Blog Page

Rubber Boy

Rubber Boy, is available on Play Store

I am not a fan of virtual controls to play platformers. Rubber is controlled entirely by touch gestures. Flick to jump and tap to stop.

The game is made up of 3 worlds with 12 levels. Each level has a time challenge and hidden star challenge.
The game consists of lasers, bees, bats, spiders, rats, blocks, keys, moving platformers, sticking platformers, breakable blocks and a combination of how these things interact with each other.

The press kit for the game is Press Kit
world3block

world3 bounce

world

wold-3 laser

wld-1

wld-1(plat)

startDialog

Screenshot_2014-06-12-09-21-16

menu

batswarm

lavabatdump

lavadump

levelSelection

Using Tiled as the sole level editor.

Being primarily a programmer I wanted to have a flexible level editor for my game. I decided to use tiled for the purpose.
The game is platformer which relies only on flicks for jump and no on screen buttons(flickformer). The game is built with libgdx with physics using box2d. Tiled as such provides these functionalities

1) Tiled layer – Make a tiled level, which can be rendered in game.
2) Image layer – Background image
3) Object layer – to generated shapes in your box2d world.

Things I wanted from my level editor
1) Tiled images should dictate the physics world, i.e no additional shape drawing
2) Dynamic actors also should be part of the level editor. Say a moving enemy.
3) Customization for dynamic actors

To make images dictate the physics world, I used the properties functionality of a Tile (right click on a tile and add properties) to name the physical shape. Ex: TOP_RECT, FULL, RIGHT_SLIDE etc
This way any changes in level design can be done solely using images.
To make dynamic actors I dedicated a layer which is not render in the game, but during level load this layer is passed through and any dynamic actors needed on generated.
Ignore the rendering in code of a layer if it has a property “hide”. Lets call this layer “others”.
Customization is acheived using either additional layer on adjacent tiles on “others” layer. So to make a enemy move right for 5 block, I put the enemy in 5 blocks the direction is given by the tile’s property.
If I have some specific property like speed of the enemy they are via “others” layer properties. To make a enemy chain – periodically generating an enemy, I have an additional layer “spawn” if this layer has the same tile as “others” layer
then I make that enemy instance a periodic one. (check the attached video for periodic enemy).
The entire map can also have properties, I use this to select camera type, level type (basic, runner etc),music, background image (libgdx’s tiledmaprenderer doesn’t support image layer yet).

Doing this allows me to achieve most of what I wanted.

I am attaching the image from Tiled Map editor and a video of me trying out that level. (There are some bugs like enemy animation etc). Click on image to see it properly

09-plate-key

The video of this level is here

Cons:
Making physical shape depend on tile means that a platform on 10 blocks will be 10 shapes, whereas making a single shape of size 10 is much more optimal. This optimization can be done via code, but I haven’t tried it yet.
One thing I miss is the functionality to add properties at a cell level. So two instances of the same enemy will have to share the same speed.
I know most of this might seem trivial but this has sure made level design easier for me, is there some techniques that you prefer? please let me know.

 

TAG : 8 Announcing the Winner

We saw a successful jam. While the number might not have been that great they sure made it up with the quality. Let me just run them down, I am just pointing out a few positives and any gripes.  All the gripes are rather minor but I felt its my responsibility to share them before declaring a winner. Hope everyone looks at them as positive feedback. The games title link to the games.

Cirth:

A really good looking game with a simple gameplay mechanic. You move the mouse and avoid filled shapes, clicking on unfilled shapes increases your score.

+the generation and movement of solid and unfilled shapes is spot on. Never did it feel stagnant.

+Art and music are very well chosen and go particularly well with the special rule

+Mouse wrapping makes the game better as it alones to escape etc, but since only the mouse wraps and not the shapes it definitely needs some time getting used to.

+/- Its hard to theme such an abstract game and to certain extent the theme of ‘detectable’ is detectable in the game

– The game end condition is when the score reaches below zero, which means no matter how good or bad you play the end is going to not reflect that. (May be 3 hits within 3 sec or something could have been a better end condition).

-minor technical glitches including drops in fps, game not responding occasionally.

Screenshot (2) Screenshot (7) Screenshot (8)

P.S If you haven’t taken the epilepsy warnings seriously, you might have to reconsider.

Murder Herder:

You are to herd your cows along field of grass and plants, all the while avoiding mines.

+Good concept, made me remember a similar sequence in Red Dead Redemption

+ The art is good and conveys the objects properly

+/- Some mines are placed in between the grass and the art makes it invisible. Not sure if this was intentional.

– the placement of grass and plants wasn’t that good. On a few occasions there were none actually

Screenshot (18)

 

Apocowlypse:

You help your cows sun bathe, avoiding asteroids. Why? coz why not? Its not a full game in the sense there is no scoring and game end loop.  Congrats on learning a new framework and putting it together.

 Cow Slaying Simulator 2000:

A nice little pixel art cow killing game.

+ Easy to pickup and play. Levels.

– Level change is sudden (you suddenly have a herd of cows generated in a instance). The area of effect of the axe is slightly odd.

Screenshot (19)

 

Zen and Art of Cattle Mutilation:

Good idea with a kickass name. You are an alien in search of methane gas and are trying to consume cows.

+Good levels with a great deal of variation. Loved the red level.

+The random levels were also very well generated, save for one case where I couldn’t pull any of the cows due to the high gravity.

+engaging gameplay with the risk involved in getting close to a planet to pull cows.

+/- Controls need some getting used. But after that it controls well

Screenshot (26) Screenshot (27)

 

Cow Escape:

Protect your cows against the vultures.

+Great art and sound. Creates a really smoothingly effect.

+/- simple gameplay.

Screenshot (29) Screenshot (30)

 Robin Cow:

You are a robinhood cow and are collecting avocados from evil humans. A fun theme but I could get past the first level itself. There are only 2 avocados while the onscreen prompt says there are 5.  (Someone help me out if I am mistaken.)

+unique take, nice grapple effect, level editor

Screenshot (31)

Cow Surgeon:

You are well a cow surgeon and have to find the problem and fix it. Nice take on the theme.

+thats a good looking cow :P. Unique concept.

+ You fix broken bones with a fire.

-UI needs doesn’t convey which tool is being used correctly.

Screenshot (33)

Winner:

This has to be one of the toughest decision I had to make. The choice comes down to

Crith and Zen and Art of Cattle Mutilation.

Crith is a really cool game with a unique and simple game play design. It shows the beauty of a procedural level very well.

Zen and Art, almost pulls off random level generation to perfection and has engaging gameplay too.

Since I have to make a choice, the winner is

Zen and Art of Cattle Mutilation by Daniel Bauman.

The lack of a clear theme in Crith just tips the decision to the other side.

All the other games are all very well made and worth checking out.

Inspection Line:

One of the entries got  missed in the comments. Please do check it out.

You control a threadmill of cows and your job is to identify which of them are sick.

Screenshot (36)

Aftermath:

I think the special rule ended up being a bad choice given the timeframe. The themes chosen were also rather in your face or very vague, but its Arbitrary Game Jam so I guess thats expected. Looking forward for the next TAG. The winner will be conducting the next TAG, in case you don’t have a site or don’t wish to conduct please inform me or ticktakashi. In which case the runner ups gets to conduct it. Any suggestions of making the next TAG better? Also congrats to all the participants hope you had fun.

 

 

TAG 8: Submit your Entry

The submission time has ended. 

Please post a link to a your game in the comments section.

 

The winner is announced here

Thank you for participating.

P.S Something personal came up and I am not able to take part this month. My sincere apologies for any mistakes on my part.

TAG 8: Themes Announced

About TAG:

TAG, the arbitrary game jam is to encourage us game developers to explore ideas based on a random starting point and execute them as fully as possible. Themes are chosen randomly using a random word generator and just to supplement the host gets to choose a theme, any other rules he wants. The winner gets to host the next TAG. (My last game for TAG 7 is here)

TAG 8:

Themes :Deprive | Cow | Detectable 

Special Rule : Procedural

 

Generated themes

Deprive: prevent (a person or place) from having or using something. (Ex: The court ruling deprived us of any share in the inheritance).

Cow : a fully grown female animal of a domesticated breed of ox, kept to produce milk or beef. or an unpleasant or disliked woman. (Don’t blame me,thats what google said)

Chosen theme

Detectable: to detect, To discover or ascertain the existence, presence, or fact of.

Special Rule

This is not really a rule its more of a guideline so that we can learn something new.

The Rule is “Procedural Generation

I wrote a very short introduction to procedural game design here Power of the code. Basically lets try to incorporate something which is procedurally generated either offline or on the fly.

On the fly: the procedural generation is part of the game and you can see that in each playthrough. Level design, enemy placement etc(Like a simple moving objects in menu screen, something I did for my first game AAP The Sweeper )

Offline: use a tool or program like weavesilk or contextfreeart and use such generated art in game.

This is not a compulsory rule so don’t feel forced to incorporate it. Use it only if it enhances your idea.

The development time has started.

and will end by

Development Time Has ended. Please submit your games here

 

The games are to be submitted here

All the best, I will try to put up some samples of procedural art during the weekend.

The power of the Procedure

With the leaps of technological advancements seen in computer science its only natural that we assume that softwares on its own can produce something of value. This has been true main in the fields of natural processing, AI etc. The idea is simple “Put the rules down, randomize and stabilize other stuff”.

This post is an attempt to understand how we can use the power of the procedure in game development.

What is procedural?

Procedure/ function are blocks of code nothing more. Say you write a small piece of code to place a coin at a random location thats procedural level design.  The power of procedure is easily seen when you sprinkle in a decent amount of randomness. This generates unique and new environments.  The most important things to keep in mind with procedural things is that its not complete randomness. To illustrate this lets consider this example , weavesilk lets you draw outright stunning images. Try to close your eyes and draw few curves once on weavesilk and once on your paint tool. Notice the difference what makes and breaks a procedural generation is the rules that are put in, other part of randomness can be indeed random. Because weavesilk has rules to mirror image and adds a nice distorted effect when the movement is slow etc etc we get such a nice little piece of work.

What can be procedurally generated?

I consider two important things.

Level Design:

From the layout of the level, placement of npcs/powers, even things like dynamic powers and buffs almost everything can be procedurally done, but its very important to not over do it. The standard rules to be followed are

Is it feasible? anything the code emits out should still enable the game to complete/make progress. A random maze level without a route is not getting us anywhere(not just literally).

Is it interesting? whats the point of mechanic/element if that just doesn’t seem interesting.

Is it within bounds? while a procedurally generated level albeit feasible can be a stupid choice in the initial levels, ensuring that difficult stays within the limit is very important.

My favourite procedural generated works (Sorry haven’t played many rogue games, my apologies for missing any classics)

Binding of Isaac: The game features an insane number of powerups, cards etc all on which are procedurally obtained. Add to this even enemies and dungeon layout is random too.

Rogue Legacy:  After each death you play as ‘your’ heir, with a random powerup and random disorder, this makes for a hilarious and unique experience each time.

Art:

As a programmer procedural art is a God send, I am just started reading up about it, so please consider this section with a bucket of salt.

Backgrounds, Menu Screens etc make excellent candidates as these while important aren’t the core of the game, hence can be easily experimented with.

Nature anything from trees, waves, sand, space etc can be made to feel natural with the power of the procedure.

A few tools I have seen online which can be used for procedural/generative art are

  • Processing – has a good tutorial directed at non programmers and seems nice
  • Context free Art – A vectorish approach. A few samples from their site

    Snow_Forest by thijs

 

http://www.contextfreeart.org/gallery/view.php?id=3407

Starry Pines by credmond

Limit Theory:

A stunning game in progress, almost everything about is procedurally done and its astonishing how good the game looks.

Sound:

Surprisingly I haven’t personally seen or rather heard of many procedural sounds in games. But I am sure many artists use them extensively, it would be really cool if procedural level generation and sound are mixed. Something like a rayman game where each tile plays a note, so when running you here the dynamic sound.

 

Things Missed:

I wanted to just introduce my thoughts on the subject, please recommend your favourite example or tools. What do you think about procedural design, what do you like about it? and what not?

 

AAP: The Sweeper

It took much longer than I expected but I am really happy to announce my first game, AAP The Sweeper.  Here is the link

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.aap.sweeper

 

AAP stands for Aam Admi Party, a new political party fighting in the coming National Elections in India. ‘Aam Admi’ is the Hindi term for ‘Comman Man’. I made this game in my support for them.

The gameplay is actually a pretty simple ‘Jack in a box’ kind of thing, I wanted to use the symbol of AAP ‘A broom’ extensively and hence chose such a gameplay mechanic. Your objective is to selectively sweep (swipe) corrupt politicians and thieves to courts and jail, all the while making sure that you don’t harm the common man. Few things implemented to make the game better are

  • Visual indications by numbers and colors to indicate whether a swipe was successful or not
  • Dynamic menu screen as my art skills are well bad.
  • Coins which need to be collected by tapping on them, they provide a much needed moment of relaxation during the min of gameplay.
  • Bouncy effect on walls, tail for moving characters.
  • Hype factor which forces one to not be arrogant.
  • A game news paper report, which shows headlines and article relevant to the current gameplay session you had.
  • Objectives, shown at the start and pause of each gameplay session. They are provide a way to communicate that there are different styles of playing.
  • A visually indicating level select screen which shows how far your scores have reached.
  • 5 levels, each with its own unique twist on the levels.

Few things which I had considered but that didn’t make the cut are

  • A fruit ninja style light indicating swipe
  • A burning broom effect when you are at max hype
  • Moving blocks of jail and court, while simple to implement didn’t feel necessary
  • Mini game modes like rolling brooms, akanoid with broom etc

Attached are a few screenshots

 

achievements chennai1 chennai2 delhi1 delhi2 indialevel menu news-ad news-ad2 pause score-ad select tutorial upgrades

 

Please do check it out and let me know what you think

The Packer : TAG 7 Winner

The Arbitrary Game Jam, started by TickTakashi encourages rapid prototyping and brainstorming. The idea is to build games within 3 day time based on the randomly generated themes. TAG has been a great opportunity for me as I got to build my first game (almost completely that is).

TAG 7 themes were NitrogenizeDerogative and Squash with a special rule of “Your Game Must Relate To or Be Inspired By A Personal Moment In Your Life“. My submission was the game “The Packer”. (Its a jar, you need Java to execute it. In case .jar is opened by an archive application use ‘java -jar packer.jar’ in command line to execute it.)

The following are a few screenshots.

 

Packer Screenshot Packer Screenshot

 

 

The Theme:

Please play the game before to see if the game communicates the message on its own.

After finishing my schooling in my hometown, I moved to larger city and college. This was a significant point in my life, when I realized just how big the world was and how different the people were. Growing up in my hometown I never paid much attention to others’ motivations and actions. But here I realized that there is so much to be learned in life from others. So I wanted to make a game which shows the idea of learning from others not as a necessity but as a way of life. So now that I have spilled my idea around the game, please let me know if you were able to get the same from the game. What parts do you think should have been done different to effectively communicate the same.

 

Also since The Packer won TAG 7, we get to host TAG 8. So please join us for TAG 8.

Solve Evolve

Solvevolve, is an attempt to make games of the kind I enjoy. To explain what sort of games one enjoys  is a tough task, one can point to a fews games that one likes and hope others can make out the reasons behind. The better way would be to analyze the aspects which made us enjoy it. The following are few the aspects which I consider make games more “fun”

Eureka:

The reason why scientists become scientists is hoping that can unravel a mystery, the moment when something looks odd (makes no sense) and you pull a string of thought rather reluctantly only to unravel the complicated webbing. This is probably the most impressive thing about games.Games have better resources to pull it off compared to movies, books etc. The fact game designers can control the flow of the user interaction allows to hit that moment better than anything else. World design, level design all boil down how well they can hit this point. Few games which pulled this off superbly are Braid, Limbo etc.

I did it:

The sense of accomplishment is probably the most used (especially during the arcade and NES days) element, but is the most satisfying moments of gaming. This works wonderfully in tandem with the eureka moments, as completing that level  justifies or proves the eureka moment. While it requires more investment in terms of time spent, the victory makes it that much sweeter. The moment the sense of accomplishment is tarnished is when there is a recurring feeling of “Haven’t I done this before?” (a mistake rhythm games make more often than not ). Few games which make it worthwhile to dump in dozens of hours are Super Meat Boy, Dark Souls etc.

Exploration Discovery:

Exploration is something which games should probably be the best in, they involve the highest level of user interaction, higher visual and audio tools for immersion but most games get caught up about providing bigger worlds, larger dungeons, hidden items etc as the common perception is that having more elements to explore improves replayability. People read and re-read the book a number of times, and everytime they have at least  explored the entirety of book. What makes us read the same book periodically? I think its the sense of discovery finding a deeper understanding of a character/interaction. So the discovery can be made entirely in our mind instead of the hidden path, closed door systems that games have employed so effective. Its probably the most difficult thing for any medium to achieve, but definitely a quality which separates contemporary successes from classics. Journey is probably the only game that seemed close to achieving it.

 

While there are many other reasons and games I have personally enjoyed, I can’t think of any that belong in the same league as the above ones. We will be trying to create games with the above in mind. Being a novice game designers it will probably take us consider time to create games of value, I hope we will have support to help us reach such a level.