Epilepsy Simulator 2014 – Post-Competition Tweaks

First of all, the game’s now going to be called Strobe Simulator 2014, because that’s less likely to offend people, something that was overlooked for the competition entry. There’s only a handful of notable changes for this version.


So, so red. Pretty.

Firstly, the music used is now ‘Trippy Claws and Glitchy Eye’ by AsteroidBlues, a fantastic piece I found on NewgroundsSecondly, there’s lots of screen-shake when the spheres hit you, or when they explode. I managed to get this working thanks to a great library of code called iTween, which is made specifically for Unity and is completely free (which means there’s literally zero reasons for a Unity developer to not grab it).

There’s a working high score saving system, which can hold the ten best scores. Those scores are shown on the start menu, and get automatically saved whenever you die in the game. On top of that, the particle effect that plays when spheres explode can have a variety of colour to them, and the floor will turn the same colour to match the last particle explosion. It’s just a small change, but it’s a little less monotonous that just having red particles every time.

The pause menu’s much improved too (the camera gets frozen in place while paused, and the cursor locking works much more effectively), and when the player gets damaged by a sphere, the screen flashes red for a bit, to emphasize the damage the player has taken.

This will be the last version released for the game, and it’s on to another project!



Epilepsy Simulator 2014

After staving off sleep for the past couple days, me and my friend Tom finished (well, sort of) our entry for the Warwick Game Design society’s two-week challenge, which had a theme of ‘reflect’. I showed a screenshot of it in my last post, but it’s come very far since then. It’s now got a name, Epilepsy Simulator 2014, which is only half a joke, because it will probably give you epilepsy (disclaimer: if you have epilepsy and play it, please don’t sue, we’re too nice to go to jail). So without further waffling, here’s a short video!

The basic premise of the game is: you have a laser gun. Black spheres drop down and try to kill you by touching you. Stave off said spheres using the laser gun. The laser will reflect off the walls, and when a sphere crashes into the wall, it has a chance of activating a strobe light on that tile of the wall (this is where the epilepsy starts). The lights get all colourful sometimes, and the more lights going, the easier it is to see the enemy spheres. The laser was ripped straight from one of my old projects, and was one of the easier bits to add.


It looks so pretty when everything’s lit up like this.

Tom (the other guy who was making this with me. Lives in the same flat as me. Cool guy.) had never used Unity before, so a lot of the programming for this project was me showing him how to do stuff with Unity, but he’s learning very quickly, much quicker than I did in the beginning. He also made the textures for the walls, which are about three times better than what I would’ve come up with, so have a gold star, Tom!


Dem textures, yo.

The next competition, which started yesterday has a theme of ‘Spooky’, which we’re currently in the process of thinking up ideas for. We didn’t win this first competition (sadface), but this game was so fun to make (because it’s completely bonkers), so here’s to another two weeks of game design. You can download it from the downloads page on IndieDB, my Dropbox, or the Warwick Game Design games page. Also, the music isn’t ours (it’s Savant – Snake Eyes), but we’ll change it if we ever do anything with this project that isn’t purely for fun.


Uni Life = Good

You’ve probably noticed the startling lack of things happening on here lately. I’ve not disappeared off the face of the earth though; I’ve been trundling through the first week of life at the University of Warwick, enjoying Fresher’s week (well, my liver hasn’t. But the alcohol will shut him up). So I’ve not had all that much time to do writing or game developing stuff, but I’ve been social (for once) and met loads of amazing people, from the ultra-cool guys I’m living with, to the equally-ultra-cool guys from the Game Design and Computing societies, plus the still-ultra-cool guys doing the same Computer Science degree as me. I still can’t remember everyone’s names, but I’ve gotten my flatmates’ names down, which is the important bit.


This is part of the alcohol consumption of 12 people in one week. RIP my liver.

Right off the bat, I’m the jammy git who got the room that used to be a shared room too. Hence, it’s literally twice the size of the average room, which is why it’s the empty bottle room, and it’s also supposedly going to be used as the sofa room, and the bean bag room, and load of other ideas that haven’t come to fruition yet. One day, I’ll get a sofa in here, though. And a TV. Why the heck don’t I have a TV yet? On top of that, it’s in Sherbourne, one of the nicer accommodation blocks, plus this is one of only two blocks out of Sherbourne’s six with a launderette. And the people living with me are super-hyper-awesome. I lucked out. Happy face.


This is bigger than my room back home. Fuck yeah.

So far, Fresher’s Week has been full-to-bursting with things to do, such as the Societies Fairs and having free stuff thrown at you if you look even remotely like a fresher (Domino’s, I’m looking at you), and the night events, like the awesome arrival parties at the Copper Rooms, and a few club nights, which were equally amazing. There are a few marks on the chunder chart (yes, we have a flat chunder chart, you mad?), but I’ve managed to keep it all in so far. One tip though: Assembly in Leamington is pretty shit.

Then there’s the societies. I’ve been to two society events so far, for the Game Design society and the Computing society. For the game design welcome thing-a-ma-jig, we spent the first hour listening to a PowerPoint presentation on a projector that loves the colour black, and got told about the two-week game design competitions held by the society. Basically, a theme gets set at the start of the competition (this fortnight’s theme is ‘Reflection’), we make a game based on that theme, then in two weeks we’ll showcase what we have to the rest of the group, and a winner gets chosen, rinse, repeat. For this competition, I’m gonna be teaming up with my flatmate Tom, so hopefully our resulting product will be twice as good! We have a few ideas and a really basic scene set up in Unity, so perhaps I’ll show you how it’s going as the fortnight goes on, and I’ll show you the end result for sure.


Game of the Year, right here.

I’ll make sure to keep you posted on what’s going on here at uni (which will probably be a lot), I’m sure I’ll have a lot to talk about!


Project Spikes Update #5 – Fields and Laser Improvements

Time for another update! To kick this one off, I’ll introduce a new feature: fields!


My laser arrays are much purpler than yours.

The red laser fields harm the player, while the purple ones destroy physics objects such as cubes and turrets. When the player goes through a red field, you die instantly too, so it’s probably best not to let that happen. These new fields are ripped from the old project mostly, but with a new appearance and a bit of new functionality, both of which slot nicely into the other game features (it’s lasers all around here). There’s also another tweak to lasers – I refer you to an image from last update:


Entanglement. I ain’t having no quantum physics going on here!

As you can see, the laser beams don’t line up correctly and look like something MC Escher would draw. But I’ve changed the lasers to use a different shader, so they’re less solid-looking than before, and render correctly, giving a more subtle look. Talking about tweaks, the Force Gun provides force in a different way than before, in that it doesn’t really apply a force, it provides an impulsive… well, force I guess. Physics nerds will probably understand the difference, but for the average Joe, that just means the movement of objects is a bit more instant.

To accommodate the fields, I’ve split Tutorial 2 into two, and tweaked both halves a bit, so there’s basically a new tutorial level to stop the tutorials feeling like an avalanche of features and instructions.


Things are starting to look a lot more colourful!

In the background are the red fields that kill you. You’ll also see part of a TV screen at the top of the tower – remember back in the real early version of the new project, when screenshots were added? You could press F5 to take a screenshot, and it would render the image to a screen in the level. That’s been added back, but this time the screens have a simple model. Every tutorial level has at least one screen, so you can see your last screenshot whenever you want.

I’m also partway done with the turret texturing job, which is taking much longer than anticipated. I’ve tweaked the angry turret face, and made one for destroyed angry turrets.


No, Steve, noooo! I’ll get revenge for you!

Next update is going to be a big texturing/modelling update, because I’ve been putting off replacing placeholders for a long time (the Force Gun springs to mind, however hilarious it is). You can find the update over at IndieDB once it’s uploaded/authorised, so have fun playing! Don’t forget, this update contains all the features I mentioned back in the Update #4 post, including better turret collision and different textures on cubes based on how damaged they are.


Project Spikes – Angry Lasers

Here’s another update, with even more lasers!


Oh yeah, two lasers. Swag.

Double Trouble

The red laser turrets are evil –  they’ll try to kill you with death and dying and lasers. It’s not enough to have just one laser either, they have two just to make sure. Also in this update are the reflective surfaces I promised last update – they’re the shiny walls in the background of the screenshot above. They’re used to guide lasers past barriers to activate laser collectors, a pretty fun feature.


Reflecting lasers? How do I give you money!

You’ll find these lasers in one of the newer tutorial levels, which have been split into smaller sections so people don’t get overwhelmed by features. But that’s not all the laser goodness I have in store for you my good people, because there’s now a wall-mounted variety which stays static, so you’ll have to dodge it without blasting it out of the way.


Because moving about is soooooo mainstream.

What else is new?

Well, there’s also two varieties of button that will activate events in the game – one you can press with the ‘E’ key (which can be configured in the startup options),  and another is activated by shooting cubes at it. Both are found in the new tutorial levels. Along with this is a bit of new scenery, in the form of bridge and fence models, which break up the monotony of blue blocks.


Ooohhh, bridges are cool, and so is the colour red!

To go with the new buttons, I’ve also added a new cube spawner which will plonk out a cube for you to play with. Of course, it’ll only let you have one at a time, because any more than that would be greedy. The cube detectors have been improved massively too – now they actually steal the cube you put into them, so you can better tell when it’s been activated. Both the spawner and detector need textures, and at some point I need to make a turret spawner, but this is a good start.


Everyone loves the classic red button, what other colour would it be?

Well, thanks for reading, as always you can go download the update over at Indie DB. It might take a while for the update downloads to be authenticated by them, but once it has been, then have fun playing.


Project Spikes – Laser Lovin’



Everyone loves lasers.

*Ahem*, now that I’ve got your attention, this update features laser turrets. Lasers will be used to activate laser receivers, which then triggers moving platforms and other events. The turrets themselves are a half-finished model currently, without a proper texture, which will come later on. The laser itself is pretty much done though – it looks pretty attractive, and it subtly gets thicker and thinner over time so it’s not just a boring, static beam. The laser beam has the ability to reflect off special surfaces, but currently there aren’t any of those in the tutorial level – they’ll come next update. The next update will also feature aggressive versions that try to kill you, and they’ll have red lasers to help distinguish between these lasers, and the hostile ones.

Improvements over last update

Firstly, I’ve made an actual ladder model, rather than the placeholder image I took 20 seconds to make in GIMP. The model uses a grey material with a specular shader, so it’ll look shinier than other stuff in the level. It’s distinctive enough so that you’ll recognise it as a ladder, but it doesn’t look over the top either.


Yup, ladders in pipes. Because why not.

Two (or maybe three?) things you’ll notice in the screenshot: this ladder is inside a pipe, pipes now have extra grey bits in their model, and you may also notice the shadow fidelity is much higher in this image than during gameplay from the previous update. The grey bits are there to break up the monotony while travelling through pipes, adding a more interesting view and also making the pipes look more solid. While adding pipes, I thought it would be cool to be able to climb up them, hence pipe-ladders. And the shadow fidelity is actually a quirk of how Unity creates shadows – before, the shadow render distance was massive, higher than the size of the level, which actually decreases their quality. Now I’ve made it so that shadows stop rendering after 200m (which can be decreased in the options menu), and the shadows look much better.


I’ve done the old switcheroo on parts of the level.

The layout of the level has changed a bit to accommodate the extra section with the lasers. There is a large section in the centre that has been moved, so the level is a bit more like a circuit.

The button used for taking screenshots is now configurable in the startup menu, and by default you can now press F5 in addition to F to take a screenshot. You can now also press F4 to toggle the HUD (the user interface, as well as the gun), making it easier to take screenshots, such as the ones above. You can configure this key in the startup settings, too.

So, you wanna play? Well, you can do over at Indie DB! You’ll be able to find the game on the Downloads page, unless it hasn’t finished uploading, or they haven’t authorised the update yet. If you have any comments, ideas, complaints or death threats, you can share them either on this blog, the Indie DB page for the game, or on the Indie DB forum for this game. Have fun playing!


More Lasers, Explosions and Better Options – 22/04/14 Update

I’ve been working on something I’ve wanted to add to the game for a long while now – lasers that reflect off certain surfaces. In proper levels, these surfaces will have proper textures so that they can be distinguished from other walls and floors, but I’ve had tons of work to do lately so I’ve only been able to implement the lasers themselves, in the form of an improved Laser Gun, as well as new player-operated laser turrets.


Just walk upto these turrets and press “e”, and it will face the direction you’re looking in. When the beam collides with a reflective surface (in this update, the walls and floors of the room with the laser turret in act reflective), the beam will rebound off the surface. These surfaces will be used in levels to direct laser rays around obstacles and into laser receivers. This can produce loads of hectic-looking scenes, such as the one in the header image above, and could also lead to alternative objects that simply fire a laser in a fixed direction, as obstacles the player needs to avoid. The laser itself is a little bit wavy now, and collision points light up with a small particle effect.

Another thing I’ve been working on, as promised, is the new version of the Destruction Gun (which sucked), which will eventually become a shotgun/grenade launcher combo. It’s in a prototype phase so far, as in the actual mechanisms for the gun are there, but it’s using a recycled older model for guns right now, and on the whole, it lacks visual effects or sound, but the base mechanics work. To shoot the shotgun, left-click, and to shoot a ‘grenade’, right-click. The shotgun can destroy windows, and will blast away cubes and other physics objects, while the grenade will do the same, with a fairly large explosion radius, but this can hurt you too if you’re standing too close.

I’ve been working on a newer options menu too. The old system had presets for the visual quality of the game, which gives the player some choice but also restricts it in other ways. Now, you can change individual settings.


One of the options – aniso level – doesn’t really do anything right now; it stands for anisotropic filtering level and is redundant as it doesn’t work for pixel-y tectures like the ones in my game. If you raise the shadow distance too much, then you’ll see visible dark banding on some surfaces. But the rest of the options are pretty cool, and allow for a greater level of customisation, plus the colour scheme works much better now.

The “advance cubes”, as I’ve called them in previous updates, have been replaced with teleporters, complete with a smoother transition between levels (plus the darkening of the screen while pausing is smoother, too). The teleporters have cool particle effects too. They work much better than the old cubes, and eventually I’ll change the backwards cubes to new teleporters too.


Future Updates

Now, I have most of the gameplay features in place that I wish to be in the final game. I will add more and improve old ones as time goes on, but the current features are largely the ones that will stay in the game. Much of the work from now on will probably be on the game’s story, which I’m in the process of writing, and modelling new levels, as well as eventually trying to implement voice acting for proper characters in-game, which I’ve mentioned before.

From now, on, I’ll be releasing the game updates in a different kind of way. As the game’s going to be getting a proper storyline, which I don’t want to spoil too much by releasing updates every week or two, I will be releasing a separate build when a new game feature’s been added to see how you, my loyal players, react to it. That won’t be limited to just a gameplay feature, it could also be a layout for a level or a test level, or maybe even new textures. Then, when the time comes, the actual game, plot and all, will be released in a really really large update, although at this point I have no idea how much it will cost (if anything) or what the final product will take shape as. For now, you can play it here like always, and I look forward to hearing any feedback you may have. Have fun playing!