Saturday, October 27, 2018

Melbourne International Games Week 2018: Unite Melbourne, GCAP and more!

Oh wow, what a week!  

This has been a fantastic week in Melbourne, with so many inspiring events, great weather, lovely people, and big news.  MIGW is comprised of a bunch of events, including:

  • Unite Melbourne 2018
  • GCAP Conference 2018
  • Freeplay Parallels 2018
  • PAX Australia 2018


I went to some networking and drinks events and parties, but I made sure I didn't go too crazy, or stay out too late, and even after the whole week, I feel good!

I went for nice walks on my days off, taking photos of Merri Creek, and trees and flowers, and listened to a great podcast with Robin Hunicke and Kelly Wallick about lots of things, including how interfaces and algorithms of stores need a big refresh from a new direction.


I took about 500 photos over the week, and thought I'd upload a snapshot of the week through a selection of my favorite 150 photos.  A lot of the photos are of the talk slides, because I'm a conference nerd.  :)  

You can find them on Facebook here...
https://www.facebook.com/muzboz/media_set?set=a.10155803963230318&type=3


Here's a handful of the photos from the MIGW18 album below.









































Monday, September 10, 2018

Audio Visualization - Koch Fractals

I completed another great Audio Visualization tutorial by Peer Play about Koch Fractals.

Here are my personalised results, using a song I recorded a few years back.


This has been really fun and interesting.

I'm really excited to dig into this more some time, and making a more customised visual composition choreographed to a specific song.

One day!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Audio Visualization - My first experiments

Today I followed a cool Audio Visualization tutorial by Peer Play, to learn the basics of how to get an application or game responding to audio in realtime.
Peer Play's tutorial can be found here, and you can support him on Patreon to continue his interesting tutorials and works.




My video shows the major steps of going through the tutorial, and my resulting experiments.

I'm using some music by Guney Ozsan (tracks from the game Rad Skater Apocalypse that I made), and some of my own music as well. :) 

I've always wanted to play around with music visualisation, so this is really exciting! :) 

I might try to incorporate elements into my next game, whether it ties directly with the gameplay, or just spices up the menus or something.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Quake: Underwater Jam - "Bad Day at the Research Facility"

Recently, the Quake Mapping community ran a map jam with the theme "Underwater", so I decided to join in, using the great new editor called Trenchbroom.

This is the FUNC_MSGBOARD release thread, where you can download the maps, and read people's comments, etc.

http://bit.ly/QuakeUWjam


Get your fingers wet in these 9 awesome water themed maps by:
  • Bloodshot 
  • Giftmacher 
  • ish 
  • JCR 
  • muk 
  • MUZBOZ 
  • nyo (Nyoei) 
  • Pinchy 
  • Pritchard



My map is called "Bad Day at the Research Facility" and is a Half Life / Science themed map in an underwater research facility that comes under attack during your first day at work.

The map features the voice acting talents of Brendan Barnett whom I frequently work with because he is amazing.

The jam went for 25 days, and in that time I did about 135 hours of mapping, which was pretty intense!


For me, the main purpose of doing the jam was to get more practice creating levels, and investigating the Trenchbroom mapping workflow, for research to improve my own tools and processes for my next Unity game I'm working on.

On this front, it was a fantastic experience, and Trenchbroom provided a template for many great ways to work, and I'm hoping that tools in Unity like ProBuilder will help build fast, cool looking, fun levels, with some approaches I've nabbed from Trenchbroom.

Here's a bunch of screenshots from my Quake level, "Bad Day at the Research Facility".


We start off in a lab, performing some routine tasks for our boss who speaks to us over the intercom.


The large staff locker room.


Through the vents we go.



Heading towards the central elevator.



The warehouse has been overrun with ogres.


The final scramble up the central elevator.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

ROMERO - Dev Video #10 - Post Processing V2, Explosions, Stealth

OK!  I've upgraded the project to Unity 2018.2, and gone through and cleaned up the code base, and upgraded things that were either deprecated or dodgy.



Post Processing V2
I've deleted all the Image Effects of old and moved to Post Processing V2, and it's great!

You can set up a Post Processing Volume, which can be applied to the gameplay camera globally, then have another global volume for "Slow Mo" effect, which can be "weighted in" as needed, using a lerp.  Quite easy once you get your head around how it's all designed to work.

I went a bit crazy with the effects...  just a bit.  Added lots of bloom, grain, vignette, and dirt on the lens.  Shall tone that back in due course.  ;)

Explosions
Reworked my explosions so they are triggers instead of colliders.  (It was super stoopid before).  Now enemies get hurt if they touch an explosion trigger, and take damage based on how far they are from it, and also a killing explosion will add force to the player based on direction and distance.  (Feeling like I'm getting better at working with Vector3 math these days!).

Stealth
Upped the stealth values so they come into play properly again these days.  Player can now hide in the shadows, but once they trigger an enemy's attention, their alertness values go higher, and they will now spot you in shadows, and you'll have to run away and hide for a bit to lower their alertness levels back down again.


THE FUTURE

Cleaning up!
So, I'm feeling pretty good about having cleaned up the project, ready to start on some new features.  There's still some things to clean up, like...

  • Making the enemy pathfind smoothly even if you are currently out of reach - they are a bit jerky at the moment, sorta stuck between two states.
  • Making the drone fly around with drone sounds, and tilting into movement, and rotating smoothly at all times - generally making them look and feel more physically believable.
  • Turning the effects down to a reasonable level!  :D

What's next?
Looking further into the future, my design goal are to...

  • Play around with another 3 or 4 systems / tools / mechanics - get a core set of things into the sandbox that feel fun, and work together nicely, and create something a bit more unique.
  • Then build a single level that really puts all those elements to the test, together, in context.  Give the player an objective, and have it balanced to be a challenge to use all your wits and abilities to reach that goal.


Sunday, August 19, 2018

ROMERO - Dev Video #9 - Putting it all together

A quick video showing some highlights from putting everything together in the level.

I added some collections of glowy screens / window-lights.




So there's the baddy cyborg froods, the slow-mo ability, and the drones flying around, along with keys and doors.

It's all a bit clunky currently, and I need to go through and clean up / smooth out the keys and doors, the way explosions look and feel, and how explosions react with enemies.

Gotta get drones flying around a bit better, with sounds and tilting.

Lots of tweaking and cleaning up to do!




Tuesday, August 14, 2018

ROMERO - Dev Video #7 & #8 - Drone AI

I've started working on a new AI type... a DRONE!

It's inspired a bit by the "manhacks" from HL2, at least in terms of getting it moving.

It may be a meany, or it may be friendly. Maybe some of each.


In the first video, I've just got it doing basic hovering movement.

I'm looking to do AI in a fashion that lets them navigate spaces dynamically, as I'm considering procedurally generated levels.


I'd also like my humanoid enemies to be able to jump, climb, etc, so I don't really want to just be tied to a NavMesh.



The second video steps through some more stages of progress with the Drone.



I got it moving to a position in space, which I'd move around by hand, just to get that working and visible. Then I got it moving to random points around itself.

Then I made it so that if it sights the player it moves to random points around the player, as if tracking/following them. Next up... I want to start adding "vibe" to it, though tilting into movements, and having cool sounds that match it's motions. It needs to be smoothed out and made more fluid, and also to only move to points that are comfortably far from the ground and walls.


Monday, July 16, 2018

B-Grade Renegade development retrospective (or... "Sometimes the making of a game is part of a longer game plan")

Murray Lorden takes a retrospective look at the development of his third game B-Grade Renegade, and discusses how it represents part of a longer journey towards becoming a fully operational death sta... um, game developer, making the games of his dreams.

This blog entry tells my story of making B-Grade Renegade: Race to the Rocket, a top-down action roguelike for iOS, Android and Mac.

B-Grade Renegade - Game Trailer



The game features a lot of procedurally generated elements, with strategic choices to make on the meta-game map, and then proc-gen maps and objectives whenever you go into a mission.

The game takes inspiration from classics like Interstate '76 (for it's tone and flavor), FTL (for it's race against time in a procedurally generated set of obstacles and opportunities), and a touch of the original Grand Theft Auto (such as being able to jump in and out of different cars, and the top-down viewpoint of the game).

But the experience of making the game is really about much more than just trying to sell people on how cool this game is.

For me, it's a much longer journey about learning to make games on my own terms, and building stepping stones that take me towards being able to make the games I truly and ultimately want to make!

So let's go back to the start...

Although I started working in the Australian games industry in the year 2000, only now am I finally starting to feel confident with building my own dream games for the world to play.

It's been a super long path for me getting to this point. I started in Quality Assurance at Bluetongue Software in Melbourne, Australia, working on "Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy", super keen to be a game designer, but joyfully accepting a job in "QA" when it was offered (not really knowing what QA was at the time!).

I'd done some map making for Quake and Quake 2, and later I made a small Thief 2 level that I was really proud of ("Lady Lomat's Flute")... and I'd also been teaching myself 3D Studio Max 2, and then 3, using books I'd buy in the city.

But one of the tough things about the Australian games industry, is that there's never been that many studios that focus on level design, even though Level Design is a fairly meat-and-potatoes job at many bigger studios around the world.

So I spent 6 years at Bluetongue Entertainment, where I did quickly graduated to being a Game Designer and Assistant Producer on Jurassic Park: Operation Genesis for Xbox, PS2 and PC.

I then went to Firemint (now Firemonkeys EA) for 5 years, where I applied my Game Design, Producing and Video Editing skills to their massive successes with early mobile hits Flight Control, Real Racing 1 and 2, as well as being lead designer on the cute stealth game SPY Mouse and some other GBA and Nintendo DS titles.

Then I left in 2011 to start making my own games!

I'd discovered an engine called Game Salad which allowed me to make my own games with a sort of "visual scripting", and I hoped to cash in on the promise of the mobile games cornucopia!

Well, after making Rad Skater Apocalypse in 2012, and following that up with Pulp Diction (2012), I'd learned a lot about designing and implementing games, and had earned about $300. Gulp.

It may have been wise at this point to discard all of my half-finished Game Salad prototypes and projects and launch into a much better engine like Unity...  after all it was fully 3D games that really had my heart - games like Quake, Half Life, and especially Thief, and now more recent immersive sim games.

But instead, I wanted to get one more of my unfinished Game Salad projects finished off! A project that had been there since the start.

Originally entitled simply "Foxy Driver" when I started it in 2011, I finally finished it off as "B-Grade Renegade: Race to the Rocket" in 2018, after many life changes and game development challenges, and a full time job teaching Game Design & Production at a tertiary level games school (during which time I'd also been learning Unity, and coding in C#, and having to keep beating this Game Salad project over the head for years was a real pain).

The game was actually the first project I began making in Game Salad, and it ended up being the last that I would finish in that engine before switching my focus entirely to Unity (PHEW!).

In the final days of using Game Salad, I decided to make some development retrospectives of my B-Grade Renegade project, to look over how the project works, discussing the design of the game, how the actors work, and also discussing how the design changed over the years.

There are two videos covering these topics. The first video focuses on looking at the Game Salad project, looking over the actors, explaining how the game is structured, how the AI works, the vehicles, the weapons, etc.


B-Grade Renegade: Game Dev Retrospective - Pt 1: Inspecting the Project



And in the second video I open up a whole bunch of the project files dating back from 2011 right through to 2018, looking at how the project changed, and discussing all the design changes as development went along.


B-Grade Renegade: Game Dev Retrospective - Pt 2: Jumping thru versions (2011-2018)



I wanted to share the story of developing B-Grade Renegade to tell just one story of a developer's completely-inglorious and non-astounding journey through learning to make a complete game. Coming to the end of this project, I'm really glad I finished it off.

Although it has formed a triptych of games that have all basically launched to absolutely no fanfare or sales of any kind, I consider these to be really successful stepping-stone projects in their own way, and I'm excited about launching into my next project in Unity, currently just code-named "Romero", a fast paced challenging FPS game with some immersive sim aspirations (more news on that as it comes to hand!).


Murray Lorden
MUZBOZ Games



You can get B-Grade Renegade for Mac for free on itch.io

And is also for sale on the iOS AppStore

And on the Google Play Store


Saturday, July 7, 2018

20 Design Mantras for Arkane's "Prey" (2017)

I recently discovered a great video from Game Informer where they visited Arkane studios, before Prey (2017) came out, and spoke to Ricardo Bare and Raphael Colantonio, and they explain these fantastic "20 design mantras" that they had printed up on the office walls.  

They relate specifically to games that are often called Immersive Sims, a genre that I'm very much into!

I had heard Harvey Smith talk about these mantras with Steve Gaynor on the awesome podcast Tone Control - Episode 19 (specifically around 1:05:10), about the development of Dishonored as well, and I was dying to see them.  So I was delighted to find this video which showed the ones from Prey, which I think probably overlap a lot with the Dishonored ones.

These are game design philosophies that I really want to include in my own work, so I wanted to write them up for easy reference here.  :)  I love the Looking Glass Studios approach to game design, especially the Thief games, and Arkane have been one of the strongest proponents of that style of game design.

So, without further ado... I've written up the 20 mantras below for easy reference.  You can see the images themselves underneath.

======================================
20 Design Mantras for Immersive Sims

Multiple Paths
Sand box spaces with open ended circulation, multiple entry points, verticality, crawl space.

Well Integrated Puzzles
Plausible problems to solve, not gimmicky key-lock puzzles with only one solution.

Say yes to the player
If it occurs to players, and sounds like fun, let them do it.

Ecology
AI's interact with each other and the world in interesting ways that can be exploited by the player.

Dynamic Hazards
Environmental changes force players and enemies to adapt: Solar flares, depressurization, zero-g, creature populations.

Simulated World
The game world and entities exist independently of the player and behave according to consistent rules.

Space Dungeon
The player must survive in a hostile enclosed world.

Dramatic Setups
Mission settings, plot turns, characters and outcomes should feel highly dramatic.

Intentionality
Provide information about the situation and allow the player to formulate a plan.

Grounded Sci-fi
Near future environment should feel convincing and cohesive, a careful balance of the familiar with the marvellous.

Clarity
Clearly mark the world and allow the player to navigate.

Fuck Ladders
You'd just fall to your death anyway.

Improvisation
Players like to be clever.  Let them use game systems to experiment and form their own solutions.

Consequences
Player makes choices that have meaningful emotional or mechanical consequences.

Environmental Storytelling
Invite players to create stories through interpretation.

Object Density
The world feels crafted, rich with objects and interactivity, but not cluttered.

Break the Patterns
Players like to be surprised.  Avoid repetition in encounters and setups.

Mood
All elements should serve a signature emotional tone.

Reuse of Space
Let the player return to areas that evolve over time, building investment in the setting.

Specialisation
No character should be good at everything.

======================================

Here are the original mantra posters, with text captions as well.



Multiple Paths
Sand box spaces with open ended circulation, multiple entry points, verticality, crawl space.



Well Integrated puzzles
Plausible problems to solve, not gimmicky key-lock puzzles with only one solution.



Say yes to the player
If it occurs to players, and sounds like fun, let them do it.



Ecology
AI's interact with each other and the world in interesting ways that can be exploited by the player.



Dynamic Hazards
Environmental changes force players and enemies to adapt: Solar flares, depressurization, zero-g, creature populations.



Simulated World
The game world and entities exist independently of the player and behave according to consistent rules.



Space Dungeon
The player must survive in a hostile enclosed world.



Dramatic Setups
Mission settings, plot turns, characters and outcomes should feel highly dramatic.



Intentionality
Provide information about the situation and allow the player to formulate a plan.



Grounded Sci-fi
Near future environment should feel convincing and cohesive, a careful balance of the familiar with the marvellous.



Clarity
Clearly mark the world and allow the player to navigate.



Fuck Ladders
You'd just fall to your death anyway.



Improvisation
Players like to be clever.  Let them use game systems to experiment and form their own solutions.



Consequences
Player makes choices that have meaningful emotional or mechanical consequences.



Environmental Storytelling
Invite players to create stories through interpretation.



Object Density
The world feels crafted, rich with objects and interactivity, but not cluttered.



Break the Patterns
Players like to be surprised.  Avoid repetition in encounters and setups.



Mood
All elements should serve a signature emotional tone.



Reuse of Space
Let the player return to areas that evolve over time, building investment in the setting.



Specialisation
No character should be good at everything.

======================================