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Archive for September, 2011

Tough decisions, interesting beginnings

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

So, if you’ve been following this blog for a while (like a year) you might recall last year’s “October Challenge” game called “Stealth Target” that I attempted to release as a paid beta game, which I then issued refunds for and then made a few vague efforts to revive and .. well ..

I mean, it looks, sort of okay. Those dynamic lights are neat stuff, man I learned a ton about OpenGL and tricks doing this game. The trouble is, since it is a 3D rendered game, when you stick it next to shots of (links to any recent Unity game on touchArcade left as an exercise to the reader) it looks awful. “Why is this dev even bothering?” Coupled with the fact that the interface was a bit kludgy using a mouse and at least twice as bad using touch, it just wasn’t a great fit for, well, anything sadly. To finish the project it would take me at least 3-4 more months of serious work and I don’t expect that I would be happy with the final result, so I had to kill it.

.. But I had written some keen code. And I still liked the game concept. So I thought about it a bit more. I had made another game a ton of years ago called Escape from Anathema Mines. It was a similar “dodge the guards” type of game with an overhead visual aesthetic that actually worked pretty well.

I thought it over and decided that with some of the GL experience I had acquired while working on Stealth Target, and by going in the direction of the overhead view that worked so well in that game, I could re-mix the two games together and create something new and exciting and simple enough that I could get it done. After just a few days of work I’ve already got a OpenGL / HD playable of Escape from Anathema Mines.

I’m going to extend the game with some of the bomb concepts from Stealth Target and maybe top it off with some other wacky features. This game is much easier to work on for the primary reason: it isn’t in 3D. Not being in 3D just makes rendering and working on it so much easier. One thing that also helped getting this up and running quickly was being able to reuse a ton of the code / algorithms that I had already written for Stealth Target.

I also been learning about the Object Component model over the past year and I’m using this game as my first attempt at it. I went to a talk at 360iDev (check it out) and got a very nice overview of the model. But the BIGGEST point he made that worked for me was when he said, “It doesn’t really matter how you do this, as long as it works for you. You won’t make a perfect model, so just make one that gets the job done and don’t feel bad about it.” Which was really liberating for me, I’ve always felt it was supposed to be some perfectly coded model, and being allowed by someone to just “get the job done” really helped. I was able to use the things I learned in his talk to help my code without having to do weird stuff that wouldn’t work with my style of coding. I have everything in a single structure named Entity. Really simple, but the thing I also do is have a bunch of bools like “has_light” “has_position” and then more members like “position_x, position_y, light_a” and so on. That way everything is always there (very C) but it’s component oriented (I can test if a component is there and take action on it if it is.)

Here’s the level editor, which is actually is very similar to the one for Stealth Target, only .. since the game is actually an overhead game, it was a ton easier to get working.

So, yeah. I’m enjoying doing this project. It’s actually my “hobby project” which means I’m only allowing myself to work on it during off-hours. I will probably attempt to monetize it somehow, but my main goal with this project is to satisfy my need to get these game ideas out the door and see how they come out. I’ve got my main work hours dedicated to some of the other commercial projects I’m working on this year.

Which I should talk about more soon. A lot more.

-Phil

Oh look a white orb

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Hey, I added white orbs. I wonder what use the game will have for those. In Star Trek:TOS, it’s accepted practice to beam down to the planet, get mad at the inhabitants and commit some sort of genocide. And then take their minerals. Hmmm.

The tough bit with iCade dev is that I haven’t added touch controls to the game so moving my ship around in the sim (for screenshots) isn’t possible unless I pair my iCade with my Mac. Which is a pain. Maybe I should figure out how to take on-device screenshots.

-Phil


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