Enormous breakthrough: I made a tree

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:

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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!

Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 9.09.07 PM

I think this small achievement might have gone to my head.

smile evilsmile MASTER

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.

 

IT´S ALIVE!!!

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!

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My first animation of Edgar walking. I´m not too happy with this one. It´s not smooth enough, and he doesn´t move fast enough. But it´s kinda funny though.

segway2

So I want Edgar to be able to move pretty fast. It makes sense that he would, since he has a wheel. In this animation I have tried to make him move like a Segway. I got to work a bit on how the joints fit together.

blunke

Yes. He´s looking at you.

 

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.

A minor issue

1tell you made our game norwegian problem

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 😀

The Concept

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.

theconcept

This one pretty much explains the physics of the game. Looking forward to see how Nikolai solves this.

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.

robot_sketches

Crazy sketches. Some of these are so strange. Like the guy with the pointy hat. He was actually a pretty good candidate for a while, but I figured he was a little too surrealistic for a main character. Maybe he´ll turn up somewhere in the game though. He´s funny. And the small one at the left with the magnet-antenna is cute!

Edgar

Here are some magnets… and Edgar! Edgar has more character than the other sketches. His face and lanky body (even though he lacks a nose and mouth,) has a lot of potential in expressing different emotions. 

Our First Video Game

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The Designer:

My name is Jenny. I´m the designer. When I was young, and the school-nurse still thought I was a boy named Jonny, my father bought me a Nintendo 64 for my birthday. It didn´t help with the gender-issue, but it made my childhood a lot more fun. Apart from the time when I got madly addicted to Donkey Kong 64… And the months I spent all of my awake time fishing in Harvest Moon.

17 years (and a bachelor-degree in visual communication) later I´m sitting here with incredibly ambitious plans of making a game myself. I have made design for a wide range of purposes, but never for a game. I have a vague idea of how it works. Apparently hats are absolutely crucial.

I want to have the ability to create awesome worlds with awesome characters that is gonna make you fat and chronically late for work, but you wouldn´t care because you smashed the brains out of that giant turtle, or watched that princess explode.

The Developer:

Hi, I’m Nikolai. I’m the developer in this game making duo. I have been playing games since the late 80’s, mainly PC-games. To get to know me, I thought I’d start by sharing my list of games that influenced me the most (… which made me replace my keyboard, tought me rocket jumping, names of Aztec kings, how to optimize fish cought per hour, how to press mouse1 over 300 times/min, build orders, micro management, macro management, in-depth knowledge of rare bugs in games who will no longer be patched and how give my character more than one hat). Games that gave me weeks of combined playtime of good ol’ fun: Alley CatBubble Bobble, Commander KeenPrince of PersiaAge of Empires 2 and 3 (and HD)Railroad Tycoon II, Total AnnihilationHalf-Life (+mods), Quake 1-3StarCraftWarcraft 3Enemy TerritoryWoW (~180h of playtime), Lego games for Xbox360Team Fortress 2BraidFezJourney and flower.

The game:

So… how to make a game? We have no idea. We have never done it before. But how hard can it be? …very hard probably. We don´t know. We have less than any experience, which is a minor issue. But we´re optimistic. (We do have our bachelor-degrees though… That should count for something)

Why have we made this blog?

We made it so that you, the great people of earth, can follow the process of making a video game from scratch. Keep reading if you want to learn more about 2D computer graphics, JavaScript and all this shiny new web-stuff for making interactive awesomeness .

We´re going to post all our ups and downs, research and achievements, and eventually, hopefully, this process will result in a pretty decent – all new – game.