About kato9 (twitter: @mattdivito)

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Do You Remember…

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Sunday, December 16th, 2012 9:13 pm

white_rabbit

Huzzah! ย This Ludum Dare I created my first ever Unity game called ‘The White Rabbit’. Really had a fun time messing around in Unity, excited to learn and experiment more in the future. But for now, here’s my game:

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-25/?action=preview&uid=5821

And here’s another shot of screen:

orange_room

 

Congratulations to everyone who participated in LD 25, looking forward to checking out your games!

I’M DREAMING OF A WHITE XMAS

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Saturday, December 15th, 2012 12:45 am

snowy_mountain

Well, this is like the third time I’ve ever used Unity so I’m actually not feeling too bad. Although there’s no gameplay and I don’t even really have an idea yet. Oh well.

 

current version

 

Nighty night.

OF SPECIES

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Sunday, August 26th, 2012 9:02 pm

Oh lordy, I finished my game. It’s called ‘OF SPECIES’ and yes that’s a reference to some book. Ok enough words, here’s some screens:

Here’s a link:

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-24/?action=preview&uid=5821

Thanks for playing/rating/commenting. Hope y’all had a great LD, looking forward to checking out some of these games ๐Ÿ˜€

 

6 AM…Maybe I should get some sleep…

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Sunday, August 26th, 2012 3:15 am

Awards I’m going for this year:

  • The ‘Most obnoxiously large .SWF file’ Award
  • The ‘Wow, it’s already over?’ Award
  • The ‘Who needs skill when you can have a game based completely on luck?’ Award
  • The ‘Yeah, I still code in Actionscript 2.0’ Award

Wish me luck!

GOODNIGHT MOON

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Friday, August 24th, 2012 11:00 pm

Day numero uno comes to a close here on the east coast. Tomorrow, I’ll consider actually doing some coding, but for now just graphics. This is going to be a short game.

KATO9 // LD24 // I’M IN

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Friday, August 24th, 2012 1:41 pm

Hello, it’s just me kato9. I will probably make something this Ludum Dare. Since last LD, I’ve done roughly zero game dev related stuff, so uhh…we’ll see what happens. As usual, I’ll be making my game in Flash with visuals done in Cinema 4d/After Effects/Photoshop and music recorded with Pro Tools.

Good luck to everyone out there. Try not to get get stressed out and remember to have fun!

ONLY DUST // Only a Post-Mortem

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Thursday, April 26th, 2012 12:13 pm

Jasper Run CyclePlay the game first!

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-23/?action=preview&uid=5821

Alright, now that the dust has cleared on this LD, it’s time for a post-mortem. This was my third LD, so I was feeling a little confident and ready to go BIG with this entry – of course the theme ended up going small, but that I could deal with. The first idea I had was a fast paced arcade game where you played a little viral warrior who jumps from sneeze to sneeze killing germs in mid air. This idea, while fun, was a bit silly and I wanted to go for something a little darker and more atmospheric, as this tends to be my strong suit. So, with the a vague remembrance of the plot to ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids’ in my mind, I got to work.

Only Dust Intro Scene

This is the raw vector art for the intro scene.

Gameplay

I wanted to create an exploration platformer as this is a genre that is near and dear to my heart, but one that I haven’t tried yet for an LD. My initial thought was to create a more open world design, but I was worried about potential technical issues as well as time constraints so I opted for something more linear. After playing FEZ last week, I liked the idea of a game with no combat, just puzzle solving and exploration. I also knew that I could potentially use the silhouetted art style to my advantages, so I decided hidden passages would be a big part of the game. Finally, to keep things interesting, I decided to add one very lethal element to game – acid!

Intro After Effects

Intro scene with colors, effects and filters.

Atmosphere

I spent a decent amount of time working on the visual style for the game. You can see above the initial vector art and how much it was stylized for the actual game. My goal for the visuals was to create a sense of macro scale by emulating a shallow depth of field effect – which is why the background is super blurry. I also wanted to a have a ‘filmic’ vibe to it, like this was something from a 1970’s sci-fi movie, so I added some embellishments like the old film border and a grain/texture overlay.

The music was one of the first things I did, since I knew that if I waited on it I might run out of time like I did last LD. Besides intending to creating a sort of desperate, melancholic mood, I included some subtle sound effect elements so that the audio track would also serve as the ambient noise of the environment.

Finally, I decided to make the narrative a big focus of the game, having a bunch of NPC’s which you encounter over the course of the game. I was worried that some players might find this annoying so most of these conversations are optional, but I do think the dialogue in the game adds a lot to the atmosphere as well.

Challenges

  • Time – This game was intended to be a main compo entry, but on Sunday night the game was only about half done and I knew I would be unhappy submitting such an incomplete feeling game so I decided to switch to the jam. Even with the extra day I still wasn’t able to do everything I wanted and I had to upload the game with a few obvious problems.
  • Programming issues – Wasted a lot of time due to using inefficient programming methods. I’ve been using ActionScript 2.0 because, to be honest, it’s the only language I really know, but I can tell it’s also holding me back and forcing me to rely on bad habits. My goal for the next LD is to finally get my act together with AS3, or try something else besides Flash for once.
  • Unhealthy perfectionism – Spent a lot of time on little details some of which are so small I don’t they’re even noticeable – for example the characters that you meet are actually animated so it looks like they’re breathing, but they are so small that it barely registers. In retrospect, my time could have been much better spent on more important stuff.

Conclusion

Overall, I’m happy with this game – in a lot of ways it feels like a culmination of all the things I’ve been working on over the past year or so, whether that be programming, art, or music. Despite whatever progress I’ve made though, it’s obvious to me that if I want to take my games to the next level, I need to get serious about expanding my programming knowledge. This experience was also a reminder that if I want to make BIG games I need to put more time into game development outside of Ludum Dares!

Anyway, thanks to anyone who has played or rated my game, I appreciate it! And if you haven’t played it yet, here’s the link:

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-23/?action=preview&uid=5821

 

ONLY DUST

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Monday, April 23rd, 2012 7:39 pm

I know how you feel, Rodriquez.

Well, it took me 24 hours longer than I expected, but my game ONLY DUST is done (ish). Play it here:

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-23/?action=preview&uid=5821

Now, time for sleep. Stay tuned for some kind of post-mortem-thingy.

Prepare to extract some oil.

DUST

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Saturday, April 21st, 2012 4:10 pm

kato9 // blackdust

Hoo boy.

So far I have basic movement working (jetpack anyone?) and collision detection with the walls/floor. I also have music! And graphics! But I don’t really have a game!

But I’m done for the night – tomorrow will be all about adding content. Oh and maybe making a sprite for the player character.

kato9 returns

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Friday, April 20th, 2012 8:54 am

Yes, I am back for my 3rd LD and very excited. As usual, my focus will probably be on the visual side of things, but I have been brushing up on my programming ‘skills’, so hopefully there will be a decent game in there too.

My last LD game, ZERO2, received a fairly positive response but almost everyone who played it commented on the unfortunate lack of sound. So, for this LD I’m making audio a priority – after I come up with a concept for whatever theme gets chosen, I’m going to compose the music and THEN start working on the game. Hopefully this will yield some interesting results.

I’ll be doing the game in Flash, using some combination of Photoshop, After Effects and Cinema 4d for the graphics. For music, I’m going to record in Pro Tools with my trusty MicroKORG synth.

Looking forward to playing a bunch of sweet games, good luck everyone!

ZERO2 // Environment Breakdown

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Wednesday, December 21st, 2011 1:08 pm

Welcome to part 2 in my 3 part postmortem series for my game ZERO2. In this post I’m going to breakdown the creation of a single environment used in the game. But hey, if you haven’t played the game yet please check it out first:

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-22/?action=preview&uid=5821#LD48

CONCEPT

The first step to creating any environment for me is simply coming up with a concept for it. In this game I wanted to have two main types of environments: puzzle environments, where the player would need to focus on solving some obstacle to progress, and atmospheric environments, which would serve more to set the mood and advance the story rather than offer any gameplay.

For this breakdown I’m going to use my personal favorite environment from the game, which happens to fall into the ‘atmospheric environment’ category. At this point in the game, the player has just passed a fairly ‘scary’ portion of the game, so I wanted this area to serve as a bit of a respite. I also wanted to give the player some more clues about what was going on as well, as the game is purposefully vague and mysterious, not much has been revealed up til this point.

The idea I came up with was a fairly open ‘lobby’ type space, the focus being on a large geometric statue in the center. The implication being that this room is basically a gateway to a new section of this facility, one meant to serve as a thematic representation for the goals of the organization at work here. The twist being that the room is not pristine or brightly lit as one would expect, but flooded, dusty and crumbling.

CREATION

So I started building using my 3d tool of choice, Cinema 4d.

Here you can see the finished environment in the editor. Like all the environments in this game it is comprised mainly of rectangles of various shapes and sizes. The most time intensive element in the whole scene was the construction light on the right which I modeled based on an image I found in a Google search. But what about the statue in the middle you say? Actually, that statue was created procedurally using the Cloner tool in Cinema4d. Essentially, all I created was one of those cubes, then used adjustable parameters to multiply and rearrange them until I found some random combination that looked right!

The other important element in this scene is the lighting. For this game I wanted to use mainly diegetic lighting, meaning that the only sources of light would be ones actually in the game world. To get the most out of this light though, I included a few important components – volumetric lighting and visible noise. This means that the light source would not only illuminate the scene, but that the illumination would be actually be visible in the air. Including noise to this visibility introduces a smokiness to the atmosphere, essential for selling the mood of the scene!

Here’s the render straight from Cinema4d:

This looks pretty good, but it’s not quite there yet. An important lesson for any aspiring 3d artist is that you can almost always improve your renders with post production. So with that in mind, it’s time to move from Cinema4d to After Effects. Here’s a layer by layer breakdown of my post-production on this image:

1. Vignetting

The lighting in the initial render looks ok bit it’s a bit too flat. In order to increase the dynamic range of the scene, as well as draw focus to the center of the image, I added some vignetting to the top and bottom of the image.

2. Lighting Effects

I already spent a decent amount of time in Cinema 4d trying to get the right lighting, but I wanted to effect to be even stronger. Part of the reason I pointed the light at the statue in the first place was because I knew I could get some cool volumetric light rays streaming through the cracks. To amplify this I used a plugin called Trapcode Shine, which essentially fakes volumetric lighting using the highlights (and lowlights) of the image. This also adds a glow effect to the construction light, making it look more obviously like a source of luminance. Looking good now right…? NO WE’RE NOT DONE YET!

3. Color Correction

While the colors in the original render don’t look bad by any means, they just weren’t selling the mood strongly enough. A bit of color shifting can really change the feel to any image, and in this example, the increased sense of yellow-green makes things look murkier and adds to the density of the smoke in the atmosphere.

4. Noise

It’s probably obvious at this point that I’m into what could be described as a very filmic look. Adding some noise to the scene gives the image a sense of texture and density – the other huge advantage is that since the grain has movement to it, when you actually play the game it brings an otherwise completely static environment to life in a very subtle but effective way.

—–

So, that’s it! Easy right? Well, obviously the downside to this little tutorial is that these tools are by no means free or open source. Because I do motion graphics work professionally it’s certainly worth it to me to have them, for the average hobbyist game developer maybe not so much. Still, I hope the core concepts of this breakdown could be useful to you regardless of what tools you use to create your graphics. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments….

And please, check out my game!

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-22/?action=preview&uid=5821#LD48

ZERO2 // Goals / Success / Failure

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 10:48 am

Here’s the first in my (maybe) three part series of postmortems for my game ZERO2. Of course, I’d recommend checking the game out first before reading so here’s the link:

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-22/?action=preview&uid=5821#LD48

GOALS

This is my second time participating in Ludum Dare, so coming into it I was hoping not only to simply make a game, but to outdo my previous effort. My LD21 game (NO ESCAPE [pictured below]) was fairly well received for its graphics and audio but (as many commentors noted) suffered from three main flaws:

1. ‘Not A Game’

Well, that’s a little harsh, but in some ways maybe true. I hadn’t even attempted to program anything for years going into LD21, so I decided on a concept that would require the bare minimum of coding. The result ended up feeling more like an interactive movie than a proper game, with little variation between playthroughs, and no real challenge or obstacles.

2. ’40 MB WTF?!?!’

While I was working on it the last thing on my mind was how big the .swf was going to be. Turns out it was really big – 40 MB big, which in the world of Flash games is humongous. This led to a painfully slow preloading screen. This wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for this next point…

3. ‘Press Space Bar for a Minute Then it’s Over?!?’

Yup, despite all that loading time you were getting only about a minute of gameplay. And while I generally go for quality over quantity, I think it’s safe to say my game simply didn’t have enough content.

'NO ESCAPE' - My entry for LD21

SUCCESS

So, with these goals in mind, how do I think I did with my LD22 entry?

1. ‘It’s A Game This Time I Swear!’

This time I based my gameplay on the point-and-click adventure style popularized by games like Myst in the early 90’s. Although this type of game still has moments that feel a bit like ‘interactive movies’, it still definitely feels like a game. You solve (admittedly simple) puzzles, collect equipment, and have to find your way to the end. The great thing for me, is that this type of game is relatively easy to code – and I was sort of thrilled that everything worked as expected almost right off the bat.

2. ‘3 MB OHH YEAAAAHHHH’

I was SO concerned about the file size of the final .swf that I took every imaginable step to keep it down. All of the image files are as compressed as I could get them without showing too many artifacts. I also really restrained myself in terms of adding animated sequences to the game, and when I did add them I tried to be very conservative with the frame count.

3. ‘It Takes Slightly Longer Than a Minute to Beat!’

Ok, it’s still a short game, but I really busted my ass to create as many environments as I could so that the experience would have some ‘girth’ to it. I think these types of games are successful when you can really drag the player into the game world so they can feel that sense of exploration and being lost in an unknown environment. While I think this game could certainly be much longer, I think it’s long enough to get the player ‘involved’ with the world and the story.

FAILURE

While overall I think I would describe the game as a success, there are certainly ways it could be better:

1. Too Easy

Right now the game is quite simple – almost all the puzzles are solved in the same way: you need some object to proceed, find said object, proceed. I wish I could have programmed some more complicated stuff in (for example I had an idea for a ‘circuit breaker’ style minigame to get one of the elevators running) but every additional layer of complexity would have severely increased the time spent coding.

2. The Sound of Silence

While I’d like to think the environments convey a potent atmosphere with the visuals alone, the truth is that sound probably would have made the experience twice as good. In fact, I was thinking about sounds all the way through the development process – unfortunately, I just ran out of time!

3. Too Short / Not Enough Replay Value

Ok, after patting myself on the back for making it longer than my LD21 game, I still think I could do better. Part of that could be achieved through replay value. And while replay value for puzzle/adventure games is always hard to achieve, I had a pretty good idea to implement an ‘Investigation Rating’ at the end of the game so that players would potentially want to go through it again and try to examine everything in the game for a 100% rating. You know, basically achievement hunting! Of course, I’d need to add a lot more stuff to investigate…

CONCLUSION

Despite these ‘failures’ I still feel pretty good about my game, as I think overall I was able to achieve my goal of outdoing my LD21 in almost every way. The other good news is that I feel I’m in a pretty good position to expand upon and improve the game without needing to completely redo it. Whether I choose to do that or not…well, we’ll see.

I haven’t said too much about the graphics since I’ve decided to save that for another post. If you’re curious about my process though stay tuned for my next postmortem, in which I’ll do a step-by-step breakdown of the creation of a single scene.

ZERO2 // KATO9

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Sunday, December 18th, 2011 10:05 pm

Here’s my game, ZERO2:

http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-22/?action=preview&uid=5821#LD48

It’s short and pretty easy, but for what it is I think it came out pretty well. Check it out, let me know what you think!

I’ve also got tons of material for postmortems, so stay tuned!

Day 1 Progress Report

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Friday, December 16th, 2011 11:26 pm

Well, it’s about 1:30 AM here on the East Coast and I’m about ready to hit the sack. However, I’ve actually made some pretty good progress in the past four hours. Here’s a screen:

The game is a Myst style point-and-click adventure. I’m actually a bit beside myself at the moment because so far everything is working as planned. Obviously, this means by Sunday the game will be a broken mess, but for now I am satisfied ๐Ÿ˜€

KATO 9 // LD 22 // I’M IN

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 10:17 am

Kato9 LD22

Here’s my video. This is what we were supposed to do right??

Kato9, winner of ‘3rd best graphics in an LD21 game’ and also winner of ‘454th most fun LD21 game’ returns for LD22.

Some people complained that my entry for LD21 was quote ‘not a game’. WELL FINE. This time I’ll make a ‘game’ game. Maybe.

S E E D

Posted by (twitter: @mattdivito)
Friday, September 30th, 2011 11:25 am

October challenge – I’m in! I have never finished a game, so this will be a tough one.

My LD #21 entry NO ESCAPE was justifiably criticized for its lack of gameplay, so that’s my main concern this time around. While I still lack the programming skills to really make a game, I recently stumbled upon StencylWorks which is basically a WYSIWYG type editor where the programmer stuff is dumbed down to the point that anyone could probably figure it out. The coolest feature to me is that it spits out .swf’s, so if I can get my game on some Flash Portal it may not be too hard to get that $1. While I’m sure there are some practical limitations to what a program like this can do, the gameplay mechanics I have in mind are going to be pretty basic. Once again, my focus will be on visuals, atmosphere and ‘the experience’.

Here’s my first concept art, which should also serve nicely as my first tile set:

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