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on May 13, 2013

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Of Guards And Thieves – Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @cominu)
Monday, May 13th, 2013 9:31 am

Ooops, we did it again 😀

Of Guards And Thieves

Ludum Dare 26 was a great chance to make something different and step out of our comform zone once again. This time the chosen theme was “Minimalism” and we tried to make a “minimalist stealth game”. Well…sort of 😀

“Design choices” or “72 hours to find the fun”

The Ludum Dare Jam rules have an hard constraint: you only have 72 hours to create an original and playable game! This forced us to use a very practical approach to game development and many design choices were influenced by it.

Here’s what the game is about: it’s an online multiplayer game about two teams, the Guards and the Thieves, fighting to win the match.

Same level, different visuals: Guards (left), Thieves (right)

Thieves goal
When the match begins the Thieves receive a message specifing what is the object to steal, and they win the match when the stole it and then escape from one of the exit points. Thieves have only little HP but they have “night vision” goggles, so it’s easy to hide in the shadows (or inside a bush) where the guards can’t see you.

Guards goal
The Guards have to defend the objects in the map for 5 minutes to win the match, but they don’t know which object is the real target of the Thieves. These poor guards doesn’t have fancy night vision goggles, all they got is a cheap flashlight but their armor gives them more than double HP than the Thieves.

Did I mentioned, that both teams have guns? Yeah, shooting is always fun but beware of friendly fire :)

Also, the key to win a match is to strategically use the level to your advantage, like switching the room lights on/off or if you’re a thief planning to outsmart the Guards patrol routes trying to pass through windows.

Art and level design

Artistically we choose to keep all the 3d models fairly lowpoly and use a really simple texturing to maximise the amount of models that a single human being can create in 72 hours.

 

3D Models! Lots of small models!

The same approach was used to create all the 3d models for the environment like walls and floors. All these models were created in a modular fashion (think Lego blocks) so that we can assemble and test a map in a few minutes of works inside Unity.

 

Top view of the map. Unlit (left), lighted (right)

What went right

  • We completed it in 72 hours!
  • Spotlights with dynamic shadows in a dark environment are always a win :)
  • Unity networking worked great for this kind of game, with player hosted games handling up to 8 players without any serious issues
  • We received a lot of good feedback about the game and we had fun playing it with random people online as well as with friends

What went wrong

  • We run out of time before starting to create the animated characters
  • We didn’t find the time to include different sets of weapons or gadgets
  • Player firewalls sometimes prevent people to host games
  • Without dedicated and persistent servers isn’t easy to find people to play a match.

The future

So, is this prototype going to be the starting point for a future full game? Absolutely!

What’s missing?

  • Characters models, because a shooting capsule isn’t really that cool.
  • Dedicated 24/7 servers: because it’s easier to find a quick match and will have a better network connection than your home broadband (less lag!)
  • New maps: because…well, you know…
  • More gadgets for both sides: placeable proximity sensor with alarm (guards), stun weapons (thieves), etc…
  • Guard bots: because sometimes you have the urge to team-up with your friends in a co-op match and just assault a bank having lots of guards to outsmart or kill. Like to good old days! 😉

Try it!

You can play and rate “Of Guards and Thieves” here: http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-26/?action=preview&uid=14628

Cuboid Sandbox – Postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @cominu)
Monday, September 10th, 2012 6:22 am

Original post is here.


I’m back with some (good?) news!

This time I’m going to talk about a little experimental game made for the 24th Ludum Dare. The game is called Cuboid Sandbox and the description in the contest page is something like this:

Half game and half simulation, this sandbox let you discover the beauty and wilderness of the different Cuboid species fighting for food and territory control in a constantly evolving environment.

Wait. Whaaat?

Well…this 3 days long experiment ended up being more like a simulation than a game. But, what is really a game? When I was a child I always found entertaining to watch ants movements and this game probably have been influenced by that experience :)

Cuboid Sandbox

So, what happened during the development? Here’s a video timelapse (3 development days compressed to 3 minutes) and little postmortem:

Cuboid Sandbox Timelapse video (youtube)

What went right

  • Familiarity with the tools
  • No time-consuming graphics and 3d models. Almost everything was made with a combination of cubes and simple texturing
  • Everything is procedural, no time wasted on making levels or story
  • Side effects are good: the “heatmap” can be used to create abstract paintings 😀
  • Making a very small warmup game the days before the competition helped me to focus more on tangible things and less on “under the hood” geeky stuff :)
  • The unity integrated profiler rulez: sometimes you have to optimize and it’s better if you know what part of the code is really slow. I can’t live without it…
  • Coroutines! I used extensively coroutines to spread the workload across different frames avoiding cpu load spikes.
  • The still-in-beta Linux exporter of unity4 worked without a single problem.

What went wrong

  • Too many hours of work. For the next Ludum Dare I’ll try making something smaller or reusing code libraries from other projects.
  • Unfortunately Marco had some problems and I worked almost solo for the 2nd and 3rd day :(
  • We didn’t really like the theme and we wasted 8 precious hours deciding what kind of game to do.
  • Handling a large numbers of dynamic objects is hard and need time to optimize the code.
  • Too many hours wasted tweaking values to balance the simulation.
  • Lack of interaction with the simulated world.

Conclusion

This was the first time I entered a similar competition and I learned a lot about the time needed to complete something playable and the disastrous side-effect of sleep deprivation.

I really had a good time stepping out of my comfort zone for a while and making something completely different from Blackreef Pirates and I think this little experiment will receive some extra work in the future with more emergent behaviours spawning from different cuboid AI rules and more ways to influence the simulation.

 

Still awake? What are you waiting? Go play and rate the game! 😀

 

End of day 1

Posted by (twitter: @cominu)
Saturday, August 25th, 2012 4:52 pm

Evolution…why?! I must confess I’m not one of the voters but something is slowly emerging from a pile of anarchic code. We’re going to try the genetic simulation path and think about some ways to interact with a world inhabited by some bacteria-like cubes :)

I’m too tired for a detailed log of the day…but hey, we got at least a cool concept and a promising in-game screenshot.

 

Good night!

We’re in!

Posted by (twitter: @cominu)
Sunday, August 19th, 2012 3:43 am

It’s the time of the first Ludum Dare Jam for the Subvert Games team! We got 100 bottle of rum to easily reach the Ballmer peak and we’re ready to rock! 😀

Gameplay
Unity
Monodevelop

Graphics
Blender/Modo
Gimp/Photoshop

Sounds
BFXR
Freesound
Audacity and Hydrogen drum machine

Let’s do it!

– Alex & Marco

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