Transcribe ~ WGD ‘Translate’ 48-Hour Jam

Last weekend was the WGD 48-hour game jam, which happens once every term. Because I hate sleep and love making games, I was there for ridiculous hours. The theme was ‘Translate’, so I made a little game in which you translate characters from one language to another.

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It’s in 3D. THREEEE-DEEEE! *sparkle sparkle*

It’s a pretty simple game that took far too long to get working; you get given a word in one language (in the beginning, only English) and you’re asked to translate each character of the word into a different character set. There are four languages – English, Braille, Morse code and Nonglish (one I made up; it’s ‘not English’).  As you solve more words, the game gets more difficult – the words get longer and you’l possibly be asked to translate from a non-English word to another language. It gets seriously tense when that happens!

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The interface for entering characters.

The difficulty of words is influenced by how common the characters of the word are in English text. For example, ‘e’ is weighted the least, while something like ‘x’ is right up there amongst the most difficult. The more words you complete, the more difficult the requested words will be. Your score can decrease if you select an incorrect combination of letters; if you make a wrong selection you can’t undo it, which may hinder you later on if the letter you accidentally picked is needed later on in the word! The only thing I forgot to add is a lose condition – the timer reaching zero was originally intended to stop the game, but I forgot to add this in. Silly me! The game just does… nothing when you run out of time. I’ll add that in if I ever complete this game properly!

A few drawback of the game are that it completely lacks sound and nice shiny particles and screen-shake when you get a word right or wrong. I also wanted a little score counter to come up for every character when a word is input so you can more visibly see which characters were correct and which weren’t. The game is simple enough that I may tweak it a little and polish it up in the future though.

To download this game, just click the very handy download banner below. Very soon, I’ll have another download up for the two-week jampetition game (which was made over summer and adapted in the two weeks), but it’s a much larger project, so a write-up may take a little while longer.

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Gravity Gun and Improved Laser Gun

First things first, I’ve added a new gun that allows you to switch round the direction of gravity. When you shoot it at an object, the direction of gravity changes sort of towards that object. That doesn’t mean that stuff will fall directly towards that object, but rather in the opposite direction that the face of the object you hit was facing. It’ll be awesome when I can get together some more puzzles that use it, but lately I’ve had lots of work to do, hence the late update.

spikes-74The gun doesn’t yet have any animations, sounds or particles (and as far as I can remember it probably doesn’t take gravits off you either), but I decided rather than wait another week to update, I may as well put something out for you guys to play. The gun is useful in the new level, World 3 Level 1, in which you need to guide a cube past some destruction fields. This level is also unfinished currently, but it should be enough to show you the function of the Gravity Gun.

Every level and every gun can be accessed from the start now too, so that you don’t have to go back and play every level again each time you boot the game up. When I find a way for players to save the game, then I’ll change this back, but for now I think this will be easier for testing. I’ve revisited old levels and added a bit of scenery and new textures, including new scaffolding-like blocks and an alternative blocky texture which looks a bit like small tiles.

spikes-75The layout to a couple levels has changed too, and some new obstacles and puzzles have been added.

The Laser Gun upgrade that was mentioned in my last post has also been added here – it’s just a new model with new textures and animations. The actual laser beam itself is the same as it always has been, but there has been a useful tweak – the crosshairs will move to the point the beam is hitting while in use to help with aiming the gun properly.

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The hub world has had a couple changes, notably the cube crusher room and the main level selection area. The cube crusher room is actually empty now, as I decided it adds nothing to the game and uses resources that could be better used elsewhere, and the main level select building is now slightly larger, with an additional floor for world 3, and some more decorations. Each level now has a name too, which floats above the level selection cube. The spawning room also has a few experimental textures and new decoration, and a dispenser for a new type of cube, the bouncy cube, which is purple.

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That’s just about it for today’s update, but I do have more plans for the future, in the form of a main storyline and perhaps voice-acting in the form of background dialog. I want to have another protagonist in the game who communicates with you throughout, giving you useful information about what to do next. Also, the facility in which the game is set will probably be made into a space station by next update, and the game as a whole will have a more sci-fi theme around it. Have fun playing!

You can play it using the tab at the top of this page, or here.

Suddenly, Pressure Plates and Vapourising Fields! Project Spikes 15/02

The first thing for this week: pressure plates! Well, kinds, they’re more like cube detectors. They’ll sense if anything cubical’s on them, and if there is, it’ll cause doors to open, platforms to move and various other events. I’ve worked them into World 1 Level 1 if you want to see them in action, as there’s a nice little puzzle you’ll need to use them for.

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I have loads of ideas for puzzles I can work these into, especially when combined with the new vapourising fields (I really need to get better at naming things, needs more pizzazz). When you try to pass a physics object such as a cube or even a gravit or health pack through them, they’ll get vapourised instantly. These will be super-useful for puzzles later on, as you’ll have to guide cubes around these fields, then place them onto the cube detector plates in order to proceed.

spikes-61The blue cube-y texture for the fields animates too. I tried making a particle  system to deal with the look of the fields, but for some reason the framerate plummeted when up close to them, so I ditched that idea. It’s probably for the best, as this looks pretty awesome when it’s animated. They also slot together pretty well, so tiling them won’t be a problem. You might also notice another feature in the screenshot above – zooming the screen in. That’s right, if you scroll upwards on the scroll wheel, your view will zoom in, allowing you to see more detail and removing the GUI from the screen at the same time. It’s the reverse of what happens when you run, essentially. Which reminds me that I forgot to mention I changed the mechanics for sprinting; just double-tap the w key or up arrow, and continue to hold it in, and you’ll run. That means you can also crouch by holding in shift now. Running will also zoom out if you’re currently zooming in, changing to the field of view for running, or you can just scroll back on the scroll wheel to return to normal view.

I’ve also added an experimental new feature that I may continue work on: screenshots. Right now, you can’t take a screenshot to save to disk, but if you press the ‘y’ key, it’ll take a screenshot of the current view and shove the image on a TV I’ve put in the hub world. The feature only works in the hub, but I’ll see what I can do about saving screenshots to disk and allowing them in all levels. It slows the game down massively if you hold the button in, just to warn you.

spikes-63The TV’s in the central corridor room bit, to the left. I did other experiments with it, such as big TVs that showed exactly what you’re seeing realtime, but it drained the framerate too much so it’s unlikely to be added anytime soon.

So anyway, that’s the update. The next thing I’ll probably do is improve the whole weapon system, including animations, sound, models and particles. If you have any ideas or feedback, don’t be shy, the comments section’s there for a reason!

You can play the game in the usual place: just click on the Project Spikes tab at the top of the page, or click this link.

Have fun playing, as always!

 

 

Guns, Lasers and Powerups – Project Spikes 24/11/13 Update

I swear the game will have a proper name soon enough, but more importantly there’s a new update, and it has lasers in it!

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The laser gun, shown above, is used to burn obstacles in front of you, such as these cubes. They will then shrink until you’ve burned them into nothingness and they disappear, with loads of particle effects, and of course a vibrant blue laser! There’s also the new Destruction Gun, which is a one-shot device that will instantly kill the cubes and vapourise them. Even better, these two guns can be used against turrets to destroy them. There are icons for each gun to sit at the bottom of the screen when you’ve found them too. To switch between them, you can use the number keys 1-3, and later I will add scroll-wheel support too. The destruction gun costs 2 gravits per hit, the laser gun 1 gravit per half-second, and the force gun still guzzles 1 gravit every hit.

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I’ve also been working on optimisation, taking out as many unnecessary parts of the game as possible so the game should run as fast as it can, even at high graphics settings, which is why I’ve changed the geometry of the levels by switching most of the level from 3D cubes made of 6 sides to 2D squares with only two sides. That still allows me to texture the level in pretty much the same way, but reduces the number of draw calls by about two thirds, so it’s a massive optimisation which will have minimal effect on the actual gameplay.

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There are also new powerups, which will be placed in levels so that the player can use their unique abilities to solve new puzzles. This one, for example, gives the player an ‘antigravity jump’ which causes gravity to be reduced greatly, another speeds up time so the whole level moves quicker. They’re all pretty cool effects, which you can try out in a new level, the Testing Area, which you can access through the Start Menu. Talking of the start menu…

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…it’s also had a bit of a makeover. It looks a damn sight better than the boring old screen, but does pretty much the same thing. All the information signs in the game have been changed so they are unlit, which means they won’t appear too dark, after feedback I received. Additionally, the field of view changes when the player is running, and a set of crosshairs appears under the player when airborne to show where you’ll land, two more features suggested to me. Also, in the options menu, there are a few more graphical options that disable shadows, in case your computer is extremely slow. You can play this new update by clicking this link.

Have fun playing, I hope you all have some good feedback for me 🙂

Oh yeah, and it’s probably best to avoid World 1 Level 5, it’s not been fixed yet. Just a heads-up.

-Daniel