Archive for engine

Deadline extended?!

Posted in Game Features, General DevLog with tags , , , , , , , on 2010/06/22 by Evan Sammons

So Indiecade had some problems with their submission forms, giving us an extra couple of days to fine-tune and get more new graphics done. Great! I can’t wait to get it submitted.

I’m also pumped to start working on the rest of the game. It’s been so long since the start of this project (maybe nearing 3 years now) and it’s gone through so many iterations that now that it’s in the state it is, I really want to see how it’s all going to fit together. There are a lot of concepts and functions of the game engine that aren’t explored fully in this first level, Upload Complete, I’m itching to see it unfold in the levels to come.

There are around a dozen tracks, meaning a dozen full levels totaling at least 40 minutes of gameplay. This does not include parts that aren’t set strictly to the music, for example ambient free-roams and possible looping sections – and even that may bring total time to a little over an hour. The key will be in the replayability…

The game engine allows any part of a level to be altered in real-time, and the triggers can vary greatly. They can be as simple as being closer to top or bottom of the game area to determine if the level goes upwards or downwards in the next section. Triggers can also be complex, and depend on what happened earlier in the game, a whole combination of factors, and goes right down to affecting the game ending. The scale of changes can also vary a lot, from the aforementioned game ending changes right down to what formation a group of enemy drones takes to attack you. This should all create a visceral experience that flows seamlessly, and always tests your ability to adapt and survive.

It’s old-school shooting action with a twist on classic linear progression.

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Scene re-working, and Performance

Posted in General DevLog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 2010/04/07 by Evan Sammons

Now that pretty much 95% of Upload Complete has been laid in place (and is totally playable), I’ve been going back through a number of other scenes and improving them, making them more interesting and engaging. There have also been some updates to the general engine, giving better performance overall.

Speaking of performance, Level 2 should be able to run on even the slowest of computers. The rig I’m using for testing isn’t the fastest of things, my rule of thumb has been if I get a drop in framerate on this, then something needs to change to make it more efficient. So far this has proven effective on any other computer the game has been tested on.

If you’re interested, here’s what I’m working with – Intel T2300 ~1.66ghz (dual core), 1gb ram, GeForce Go 7800 256mb. Kind of a benchmark for the lower end that can run Level 2. Running it at a steady 60fps is extremely important, any less and things get thrown out of sync and scenes can actually (play-wise) be much shorter!

DevLogs should be coming up a bit more frequently now, as I’ve worked through some pretty tough issues. Now I’m blitzing through, leading to more Log-worthy material!

-Tom

Quick Update

Posted in Bug Fix, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on 2010/02/25 by Evan Sammons

This update is small for you, but pretty big for me. I just fixed some bugs that have been frustrating me for months now! Now the player movement engine feels much more solid, very smooth. Before, if you jumped up a step and clipped the ground, you would instantly jump again. Now you simply go over the step as expected. The other bug involved the player character ‘floating’ above platforms, whilst still being able to move and jump normally – nothing really wrong with it, it just looked silly.

Another thing, upon respawn, now you can no longer get stuck in blocks. The character repositions directly in the middle of the screen upon respawn, so before if there were any platforms in the way, you’d get stuck in them and gradually rise up, sometimes off the screen to die again. That aint right, so I fixed it.

Finally, today some important systems for Bosses were put in place, which should make development for all other Boss sections much smoother. Right now, all work is going into one level, and with that a lot of major game mechanics have been built and refined so that later levels can be put together without much fuss.

-Tom

Current Features: Music Details

Posted in Game Features with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2010/02/10 by Evan Sammons

Yesterday I talked about features that give the game a dynamic, free-flowing relationship with the music. Today is about how the music will be integrated in detail, and how music really is involved with at least 90% of the game features.

There are some parts that just need to be choreographed in detail with the music – events on-screen happening with a specific guitar strum or crash of a cymbal. Solo sections in the music will make great use of this, particularly for the inevitable boss battles and other epic climaxes. This is where the story of the game can be told, acting as a more intimate and interactive kind of cut-scene, where you’re truly part of the music.

Vocals are also very linked in with the game. Several sections will have their own lip-sync to go with it. Hordes of enemies will sing and roar lyrics at you, bosses will scream at you their objectives, how and why they’re here. Entire levels are alive, they are the music, and as I’ve said in a previous post, you will be fighting the music. Trust me, it’s badass. I recently just finished a section where both the enemies and the background sing in chorus. In terms of gameplay, it’s a fairly simple section (actually, it’s a lot like Asteroids… that’s kinda cool), but with those singing effects it’s seriously cool.

As well as the features above that are chosen for specific parts of the music, there is a more general method of detailing the game using the music. The game goes with the beat and the tempo of the music using a number of counters set to activate events at 1/16ths, 1/8ths, 1/4ths etc. – changing the frequency of certain actions like enemies shooting guns. For example, a large enemy with a powerful gun might only shoot every 1/4 beat, whereas a drone with a machinegun might shoot rapidly every 1/16 or 1/32.

This tempo control is spread across many things, from the frequency a transporter spawns a group of drones to things like a platform moving back and forth. Since tempo varies from song to song, each level kind of gets it’s own character from it. For most levels it will be a subtle difference, but the fact that the game takes tempo into account for so much will really draw you into the song, and make the levels come alive.

I believe that covers most details of the fusion between music and game. My next post is a mystery, even to me!

-Tom

Current Features: Music/Level engine features

Posted in Game Features with tags , , , , on 2010/02/10 by Evan Sammons

I think it’s time to explain the main foundations of the game. As you know, the game is going to be very closely linked with the music, and each level is a song on the album. What happens in a level, how the game advances, and how you progress through the level is directly linked to the current point of time in the song.

Levels/songs are broken down into numerous ‘sections’, forming the core of the game. Each section has a great number of variables changing the ‘rules’ for that section – for example, in one section you’ll be flying around with the screen scrolling upwards, in another you could be on the ground with the screen staying still as kind of an arena. These rules apply to just about every aspect of the game, making levels potentially very dynamic since the level features are created as you progress through them, rather than being pre-designed or pre-generated.

Levels can react to the player in interesting ways, or indeed have totally random options to use when it gets to certain points. Hopefully, this will create a more intense atmosphere and a lot more fun when replaying the game, since it will never be the same twice!

I’ll give an example: Say you’re riding some kind of winged death-bomber program as it plummet  through cyberspace, and you fall off. Under normal circumstances, you would die, but with a special condition in the section rules, it could change the section completely – maybe you fall to the ground and have to run for your life as the bomber notices you and attempts to destroy you, or it could be that another bomber picks you up from an opposing faction, and you’re caught in an aerial dogfight.

The possibilities are pretty huge, and it should make for some great sequences whilst still keeping in with the mood of the music. It will still be the same section, just with altered rules and certain activated events.

That’s a pretty big piece of information about Level 2: The Game. Tomorrow I’ll explain some more about how the music and the game are going hand-in-hand.

-Tom

Update – Swarms.

Posted in Game Features with tags , , , , , , on 2010/02/06 by Evan Sammons

Hi again, Tom here with a little info post and a project update!

So far we have the main engine complete, which includes player movement, controls, weapons, and overall level and ‘section’ control (I’ll go into detail in later posts). It’s almost smooth sailing from here, with a ton of content to add and levels to choreograph to each song on Level 2 the album.

I have to say, testing each new feature is a blast. The most recent significant addition has been swarming enemies, where numerous weak enemies fly around an origin point, similar to bees around a hive. The system is extremely flexible, allowing a ‘mother’ entity to continuously spawn swarmers, or the swarming enemies themselves origins for more swarmers, or swarms used as projectiles shot out of cannons, mouths, portals, whatever! Swarms could even be created when something else is destroyed – like being split into many enemies, or perhaps spawning swarmers as you damage a larger enemy, so bits will appear to break off and fly around that enemy, eventually being whittled down to a pure swarm. So it seems swarmers will be one of the main enemy types in the game.

You may recall from the teaser our main character shooting frantically with a lasergun. Well, now you can imagine a giant, chaotic swarm of mindless programs hurtling towards him, the laser blasting enemies to pieces and whittling the swarm down to a few harmless drones.

In posts to come, look forward to more info about what we currently have, since I believe we have some seriously cool features and I’d love to share them all with you. Right now I’m just chipping away at getting a full level to release as a demo, but in the process I’m sure some more core features will appear – and of course there will be updates on those, too.

-Tom

DevLog intro

Posted in General DevLog with tags , , , on 2010/02/05 by Evan Sammons

Hi, I’m Tom Vine. Soon to be 22, living in Anaheim, CA. Totally opposite end from Maine, but we get by.

I head up the ‘coding’ of this game. I say ‘coding’ because I’m using Multimedia Fusion 2 (developer edition) to make Level 2 the game. Check it out if you like, the coding interface is a grid-based list of events, conditions, and actions. No real code-writing, but still very flexible and surprisingly powerful. If you’re interested in game development, I suggest checking clickteam’s products out at http://www.clickteam.com/, they have several demo versions available.

Anyway, to introduce, Level 2 the game is an action-platformer. It combines old-school platforming with modern shooter-style gameplay. You control the character on a 2d plane, moving and jumping with the keyboard, and aiming and shooting with the mouse. We aim to implement support for dual-analog controllers, particularly the Xbox 360 gamepad, and it should be very smooth. There’s a lot of influence from the Metroid series and the work of HR Giger in terms of general mood, look and feel. Personally, from a gameplay standpoint, influences include Mega Man 2, Metal Slug and Tyrian – yes, Level 2 will even be reminiscent of scrolling shooters at times.

A lot has been done to create a synergy between game and music. Enemies will blast you with lasers in time with the music, and scream lyrics at you as they charge in to destroy you. As music rises in intensity, so does the game. This isn’t a rhythm game by any means, in Level 2 you will engage in brutal warfare with the music, and you will fight each song to the very last note.

You can listen to Upload Complete on Last Chance To Reason’s myspace page – http://www.myspace.com/lastchancetoreason. Upload Complete is the first level in the game, and it’s close to being finished. The teaser (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bV_6a_r0kLc) shows some scenes from this level, some incomplete.

Check back for updates, they should be coming quite frequently!

-Tom V