Game Pride Progress Report Wk9

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Production is a funny art, sometimes you get all the time in the world, the others you’re swept off your feet. Let me just point out the last report was back in week one on the 22nd of July… Yeah we’ve been busy.

So what’s been happening? Crew wise we have John in Italy looking at bricks and eating sweets, Graham’s in China trying to get into Tiannmen Square, Pauls’ finally moving out from under the stairs at his father’s place in Greece and into his own steampunk penthouse. Team wise we have brought onboard the brilliant Sarah Stanton for Music and she’s just about ready to record. Mike Browner for VA and Storyboarding, he’s almost finished his storyboards and just in time. Two new graphics guys have joined the team, Josh Bryson and Jeroth Diggiden who are rocking the 3d casbah pretty damn hard. And rounding the team out we have Emily Smith who has been helping Jess with the character designin’ and sketching like mad. However I haven’t managed to get more programmers on board and now we’re starting to hurt a little and things could end up seriously screwed, but Michael and Chris know Unity3d like mad. As I sit down to continue this (two weeks later) we have just added a Texture Artist to the team, the ever awesome Tim. Yeah we can do this.

So what have we done? Programming wise Michael sat down one day and converted everything to C# which fixed a whole pile of problems. Most of the main gameplay additions are complete, Graham has done the AI programming, Chris has done a nice environmental trigger class, the scare code has been fixed up. There’s problems with camera and the growth and shrink code but I put in executive decision that gameplay comes first and we can work on camera during October. I’m slightly concerned as while our alpha seemed fun there’s always the chance that when you grow a concept it won’t quite work. All the components are built and in the framework, AI is being polished up and scoring is being worked on (along with a multitude of bits and pieces)

Speaking of which, designing a 3d puzzle game is difficult as the manner we have done this will make it appear as a adventure game. We didn’t foresee it being this hard to separate the two. For those that don’t know, Boo! is meant to be a 3d take on the traditional 2d tile based puzzle game, you set up your ruleset, make the player learn them and then put em all together, then start changing the rules. Nothing too difficult but the moment you add 3d you have to work really hard to seperate plot and levels. This has continued to be the bane of our project.

Sadly we have missed out fourth of october beta date, this could not be helped but it did make a whoosh sound as it went by. And I just found that the person I had outsourced our main character to has not completed the work. Entirely my fault. However Jeroth has grabbed it with both hands and will have it done. I don’t know, it feels a little weird having a team so focused on the end task. It shouldn’t be but it is.

I suspect this will pass 😉

So what do we have left to do? This weekend all basic mechanics, AI and scoring is due. Weekend after is playtesting and bugfixes and texturing. Weekend after that is deadline and all the sounds and polish have to be in.

Last mile dash, we’ll make it!

Boo! Development Blog Wk1

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Ideas are nothing special, ideas are cheap and worthless and found littering the streets, in your kitchen and even lining your bed.  However what happens to turn those ideas into products is interesting, amazing, time consuming and boring all at the same time.  If you have been involved in any project from building shelves for your home to producing a multimillion AAA game you would be familiar with this concept.  However when it’s not your daily job to do that, the task becomes a lot harder.  Welcome to Game Pride 🙂

GP was started as a dev group in university with Paul, Geoff and Myself, since then Paul and I have continued to design concepts, build the team, shrink the team, develop games and do all kinds of weird and wonderful stuff.  Our primary aim is to create develop and learn, as such the GP rosterInflatable Boats is a rotating door between the various projects and configurations we have had over the past few years.  But one fact remains, we have fun 🙂

So a couple of weeks ago one of my members comes forward and states that she would like us to consider preparing a game for the Independent Games Festival.  So at the next weekly meeting we sat down and discussed the idea.  Having already finished a prototype a month or so earlier we could move forward with the idea preparing it for submission inflatable boxing ring.  Our concerns were as such, do we have enough people to pull this off in two months and should we be using a competition as a deadline?  Unfortunately (or fortunately) both Michael and John, our programmers, have been laid off so we have a little time to work with.  There’s some other considerations there but I will not go into them at this stage.

As such, our current makeup

John – Lead Programmer
Michael – Programmer
Chris – Programmer

Wez – Designer
Jess – Concept Artist
Paul – Modeller and Animator

Georgia – Producer
Jon – Lead Producer

This is obviously not enough, especially with John going to Italy for August.  But as a team we decided it was possible and we should go for it, with a reassessment milestone in a month’s time.  We sat down and divvied up the tasks for the next week and then discussed what would make Boo! a game worthy of the IGF.  Now for us at the moment all we can really angle at is quality of design, audience and overall, visual art and sound are dependent on who I pull together and the other two, while we have awesome programmers we’re using Unity3d and we need to implement, not innovate (but if we happen to, that’s awesome too).

So i’m on the phone, sending emails and assembling people.  seeing what we can pull together.  And I asked my crew a important question, what are some types of challenge that fit well within our scope?

Ok, We’re in for it now

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We’re starting work on getting Boo! done for the IGF…  This will be interesting.  Stay tuned to follow progress over the next 100 days.

Buried in Plastic – Piracy and Children

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently. I know it’s rather dangerous but I’m at the stage where I’m starting to firm up some thoughts, figure out plans of attack etc. One of the issues is piracy and how to combat it’s effects / is it worthwhile spending that time. You all have heard the arguments for and against so that isn’t the point of this column. I’m looking at another impact of piracy currently unseen. So to begin let me tell you what I overheard yesterday.

I was in a major chain store, one of those ones with the incredible discounts and with a toy sale on the games were even cheaper than usual. In fact here in Australia you can grab Rhythm Heaven for $30! That’s $40 off retail! A wide majority of the titles are priced between $20 to $40 with the shovelware for kids being at the lower end and Pokémon being the higher, but that’s still at least a $20 discount for platinum. So right now is the best time to purchase those DS games you have been putting off, right?

Well what horrified me was a mother with her four young girls looking at the DS games, all of the girls looked between six and fourteen. Now a couple of the girls were running up to their mother going “I want this one”, nothing unusual there. However what horrified me was the line that came next, the very next words out of the mother’s mouth in response to purchasing some damn cheap games was

“No, I won’t buy the Nintendo games, Daddy will download what you want when we get home”

I was dumbfounded, shocked and it took every bone in my body to resist walking over to the lady and giving her a piece of my mind. More violent thoughts also raged through my mind, but I just kept to myself and continued to walk, ashamed to be anywhere near the lady with the bad ideas. Piracy is not a victimless crime, it’s just that when you do it all you see is a line on a screen and an option to download. But that isn’t the issue here, the issue is “what does that teach the children?”

Now I’ll be the first to admit that I have done piracy in the past, when my family got our first PC (a 386dx, we quickly upgraded to 486 with math co-processor!) my father “borrowed” software from friends at work on 3 1/4″ floppies. Jill of the Jungle, Worms, Duke Nukem, Commander Keen 4/5/6 etc etc. Hell when Pokémon came out I didn’t have a Game Boy so I grabbed a emulator and played on that, not quite the same but it was still fun. But when I did that I made those decisions myself and when I got my Game Boy and later my N64 I was constantly saving and hunting down gaming bargains to play on my system. But in terms of those four girls, what message does it send that they can goto daddy and he’ll download the game onto a piracy cart so they can play what they want on their DS without putting out cash? Isn’t saving and purchasing one of the earliest and easiest lessons for parents to teach their children? Isn’t stealing wrong?

I don’t know about you but I’m feeling that this is disappointing, if parents will not encourage their children to save their money and purchase even the cheapest of games aimed at them, what hope do we have for the future. Do we need to start educating people that there is real people they are harming with the blasé attitude towards piracy? I have always been of the opinion that you should only make the actions that you are prepared to accept the consequences for. If the kids can figure out how to get a R4 to work, where to download the ROMs from and can explain to me what they’re doing? I’ll give them that. But there is a better solution for raising gamers with a cheap wallet.

And that solution is my uncle. He has brought up his kids rather awesome, he’s taught them about ratings, went with a N64 rather than a current gen console and been cheap ass gamer the entire time. The kids still enjoy the games and can play to their hearts content. Hell he bet his son on swimming lessons that if he completed to a certain level he would purchase a Xbox 360 (and is now eating his words after his son completed two courses in three weeks) but the major difference is there. His kids save and scrimp to buy the games they want, they recognize things beyond them and hell, they are excellent gamers.

The morale of all this? Piracy is robbing more than the developers, it’s also hurting your kids too. Can you really afford it?

Gamejam Diary – Wed Wk1

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Well, where have we gotten. Chris and I have tightened up the idea for the mechanics, unfortunately there is only so much we can do without a working model as we need to see that the gameplay works before dreaming up shit . I guess this only helps to avoid feature creep 😉

In terms of unity, i’m three quarters through the Lerpz tutorial and ive learnt a lot, apart from some slightly dodgy respawn code. The UI is hell powerful and sadly my lack of scripting knowledge will come back and kick me in the ass.

Days like this I wish I knew PyGame.

This weekend is planned to be a massive work session to get the game to alpha, however a matching color game may morph back into a adventure game. Time will tell… However our inabiliy to make assets would prove to be our downfall in that idea. Hence why we dodged it.

Also the pitch competition shits me off, we don’t have a target to pitch to, I guess this sums up all of Nullabour. Do we go with the sprawling epic of Scott and the Space Elevator, put forward a simple casual game, something innovative using GPS or hell, JellyCat!

God Knows…

Here we go again

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Hey Guys,

We have entered the GameJam! (http://www.gamejam.org) with Lightguard and Garlicbug being the co-conspirators at this stage of the game. We’re supposed to have a game out in Unity within two weeks.

Will we make it? God knows!

ST~

Some Site Changes

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Hey Guys,

This is mainly for members of Game Pride, I’ve upgraded the website to the latest version of wordpress, fixed the avatars and image uploading and turned on users for the wiki. Therefore if you need to add to the wiki you need to first goto http://www.game.pride.id.au/wiki and then create a user and confirm the email address BEFORE you start writing!

Haven’t fixed the links sidebar, but i’ll get to that.. and the IE bug aswell :p

ST~

Quick “State of Game Pride”

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What’s happening here?

Well, Wraggs, Michael and Myself finished up GET with flying colors, some more flying than others. Mike’s doing honours, Wraggs is finishing up uni and in theory i’m graduating. The final project didn’t come together as planned, engine held us back {but damn, did it look good!}. But now we’re licking our wounds and moving on.

Game Pride has reformed, Sami has moved on and we now have Josh, John and Wraggs joining the team with Paul supporting us from Greece. We need more mans and more movement, but we’re currently working on a 2d platformer in Torque called “JellyCat” which you’ll be seeing more of, and quite a lot of right now.

JellyCat

And on a final note, I’m off to the Game Developers Conference in Feb. I received a scholarship through the IGDA and i’ll be getting into massive debt and possibly a leg up. Look out for more updates through this website on Jellycat and GDC!

ST~

Report on Three Day Work Session

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Quick Report, Wraggs and I finished the three day work session on Saturday Morning. I’m just finishing up the last bits and pieces of the documentation but I am pleased to report that we have worked through ALL of the following.

1) Start drawing up state transition diagrams for AI and game states (this will be helpful when we interact our characters with the game engine. what do we need to do and how? new character is in prison, breaks out, finds treasure room, etc….
2) A description of the Game architecture. Basically what was mocked up last semester except this semester there has been quite a few new additions. Skydomes, view frustum culling for entire scenes, CLOD mesh generation, Lua, Gui Interfaces etc. I’d like a detailed description of everything, including what each topic is. By reading the code you’ll be able to know what I’ve done (the comments are enough)
3) Need to have animation. So Chris start getting a wriggle on with those characters. I’m not too fussed about the Cells or anything like that or as a matter of fact, anything to do with animation now that I think about it since we already have it.
4) Gameplay: Ok, we wont be able to get what you guys desired at the end of this project. It will be impossible from my understanding. Instead we’ll go with the simple I’m a hero youre a bad guy, you die etc.
5) Mock up some stuff for NPC AI using the finite state machine. I also want documentation on its states etc (just as above).
6) Game Design Document. Completed (mostly) and reflecting the students workload (A summary workplan of what was set out and what was done. Basically just look back week by week and note what we did each week for every lesson of GET we went to… shaders, lua, fsm, etc)
7) If the above is completed in satisfactory time then we can maybe pursue other avenues which will make you guys more happy.

Oh, Did I mention that we also set milestones and re-engineered the gameplay idea to be a} Simpler and b} a step between basics and the final version. Also the game works fine on higher end computers, we borrowed one to compile and run and it ran fine on the geforce, but my radeon still craps itself.

ST~

Warren Spector on Game Design

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Warren Spector has started a wordpress Blog! Also of interest are the following seven rules he asks himself when he’s pursuing a idea, i’ll answer these later this week as part of the Corpse Hockey development.

  1. What are we trying to do? Whats the core idea?
  2. Whats the potential? Why do this game over all the others we could do?
  3. What are the development challenges? Really hard stuff is fine impossible or unfundable? Not so good
  4. Has anyone done this before? If so, what can we learn from them? If not, what does that tell us?
  5. How well-suited to games is the idea? There are some things were just not good at and shouldnt even attempt. A love story, for example!
  6. Whats the player fantasy and does that lead to good player goals? If the fantasy and the goals arent there, its a bad idea.
  7. What does the player do? What are the verbs of the game?