Monday, December 15, 2014

Doing what i like

I suck at blogging.
It's fact. I'm lazy, and i rather spend time playing a game, or trying to come up with a solution to a problem for my own games. I'm not sure what I'd need to do to really get into the mindset of writing something every so often. I guess my first idea when i started was to write about progress in making a game, but that stops every time i take a break from it, either because I'm dealing with a hard to solve problem, or I'm not making enough visual progress to show, or a new game came out on Steam that I'm obsessed with for a month of two.

So this is my attempt to write a progress report. After several months of nothing. We'll see if it continues. :D

So, the game I'm working on right now is a Crimsonland type game, a top-down shooter. I decided to make my own version because of a few issues the original game has, where the second player was gimped because some perks weren't working for him (like [greater] regeneration, which would have been a life saver for player2, if it worked).

Crimsonland was a very serious game, containing real blood (if you count on red pixels representing realism), aliens, spiders, zombies and similar serious-ish things. I decided to make a not-serious version, where you'll be fighting fairies, unicorns, flowers and similar not-serious creatures that drop rainbow colored blood. The idea is to make a game that doesn't take itself seriously. So i named it Rainbowland.

So the way i started was basically with what any programmer would start with: I drew rectangles. I gave the rectangles some numbers. I made lines. The goal was to try and make the base of the game as quickly as possible, and within a few days, i had this:

Good enough progress. Then i started adding more stuff, like orientation, and the best way to see where everything was oriented towards was to make everything a circle. And give them a nose.

I also added some powerups in the form of collectible rectangles, which also had numbers in them so i can see how long they last. Progress was pretty good.
I decided i wanted to separate this game from Crimsonland as much as i can, all the while keeping the basic gameplay there. The perk system will stay, 4 player single screen multiplayer will be there, pickup powerups will be there, weapon drops will be there, so how do i differentiate it from Crimsonland?

Character classes. Totally best idea ever.

On a more serious note, i decided to add classes purely because i wanted to give the players more tactical options when fighting the endless waves of flowers and unicorns. And because i think it might be fun to try adding them :D

So after a while, i decide I'm sick and tired of looking at the grey background, and the circles with the noses, and i decide to put some test graphics in. A friend showed me a site with textures, CGTextures, so i hop there, find the most normal looking texture of grass (i ended using a texture with moss, but grass, moss, what's the difference, right?), and put it in.
Then i hop onto google and search for "top-down shooter guy". Not the best search keywords, but i have no idea how to look for this stuff. Finally i find a couple of great looking sci-fi shooter guys on, plop it in the game, and voila, I'm no longer looking at a red circle shooting black circles on a grey background. This almost looks like a game :O

So that's what I've been up to. I've given myself a deadline of sort, within which i hope to make the rest of the basic stuff to be able to show the game publicly in a student club where i was a member during my student days. The idea is to add as much stuff to make this a sort-of good alpha version, and then use the public test to work out the installation bugs, and have some multiplayer testing, and getting as much feedback as i can.

I made a list of stuff that i want to do by then, sorted by priority.

  • Monster AI: the monster just move towards a random player at a constant speed, which is boring.
  • Sounds: what's a game without sounds? No music, but just general sfx is the goal for now.
  • Proper multiple players support: I can have two players in, but most of the game is hard coded against a single player being in, so i have to make some changes in the code to have controls and events reference the correct player, in case one of them dies.
  • Perk chooser for MP: right now only one player gets to choose perks for himself, and the goal is to have each player choose his own perks on level up.
  • Aim reticule for gamepad players: only the keyboard+mouse player has a aim indication, which is the position of the mouse itself, so this is something i definitely need asap.
  • Blast damage type: right now i only have bullets, so i need to add AoE damage types.
  • Weapon types: only physical bullet weapons now, so i have to add different graphics for different bullets/weapon types.
  • Monster types: I only have one type of monsters, which is something i want to change.
  • Drop mechanics: right now all the drops are random between bonuses and weapons, and i want to change it so there's only <num_players> weapons on the ground at any given time, with a minimum amount of time between weapon drops. Similar for bonuses.
  • Key bindings: kind of part of the proper multiple players support, i want to be able to change keys used for various actions.
  • Menus: right now i just pop into the main gameplay thing, and for this deadline i want to at least make a bad looking main menu, class chooser and player count setup.
  • Difficulty scaling over time: monsters are easier at the beginning of the round, and get harder and harder as time passes, the players gain experience, and level up.
  • Boss fights: there's gonna be a HAM in the game. (huge ass monster)
  • Tweak leveling progression: have to decide on the leveling speed, make a formula for next_level_experience_requirement.
  • The rest of my list is adding more perks, weapons, monsters, skills, bonuses, and a proper GUI for gameplay.

So.... a ton of stuff to work on. I've got around 3 weeks to do this. I hope i can manage.

I'll hopefully write another post after the deadline passes, to make my success or failure be written in history.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Developing a game: Harold the Hedgehog

Harold the Hedgehog

No, his name is not really Harold, but for the purposes of this post/blog, i'll refer to him as Harold.

This is Harold.
He came to exist some time in 2014. i think, created by his artistically talented mother.

This is also Harold.
Harold is walking in this photo of him. He's really photogenic.

Harold also knows how to jump.
You might ask yourself, why i am telling you things about Harold.
You see, Harold is currently the main actor in a game, and is therefore receiving some media coverage, being a young star and all.
It's really hard, the life of Harold the hedgehog. The gravity of his world is sometimes very strange, which causes problems for Harold.
You see, he is, unfortunately, scared of heights, which makes him all twitchy.

This is Harold's little abode. Forgive the crude look of the trees, they were made by Harold's artistically retarded father.
He passes his time by collecting apples from the trees using his inexplicable ability to jump one more time in midair. He says it's a gift from his dad.
He has infinitely deep pockets, so he just keeps track of the number of collected apples.

"Collected" apples.


The majority of the current "game" is written entirely in Lua scripts.
The core is written in C++, the bigger parts being the graphics system (using DX11), animation system, the windowing system which includes input support, and the core game definitions.

The Lua scripts contain code for the animation state machine, which helps Harold transition from sitting on his ass into moving and then jumping and back. They contain the entire movement code, to make him go left and right, which is tied to reading the keyboard inputs to make all that happen in the first place. There's also a basic output console for debugging purposes.

I also made a small objective to collect 10 apples as fast as possible, with a timer that records and shows the best time.

The most helpful feature in the entire code base is definitely the fact i can change resource files (scripts, textures, shaders, data definitions, etc) while the game is running, and upon saving said files, the game picks up on the change, and promptly reloads them, which makes the rest of the code use the changed data.

This has helped me make, test and debug the code for collision detection so Harold can collect his apples properly, and tune the strength of gravity and the strength of his jump. It also helped fix some spacing problems with the font, and i expect it to be very useful in the future when i start coding some real behaviour Harold will be expected to exhibit.

A word from the author

I'll be keeping track of the progress about Harold as time goes by. The format of this blog post seems fun for now, so expect to see more similar posts.
Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The long overdue post

As the title says, this post is long overdue.
Several years overdue, to be perfectly honest, but i was stupid and overly confident. So let's say that i should have written this a month ago, when i actually realized what i've gotten myself into.

My grand idea of making an engine that would cater to my every need before i needed or even knew what i'd need is just dumb. I'm just one man working on this, and here i was, dreaming i could make a simple engine that could make any game, without making a game. Such contradiction. Much dumb.

So after a smallish amount of time (around 5 years) i finally dropped the engine project.
It's for the best, really. I was too focused on making an overly complex system for making entities without actually using it in any meaningful way. The component based entity systems are great, and i definitely see myself doing them at one point, but not now.
Not for simple games.
Not for games that have only 4 unique objects on the screen.
Not for games that are so simple that it takes one source code file to write them (802 lines long and written absolutely horrible, but still...).

So now i'm making games instead, and letting an engine grow from them. I'm not running in blindly though, the last 5 years have been extremely helpful, as i've learned a lot to help me make the right decisions about the structure of code. I made Pong from scratch using this knowledge, and scraping bits and pieces of my previous code so wouldn't have to write it again, and i've done it in a month, laying down the foundation for any next game.

I made a simple graphics system which allows me to draw lines, color filled or textured rectangles, and the latter also helped to make a simple font engine (Direct3D11 API doesn't have a premade easy-to-use font drawing capabilities, which sucks big time).
I made a simple windowing system, which also has the capability to monitor a certain directory for any file changes, and promptly notifies the game in such an event, so for instance, assets (textures, sounds, models, etc) can be reloaded while the game is running.
I made a simple scripting interface around Lua, and used toLua++ library to automatically generate bindings so i don't have to write them manually (it gets really tedious). I used the scripting interface to implement the AI for the right paddle, which was really fun, finding the right logic to make it track the ball in a non-twitchy way.
I added the Box2D physics library to make my life easier.

All in all, a lot of stuff is now there to help making the next game much easier and faster. I still have one thing to add to Pong, which is sounds, but that's almost a no-brainer since i already have FMod downloaded and ready to go, i just need to give it a home somewhere in my code.

That's all for now. I'll try getting back to weekly posts again, to help track progress, which should now be more... obvious?