Dream Build Play 2012

by Niels Brouwers 12. June 2012 18:01

After my personal debacle with my 2011 DBP entry (when I finally finished one level filled with enemies it turned out to be dead-slow on the XBOX itself - it was too late to change so I submitted what I had) I had to find the time, energy and spirit to re-do everything and this time, do it right.

And I did, I now have a clean 60FPS running multi-directional full screen parallax scrolling platform game on my XBOX 360! And although, game-wise, it still needs a lot of balancing and a story-arc to fleshen out the characters and all that stuff, I am pretty happy with the result so far! Well in time before the deadline, I submitted the Carter Jones Adventures for Dream Build Play 2012 (thank you Microsoft for sending me my password which I, conveniently, forgot).

So, I learned a lot in one year of time about what is important in developing games: testing, testing, testing (yeah, I already knew that but you know, priorities....). Also, don't worry about the lack of updates here recently, I was developing something that will generate a lot more updates as soon as I can fully use it!

My plan is to release the game on the XBOX Live Indie Games (XBLIG) channel somewhere in Q3 2012. Here's a bunch of screenshots from the game that I submitted. For the Dream Build Play submission I kind of cheated with the movie, I re-used the one I send last year. Just don't tell anyone that, no-one will know and hey...it's about the games not the movies, right?

Animationtool finished (well, almost finished!)

by Niels Brouwers 17. April 2011 03:25

I was watching a documentary about SKA Studios the other day and noticed they've got a great custom tool to edit animations for their games. As I was struggling with the animations for my game as well, I figured something like what they have would be a solution for me.

You see, memory is a constraint in XBLIG games in the sense that once your game grows over 50Mb you are unable to price it at the lowest price point. Also, being an oldschool programmer I tend to use the most efficient code and memory usage whenever possible. So, if you have a player animation, and he is running then you might just draw a lot of frames for his animation (=lots of memory consumption) OR you get smart and draw his legs moving and leave everything above the chest unchanged (=saves nearly half of the memory required). If you decide to chop the chest off from the lower part of the body you need to take care how these two parts match up against eachother. Typically, the one is draw with an offset to the other. Other things like a glow could also be done in a separate sprite and drawn as an overlay to the main sprite. So you have all these frames to manage for a single character and doing this in-game gets tedious quickly, you know: adjust the offset in code, run the game, move the offset another pixel to the left etc.

So that's why I build this animationtool for my game! It easily lets me handle many frames for one object and adjust the offset in real-time, plays the animation to see how it is going to look etc. Also, by having this tool, it kind of forces me to have the animation completely data-driven and the game-engine just be that: a game engine! It's just good programming architecture, I like that! 

Right now, one small thing is missing: a save button...

 

Work in progress 2.

by Niels Brouwers 4. April 2011 07:42

Last month brought some real progress in the game's mechanics: I implemented inertia for the players movement, parallax scrolling, I added and then removed the energy bar that indicates your energy. Actually that last little bit is something I picked up from an interview that I saw with Michael Gagne, he mentioned that in his game the power bar was eliminated and replaced with damage on the ship itself - in line with the latest trends in minimalistic interfaces. I figured my hero is extremely wel suited to do the same, so his energy can be 'read' from the light on his chest. It's like a heartbeat.

Also, many bugs were fixed, I made some great improvements on the player's controls and last but not least I increased the overall speed with 100%. It plays so much better now! So I am really happy with the progress, but unfortunately for you there are no more improvements to be mentioned on the graphics front. Therefore, althought the game is destined for the XBOX Live Indie games channel, I will leave you with this (obviously photo-shopped) image:

 

 

What do you think?

Drawing the girl...work in progress

by Niels Brouwers 4. March 2011 07:36

 

So, in my upcoming XBOX live indie game, there's obiously going to be a hero (that's you!) who does well... hero-like stuff such as saving the world, finding the treasure, beating the hell out of a bunch of monsters and end bosses and all that kind of stuff. But, to make the game more involving, I will try to drag you into the adventure by letting you play the story. So, while you are playing, you will communicate with the headquarters, and you shall be communicating with this lady:

 

 

No, I am sorry, but I am not going to give you here name or telephone number :-). But I will explain a little of the steps involved in drawing her:

First I tend to sketch around using Sketchbook from Autodesk. Then once the sketching is done and I am sort of happy with it, I will ink her in the same program. After that, its off to Photoshop to fill out the colors. First just flat out filing up inside the inked lines and last but not least, the finishing up with details and shading etc. At this point, she is not yet finished yet, just the rough shading is in there. She still needs lots of detailing done and stronger lighting etc. Once I finish her I will post an update here.

 

Progress

by Niels Brouwers 31. January 2011 20:28

I got some work done on my game last weekend, inserted game-over screen, story screen (comics inbeteween levels) and some art done too. I was planning on having an entire flow through level 1 finished by the end of january, it seems I may just miss that deadline but I am close enough to be satisfied about my progress.

Here's a drawing I did just for practice: