world builder of a dungeon type level. There are some tile inconsitencies, but we are just trying to flesh out the feel. It leaves a bit to be desired at the moment, but I think the blue fog looks pretty cool.
Other news: Since David and I both [seemingly] work better when we have multiple things going on, we decided to mock up a prototype for one of his IP ideas, known as 'Gearo the Hero'. We are trying to knock out a short, sweet, simple and addictive game in just a few weeks. It is kind of 'our break' from Fireheart once we start to feel the burn.
A short description: take Space Invaders, put it into 3D with a fantasy setting that allows melee and ranged attacks, and you have Gearo: Legion's Call.
Here is the very first screenshot:
It is kind of hard to tell what is going on, but next post will have a video so you can see the 3D perspective. In motion it looks pretty neat.
Along with this little game, David really likes to make comics, so he is going to do a short daily comic strip about the Gearo universe. Did I mention how dedicated and talented he was?
Gearo Comic teaser:
We are currently working on a new site together, for both Fireheart and Gearo. Once up (well, once polished a bit) there will be daily comic updates.
So, thats the past month. Thanks for reading =)
EDIT: Sorry about all the broken images below :( My old site is no more since David and I are making a new one together, and I have yet to re-upload the images again. I'll try and do that soonish.
Since Fireheart is largely designed to be a story driven game, there will be lots of dialogue. Although we weren't 100% satisfied with the first iteration of the dialogue, we let it be to work on other things. This last week I finally got around to playing with it some more, and the result is below. I think this is better, but still not perfect. I added shadowing to the text, fixed the multi-line spacing issue, and switched out the text box (this one is low res for the moment). Any critiques are much appreciated.
[Shadows for the characters are uncorrected in this shot]
The gameplay video last post brought up some interesting questions about the main characters 'floating' appearance. After thinking about it for a while, I think I know why it seems this way (for all characters the more I look at the game). Each character is updated 60 times per second and movement is based against the deltatime(ms)/16ms (60 fps). However, the animation timers for each character are often much slower than 60 fps. Some are as slow as 10 fps. This leads me to wonder -- is updating the position (movement) faster than updating the animation causing the 'floating' appearance? Unfortunately it seems like quite the task to couple these things this far into the development, but I am always looking for a challenge :)
In other completely unrelated news, I have watched the trailer for
"> Odin Sphere a thousand times. The animation really interests me. And although my next project is probably at least 3 months down the road, I would like to try and create a 2D engine that uses this type of animation. Gets me excited.
The latest things implemented in Fireheart: Particles Spawners Primitive Traps
All in all, these three things actually add a decent amount of gameplay in. In response to DecipherOne's question last post about the gameplay: We are going for an action/adventure kind of theme with heavy puzzle elements. Our goal it to make it where the player can brute force through every level or avoid combat completely through clever planning. The game pace is probably most similar to Zelda: A Link to the Past.
I put a video together showing the Imp character defeating a couple of varas as well as some of the early trap devices. I used a bit too much compression though and the video is kinda blurry, so I'll be making a new one and replacing the link sometime later today.
Added three new entity types in Fireheart: the big shade, the vara (reptile like demon), and the girl, Trudy, who is the second PC. The gameplay will switch back and forth between the Imp and Trudy as the story progresses. With both into the game now, I can start on their individual mechanics.
Also got support for TTF in. It looks so much nicer than the old bitmap font, and was actually very easy to implement (thanks to pre-existing support in PTK).
Hopefully this weekend will see the characters both have basic mechanics (other than pushing things) in. The Imp gets 'Firebrand' and 'Firefoot' skills, while Trudy will start with a real world Taser, but eventually learn summoning skills. Should liven up the current 'pushing rocks' gameplay.
This screen shows all five of the current entities (Imp,Trudy,Big/Little Shades, and Vara). The shadows are off a bit for the new entities, and I believe I am going to have to make a shadow offset parameter to correct this.
The TTF in action as well. The multi-line part has been a pain for me, but it is almost finished. Here you can see that there are some spacing issues present.
EDIT: Couldn't get the .png to upload properly. So here is a .jpg --- noticeable difference in quality as compared to the one above, oh well.
I also decided to try and learn some mobile programming stuff. Not knowing where to start, I downloaded the Mobile 5.0 SDK and started messing around. I don't know much C# but I started there, because the graphical interface of designing forms was such a snap. The provided emulator is also pretty nifty, albeit slow. I don't have much to show yet, but I am thinking of doing a small tic-tac-toe game in C# to get into the Mobile API a little deeper.
That's that for now.
EDIT 2: The offer for the free sprites is still on the table. See last entry for more info.
Lately a lot of good things have been going on with the newly named 'Fireheart' project. I pretty much have PTK bending to my will now, so the development is coming pretty fast.
Collision, NPC interaction, and a scripted event/object system have all been implemented. The latest new feature, is shadows on dynamic entities (static entities just have pre-rendered shadows). Although not perfect, these early shadows help heighten the mood a lot for the game.
David, the artist, has also been getting a lot of things done. The first whole Tileset is almost complete and we have numerous static objects, as well as sprites for the main character (in Imp form) and a few NPCs.
Anyways, here are some screens:
A big tree and some brick walls:
Also, I have a slew of upcoming paid projects (which is good), that are really hampering the chances of me finishing Warmage: Exodus, or getting it into a releasable state for a general demo. That said, I don't want the graphics to go to waste. I paid a lot for them, but I would much rather see them being used in someone else's project, then sitting on my harddrive. So if you have a 2D game that needs some sprites (yeah, they are kind of specific, but I think they could adapt to a lot of purposes), and good progress already or a proven ability to get games done, I would be willing to give these to the right person.
For reference here is a little image I put together showing off some of the sprites I have. The main character has over 800 frames total, in 8 directions with around 10 animations. The reptile and insects have 300-400 frames, plus I have GUI/HUD images, and some basic terrain pieces. Just drop me a note here if you are interested.
Unfortunately, development of Warmage: Exodus is kind of grinded to a halt. Due to the holidays I am broke and can't afford to contract out any more artwork for the time being. At the current stage, I really need some finalized spell effects to get the spell system finished. Since this isn't likely to happen for a while I wrapped up the save/load system and finished some more basic AI scripting.
Anyways, a screenshot of the current spell system in action. I am not currently pleased with the look right now, but at least its functional. A few things need tweaked but I can frag skirks now.
Infernal projectile spell in action:
Aside from continued development on W:E, I stumbled across a very talented artist trying to break into the casual/semi-casual game scene. Finally finding an artist willing to partner, I jumped on the deal and we are now developing a semi-casual quest/adventure type game. Think "A Link to the Past" with less combat oriented gameplay and more puzzles.
Anyways, I opted to use PTK for the game and so far that has been a good choice. I started development this past Saturday and have so far implemented a decent tilemap editor with foreground and background parallax layers and a nifty zoom function. This was my first attempt at parallax scrolling but I think it turned out alright.
Map editor screenshot at 100% Zoom
Map editor (roughly same location) at 50% Zoom
And finally, a nice choppy, low-res video showing off a bit of the parallax and the zoom. The Video