Games Studio Blog

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Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Thu Mar 04, 2010 3:24 pm

Week 1 -


Went into this class with a few ideas in mind that I`d already discussed with John during
holidays. These were far more on the technical side of things rather than storline wise.
These ideas mainly revolved around a platforming game of some kind.

Once in class itself and after seeing the various options on the board, I gained further
far more indepth ideas on a game which may very well just end up as an idea for a game
for myself at a later point far further on down the line. This idea revolved around the
following:

* 2D or 2.5D Platform game
* Player controls/possesses repair robots in each stage with control switching to different
robots as the player progresses through the stage once they reach set checkpoints.
* During each "section" the player will be required to perform a certain goal before they
may proceed (ie collect x amount of an item, repair a reactor etc).
* Game is set after a nuclear war has occured with the repair robots sent out to return
earth to a habitable state. A 2nd idea to this is that the robots are sent back in time
to prevent the war.

Twist: If the time travel idea is chosen, that the player discovers that they have set in motion
the very war that they were sent to prevent.

After close discussions with what atleast early on appears to be my likely group of myself, John
Tom and Laura the overall consensus appears to be that a alien/monster invasion game with you playing
as the alien/monster with the goal of domination/destroying the world appears to be the favored idea
which would be done in a 2D setting of either side or top down view.

Atleast at this early stage, C++ appears to be the more prefered programming language due to it being
a prerequisit for all game related jobs in the industry, and so improving our level of skill in it
would be most advantageous.

John certainly would make the best leader for the group, I would like to do game design as well as
some programming duties, Laura & Tom would both like to do programming as well. This leaves us with a
need for an artist. I`m definately not the best artist in the world, nor is it of any interest to me so
that leaves me out of that one. Perhaps John or Laura would be interested in it.

More on this in week 2 Smile.

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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:23 pm

Week 2:

Well my initial thoughts on the group were completely incorrect. My group has ended up being: myself, Tom, Tadge and Sasha. Sasha will be group leader, I was originally set as lead programmer (which I could do just fine, but I`d like to do game design more this time round) but later changed to game designer with programming being my 2nd role, Tom as lead programmer (originally lead game designer) and Tadge as artist with game design as his second role.

It was a toss up between my game idea of last week with Tadge's "Polarity Boots" grand plan. Tadge's ideas were FAR more detailed and layed out so that eventually got the tick for approval by the group. I`ve got to say that atleast for now I quite like the overall group we have going as we pretty much have someone with skills appropriate for each role. Good artists inparticular are very hard to come by at Caulfield and I`d seen Tadge's work in Visual Communication in 1st year which was all of an excellent standard. Tom's programming skills are excellent so he'd be my first choice everytime as lead programmer and Sasha certainly seems best in a mangement role.

We now need to make a high concept document which we got about 90% done of in the studio. It just needs a bit more detail then its fine.

Actually working out where to start, and for myself knowing exactly what tasks I`ll need to do especially in the early stages is one big question mark for me. Lack of a good computer to work on (due to my good pc that I only got 2 weeks ago turning out to be faulty) has me alittle worried on what level of work I can do from the backup pc at home (a pc from over 5 years ago that can barely even run wow). The pc store has said that I may need to wait upto 4 weeks till its fixed, so I`ll do the best I can. I should be fine anyways. I`ve learned to never buy from CPL again from the experience.

I look forward to seeing over the coming months how our game will progress from a simple idea into someday a working prototype.

More on this in week 3.

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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Wed Mar 17, 2010 3:15 pm

Week 3

Since my last blog we put together the high profile document and had started on cementing / properly discussing game ideas. There was a consensus throughout the group (except for one Tadgh) to switch the player from being a humanoid / human to a cube-like robot. After much discussion on the subject this was agreed apon. I then had a quick think of what the player object looked like in my mind and came up with the following quick concept.



Of the 2 in the above picture, the 2nd one at the bottom was my preferred one. Sasha and the others had a look and quite liked the overall look so its quite likely that something along those lines will make it into the game.

We then had games studio for this week and presented our ideas to the class as well as heard those of the other groups. Be quite interesting to see how everything all turns out at the end for both our group and for the others. There's some really cool ideas out there.

Towards the end of the studio we marked down the various roles and jobs that each person should be doing by next week, so we now have an early idea of what needs to be done and by whom. I finally know sort of what I`m supposed to be doing which is good as I can get to work on some early things. For example this weekend I`ll be doing a few level mock ups in paint or photoshop so we have a point of reference for where to begin. Of note is that I did quick mock ups of these in class which unintentionally created some ideas for the magnetized floors, that red floors have a negative charge and can be activated by red colored switches, while blue floors are positive charged and activated by blue switches respectively. Shouldn't take me more than a night to do them in paint / photoshop.

The others in the group will be doing further research into good coding bases (Tom) as well as creating proper concepts of the player objects etc.

More on our progress as it happens in week 4 Smile.


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:56 pm

Week 4:

Well since week 3 I set to work on a few level mock ups and came up with the following:





Sasha did the background work for me which was quite helpful in setting a background to work with. Spent a fair bit of time doing the level mock ups. Throughout working on them I came up with the negative and positive floor colorings and start/end doorways. I'm quite enjoying my game design role so far. Nice change of pace from my usual programming heavy work in other subjects across the span of the games development course. Nice to do more creative style work.

On Monday night I then set to work on a mock up for the game menu screen and came up with the following:



I quite like what I came up for for game menu, and even came up with a possible team name of "Top Hat Studios" which many of the group liked, though its quite likely that that will not be the eventual group name. I've been assigned to come up with a few other group name designs and group names. I've suggested that we have some kind of time-based high scores table in the game which would be of benefit to those who are more competitive minded and further aid in the "what makes the game fun?" aspect and would greatly increase the games overall re-playability value. I hope that feature makes it into the finished product.

In the studio class this week we set to work on "low fidelity game prototyping" which was a fascinating early testing method for our game and resulted in many realizations and new ideas which will hopefully make it into the game. Our 2 testers (John and later Laura) both mentioned they see good potential in our game, and that it seems like a good fun concept, so we at this stage already have answers to the "what makes the game fun?" question. During this studio class I was assigned the new tasks of coming up with 30 low fidelity level designs and 5 tutorial levels. Coming up with 30 normal levels + 5 tutorial levels will be quite a monumental undertaking and I have 3 weeks to come up with those. I plan to get the first 10 hopefully done on the weekend.

Tom has continued his studies and early implementations of Box2D on the programming side of things, Sasha has continued to work on establishing set time lines and tasks for everyone and Tadgh will be beginning work on creating artwork for the various objects to be in the game.

During the studio we all sat down and sorted out many of the disagreements which were starting to become a bit of a problem. For example there was much disagreement on what the player should look like. The majority of us wanted the player to be a robot cube-like object while Tadgh was more adamant on sticking to the human player idea that had been in his original concept for the game. There was similar disagreements on what the start and end entrances/exits should look like etc. All of these were sorted out and we will definitely be going with the cube robot and the other objects were decided on. With these disagreements finally sorted, it will hopefully mean a more organized effort into getting the early beginnings of the game on track.

I have a feeling that the programming side of things will be the biggest of the obstacles to overcome and so Sasha has said that it is quite likely that we will all need to assist Tom with getting classes established. So hopefully on my end by the time of my next blog for week 5 I'll have the 10 low fidelity prototype levels done. My overall workload for this semester across all subjects has not yet been that massive unlike last semester which has given me a hell of a lot of free time to work on my side of things for the game so far. Fingers crossed things continue like this so that I can continue to have this as my main focus throughout the semester.

More in week 5.


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:26 pm

Week 5:

All more or less went along smoothly this week. I completed the first 5 of the 20 low fidelity mockup designs for levels and had them checked out by the group. Tadgh and myself worked further to cement on exactly what would be the look for objects such as cameras, the player object, trip wires etc. I have to say that I really liked one of Tadgh's designs for a camera which was of a metallic eye. Things like that if that make it into the game will REALLY add to the look of the game and give it a unique non-standard look, which is exactly what we've been setting out to do from day 1.

Tom made great progress with box2D, getting the dependencies of the source files working correctly, removing a big issue he was having with it. He had a single room with 2 points of altered gravity present, which gave us a good indication of what to expect later on down the track. We experimented in box2D with the change of the player object into a hexagon type thing. Several people outside of the group commented that maybe a simple square box would work better from a gameplay perspective. I personally far prefer the hexagon as it proves more fluid movement and looks more natural when the cube is rolling around platforms. Time will tell what gets decided there. Tom's current goal is to get some rudimentary 2D tile placement setup, so hopefully be holidays end (2 weeks from now) we`ll have some basic 2D textures in there.

Tadgh has been set to work on creating some artwork over the holidays for the camera and other objects (as previously mentioned) and Sasha is assisting with programming duties. I have a AI assignment due first week back after holidays so I'll just be sticking to creating further level designs.

More after the holidays in week 6.

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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Fri Apr 16, 2010 8:33 pm

Week 6:

Wasn't able to do very much in the way of level design or low fidelity prototyping over the holidays or during week 6 sadly due to a HUGE assignment for AI which took up nearly 100% of my free time. I finished off the AI assignment completely and submitted on Friday morning at least which means that that is done and I can devote more time to studio work again.

The studio class this week was GOOD. We did presentations on the progress of our game so far which was good. I spoke about the work I've done so far (as you've seen in the previous week blogs) as well as the work I intend to do in the future. The best thing to come out of the studio by far was a decision on the ongoing dispute over whether to go with the octagon shape for our player object or to go with the cube shape. What decision was that? Well an ingenious idea by Tadgh which was to have the player begin (or spawn) as a wooden box which if broken by either dropping from a large height (where gravity is present) or by being damaged by cameras, trip wires etc to reveal the octagon robot within. This way we get the best of both worlds and allow for multiple solutions to challenges within each level or room as the physics works a little differently depending on which form the player object is in. The cube moves slower and as such allows for less room for faster movement which means that movement can be taken more carefully, while the octagon has much faster movement and allows for certain tricks that the cube just cannot do (ie so a speedy jump via a polarity tile onto a otherwise unreachable platform).

More gameplay style options = more fun game play in my opinion which is why I think Tadgh's idea was pure genius. I definitely love this solution to our problem.

On the research side of things I played some platforming games to get some ideas for level design. One particular game I played was "Collision" which reminded me of the game "Cave Story" in some ways. Sure the game was not even close to being as good as cave story, but it has good level design in some spots. Any inspiration for level ideas is always a welcome one.

With my time now again being free for games studio work I intend over this weekend to work on a low fidelity prototype level which incorporates all of the agreed on game elements so that we have a basic level to later test all things to ensure that they work. This level must consist of 3 rooms. Shouldn't be too hard to whip something up. If I have the time I'll do some more low fidelity prototype levels as well.

More on this in week 7.

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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Fri Apr 23, 2010 8:41 pm

Week 7:

The game is progressing nicely. Platforms can now be created with/or without polarity and the correct type of polarity (negative or positive) is applied where specified. So all in all the game is coming together quite quickly. This week Sasha did some excellent programming work on adding correct rotation to the player object while Tom got the platform class setup. Tadgh did further work on the overall look of the player and the various looks it will have (ie in a box, outside of the box etc etc). Quite liked the look of the artwork.

On my end I spent some time putting together low fidelity designs of the 1st level with the 3 rooms and made sure to include all decided on elements (cameras, trip-wires, switches and polarity platforms) within them. These designs came in handy later on in the week when the game code progressed to the point where levels could finally start being put together. When the code reached this point I put my designs to good use and created the 1st level though without the cameras, switches and trip-wires as we have yet to set those up.

For the studio this week I didn't have anything to do at all in class due to all my designs already being completed. Would have been a lot better to have had some actual work to do, but all of the work for the week was already being worked on, so I assisted as best as I could with looking over the artwork as well as the direction the code was going in. Originally I was going to work on the platform code, but Tom advised that he would be working on it. Sasha assigned me to looking into how to implement sprites in openGL, so I'll do my best to try and get some results there.

I'm going to be QUITE busy with the second AI assignment very soon. Not looking forward to that and of all the free time it will take away that I would prefer to be putting towards this assignment.

Either way as I mentioned, the game is coming together quite well, and we should almost definitely have the game in a demo form quite soon.

More on this in week 8.

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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Wed Apr 28, 2010 5:52 pm

Week 8

Wow our game is REALLY starting to come along well. As I mentioned in the previous week I was working on the 2 rooms for the showcase level which I completed the 2nd room of last sunday. Today in studio I got to see more of our game elements completed with the introduction of switches and doors which I added into my completed rooms. With the doors and switches added the levels are starting to be really fun to play I must say. Initially Tom was having some issues getting the doors when going back to a previous room to work properly (you would just appear at the normal room start location when returning to a previous room, rather than from where in the room you left prior) and so this was pushing us in a more linear game design direction. But with this now working the option of having a metroidvania / nonlinear style game now exists.

Whether or not we take this direction is another question entirely. A big concern was brought up by Derrick and Matt today, which was that the name of our game "Polarity" was already taken by another game called "Polarity Online" which was also done by a group of university students. In the case of that game, they went for a 2D standard platformer style game where polarity was used to move objects and the player had polarity boots and was humanoid. So really its similarity to our game is more in just the name than anything else, so a name change will be needed. Be interesting what results.

So at week 8 the todo list stands at:

Implement:

* Camera's
* Trip-wires
* Sprites for objects

Of the above, the sprite issue is one which I personally see as an optional one as the game honestly in its current form looks pretty damn good as is (from a retro tron style perspective).

Here's how the game looks currently:





I think its all coming along quite nicely Smile. When we start having moving objects other than the player then this game is really going to start getting fun. Currently switches just appear as small green squares and doors are slightly smaller than the player and are also green. We're in the process of changing those to more appropriate colors.

More in week 9.


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Fri May 07, 2010 4:21 pm

Week 9

Well not alot to report of my own work on behalf of the game this week due to AI Assignment 2 which has had me COMPLETELY consumed time wise lately. Such a hard assignment. Gah.

Anyways. With what time I had I set to work on adding the missing room that I had really wanted to put into the game ever since beginning coding of the levels as you can see below:



Now straight off the bat visually you can see some vast differences since last weeks progress report. Such as:

* Vector art style put into use to give levels a tron-like style to them, even more so than before. I think the polarity platforms + player object look especially great in it.
* Sprites have been implemented for doors and switches (thanks to some draw code I put into the game + some work by Sasha on implementing sprite use in the first place). Dummy graphics are inplace currently. Tadgh is in process of making proper graphics for them.

To me the difference visually is like playing an entirely different and much better game in alot of ways.

In studio this week a few other things occured of interest. The first of these was of the discussion and later choosing of a new name for our game. We sat down for quite some time going through various names such as project magnobot, attraction, momentum etc. The name we decided apon in the end was "Bipolar" which has a good ring to it overall and suits the overall magnet based gameplay of the game perfectly. Yes the name is also a mental condition (quite a bad one) but that just adds to the uniqueness of the name. So with that the game name is now decided.

Game logo was the next topic of conversation. We went through various designs until we had a design which half of the group liked and another which the other half liked. Initially we tried to merge the 2 designs together but Sasha and Tadgh were QUITE adamant on their design which myself and Tom absolutely hated as it was the word "Bipolar" and with a C after the "p" (due to a magnet design which Tadgh liked) which turned the word into "Bipcolor". Tadgh and Sasha couldn't see that it formed the word Bipcolor so there was much disagreement until we got a third party to look at it and say what he thought the game name said, and he agreed with myself and Tom. With that we made some changes to better blend in the "C" and the logo was decided on.

The next topic of conversation was on whether we wanted full realistic magnet physics in the game or not. Our game currently uses negative and positive magnet forces to push / pull the player, but it is of equal strength whether they were at the beginning or end of the field of magnetism. This is very unrealistic and so Sasha suggested implementing proper magnet force that would lessen the further away the player was, and increase as they got closer. This idea matches far more closely the original game ideas we had when thinking up the game, so I'm definitely interested in having that in our game. The trick to it though is that implementing it may possibly make our game less fun to play, but we wont know until we have a level specially made to work with this physics. To this end I'm just awaiting Tom and Sasha to merge their code together, then I can get to work on making a new level set to work with that.

Lastly Tom has finally started work on cameras. At this point he only has a green triangle going back and forth and it displaying text to screen when the player is within its targeting beam. Tom hopes to have it fully operational by next week. Be good to have that in the game as one of the problems for me personally when I look at our game screens, is that they just don't seem "alive", as in that the player is always the only moving thing within the levels/rooms.

Speaking of breathing life into the levels I made the strong suggestion that we implement pulses to the polarity platforms, so that rather than just displaying a static polarity field, it instead will show fields of polarity that pulse outwards or inwards based on what their charge is. I think that would look great if implemented. That's been put on the todo list for Semester 2.

And yeah that's about it for week 9. I wont be able to do any work on this game for the remainder of the week quite likely due to the 2nd assignment for AI.

More in week 10.


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Thu May 20, 2010 5:30 pm

Weeks 10 & 11

Yep I got slack and forgot to do a write up for week 10. Whoops. Been so damn busy with the 2nd AI assignment and now the final assignment for narrative that I just didn't have the time. Now that I've got through half of the AI assignment I have alittle time so here we go.

Week 10 - During week 10 I wasn't able to get alot of work done on Bipolar due to the aforementioned reasons. With that said however I was able to complete two key levels as tests of the games physics. What were these? Well they were:

* A physics test level



* No gravity test level



The no gravity level I created during class to give me something to do as I'm often left with nothing to do there compared to the others in the group.

For the others in the group, Tadgh completed his work on the image for doors and as he wanted to do some programming work set about trying to get black holes and white holes into the game as that was a major thing that he had wanted in the game since day 1. I made a point of making sure Tadgh got to play the no gravity level as he'd been a key advocate for no gravity levels early in the design stages of the project.

Tom completed work on trip-wires all within 2 days which was damn fine work, as well fixing bugs around the place, some of which were present in the box2D engine code. Wish I was half the programmer he is. He can whip out great code in very little time at all.

With trip-wires completed I'll need to add those into the levels I've done so far.

And with that we conclude week 10, now onto week 11.

So with week 11 I was unable to do any work at all sadly for studio due to the damn AI assignment + the narrative assignment (the narrative assignment is really fun to work on in comparison, but requires huge time investments to get good amounts of work done). The one and only thing missing now from our game that was in the original concept is a working game menu so Tom has set to work on that. He added anti-aliasing into the game this week, which on the overall whole looks great EXCEPT that it has somehow created edges at the end of polarities. So for example in platform with a circle polarity going out from it, you now see the edges clearly outlined. I hate that and hope that gets fixed up soon.

Derrick gave some excellent advice on game direction in class this week. He suggested we create a questionnaire that testers complete after playing the game rating from 1-5 what they think on specific aspects of the game (ie gameplay, difficulty, level design etc) and asking for 3 things they liked about the game and 3 that they didn't like, then us sitting down and reviewing the results and trying to fix those elements/things in our game.

During this studio I assigned myself to doing the questionaire form, should be easy enough to do. Sasha assigned me the task of doing 7 tutorial levels showcasing all elements in our game. In my tutorial level designs that I did following this discussion I narrowed that down to 6 levels, then set to work on coding them into existance. During the lab I got four of the six done. The result:

Tutorial Level 1



Tutorial Level 2



Tutorial Level 3



Tutorial Level 4



So with these four completed there's just two left to complete + the questionaire. On the other team members side of things, Tom was working on the game menu as I mentioned earlier, Tadgh continued working on artwork and the blackhole/white hole stuff. Sasha sat the group down half way through the studio class to discuss the presentations which will be occuring in two weeks, later we also discussed the topic of the tutorial levels and how they will be done. Me & Sasha think that they should be optional and selectable on the game menu rather than being forced on the player everytime they play the game. Tadgh was strongly of the other opinion that we should integrate it into our game. Sasha told him to go make some tutorial levels that demonstrate this if he wants that, while I work on the already decided on 6 tutorial levels. Interesting times.

More in week 12.


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Sun May 30, 2010 8:19 pm

Week 12:

Not a great deal to say for week 12 due to AI once again which took up 99.9% of my time this week. In studio I was able to complete the final two of the tutorial levels. Tom created a hard level of his own, which is quite good I must say. Just quite difficult at the final bit of it where a trick to the game that I didn't even know of, was required to complete the final trip-wire challenge to. The trick is of pressing left just as the camera`s view line hits you so that your thrown in the opposite direction. Quite a difficult trick to pull off. That said with a few goes after knowing of it, it becomes do-able.

So not alot to say for this week due to the lack of progress. Heres some shots of the new tutorial levels + Tom's hard level. Also note that due to request from Tom I switched all the tutorial levels to starting from the left rather than right side. Also note that work on the png image loader was completed (huge news) which means massively better sprites and backgrounds for the levels. Notice the space background in the screenshots below of it in use.

Tutorial Level 5:



Tutorial Level 6:



Tom's Hard Level:



The spot I was speaking of, where the trick in Tom's level is needed is just to the left of the trip-wire before the door on the right hand side of the screen.

Soon as AI is done I've set myself the task of trying to get some form of a sound system into the game as I really want to actually contribute something huge to the game other than levels wise. Hoping I can pull it off.

More in week 13.


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:22 pm

Holidays & Semester 2 Week 1:

Well while I did not get A LOT of work done during the holidays I did achieve the goal I set myself which was to research, develop and implement a sound engine into the game. What sound engine did I go for? OpenAL and with ALUT added for wav file use. Implementing this took a good 2 days worth of solid hard work as tracking down documentation and especially tutorials proved to be really difficult. In regard to the tutorials the hardest part was finding tutorials that actually worked.

Once I tracked down tutorials that actually did work it was just a matter of implementing this into Bipolar with the initial goal of fully implementing it at the menu screen and not implementing it throughout the rest of the game until other members of the group had tested it. My first initial implementation appeared to work fine, sounds were present and everything appeared to work fine. That is until I tried holding down one of the arrow keys (ie up or down) after which an error would be reported after 10-15 seconds of holding down the button. Research into the cause resulted in me discovering that it was due to the fact that the way I had setup the sound code was that it was reinitializing the sound engine every single time a sound play event was called and due to where I had placed the code (in our menu class).

After much thought, trial and error testing I eventually solved the issue by moving the code over to our main.cpp class and having the sound initialization only occur once when the program was once used. Once the code was setup this way it worked flawlessly. The following week I had the exam for AI on the Monday and so no further was put in until after the exam was done.

This further work which was requested by Tom was to put the code in its own sound class. While this at first proved annoying to do, I eventually got that done and in doing so made the code a lot more user friendly and easier to add to later in the future since you now only had to go into the sound class and add any new sounds you`d like loaded there rather than having to sift through the main class for the sound code. All in all FAR more efficient. I was hoping that over the weeks of the holidays that followed members of the group would test out the new code and provide feedback but sadly this was not to be as everyone was either busy with other things or just wanting to relax which considering it was holidays was completely understandable.

Tom throughout the holidays began work on and completed the vast majority of the level editor for the game, which was damn fine work. I assisted throughout that time by testing out the new versions of the editor as he would fix bugs and add further features. And with that, that was the work completed over the holiday period.

Semester 2 Week 1:

On the work side of things for this week, no work was done, but during class we sat down and worked out a plan of exactly what work we all would be doing across the semester. My self imposed duties is to work further on the sound engine once it has been tested by the others in the group and to do 20-25 levels across the varying difficulty levels (easy, medium, hard and very hard) as well investigating independent games competitions that we can enter our game into once it is at a level that we are satisfied with.

So all in all not a great lot to say about week 1, but I'm looking forward to seeing the game reach the "finished" state that we hope (and will quite likely reach considering the speed that we got through tasks last semester) to reach. Besides Tom & myself no other members of the group did any work on the game over the holidays.

More in Semester 2 Week 2.

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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:51 pm

Semester 2 Week 2:

Well this week sure was an interesting one. A huge and heated argument broke out in the group about whether or not to have tutorial levels or not, instigated by Tadgh. Tadgh has stated on numerous occasions that he absolutely hates tutorial levels and doesn't want them in our game. How he expects people to just look at our game and just know how to do everything is beyond me. To me for any game working with any original ideas (which our game is jam packed with) you need tutorials to teach players how to do various actions. Otherwise players will either A) die a lot/take ages to figure things out or B) give up on your game after the first level in a lot of cases.

There was no convincing Tadgh of this however and Derrick + Matt got involved. Derrick was on the side of myself and Tom, which was that tutorials were essential, while Matt was more on the side of Tadgh (Sasha decided to sit on the fence on the issue). The argument got quite heated, but eventually it was decided that the tutorials would stay. So yay. I had wanted to start on a level I'd had nagging me all week in my head to create in class, but the editor was having issues which Tom was not able to fix until the very end of the studio class. After studio when I got home, I got started on it which I have to say ended up being the best level I've done so far for the project by a long shot. I'd even go as far as to say that its portfolio worthy (and that's saying something considering how critical I am of my work generally). Here is the end result:



This level was made possible by the changes to the game introduced with the level editor of being able to set screen dimensions and allows for VERY large levels. After completing the above level I decided to myself that I would from this moment forth only be submitting levels to the group that were of a high standard. So no more average style levels. After some contemplation I came up with a 2nd level a few days later. Here is the end result:



And the following day:



Of note with the above level is that this was the first instance by myself of a level where the camera bounce trick was designed into the level design. I hope to have atleast another 2 levels completed by the next studio class, but seeing as with the new standard in levels I've set on myself I may not get them done by then. But time will tell.

In other news I was asked by Sasha this week to do my bit on a project review of last semester which I then went and did some work on. As I typed it up I remembered an important thing that I'd forgotten about last semester, which was that I had gone into this project wanting to be a game and level designer, not a programmer for a change. So all in all my contribution to the project last semester was in actual fact alot more than I had first thought. I had been annoyed at myself at the end of last semester for not contributing more on the programming side of things, when really that wasn't my primary role in the group anyway.

For class tomorrow I'll be submitting to the group the levels I've completed so far + my ideas for what other elements we need in our game. I for one strongly think that the switch and platform classes need to be rewritten to allow for multi-platform affecting switches (meaning for switches to be able to affect more than just one platform) and platforms that can affected by multiple switches, which would allow for very complex and good challenges. Other elements I would like to see include:

*     Moving/Revolving platforms
*     A moving AI robot of some kind that the player can rebound them self off to reach otherwise unreachable places

These would add to the libray of already added elements and give level makers a greater range of challenges they can have in their levels. I highly doubt to see any of these elements agreed apon since the group is more concerned with just getting the game done from the original plan with all levels completed, but its worth a shot.

More in week 4


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:40 pm

Semester 2 Week 3:

Well not a lot to report for week 3 really. I did some work on some further levels throughout the week, which look as follows:



The above is definably the hardest level that I've made so far. I got my girlfriend (who I've had QA testing my levels for me) to play test the level for me and she was able to beat it after a few minutes. So it's not completely impossible to beat by any nature. And my girlfriend's around novice level at platforming/puzzle games. The level started off as a show of how the editor works funnily enough.

Next up I created this level:



This was done as an easy difficulty type level with multiple paths to the end (as I like to have in my levels). Overall I was quite satisfied with it.

Other than myself, Sasha has completed one really good level in which the player must balance on a stand and be shot off by a camera before being able to proceed, Tadgh has completed 3 levels (the first of which called "Lattice" is the best of the lot with overlapping polarities) and Tom has completed one level which is completely impossible to beat (or for me after 2 hours of attempting to beat it). For me I absolutely HATE levels that are completely impossible to beat for anyone other than the most hardcore of players. Sasha's opinion on the level is that the last few levels we have will only be for the most hardcore of players, where as for me I prefer levels that are beatable by everyone and are levels that people will beat and want to go back and play again.

I have an assignment for Interactive Environments due on monday so I'll not be able to complete any further levels until that assignment has been completed.

More in week 4.


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Tue Aug 17, 2010 6:24 pm

Semester 2 Week 4:

Well another week, further progressions with our game. The week didn't start off too well though as myself and Tom got into a heated dispute over that hard level of his (that I mentioned in the previous weeks blog) as I consider any level that takes 4 hours to figure out and beat too hard. Wayyyyyyyyyyyyy too hard. But after seeing some further levels of his later on in the week I began to get used to his level design style. When I design my levels I like to design for choice. No single solution levels. Levels with choices. While Tom goes more for the singular solution style levels. Once I had adjusted to this I no longer had a problem with his initial impossibly hard level. Some of his other levels were brilliant. Of particular note was a level he made called "One Button". At first it didn't click with me of the meaning behind the name as the level just seemed like another impossibly hard level. Then I tried just holding down 1 button and letting the player cube fall and to my amazement it then bounced around the level until it got to the exit and finished the level. Nice level.

Tadgh again came up with some brilliant levels. One he named "Maze", which has the player flying around a maze-like level with no gravity present, and the other was a redone-up version of an earlier level he`d released called "Well" in which he (in the new version) changed it to be from a top to bottom style level. Sasha during the week completed work on the pulsing polarities which I had requested and was very happy to see in the game. He then had been working quite heavily on the project review of semester 1 as well as checking to see how everyone was progressing on their tasks.

On my end from Monday - Thursday I was working primarily on the sound engine side of things, researching sounds that would be better for our game menu (since everyone besides myself hated the current sounds for it) as well as sounds for switches, cameras and trip-wires. For the game menu I eventually resorted to producing my own sounds by holding a microphone close to my computer desk and tapping on it with my hand, then editting the sound files created into shorter segments. The switch, and trip wire sounds I acquired via a free sounds website, and Tom put together a sound for the camera. Hearing the game play with sounds in it sure was a good sight to see Smile. Tom hated one other sound I added which was for the doors which I used a retro style level completion style sound to it. Seeing as our game has quite a retro style to it I thought it would be perfect for it, but nope he hated it.

Its times like that that I am reminded of my age (29 as of this blog) and that while I grew up with the likes of Commodore 64's and Atari 2600`s to play, not everyone else did, and as such they're not as keen to sounds that would go perfectly on games present on those systems. During studio I discovered whilst helping Gabrielle with his game (by showing him the low fidelity prototype designs I made last semester) that I discovered that my old designs were still of use with others in the group wanted to see a few of the designs I'd not turned into levels brought to life. So I have me some levels to do.

Speaking of levels, it wasn't until Sunday that I got the chance to create any levels. Here's the new levels I came up with:



This first level is a Ice platforms tutorial type level. What are ice platforms? Well Tom over the week implemented ice platforms that cause the player to slide fast in the direction they entered the platform in, making movement in the opposite direction quite hard. The above level teaches players how to deal with these types of platforms.



This second level was originally one of the low fidelity designs that had never seen the light of day. Well here it is with a few additions (the trip-wire and ice platform).

And thirdly we have:



For this one I was aiming for a HARD level. Well at first I made a level was a little too hard to the point that I couldn't even beat it, so had to make several alterations till it was at a beatable state. The end result you see above. Other than levels, I went in and renamed all of the tutorial and unnamed levels to have level names which either suited their function / gameplay or to just uniquely identify them. And that was week 4.

While our game is progressing VERY nicely I have one major concern and that is of scope creep and in people not getting their quota of levels (25 each) done.

Here's the current levels count by each team member:

Me     - 19
Sasha - 1
Tadgh - 5
Tom    - 6

As you can see above we have a VERY long way to go if we're to meet our 100 level target. Early days still ofcourse. But as I know from experience having been making levels for this for the past 6 months it can take considerable amounts of time to come up with good levels. But time will tell anyways.

More in week 5.


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Sun Aug 22, 2010 7:05 pm

Semester 2 Week 5:

Well this sure was an interesting week for me, though not on the game design front. In studio this week Sasha assigned me the task of implementing a new text display/font system into Bipolar since GLUT does not support any other font but mono roman, and also only supports 3-4 text sizes. A change in the game text font was requested by Derrick in the studio class which was a large reason behind the need for the change as well.

So over the following days I set to work on getting a new text font system into our game. At first it seemed a near impossible task as there was practically no systems that I could find that were compatible with both PC and Mac. After hours of searching I eventually found one called "Free Type 2" which was and I thought my problems were over. Nope sure weren't. None of the damn tutorials worked in visual studio. I spent several hours slaving away at it without success, until at 4am in the morning (I was VERY determined to get this working) that I came across an addition download for it, which was for an Free Type 2 wrapper (a wrapper does the same features but in less code and often has additional features) called "Free Type GL" (or FTGL for short).

FTGL atleast had a fair few tutorials online, except that none of them bloody worked either. And so I went back to standard Free Type 2 and continued my work on that. Eventually I achieved success, discovering that the reason none of the tutorials worked (I kept getting external symbol errors) was because I needed to link the free type 2 library file to the visual studio project + have some free type 2 dll files in our bipolar directory. As soon as I made that change, the tutorials worked, but they required HUGE amounts of code (several hundred lines) just to display a single line of text, so I moved over again to FTGL and using the lessons learned getting Free Type 2 to work, did the same (linking the libray file + copying over dll files) thing to fix the errors and at 6am in the morning finally got a single word to display on screen. Yay.

After getting a good amount of sleep I then got back to work on it. I set myself the goal of getting the following features implemented in my new text system:

* Ability to position text where you want it
* Use of whatever font you like aslong as the font was in the font folder of our game
* Ability to change the color of text

The first initial problem to overcome was that all text was appearing in the bottom left of the screen so the ability to position text was needed. A few hours later that was overcome. I then needed our game to be able to use whatever in the hell font you liked in it, so set to work on that and after a few hours that was in. Though it only can use a font thats been programmed into its list of available fonts and one which we have font file within our fonts folder to use. Finally we needed the ability to color text. An hour later that was in Smile. Double yay.

With this in our game I FINALLY feel that I have made a huge contribution to our game on the programming side of things. Last semester I was very down on myself for not helping more, which in setting this + the sound engine up has redeemed myself I feel. With this completed I will (unless something big comes up) for the rest of this semester be focusing 100% on level design and sound implementation where needed.

Great week for me this one. Even if I didn't contribute any further levels. Oh and speaking of levels in studio Sasha, Tadgh and Tom contributed more levels. Of Tadgh's new levels only half of them were beatable since they were designed to include elements which we do not have in our game yet (mines and pinball machine style bumpers).

So for this week here is the level count:

Jason: 19
Sasha: 2
Tadgh: 11
Tom: 8

More in week 6

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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Sun Aug 29, 2010 9:37 pm

Semester 2 Week 6:

Well there's not a lot to report from my end for this week. Tom made some vast changes to the text display code I made without advising me of it prior which REALLY ticked me off. Why did it tick me off? Well if you recall my previous blog from last week, I had spent 2 full days working hard on it to get it to the point that it was at. He could very easily have advised me of the changes that were required and let me do it, but instead he went in and did it all himself. I know he is the main programmer for our group, but I thought the whole point of taking on a task / trying something new in programming was to learn yourself. When someone else just comes along and throws out nearly all that you've done and replaces it with their own, its the equivalent of someone retyping an assignment you'd written and saying it wasn't good enough and you learn nothing (since you only get to see the end result rather than coding it yourself). Sure I could be looking at this the wrong way and probably am but that's the way in which I see it. To top it off, he only told me of the changes after he'd done them and said that I'd get to see the changes in class on Thursday (it was Monday night at the time of this) and basically told me off about the way I'd done the code. No thank you for the work I'd done or anything. I was quite annoyed for a few days after that I'll admit.

If your wondering of what was needing change in the code I'd done it was that the code would load the font file every single time a line of text was drawn to screen which is fair enough. He changed the code to do all of the font loading when Bipolar is first run instead. Much better and less taxing on frame rates on the overall whole. In studio he showcased the code at work (after some further bug fixings) with full implementation of it in the game. Overall it looks quite good and a vast improvement over the standard glut text display functions.

In other news Sasha over the course of the week completed coding of both mines and pinball style bumpers. Mines like in other games kill on direct impact with the player, and the pinball bumpers bump the player in the opposite direction that they impacted the bumper at. Whats left for both the mines and bumpers is a graphical redesign as both in their current form don't look that good or accurate to how we saw them looking (in our heads) so he's hard at work at that. During studio I sat down with Tadgh and assisted with the selection of how the mines and bumpers should look. Once the redesigns are complete (hopefully by next week) I'll get to work on tutorial levels for both as well as a pinball style level that I've been eagerly awaiting to do.

One important element of this week was of music. Music is in the majority of cases an important element in any game and Bipolar is no different. Where opinions differ is in how it should sound and the format. Tadgh is wanting 8 bit nintendo style music while Tom is more after far more modern deep hum style music with random sound placement across it. Out of the 2 ideas I'd have to say that I'm more for Tom's idea, though I don't like the idea of random sound placement throughout.

To me great music is the kind that is both memorable and replayable. By replayable I mean that you can go back and play that same level and hear the tune you enjoyed. Under Tom's random sound placement idea that would be impossible as the tune you hear on a level on one play will differ on the next. Tom also wants us to just have 1 song playing throughout the entire game with the random sounds in place. This to me sounds terrible as after a few levels the music despite its uniqueness of sound placement would still start to sound very same-ish. I'd far prefer to just have the hum style music in the background and have several tunes throughout the course of the game of between 5-10 tunes.

Speaking of music I set to work on the weekend to implement ogg music playback into the game which turned into a bit of a nightmare. Why is it a nightmare? well it requires multi-threading inorder to work which I've not been taught in any programming subject in my life, and so have absolutely no idea of how to do. Tom & Sasha are currently covering that exact topic in C++ apps (the uni subject) so I may need to delegate this one to them. Time will tell on that one.

I'm still quite concerned that everyone is focusing too much on the programming side of things and not concentrating more on actually creating the levels that will make our game. I've set myself the goal of making another 5 levels across the start of next week.

Research:

This week I played a fair bit of Assassin's Creed 2. Damn fine game. Some of its jumping puzzles give me some ideas for challenges in Bipolar. Been playing an old 1997 game called "Unreal" a fair bit as well. Game I absolutely loved years back. Great fun playing that again.

The level count for this week remains unchanged.

Jason: 19
Sasha: 2
Tadgh: 11
Tom: 8

Total: 32 levels
Group Goal: 100 levels


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Sun Sep 05, 2010 8:40 pm

Semester 2 Week 7:

Another week, another round of progress on Bipolar. Throughout the majority of this week I was working on implementing music playback into the game and so went to work looking into tutorials on ALUT and how it was dealt with there. The first big problem I ran into there was that music playback done in the tutorials was done with a while loop (a loop in code that does not complete until a condition has been met basically), which would be useless to put into our game as that would cause the game to pause until an entire music track was completed. On advising Tom & Sasha of this I was advised that multithreading was required in-order to get it to work. Now I have zero experience with doing any sort of multithreading in any game or program so had absolutely no idea of how to do that.

Over the next few days I looked up tutorials on multithreading in the hopes of finding something that would be of use, but sadly all the tutorials online for it either A) didn`t work, or B) did work, but not with any sort of sound/music code placed within it. On advising Sasha of this I was advised that we weren't going to do mp3 or ogg playback anymore since wav files do music in better quality. GAH, wish he'd told me that several days earlier. The time however was not wasted as learning multithreading is of good experience in programming anyway. In the time I was looking into multithreading I also invested time into investigating other audio engines we could use for our game but all required a licensing fee of some sort if it was to be used in a commerical/for profit game, so that put those out of the question.

So no matter, in studio class this week Sasha showed off his latest work on the look of mines and bumpers which looked great I must say. Though he wasn't satisfied with it and wouldn't give the new drawing code for either of them until he felt it was complete which wont be till next week. Besides the redesigns we have all the gameplay elements that we planned to have, besides my idea for physics volumes (areas of levels which would have different levels of gravity to others), so its pretty much just sound research/implementation and level creation from here on.

So in either case, during studio I set to work on the level that I had had stuck in my head all week, waiting to be done in the level editor. What level was this? A pinball level Smile.



What you see above is the finished version of the level. During class I only had the bottom half of it more or less in working order, but needed a few fixes here and there done.

I noticed when I went off to speak with some people during studio that if I left my PC unattended with the pinball level up on screen and available for play that people would sneak over and have a quick play. Interesting stuff. I've noticed that whenever I design a level around a recognizable theme such as the above mentioned pinball, backgammon etc that people get really excited and want to play it. With this in mind I've started researching old board games and devices for inspirations for levels. I spent the next few days thinking of possible ideas. The first idea that came to me was of the old board game "Snakes and Ladders" that I used to play often as a kid, and then set to work on a level based on its layout.



Now while obviously we don't have the mechanics in place within Bipolar to allow for the Snakes and Ladders game-play elements of teleporting players to locations on the board against their control, I did the best I could with what game play elements I have available and ended up with what you see above. Snakes and Ladders is also the second level I've done to feature a complete lack of gravity. Other than tutorial levels for bumpers and mines which I intend to do soon, I've decided that my next few levels (at the very least) will be based around themes that players/people will quickly be able to recognize and increase the "fun" factor in the game. A few level themes I've thought of and might do levels based on are:

*  Abacus (wooden style tool used to calculate totals before calculators were invented)
*  Benga
*  Compass

I'll do more as the ideas come to me.

In studio this week it came to light that my text display engine has one major flaw. It slows the game down significantly Sad. Quite strange that text display code does that. Tom was of the opinion that it cant be fixed and we should just use the crappy looking GLUT fonts, but Sasha decided to take the task of attempting to fix it once he's done on the bumpers and mines. So fingers crossed that he finds a way.

Over the weekend I also set to work on finding sounds for bumpers and mines. A sound for bumpers I eventually found and later did some research into a good sound for magnet use (by the player object). For ages now, I'd been wanting some kindof sound to played when the player used polarity so when I found a good sound, it was great to finally see that in. The sound I went with was of a fan. The wind-like sound it makes. I had tried to find "space ship thruster sounds" online but none were available, and the fan noise I found more fitted the sound I had in my head for how it should sound. I find find sound research and implementation to be quite interesting and fun. Nice change of pace from programming and level design.

Music wise, Tadgh advised that he had told his friend not to worry about doing the music for our game since he felt that the music he would create wouldn't fit the style of our game. Would have been nice to hear what his friend had come up with, but ah well.

Lastly on the subject of levels, Tom completed 4 levels prior to studio on thursday. So with these levels + my 2 new levels our level count for the week looks like:

Jason: 21
Sasha: 2
Tadgh: 10 (Reduced by 1 as one of his levels was uncompleteable)
Tom: 12

Total: 45 levels
Group Goal: 100 levels


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:05 pm

Semester 2 Week 8:

Not alot to report from my end for this week. With sounds for all elements besides Mines in the game I set to work on a new level that I'd had in my head for the past few days which involves a huge triangle in the center of the screen. I completed half of the level but it still has some ways to go before its completion. I also made some changes to the pinball level I mentioned last week to implement fixes for spots where players get stuck. Sasha has asked that I assist him in the creation of the website for our game. What assistance am I to give? feedback on what looks good/does not etc. My plans for the course of the rest of the week and into next week is to finish off the level I started on, do tutorial levels for bumpers and mines + find a good sound for the mines.

During studio Matt & Sasha went through possible level ideas for more levels. Was some good ideas put forward.

This week Tom fully implemented the new menu system. Looks pretty damn good I must say. This new version also has the completed pinball and mines so I finally have those to play with. Yay. And yeah thats about it for the week. Not alot to say for this compared to this one since at this stage we're more finishing off things and not introducing any game changing features.

There's not been much talk on music still. I hope its not left as a last minute afterthought since music is just as important as sound in setting the mood for a game.

Speaking of music/sound, it has come to light this week that our group is the only one in studio that had/has sound design as an important task in their game. I don't recall any of the other groups in studio having sound in their games, so for once I'll give myself a pat on the back as the introduction of sound/music was something I REALLY PUSHED for towards the end of semester 1 and took on personally to ensure that it got into the game. Was a great learning experience for myself in regards to sound implementation in the process as well. So all in all it bettered my programming skills along the way.

Whilst working on it + on the vast majority of levels in semester 2 it really helped me on my big question of which way I wanted to go after uni. Programmer or Game Designer. Game designer got the pick in the end, as while I definitely enjoy programming I am at heart more of a programmer of the 80s/90s (non object oriented programming style) rather than the newer programming styles used now of the object oriented style. I also find in general that I vastly more enjoy designing levels compared to fixing bugs in code/programming new things. Don't get me wrong though I do love programming. I just enjoy the design more so. Hope I get a job in it when uni is done. Fingers crossed. Sure the money is more with programming jobs, but I never for a second entered this course with intention of making big money. Being in a job I love is the focus. For me I compare watching someone look at a program I've coded, and watching someone play a level I've created and there's a huge difference there. So games design it is.

The level count for this week remains the same as the previous week.

Jason: 21
Sasha: 2
Tadgh: 10
Tom: 12

Total: 45 levels
Group Goal: 100 levels

Sasha advised during studio that we'll likely ditch the 100 level goal and focus on quality over quantity. On the overall whole I agree though I feel that if everyone focused on levels for even a single week we'd have an extra 20 levels, but seeing as I'm "the level guy" as Tom has referred to me as often I HIGHLY doubt that will happen.

It was asked of me in studio feedback the question "WHY have you guys been successful?". Well the answer to that question (in my opinion) is of the great overall leadership of Sasha, the group-based decision process we've used since day 1 (despite the arguments we've had on some topics, which all ultimately led to good things anyway), the diverse skill range of group members (ie Tom's excellent at programming and ok at level design, Tadgh is quite good on the art side and damn great at level design, Sasha's excellent at programming and great at level design when he does them, and I'm good at programming (aslong as it has nothing to do with vectors) and excellent with level design + sound design). All of these things combined led to a group where people were in the roles best suited to them, which ultimately led to the game reaching the state that it is currently at.

Could things have been done better? Ofcourse. There is always room for improvement. Team communication could have been done better (Tadgh is extremely difficult to contact when its not studio class) & team members should have been given the chance to fix / make better, the tasks they worked on, or at the very least given better direction on how to better do their task. But either way, we have a game that (to my knowledge) has progressed further than any other game done in studio so far + has a good chance of succeeding commercially outside of uni, and that people find to be a fun game to play.

Looking forward to seeing how the game looks by end of semester Smile.

More in week 9.


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:51 pm

So its week 9 already. Damn time flies.

Well there was some good and some annoying (for me) progress this week. Sasha completed work on his redone up version of the text display engine which I must say looks quite good and has none of the slowdown that was present in the versions both myself and Tom attempted.

In annoying news Tom threw out ALL of the sound engine code I'd done and replaced it with one that uses the SDL 1.2 sound library. I have to say that it was quite annoying to see the code and all my hard work removed from the project. I'd invested a considerable amount of time into getting the sound code to work with Bipolar. With all that said however SDL straight off the bat plays ogg files better than openAL / ALUT ever did and apparently plays mp3 files as well. So while I'm annoyed since both my text engine and sound engines got removed, sacrifice for the greater good of the project is an essential process in the development of any game or application, and is a lesson that I needed to learn to be able to handle at some point or another. Better it be now, than when I'm out in the industry. And at least we finally have working music on the PC side of things now.

Speaking of music I REALLY feel that we need far more variety in our music. At present we have a 1 minute looping tune (that Tom made a while ago) and that plays through all 45 levels of the game. I have to say that after a good 6-10 levels, the tune starts to get a bit old. In studio I made mention of this and was advised to go and try my hand at making some music if I want more music in the game, which is a fair enough statement. So try I did. I spent a good few hours over the weekend trying my hand at music creation. Made one tune that sounded ok, but I'd never made a tune in my life before so obviously it sounded pretty average. I might try and make another tune at a later point.

Tadgh completed his work on the testing document / questionnaire for testers to fill out when testing our game. I hope that it provides us with good information in the times ahead of what works and what doesn't. In studio I continued work on my Pyramid level. It is still not yet at a completed state so you wont be seeing it in this blog update.

Sasha asked that I assist with font creation so I'll be assisting with that over the next few days. Definitely getting my fingers into a bit of everything this semester. Level design, programming, sound design + implementation, music creation, text implementation and now font creation. I wanted to invest more time into studio this semester and boy did I get my wish on that one.

More in week 10.

The level count this week remains unchanged as it seems that I am the only one still putting time into level design.

Jason: 21
Sasha: 2
Tadgh: 10
Tom: 12

Total: 45 levels
Group Goal: 100 levels


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Tue Sep 28, 2010 4:14 pm

So another week rolls on again. On my end this week I began with further work on improving the music tune I developed last week. Spent a good few hours on it, learning about music creation I went along. When it was at a state that fixed up the concerns of Sasha on my earlier version (sounded too tribal, was nothing in the middle) I felt it was time to see what a new person thought of it, and so I sent it off to Tadgh. This new version featured more subtle drum beats in the background to add more of a variety to the tune and I removed the tribal-type sounds. Well Tadgh loved it but had some small issues (music sounded alittle off beat in in some bits, end of song happens abruptly) so I set to work and fixed those up.

Tom on the night of me announcing to him of my tune in development got very grilling with questions and we had a bit of an argument over it since he was worried about whether or not the tune featured sounds/sound loops that were not royalty free. Once I showed him without doubt that it was all royalty free content that shut him up. On the same night Sasha apologized to me over Tom's actions in the week prior (completely removing my sound engine without any consultation whatsoever with myself even though sound was my area in our game). I'm over the sound issue since at the end of the day it plays more formats of music that the original sound engine didn't.

In studio I FINALLY finished off my "Pyramid" level:



This level is the first in the game to feature multi-directional switches (switches that affect more than just one singular platform) which was done via having multiple switches all at the same position on screen, thus creating the multi-directional affect. Looks awesome in practice. In the above picture you'll also notice the new looking door which is now a green swirling vortex. Looks great ingame.

Later in the week I sat and thought for a while of what would be my final level as with its creation I would have my original target of 25 levels completed. So I sat and thought of what I could do. In sitting down with my girlfriend and watching her playing the Pyramid level I had said to her at one point "it requires a leap of faith to get done", and this set off an idea in my head of having a level where the outcome of a jump / leap could not be ascertained until you did it. Hence the eventual name of the level "A Leap of Faith" as you will see below:



The above level just as with "Pyramid" features multi-directional switches, which if you hit any of them in the level cause all of the neutral platforms to switch over to their chosen polarities as seen below:



Its hard to convey the gameplay in pictures ofcourse, but if you hit a switch then those platforms that are off switch to on, and those on switch to off. I put trip-wires along the bottom of the screen as I intended for this to be a HARD level, and for the gameplay style I wanted to create in the level of not seeing the polarity that you were planning on using, but taking a leap of faith that you would hit the next switch and be able to use it. Creates for quite interesting gameplay. Very difficult.

Also last week I forgot to mention that I completed the tutorial levels for Bumpers and Mines which looks as follows:



The above is the bumpers tutorial level, where the player has to guide the cube via jump(s) from bumpers to reach the exit. Next up:



Above is the tutorial level for mines where the player must traverse past a sea of mines of reach the exit.

With all of these additions our levels total has jumped slightly:

Jason: 25
Sasha: 2
Tadgh: 10
Tom: 12

Total: 49 levels
Group Goal: 100 levels

Over next week which is our 1 week "mid-semester" holiday Sasha has said that he'll do at least one tune for the game, and I might do one more as I strongly feel that we NEED at the very least 4 music tracks in the game, as if a person was to sit and play our game from beginning to end it would take them a considerable amount of time. Better that they have some good background music to accompany that, than 1 or 2 songs repeated every 5 mins (my tune goes for 4 minutes and Toms goes for 1 minute).

So I'll add on an extra team total for music creations.

Jason: 1
Sasha: 0
Tadgh: 0
Tom: 1

Total: 2 Tracks
Group Goal: 4 Tracks (more would be better)

So as I said my goal over the next week will be to maybe do one more track, and possibly another level to make it an even 50 levels. Time will tell there.

More in holiday blog update special.


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:48 pm

Holiday Blog Update

Well there's really not a great deal to say about my work on Bipolar during the 1 week mid-semester holiday break period. At the end of my last blog I mentioned that I may or may not do 1 extra level and 1 extra tune to even things up. Of the 2 things I ended up doing a final level to make the level total a even 50:



During the typing up of my last blog, I recalled a very old Atari 2600 Game by the name of "Fishing Derby, which was a game I greatly enjoyed as a child, and seeing as I had been wanting to do an underwater level for QUITE some time figured why the hell not and set to work on it, and had it completed a short while after. The original game looks like:



So obviously you can see the similarities, but the overall gameplay is COMPLETELY different in the level I made. On the overall whole the level I made which I named "Fishing" is a very easy level that can be completed in seconds. What I was going for with the level, was to create something with a nice theme that is more about how fast you can beat it, rather than going for an extremely hard level unlike my past few levels.

Other than level design that's pretty much it for me during the holiday break. Sasha began work on the tune he planned to do. I had a listen and it sounds pretty good, though the beats in the background are a little off and the tune ends far too quickly. I asked Sasha if he'd make the tune go for atleast 4 minutes as we really need long tunes rather than short ones considering how few songs we have in the game. And that's about it really for the holidays.

I'd have done the additional tune I'd hoped to do, but just didn't have the time due to a Interactive Environments assignment that I needed to work on. With my new level done that brings up the level total slightly.

Jason: 26
Sasha: 2
Tadgh: 10
Tom: 12

Total: 50 levels
Group Goal: 100 levels

At this stage 50 levels is perfectly fine as a total. We need to have our game in a "finished" state by October 14th if we're to enter into a independent games competition that we plan on entering. The music total remains unchanged:

Jason: 1
Sasha: 0
Tadgh: 0
Tom: 1

Total: 2 Tracks
Group Goal: 4 Tracks

More in week 11.


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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Sun Oct 10, 2010 7:21 am

Week 11:

So, some more progress done this week. And some annoyances.

Firstly this week I eventually got around to doing that 2nd tune I had planned on doing which I called "Up & Down" when thinking of the cube going up and down off polarity platforms. I put the song together over 2 hours and that was it pretty much. And surprisingly everyone loved it straight away. No arguments with Tom over it. Nothing. Wow.

So with the deadline for the IGF competition nearing (October 18th) I've been volunteering to assist in speeding up anything that's in need of assistance to get done. This week we FINALLY took on and got done the job of creating multiple backgrounds, which all ended up being space ones. I tried my hand at some, but Tom hated them, so he ended up doing them all. Whatever.

I noticed this week that Sasha has become REALLY unmotivated with the game as a whole, and didn't do the tune he had planned on doing. He even said out loud that he's unmotivated. Hmm. I'll likely do an extra tune to make up for the one he didn't end up doing since I enjoy making music.

Another duty I did this week was getting all the levels into a proper order. The order as it was was nearly fine but needed some fine tuning. Tom assisted me with this and we got into one disagreement over where one level should go (a level teaching the camera jump move) as I felt it should go in the tutorial section. I asked Sasha for his opinion and he literaly swore at me. What the hell. Anyways, he agreed with Tom over that level, so it went where they wanted.

A source of concern and major annoyance became apparent this week. I've raised up this issue several times across this semester that we should sell our game online for a few dollars, since we have a game that's unique, fun to play and something that's great to waste a few minutes on when you want to waste a few minutes. Perfect formula for making us all some money. I know that the entire goal of doing this course isn't to make money, but still you have to face the fact that we all need money. So anyway, every single time I've brought this up with the group the response has been like "meh we should put it out for free to get our names out there" which is just crazy. If we release our game for free on a game which people would gladly pay to play. We cause two very likely events to occur:

1. We lose out bigtime on a chance at making some good money to support ourselves throughout the rest of our lives
2. For someone else to steal our idea and go make essentially the same game, and then go sell it for money

I've been trying to convince the other team members of this but I keep getting either no responses at all (Tom, Tadgh) or we should put it out for free (Sasha). Absolutely damn crazy. Grrr. I'm considering stating that if any free release is to occur that we either put out a shareware / trial version out with the first 10-15 levels and no sounds/music or that it be without my levels, music and sounds, since I am ABSOLUTELY against a free release, and all of that content was produced by myself and as such copyrighted to me. Don't expect that to go down well if I go through with it.

More in week 12.

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Semester 2 Week 12:

Post  Kenshinn on Mon Oct 18, 2010 4:15 pm

Well an interesting week this was.

To make up for Sasha's not done tune last week I set to work on my final (or so I thought at the time) tune. I spent a good 4 hours on it and eventually ended up with something that sounded alright. Like my previous tune "Up & Down" I went for a moderately fast beat tune that served as good background music. Towards the end of its development Tom asked me if I could take on the job of doing the music for our upcoming (to be released on youtube) trailer video. He even mentioned that this was since my music had been good so far, and that I was better at it than he was. Yay finally some acknowledgment.

The following day I sat down my girlfriend and had her listen to "Goal in Sight" (the tune I'd done the night before) and she liked it, but felt it was alittle repetitive. I sat my mother down and had her listen to it shortly after and she felt the same. Grr. Other than that they liked it though.

Later that night with this in mind I set to work on the music for the trailer. Roughly 2 hours later I had the music done, and holy hot damn, this was the best tune I'd ever done. No repeating bits, change in beats and sounds throughout the tune, and a tune with a clear start and end, AND it went perfectly with the trailer. If anything it MADE the trailer. A tune I was truly proud of. The following day I gave the tune to Tom in studio and we had the finished trailer video up on youtube not long afterward. Having our video on youtube just felt really awesome. Instilled a real sense of accomplishment in our groups work.

One major argument erupted in studio started by myself. If you recall my previous weeks blog I mentioned how STRONGLY I felt that we should sell our game. Well I brought this up in studio again and this time I brought it up alot more strongly. Sasha again voiced the fact that he would prefer it go for free and that "we'd get more notice out there of ourselves in the industry if it was free" I basically told him that that was a load of bull and that we'd get just as much notice whether we charged for it or not, and that people have been charging for games since the entire games industry came into existence. In the 80s lone coders sat in their rooms, coded for 6 months on a game on their own and then sold it and made heaps. We'd be doing something similar, just with a few people. Sasha also said that selling it would be completely immoral. What is immoral about making money from a game you worked hard on and truly believe is a good game?

I pretty much argued this point and Sasha eventually gave in. Tadgh had the idea of us releasing a demo prior to the games release. I modified this idea and said why not release the demo, see how well it goes and if successful then release the full version at a price. And so finally I got some notice and agreement on my idea of selling the game. Yay Smile. Sasha + Matt later commented that we should sell Bipolar T-shirts and coffee mugs. I think that's absolutely ridiculous and milking people of their money. Sasha also on later discussion revealed to me that he thinks that our game is mediocre. What the hell. We're the first Monash studio group to have a fully done game by end of a year, first to have a game that's as polished as ours is, first to have fully self done music, first to have so many levels in their game etc. How in the hell is that a mediocre game? I responded that I'm on the absolute opposite end, and that I think our game is fantastic. Hence why I'm so adamant about selling it. If anything I am nothing but proud of the work that everyone has done on our game and believe that we have done a damn fine job on a game that's overall pretty damn awesome.

One thing I would have liked was some acknowledgment for the work I've done on Bipolar. Sure I didn't code the cube, objects etc, but I did do a hell of a lot of sound research and implementation, done over half the levels in the game and almost all of the music. And after all that, every time the subject of the development of our game comes up, all I ever hear is how good Tom is and how good his programming was. Without my work our game would have no sound or music, have only 25 levels and quite likely wouldn't be in any competitions. I'm not trying to steal the lime light. Tom did a fantastic job on the coding end. All I'm saying is I did a pretty damn huge contribution to the game as well. Getting some acknowledgment, rather than always just being reminded of how little work I contributed in semester 1 gets REALLY frustrating at times. I've not mentioned this in my blogs till now, and this will probably be the only time I mention it. Just a MAJOR annoyance I've had all semester as its something that's come up in nearly every studio class this semester.

With the release later that night of our trailer video onto youtube also came the release of our website for public viewing which was an excellent thing to finally see. Tom this week fixed the final major bug in our game also, which was of the game having only white backgrounds on certain computers in the B block building at campus. Tom discovered that this was due to the images not being in a 2 by 2 dimensions. Changing it to 2 by 2 fixed it. Cool. The only other major bug I know of, is invisible platforms which I've seen occur in one of my levels. No idea what the cause of it is.

By Saturday the 18th the deadline for the IGF (Independent Games Festival) comp was nearing so myself and Tom did the entries for both the student and main competitions for that festival (Tom did the submission for the student one and I did the one for the main comp since it required a $95 credit card charge).

And with that our game is now 100% done. All levels done, music done, coding done, all done. The other thing I did this week once our trailer and website were up was of promoting our game online. To this end I created forum topics on:

* Rock, Paper, shotgun
* TTLG (Through The Looking Glass)
* Retroremakes
* Kotaku

And sent emails regarding our game to ign.com, rock paper shotgun, gamestop, penny arcade and a few others. One issue arose on the RPS (Rock, paper, shotgun) forums which I'd long forgotten about. The name of our game. Many posters commented on the worldwide communities association of the word "Bipolar" with the mental condition of the same name. I had similar issues during the initial first few weeks of our game having that name, but I now no longer see an issue with it. I hope that the gamer community at large follows in my foot steps on that front.

With Bipolar completed I now look to the future and wonder what to work on next. On the indie hobbies side of things I still need to finish off my space invaders remake that myself and James Siddel have been working on, and whatever else I choose to work on. What to work on is now the big question since due to being busy with uni work all semester, the thought of just bumming around relaxing for a few weeks feels completely wrong and alien to me. Shock horror.

Final totals list for Bipolar:

Levels:

Jason: 26
Sasha: 2
Tadgh: 10
Tom: 12

Total: 50 levels
Group Goal: 100 levels

Music:

Jason: 4
Sasha: 0
Tadgh: 0
Tom: 1

Total: 5 Tracks (4 ingame, 1 for the trailer)
Group Goal: 5 Tracks

From here all work is completed so there's not alot to say. But I'll keep you updated.

More in week 13.

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Re: Games Studio Blog

Post  Kenshinn on Thu Nov 18, 2010 1:16 pm

Update on events since week 12.

No`one will likely read this blog entry since its beyond the yearly uni semesters but I make this entry anyways for the sake of note keeping.

Week 13 - Presentation was conducted, all went pretty damn well I have to say. I usually don't do well presenting
to theaters full of people but I think I did quite well as did the group. The only down point of the entire presentation was of Sasha turning off the trailer video too early. He thought there was nothing left to say about it, but the point of the trailer video wasn't to speak, but for the video to speak for itself in showing exactly what we had accomplished. But no matter, the presentation went good and we received alot of positive praise and questions by students afterward.

In the weeks since (I type this blog on the 18th of November 2010 many weeks since the presentation) not alot has happened in regards to Bipolar. That is until today, but I'll get to that later. Shortly after the presentation I said to Tom online that I'd be happy to help make the demo version of Bipolar for public consumption only to be told that "we'd be waiting till 2012 if you were coding it". He can go jump as far as that is concerned.

After that, not a hell of alot happened. A week ago I went for a job interview for a games design intern position at "the Voxel agents" a company known for mobile games, which I can directly attribute Bipolar as assisting me in getting the interview. If your wondering how the interview went and if I got the job or not, well I absolutely slaughtered the interview. Probably the best I've ever done in an interview. The interview questions were almost entirely all about Bipolar strangely. I'd sent them a private download link to Bipolar so they could see exactly what kind of game design I can do, and man did that work. Sadly I didn't get the job though. I got down to the final 2. One good thing came out of it however a meeting to discuss assistance in helping us market Bipolar.

And that fast forwards us to today. Today myself and the group met with the Voxel agents to discuss Bipolar and advice / options of where to take it. The meeting itself went fine, though they mentioned one option that I did not like the sound of AT ALL. What option was that? that they take over development of Bipolar, spend 6 months solidly on it, then release it commercially. Why am I against it? because they will take all the work we've done, all the music, everything and change it / remove it. When I said I wanted to try and sell Bipolar that was NEVER what I meant. Sadly at a later group meeting the same day, everyone but myself decided that they wanted to do that option and have us getting a percentage of the profits. Sasha & Tadgh both in the meeting with Voxel and in our later talk mentioned that they had considered Bipolar to be only a student project and tired of working on it. Tom in the team meeting said that he didn't want to be doing all the work again. Seriously comments like that really tick me off. All the work I did across semester 2 was a hell of alot of work. He certainly DID NOT do all the damn work. That was exactly the type of comment I had been half expecting for a long time. Grrr.

I had been looking forward to the challenge of turning Bipolar into a fully professional level stage game, and instead now I can only sit back and hope for good fortunes to come, rather than taking it on myself which annoys the hell out of me. But ah well I'll survive. And it'll mean good money potentially, but its just not how or the way that I wanted to do it. If Bipolar was to succeed we could have done this on our own and gotten much huger profits as well. Oh well. If I have anything to add or news on the Voxel agents version of our game I'll update this blog with info. Till then, this is Jason Free lead games designer of Bipolar signing off.


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