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Still making games...

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Blood pools

In order to maximize the "satisfaction per kill ratio" I added blood pools. The pools are made out of a maximum of 3 blood textures that are placed close to each other, rotated randomly and expanded at different rates, giving the sensation of multiple leaking wounds.

Video here:

[media] [/media]




Get In The Ring

Get In The Ring is our new game, currently in the second week of development. It's a top-down brawler inspired by the combat system in the latest Batman games, coupled with the constant upgrade progression systems of games like You Must Build A Boat. It's being developed in Unity, here's the first gameplay GIF:

The game uses Unity's 2d Physics system to manage player and enemy movement and collisions, with the occasional "cheating" to move the player quickly when counter-attacking. The physics system seems to handle this quite well.

Unity also provides a TimeScale variable that makes the slow motion effects easy to do.




Menus and cutscenes

Been working on menus and the intro cutscene.

On each map a player gets stars if he completes the map in less than the star time. This was done to emphasize that besides winning the map the goal is to complete each map as quick as possible.

The victory screen:

The thumbs up come out of the woodwork in a small animation.

House banners for the intro cutscene:




Get In The Ring - Part 2


I'm now into week 3 of Get In The Ring's development. A friend told me the camera was a bit jerky and pointed me to this excellent article that covers anything and everything about cameras in side-scrollers. For now I've adopted the camera smoothing approach where the camera chases the player position instead of always being centered on it. It helps when the player jumps around to counter enemy attacks.

I've also been implementing a new enemy that grabs the player and leaves him (more) vulnerable to enemy attacks if he doesn't react fast. Gameplay video:




One Man Armada...

So I submitted Attack of the 50ft Verbose Dinosaur to the DreamBuildPlay contest. There are some impressive entries (at least graphically) this year, so I'm not that confident, but hope dies last. :)

In the meantime, I started a new game, One Man Armada (OMA), with a different physics engine, Box2D.Xna. My first impression, when compared to the Farseer Physics Engine, is that Box2D.Xna is much, much faster (it is optimized for the Xbox 360), but has less features. Farseer is close to releasing a new version, but right now I'd recommend Farseer for a PC game (or an Xbox game where you really need the more advanced features) and Box2D.Xna for an Xbox game where performance is essential.

All my games start with a basic gameplay idea that evolves according to whatever I think is working best as I playtest the game. :) I guess it's mostly the same for everyone.

OMA's basic idea is what would happen 9 months after Geometry Wars got drunk and had a foursome with Peggle, Breakout and Freespace. It's a dual-thumbstick shooter (with ships, not abstract stuff) where you shoot balls, like in Breakout, that bounce off ships, causing more damage with each bounce. So you must try to hit as many ships as possible with each shot while avoiding enemy fire.

Right now I'm working on a basic prototype and getting to grips with the physics engine. If the game is fun I'll follow up with it; if not I'll think of some other game. I did a logo anyway:




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:





Soooo....tuaw.com just called Fold "The most original iOS puzzler in years". :)

Also some other quotes:

"You've probably never played a game even remotely like this before."

[color=rgb(68,68,68)][font=Helvetica]"If you're looking for a unique puzzle experience that will undoubtedly help you pass the time on a lazy afternoon, a short break at work, or the subway, Fold is a fantastic choice."[/font][/color]





Now with rope!

Implemented wall sliding and the ninja rope. ">Video here.

Wall sliding was implemented by detecting the angle of the wall to check if it is "vertical enough" for the ninja to slide in and then applying a force to the ninja, in the direction of the wall. Right now it still has some bugs when colliding with the edges where the blocks connect to each other.

The ninja rope uses a fixed linear spring from the Farseer Physics Engine. The ninja is set to a ragdoll state when attached to the rope.




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






To get new weapons and tile upgrades the player will have to enter the cemetery crypts and have a conversation with ghosts. If he chooses the right answers, he gets those items. If he doesn't, the game gets harder on the next round (more zombies spawned, etc.)

This is all experimental and will be cut out if people think it doesn't fit it. Anyway, here's a video:



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
E6ARDB-QBA83-EJFX2 Our Steam page is here.

Bennu submitted for playtest!

So last night my brother, who lives in the USA, submitted Bennu for playtest in the Community Games.

I changed the cover because the previous one didn't work that well when resized:

Some screenshots:

And the thumbnail:




Shooting controls...

When deciding the initial 360 gamepad shooting controls for Graveyard Shift I saw two options:

- The Geometry Wars way, where the player only needs to point the right thumbstick and the ship starts shooting immediately. This has the advantage of being intuitive and easy to grasp, and is also ideal in this game because the ship has continuous fire and no need to reload.

- The sort-of-FPS way, where the player points with the right thumbstick but only fires with the right trigger. This has the disadvantage of being harder to learn and forcing the player to reach out to the right thumbstick, but with games where the fire is not continuous and the player has limited ammo, it gives more control over the exact direction and number of fired bullets.

Since the guns in Graveyard Shift need to be reloaded and some have limitted ammo, I went with the latter. Over the past months some people (read: friends and family) who tested the game complained about the shooting controls and so I decided to change them to the Geometry Wars ones, with a nuance: the guns only fire when the player moves the right thumbstick close to the edge. This lets players point more accurately before the gun starts firing and prevents them from shooting unnecessary bullets.

So far it seems to works well, although I need more visual feedback about when the guns are firing and when they need to be reloaded.




Phat Ninja

So I finished incorporating a new ninja... phat ninja! When playing co-op, one player will play as the previous "thin" ninja and the other as the phat ninja.

">Video here. If you can watch it on full screen to see all the body animations.




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]




Super Ninja Kung Fu Puzzle - Extra Pow Pow

Avatar Man has sold 38 copies so far, which is the worst of the three games I made.

So, for the next game, I had to choose between two of the projects I interrupted before, One Man Armada and Super Ninja Kung Fu Puzzle - Extra Pow Pow (SNKPEPP). I chose SNKPEPP because it had the cooler name. And the cooler title screen, which will feature an animation from this:

To this:

SNKPEPP is a ragdoll-physics based platformer. Like Bennu, the goal will be to remove all the blocks in a level, but there will also be fights and ninja stuff. Also, like I mentioned before, one of the goals in SNKPEPP was to remove the high entry barrier that Bennu had (because of the hard to master controls).

I had some problems the first time I approached SNKPEPP, because I tried using two ragdolls, one when the ninja was facing right the other when he was facing left. This caused collision problems when I switched between the ragdolls, so now I use a single ragdoll.

">This video shows the running and wall jumping tests and, from time to time, I turned the ninja into a limp ragdoll for fun. :) The ninja is still missing his hands and feet, but all in due time.




Avatar Man...

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





I did an interview about Bennu for a site I hadn't heard of before:

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.




Bennu "box" art

To submit a game to community games you need to create "fake box" art to display on the xbox marketplace. Here's Bennu's:

EDIT: New version




Bennu Revisited...

I just pulled Bennu out of the Xbox Marketplace, the reason being I'm about to release a free version for PC. Even though Bennu is only selling an average of 1 copy per month, it would be harsh having a priced version of Bennu with it being free on the PC.

The PC version will not be a direct port, featuring:
- Improved controls (more accurate pointing, faster rolling).
- Keyboard controls (and mouse on the menus).
- Improved tutorial.
- New and missing levels (the harsher ones of the first world were removed and replaced by easier ones).
- Some minor changes to dialogue.

Why free? As mentioned before, sales on the Xbox weren't so good (it sold about 180 copies), but I still feel it was our best game so far. I'm hoping it will get to more people on PC, where gamers are more used to hard-to-master games.




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.




Graveyard Shift Update...

Still "working" on Graveyard Shift:

- Corrected a slew of bugs.

- Changed the main font to something more suitable to an action/horror game.

- Fixed a design problem: previously, the only way to win a decent quantity of souls was to lay down a soul sucker tile upgrade. Souls are the currency in this game, so if you didn't lay down the mentioned upgrade before running out of money, you would be stuck with very limited weapons and a very small base. So now, the tile that is already set when you start a game accelerates time during the day and captures nearby zombie souls by night. The player will still need to lay down soul sucker upgrades as her base grows.

- Added delimiters to show the player where the soul capturing limits are (helps to place new soul sucker upgrades).

- Added a new weapon, the Fever Ray (homage FTW). The fever ray will be one of the more powerful weapons, it creates a continuous ray that both damages and pushes
back zombies. With an yet-to-be-introduced upgrade it will hit all zombies in its path.

Here's a new video showing the Fever Ray (in the beginning I place four soul sucker upgrades to increase the soul capture range, it's better to watch in full screen to see all the details):




Avatar Man....

Avatar Man is back in playtest. If you have a creator's club account (this is starting to sound like I'm sponsored by Microsoft or something. I wish.) you can test it here.

Also, here's the (final?) game cover:



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