August 31, 2007

Alpha FTW! (T +4 Hours from Alpha)

Alpha demonstration today went spectacular. The professor said she thought it looked well past the alpha milestone she had envisioned. The grading called for comparing our project plan (which was ambitious) to our actual progress (obviously more realistic), which was a bit nerve racking as we had to keep identifying things that hadn't been finished our had only partially been finished. All over it went really well though and the prof seemed impressed so I'm happy. There's still plenty to do, but I think we are in a good position to get into the exhibition. W00t!

I think it's done... (T -5 Hours to Alpha)

I think our Alpha may finally be done...

Some of the features from Jane's level haven't been ported over yet, but it's definitely in a good state right now, very playable, which is right where we want to be. There's still a lot to be done, but definitely got a lot accomplished tonight.

So should I sleep? I suppose I should try...

Surprise, you've been Torqued! (T -7 hours to Alpha)

Well, the good news is rebuilding the level from my source has proven to correct the problem. The problem is of course everything needs to be rebuilt. This isn't a huge deal just some editor grunt work. Things need to be moved over from the old level one at a time, reset, and then tested to ensure they haven't broken the game. Still, the game seems pretty good at this point, definitely a lot of work to do (right now the enemies are pretty brutal), but we're on our way!

August 30, 2007

Those are some bad roaches... (T -9 Hours to Alpha)

Massive bugs attacked our first level upon integration for Alpha. Unable to ascertain the problem, it seems like the only solution is to rebuild the level piece by piece and see if it breaks again. This time, with many, many backups. Oi....

It Begins (T -12 Hours to Alpha)

I may be putting a little too much pressure on getting our Alpha as close to "true" Alpha as possible, but I figure it means work I won't have to do later and a better grade for this stage of the project. Anyway, I'm expecting it to take the majority of the night so I am thinking of doing updates on the blog as the night proceeds. We'll see depending on how well things are moving and how long it takes overall. There are a few other projects going on, but tonight the only thing I'm worried about is Alpha tomorrow...

August 29, 2007

Art Assignment #10 (?)

To be fair, I have no idea what number assignment this is, but it feels like I have spent a lot more time on art than some of my other classes. Anyway, I made a crate and I was pretty happy with the results. I may clean it up a little more before final submission, but I think it looks pretty good. Definitely worthy of containing goodies for the avatar of your average first person shooter :).

Alright, that's all I have for today. I have a combat system balancing exercise I should do a little more work on for Game Studies tomorrow, I need to at least start (if not finish) my Level Abstract, and VIRUS Alpha is now in less than two days. I think our Alpha will be good, but I also think it has the potential to steal a lot of sleep from me tomorrow night. We'll see...we'll see...

P.S. Anyone know where you can get custom T-shirts made on the cheap? Lemme know!

August 28, 2007

The Long Road

Sometimes it still surprises me that things can continue to ramp up. Big projects are due in pretty much every class (except Art currently) and VIRUS is supposed to be at Alpha in a little over two days. I actually think my team is doing a pretty good job, but we're officially supposed to lock our Alpha content for implementation as of midnight tonight and I have no idea how ready we are for that. Still, I think we will have something functional for Alpha, though hopefully the finished product will be much more refined. I bought a wireless gaming adapter thing for my PC which will let me use my 360 controller for the game, which I think will make it more fun to play. I think the gameplay lends itself to more of an XBL title than a PC game. Anyway, there's plenty to do so I should probably cease blogging at this point. Later!

August 27, 2007

Sometimes, this place can make you go crazy...

So in my previous post I lamented the Level Overview because I couldn't think of an idea that seemed entirely different from other things I have played or was playing. Here, I will continue lamenting that assignment for a completely different reason. After obsessing about the overview for far longer than the assignment warranted, I finally managed to create something I was happy with and could envision building a level around.

Today, in class, it was revealed that we weren't building a level off of our own overview, we were being asked to design a level abstract based on another student's overview. Needless to say, this revelation upset me as I had poured remarkable amounts of mental effort into the assignment on the notion it would pay off in writing the abstract. Oh well, I guess what's done is done, and I have to kind of laugh about the whole thing. At least I don't have to go design the 90+ minute level I had envisioned (sorry, whoever drew my overview)...

Anyway, there's work to be done. Take it easy, all!

August 26, 2007

Stupid Bioshock...

It turns out when you've been hardcore playing a particular first-person shooter for several days and then are asked to design an FPS your thoughts tend to get sucked toward that game you've been enjoying so much. As such, much of today has been spent trying to come up with an FPS that is dissimilar from Bioshock and System Shock 2, so I can write a level overview (and later a level abstract) for one of the levels in that game. It has been an unfortunately unproductive day despite my best efforts and there is still a lot I need to do before I can go to sleep. Oh well...

August 25, 2007

Sleep, what is is good for?

Well, I totally missed yesterday's post, oh well. Since the last post, I had my art midterm which wasn't terribly bad, but the time constraints made it almost impossible to finish. Not my best work, but passable I suppose. Friday was your average Friday except last night I ended up working on my game until about 11:30 then played Bioshock for a couple hours.

Since I ended up playing games for a least a little of Friday, I don't consider it a complete violation of my "don't work on Friday nights" policy, though I admittedly ended up working a lot later than I had intended. The game seems to be on the right track though it is admittedly much different from what we had set out to design. Much of the core gameplay is still there, but the code base just isn't flexible enough to do a lot of what we wanted. Anyway, it's another "lazy" Saturday with a to do list about as long as my arm, so I best get to it. Talk to y'all later!

August 23, 2007

Mmmm...Delicious Cake

So last night I ended up playing a lot of Bioshock instead of studying much for my exam or working on my team game project as I probably should have. I actually felt kind of guilty about it this morning (despite the fact that I have been working like crazy the last few weeks), but then I totally crushed this morning's exam, and I felt a lot better about things. Still, there's a lot of work I need to do on our prototype and I have an art midterm this evening, so I can't exactly sit on my laurels, but it is good to know that I am at least learning what I should be. Huzzah!

Anyway, I'm going to eat lunch and get back to studying. Later!

August 22, 2007

I miss PLAYING games sometimes...

Don't get me wrong, I love what I am working on, but I sort of miss playing games. I got the chance to enjoy a little Bioshock today and it was just sublime. Now, I have to study for two midterms tomorrow and still have plenty of team game production deadlines hanging over my head. Oh well, I finished my chapel and it came out pretty well I think. I need to take some screen shots for art class so I'll post them later. Alright, time for studying...

...and maybe more Bioshock? Let's hope!

August 21, 2007

The Big Daddy Mocks Me

Well, it's Bioshock day, but my limited edition Bioshock sits unopened, except for the replica big daddy sitting on my desk mocking me as I have to work on my chapel assignment. The level is actually coming together really well and I think it will make for an excellent piece, but I probably have to spend the rest of the night working on it and some of tomorrow. I'm going to try to at least start Bioshock up tonight, we'll see how far I get. Anyway, my homework awaits, so I must be off...

August 20, 2007

Spit It Out

Going along with the "more than I can chew" analogy, my group and I decided today "spit out" some of the scope of our project. Most notably, we moved the game from being top-down to side scrolling. Frankly, we have an enormous and largely confusing code base that is written to power 2D side-scrollers, and trying to get away from that was headache-inducing. We have managed to keep much of the core gameplay intact, and I have already managed to design one of the main scripts we will need in order to power the game's weapon system. There's still much to do, but instead of rewriting entire sections of code, I am attempting to creatively use the components that already exist. On that note, I should get back to it, TTFN!

August 19, 2007

More Than I Can Chew?

After staring at the code of the Platformer Framework for multiple hours and still having accomplished almost nothing, I am starting to feel I may have overextended myself on this one. As opposed to taking what exists (i.e., the code to develop a side-scrolling platformer). I decided to develop a game that much of the existing code isn't designed to support. Now I either need to rewrite huge amount of code that I don't understand, or significantly redesign the project.

The silver lining in this is, or should be, that programmatically a top-down shooter style game should be easier to implement as it doesn't need to deal with Physics states or anything like that. The problem of course is that I will need to implement all new functionality or shoehorn the existing code as much as I can. Well, I'll spend a little more time seeing what I can accomplish, then call it a night. Oi...

August 18, 2007

My "Lazy" Saturday

Yep, I only worked for eight hours today, it's like a vacation! I spent the rest of my time playing Persona 3, or catching up on random chores and errands I've been meaning to do. Tomorrow's a work day though. I need to have the prototype code basically written up by EOD Tuesday, while simultaneously learning C#, XNA, Torque X, and trying to keep up with my other classes. It's gonna be another long week...

The real sad thing is my group had a scheduling meeting today to plan out the schedule for the rest of the project and looking at the time we have a lotted we were forced to seriously cut down the scope of the project. We are keeping the core gameplay mostly intact, but it's a little sad (though not terribly surprising) that we had to cut out some of the stuff we were all excited about. I guess that's the whole point though. Alright, I think I'm gonna play with the Bioshock demo some more and then head to bed. Night all!

August 17, 2007

TWO WEEKS to Alpha?!?!

Ummm, so I should have realized this from looking at one of those analog date tracking devices (I think they call them calendars), but our team game needs to be done in the next four weeks and our alpha version is due in two...TWO!!! What this means is that we need to have a working version of all the prototype code (that would be yours truly's responsibility) by somewhere around next Thursday. Add to that two midterms and a large level design project and you've got one hell of a week. Man, I really thought I was gonna get a breather. Oh well...

My brother has been clamoring to see these "tiles" that I have been complaining both on and off line for the past couple days. So with further ado, here they are, my 2D chapel tileset...





Dead Tree




Swamp (animated sprite sheet)

Wood Midground

Baptismal Font

Foot Bridge

Floating Candle (animated sprite sheet)


Stone Foreground

Wood Braces (Foreground)

Stone Midground

Stone Stairs


Wood Braces (Background)

Wood Background



Ground Top

Clouds Light

Clouds Dark

Hill Background

Night Sky

Stone Background

That's all of them. Most of the stuff was hand-painted/rendered in Photoshop and some are reference images with a nice artistic filter over them. Hopefully I can share a few screenshots the completed composition next week. But, that can wait until at least tomorrow...

August 16, 2007

My First All-Nighter

While I recognize I have technically missed two days in a row, I am counting this post for Thursday regardless of what the blog calendar says. Anyway, the reason I couldn't post yesterday was because I spent the majority of the day (and night) preparing tiles for an Art project that will later be used to actually build an actual level in level design. Both are big projects so it was a lot to do and with all the the Team Game Production stuff going on I hadn't had much time before yesterday.

I had to stay up all night to get it done (the first time in my academic career actually), but I was overall pleased with the results. Though my productivity and sanity took a little bit of a nose dive around 5:30 A.M. Remarkably not tired except for a few more drawn out points in lecture, I still haven't slept, though my bed is calling to me at this very moment.

We had our level design midterm yesterday as well, I think it went well, not perfect but plenty good enough. My team also got an A+ on our concept doc and presentation, hooray! Anyway, I have to get to bed so I can get up a little early to churn out a Asset list for tomorrow's Team Game Production class. It's looking like this weekend might actually have some free time, which will be exciting. If only Bioshock was already out...

August 14, 2007

Bioshock in a Word: Awesome

Yeah, so this isn't a strictly game design related post, well maybe it is. I guess since I've started here I look at games a little more critically than I used to. Instead of just seeing a game as good or bad, I tend to break it down to what is it about that game that makes it that way and how can it be improved in either case. That being said, I had the good fortune to try the Bioshock demo on XBL last night and I was just stunned.

Anyone who reads the Den or talks to me about games can tell you that I have been pulling for Bioshock for quite a while now. A spiritual successor to System Shock 2 made by many of that games original developers? Count me in. The demo even surpassed my expectations. Everything I had seen up this point had been cool and showed that the gameplay was going to be interesting and offer the player a lot of interesting choices in their adventure, but the presentation had been...well, lacking. The demo completely changed my perception, the visuals were amazing, the environment was immersive, the audio was solid and genuinely creepy in places, the gameplay was fun and non-linear, at least in approach. This was definitely a game I was excited for, but it has become a game I am willing to lose sleep over in order to play (ended up staying up until about 1:00 A.M. with the demo) which is good since that is very well what I might have to do.

As for school there's a lot that I need to do between now and Thursday and I'm not entirely sure it's possible. For example, here's the rough list of tiles I came up with that I will need to create before Thursday:

  • Night Sky w/ Stars
  • Clouds
  • Moon
  • Ground
    • Top
    • Base
  • Stone
    • FG
    • MG
    • BG w/ Windows
  • Stone Stairs
  • Baptismal font
  • Candelabra
    • Top (animated)
    • Middle
    • Bottom
  • Wood
    • FG
    • MG
    • BG
  • Wood Cross-slat BG
  • Roof (FG)
  • Cross
  • Rope
    • Middle
    • Bottom
  • Ladder
    • Top
    • Middle
    • Bottom
  • Fence
    • FG
    • BG
  • Mausoleum
  • Graves
  • Dead Tree
  • Water (animated)
I started on it last night and got a couple done, but that still leaves many left to do. Anyway, I'm on my way to finish off one of the tiles before I go to write my paper about you Starcraft has changed the videogame industry, but if you haven't tried the Bioshock demo yet and you own a 360, go download it right now.

August 13, 2007

I've got a VIRUS

Heh, I wish that was entirely just a play on words, but I have in fact gotten sick. A flu/cold virus has been slowly moving through my circle of friends so I guess I shouldn't find it surprising that I have contracted it. Still, the irony that I managed to get sick right before I had to present our game concept, VIRUS, isn't lost on me.

The presentation went well I think and the first version of our Game Design Doc is solid, but there's still plenty to do. Many of my classes have big projects or midterms this week and that's only the tip of the iceberg. Who knew that going to game school would actually give me less free time. Also, being sick isn't helping any. I still really enjoy it and I feel like I am learning things a hyper speed, but I think it is starting to tax me a little more than is healthy. Anyway, I'm off to do a little work before class. As always, if you are interested in seeing any of the docs just let me know, thanks!

August 12, 2007

Too Busy to Blog!

How can I write a post that conveys I am too busy to write? Wait, I'll just call it "Too Busy to Blog!" Brilliant!

August 11, 2007

Everybody's working on the weekend...What? They aren't?!

Yep, I am sitting here slowly churning out page after page of game design document on this lovely Saturday evening. Actually, I just got back from a meeting with my group and now I am returning to the page churning. I miss weekends, I really do...

I suppose it wouldn't be so bad if it was the only think going on. Oh well, I'm sure it will all manage to get done, it's just a question of how serious an impact it has on my health. Things are definitely continuing to ramp up though. Spending at least one night a week up until the wee hours of the morning working on something has become almost expected and I can only imagine that will continue to grow.

August 10, 2007

You can find me on Google!

Since I have no idea how to get to this site without knowing its exact address, I was curious how others might find it. To my surprise, if you search for "Adventures In Game Design" I am the 9th hit, first page! A restrictive search to be sure, but still it excited me to know others could potentially find it without knowing the exact address. Anyway, I have a little work to do on this Friday night (yeah, it sucks). Later!

Gphoria, I'm bored with you

Seriously, how many times can G4 show Gphoria 2007 in one 24 hour period? It was on when I woke up, it was on while I ate lunch, it was on while I was eating dinner last night. I suppose the question is how many times can I leave it on instead of changing the channel? The answer is a lot, the show isn't even very good, but during the middle of the day there's really nothing on, and so it makes good background filler with pretty pictures.

VIRUS: The Concept Doc

Well, our first formal document, the concept doc has been officially submitted for our 2D project. For your reading pleasure I have included the 'High Concept' section of the document. Let me know if you want to see the rest and I can send it out (I really wish I could post documents).

High Concept

VIRUS is a 2D, top-down action game with RPG and puzzle elements in which the player controls a genetically-engineered super virus (referred to only as ‘the Virus’) as it travels through a host. The Virus has been designed with only one objective: to proliferate by taking over the host’s brain and using the host to infect others before the body gives out.

The gameplay of VIRUS is an exciting mix of traditional top down shooters and action role-playing games wherein the player will combat enemies using both melee and ranged attacks, grow in strength and develop new abilities, configure the Virus’s “equipment” to accommodate different play styles, and solve innovative puzzles to advance in his or her quest through the body.

The story of VIRUS is about the Virus and its creators. The Virus is a genetically-engineered super virus, capable of mutating within a host and controlling the host’s mind by infecting the brain. It is a project of H.E.L.M., a government-sponsored biochemical weapons development agency. The story begins when, during an autopsy, the lead H.E.L.M. scientist accidentally drops a bloody scalpel on his foot and releases the Virus into his system. The Virus immediately sets off to accomplish its designated task; meanwhile, an elite team of H.E.L.M. agents have quarantined the lead scientist and are doing everything in their power to stop the spread of the Virus before it is too late. Now, the Virus must contend with the team’s healing efforts in addition to fighting off the scientist’s immune system, traversing the body’s enigmatic terrain, and competing with other pathogens. Both sides are fighting for their survival and the survival of their entire species.

The look and feel of VIRUS is a cartoon abstraction of the human body, which will accentuate the very alien and organic feeling of the environment. The art style is focused on maintaining the esoteric look of the internal environment while simplifying complex biological systems to make the game accessible to the average player. Also, art and design choices will incorporate scaled versions of familiar objects (e.g., syringes, medicine capsules, bones, and internal organs) to achieve a believable sense of scale. The style will make the player feel like a very small part of a very large, hostile environment that appears biological but not distastefully gross.

August 9, 2007

The Choice

If faced with choice between doing something easy and relatively unspectacular or stretching to your limits and possibly falling flat on your face, which would you choose? What if a grade was involved? What do you think I would choose?

As anyone who knows me (or can see where this post is going) could tell you, I choose the latter option. While developing the concept for my 2D game I recently got in a discussion with the professor that basically communicated it would be difficult to implement. He loved the concept but felt that a lot of new code would need to be developed in order to work. Well, I like a challenge and also I've been known to let my creative ambition overwhelm my technical limitations before, so whatever.

Anyway, there's still a lot of concept stuff still to flesh out before this even becomes an issue, but I think reading the C# book just went from optional to required. So here I go...

August 8, 2007

Perfect Pebbles are Perfectly Crappy

The title refers to an art assignment we have called 'Perfect Pebbles.' Basically we have to create a tiling texture from this pile of rocks that do not tile well at all (as you imagine rocks wouldn't). It's a lot of time starting intently at Photoshop trying to create new edges and blend everything together, and it's a giant pain. We start on 3D Max tomorrow which should be cool, but we also have to create all the tiles for a simple 2D level, in addition to all our other stuff, which is crazy.

Anyway, we finally managed to nail down the concept for our 2D game during our meeting today, so everyone is working feverishly to get our concept document done for this Friday and then move straight into creating the 40+ page design doc which is due Monday. Hooray! At least it's stuff I'm excited about...if it doesn't kill me. We got to create a simple level in Torque today with a player character which was cool. It's all very exciting stuff, just a lot of it. Anyway, I am off to eat dinner, craft pebbles, and write a concept doc. Later!

P.S. I found out you can make recurring tasks in Outlook (who knew), which may in fact convince me to post to this every day. We'll see how it goes...

August 7, 2007

Busy in Paradise

I didn't realize how long it had been since I posted something. I guess time flies while you're having fun and/or drowning in work. Still I love it here, I feel like I am learning all these different pieces of game design at crazy intense speeds. It's great. All my projects have been going very well and I'm pretty sure I did well on the two midterms we had last week. I know I aced one of them, but I have no idea when I even expect to find out how I did on art. I imagine I did "alright" not great, but good enough.

We got assigned our groups for team game project and my level design counterpart is the venerable Jane (previously, if not obscurely, mentioned). She's smart, very organized, and way more artistic than I am, which is good wince she is the art level designer (LD). The way it works is LD splits into two specialties art and programming (i.e., scripting), so for this term, each team is composed of two artists, an art LD, and a programming LD. Not surprisingly, I chose programming. Anyway, we have a concept document due this Friday (and unfortunately the much larger game design doc the following Monday) so we are still working out the details of the final concept, but I will try to make you all aware as things develop.

I had the funny idea on Sunday night that I could try to write at least once a day on this thing, even if it was just a few short sentences. It seems simple enough, and yet I have no idea how I went seven days without posting anything at all. Maybe if I can work it somewhere in my daily routine (around a meal, or my morning/evening routines). I'll see what I can do. Just keep harassing me with comments and emails and I'll try to get my butt in gear. Anyway, I've got a game concept to go develop. I'll catch you later!