The value of good Level Design and the Tools for it

by Niels Brouwers 18. September 2011 03:36

Because I am enjoying myself so much whilst making Carter Jones, I decided to expand the animation tool with a level editor. This will enable me to quickly move around stuff (the background, but also the baddies etc.) in a level. Previously I was doing all that in the game itself, with a built in level-editor (and I was placing baddies through a manually edited xml file). That was not ideal, now it is just an easy to develop windows forms application so if I need some special function (like the roll that you see on the screenshot) then I can build it really easy.

This tool will grow in functionality and will greatly reducde the time to 'design' the levels. Designing levels is probably the hardest part in a game, if you mess up the design then the player will notice immediately and reject the game because it is no fun (it is probably just annoying or boring or somewhere lacking). So by enabling the design process outside of the game I hope to increase the quality and also the quantity of the levels. Level editing was kind of a chore before, now it is actually fun!

 

Wobbly lines in autumn

by Niels Brouwers 5. September 2011 07:40

I have totally optimized the code for Carter right now, there are no garbage collecter issues anymore and the drawing of the background is now completely done by the hardware - which is nice (hardware instancing is awesome)! Now I have to get back to designing the game and drawing graphics for it! I also managed to get some work done on the out-of-game level editor. This thing will make life a lot easier for me as it is a windows forms application containing the XNA display. It is actually integrated into the animtool I presented a couple of months earlier.

I did some quick sketches in Sketchbook just to see how some things come out. You can see the result below, I was totally not happy with the linework that I got when using Sketchbook. I have been trying out a couple of settings but so far, the lines are wobbly and totally unacceptable for me. In Photoshop I have found out the right settings to get the kind of linework that I want to achieve (pretty default actually) but in Sketchbook I can't seem to get it right. Such a shame, it is one of the coolest software around (and very affordable).

Anyway I wasn't happy with the inking but after painting and resizing it (about half the size) it looks kinda OK. I guess I'll be using Photoshop until I sort out the line thing... 

This is my version of the German Mechanic. (hint:movie reference!)

Picking it up again!

by Niels Brouwers 11. August 2011 07:16

The summer so far has been quite wet and well....disappointing really, at least considering the weather that we were treated with. No worries though, because that means plenty of time for inhouse activities, like ehh...well....drawing, programming, research, optimizing code, checking out some new gadgets (yay WP7). All very useful and everything, but I still need to get my game done!

So therefore, I am back on track getting things done, coding away on some really cool optimizations that you will love. Allright, allright, there is _some_ feature creep going on here, but that's really the fault of the awesome Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet that I have been playing.  You see, I want to surprise the player, give him a sense of scale in the world he enters when playing and that means that I want to be able to zoom in and out in the game. That required some refactoring of my code, but it is working now and it really adds to the gameplay.

I have also been drawing as much as possible lately. Sometimes you draw something and you go like...wow....that really looks cool, but more often than not lately I am not 100% satisfied and toss it away. It's like a search for the right tone and groove, if you get it right, it's awesome - if you don't, you know you need to keep searching. But, like some ancient Chinese saying goes (though I may have it totally wrong): sometimes it's not the destination you are after, but it is the journey itself. I like drawing, so I keep doing it.

Here's an example of something that I don't have a good use for (in my game) at the moment:

New baddy for Carter Jones

by Niels Brouwers 27. June 2011 01:24

The last couple of weeks I have been busy optimizing my code, there was some heavy Garbage Collection going on, also my game-loop could use some improving so that's what I did. There are still some memory leaks but the big issues have been resolved.

Meanwhile, I have drawn another baddy for your destroying pleasure:

I call it a crab, sooo cute......I think I'll have him fire lightning bolts from his err....hands.

Dream Build Play 2011

by Niels Brouwers 16. June 2011 05:44

The Dream Build Play deadline passed on june 14 and I was just in time to submit my entry:

The Carter Jones Adventures! 

I wish I would have had just a couple of days more....it would have been so much better! Such is the life of a developer, from Party poker to Super Meat Boy - the desire to improve and and patch is always there!


Anyway, here are the screenshots that I submitted:

 

 

And here's the gameplay movie:

Tags:

Games | Indie Games | XBLIG | XNA