Teasing a future project

•February 3, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Well, you’ve seen a few videos about this “platformer-tombraider-ish-game” thing I’ve been working on.

I’m still working out a few details (mechanics, story, etc.), but my idea is to make some sort of sci-fi platformer. I plan to post updates as I have more to share. In the meantime, you can go to this page and download the tiny sandbox level I’m using to test and debug the mechanics.

http://www.indiedb.com/games/untitled-3d-platformer

Enola sequel, spin-off, whatever?

•January 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

So, what am I working on now? I am currently balancing between the Nightmare mode for Enola and a new project (somewhat unrelated to the “platforming” thing I’ve been showing).

Some people have asked if I plan to make a sequel to Enola, or something like that. To be honest, I would love to make a sequel, spin-off, prequel or something like that, but that will greatly depend on how well the game does.

If you’ve already played Enola, you may have noticed there are some things that are not resolved, and there are a few characters that aren’t explored much. Actually I have the biography and backstory for pretty much any character in the game, as well as the story of what happens next. What I’d like to explore first is Enola’s backstory, because she comes from a very different background.

So, will there be a sequel, prequel, spin-off, something? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we finish Nightmare mode and work on the next game. If everything goes as we expect, we will be showing you the next game at some point in May.

See you soon-ish!

My adventurer controller is animated (sorta)

•December 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Hello again.

Well, if there’s something you should know about me is that I’m always wondering what to do next, and right now I am working on a new videogame project, a adventurer controller project (this one is more like a personal project), and also supervising what’s being done for the Nightmare Mode in Enola (I’m also doing some work myself, but most of the work is being done by other people).

That new videogame project is something I can’t talk about right now, but I can tell you it’s going to be a multiplayer thing.

The adventurer controller project is something I’ve mentioned before, and I even wrote about it on a previous post. Right now, pretty much all the functionality is already in, and what I need to do is to add animations.

capture

To make things easier, I just added Enola’s model. I just removed her long flowing hair and switched her dress for some pants (a modified version of one of her alternate costumes). Her idle, walking and running animations are the ones made for the game, but the jumping and climbing animations are just half-baked animations I’m using to check how the thing works.

I’m currently missing a couple of animations, and then it’s a matter of cleaning up, optimizing and bug fixing, but I should be done soon-ish.

I have an idea for a game where I could use this controller, but I’m thinking the controller will be open enough to be used in almost any kind of third person game.

You can see a video of the progress so far below:

In other news, someone on the Steam forum said about Enola. It was a short but pretty cool comment IMO:

forumpost

 

See you next week. BTW, I began writing on my Catholicism Wow blog again, so feel free to check it out if you feel like it.

Back to my Unity Experiments

•November 26, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Well, last months were somewhat crazy, finishing Enola and all that (even if it’s not yet finished, heh), but now I can finally go back to Unity.

As I’ve said before (on this blog), I am switching to Unity. I got PlayMaker and a few other modules, and I’ve been working on a few experiments. One of them is a platformer-ish controller using PlayMaker:

This is a couple of weeks old, but you can get a pretty good idea of what I’m going after. Right now I already have edge-climbing and wall-jumping functionality. I can also jump from one edge to the next, vertically.

My plan is to use something like this for a game project. I can’t say much about it other than it will use these platformer-ish mechanics à la Tomb Raider.

More about this in the next months Smile

Here’s an idea: stupid choices

•November 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

So I was having a conversation completely unrelated to gaming or development in general, and I pulled out one of the last scenes in “500 days of Summer”

After a while I kept remembering that scene, and how small choices can affect a big outcome, and then I began to think about games where choices are important.

In these games, choices are usually presented as important, or rather you’re told they are important so you know your choice will matter somehow. But in real life, many little things can translate to big consequences.

So, I wondered what if you’re able to choose an answer for stupid questions, like if you want to go to this or that place, or if you want to wear this or that outfit, and then have that choice affect a story or gameplay element later in the game? The outcome would be somewhat obscure so players who are curious to play more than once can choose “stupid option number two” and see changes in the game system.

When I say “stupid choices” I mean things that don’t sound interesting or important at all. So, maybe choosing this or that answer in a dialogue tree doesn’t count as “stupid choice” but choosing between the red dress or the blue jeans with white shirt is; or choosing to drink coffee or tea in the virtual café is a stupid choice, but talking to the counter dude who’ll give you an optional quest doesn’t fall in that category.

I am mostly interested on story-driven games, so one option could be to go to place A or B, or decide to leave place A or stay there to see what happens, and depending on that choice you end up meeting someone who will help you on your quest, get on your way, or nobody at all.

However, this could also work on more gameplay-focused games, because these choices could mean you get certain item, or certain ability (“I was told I had to give this potion to a woman wearing a red dress, so take it”).

It’d be interesting to see games with “stupid choices” where outcomes are not clear at all. Logical convention says players should know how their choices affect the world around them, but I see no reason why we need to lay out everything in front of them and go like “ok, so you have the option to leave this place or stay” and then “so you decided to stay and this caused this and that chain of events.”

The whole idea is somewhat stupid, but I wonder what could be done with it.

Why I’m switching to Unity

•October 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Well, Enola has been released and even if we’re still missing nightmare mode (plus a few other adjustments), I’m still scratching my head as to what to do next.

(The truth is I’m already working on something with other people, but I can’t talk about that just yet).

Anyway, things on the game development tools have changed a lot since I began working on Enola. I am not sure if I’m right, but I get the impression UDK is will be left behind at some point now that UE4 is out. So, one way or another there’s the chance I’d need to switch to either UE4 or something else.

For some time I was thinking the logical step would be to switch to UE4, but during this time I’ve been keeping an eye on what Unity is doing. Finally, a few weeks ago I decided my next project (meaning the next project I “write” or “direct”) will be developed with Unity, and here’s why:

 

UE4 seems to be a resource hog.

Well, on my desktop computer UE4 runs kinda smoothly, but my Macbook Pro sometimes has issues keeping up. Now, here’s the problem, that MBP is a few months old freaking Retina Display computer that can handle big images, video editing and even 3d applications just fine. Maybe the Geforce GT 750M is not well suited for high end gaming, but I am not working on high end game development, so I don’t really care if it can’t run [insert new AAA game here] at 1080p at constant 60fps (on a side note, the Retina Display resolution is actually above 1080p…). When the computer has problems running the Epic demos at a smooth framerate (say, 60fps), I have a problem, and I’m not talking about the “Elemental” demo, but the basic office interior demo.

My desktop computer is not *better* than the MBP. Actually it’s slower, with less RAM, but it has a freaking 4Gb Quadro card. Tiny difference…

 

Unity can target more platforms right off the bat.

Since you can run UE4 on the Mac, you can compile the games for the Mac too. However, considering what I said on the previous point I wonder if it’d be a good idea. However, I’m not just speaking about Mac, but also Linux (if I ever think that’s a good idea), Playstation platforms and Xbox One.

Unity can also build for mobile, that’s secondary since I’m not into mobile games.

 

Unity has a big add-on ecosystem.

If there’s one thing I find interesting is the Asset Store. It’s not like I’m looking for a “press here to create cool game” engine, but having a lot of resources at your disposal always helps, specially since I am not a programmer, and it’s not like I can easily code things (actually Kismet was one of the main reasons why I used UDK for Enola).

Right now I already have PlayMaker, a module to create point and click games, and a few other things, so I have enough to experiment at the moment.

Besides, Unity has a lot of online resources, tutorials and such.

 

I am not a graphics whore.

Using a very high end engine like UDK, and now UE4, sets certain expectations in the look department. It doesn’t matter if you picked UE4 because of the blueprints system (or UDK for Kismet, for that matter), your game better look like an AAA title or else it means you didn’t take advantage of the engine.

Unreal is not a “rendering engine.” It’s a “game development” engine and that means “taking advantage of the engine” can mean different things to different people, but not everyone shares the same view since many believe taking advantage of the engine means adding bloom and lens flares. Also, just because the engine supports a wide variety of rendering features doesn’t mean you have to use them, or that you will be able to use them (due to skill level and whatnot).

I think this is a big problem, because your options are make it AAA quality or make something completely different (like Antichamber) because your skills may not allow you to go full AAA-quality.

Unity doesn’t come near UE4 when it comes to graphic fidelity, but it can produce very good quality with some work, and there are also some very cool material libraries available on the Asset Store (see previous point).

 

Licensing differences.

Unity Pro can cost $1500 (or more, depending on the add-ons you use) right off the bat, while UE4 is available for $19 a month (Unity Pro costs $75 a month if you use a subscription). On the other hand you can use the free version free of charge, and release commercial games with it. So, here UE4 has the advantage because the initial cost is much lower, and I have to admit UE4 wins here, as long as you don’t go over a certain threshold where royalties paid start to go over whatever initial cost Unity would have.

 

I make somewhat simple games.

I mostly like story-driven games with simple mechanics because I am not a programmer. Enola is a small and simple game and yet it’s over 1Gb. Unity games can be much smaller. I noticed this when I made a small UDK game with only one level and a few objects, and it was over 150Mb in size, while the Unity projects tend to be smaller. It’s not fun to end up with really big installers for a game that isn’t really that big, and then upload those with a somewhat slow internet connection.

Maybe in the future I will work on some sort of story-driven open world sandbox game, but that’s not happening any time soon.

 

There’s no reason why my simple games would require a killer computer.

Back to the first point, a game engine will usually require more resources for development than for running a game. That doesn’t mean I can run UE4 (or UDK) games on any computer I want, but many computers (including old computers) can run Unity games.

I have an old Dell laptop with integrated graphics. That laptop doesn’t even allow me to install Enola, but the “angry bots” Unity demo sorta runs (at roughly 30fps). So, what if one of my simple story-driven games appeals to people who don’t have Titan cards and such? Yeah, saying “sorry, your computer is not good enough to run my simple point and click game” would be such a great answer…

 

That doesn’t mean I will never use UE4. I actually have UE4 and the full source, and if I work on a game with someone else, and that person wants to use UE4, I will use it. However, UE4 and UDK will not be my default game development tools from now on.

‘Hatred’ and its senseless quest to be… like almost every other game out there…

•October 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Last week some devs (I can’t remember their name, but that’s not important anyway) revealed their debut title, a game about some guy that hates humanity because he hates humanity, and he wants to kill humanity because he hates humanity. Very deep. Anyway, we’ve seen a lot of reactions to that game and everyone is talking about it being too violent or going too far.

At first I found it shocking and I was pissed off at the game, just like a lot of people, but then I took a little more time to think about the whole thing. I came to the realization that the game isn’t really different to other games out there, save for the fact that other games have a "plot" (quotes meaning "an excuse to kill everything that moves").

‘Hatred’ devs supposedly want to make a game that delivers the REAL gaming fun experience (or something like that) and that goes against the trends of making colorful "politically correct" games (whatever the hell that means). So, does it go against the "trend of making colorful politically correct" games (again, whatever the hell that means)? In a world full of hyper-realistic FPSs, GTAs, gory horror games, violent top-down/sidescroller shooters, combat-oriented sandbox games, and violent third person shooters where you raid tombs from time to time (oh, yes, I’m talking about the latest Tomb Raider game), the whole "We’re going against the trends!!! Suck it!!!" speech plain stupid because it’s nothing more than wishful thinking.

But being game that delivers the "REAL" gaming fun experience (or something like that) is something I’d find rather accurate because, no matter what the "plot" says ("you have been chosen to do this or that because you’re the best!!!"), most of the time you end up with a game about killing people (or zombies, or aliens, or whatever).

To continue this post I need to ask a few things:

1. We all know there are different kinds of games, so why ‘Hatred’ can be considered "more of the same" rather than "more of the same in that tiny group of the whole gaming spectrum"?

2. Graphic fidelity seems to go hand in hand with better and more realistic (or gruesome) ways of killing characters. Is it logical to think how photorealistic videogame character deaths will be in 5 or 10 years from now?

3. Is "it’s OK because it’s just a game" a good answer or is it just a bullshit excuse? (No, I have no reason to sugarcoat this third question).

 

More of the same in a world where not everything is the same.

So, a group of "real" gamers are complaining about "this sorta-new trend to make politically correct games" like they just discovered cellphones have cameras. I wonder if they are aware some of us were playing adventure games or puzzle games while they were playing whatever FPS was available in the 90’s, or if they think making something else than FPSs or such is somehow a new trend.

So why is this specific videogame considered "more of the same" in a world where not everything is the same? Are we really getting tons and tons of shooting/killing games and almost zero "other games" or is it just that those shooting/killing games are always the ones getting attention, or being more prominently displayed as THE face of gaming?

In other words, what’s the point of the “nice colorful games” or the “art-games” when sometimes it seems that big games about shooting is only thing worth taking about?

And BTW, we can talk about how other games have plots and how the shooting is part of the plot, but I’d be willing to argue that half of the time it’s because plots are written so that shooting plays an important role. Plot or no plot, a COD or GTA is not different to ‘Hatred.’

 

Looking for a bigger (and more photorealistic) bang.

I’ve always liked Mortal Kombat (except the crappy ones in 3d). Even if it’s violent, I find it funny because violence in that game is extremely ridiculous (you know, lots and lots of blood when the character is barely hit, and over the top fatalities). When I learned they were making a new Mortal Kombat I was really excited.

Then I saw the X-Ray moves and everything went to shit.

So, you’re saying that…

blogpost1

Give me a break…

In many other games you can chop heads off, crush skulls, burn people alive, and slice their throats with a pick-axe (I’m looking at you, Tomb Raider!!!), and every year, advances in graphics mean better and more photorealistic deaths (oh, and sometimes it means more realistic hair!).

What I am wondering is if we will see the day when we see maybe Mortal Kombat 42, and when they pull out a Fatality we will wonder if we were watching a videogame or a snuff video because it’s so realistic you can’t tell the difference.

And not just graphic fidelity, but about the strive to find more creative ways to kill characters… Combine the two and you’ll get yourself the gaming version of the videos Nick Cage watched in “8mm” (or worse).

By the way, if you take the time to read comments you’ll see some people are wondering (and even requesting) if you can kill minors in that certain game. Actually, it is a valid question to ask (albeit differently): will the quest of a bigger bang drive devs to allow us to kill minors (people of ages from 1 to 18 years)?

 

Bull* ‘they’re just games’ argument is bull*, like it or not.

At least I had the courtesy of censoring the word, even if I shouldn’t have because it’s just a blog post… Anyway, how about 2 or 3 micro-stories? I hope you have a strong stomach, because they are not very nice, but I’m writing them for a reason:

There was a girl who was taken to some abandoned house, and there she was raped, tortured and cut in pieces.

A group of people set up a camera in a room, then they brought a few babies and killed them in very gruesome ways and captured that on video.

A group of guys took a man and they twisted razor wire around his neck for a long time until the man died.

If you’re still with me, answer this: if the stories were fake, and just part of some movie or short film (or book, comic, whatever), would they be more acceptable than if they had happened in real life? In other words, is it ok to say “it’s just a short film” had they been fake?

The first story is from the movie “8mm” so I guess it’s ok to say “it’s just a movie.”

Some say the account on the second story really happened, but if it was fake it wouldn’t be any less offensive.

The third account is from a murder I read about some time ago.

I’m not saying “it’s not OK even if it’s a game, so it should be banned.” Personally I don’t like when violence in games is just used as a filler, but that’s my personal opinion and I have no right to impose my views on anyone else. That doesn’t mean I can’t say I find it gross or offensive.

Saying “it’s ok, they’re just games” is the equivalent to saying the stories above are ok as long as they are fake.

 

The real issue is not ranting about how ‘Hatred’ is too violent, too gross or too whatever. The real issue is that ‘Hatred’ is doing exactly the same thing other games have done in the past, but for some reason a lot of people react like they just realized evil exists in the world.

Let me put it this way: the best I read on youtube was “swap the black metal looking dude for a soldier and the civilians for evil terrorists and everyone will be praising the game.”

Lastly, Ieven if we have a variety of games (and we have had a variety of games for decades), it seems that “gaming” is only about “murder simulators” because that’s what the “real gaming experience” is about.

Having said all of this, I see no reason why ‘Hatred’ should not exist because similar games already exist in the market (some of them being critically acclaimed and such).

 
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