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Still making games...

Entries in this blog


Site mock-up

I've been correcting little bugs on Bennu,changing little graphic details and integrating my brother's backgrounds in the game. I've also been working on the website, here's a mock-up:




It's Bennu!

So Bennu finished in the top 20 in the DreamBuildPlayContest!.

I wasn't expecting this after the top 4 were announced yesterday, but Bennu was even played at the Xbox Live Community Games Launch Event... I didn't even get an e-mail about this.

Also, the competition wasn't just hobby game developers: the first-place winners were a government-sponsored team of four. The second-place team were two professional game developers. So, I'm pretty happy about the result all things considered.




Options screen

Hello there! Since the last time I scratched the walls of this journal with my fingernails I've added sound effects to the game (though not complete yet) and finished the points system, which adds points when the player performs a special move, such as hitting two blocks without breaking the chain. Click here for a video, though since this I've moved the points to the bottom bar because they just cluttered the display too much. :)

Lately I've been working on the options screen, which you can see below. It's not yet in the game, just a composition.

The idea is that you will slide the music and fx indicators to control the respective volumes and pull out the player1/player2 or keyboard/360 controller when you want to change input options.




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. :)




Hey kids...

...I guess I can say "kids" now, since I'm almost 30. >

I've finished most of the artwork for the third "world", the egyptian Underworld, and I've also been working on new levels. Click here for a vid of a new level in the Underworld.

Right now I have 13 levels, I want at least 30. Making a level is fast once I get an idea, the problem is getting it. :)




Intro & Isis

I pretty much finished the intro to Bennu. I got some criticism about the "actors" in it looking too mechanical, so I attached some wires to make them look like marionettes. :) Click here for a video.

I've also been working on the Isis "actor", which will show up in the tutorial. Below is the finished drawing and the picture she was inspired from (though the starting point was obviously the Set drawing):





My brother suggested that I should display a chain instead of the balls I previously used to show the connection from the Bennu to the object it's swinging from. Click here for a video.

I also got major performance improvements from switching my broad-phase collision algorithm. I was previously using a modification of the sweep and prune implementation that came with the Farseer Physics Engine. In the way I was using sweep and prune, objects were being sorted in an array by their lower and upper boundaries along the X axis.

In my specific case I have a lot of objects, but most are static (such as the blocks and obstacles), so the array processing got expensive on more complex levels.

I switched to a grid-based collision algorithm, where all static objects are placed in a two-dimensional matrix where each position corresponds to a sub-square of the level, containing the list of static objects that are present in that sub-square. An object is placed in every sub-square from his lower (x,y) boundary to his upper (x,y) boundary, as depending on the object's dimensions it can belong to more than one sub-square. The non-static objects are kept in a list apart, and collisions are only checked between each non-static object and the static objects in the sub-squares the non-static object is currently located in.

Right now the collisions between each pair of non-static objects are all being checked, since I have a small number of them, but these can be optimized apart.





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. ^^




Menus, maps and progress...

Despite the lack of updates here, I've been dedicating a lot of time to Bennu lately. I've been working on the main menu and player map:

Each player, on the left, will only see the locations he has reached yet. I'm planning to have the 5 locations depicted in the map in the final game.

I've also been working on the game mechanics, which are nearly finished, and should start designing levels for the first location (Abu Simbel) soon.




Level selection

My brother suggested I should add some kind of level selection to Bennu that allowed the player to skip levels. I agreed it was an important issue, because most levels have different solutions, introduce new gameplay elements or require the player to further develop his basic game skills. If the player didn't manage to complete a level right now he couldn't play another and figure out the first one later.

After playing Braid I figured the best solution was to copy... I mean, use, the same pattern of level selection. In Bennu, each world will have a different number of levels, and to unlock the next world the player will have to complete half of the levels on the current world. On each world the player will be able to play the levels in the order he prefers (although obviously the first levels will be easier than the last ones). The exception will be the boss levels, which the player will only access after completing all the other levels in the current world. This last behaviour is yet to be implemented.

The new level selection was implemented on the game map. Below each map location, the levels are represented as spheres close to a path that represents the steps the player will have to take to finish each world. When the player completes a level its sphere will be placed upon the path, while the incomplete levels remain outside the path.

Click here for a video.



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