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Still making games...

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April came, April went...

...And Bennu isn't ready yet. The guys over at XNA Creators Club discovered a ton of bugs and gave a lot of useful suggestions, most of which I'm done implementing. I hope Bennu is ready this month... In the meantime, here's the debut trailer at gametrailers.com.

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Status update...

- The site is up and running at www.onceabird.com. Still not everything in, but close.

- Here's a video showing some new particle effects, where the fire travels from Bennu to destroy the blocks.

- Bennu is in the final peer review process. If it passes (fingers crossed), it will be available immediately.

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Avatar Man...

is out now! If you want to give it a try go here or download it in the Xbox marketplace.

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Demosthenes

 

Fog, new tile upgrade, new zombie animations

My brother has been working on new zombie sprites to replace the existing animations, which are a bit crude.

There's a new tile upgrade that links zombies, so that when a zombie is hit by a gun all linked zombies are hit with half the damage.

And fog. Lots of fog.

Video here: [media] [/media]

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Start screen...

I've been very busy with porting SNKPEPP to XNA 4.0. It has shitloads of breaking changes, mostly due to Windows Phone 7. It was algo a good excuse to get rid of my level loading scheme, where I read XML documents "manually", in favor of serialization. The code now looks much better with most classes being rid of repetitive XmlDocument handling code (btw, XmlDocument is not supported in XNA 4.0).

Once I ported SNKPEPP to 4.0 I wanted to test it on the XBox but I soon found out the XNA Game Studio Connect Beta is not available in Portugal. Oh well. :(

Due to this, I'm still not sure I will be able to render blood like I wanted, using particle effects over a persistent render target, because persistent render targets are not fast on the 360.

Yesterday, for a change of pace, I started work on the start screen. In it an unknown character is being chased by one of the protagonist ninja and meets a terrible fate. ">Video here.

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Levels...

I've been working on moving color dispensers. Right now Bennu has 27 levels and won't have much more. I'm doing a final boss and my brother is redoing some backgrounds. After that Bennu should be finished in 2-3 months as I work on some extras.

Click here for a video of some of the new levels. It's about 24 megs and 3 minutes long, so if you feel sleepy leave it for some other time. ^^

Demosthenes

Demosthenes

 

Oma - First gameplay video

Here's the ">first development video for One Man Armada. Basically the destroyer ship spawns the fighter ships that chase the player ship. Each fighter ship tries to avoid the other fighter ships and the destroyer ship. The box2d.xna engine provides a raycast mechanism that helps to prevent collisions.

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Twitchy Thrones is out now for Android!

Twitchy Thrones is out now for Android! And also iPad.

Google Play link: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.onceabird.twitchythrones

App Store link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/twitchy-thrones/id898649182?mt=8


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Status update...

...Just a quick status update.

- Attack of the 50ft Verbose Dinosaur is now in peer review, if you have an XNA Creators Club membership you can check it out here.

- One Man Armada is currently in hiatus because I started a quick game with avatars. It's a pac-man-like game, set in mazes where you have to run through every empty space and avoid other avatars. It should be done within a month or so and them I'm resuming OMA.

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Fold on Steam

We're releasing an improved version of Fold on Steam this Wednesday. Fold is an original puzzle game where you fold, expand and rotate blocks to bring them together until only a block of each colour remains. The mobile version was considered by Apple as one of the best games in its release week. This version has improved graphics and interface. The main improvement consists of a background that reacts to your input. Where in the mobile version the background was a simple gradient, it's now composed of blocks that are dislocated when the player performs some action in the game. Here are some steam keys, the first character is bogus to avoid bots: APWLAX-6EAXH-YJ63E
BH86AW-6LM25-4KE9A
CDX8WQ-9FRZ2-366R5
DYMHZK-3EVJW-Z7CJE
E6ARDB-QBA83-EJFX2 Our Steam page is here.
 

Fold - First Update

The first update for Fold is out, featuring a new world with new concepts: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fold/id645248522?ls=1&mt=8

Here's a couple of screenshots:


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Intro Sequence

I've been working on the intro sequence, which explains how and why you end up controlling the head of a bird attached to sphere-shaped irons. :) Because XNA has no built-in API to handle video or flash content, I ended up doing it with the game engine.

Click here for a video.

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Before and after

So my middle brother finished doing the new backgrounds and also polished the blocks and Bennu's chain:



And the main menu. And the buttons.

All that stuff you hear about how you should get other people to play your game worked for me, but it's also nice to have an outsider's perspective on your art. :) Like the gameplay, when you've been working on it for too long, you stop noticing the flaws.

Click here for a video of the new stuff. It's long again.

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Demosthenes

 

Grenades

We added grenades to the game. Like in most games, the grenade is a powerful and scarce weapon that should only be used in tight situations, giving the player a brief respite from a nasty situation. The player will never have more than a few grenades at a time and they will be very expensive.

Instead of the right trigger, which is used to fire the other weapons, the player throws a grenade with the left trigger. The grenade is only launched when the player releases the trigger, so that it can be cooked to explode earlier than normal. If the player doesn't release the trigger in time, the grenade explodes in the player's position, dealing him just a slight amount of damage. This way the player can use a grenade to get rid of zombies crowding him.

Visually, grenades were given a red "aura" because otherwise they wouldn't be easily visible at night. Also, I used a nearly untouched stock particle effect from the Mercury Particle Engine for the explosion.

Video here:


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Ludum Dare

So I actually finished a game in 48 hours for Ludum Dare!

The theme was 10 seconds. The game is called "George RR M&M's Twitchy Thrones" and it's a real-time strategy game where the population grows every 10 seconds, so speed is of the essence.

If you'd like to try it (I'd love it if you did) download it here: http://onceabird.com/ft/TwitchyThrones.zip

XNA Framework 4.0 Redistributable is needed. Download here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=20914

Screenshots:




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Interview

I did an interview about Bennu for a site I hadn't heard of before:
http://truepcgaming....ator-interview/

I forgot to ask where they heard of Bennu in the first place. Mmm. EDIT - Turns out the editor read a thread about Bennu on Reddit.

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Demosthenes

 

Upgrade Screens

There are two resources to collect in Graveyard Shift: Zombie souls and experience points. Zombie souls must be collected with soul sucker tiles while experience points are dropped by zombies where they die, ala Geometry Wars.

Zombie souls are the currency used to place tiles and enchant them, while experience points help the player gain experience levels. Every time the player goes up an experience level she gets skill points with which she can upgrade her weapons and tile enchantments. Here's a video of the upgrade screens where the player spends skill points:


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Status update...

As I mentioned in the first entry, I wanted Bennu to change color when he touched "bonuses" spread across the screen. My first attempt at these bonuses was a catterpillar which would slide on top of the existing blocks and scenery. I had some complications making it "stick" to blocks on 90o turns and so it was left on hold for now. My next and current attempt is a kite.

The kite and the Bennu are similar objects, they are composed of rigid objects connected by joints (both rigid bodies and joints are defined and controlled by the Farseer physics engine). Both have a "head" and a "tail". In the Bennu's case the "tail" is composed by the connected dots he uses to swing around the screen.

In order for the kite not to fall down to the ground instantly, I added a property to the Farseer physics engine which allows a rigid body to not be affected by gravity. An alternative would have been to always thrust the kite up, simulating wind, but this was easier. ;) Right now, the kite turns around every N seconds, but in the future I'll make it follow a pre-determined path.

I've also added an explosion effect everytime the Bennu destroys a block. Basically the block is divided in several smaller blocks that are then projected off the screen. In my first attempt the smaller blocks were affected by the physics engine like all objects on-screen, which caused a crumble-like effect on the destroyed block. Unfortunately this proved too CPU-consuming. :(

Click here to see a video of the latest build.

As you can see, the kite movement is quite dumb at the moment. :) The fluttering of the kite's "tail" is done by applying opposing forces to the rigid bodies composing the tail.

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Joints...

I now set limits on the joint rotation, making the ninja a proper rag-doll. Video here. The Farseer Engine provides the AngleLimitJoint, so it was quite easy. :)

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Demosthenes

 

Avatar Man

Avatar Man is back in peer review. I forgot some debug code when submitting the first time around, I also did some tweaks here and there:

- Changed intro message to warn player of enemy avatars.
- Added texture to indicate in which square the enemy player is currently in.
- Step count is now shown again during the level.
- Level 9 changed to remove enemy avatar that cycled through 3 slabs.

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Demosthenes

 

The end is near...

...Bennu is almost ready. All major bugs are fixed, all major features are implemented, all levels and cut-sequences are completed. Here's a link to a movie of the final main menu layout. On the 1P and 2P screens you get a map with level selection and the player name(s) on the top right, on the options screen you have the screen size tweaker (to avoid problems with different TV sizes) and the sound levels tweaker. Finally, on the new Extras screen you have the highscores as well as some not yet seen extras.

If all goes well Bennu will be on the 360 on April. :)

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Demosthenes

 

Color dispensers!

I've been working on the color dispensers. Like in Bennu, when a ninja touches a color dispenser he changes color and is only able to destroy blocks with the color he has at the moment.

The dispensers were inspired by the cursed seals in Naruto. Each seal is a circle with the kanji of the color it lends the ninja inside (red, green, blue). The seals are composed of particles made with the mask emitter in the Mercury Particle Engine.

When the ninja touches a seal each particle is moved towards the ninja, which gives the impression that the seal is dissolving into the ninja.

">Video here.

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