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?

The year of the dragon

by Niels Brouwers 30. January 2012 06:36

'The year of the dragon'. Say that out loud a couple of times, it just sounds like a great (sub)title for a game or movie or something like that! I like dragons, never met one though, but I like them. Unfortunately I am a tiger according to chinese astrology and the tiger and the dragon....well...they don't seem to get along very well. I don't know if or how this will influence my plans for releasing the Carter Jones adventures this year, but I really want to get the game out there so I am putting quite a lot of effort into it!

In my next post I will get into some animation updates I have been doing / will be doing over the couple of days. Should be fun, animating anything is usually a lot of work: for each movement of a baddy in the game all the individual frames need to be drawn and although I try to cut corners here and there (using procedural animation / rendering stuff in 3D) it usually works out best if I drawn the core animations by hand.

I did make good progress last weeks. I refactored the entire background collission code which is now pretty much generalised and working great, to prove it worked I used the routines on the critter baddy and so refactored that code as well. In the process I managed to stumble upon a rare bug and fixed that as well.


Happy chinese new year!

Rewriting code: tile-player collision code

by Niels Brouwers 16. January 2012 04:19

A lot of time on the Carter Jones Adventures game is spent on rewriting pieces of code. Visually you probably wouldn't notice any difference if I would show the game before or after a rewrite but in terms of performance, memory leaks, bugs and maintenance of the code there can be a huge difference.

The Carter Jones Adventures is a full-directional sidescrolling game, this means that the player can roam around freely depending on how I layout the level and where I place the platforms. I do the laying out of the levels in my custom level-editor (there are some screenshots of that in previous posts). A level is built up out of graphics that are packed together in one or more large images, by copying tiles out of the larger image into the level, a level is constructed.

Tiles are 32x32 pixels in my game. And previously I defined a heightvalue ranging from 0 to 32 for each tile. This allowed for having a unique height value for each position. Height locations between adjacent tiles were extrapolated. This system of 32 different heights and extrapolating the heights between tiles was causing some problems: occasionally the player could jump 'between' tiles and get stuck on a platform for example.

So, today I set out to rewrite that code. The new approach would define a 'rectangle' of outer tiles that represent the player. These tiles are investigated, they can be either solid or fallthrough and the new algorithm detects where the solid tiles are (if any). Depending on the current state (e.g. walking to the right) and the measured rectangle (e.g. solid tiles under the player, fallthrough on the right,top and left) I can now determine the possible actions such as moving to the right. I can now use this algorithm everywhere in each object class, not just the player's (using exactly the same algorithm from several states is one of the basics of programming - which I did not obey: due to the explorative nature of the code I copied it over instead of generalizing). Anyway, the occasional errors are now gone, the code is much cleaner and therefore much easier to read and I will use this code in all future objects thus preventing myself of creating new errors. All in all it was a sunday morning well spent!


Visually representing the rectangle of tiles around the player helped a lot with developing this piece of code. The FPS and milliseconds of time spent in drawing (D) and game-loop updates (U) are always displayed since Dream Build Play 2011 happened.

The ways we work

by Niels Brouwers 11. December 2011 00:00

The way I work is like this: I get an idea, start drawing, make screenshots and when it looks nice and I am starting to wonder how it would look and feel when it is moving/animating, only then I start programming. Also, I tend to switch to coding when I am unable to draw something (lack of inspiration / artists block), I am always able to write some decent code - it's second nature, my first talent or whatever you want to call it.  

Sometimes however, I run into troubles with my code that I did not expect. In that case, learning how others solved these problems, revisiting and rethinking my concepts are the usual approach. Occasionally I post a question on a forum and when I get answer I used to take that serious. Not anymore, I have learned I should carefully weigh the answers given by anyone. I shall be very cautious when a seemingly uber-guru on the subject gives me some advice. These people look at things differently and may well put you on the wrong track. Trust me, been there, done that!

Anyway, here's one of those ideas that turn into a screenshot of some sorts.  I do not know where it is going but I like the looks of this (yeah I know it's just rocks with my previous drawing copied onto it, but you should see this moving...hint.!)!  



Drawings | Games

New level in progress

by Niels Brouwers 17. October 2011 03:15

Hopefully you didn't notice that I upgraded this website to a newer version of blogengine, it did happen however and actually it was pretty easy. The only thing that didn't work out of the box was the twitter feed, but I fixed that.

I have started on the third level graphics for Carter Jones, I still need to do the entire level 2 graphics but I am expecting those graphics to be a little easier to draw (level 2 takes place inside ...err... something - it's supposed to be a surprise). Level 3 is a real interesting level to draw, it takes Carter through the jungle to the temple where he will find what he was hired to look for. He will also find a lot more, here's a quick concept sketch I did today which will also satisfy all the halloween enthousiasts out there:


Excuse me sir, where can I find the toilet? Oh, right there huh? Thanks!

Ofcourse, when trying to post this entry I stumbled upon a blogengine.net error... fixed it, but it did catch me by surprise!