Archive for January, 2007
Wednesday, January 10th, 2007
I have been writing Determinance for over three years now. Determinance is based on the Torque Game Engine from Garage Games. I doubt there are many people as qualified as me to tell you whether you should use it or not.
I have a question for you: are you serious about actually finishing a 3d game?
If the answer is yes, you should use Torque.
TGE is a pain in many places. TGE’s documentation, while comprehensive if you look hard enough, is still not wonderfully noob-friendly. But if you take the trouble to learn Torque (which will take at least the first 3 months while developing your game) then your chances of finishing your game are massively improved over other low-price engines.
If you don’t have the ability to spend three months learning an engine, the chances of you finishing a 3D game at all are pretty tiny.
Why the sudden praise from me? Because I just saw that three of Game Tunnel’s top ten indie games for December are made with Torque. You don’t need a better reason to use an engine than three good indie games being released in one month on it.
If you make that step, and you become proficient at Torque, you’re nearer to your goal than 95% of everyone else out there. If you want to succeed, do what tastes right.
Monday, January 8th, 2007
My head is about to explode with bug killing. Paul has found a lot of bugs today and I’ve solved them, which is good. However my todo list still has too many issues on it. And the game is crashing a bit, which is worrying me. I hope tracking down the crash bugs will be relatively straight forward. It probably won’t be.
We finished Single Player today, with a Street-Fighter-esqu progression through all the bots, and some actual unlockable content. It’s really a remix of the content we had in there already, but I’m pretty sure people are going to really appreciate its formalisation.
BIG BOULDER GOING DOWN A HILL.
Monday, January 8th, 2007
I’m a bit late with this one. Dubble, awesome dude who runs Reticulating Splines, interviewed us a couple of weeks ago and the transcript is here. Has some interesting stuff on development, so check it out.
Sunday, January 7th, 2007
I have no love for the Superbowl.
For a start, it’s melancholy. It signals the end of the season. When the game is finished it’ll be seven months until the next meaningful game. Seven long lonely months. And the game will most likely involve two teams you don’t care about, or be a blowout.
The playoffs on the other hand are great. Teams play better, strategic coaching matter even more, there are a good number of games each weekend, and you get to see the match-ups you’ve wanted to all season.
I think NE-SD could be the game of the post-season.
Saturday, January 6th, 2007
I always knew this time would come. The time when Determinance feels like it’s actually there. I didn’t expect doing the demo would be what caused it though.
There are still bugs and a couple of things to tweak, but we have a very real chance of having a bone-fide release candidate next week.
Having the demo makes Determinance feel complete. I didn’t realise this before, but having a thing which you can release into the wild without having to interact at all with the people playing it is what makes that difference. Determinance can now actually stand on it’s own.
People will download the demo. They will play the tutorial, and a lot of them will get bored at some point during the demo (because core gamers are twitchy and our tutorial is long). They’ll probably play a few rounds against a bot, and then they’ll go and click on “query internet”.
A number of servers will be presented, most of which will not allow demo users. But they’ll see the Mode 7 Official Free For All Server, populated by five or six other guys, and they’ll join.
Playing Free For All against five or six guys is a raucous way to first really experience Determinance. It’s the best way to start with. If you don’t have fun with it then log off, uninstall, and never think of us again.
But I think quite a lot of people will love those first five minutes. And if they do, Determinance will take off.
Friday, January 5th, 2007
The demo is now in the beta. The testers are being exposed to only being able to play the beta for a day or so, so that we get it tested and have some good opinions on it.
Our demo has the following elements:
- Can only play tutorial and two bots in single player
- Cannot Host a game
- Can join official servers and play with the registered guys, but have several disadvantages
- Get kicked off every 10 minutes, and have to wait 3 minutes before being able to rejoin
- Can’t name themselves: just come up as “Demo User”
- Can only play as Blunder
- Can only use one kind of sword
- Can’t voice-taunt or pose-taunt
- Can’t use special moves
- Can only play on one level
- Can’t use any of the editors
What we obviously need to do is let people really experience Determinance, and if they like it then we need to make sure they buy it, because our servers and my whiskey aren’t free. We reckon this will work.
Our biggest problem is still the step of getting people to play enough DT to get into the controls so that they experience what fun it is. We’ll see how that does when the demo is in the public.
Having a demo is giving me a really good feeling, that we’ll be able to give out Determinance in some way. I’ve always had to be really worried whenever I give a beta or something to someone. And also always had to worry about things breaking, about people not having servers to play on and so on.
We’ve still got a few bugs, but everything’s looking quite robust now. If I give you the demo, you’ll be able to find a server and play. You’ll be able to play my game without paying for it and without me having to do anything special. That’s something I’ve wanted for a long time.
Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007
People who don’t understand IP and the movie business hate Uwe Boll. But Uwe Boll is one of the greatest people alive.
He consistantly gets together casts which include (a) really amazing B and C-list celebrities and (b) hot girls, then makes so-terrible-they’re-awesome movies based on ridiculous game franchaises. And people’s problem is… what?
Oh I’m sorry, did you want Scorsese and Cameron to work together under Bruckheimer to create a two and a half hour epic starring Johhny Depp, Al Pacino, and Cameron Diaz based on your beloved game that you only love so much because you were playing it when you were going through puberty?
People seem to hate Boll because not only are his movies “bad”, but they make money. People also seem to think he’s dirty because he makes use of a German tax “loop hole”, much like ones which MOST FILMS YOU HAVE EVER SEEN use.
Boll has bought together Matthew Lillard, Ron Perlman, Burt Reynolds, Jason Statham and Kristanna Loken to create possibly the greatest bonus-film cast of all time. He then has called that film DUNGEON SEIGE. The man is a legend.
And when faced with the ridiculous abuse he gets from fanboys living in a fantasy world, he doesn’t hide behind marketing men and ignore it. He invites his critics to box against him and gives the greatest interviews known to man. He even makes an actually valid point – that games companies are so utterly inexperienced at this business that they won’t cross promote. He shows incredulity at that because it is incredulous.
We should all feel damn lucky that someone with an ability to actually make a profit is bothering to turn weird games into movies, and not be insulting him at every turn.
Bonus cast + bonus IP + bonus director = ftw.
Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007
This week’s guest poster is David Rosen of Wolfire Software, the man behind the incredible Lugaru.
“I am always confused by the trend in big-name PC titles to have load
times lasting several minutes and system requirements that exclude all
but the latest and most expensive computers. Good graphics and high
system requirements do not necessarily go hand in hand. For example,
there are several games on the PS2 such as Final Fantasy 12, Okami,
and Resident Evil 4 that arguably look better than any currently
available next-gen titles. If we design games to run on high-end
computers, then most people will have to turn down the detail to be
able to play the game. A game with detailed graphics looks very bad
when the resolution is turned down, much worse than a game that is
designed from the start to run at lower resolution. Therefore,
targeting the high-end can actually make the game look *worse* for
most players than targeting the middle.
When we spend less time on surface details, we can devote more time to interactivity and interesting behavior. For example, in The Elder
Scrolls: Oblivion, rooms are cluttered with detailed objects simulated
with the Havok physics engine. They react to physical forces, but they
are only interactive in a very superficial sense. That is, if you find
a pile of apples then you can knock it over, but you cannot eat the
apples, squash them, use them as projectiles, or really do anything
interesting with them. This kind of superficiality is becoming more
and more common in next-gen games; it is not unusual to see
hyper-realistic environments that the player cannot affect in any way.
As the number of objects in the environment increases, so does the
amount of work needed to make them behave in an interesting way, so
often interactivity is sacrificed entirely, or just offloaded
indiscriminately onto the physics engine.
In my last game, Lugaru, I had to take the exact opposite approach. I
created most of the artwork myself in my spare time from school, so I
had to make do with very little artistic content. There are really
only nine important models: two character models (rabbit and wolf),
three weapons (sword, staff and knife) and four environmental models
(rock, cube, tree and bush). Because there are so few objects, I could
focus on each of them and add a lot of detail that would otherwise
have been impossible. For example, the environment is not just there
for decoration; you can perform acrobatic tricks off of walls to
confuse opponents, kick an enemy’s head into a rock for an instant
kill, or use snow to clean blood off your knife so the wolves won’t
smell you as easily. There are also many unusual cosmetic details I
could add because of this sharper focus: you can kick an enemy’s tooth
out and blood will run down his mouth, or throw him at a wall so hard
that cracks appear in the rock.
Now that I am working with a team (and have some idea of what I am
doing), I hope to be able to harness the best of both worlds in future
projects. In Lugaru 2 we will have a wider range of environments
including towns and cities, but we will only add objects that are
interactive and interesting. If there is a bucket on the ground then
the player must be able to use it as a container; otherwise it should
not be there at all. This kind of interactivity is not especially
difficult to implement, makes the game world more interesting, and has
negligible effect on system requirements, so I hope that it becomes
more common as the novelty of hyper-realistic superficial detail starts to wear thin.”
Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007
Many, many thanks go to Mr. David Rosen of Lugaru fame for being this week’s Monday Night Live Guest Poster Extraordinaire! I hope you enjoy what he has to say. We’re all ears for any indie game developers who would like a slot to post here – just give us a shout via the Contact page.
Monday, January 1st, 2007
I have no idea why I’m talking about this now. It just came to me in the car.
HTML is not like coding. Very often you’ll ask someone if they code and they’ll say “no… well, a bit of html I guess”. That’s like me asking you if you can drive and you saying “no… well, I can wash cars a bit”.
HTML is just nothing like coding. Making a powerpoint presentation is precisely four hundred thousand times more like HTML than coding.
Of course java script is like coding. Java script is nothing like HTML though. It may be driving a scooter, but it is at least driving.