New Years Update

It has now been one full week of 2017, and a lot of people (including myself) have slowly gotten back to work. Since Gemstone Keeper has been getting close to release, I’ve started work as soon as we can to get stuff done.

Before I get into Gemstone Keeper, I worked on a little game for Ludum Dare 37 where the player is stuck in a porta-loo balancing in the air. That game was Danger: Mondays, and after two weeks of voting the results are in. The results for this Ludum Dare were definitely beyond my expectations. While the amount of submissions for the compo were smaller compared to past years (901 compared to 1117 at LD35), that doesn’t devalue the fact that Danger: Mondays achieved a rank just a few places shy of Top 25 in the Humour category of all categories.

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Reading all the comments, I was glad people found the concept amusing, but I’m completely grateful at the how well I did this time around. Thank you to everyone who voted during the day. Apologies for not posting about Ludum Dare any sooner, but I was working on a bigger game.

To be a bit more descriptive, Boss Rush will have the player beating all five bosses as fast as possible, they are able to set the stats and weapons of their explorer before hand and they regain some of their health after defeating each boss.

Score mode allows the player to go through the caverns, and like the daily run mode, will try and get the highest score possible by collecting as many gemstones and materials as they can on a single run. This time however, the player is free to set the seed they want, which will effect all aspects of the game from the levels, player stats, which weapon they have and which items they’ll have at the start.

One of the benefits of working on these game modes (from a developer’s perspective) is that we go through all the main game modes again to not only ensure they work through both the main game mode and these smaller game modes, but to find any bugs or issues that was missed out the first few times.

Another update we’ve done is on the gemstones themselves, namely how they are rendered. Originally, the Gemstone Geometry was generated using a Gemstone Mesh Generator that was developed at PROCJAM, and then rendered using a custom software approach using SFML (you can read a comprehensive write up of this on my websites in part 1 and part 2). However, over the last week of December, it was decided that it was time to update this for performance and to improve quality by changing the rendering process to an OpenGL Hardware render approach.

Below you can see the difference, on the left is the software approach, and the right is the new hardware approach:

This weekend I’ve been playing around with post-process effects, as it would be nice to have some visual effects that would appear through the entire game, although it would be possible for the player to disable certain effects if that want to. To pull this off, the framework now has a multipass post processing system where it’s possible to disable certain effects.

This allows us to apply multiple post process effects at once, and allows us to add the options we need to allow players to enable/disable certain ones.

CRT Shader

Bloom Shader

This is only a small sample of what is being planned, leading up to Gemstone Keeper’s release on March 31st 2017. I’ll also be attending London Gaming & Anime Con in early February and GDC in San Francisco later in the month, however the latter will just be as an attendee.

Here’s to 2017 being a successful year for many people!

GBJAM, Talks and Progress

Over the last month I’ve been working day and night, and having some fun in a few places as well.

From October 1st to October 10th was the GBJAM5, the games jam where the theme is the original gameboy. While the aim is to make a game that could play on an original gameboy, the only rules that matter is the resoluton being 160 x 144 pixels and only using 4 colour graphics. I’ve been taking part since the first one back in 2013, and I’ve only missed GBJAM2. It’s a jam I love because it’s small, I love the restriction of the game’s size and graphics, plus growing up with a Gameboy Color means I have a bit of nostalgia for the system.

Despite the games jam lasting 10 days, I was going to spend the weekend in Dublin so I could spend some time with my sister, who’s been travelling around Africa for a few months. I decided to work on a really simple game idea, a block moving from start to finish, avoiding some obstacles on the way. The idea ended up being so simple it took me the first day to get basic graphics moving on the screen, some obstacles and a palette swapping system. I was able to use the rest of the time updating the graphics, adding a few more objects like locks, keys and bouncepads, as well as a transitional effect and some other screens to make the game feel complete and authentic.

The end result was MonoCube, an action puzzle game where all you have to do is get to the end.   During the development process I got a surprising amount of attention, and even after submitting the game early I got several comments, the game ended up getting 7th place in gameplay! You can check out the game here.

On November 8th, I will be speaking at the Digital Technology Conference at Stoke Campus, Staffordshire University. My talk will be about Indie Game Development and the Steam Greenlight process, on what I did to get Gemstone Keeper greenlit and offering my advice. This will be the first time I’ve gone to the Stoke campus as a Graduate, and I look forward to seeing what the campus is like since the games and computing departments all moved from Stafford earlier in the year.

Now I’m going to return to Gemstone Keeper, I’ve got one planned boss remaining to work on, and I’m also focusing some time on the audio (both music and sound effects). In the meantime, I’ve updated the game’s titlescreen, as I felt the original could have had a more authentic layout, as well as some improved scrolling for the background.

Procedural Meshes: Generating Gemstones Part 1

So two years ago as a student researching for his thesis, I took part in the first procjam. Organised by Michael Cook, this is a games jam that focuses on procedural content, whether that be games, art, text, tools, anything that can make something. Last year I decided to go a bit basic, write some pre-existing noise and maze algorithms for the Haxe Programming Language, which I eventually tweaked and published on Haxelib and Github as MAN-Haxe.

Last year, I decided that for my current project, I was going to do something relevant, and this time use no pre-existing algorithms, this is where the Gemstone Generator comes in. I have images of the meshes below that show the progress from early successful generations to the final most generation test before the UI layout was cleaned up and the demo was uploaded. The generative process is now being used in Gemstone Keeper, albeit with a different rendering process considering I’m turning Unity’s Procedural Meshes into SFML meshes.

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Grow Trees… Or Something – Ludum Dare

So this is something I didn’t expect to happen, around two weeks ago was Ludum Dare, where we all had only 48 hours (or 72 for jams) to develop a game, however because I had plans to go to a party that was some distance from home, I had much less time. Despite that I still managed to finish something, although honestly was disappointed I didn’t have much to show, so I could go and vote on other entries.

You can play my entry for Ludum Dare 34 here, but here’s my post mortem as written on the Ludum Dare website.

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#GBjam, Game Development and Work Updates

I’m back and ready to update everyone on what’s been happening since I went to Japan last month, which was an awesome holiday where I got to go to the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Sendai, with highlights including seeing foxes at the Zao Fox Village, walk around Akihabara’s arcades, game and electronic stores, dressing up as a Samurai, going to the Ghibli Museum and Nintendo’s Old Headquarters! Despite being in very humid weather, and both my sister and I carrying our bags from hostel to guest house to hostel almost every night, we were able to see so much and yet miss out on quite a lot. We talked with other travellers and heard about seeing Mt Fuji and Sumo Wrestling in Nagano among others, but I think I can see them another time.

But only a few weeks after I got back, I was out again for a week in Ireland…which is why the longer than normal absence. I got to see some of the big towns and cities from Cork to Dublin, as well as a lot of countryside, however it did help bring inspiration for a game I recently made.
Welcome to Kilkenny Pub Brawl!

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Glow Drop DX and Global Games Jam are Out!

Over the last week, I’ve technically had to prepare for two releases, and guess what? Both games are out, and I’ve updated the game menu to include links to them! It’s pretty cool how both games were originally made at 48 hour game jams, and both are being updated as we speak. Feel free to read on about my experiences with Global Games Jam this year, and try out these two releases as soon as possible, all feedback is awesome!

Glow Drop DX

We Are Surrounded

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Ralph Baer & Ludum Dare 31

https://i1.wp.com/www.vintagecomputing.com/wp-content/images/interviews/baer_harrison_pong_3_large.jpgI would first like to start this post by talking about Ralph Baer, wildly known as the father of video games who passed away on December 6th. Since 1966 he always had the idea of games that can be displayed on television screens, and developed what he calls “the brown box” which had rotary controls and played a simple tennis game with two panels and a square ball. This patented idea eventually got picked up by TV manufacturer Magnavox and became the Odyssey, wildly considered the first video games console. Along with essentially founding computer and video games as we know it today, he also invented the classic electronic game Simon (and its sequel Super Simon) and carried on developing and tinkering with electronic prototypes, giving him 150 patents to his name.

He lived a full life and his work has lead to the creation of the largest entertainment history, and lot of gamers and game developers are where they are today because of his work.

So last weekend was Ludum Dare, the 31st bi-annual 48-hour games jam. The theme for this one was “Entire Game on One Screen”, a bit basic for a theme but it’s much better than the joke theme that got a lot hype in the voting stages (no snowmen please!).

You can play my entry right now, it’s called Glow Drop and it’s a physics based puzzle game, just click the image below to go to the Ludum Dare page!

I initially wanted to develop my entry using HaxeFlixel, but software issues struck and I was unable to use it, and since on the Saturday I spent most of my time developing on a train to London with no wi-fi, I decided to switch to using Construct2.

While I didn’t really feel motivated to using Construct2 again after spending over a year developing a certain award nominated stealth game using it, turns out for the game I ended up making it was worthwhile. Construct2 has one of the most easiest physics set up out of any engine I’ve used, and since the entire game has to be on a single screen, it’s much easier to manage a visual layout than a coded game state

Since I was out with friends and family for most of Saturday, I was hoping to release for the 72-hour jam. However, when I noticed that most of the game and the graphics were finished with four hours remaining, I felt like I could pull it off and upload for the compo, and I succeeded!

I’m already getting positive comments so far, so I might use a day or two from my Christmas break to polish the game more and release it as a mobile game! If you guys like the idea let me know if there is anything I could add/change to make it work!

https://i0.wp.com/ludumdare.com/compo/wp-content/compo2/407933/21252-shot2.PNG https://i1.wp.com/ludumdare.com/compo/wp-content/compo2/407933/21252-shot3.png