Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tachyon Chase FX devlog 1

Heya, sorry about taking a few days for this. Gonna be blunt: I slightly estimated the effort required to get Unity to be bad enough at shading for my purposes.

So, there's not any gameplay here, as such - there aren't even any physics attached to that ship yet - just a brainless controller attached to a garbage pile of geometry that rotates it while rapidly pulling it away from the camera to simulate actual gameplay. There's some method to this madness, though! I knew from the outset that what I was looking to do here - being a very fast, twitch-oriented game - needed to be readable as hell, and part of what I was looking to do with the SuperFX-inspired aesthetic is enable players to very easily read the layout of the pipe ahead of them. The simple, flat-shaded polygons allow you to easily size up each facet of the oncoming track and plan out what you're going to do in advance. Toward that end, getting a gameplay prototype to play well really necessitates I have that lighting model up and running ahead of time.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tachyon Chase FX devlog 0

Aight, so I've got one monstrously over-scoped project in the pipeline which is... not going to result in money (or, indeed, anything more presentable than a forest of terrifyingly complex code for managing the back-end of the battle system) any time soon.

Thinking it's probably pretty wise to have a sane one on the table, too. That's what this is!

I'm gonna warn you right now: this is A Thing as of, uh, last night. So it's real early. My goal is to iterate rapidly here in order to quickly produce something I can ship, but I'm a frustrating thorough person, so that doesn't mean "whoa look at the rad jiffs I have right this fucking minute." Gonna get some jiffs, though; don't worry about that. They're gonna be rad; they may even be bitchin'.

Instead, this is mostly about putting my thoughts in order so I can start moving forward. So: my goal here is: simple, mechanically-driven action game with a minimal control setup (thus suitable for mobile devices) that'll make a cool portfolio piece and also make me at least a little bit of cash.

So far, so sensible.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Will the real Slim Shaders please stand up?

e: This is a more recent version of this shader.

Been taking a break from what I was doing by playing with some shaders.


So I went ahead and I wrote this deferred cel shader. This is all about shadows and deep contrast. Then I strapped it to a post-processing stack to further heighten the saturation and contrast levels and grabbed some asset store models for the sake of actually having something to shade.

Obviously, there are some minor issues in these screens - this is a very dramatic shader and the stock assets I've haphazardly glued into the lighting test here weren't exactly meant to be used this way. But I really like the way the lighting behaves here, I think - in particular, the second shot demonstrates what I was going for quite nicely.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Thoughts on a turn-based combat system

I've been prototyping a turn-based RPG battle system for a bit now. I wanted to get my thoughts on how these mechanics work together in a more organized form than I'd had in the past, though, so I'm writing this post to detail exactly what I'm doing and get some thoughts.

FWIW: at present I have a battle model but the UI is sort of a hot mess, so there's nothing you'd actually want to play, unfortunately. The back-end is solid, the front-end is, uh, the opposite of that.

So let's start with what I'm shooting for at a high-level here:

  • Medium-weight turn-based combat. By "medium-weight" here I mean something that creates an expansive enough tactical space to facilitate interesting, dynamic encounters driven primarily by player skill as opposed to a pure "who has the bigger numbers" approach, but which remains simple enough that combat encounters aren't necessarily that complex. In a nutshell, I want something that scales well enough to facilitate both complex encounters that demand sophisticated tactical approaches and simpler encounters that are more about quickly and efficiently tearing through whatever's in your way so you can move on. I have some vague notions about a JRPG sort of game structure here, so it's important to have mechanics that are designed to facilitate both more demanding, intensive combat setups and simpler, quicker ones.
  •  "A turn-based fighting game." Turn-based battle systems typically abstract out most of the nitty-gritty of a fight. Which is fair: they're "battle" systems, not "fighting" systems. There's a huge range here in terms of both "complexity" and "abstraction" - but the overarching theme is that most of the fine points of individual person-to-person (or person-to monster, or person-to-robot, or whatever) combat are abstracted out. You talk about what characters are doing in a very detached, birds'-eye sense. I want something that feels much more intimate. I want players to think about combat as a sequence of moments. I want to place real tactical weight on very small movements here - knocking an enemy back a foot matters. And the choices available to you need to be very dependent on the rhythms of the fight - players need to feel out what the enemy is doing, build a plan of attack, and then adjust that on the fly as the fight moves in unforeseen ways. You can never just do something - every action is contingent. Every choice you make opens up some avenues and closes others, for both yourself and your opponent. I want to reward a very aggressive playstyle based in an understanding and control of tempo.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Thoughts on Majora's Mask, or: why Majora's Mask is the best Zelda, take XVII

New Zelda being on the horizon has me thinking about Zelda, by which I mean "why Majora's Mask is the best Zelda."

One thing that sticks out to me: it's a much, much smarter game with a clear overarching theme that infuses everything and lends it an incredible degree of cohesiveness and clarity of purpose.

Majora's Mask is a game about curses, hexes, disease. Unnatural, unwanted, alienating changes. Things that have been made wrong in a way that is irrevocable - that are left scarred, damaged, even if repaired. It's a game with a thesis. It's a game about picking up the pieces and moving forward while understanding that you can't ever hope to fully undo the damage that's been done.

And this is - fucking everywhere.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The coolest trick the Pokémon games ever pulled was broken before it happened

This isn't another Hammer devlog, I'm afraid. I'm still working on that, but it's kind of on the back burner right now; I'm putting most of my energy into job hunting!

This is just a blog post containing some thoughts on Pokémon - or, rather, one specific Pokémon, and the really nifty trick it almost pulled from a game-design perspective by blending mechanical edge-cases with the social nature of the Pokémon games.

Basically: it occurred to me recently that it's a real shame Shedinja happened after the Pokémon games were A Thing instead of back during generation I. Everybody just found out about it from external sources, really; no one discovered it. And that's a shame, because it means that Shedinja isn't half as cool in practice as it should be - but mechanically this thing is great, if you don't go and document exactly how it works before anyone actually finds it on their own.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hammer devlog 38


Some new visual effects: First off: fixed the pop-in that was happening with FX layers.

More notable: the "scanlines." (they're not actually scanlines, but hell if I know what they're called) But, yeah - now there's a neat little screen overlay effect that emulates the line artifacts between the physical pixels on the Game Boy's LCD screen, which makes the low-res pixel art here look a lot more natural. I actually have a script attached to the camera that generates that overlay texture based on the screen resolution, which lets me create these rigid borders between my giant pixels no matter what you're actually rendering at, and successfully creates the illusion of a lower-resolution display. Advantage of going after the Game Boy aesthetic: it's not a CRT, it's just a really shitty LCD, and that's way easier to fake convincingly.

Also visible: there's a subtle color-accumulation motion blur on the main camera now. Just a standard image effect, but it took an embarrassingly long time to calibrate it - goal was to capture just a bit of the authentic ghosting, but without actually doing DMG-001 fuck-this-shit ghosting. Targeting a look more like the Game Boy Pocket or the Game Boy Color - slight ghosting, enough to be perceptible, but not enough to hurt playability. Can't really get the aesthetic to work without the ghosting effect, though - the LCD ghosting creates this gauzy, dreamlike effect, which is a big part of what makes Game Boy games look like Game Boy games.

Also also: an enemy that's nowhere near done.