Fish of the day: Shiny strange seahorse.
And for all of you fish-enthusiasts out there (anyone?) Here are some fish puns.
Fish of the day: Shiny strange seahorse.
And for all of you fish-enthusiasts out there (anyone?) Here are some fish puns.
Friends, we are still here. We might have gone under the radar for a short period, but stuff is happening!
Some time ago we flew across Norway to the wet, cold and windy town of Bergen to go to Konsoll. Konsoll is a conference (or festival) for game developers – aiming to create a sustainable game development industry in Norway. We, or at least me (Jennydalf), was quite nervous about this small adventure. I wouldn´t be so bold as to call myself a “game developer” yet, even though I am the mastermind behind the blockbuster “Jennyball”.
After listening to the awesome speakers, and meeting a lot of talented people, we realized that we might have been aiming a bit high with “Edgar”. It´s quite a complicated game to be our first, and since we are very eager to learn and make something as fast as possible, we started to think of simpler concepts that would still be interesting and fun to make and play.
Sooo… *drumroll* Let us introduce: “Aquanaut” or “Akuanaut” or “Nautical” or “the big climb” or “up up and away” or… well… we´ll think of a good name.
I really really reeeeaaally like fish. If I wasn´t a graphic designer, I would have been a marine biologist. This game involves a lot of fish. I´m gonna have so much fun with the graphics!
It´s a simple jump-forever-and-ever-game. You play the role of a lost diver, waking up at the bottom of the ocean. You need to collect air to survive. You jump from one fish to another to get higher. Different fish have different functions. Eventually you might reach the surface (and beyond!). Besides air, you collect some sort of in-game currency as you jump, and at the end of each level you will be able to buy gear to improve the diver. (And lots and lots of other interesting features.)
This is gonna be fun!
Update 20.10.13: Just to be clear: Edgar is not dead. We definitely want to bring him to life eventually.
Me and Jennydalf are busy learning Unity3D, our weapon of choice for making games. We are already too proud to keep it to our selves, so why not show you this first masterpiece of a game already, while we are trying to figure out where the power button is. Note that Jenny did most of it, my role was simply adding some mindblowing sound-FX.
So don’t just stand there, but try out “Jennyball – The Evil Absorber of Tiny Green Cubes (that go ding)” here:
– https://www.jennydalf-and-ninjolai.com/pub/rollerball/ (for Mac OS X and Windows)
– Linux version is here: https://www.jennydalf-and-ninjolai.com/pub/rollerball_linux_x86.zip
You can compare scores, for bragging rights if you’d like, post them here or on Facebook!
PS: I wouldn’t look for introductory tutorials for Unity 3D similar to this game, they don’t exist.
Since both Nikolai and I have full time jobs, it´s a little tough to find time to work on the game. But we´re slowly moving forward, and spend most of our evenings talking about the game concept or learning Unity. I have started on a great tutorial, which explains most of what the different tools in the program do. I´m also working my way through code academy´s programming-lessons, to get a basic grip on coding. Nikolai will of course be the one doing that part of the work, but it´s helpful to know a bit about the language.
The game concept is starting to get somewhere as well. The main storyline is getting clearer, and we have some new thoughts around the mechanics. Nothing is set in stone yet, but I feel we´re moving in the right direction.
We have talked a lot about it, and come to the conclusion that we don´t want to share the full storyline until the game is done. It has some twists and turns that we would like to be a surprise. But we´ll give you a short summary of the basic plot, and what poor Edgar has to face:
So that´s the plot. Roughly… It´s pretty basic, and gives Edgar a clear motive: Collect parts to fix his girlfriend. It also makes it easy for us to divide the game into chapters – one for each part. In each chapter you will be introduced to new or more advanced mechanics.
It´s a common story, but the twists makes it special. Just wait.
About the mechanics: This is where we have been struggling. The mechanics has to be based on something that the humans could have used as a weapon against the robots. Something that destroys or manipulates metal. We lost the battle for magnets against Teslagrad and our new friends from Bergen (Go play the demo). So then what? We talked a bit about using the qualities of metal itself. (Melting points, chemical reactions, corrosion, mass….) but it didn´t really fit into the idea of a weapon. So we made a list:
What can destroy a robot:
-Nature (genetically modified super-nature)
-Teleporters (Just teleport them into space. Done deal)
Acid. Acid is cool. There has been made several games using acid before, we know that… but it fits really well. It could also add something to the story, in terms of the humans making a weapon that not only destroyed the robots – but also, in the end, themselves.
…So we started talking about the possibilities of using acid, and I started sketching:
If any of you people out there has any thoughts or ideas, please share them with us. Like I said: nothing is set in stone yet.
So, I think we finally settled on using Unity to make our game. After googling a lot, and talking to a couple of game-developers in Norway (who all use Unity) it seemed like the logical choice.
I downloaded it today. I have never worked in a game engine before, and didn´t quite know what to expect. It´s a 3D game engine, so I expected a lot of trouble. 3D is a completely unexplored territory for me. Our game is going to be a 2D platformer, but apparently you can still make it in Unity. You just have to make it “flat” 3D in a way. I´ll probably know more about this soon.
My initial reaction after opening the program, and watching a tutorial that was far over my head, was something like this:
Seriously… I didn´t even understand how to move the camera.
But then I found this awesome tutorial on how to make a tree. And I made one. Just look at it. It has branches and leaves and everything!
I think this small achievement might have gone to my head.
So… as you can tell, I am incredibly optimistic at the moment. Maybe I´ll try to make something that is actually relevant for our game tomorrow. Or maybe I´ll make more trees.
Apart from making super-simple flash ads through my job as a Graphic Designer, I have pretty much never animated a thing before. We had a couple of lessons when I went to the art academy, but nothing advanced. So… I´m expecting a pretty steep learning curve. I will make all the graphic material for our game, which involves a lot of moving objects.
After playing around in Adobe after effects for a little while now, I have come to realize that I not only have to learn how to animate, but I will also have to do some serious research on how different things move. For example: I tried to make a crate fall from the sky (because sometimes crates do that.) Sounds pretty simple. But then I had to figure out how fast it should fall, how hard it should hit the ground, the impact sending the crate back up again, and how fast it then would fall back down again. The game engine we choose will probably do a lot of this work for us, but it´s still practical for me to know how it works.
For now I´m using Adobe After Effects. I don´t know if that´s the best way to go around animating for games, but it´s a program I´m fairly familiar with. After animating your clip, it also allows you to export your movie into an png-sequence. Then you get all of the still-frames in separate image files. I can use this later to make sprites for the game.
I could of course hand-draw each frame to get a more dynamic look to it, but since Edgar is a robot made out of solid pieces connected with joints, I get a more realistic robot-animation by just moving and turning his joints as they are.
Anyhow: Edgar is alive! Look at him go! The animations need some polishing, and I have to work a bit with the timing of things. Like how fast the wheel is gonna turn, and how his joints will move. Still… I´m just happy to see him moving!
And: If anybody has any advice on how to make good sprite-sheets, and what kind of tools to use. Let me know!
This was the first animation I ever made of Edgar. It´s a rough test to see how he will function in an environment with different elements. I used the puppet-tool in After effects, which is stretching him like he´s made of rubber. The examples above, where I don´t stretch the joints, works better. The sound effects are hilarious! Just free samples I grabbed from looperman. And the jumping-animation is way off. He needs more power in his jump to go that high.
Soooo… We went out with a couple of friends yesterday, and talked about our game. The reaction was “Oh, like Teslagrad! A friend of mine is making that. He´s from Bergen!”. Apparently he is also a part of Hyperion, an awesome organisation I do some designwork for. Who would have though? Dammit… So that was a minor setback.
In our defence, it´s pretty much impossible to be completely original these days, and we hadn´t heard about the game before. But we want to be original. Or at least original within our own country. Preferably in the world, but that could be a challenge. Norway doesn´t have that big of an indie-game scene, and to be competing with somebody with a game based on the same idea could be problematic. And maybe also a bit unpopular. We don´t want to be unpopular.
When that´s said, Teslagrad looks awesome. I have only seen the demo, but it seems really smooth. You´re playing this small guy with a glove that can make certain things magnetic, which allows him to make elements (or himself) soar around because of the magnetic polarity. It´s scheduled to be released this year on PS3. The story and atmosphere in the game is very different from what we´re planning to make, but the basic idea of using magnets is the same.
But we don´t want to let go of our concept or our story. Edgar is too good, and the universe we have started to create around him is really interesting. So we though: why not turn it around? In the beginning we decided to make a metal character because of the magnets, but why not focus on the qualities metal? It opens up a whole new aspect. We can play with rust, soft metals, hard metals, melting points, oxidation… Magnets will still be a part of the game, but maybe just as a chapter? We haven´t polished the idea yet, but we do think this has potential 😀
After a summer of feeling ridiculously smart playing games like Braid and Limbo, it was pretty clear to us that our game should be a puzzle-game. And since we lack experience in making games, starting with a 2D platformer seemed smart. So that´s what we´re going to do.
All of the best puzzle-games contains some sort of main mechanism that you use to solve problems. Whether it´s rewinding time, making portals or turning into a chicken. We want to use magnets, because magnets are cool. In a game they would be particularly cool if the character is made of metal. It made sense to make our main character a robot. We figure it will give us a lot of opportunities to play with the physics of magnetism and metal, and our poor robot character will be tossed and dragged around.
But why would our robot be in a world filled with magnets? I´ll tell you soon. It´s gonna involve war, love and cushions.
In the mean time: Here are some of my many sketches of robots, resulting in Edgar. I still might change him a bit, but I´m happy with his awkward and box-like look. And to be completely honest, I want to keep him simple since I lack experience with animation. Having a wheel instead of legs makes it slightly easier. I might give him two legs eventually, but I actually really like him the way he is.