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Archive for July, 2013

Physics Editor + Corona

Physics Editor + Corona

Got to spend a decent bit of time working on the game the last couple of days. I decided to refactor the code and put it into a new file. I’ve now implemented it inside an API called ‘storyboard’ which handles having different scenes in an app (eg. a menu screen, game over screen, game screen etc). The code had gotten a bit messy from working on it so I went through and condensed duplicated stuff into functions and cleared out old variables and other stuff that had become redundant.

So now the game is in a nice clean new form now I’ve been trying to nail down the controls. Adding the sliding ability of the player has proved to be a headache. There are so many different scenarios I need to account for during collisions with various things and how that affects whatever action the player is doing at the time. Also to enable sliding using the physics engine I broke the player object into about 5 different physics bodies. The physics engine is a bit buggy and often the player physics bodies will sink into other bodies such as walls etc which can mess the logic that needs to be performed. Also I’ve found that when the platform objects sink into the player object sometimes the player will get caught on one of his other physics bodies so will get stuck on the corner of the platform. I’ll have to keep working the controls to get them nice and polished.

Also decided on how I’ll create the levels. I’ll be using a combo of PhysicsEditor and Photoshop. This way I can draw out the collision detection in a basic transparent png and then map those physics properties on to a more detailed jpg or png art file. Here’s an example:

Untitled-1

This would be the collision detection. I just import this into PhysicsEditor, click ‘Trace’ and it’s done. Now I can make any kind of level section I can imagine. I’m hoping to have interior and exterior segments to add some variety.

Until next time!

 

30 July, 20130 comments
Corona Level Editors

Corona Level Editors

I decided I should get some temporary level sections implemented so I can make sure the whole system is running smoothly before I start adding content. So I went and had a look at what my options were for creating the levels.

My first option is to just code the placement of the level assets manually. This however is extremely tedious and feels like there must be a better way. So I went looking.

LH128The first tool I looked into was LevelHelper. At first this tool seemed to be exactly what I was looking for, however it wasn’t until I’d spent most of the day learning to use it that I found out it is not really useful for an endless runner game. This creates a level that is dependant on the LevelHelper API and creates an encapsulated level that you can’t fully access as well as you could if you coded it. So making sections that spawn randomly and then move is difficult if not impossible with this tool. If however I was making a game with defined levels then this tool would be great.

The guy that made this has also made a couple of other great apps including CodeHelper (which I’m currently using) and SpriteHelper. Both of these support Corona and are useful in your toolset.

Check LevelHelper out here: http://www.gamedevhelper.com/levelhelper/

tiled-icon-128The next level tool I tried was called Tiled. This is a great app and really fun to use. The problem I found with Tiled was similar to above. It can export the level to either a JSON or LUA file but then you need a third party add on to bring that into Corona. Again there are just too many hoops to jump through that make coding the game more difficult especially if there are things being utilised that are not under my control. Maybe there is a way to use this in the way I would like but I’m not experienced enough to know how.

Again tiled is great if you want to make predefined levels rather than a procedural one.
You can find Tiled here: http://www.mapeditor.org/index.html

The only other one I’ve found so far is by Karnak Games: http://karnakgames.com/wp/corona-svg-level-builder/ however this one costs US$99 and has no demo that I know of to check if it will be useful. From what I’ve read it again does the same thing as above and prevents you from full access.

If CoronaLabs would get their level editor out at some point it would be great:

What I really need is an editor that just allows me to freely place my assets and then spits out a Lua table that contains the asset parameters that I can then do with what I want. Perhaps in the future when I have learned more programming this will be something easy to achieve. Until then however I’ll keep my eyes out for other options and just continue using a mixture of photoshop and code to make the levels.

If anyone else knows of some good options let me know!

25 July, 20134 comments
Temp Graphics: Player

Temp Graphics: Player

Finally got a chance to do some coding today. I haven’t done any for about two weeks and it is definitely difficult to get back into it the longer I’m away. I have to go back through and remember where everything is and what it does. It also makes adding and changing things a bit more scary as I’m worried I’ll mess something up. But the best thing is just to dive in. Before long I’m back in the flow and everything comes back. Need to make sure I do a bit of coding each day so I don’t go cold and keep learning.

Just fixed a couple of bugs and added in some temp graphics for the player. This helps with seeing what action he is performing and making sure there are no other bugs. Also tweaked the controls a bit to make the slide and attack a bit quicker.

Everything looks pretty clunky at this stage but it’s getting there. My next step is to build the temp levels I showed in the previous post and get a proper game happening so that I can start working more on the core game and level design.

Here’s a video of the latest progress:

23 July, 20130 comments
Making Test Level Sections

Making Test Level Sections

LEVEL_section01 LEVEL_section02 LEVEL_section03

Today I did a bit of work just creating a few level sections just to get something in there to get a feel of how I’d like to design the level. The level will be made up of a number of random ‘segments’ that will be randomly stitched together to create an endless procedural level. I’m making each segment quite big, about 3 times the screen size as I want there to be multiple paths you can take and have the chance of finding hidden things. The game will be mainly about exploration except you won’t have the luxury of going back to choose a different path. You as the player will have to dynamically choose paths on the fly and see where they lead. Paths that are more difficult will reap greater rewards whereas easier ones may allow you to maintain your focus. Sometimes choosing a more difficult path will be hazardous as there may not be as many focus orbs and you may risk losing focus on that path if you are not focused enough before embarking on it.

Today at the Gnostic class I came up with another cool idea that I’m planning to stick in the game – but more on that later. The main thing we learn in Gnosticism is meditation and often while meditating and attempting to prevent thoughts sometime I’ll slip and have a great vision of an idea for the game or my comic CZEPTA. This leads me to believe that harnessing meditation as a way of conjuring and exploring ideas for my work could be powerful.

When life and art walk hand in hand magic is born.

CZG

P!!

22 July, 20130 comments
Gnostic Notes

Gnostic Notes

Photo on 21-07-13 at 10.51 PM

The last few days I’ve been busy with work and other various things. I’ve been going to a Gnostic introductory course for about the last two months and it has been a great source of ideas and knowledge. A lot of the concepts for Mystic Assassin are being directly inspired by what I’ve been learning there. Once I’ve learned a bit more I’ll give some insight into the basic concepts of the Gnostic esoteric tradition.

Today I managed to iron out a few more game design things in my notebook and the game is starting to crystallise in my mind. I now have a better idea of what I need to code and create art for. I’m aiming for this to be a free to play game with in app purchases and will probably do a survey/facebook poll to see what kinds of things people would be most interested in purchasing in the game. I’m thinking of having a form of crafting from items you collect in the astral plane so I will probably have a paid option for purchasing those items also.

Until next time!

Peace!

21 July, 20130 comments
The Vibe

The Vibe

Concept02The vibe of Mystic Assassin will be dark, ancient and supernatural. I envision delving into the most ancient depths of the universe where the old gods still reside amongst the infinite waves of consciousness. A place full of mystery and secrets.

I want it to be a meditative experience using the sound and imagery to transport the player to an alternate dimension. I want to use this game as an avenue to explore creating the world through different mediums that I don’t usually get a chance to try. I’ll be attempting to do all the sound, music, animation and motion graphics. How they’ll come out I’m not sure but I’m keen to learn.

Stole a couple of hours away from doing other work today to whip up some concept art for part of the level. Just trying to get some ideas out and the general vibe. This isn’t quite it but it’s a start. I have a cool idea that as you play and get into deeper levels of the meditation by filling the focus meter slowly the background changes and you can watch the universe being created via a multicultural fusion by way of Czepta creation myth occurring beyond the cave as you play.

Until next time, here is the latest concept art.

Peace!!!

18 July, 20130 comments
The concept so far…

The concept so far…

CZEPTA//The Prophet Rides Again CZEPTA//The Prophet Rides Again (2012)

My focus for the last year and a half has been the creation of my story world known as ‘CZEPTA‘. It manifested itself for the first time at the end of 2012 as a preview comic entitled CZEPTA//The Prophet Rides Again. I continued working on the comic throughout the start of 2013 but nothing was really working. I always find it’s easy to think of a great intro but getting into the meat of the story is another thing all together. I wrote a couple of full scripts and even started drawing pages but it just wasn’t right. I took some time off to develop my art skills further and made a new portfolio. During this time I’ve also been working on another comic series entitled ‘Landfall’ of which I’ve just finished 30 pages of line art but still have a lot of colouring to do.

So with Czepta I’ve constantly been wondering about the perfect way to make it digital. It was slowly dawning on me that if I wanted to make a living telling my stories then comics were probably the most difficult way to do so. So as I started thinking of creating a more interactive experience akin to my favourite web series ‘Nawlz‘. Nawlz is great but is quite linear and there were many times reading where I wanted to peek around a corner or look closer at a poster down an alley. There also seemed like many opportunities in the narrative for non linear exploration of certain scenes and environments. The more I thought about this, the closer my idea started to get to a video game.

Once I learned about Corona I did a few tutorials and started doing some design work on the Czepta game. My basic idea was for it to be a point and click adventure which would basically allow you to explore the world of Czepta all you like. The only game I’ve really played and finished in the last few years has been Telltale’s The Walking Dead. This game is one of the finest implementations of a story in a game I’ve ever experienced. Although you could argue there is more watching than playing to be done. So this was the game style I had in mind for Czepta minus the ‘choose your own adventure’ aspect. For the cutscenes I would have a kind of motion comic and you would have to progress the story in a similar way to the Walking Dead.

Original Mystic Assassin Concept from Wulfpak Saga 2009 Original Mystic Assassin Concept from Wulfpak Saga (2009)

I realised quickly that what I wanted to do was beyond my technical skills and therefore decided to make a smaller more simple game first. I had a few dumb ideas based on the tutorials I learned but decided to tackle one of the many other stories I’ve come up with over the years. I decided on ‘Mystic Assassin’ a character I came up with when I made WULFPAK! in 2009.

The Mystic Assassin were basically the bad guys in the wider story and a bunch of demonic ninjas. WULFPAK! was heavily influenced by early Wu-Tang and the Mystic Assassin costumes were influenced by ‘Da Mystery of Chessboxin’ ‘ music video.

I had another similar looking character which I created during my time living in Melbourne in 2010 which I created as an idea for a parkour style adidas game. I only did one rough sketch of him but this is basically the starting point from where I’m going with the game idea.

addidas The Adidas Concept (2010)

So, Mystic Assassin at the moment will be some kind of endless runner/platformer based inside the Czepta universe in some kind of alternate dimension. I want it to be a kind of standalone mini-story and force myself not to blow it out bigger than that. I also don’t want the game to be about violence. So there won’t be any fighting monsters or anything like that. The general story idea I have in my head at the moment is that the Mystic Assassin are a kind of supernatural shaolin brotherhood that exist outside of time in a spirit dimension. They are training themselves in astral martial arts and must practice manoeuvring through the astral landscape whilst maintaing a high level of focus. The deeper they get in their meditation practice, the more mysteries they unlock including communing with ancient gods. There will be obstacles and challenges and great rewards.

Well that’s the general idea so far and enough typing for one night. If you read to this point thanks for your interest and I’ll endeavour to start pumping out some nice art to look at as soon as I’ve cleaned my plate of the freelance projects I’m currently tied up with.

Peace!!

 

17 July, 20132 comments
More his story, randomness and tutorials related to the learning of video game creation.

More his story, randomness and tutorials related to the learning of video game creation.

Morrowind-coverA few years ago I decided for a reason I have since forgotten to give up on being an animator and film director and decided to go to university. I never finished high school. I left when I was 16 to study animation in Auckland. Luckily in New Zealand one is able to gain entrance to University once they turn 20 if they do not have the required qualifications usually needed from high school. At the time I was obsessed with playing a couple of the Elder Scrolls games – Morrowind and Oblivion had just been released. These games really got to me. The depth of the world and the freedom was something that I had never experienced before. Then I discovered the Mod community which led me in even deeper. At the time there were many discussions about how to bring the world of Morrowind into the Oblivion game (which has since been done I believe) and I began digging around in the level editor and discovered how to bring the assets in. I began thinking of what I could do with this new found knowledge and made a failed attempt to create my own story based mod.

Anyway during this experience I became interested in the idea of learning computer science and so that’s what I enrolled in at Auckland University. It didn’t last long but I managed to complete the 101 course and so had my first experience programming. I enjoyed it a lot. We made a bunch of small games and I found programming itself a lot like a puzzle game whereby manipulating various  phrases you could make all kinds of cool things happen.

Now back to the present. My brief stint at Uni gave me a leg up now when I was starting to learn to code again. The basic concepts of how it works were still there so learning the language (Lua) was not completely alien. As I began to type it felt good like a fond memory and I began learning the language as quickly as a three year old. Although, what I’ve learned so far is just the basics.

This is what I have so far… ready for the app store right? My progress so far. I have my character (blue box) with controls working (swipe up = jump, swipe down = slide, swipe forward = attack), there is a random level generator, a “focus” bar that decreases over time and triggers a game over when it runs out. There are a few objects – blue orbs add focus, red ones decrease it. The red blocks are obstacles you must attack to pass through. There is also alot of collision stuff in there to make it so you have to slide to get through tunnels and so you can’t slide through obstacles etc.

Well that’s all I’ve got for now. Below are a couple of tutorials I completed to learn some of what I implemented above. Definitely worth doing if you are new to programming and learning corona.

Tutorials

Mobile tuts+: Corona SDK – Build and Endless Runner From Scratch!
Corona SDK – Game Tutorial

 

15 July, 20130 comments
History and SDKs

History and SDKs

It kind of happened suddenly. I was busy working on comic pages at my desk listening to indie game dev podcast when the host mentioned an SDK (software development kit, I had to look it up) named Corona. Enthusiastically he commented that ANYONE could make a game with it and perhaps a successful one at that. I’ve been doing comics for a while but knew that it is becoming more and more and niche medium and that if I was going to do them, they would have to be digital. There have been many different ways of doing digital comics but none of them felt quite right for what I was interested in doing. At some point I started listening to podcasts and watching videos of people making games and slowly the idea began to creep up on me. Here was a medium that used pictures and required interactivity where the only limit on what you can do is your imagination.

I’ve been a gamer my whole life since playing ‘Shufflepuck Cafe’ on my Nanna’s Amiga. Another early memory was playing ‘Jill of the Jungle’ off an assortment of floppy disks. I remember playing Doom, Wolfenstein and Duke Nukem 3D on friends PCs whenever I got the chance. My dad would occasionally bring back games from over-seas travels such as Myst, Grim Fandango and MechWarrior. On weekends it would be Final Fantasy, Resident Evil and Tony Hawk once the Playstation came out.

I’ve toyed with the idea of making my own art in most mediums, film, music, comics, novels, but never considered making a game before. Games alway seemed like they just showed up from the aether, handed down by the gods of entertainment. When I got older it was obvious they required a tonne of technical skill, a lot of money and a lot of people.

Well, those days have changed. It is an incredible time to be making games right now. The tools available allow small teams and even individuals to create their own games without needing to be rocket scientists. And not only on the development side but the market for games today is ravenous. People cannot get enough of games and now more people than ever can and want to access them. Suddenly making a game seems like the most obvious thing to do.

corona2_GzOLbIAfter looking at the various development kits available such as Unity,  Cocos 2dx, Love, Gamesalad, GameMaker and Stencyl, it turned out that the one I had heard of originally, ‘Corona‘ was the right fit for me. It is cross platform for iOS and Android, has a built in Box2D physics engine and uses a simple language known as LUA. I was interested in learning to program so wanted an SDK that would allow me to learn which knocked out the ‘drag and drop’ engines like game salad. I also knew I wanted to go 2D so I could easily create the art myself so that ruled out Unity which is a 3D engine. After the last couple of months of learning in my spare time I’ve started to get the hang of Lua coding and started putting the foundation of my game together.

In the next post I will talk about how I began learning the basics of coding and making games and how I decided on what kind of game to make first.

Peace!

CZG

Genesis

Genesis

This page will be a devlog where you can watch rough concept art and jumping squares become a full mobile game for iOS and android. I’ll be posting about how I’m learning to go from an artist that has little programming experience to a game developer. I will post about what I’m learning such as the tools, code and art and also about my thoughts on the game’s design.

So jump in keep in touch and let me know your thoughts!

Peace!

Czepta Gold

13 July, 20130 comments