All posts by Ryan
I thought I’d write a few notes on this past weekends game jam… Firstly, I think it was a huge success!
Play it here and tell me what you think.
Going into the event I had never worked with anyone in the team. It was a lot more art heavy than I had previously worked with and this really showed up in the look and sound of the game.
As for programming it was great to work with someone that knew their way around Unity. We naturally divided the tasks without any real discussion. It was great to be able to rely on someone getting cool stuff into the game whilst I was working on something else. Ended up being quite productive for the short time we had.
What else can I say about the art guys…? Amazing art and animation and sounds/music! Didn’t really need to debug any art issues or help them out. They all knew their stuff really well.
The main thing we might have needed to improve on would be having a more solid design driver. One person making the design decisions to try and keep the concept solid in at least one persons head
We didn’t get time to implement a few features that would have changed the game a fair amount but that’s to be expected with such a limited time.
Hopefully we get to do some more work on it and see where it goes.
Good fun! Looking forward to next time.
My recent work on SuperMegaMega has revolved around figuring out a lot of the desired game play and story.
Part of that process has led me back to considering procedural generation again.
I want to have a game that won’t require massive play sessions but is still appealing each time it’s played. The sense of progression is also important.
For examples of this I have been playing a lot of the recent roguelike evolutions that have become popular.
Some of them use random content in a way that is still very controlled. For example “The Binding of Isaac” uses a large set of hand made rooms (over 1000) that are chosen from as building blocks for the larger level layouts. “Rogue Legacy” does a similar thing too whilst Spelunky uses a more fine-grained version but it’s essentially the same idea.
So now SMM is using this pattern with its own twist. Pre made rooms and structures give more control over the player experience. The main restriction is all the rooms are based around a cylindrical structure. As long as there are a shit load of variants to select from it will seem very random. Just need to make sure the quality level is maintained over the entire set of rooms.
The actual gaming loop is currently being experimented with. So far leaning towards using a permadeath system with unlockable weapons and events. Don’t really know what will work until I get some more play testing done!
Lots of enemies,weapons,items and levels to make!
Also, my new phone is awesome! Note3 ftw
One thing I’ve been thinking about recently is motion sickness and VR. My wife tried the ‘Titans Of Space’ demo and got really sick in record time.
This really surprised me! I figured this demo was one of the easiest for first timers. Perhaps my perceptions of what has the potential to make someone sick is a bit out of whack.
I think it’s important to try and minimise the barf inducing effects but I fear it’s (at least partially) unavoidable.
Super Mega Mega has a pretty small percentage of people who feel sick I think. The one part I’m worried about is the screen-shake effect.
There are lots of technical things I’ve read and acted upon and I don’t want to repeat them here but it’s certainly a potential wall between VR tech going mainstream. At least it seems the consumer version of the Rift will be targeting a much lower latency… which could fix most of the problems and make everyone happy. Games just need to keep up their end of the bargain.
Anyways I think I’ve decided to have an options menu to allow the potential chunder busters to be switched off. That should hopefully cater to most people.
Back to work! Hoping to have a new playable demo available in the next 2-3 weeks. It all depends on how much time I get to work on it.
Now something a bit more technical and rambling… But not too bad … again this will help me more than anyone else
With the initial prototype for Super Mega Mega, the world is completely dynamically rotating around the centre point of the world.
This was chosen to ensure the VR head tracking camera wouldn’t have any major issues with things like motion sickness.
Also, the player movement code becomes a lot simpler when the player isn’t actually moving and the level just rotates on a single axis.
The problem comes now with performance. I’ve been starting to push the detail levels of all the levels up a lot and that’s increased the draw call and vertex count significantly.
Deferred rendering is being used to get some nice lighting and post effects but it really hammers the draw call count.
To reduce this I have a few options:
– Reduce the vertex count of the individual blocks significantly (Unity dynamic batching doesn’t allow more than 900 vertex attributes which means about 200-300 vertices for me) which would make this look shitty.. potentially only an option if the detail is replaced with normal maps. This would add a lot more work into my pipeline…. not cool but has potential.
– Leave it where it is and just decrease the level sizes. Not cool either! Seeing the tall tower stuff is one of the coolest bits.
– Switch all the mesh blocks to static objects and change the movement code to adapt. This is the first option I’m currently testing out. Draw calls are reduced significantly but now the camera has to be rotated to follow the player. This might screw with your head when wearing the VR headset…. must really test this ASAP. If it doesn’t cause any problems I’ll switch all the levels into this static mode. Re-writing the movement will be a pain but it’s a once off thing.
If anyone has any pearls of wisdom here.. feel free to drop them on me @bluntgames
Anyway it’s good to be back in the middle of it all. Hoping to be able to share some awesome new stuff early in the new year!
After writing this I think I’ve decided to embrace the ‘all normal-mapped future’. This will make the vertex count of the blocks restricted but it should be nicely compensated with the normal detail I hope. My only concern is the lack of quality in the silhouettes. I’ve also solved the non-manifold mesh generation that was plaguing the tool used for current models. Perhaps the best solution is a happy mix of dynamically batches models and auto-combined models.
The attraction of having everything in the world dynamic (destructible and movable) is far too appealing to ignore.
test test test
To choose a one-word theme for the past past few months (more like about 6 months) of my life it would be frustration.
the feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something.
the prevention of the progress, success, or fulfilment of something.
Prevention of progress…. so much.
It’s hard to write anything about it because I don’t want to ‘complain’. I hate hearing people complain about things and I think it’s generally a waste of energy.
Instead I’m writing this for myself in the hope it might help me to cope with this level of frustration and maintain my patience and a clear goal/direction for the gamedev.
The issues surrounding the matter come down to a few things. Firstly, I recently rolled a new character into the world (my son Dean was born in July this year). He also has a 2 year old sister. They are great! Wouldn’t change anything about them. Unfortunately at the same time as this my wife has been really sick.
As would be expected, I’ve taken up most of the extra slack with caring for the kids whilst trying to help manage my wife’s health issues. Combine this with my stressful high pressure full-time job (how do you take leave from your own small business?). Our respective families have both chipped in to try help out but there’s a limit to what they can do.
This all combines into a shit storm of shit and shit. Generally I can’t sleep before 12-1am, add in waking up for the kids at 5-6am plus the in-frequent night sessions… then the 8-6 work day with an evening of dinner,bath and bed routines finishing around 9pm. My days are fucked!
Again, I’m trying not to complain here! I accept the things I must do! And I know it won’t last forever. But my frustration levels peak every time I sit down at night and try to get some gamedev work done. My brain refuses to cooperate most of the time and I just end up switching on the PS4/xbone.
Gaahhh….. I need to learn to shed expectation and embrace the freedom that being an indie developer allows me. I don’t have deadlines (other than self-imposed… hello Rift release date.. please be delayed) and I don’t have investors looking over my shoulder. I can work on whatever I want. I just need to work on finding the time to do it!
Yeah I do feel a little better now. Thanks internet, you’re great.