Radicool Trip 2 ~ WGD ‘Broken’ Two-Week Competition

The first thing I notice as I write this is that this is my 100th post on this blog! That averages out to a post every 10 or so days, so I really need to increase the frequency of my posts. I did want to do something special when this milestone came by, but I couldn’t think of anything I could do, so I’m just going to post as I normally would. Thanks to all my readers for supporting me up to this point! Hopefully there are many more posts to come. Also, I’m 13 days late with this post, since it’s the day before the two-week following this one. Ah well, I’m not known for my punctuality.

The themes for this jampetition was Broken, but due to an extra talk scheduled by the society, it lasted three weeks instead of the usual two. I guess that makes the title of this post quite misleading, but that’s not my fault! I decided to make a sequel to my previous game, Radicool Trip, although the gameplay is completely different. The game is also a sort-of 2D-3D hybrid, in which the world is 3D but you can only view the world from one plane at a time with an orthographic camera – that is, one that ‘looks straight’. It’s hard to explain, so here’s a screenshot:

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I like how the psychedelic colours for the background turned out.

The flagship mechanic of the game, which is unfortunately very difficult to show off with images, is the ability to flip the world around in the X, Y and Z axes. Imagine Fez, but instead of just rotating the world left and right, you can rotate it up, down, clockwise and anticlockwise too. That’s what the UI in the bottom-right corner is for. The controls are a bit awkward, but it’s the only way to represent three-axis world rotations. I’ve tried this before unsuccessfully in a 3D game, so I was happy to figure out how to accomplish it. You can move the player left and right using A and D, or by flipping the world so there’s empty space below you. But beware, falling off the world will respawn you from the beginning of the level.

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Of course I spent ages on text engines. What do you take me for?

A lot of the development time went on improving the text engine from Radicool Trip 1. It’s far more efficient and uses a better font than the previous engine. It’s also far easier to use, although I rushed the end of the game so it’s also very buggy. It worked out for the best though, because that made it fit the theme! There’s a bug where rotating the world and falling through two text triggers in a row causes them both to try and render at the same time, and another bug in the penultimate level that sometimes crashes the game inexplicably. I also set the wrong target level on the penultimate level’s goal so it sends you back to the first level, so it’s almost like some pretentious view on the repetitive, cyclic nature of life or something like that. But I swear it’s not.

I tried to write a bit of humour into the characters’ lines, although I also wrote them in about an hour before the jampetition showcase so it’s probably a little rusty. I’d really like to make an RPG of some kind at some point, so hopefully my shiny (yet broken) text engine will be of a lot of use for a project like that.

Anyway, you can find the game lurking in a corner of the internet somewhere! That horrifying corner is located on the very convenient link below.

The theme for the next two-week competition is Power, so you’ll very soon be seeing something I’ve been saving for a while. Plus, I’ll be posting about the WGD 48-hour game jam that happened this weekend even sooner; the theme for that was Translation.

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Radicool Trip ~ WGD ‘Retro’ Two-Week Competition

It’s been a couple of weeks since the start of term, and with that came the return of Warwick Game Design’s Two-Week Competitions. I managed to cram a game into the past two weeks, and the result is Radicool Trip, a game where you’re an edgy 90’s kid with a slight addiction to a popular branded cola, Popsee.

radicool_01It’s exactly as dumb as it sounds.

It’s a short game, involving a trip from your bedroom to the shops. It was originally to be a sort-of puzzle platformer, but I spent so goddamn long on the text engine, it turned into a goofy text option-based… thing? I’m not even sure. It’s certainly not the most polished thing I’ve ever made, but it was enjoyable – the stupid 90’s references and jokes were fun to write. I like how the text engine worked out too; there’s room for improvement for sure, but I’ll most likely use it in future projects. Currently, the text system supports 6 rows of text with 14 mono-spaced characters each, but I’d like to add the ability to tweak the number of characters per row and switch from a purely mono-space font to variable-width fonts. I also hope to make the character controller feel better to control, as it’s currently a bit of a potato when it comes to jumping.

radicool_02Welcome to WGD.

The text engine also supported player choices in the form of small replies. The biggest pitfall of this is that each text box only supported one line of text – 14 characters – so replies were short. Plus, they obscured the actual text behind them. However, the concept of having different dialogue options and witty replies is something I’d like to build on, perhaps as part of an RPG.

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Everyone loves options. Well, everyone has the option of liking options or not.

It’s an extremely short game (well, it’s basically just a tech demo of a text box), but I hope to take ideas from this into the next project. Speaking of which, the next WGD two-week competition is ‘Broken’ (with a side theme ‘Spooky’, for all the Halloween spookiness). I have plenty of ideas for it – I’ll most likely be going with a puzzle game I’ve wanted to make for a while, in which you have a world that can only be viewed from one side at a time using an orthographic camera. You’ll be able to view the world from different sides and rotate the world, but gravity will always act downwards so you’ll have to make sure the player doesn’t fall out of the world.

If you want to play Radicool Trip, you can try it out by clicking the flashy-looking button below. It’s short and there’s not much to do in it, but hey, it’s free!

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Global Game Jam 2015 and ‘Low Resolution’ 2-Week Challenge

Ever since doing Ludum Dare 31, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the next 48 hour competition or jam. Thankfully I didn’t have to wait that long, as Global Game Jam happened at the end of January. Games submitted for Global Game Jam aren’t rated like those for Ludum Dare, but the rest of the event is structured similarly – you turn up, get given a theme to work into your game, and you have 48 hours to create and submit something. The nice thing is that start and end times are based on time zones rather than a global start time, and the theme isn’t voted on by participants, so you tend to get less terrible themes. You’re encouraged to work in a team, and so I worked with Tom for this one.

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Our team photo. The cat represents team spirit. And meowing.

Due to the time constraints, we firstly decided 2D was a must. Then, We decided on a pixel art style, like above. The theme for the event was ‘What do we do now?’, so our original idea for the game was to make a platformer with levels that branch off each other based on the challenges presented to the player, but we didn’t get enough levels completed so that didn’t work out. We managed to have different outcomes to levels though, so our plan did come to life in some respect.

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We should totally focus on pixel art more often.

The protagonist, Nathan, starts off the game by getting fired from ACME Plumb Inc., and is thrown out the window of the 5th floor, falling into the first level. From there, he needs to do tasks for people in the city to get to the next level. We focused on the humour elements of this game more than we have in previous ones, such as the second level where someone has lost their cat, and instead of handing it to her, you can throw it in the fire and watch her get angry.

game-screenshot-02Poor Mittens, doesn’t know what’s about to hit her.

The gameplay mechanics are straightforward – the challenges are generally ‘move x to y’, or ‘pick up x, give it to y’, so nothing too strenuous. We were pretty happy to actually have something done by the end, because at the end of Friday, we really didn’t have that much except some (awesome) pixel art, mainly drawn by Tom.

Since GGJ2015, we’ve done a little bit of work on the game for the Warwick Game Design two-week challenge, with the theme of ‘low resolution’. There were a few collision issues (such as a really cool infinite jump bug and totally unhelpful sticking-on-sides-of-things bug) that have been fixed, plus a bit of level rejigging. Most awesomely, we’ve managed to get it working on Android! It’s pretty much exactly like the GGJ version, minus those bugs, because we haven’t had the time to add any levels. We’re hoping to continue work on it in the future, and port it to other platforms, because we find the simple and humourous gameplay, coupled with the pixel art style, has potential for becoming a fully-fledged game.

You can find the download on the Global Game Jam website.

Project Spikes – Angry Lasers

Here’s another update, with even more lasers!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

-Daniel

Project Spikes – Laser Lovin’

LASERS.

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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.

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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.

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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!

-Daniel

Project Spikes – Restarting From Scratch (kinda)

Hello everybody! It’s been a while since the last update, as many school things got in the way (ugh, exams), but I’ve been off for about a month, gathering new ideas for the game. I’ve also sorta started the project again, as many of the ideas in the old version were incomplete and I lost track of which parts were complete or not, so I decided starting afresh and resolving to complete one feature at a time was the way to go. So behold, the new update, which is a step back and a step forward at the same time!

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Because colourful logos are cool.

Re-introduction

While many of you will have played through the old game, I’m going to start off by explaining what the game will be all about. First and foremost, it’s a physics platformer, where the player (that’s you!) needs to use a load of special guns to defy physics and solve puzzles. Right now, all the update has is a crude version of the Force Gun with a placeholder texture and model, but I’ve concentrated on its actual mechanics rather than aesthetics so far, so it feels much more natural to move cubes around using it.

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I told you it’s a crude gun. I wasn’t lying.

What’s changed since last time?

I’m glad you asked, gold star for you! Well, previously all the coding shizzle was done in Javascript (well, Unityscript), but I’ve swapped that for C#, partly as a challenge for myself, an partly to broaden my coding skills. Everything seems to be working well, so the change has been beneficial so far.

So far, the game consists of a start menu and a tutorial level. That’s a heck of a lot less than the previous updates, but this is just a taster of how the levels will feel this time around – they’ll be larger than before, and have more features per level. The tutorial level contains all the features I’ve added so far, so it should give a pretty good idea of the game mechanics you’ll be dealing with in the final product.

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The skies are much bluer than before. So is the whole bloody level!

One new feature is pipes. In the tutorial are a few pipes that you can crawl through -they’re the blue, pipe-like things – to reach other parts of the level. Another new addition is ladders, which don’t have a model yet, but the climbing mechanic is working.

I’ve also added the ability to take screenshots in-game, by pressing the F key. It’ll create a .png image the size of the screen, plus it’ll change the texture of the grey rectangle in the image above into the screenshot. You can find the screenshots on Windows by navigating to the AppData/LocalLow folder, clicking on the ‘danielthenerdyguy’ folder (that’s me!), then the Project Spikes folder, and your images should be there, named after the time the images were taken. On Mac and Linux, I have no idea where they go, but they’ll be in the equivalent place. At points in the game, when you do specific tasks, the game will steal the camera off you and show you around the level like a cutscene, so when you activate something, the camera will move to show you the change in full so that you don’t miss it.

Recap time: the old features

Many of the old features have made it back, with performance and graphical improvements. Physics cubes look much nicer now, as they’re bright red and have a wavy outer edge, with normal maps applied to the edges stand out.

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Normal maps really make the outline stand out, especially when the cube is moving

The same basic texture has been applied to the switch platforms (the ones that switch between solid and non-solid upon jumping), albeit without the ‘Spikes’ logo in the corner. The platforms are blue when active and orange when inactive, because that colour combination definitely won’t land me with a lawsuit.

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My lawyers have told me to say the colour scheme isn’t reminiscent of Portal at all.

Along with switch platforms, moving platforms make a return too, with significant performance and functionality improvements, as I merged several different moving platform scripts into one magnificently efficient script. On my end, they’re much nicer to deal with, although you probably won’t see much of a difference.

The entire GUI has been drawn using the built-in Unity GUI stuff, but I’m holding out for Unity 4.6, which promises a new GUI system, so I decided not to put all that much effort into it at the moment.

Where can I play this update?

There are a few smaller features that aren’t worth going into much (like, super-awesome lens flares from the sun. However in hindsight, that should be the main feature). The update feels a little but raw right now, but once I start replacing placeholder textures and models, it will shape up pretty quickly. You can play the update over at the game’s IndieDB page, and feel free to leave any comments, ideas or problems here or over at IndieDB. If the download isn’t yet available, give it a couple hours or so, because IndieDB have to first approve the download before it’s available. But, when it’s ready, have fun!

-Daniel

The Massive “Yes-I’ve-Been-Gone-For-Ages-But-Now-I’m-Back” Update!

Why I’m a bad person

Okay. So, firstly, it’s been 38 days since the last post on here, and 53 days since the last actual update, which all makes me a terrible person. However, first there was Christmas and all the stuff that comes with that, like getting presents for people and seeing relatives, then new year, then suddenly I had every piece of work ever in the history of the universe to do for school. BUT, and this is a huge but, I’ve been working on the game through all of that and the main reason for not updating until now hasn’t been all these massive drains on my time (though they helped), but rather I wanted to do something huge for this update, so prepare yourselves for the Yes-I’ve-Been-Gone-For-Ages-But-Now-I’m-Back Update!

Development Hell

I’m a bit like a goldfish sometimes, in that I’ll look at something, think it’s amazing, then see something else and ditch the first thing. That’s exactly me while developing this update; I kept putting in all of my half-baked ideas and nothing got done fully. I meant well, I swear, but it delayed the update quite a bit. But, I’ve put in a new texturing system which should make the whole texturing process a lot easier and quicker for me, AND save on performance, I’ve expanded and improved a couple levels, and the biggest thing is, I’ve added a boss battle! And we all know everyone loves boss battles! So read on and be amaaaaazed *dramatic voice*!!!

Updated, improved and removed levels

spikes-51This, as you might recognise, is the hub level. However, it’s had a facelift, and a big one at that. It now serves as the hub for the entire game, rather than having separate hubs for each world. The blue building from before is for World 1, and upstairs is World 2, then as more worlds are added, you’ll be able to access more areas to find new levels. Also, due to loads of changes I’ve made to the level geometry and the texturing (I made a script that handles all of the texture sizes for me), everything should run smoother and I’ll be able to put more decoration in the levels. In short: it’s better, more shiny things.

In the hub now, you’ll find the levels 1-5 near your spawn area, a practice room (ie, the large room that was there before), and upstairs you’ll find the cube to go to the boss battle; however, that’ll only appear after you’ve beaten levels 1-5. Also, you won’t have all three guns unlocked straight away, but you’ll find them scattered in certain levels. The laser gun is needed to access World 2, which is way above the rest of the level, so it’s found after you beat the boss. There’s also a trophy room to view all the gold cubes you’ve found, as well as an incinerator which is there for decoration and because destroying thing is really cool.

spikes-49I’ve re-modeled the vapour gun too, so it’s not exactly the same as the other two. I tried getting all the animations and sounds to go with it too, but for some reason Unity’s animation thingy hates me and keeps giving me really horrific results, so no animations. Sad face. The force gun has had improvements too; right-clicking now holds an object in front of you, and then left-clicking will shoot it as normal, but you can only hold things for 5 seconds, and it’ll drain your gravit meter, and the object will then disappear 5 seconds later, although I want to tweak this system a bit, such as only certain objects obliterating themselves when they’re dropped.

No more lives!

Another thing to note: no more lives. I decided that they don’t really add anything to the game, and it’s much more fun to try a really hard part indefinitely rather than being limited to 5 tries. Because infinite fail is funny. I’ve added a load of stuff to the tutorial level too (well, I’ve completely redone it, the old one was pretty bad, this it less bad), and it covers stuff the old one didn’t.

spikes-52In addition to the texturing stuff mentioned earlier, I’ve added some sort of moving textures, like neon signs, kinda. They’re dotted around the place as decoration, and to provide directions and other information. They’re used as decoration in the super-sexy new start menu, which is vastly improved on the old one, and you can see an image at the top of this post.

And finally, the boss battle!

Yes, it’s the part you’ve all been waiting for: a boss battle! He’s called Squoid (because it sounded nice, no other deep meaning), and he’s basically a big blue cube thing that launches himself at you and fires spiky balls of death at you in a fight to the death in his lair.

spikes-50He might not look like much, but he’ll wreck you. The idea is to use the force gun in some way to bring him down, but I’ll let you figure out the details, because I don’t want to spoil the fun of finding out for yourself how the battle works. His lair is absolutely magnificent though, and you should have fun having a look around it.

spikes-54There’s so many other little additions that I can’t list them all here, I can’t remember them all. Little things such as the gun icons in the corner being animated and zooming in when you run along with everything else, a range of new billboards, and small changes to the positioning of items in some levels to make it more convenient. However, through all of this, I haven’t been able to update all the levels, such as the Testing Area, and the promised World 2 Level 2, which I started to develop after the last update, but before updating the texturing system, hence these levels will appear as a blur of pinkness and glitches.

Also something I just noticed, the WebPlayer build for my game has only just broke a megabyte in size! It’s massively compressed, evidently. That’s technology for you. And if you don’t like external links or if you just think my Dropbox public folder is icky, there’s a new Project Spikes page at the top of this very website! Now you don’t even have to leave! Although, to be honest, it’s better playing through the link at the bottom of the page (same as always, why haven’t you bookmarked it yet?), as the page on this site is a bit broken. WordPress hates Unity, obviously. But, have fun heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere!