Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Yow, nearly a month since I posted. I haven't been idle... but unfortunately for most of that month, my code has been on a laptop in the possession of a nigerian asylum seeker who's working on a VEC FETAC level 5 qualification in childcare.

But soon I'll have it all back.

Of couse, anyone who was reading this blog has probably stopped by now... so I have a little quiet time for myself.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dumbass marines

I think they lost their keys or something.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Following my earlier graphics crisis, I decided to go with sprites on my own terms. Essentially the characters in the game will be represented as counters, which can easily be rotated & moved without me having to colour every pixel of every step. I also wanted to utilise some sort of tribal patterning in some way; the mixture of science fiction and primitive culture is a fascinating one, and my plot will involve this in some way.

To start with I went with norse runes. I don't know how this will tie in to plot/gameplay yet, but here's the mockups for the marines the player controls:

The yellow is intended to be an indication of rank. Next step is to redesign the marine object so that it can create images like those above at run-time - so it can pick its own rune, add or take away rank, change colour etc at will. So I won't have to draw a million of them. :)

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Forgive the silence.... last week I printed out my entire program and went through it with a pencil. The resulting massive overhaul of the code obviously generated a lot of bugs that have yet to be ironed out, but overall I'll be on a much sounder footing to go forward.

As I mentioned before, I'm coding in python using Pygame (or pyjama, as my Slovak ladyfriend pronounces it).

Pygame is a set of Python modules designed for writing games. Pygame adds functionality on top of the excellent SDL library. This allows you to create fully featured games and multimedia programs in the python language. Pygame is highly portable and runs on nearly every platform and operating system.

To check it out, and see examples of the kind of stuff being made with it, visit the homepage. I haven't seen any impressive completed games, but some people are knocking out some interesting math/physics/effects apps.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Say NO to stuff you're not good at

Made a bit of a booboo the other day.

I started surfing some general game-making resources. Then I starting taking a look at some of the other projects people were working on. Then I started to feel self-conscious about my graphics, and where they're going to come from - can I find free sprites that are suitable, or can be edited? Can I even rob some from somewhere, some old abandonware? Can I (could I? might I?) actually upskill myself to draw them? And so I got deeper and deeper, and clogged up the thing with downloaded spritesheets and tilerippers and drawing packages and 3d animators and

and before long I was very depressed about it indeed, and felt that I would never be able to make or get the graphics I needed.

This is the way my game projects always went in the past. Ay ay. Its just not my skill area, and I let it get in the way. In my head, my sprites are all pixel-perfect dark warriormen who stride through the dark blasting away at HR Giger-like minions; but it just aint feasible. What is feasible is to take another path: instead of imitating games I know (and instead of trying to imitate art I've seen), I should kick the problem to the kerb. Come up with something simple and effective that is within my skill range. Hell, if I can come up with some sort of symbolic representation of a marine that commands a litle more attachment than a board-game counter, I'll have saved myself untold amounts of work with sprites and animations.

I'll mull it over.


And in case you think I've been idle because I haven't posted the last couple of days:
The marine now understands 360° of rotation, and can move diagonally.
Basic projectile (bullets) system in place.
Fixed a crossover bug in the lighting/rotation system.
Implemented a "squad" object.
Game camera now relies on specific objects - marines, drones, whatever - to provide it with vision.
And a LOT of the code has been streamlined, rearranged..... its getting pretty complex.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ken Levine on BioShock's Narrative Drive

There's a scene about midway through Bioshock where you finally find the man you're looking for.... and if you've played the game, you'll know where I mean. That scene blew me away. Its not often that games make you want to be able to break out of them, and deliberately... ah whatever, play the game and see how you feel at that scene, and directly after!

And meanwhile, Ken Levine (Bioshock, Thief, System Shock 2 - woah) on narrative within games. Just so you know I wasn't spouting crap when I said story and how its told is of primary importance to me.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Directional lighting

Well, I had to tear out the innards of the code with a spoon, but that was waiting to be done....

make avatar

The gif can't do it justice unfortunately, its a lot smoother, faster, etc.. though I have plans to make it more so ;)

In the process of restructuring the code so it could handle more than orthagonal directions, compute angles etc, I rendered my poor marine object useless - he can no longer move or nuttin. He grew up in a world where you faced north, south, east or west, and anything in between was for women and foreigners, and time moved in big jumps. Now look at the poor fella. A simple light is smarter than him. I'll have to take him in for some intercultural dialogue.

I'm still getting an excellent framerate on this stuff but some things are creeping in... the level load is getting longer as it calculates every tile's relationship to every other, and pathfinding is giving a slight pause when it has to be done in an open space. Gotta tighten that stuff up...