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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Understanding ASCII Art

It’s pretty easy to see that I’ve taken the step of using ASCII art in my next game, Gemstone Keeper, and it’s pretty difficult to not notice it if you see the screenshots I’ve been posting for #IndieDevHour or Screenshot Saturday.

This writeup will explain my understanding as mainly an outsider and relative newcomer to the ASCII art and Roguelike Development scenes, and hopefully explain my reasons why I chose to move to ASCII art, and how I am approaching it to make my own style to the art form.

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Ludum Dare 33

Ludum Dare, one of the largest online game jams, has posted the results of every competition and jam entry made, a staggering 2727 games! You can check out my entry below if you haven’t seen it yet, for which I have included my results:

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So if I compare with my last entries to Ludum Dare, the average of scores have shown their gradual increase (2.47 – 2.86 – 3.17 – 3.31), and I must praise Lyserdigi for the music to get a such good audio score.

I’ve had a load of fun developing this entry, which I’ve gone into detail in a post mortem. So during the three weeks after submissions had reached the deadline and tried out and voted on as many games as I can, which isn’t easy since I started a new job last month, and I have no idea how any person could vote on over 2700 games in three weeks. Regardless, I’ve managed to find my favourites, found through recommendations, some friends or by random. So to end things off, here are my favourites:

Escape from Twump Tower

Honorary award for catchiest music track in a LD game, this is a very colourful game for such a topical storyline. Music is really catchy and I love the Megaman approach.

Intergalactic Love Machine

I love the dialogue and the text options, this is a really neat idea to base the theme on and the design of the monsters are really well made, fitting with the individual characters.

R-ADIUS

Very well made, I like the strategy involved in planning how to overwhelm the player ship to make it lose all its lives. I hope MrTwister expands this to give some more level and boss varieties, since I managed to beat the player after three rounds and the game just looped around.

Unsolicited

Brilliantly simple and novel concept, definitely liked the level of micromanagement you have to pull off in the later levels.

A Shadow In The Night

A very well polished puzzle platformer, with a unique jumping mechanic. Really good take on classic movie vampires with a great art style!

#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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ThreeThingGame and the Ricoh2DFramework

Between the 11-12th of June, I went up with a friend and fellow Windows Games Ambassador Aaron Smith, along with a games design student Nathan Holding to the University of Hull for ThreeThingGame, the University’s 24 hour games jam. The premise is that each team was provided three words, and were tasked with making a game that incorporated them. The games would be judged on how well they fit the three things, and the quality of the game overall and the winning teams would get prizes.

This was going to be an interesting event for all three of us, as despite being used to travelling around several campuses for events, Hull was way far out for us. We were also aware that the majority of students there had been at ThreeThingGame before and new how it all worked. However Aaron and I were a bit more confident in what we could pull off together since we went through a games jam one week prior, where we learned to have a proper functioning version control system that the tools can work with, as well as having an actual artist working with us this time. Our three words were Room, Moon and Lune, and from that we made a Lunar Lander style space game where you avoided asteroids and landed on moon bases.

We also had an additional tool to work with, my Ricoh2DFramework. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before on this site, but the Ricoh2DFramework is a framework for MonoGame. The purpose of the framework is to provide classes to assist with graphics, collision, input and audio among other functions. I was actually quite eager to use Ricoh2D in a game development project to see how well it works practically.

Game Development went rather well, and while there were some small issues found in the Ricoh2DFramework, they were easily fixed and all of those changes have been uploaded to the Ricoh2DFramework’s repository. There were also some performance issues that required some work arounds in order to avoid (slow downs, glitches and crashes galore), but in the end we finished the game.

What went right:

  • Proper source control: Using C# and MonoGame with Github is much better than the last games jam at Stafford, where we tried to use Unity with Git. Overall it was a nightmare back then to merge all the changes and ensure the project work. Using a system that is completely text based and readable made the process much more easier.
  • More prepared: Using the Ricoh2DFramework definitely saved some time in developing the game, and even though the framework had issues they were much quicker to deal with instead of having to build everything up from scratch.
  • Having an artist: Definitely enables the team to work on the game while assets are being created, instead of having to be made during or after development where issues can arise.

What went wrong:

  • Didn’t sleep enough: All three of us, me especially, thought we could spend the entire night working on the game. We didn’t. I could barely stay awake after literally staying awake for 24 hours, even with an abundance of food, drink and snacks to help us keep our energy.
  • Technical issues: While some performance issues were most likely due to some of the original code that was developed for the game, we also had numerous unexplained crashes from Microsoft and SharpDX libraries. This was especially bad when the game crashed unexpectedly with an unhandled exception while judges were looking at our game. This could’ve been one of the reasons why we didn’t get a place in the rankings, but since we were still using the Technical preview, hopefully issues would be ironed out afterwards.

Overall, I rather enjoyed ThreeThingGame. It’s a neat idea for a games jam and everyone at the University of Hull was very enthusiastic and eager to make games, which makes it even more impressive as the University doesn’t have a specialist games course unlike Staffordshire University.

Now it’s back to the Procedural Level Editor and my newest game project Gem Finder, where I’ve already started on new features…