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Whatever Voxel Demo

Posted by
Sunday, May 31st, 2015 10:21 pm

Yeah, guess I wasn’t really feeling this mini-ld.  Had some fun trying to render the sprite sheets as voxels, but beyond that, I had no interesting ideas for game mechanics.  So here’s an interactive demo of my voxel shader and generator.  It pulls from the random sprite sheet api when you press spacebar, and you can rotate with left and right arrows.  Alt-F4 to quit.


It works pretty well, but there’s weird glitches at certain angles.  Some sprite sheets work better than others, and the ones that don’t follow the demo sheet’s order look like teleporter accidents.  Maybe next time, MINI-LD.  Next time.


Posted by
Friday, May 8th, 2015 7:20 pm


I haven’t written up a post on this since it went up, so I figured I ought to do a postmortem at least.  KADOOMERANG was an interesting project, even if it wasn’t my most ambitious game.  Before the theme was announced, I wrote up a list of ideas I wanted to work with.  From that list, I ended up using about half:

  • Analog input via timing your input events (press & hold)
  • Triggering actions on button release instead of button press (related)
  • Variable-powered varying challenge by adjusting behaviors (enemy types)
  • Action commits & cancels (see Tim Rogers’ essay on Bloodborne)
  • Killer7 Screen-space gradients
  • Brutal legend particle system skies
  • UV flipbook animation

I’m fairly happy with how the mechanics worked out, but the real problem I encountered with the game was in communicating those mechanics.  My in-game instructions looked like this:


The problem was that the text on the left was intended to be read as two columns.  The last line on the bottom left is explained and expanded on by the first line on the top right.  The special attack (Radial Blast) is powered by collecting gems, and spent by throwing a complete circle.  Enemies have shields that block normal attacks from various directions, i.e. a right-facing shield will block a ‘rang coming from the right; a left-facing one will block an attack from the left, etc.  But because of the way the text was laid out, almost nobody understood how the special attack worked.  Some people never even picked up the recall mechanic, and were stumped by the first enemy with both left-facing and right-facing shields (you need to attack them from behind, by recalling your ‘rang when it’s behind them.  Also useful for destroying enemies in a straight line!).  This could have been  helped if I had marked Q and E as Throw/Recall, to show that it had multiple effects (I suspect many people only looked at the key layout and ignored the text column entirely).  There’s even a Let’s Play where the player wonders aloud what the gems were for, even as they are sent back (several times!) to the screen that is supposed to explain everything. (Sorry Clint, I had to include it! 😉 )  Maybe a separate instructions screen, or on-screen prompts would be useful if I attempt another game with this amount of  control complexity.

Despite the confusion, I’m still happy with the game’s overall feel.  Developing the main attack mechanic was an interesting exercise, as I came up with the whole behavior and feel on paper before I wrote a single line of code.  The in-game sound effects are the same sounds I was making while thinking through the way everything would move.  The only difference is a flange filter thrown on top to make it a little less obvious that it’s all just my voice.  The gems and radial blast were added fairly late, as a way to encourage the player to move around more.

Oh, and some people didn’t like the camera controls.  Oh well.  They are kind of central to the look of the whole thing.  They might take a little getting used to, but I did add a few special tricks to the way it all works, like how the over-the-shoulder camera switches sides when turning to minimize how far the view needs to shift.  I would have added in some logic to flip the camera when obstructed, but I kind of ran out of time.

You see, half-way through this Ludum Dare I got really, really sick.  Against my better judgement, I pressed on and finished my game.  I’m actually sick again right now, or maybe I just never quite got over whatever I came down with.  As happy as I am with my game, this was a bad idea.  The experience was so unpleasant, I fear it may have soured me on doing another LD anytime soon.  But even if I do skip LD33, I’ll probably be back for LD34.  Probably. :-)

Animations Are GO!

Posted by
Sunday, April 19th, 2015 12:48 pm


Woo yeah, sprite sheet animations!  The walk cycle turned out a bit sillier than I meant it to, but this is totally a game now.  I’m pretty happy with this, even though I’ve had the bad luck to get sick right in the middle of a Ludum Dare.  It’s just a sore throat at the moment, but I can feel it getting worse.  Racing the clock, and my immune system response.  Up next: EVEN MORE PARTICLE EFFECTS.

Particle Sky

Posted by
Sunday, April 19th, 2015 2:41 am


Semi-serious question… Is this too many particles?

Anyway, I have the gameplay loop done.  It switches between three states: title, play, lose.  I am really tired.  This might be the last Ludum Dare I do in a for a good long while.  I might be getting too old for this.

Skies and Trails

Posted by
Saturday, April 18th, 2015 6:30 pm


Ever since I read that GDC article about the skies in Brutal Legend, I’ve been wanting to do a particle-system based sky for something.  So here we go!  And we’ve got some trails on the projectile, which moves in, let’s say, an unconventional way.  Close enough!

Enemy spawners are in, and getting ready to be triggered by timers.  At some point, though, I really should stop and make some character art…

Getting Interesting…

Posted by
Saturday, April 18th, 2015 2:39 pm


Improved indicators, basic enemy AI, a first pass at level objects, and some applied shaders.  Many thanks again to Gentle Gradient for making these screen-space gradients look soooo pretty!

It’s a start

Posted by
Saturday, April 18th, 2015 3:30 am


It may not look like much… and that’s because it isn’t much.  It’s hard to show in a screenshot, but I’ve actually got player movement and the unconventional weapon built out already!  The floor texture is just placeholder.  Bonus points to anyone who recognizes it (it was the music I was listening to while building this).

Third go-round; I’m in

Posted by
Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 6:25 pm

Why not, let’s do this again.  This will be my third LD, and if I continue the trend of my first and second entries, which placed #26 and #59 overall, then I’ve already got a lock on #92 overall, making for a nice, linear descent into poorer ratings.

Tools I’m planning to use:

  • Unity
  • Silo
  • Blender
  • Sketchup
  • Shapeshop 3D
  • Photoshop
  • Deluxe Paint for DOS
  • Flash
  • Processing
  • Gentle Gradient
  • Spacescape
  • Audacity
  • Cool Edit Pro
  • Making Waves
  • SFXR

It a weird mix of tools, but I work best when I just use EVERYTHING AT HAND.  I also want to use some shaders from a big pile of custom and borrowed shaders I’ve been collecting, so I’ll have to post that sometime before everything starts, per regulation.  The only other possible source is just borrowing from previous LD projects, and all the code for those things are already available from my posted sourcecode.

Moderately excited about everything; just need to stock up on caffeine syrup and pasta.  Fun times ahead.

Blind Spotted

Posted by
Sunday, December 7th, 2014 6:26 pm

Sadly I slept too long today, so “the abstract route” wins again.  Presenting Blind Spotted – a stealth game with nowhere to hide from the camera’s eye!


Amazing what a little lightmapping can do to make a scene really pop.  Your reward for success is MORE GUARDS.  This is the first serious AI-focused-gameplay project I’ve done, so it was fun to just sit around trying to figure out how pathfinding should work, without looking up any resources on the topic!  The game is very hard, and full of tank controls.  I hope you enjoy it!

Level Geometry Complete!

Posted by
Saturday, December 6th, 2014 6:59 pm

As incredibly plain as this still looks, it was the most complex modeling I’ve ever attempted.


Here’s a shot of the layout, though it’s technically cheating to look at it…


All those cubes are my camera triggers.  Enter one, and the active camera switches, and the viewport layout resizes.  Piece of cake!  Now I just need to write a complex AI and make a game out of this….


Modeling the level

Posted by
Saturday, December 6th, 2014 1:32 pm

I just miiiiiight have no idea what I’m doing.


If I manage to finish anything, it’s going to be a miracle.

Grid Up!

Posted by
Saturday, December 6th, 2014 12:27 pm

Moving on to what will probably be the final screen arrangement.  Navigation is pretty much done at this point, so I should probably switch over to building real level geometry, and then it’s on to tackling pathfinding!


I would use the built-in pathfinding of Unity if I had any idea how to use it.  Whatever, I’ll write my own, and it’s going to be about as good as pacman (because I’m going to write it based on what I remember from how pacman navigation worked, hahaha)

Actually doing this

Posted by
Saturday, December 6th, 2014 10:25 am

Okay, I got a simple 4-room test working with my movement idea.  I guess that’s cool.  I did a sketch of the real level layout last night, so building the final models should be easy at this point.  Most of the effort is going to be on writing AI for the first time in Unity.

I think this is going to be a stealth game.


Wish me luck!

Kind of a plan

Posted by
Friday, December 5th, 2014 11:10 pm

Am I still going to do this?  I’m really not a fan of the theme, but I guess I can at least try to make something…

Just starting to sketch out an idea that is going to be all tank controls and camera angles, and somewhere between 9 and 25 rooms.  Actually, 16 rooms is plenty to try and fit all on ONE SCREEN.  I don’t know how I want to theme this idea, though.  There’s the abstract route, and the realistic route.  Best thing I can think to do is just start down the abstract route, and make things realistic if I have time at the end.  (Who am I kidding, red cube is going to be the hero of this game and there’s nothing I can do to stop that.)


Posted by
Thursday, May 8th, 2014 7:24 pm

Even though this was my first LD, it was far from my first game jam.  Making terrible games in 2 hours over at GloriousTrainwrecks.com for their Klik of the Month Klub was great practice for quick decision making in game design.  Sure, all my terrible games were made in the ridiculously limited tool from 1994 called “Klik & Play,” but I like to think it taught me to work around limitations and always play to my strengths.  NOT THE ELEPHANT was the second game I’ve ever made in Unity, and the first time I’ve returned to Unity since 2010 (which is when I made RHINOCOPTER.  Starting to notice a trend…)


What went right:  The idea for the game came to me pretty quickly, and it made use of all of the tools I had planned to use (Shapeshop for modeling blobby elephants, Making Waves for beatbox-ish music loops, a certain skybox generator, and Unity to bring it all together.)  The requirement that I make all my textures from scratch ended up pushing me to google for photoshop tutorials instead of finished materials, which had an added benefit of teaching me new things in the process.  Now I know how to whip up a passable wood texture in seconds flat!  Overall it was a great learning experience in multiple disciplines.

What went wrong:  The tools I wanted to try out had limitations that I wasn’t aware of when I started the project.  Shape Shop 3D is a great tool for quickly sketching out models, but its sticker-like texturing system doesn’t export unwrapped and textured models yet.  Which meant that my initial plans to end each level with a painted version of the elephant was right out.  And if I had bothered to take a look at the Unity Asset Store, I would have noticed a free cube-fracturing plugin that would have made the game entirely dynamic and saved me a lot of trouble with pre-dicing cubes by hand in my 3D editor.  I suppose my manually-fractured cubes gave the game a predictable and linear difficulty curve, but real-time fracturing would have been so much cooler. (oh, wait, Asset Store assets are disallowed, aren’t they.  Never mind!)

Just for fun I’ve included the chat transcript where I came up with my entire game design plan only 8 minutes after the theme was announced.  Thanks for reading, and see you next time!



Posted by
Sunday, April 27th, 2014 4:30 pm

My game is done and I’m very tired.  It’s a simple game about seeing the elephant within the marble block, and chucking ball bearing at everything else.


Would I do another LD?  Maybe.  But I’ll probably do the LD Jam instead, since I’d like to try collaborating next time.

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