More modeling..

Today was another modeling day.  It’s starting to look pretty decent.  I finished up the convenience store and added a vintage gas station to the end of the street.  I’ve definitely been pushing verto hard so I’ve been running it in the debugger just to make sure I catch any serious bugs or crashes while I work so that I can fix them on the spot.  I’ve already used the crap out of my instancing feature and fingers crossed, it’s working pretty well.

I got to use my shader builder feature today while working on the gas station parking lot which felt awesome.  Being able to quickly hash out shader effects is proving invaluable for this project.  I used the GLSL ‘smoothstep’ function to code a quick-and-dirty solution for cross fading the parking lot with the desert terrain underneath.  Using blending for the entire polygon is not all that efficient but I’ll take that over a more complicated multitexturing solution.

 

I also drafted up a quick terrain mesh using pixelmator to create a height map.  This is how I’m going to take care of the background scenery with a tall “mountain” range in the background of the street view.

Lastly, I screwed around with the multipass pipeline editor to see what a “noire”-like black and white effect would look like on the scene.  It gives me chills and definitely inspires me to keep working on the project.

Early noire effect

I can’t wait to see what it all looks like when I’m done the texturing.

Lots o’ work

Did alot with the “town street” scene today.

I had to add a bunch of new features to verto to keep up.  Namely “merge doubles” and “duplicate instance” to allow for instancing lots of tiny little meshes.  I spent most of today on the theatre area.

It’s starting to look like an actual game scene.

Hoverboards don’t work on water.. Unless you got powahhh

Tiny bit of work today.  Got the second building going and finally put in some powerlines via turbosquid.  I’m not thrilled about the loss of smooth shading on the poles though.  I’ll have to code a quick feature for verto to auto-weld doubled vertices this weekend to fix that.

The framerate within the editor is also starting to drop to 30 fps territory.  Nothing too scary yet, since everything is still quads.  I’ll probably save rendering optimization for the very end.  I hope it won’t be too bad as the scene grows in complexity.

 

Sarging on.

More modeling work was done recently.  I temporarily diverted attention this weekend in a blaze of coding fury to put together a new mac app which I submitted to apple this weekend.  With any luck, this app will hopefully raise more funds to help with this game.

I’ve received some initial renderings and concept art from my character designer.  It’s looking pretty sweet sofar.

Modeling progress of the street below:

First update – all efforts on modeling

So, for the first time in awhile, I’m really using my own modeling tool quite a bit, and I must say I’m pretty happy with it sofar (especially not crashing on me and losing my work).  I’ve only had to pop over to xcode and add two new features that I forgot to bring over from the iPad version (toggle object hidden, and send-to-back for manual transparency render sorting)

Anyways, the city street is coming together nicely, and I hope to keep this momentum up as I build it out.  I’ve also been relying on old-faithful, turbosquid, to help with certain smaller assets that I want to use to fill up the street such as trashcans and mailboxes.

I’ve also hired a character artist, Tyler Hurdle, to put together and animate the character model for me.  I’ll post more on that as progress emerges.

Modeling progress shots below:

The idea has come

Okay! I got it! My “grand plan”. Looks as if it was sketched by a 5 year old, and that’s why I love it.

                                                    This is my game idea. It’s magical

I’m diving in and not looking back. I haven’t felt this excited about a dumb quick game idea in awhile.

There’s a few things I’m going to do while dev’ing this game to keep things fresh.

  • I’m going to leverage my existing VertoCore graphics engine. This is the giant objective-c codebase that my 3D modeling studio was written in. This will save me tons of time.
  • I’ll be writing the actual game logic in swift. This is a brand new language that isn’t even off of beta yet. Since I’m already stuck using objective-c, I’m pretty much tied to mac-osx and ios. Beta language? What could possibly go wrong.
  • This project scope will be SHORT. The “planned” time length is two weeks. I say this because most of my game projects run long. A month or so of work is acceptable. Dragging on for months isn’t. Let’s see how it goes!
  • I’m hiring out the character modeling. I know I’m a beyond bad 3D character artist and worse animator. Outsourcing this part is the way to go for me.
  • I promise to care more about the game than the code. This is a hard one for me, but it’s a must if I want to get the game done properly.

That’s it! I’ve already put a full days work into it and I’ve gotten collada animations loading into my graphics system. The XCode project is groomed and all ready to go.

                                   It works!

all systems ahead!

Iron….y

Here we find ourselves in that too-often familiar situation.

I usually complain that I don’t have enough time to put into gamedev. Ideas usually come to me in my sleep, when I’m working at my day job, when Verto Studio beckons and I have to urgently fix a bug or work on it for other reasons.

Now, ahhh, I have/had a completely free three-day weekend. Verto is up-to-date, work is caught up, and I’m completely free. I decided to put together a three-day game-jam of my own this weekend. I even nicely packaged up my “engine”, the Verto Core, into an XCode Project so that it is ready to use for 3D game development.

All systems are go!

All ready to go, I dusted off my “idea generator”, the wacom tablet, and bam! I suddenly realized, I have no good idea. Nothing I can do in 3 days at least. That sudden realization that all of my ideas are ridiculous long-term epic game projects that cannot be accomplished by one man in any reasonable amount of time.

Now I’ve been at this far too long to know better. ..To know better that actually starting one of those long-term game projects, even on the whim of a weekend is a terrible terrible idea. Why? Because I hate visiting the graveyard of once-promising game development efforts. So much so that I do everything in my power to avoid adding to that graveyard.

So back to the issue at hand: why can’t I come up with any small-scale 3D games? I say 3D because it’s what I’ve always strived to achieve, and now that I’m here, I can’t just make a 2D game and throw away all that 3D knowledge and hard work it took me to get there. Maybe I’m thinking too hard. I always tell myself that I should never force a good idea out, and that it’ll come to me when the time is right. That or I just don’t have the right type of brain for game design. Thus I’ll just sacrifice this weekend to continued relaxation, gaming, drinking, socializing, and otherwise unproductive endeavors..

..frick

The sabbatical

So it’s pretty obvious that the original game idea for simple storm front has since fizzled. Even if life did not get in the way, the idea was not really all that exciting to me. Mostly because I didn’t really have a good idea in the first place. Creativity has always been a struggle for me, and I’d like to be patient and wait till the right game concept comes.

I’ve been spending the past few months reading general game development articles, and picking up tips from more established game designers and developers. There are definitely some new concepts that I plan to take to heart. One of those concepts is that the code is definitely not as important as the game. As a professional software engineer, it’s hard for me to let that sink, but it is a must if I intend to complete anything of value.

During my time away, I did manage to port over my a subset of my sophisticated 3D graphics system from Verto Studio to c++11 (https://github.com/mlfarrell/VGLPP). Hopefully this code might help me when I decide to pick up the stormfront again.

I must say that I did indeed have a new idea over the weekend that I am truly excited about. It’s original, and has a style that I really think I can get behind this time. Time is the key concept, as I am promising myself to take it easy and not actually start this project until sometime next year. When that time comes, and I return, I hope to turn this blog into the primary outlet for all things simplestorm upon my return. Until then, let’s just hope these posts can serve as a historical premonition of something awesome to come.

Rewriting a 2D game in 3D

Game (mac only this time, sorry): http://vertostudio.com/pub/manman3d_latest.zip

Written using modern opengl core profile 3.2 and alot of shader hacks. The game “engine” is the verto core, the core routines I built my 3D editor off of. Surprisingly, the code is not that bad to make a game with. Some parts were downright convenient such as the “duplicate” feature and other editing routines that were never designed to be used on the fly inside of a game. All in all, turned out pretty cool and I wanted to share.

I obsessively worked on this until it was done, took about a week and a half. Hardest part was getting the damn skeletal 3D animations to work right. I cheated alot with the collision detection making everything axis-aligned because I’m lazy.

This definitely re-ignited my spirit for working on 3D games, even though I can never find the time to work on anything that’s an “actual” game-sized project.

The one that got away

Of all the bad games and not good ideas and storylines I’ve ever had, Hospital is the one I really think would have worked. Its crazy how hard I worked on that game engine back in 2005 for almost 2 years. I really put myself into it. It was inspired by my long-term dream and goal of making my own playstation 1 styled RPG game with elements combined from two of my two favorite games from my childhood, FFVII and Resident Evil 2.

Sometimes I wish I could pick it back up, but rewriting that engine is so much work that I’d probably have to abandon it again and this time sooner. Still, I reminisce…