Monday, November 23, 2015

A longing for nature

Today it was lovely and sunny.  I walked to the Vietnamese restaurant for lunch on my own.  I carried a leather satchel, making me feel rugged and adventurous.  In it I had my iPad 2 and notebook, to think about B-Grade Renegade over lunch...  (I'm currently working on the AI for the enemy monsters).

As I wandered over the sunny bridge, across the Yarra River, I longed to go hiking in the wilderness, to explore, to build things, to put up a house, to raise a barn, to ride a horse.

It was a nice feeling, even though I know these things don't fit into my life right now.  Just thinking about it was nice.

And as usual, my mind strayed to how these things could perhaps be done in a computer game, a simulation, but giving the real feeling of doing it... and at the same time, I didn't really care about that.  I knew that I really just felt like doing it for real.  Knowing that the realness of nature, the pointlessness of it almost, was part of what I wanted.

Not to have some HUD or counters, pointing me to my next goal, or tallying up how close I was to the next cutscene or checkpoint...  

The real, downright, un-mediated rawness of nature... things just being wonderful, in and of themselves... 

In this real world, I am still the centre of my world...  but the world does not revolve around me.  And it's good to remember that, and appreciate it.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Rocket Frood: A game-jam prototype

This is an old prototype that I made in 2012 at TIGJam, a two day game jam.

Game Instructions
  • The goal is to save all the astronauts by picking them up with your rocket.
  • But the rocket can't pass through the debris that blocks the way (grey blocks).
  • You can destroy the dirt blocks with explosives.
Click here to play Rocket Frood in your browser now!

Prototype Goals
I wanted to try out some ideas with simulating a few different systems that tie together to make interesting gameplay.  Specifically I came up with:
  • Resources (fuel, health, air and coolant) which combined interestingly with
  • Environmental elements (air, water, lava) and also...
  • Level design (dirt blocks, debris barriers) and...
  • Physics gameplay (flying around, bumping the astronauts around the level).

Future Thoughts
It's pretty rough around the edges, and the level design was rushed in the last few hours of the game jam!

I'd like to come back to this idea some time and bring in all my other ideas that I've had since!  I think I'd make this in Unity if I were to come back to it again.

It would be a cool game for Android TV with a gamepad, perhaps!

Here's a bunch of photos from that weekend...  :D

Looking back now, I realise this was a sort of launching point into becoming part of the local Melbourne indie community, and it felt great to go and work amongst a whole bunch of people who are still strong members of the Melbourne scene today.

Gathering up all the junk to take to the jam!


Everything strapped on, and riding to the jam!

Arriving at Inspire 9 in Richmond for the jam.

I'd been listening to the glorious Looking Glass Podcasts by Matthew Weise at MIT Gambit, and I took inspiration from these, wanting to make a systems based game.

This was the end of the jam when people could volunteer to show off their stuff!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy -> Hints, tips, shortcut keys

Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy was the first game I ever worked on in the games industry.  I joined Bluetongue Software (later Bluetongue Entertainment) in Melbourne Australia in 2000, and I was testing what we called STTA during development.

Last night, I caught up with an old friend from Bluetongue, and we got talking about the old games we'd worked on.  After he left, I dug out STTA, and fired it up.  It still plays fine on my modern quad-core Windows 7 machine, after installing the Starship Troopers 1.1 Nvidia Patch, which was nice!  It even supported 1920 x 1080 resolution (even though no such resolution existed when the game was released).

But I found I'd forgotten some crucial hotkey shortcuts, making even the first level of the game very challenging!

The player needs to destroy a bunch of bug holes, and to do so, you need to switch to your Artillery Weapons and Fire those artillery weapons!  But I couldn't find any way to do those actions through the normal onscreen GUI!  I remember this being a bit of a problem when we released the game.  And the manual didn't even have a list of hotkeys!

So I dug up the old hotkey page I made in 2000.  Here it is for your delectation.

Grab the full Starship Troopers: Terran Ascendancy Hotkeys list here!

A few special tips and notes below...

Crucial hotkeys

W - Toggle Weapon on selected troopers
F - Fire Artillery  (then click on target to fire there)
H - Heal / Repair  (Medic / Engineer)
S - Stop  (stops all troopers from doing whatever they're doing)

Selecting Troopers

I also like to be able to save custom selections for groups of troopers.  Just use CTRL and Click to select some troopers, then hold ALT and press a number key to save that selection set.  Then you can just press that number any time while playing, to select those troopers again.  (By default, "1" is row 1, and "2" is row 2, etc).  

"~" is also very handy, as it selects ALL troopers.

You can also tap SPACEBAR to shift the camera between different groups of troopers, which can be handy if faster soldiers run off ahead of slower soldiers.

Trooper Attitudes

Also, crucial, are the Z, X, C, V keys which change the "attitude" of selected soldiers (Berzerker, Aggressive, Controlled, Stealth).  It changes the way they respond to nearby enemies, how they respond to move commands, and how visible they are to the enemy. 

"Z" makes troopers berzerker, meaning they'll run off an attack nearby bugs (which can make them "disobedient" and not follow move commands very ceremoniously, but it does make them effective at killing nearby bugs without having to issue specific orders.

"V" makes your soldiers stealth (and slow), helping to get past enemies undetected.

Equipping Units

Equipping units can be confusing.  You can add the special item to troopers to let them carry a second weapon, which can be very useful, so troopers can carry a missile launcher and a laser gun, for example.  You can then toggle between those weapons as needed during play.

Tac Map

F10 cycles through the TacMap modes (full, small, off).  I'd recommend just making it the largest size.  You can also click on the map directly to issue move orders, which can be very handy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Xbox 360 Controller mapping for Android devices (for Unity)

Here's an image I made for Xbox 360 controller mapping for Android when using Unity.

Hope it's helpful for others!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Arcad-o-moid (Breakout)

I'm learning to program with C# in Unity.  Here's a simple game I made from scratch, with no built-in physics.  It's a breakout game with over-the-top screenshake, so I called it Shakeout!  :)  Try to get the quickest time to clear all the blocks!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Anti-RPG: A silly TWINE game

I was experimenting with TWINE a while ago, and this is the only thing I really finished.  Hope to do more some day!  Perhaps in the same irreverent style.

Use the link below to play in a full window, if you die just refresh the page.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

XP-Lore: Early Development Teaser

I haven't released a game in AGES!

BUT, I've also been teaching Game Design and Production full time.

And for the past year or so I've been working together with Pranee on an old-school RPG game which we're calling XP-Lore.

Here's a little teaser video we made recently to show where it's at.

We're both working on the design of the game.  Pranee has been creating the art, laying out the map, and she's also in charge of the core story and writing (while I'm not interfering too much!).

My focus is on building the programming elements, and generally being a nuisance.

People warn you not to make an RPG, because there's so many systems.  But hey, who listens to reason?  Not me.

There's a lot to do, but we're trying to keep it pretty streamlined, and focussed on the things we can do well without a lot of technical savvy, things like world building, engaging characters, rich dialog and surprises.

I've wanted to make a game like this since about 1985 when I first played Phantasie, and now, with Pranee's help, the dream is turning into reality.  Our own little crazy fantastic reality.  :)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Rescue Squad: Global Game Jam 2015

I got together with Pranee McKinlay and Paul Baker for the Global Game Jam 2015, and we made a 3 player co-op game called Rescue Squad!

You can download the game here!

Players must control a single ship and co-operate with each other to avoid and destroy asteroids. The aim is to rescue Space Chickens from death by burning star. Rescue Squad can be played with 1-3 players. It's a co-operative game, designed to be a local multi-player & made in 48 hours for Global Game Jam 2015.

You can use three gamepads, or have all players use the keyboard!

Player 1 - MOVE using the Arrow Keys
Player 2 - SHOOT using SPACE or W, and use A & D to aim the turret
Player 3 - RESCUE using the sucker - rotate with J & L, extend the arm using I & K