May 022017
 

What do you do when you’re home sick? That’s right, you game jam. That’s at least what I just did during my spurts of energy between the ever closing prospect of death as I have the flu.

I decided two make a small two button arcade controller and a game to utilize that controller. I came up with a two player one button game.

So each player have their own button that they are in charge over. But together they most get the ball to reach as far as possible and as quickly as possible. There are three lanes, if no player pressed there button or if both players do, the ball moves down the middle lane. If only the first player pressed her button the ball moves down the left lane and if only the second player presses the button the ball moves down the right lane.

The level was quickly created with the help with the ProBuilder Unity Asset that makes it easy to create al from basic to advanced shapes directly into the scene.

You can test the game online here.

Or download it for Windows here.

If you want to learn how to make that game and understands Swedish keep an eye out at Kodarapan where I post my Swedish tutorials.

 


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Feb 242017
 

Some weeks ago we got together with Red Line Games and felt inspired to learn more about game development for Virtual Reality but this time we wanted to work with the Unreal Engine. Guess what we did? That’s right, we sat down for a weekend jam.

After a short brainstorming session we decided upon the idea of the player standing on a few rooftops while fighting of hoards of enemies trying to knock down your buildings, one level at a time. For your aid you can not only jump freely on the rooftops to gry and get to the best vantage point but you also have an array of weapons like a crossbow, different types of boms and can pretty much throw any lose objects as weapons like throwing knives and boulders.

Now this video only exists on Facebook because of reasons but it creates the perfect opportunity to come  visit us or Red Line Games there, so enjoy.


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Feb 032017
 

Waves!

Yes, that was the theme of this years Global Game Jam. The fourth year we’re jammin’ as KJ Interactive and the third year we’re doing it over at LBS Stockholm.

This year however we could not manage our own site at LBS Stockholm as the GGJ organization did not allow minors, it’s unfortunate as we had a lot of very excited teenage students go from full on excitement to sadness. We of course could not let this stop us! The site might not have been officially participating but we were there in spirit. *heroic music plays *

Our programmer Krister, who also works at LBS Stockholm was responsible for the event at the school, and while Jona, our technical art director was full of energy Krister was coping with a severe cold and all of the responsibility of managing the event.

We decided to work with two of the students that is part of Red Line Games and we wanted to try out VR and HTC Vive, a risky move as it was new techknowledgey for us and as Krister was running around putting out fires until late at night the first day, the rest of the team started producing graphics.

Red Line Games doing some testing

Doing some testing

Early the next day we started seeing major issues, the tech did not work as expected and plenty of hours later we had to come to the conclusion that we needed to scale it down, not wasting any time we rushed to have something done until the deadline. A day later and no sleep we just managed to have something we could stand by and we do believe that after all our troubles we came out with something of value as the others really enjoyed playing it.


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Apr 042016
 

While some people have had an entire week of, grrr, other have not, but others aren’t angry about that! Because that means that some have gotten a lot done this week, at least that’s what others are hoping for!

IndieDB : You haven’t forgotten to follow us, have you?!


J Some have been looking into particles and Houdini Engine this week, it’s been quite a busy week for me and I’ve gotten way less than I wanted to done.

Hippo carrying sash

Hippo carrying sash

Got started on some gear for the hippo, a cute African Kayayo sash for head carrying practices, after that I got caught up in trying to create a wicker basket in Houdini Engine, mainly since I want to use it later to create nice dungeon tiles for Eco’s adventuring part without having to fit pieces together constantly, it will look great!

Clay pot!

Clay pot!

I skipped out on doing that in Houdini and instead maybe a wheel for a chariot, then I turned it into a modern wheel and saved, so… Here’s a picture of my mistake.

EcoApril2nd

Lastly I watched a nice talk on VFX by Blizzard’s Lead Technical Artist Julian Love, I decided I just had to implement in Unity, here are the three textures used to make the effect possible.

Starting from the right is the main fire sprite, the alpha doubles as a mask for Additive and Alpha Blend as well as just plain old Alpha. Next up is a noise texture which makes the entire effect come to life and gives a flowing/flaming look without the use of a sprite sheet. Lastly, an optional life giver to add some colour variations to the fire.

fire textures clouds rendered

Textures used for the effect.

Here is the final test effect! This is nothing but a few particles which grow over time, while slowly moving upward, the entire effect is  being driven by the shader, extremely cheap, even for mobile!

Testing out Blizzard's Main VFX Shader from Diablo III

Testing out Blizzard’s Main VFX Shader from Diablo III


K I love being a teacher, especially one that have the luxury to teach my passion of game development, another reason is of course that I sometimes get the same time of from work as the students do meaning I can put all my focus on Eco Tales.

This week being one of those weeks I got the full seven days off to work but also some other interesting but game dev related things that I will tell you about.

Starting the week with full Eco time I have worked on making my previous work as crisp as possible and ready for testing before we can show you that progress, now considering we are still early in the process you might not be impressed but we can’t go from point A to C before visiting B for the quality reasons, we want to make this proper and not half-arsed and sloppy.

What we have so far code wise is a working camera system and player movement in the dungeon mode, and yes the game has two modes, adventuring and merchant mode. We have a inventory system and a weapon you can pick up and equip, a Bastard Sword to be exact and you can swing that around against a training dummy.

Bastard Sword

 

 

 

Hopefully we will be able to show you a short sequence of this in a near future.

I have also been working on our upcoming website for Eco Tales and that my good people is a show of dedication from my part, I absolutely loathe web design, web development, web anything, it is not for me but I do it anyway because it needs to be done, for the project and for you and when we are ready to announce it you can lay your eyes on it but for now it remains hidden from snoopy eyes.

I don’t know if you know this but besides working on Eco Tales I’m also a teacher over at LBS Kreativa Gymnasiet [SV] in Stockholm where I teach programming and game development for young ones in their late teens and this weekend was the time for the Swedish Game Awards Conference and one of your groups Red Line Games got the opportunity to exhibit their project Turf Wars made with the Unreal Engine.

4 player couch game

Turf Wars – Red Line Games

I could only be there for a little while on Friday, the first day because I had a moving in party the following day.

The event was great, good speakers and most importantly awesome games.

So it has been a busy week indeed and the final bit related to my work as a teacher was when some of my awesome students asked me before their week of if we could sit in school and make games, and me and my soft old game developer heart smiled at the thought and here I am happily working on Eco Tales while my great students are working on their projects, this is why I love being a teacher, that level of passion is something I want to be apart of.

LBS Stockolm students

LBS Stockholm students

Now after such a hectic week ending with a moving in party on my part, a few months too late I can finally rest my head on my pillow and look forward towards a new week tomorrow.

Cherio!

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Feb 092016
 

Ok, Global Game Jam 2016 is finished, before we dive into it let us begin with the sweet nectar of our efforts.

How awesome is that?

We agree!

As you can see it is Tommy Wiseau from The Room, but let us take this from the start.


Global Game Jam is as you most likely have figured out a global event, during the last weekend of January every year game developers from around the world gather during 48 hours to create a game based on a common theme, this year the theme was RITUAL!

KJ Interactive (Krister and Jona) came up with The Shakespeare, a game where Tommy previously to making The Room records a pilot in his garage and by the sheer awesomeness and quality of his work… Well you have to watch the above video to find out.

For those not yet initiated into the glory of The Room, let me just tell you this. It is an EPIC movie of love and betrayal.


K Ok, so I’m Krister, the programmer of the group. The Shakespeare game was a nice level of complexity for a jam, the two biggest features code wise is that of the rhythm based gameplay where you have to press the correct button att the right time to score points, regardless the other system will continue to drive the story forward making sure Tommy is at the correct position at the correct time doing what it is he is suppose to do.

GGJ16_GUIUnity

Krister, you can show this thing, you coded it!

I don’t really have anything fancy to show as my work is just about code, and even if the code itself can be presented in different nice looking colors I choose not to, but rather link you this fine looking color palette and trust that Jona, the technical artist has plenty to show, and… It is Jona after all and he would not be Jona unless he made some kind of sound, something he can talk endlessly about.


J

Now, let’s see this from my, Jona’s perspective. For this year’s Game Jam we wanted to create something which would just become a one shoot, something we could just as well show off through a video and not really have to worry about once it was done.

More than that though, we wanted to see if we could get some views and followers to our social networks for our upcoming game @EcoTalesGame on Twitter, always trying to get an extra follower.

Still, more than that we wanted to create something we could laugh at, so when we heard the theme and read the extra challenges, a game about Tommy Wiseau channeling Shakespeare in some sort of ritual felt like an obvious choice.

The first thing I did was create an OST, I got a hold of some piano tunes free with no strings attached and went to writing a song, you can listen to it HERE. It told the entire plot line, in the end the play deviated a bit but, well, no one listens to the lyrics anyway, right?

As this was a game jam, the time limit is the main thing to take into consideration when planning out a project, we wanted a nice character and I decided upon a style I personally love, big heads and small bodies.

I used zBrush to build a base for Tommy, rewatched The Room and took screenshots of him in various poses.

GGJ16_TommyzBrush

Take special note of the butt, if you’ve seen The Room, I know you remember it, doesn’t it bring back joyous memories?

GGJ16_TommyButt

Here’s the final model, I’m quite happy with it considering it’s my first attempt at a caricature, what do you think, leave me a happy or mad tweet @EcoTalesgame!

Tommy Epic

Knowing beforehand that skinning the character, sculpting, texturing and retoppologizing, not to mention animating it would take quite some time, I decided that the rest of the artwork would be things that Tommy himself could’ve made in his garage.

TommyRig

After creating a small ”room” with a feel I felt matched Tommy himself I set about creating cardboard cut-outs, painting quick sketches of the main environments and characters Tommy would interact with.

GGJ16_Cardboard

I gave Krister a script and he set about making Tommy do the things he had to do, following the player’s inputs, you can think of it as a guitar hero clone without the beat playing into it.

(See the picture I put in Krister’s section of the post.)

After the first draft of Tommy’s act, I created a voice over track with everything Tommy would say as he acted out the play, since this took place in Tommy’s garage, being recorded for the first time in history, I tried to keep the acting on a level suiting the actual movie.

Things still felt empty and I spent a lot of time creating, normalizing and cutting sounds from free sources around the web. Having the cut-outs make sounds as they were raised and lowered, dragged and pulled added a lot to the feel of the game. Finally adding in “Boos” and “Yays” for failed and successful button presses did the rest.

As any full-blood The Room fan knows, there are a lot of things which relate to spoons inside of the The Room, this is why, there is a nice physics particle effect getting activated whenever the player presses the correct button combination.

Make sure to subscribe to the mail list, and again, check out @EcoTalesGame on Twitter.

I made sounds! <- Jona wrote that.

 

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Oct 192015
 

 

Hello fellow devs and jammers!

First up, I’ll be posting breakdowns of the most interesting things I learned in Substance Designer on this Youtube channel later, so click that link and subscribe if you’d like to know more!

King Game Jam Logo

During the first weekend of October (2nd – 4th), I attended the King Game Jam, which was run in cooperation with Game Jam Stockholm. As far as jams go, this is definitely on my top two list, and I’ve been to a lot of jams!

Arrival

The first thought you may have is “I don’t have any friends who are interested in game development, can I go alone?”

Well, I went alone this time. Without the comforting embrace of a friendly coder, it was my first time not knowing whether a game would be finished or not, scary? Yes, exhilarating? Very much so!

In other words, if you don’t have any friends, go alone! The things you regret are the tings you don’t do!

I’m no expert (it’s very difficult to jam for 10.000 hours), but I’ve attended many jams since my first one back in 09 and I’ll try to include as much useful information as possible in this post.

Building your team

When the team building process starts, it’s important to try and find someone who possesses the skills you do not, as artist you’ll want to find a coder and vise versa.

You will also want to take into consideration what your goals for the jam are, is it to learn something new, connect with new people, create a game based on the unknown topic, or to plain and simply have fun?

In all of these instances, what I do, and this is the main idea I want you to take away from this post, select your jam-project based not upon the base idea of the game, but what you, yourself, will take away from it.

What!? You say, the idea is the most important part! Yes, and no, if your plan was to prototype an idea of your own, or you can only enjoy yourself if you’re working on an idea that inspires you, simply disregard this advice.

However, take into consideration that even if you are an amazing 3D artist looking to speed model a paleo-world, the team creating Dusty the Dino’s Sweeping Adventures might want to go with 2D, maybe you want to explore Unreal but the team wants to use Unity.

Dino Sweeper

If speed modeling was your plan, maybe moving over to the group creating Mr. Generic, the Unreal Shooter Saga and creating scaffolding for their post-apocalyptic world will be a more rewarding experience for you. You could even ask them if they’d consider placing the game in a lush forest instead!

Then again, maybe not, maybe this is your chance to finally prototype that idea you’ve had in the back of your mind for the better part of a decade, I mean, no matter the theme, you can make it fit! I’m not saying it’s not worth a try, but unless you bring your own team, don’t count on this happening, and if it doesn’t let it go.

My King Jam team

My goal with the jam was simple, I wanted to learn something new, with a recently downloaded trial of Substance Designer on my hard drive, what mattered most was getting into a group who would utilize either Unreal Engine 4 or Unity 5.

During the idea spawning process I came across Chris, a fellow technical artist, he had an idea for a car survival game using Unity 5, with him not minding doing most of the coding, and being fine with whatever art-style would come out of my substancing, we decided to team up.

Whilst spawning ideas for the game, we were approached by Joel, my personal mesh-maker and Leo the car scripter. With that, I at least, felt we had a full team.

To be honest, I hoped no one else would join us at this point, five, I’ve found is the breaking limit for not having one person spend half of the jam scurrying about and micro-managing everyone else. Additionally, we didn’t have access to a team license and my previous dealings with Git told me that even five in this case, would be too many.

Pre-production

This is an important step in any project, no less so at a jam, this may only take 15 minutes and shouldn’t be allowed to take more than 1 hour, but in the end, you’ll be happy you did it. Telling an artist to just create more rocks while trying to figure out why your for loop has unreachable code won’t be good for anyone, least of all the game as a whole.

Our Pre-production

We headed off into an empty corner and using post-its, we created a to-do list for each and everyone. With assets and tasks enough to fill at least 72 hours of work per person, we decided upon the order of importance and set our first deadline.

By now it was quite late and we decided that a first semi-playable would be created by 01:00 (1AM), that is, three hours later and 1 hour before the jam-site closed down for the night.

Production

Try to create a few deadlines for which you will have a working prototype with everyone’s content up to that point, make sure to synchronize your projects as often as needed, it’s more often than you think! Even if it takes some time, I have on more than one occasion experienced a final build which lacked a lot of graphical content. Others where features developed on different machines break the entire game completely, leaving something barely playable or even completely broken to be submitted or shown.

Our Production

We had decided upon working in a way that allowed coders to code and artists to art with minimum interaction. Since I barely talked to the coders until the final integration, I’m not really going to cover that part, I’ll just say that they did a great job and finished everything that was needed for a functioning project on time!

With that said, it should come as no surprise that the first semi-playable was finished before we packed up for the night, we were all pretty stoked to continue on the following day.

Over the course of the next day, while things were going really well, I noticed that no one else was using my updated substances, this wasn’t a problem in itself but when it wasn’t around in our noon build, I brought it up.

It was at this time we realized that Git didn’t work at all, a lot of code had been lost and none of the graphical content was ever updated, if the first version itself, at all, made it into the others’ projects.

With Git not working we became sloppy, we made sure art worked in one project and the code in another. Because of this we broke one of the (or at least my own) sacred rules of jamming, we waited until the very last moment to merge all assets, levels and code. This lead to the final version being uploaded lacking a lot of art as well as the final beautification pass, it’s sad, but those are the rules.

Tl;dr

There’s a what went well and what didn’t section below, as well as a link to the final game. Check it out, it looks a lot better!

 

My Jam or Substance Designer

After a few hours of putting the MESS in messing around the night before, I had started to get my head around how Substance Designer works, it feels in some way as if this program was made for technical artists.

Dunes

Watching the nodes come together, add some functions to extend their usefulness further and all of a sudden, I had my first dessert/dune material.

First Dune

(Dune breakdown video here but also on the Youtube channel.)

Yes, it is a bit much, my plan at this point was to do some shader magic inside of Unity later, to blend this into a calmer, flatter sand material.

As it so happened, with barely any time to spare on shaders, I decided to add some variation inside of Substance Designer instead, here’s the final substance.

Final Dune

Rocks

In a game, nothing is more important than its rocks, screen shots of rocks can make or break any AAA ad camping, imagine what it can do to your indie/jam game! This is true, you read it here, on the internet.

Rocks

I started off by creating a simple rock, sculpted in zBrush, opted using Decimation Master and UVed using UV Master. A grand total of 15 minutes later I threw the low and high poly meshes into Substance Designer. Within seconds I had baked a Normal, World Normal and SVG from UVs map (I’ll explain this in my rock break down on my YouTube channel).

To get the edge wear I simply plugged my normal map into a create curvature map node and voila, perfection.

Rock Textures

With these maps as my base I created a simple substance which we would be able to hue shift, select amount of edge wear as well as over all dirt levels of, inside of Unity.

Rock Hue Switch and Such

I’ll come back to this in a future post called Substances vs/and Shaders .

Magma

What better way is there to signify the destruction of a world than overflowing it with magma? None that I can think of, up next therefore, was an ocean of fiery death.

Creating a first draft didn’t take very long, much thanks to the way you can easily screen grab gradients without having to import anything into substance designer, that is just wonderful.

First Magma
The image is an approximation from Substance Designer as I didn’t keep the original broken file inside of Unity.

With this substance however I got some major issues, I’d opted for using the noise node Cell 3, to get something nice, semi-realistic, and more importantly, visually pleasing in a short amount of time.

Broken MagmaMagma Floor
Images are approximations from Substance Designer as I didn’t keep the original broken files inside of Unity.

The image to the right is set to 1024×1024 and the one to the left was put to 512×512, while the darker of the two has a certain charm to it, I mean, imagine driving around on a field of barely cooled down Planet Melt™, the second one looks awful and none of them look anything like the preview in Substance Designer.

Node Stuff

I made a quick adjustment, above you can see the difference in the graphs, and below is the new look inside of Substance Designer, a lot better!

New Magma

(By now you should know that there will be a breakdown of this asap on my Youtube channel).

Impact Crater

The impact crater had to look good on a flat plane, yet sell the fact that there was a depth to it, I asked Joel to create a quick normal map i zBrush, I wasn’t positive creating a something like this would be easily doable for this inexperience Substance Design user.

Crater

While it turned out creating this deep crater in Substance Designer was possible, Joel’s normal map made the graph more manageable inside of Unity.

Crater Prefab

As you can clearly see in game, we decided that we wanted the craters to add to the difficulty of traversing the terrain, so instead of a plane, a convex mesh is used to give us some extra bumps.

This created the adverse effect of the car getting stuck when a direct hit was scored, jam-style we instantly decided this to be a feature, a car hit by a meteor should be all rights be destroyed, now instead you are welded to the ground until the magma turns into sand, this may still kill you but then again, tell me, do you want to live forever?!

Really!? Yes YouTube!!! Channel… Subscribe to it, don’t you want to learn stuff!?

Title Screen

I treated the title screen like any classic 2D artwork, getting a basic composition down before fleshing the scene out, well… Sort of at least. There wasn’t time for any new content, with Substance Designer however this isn’t an issue. The textures inside of the imported Substances are easily accessible, therefore creating new versions with edited tiling or without alpha etc is not a problem.

After placing all assets, it was just about placing some additional particles and using semi transparent planes to add darkness and light wherever that felt necessary.

Next up was one of my favorite parts, lighting, post-processing and color tweaking, there’s not really a lot going on, a single directional light, AO, DoF, and a single reflection probe with an extra magma plane upside down high up in the air to add some extra red ambient lighting.

Title Screen DK

Lighting the Game World

With the title screen done, this didn’t take long, drag and drop prefabs containing the camera and lights etc, tweak DoF add some motion blur, make sure it runs smoothly on my ancient laptop and voila, beautificated.

In Game DK

Particles

While this is usually where I enjoy spending my extra hours, I barely had any time for it this time around. Might be for the best, I no longer have access to FumeFX and it’s not as if my laptop could handle even the simplest simulation.

Fire VFX

I sent some fire I had laying around to Chris and he created some really nice nitro and impact effects from them!

With the post running on for way too long, let’s get to the

Final Heading

The game -> Desert King <- was born, here’s a -> downloadable <- version (for PC) as well, ’cause no one likes 128×128 web textures.

What went well

Creating the game was a lot of fun!

I think everyone was really happy with what we managed to create in 48 hours. We also managed to get enough sleep to stay human, this made for a nice change.

Everyone had something to do at all times and enough knowledge of either coding or art asset creating to be of use to the team.

King’s office has the best coffee in the city, there was also Vitamin Well, Vitamin Well now has carb-free versions and we were fed! Lovely beyond words.

What went worse

Playing the game isn’t as much fun as the creating part.

Trying to use Git was a terrible experience, again, I’ve tried it in three projects and and while coders are semi-happy most of the time, assets in the form of textures, meshes, materials, you name it… never had it work well enough.

If you know of a way, send me a mail on how to make it work for real! If I manage to get it to work as well as the old Unity asset server, I swear that I’ll create a video to spread the word of Git.

Team

Send me a mail or leave a message on YouTube/Facebook and I’ll get back to you asap.

Hope you enjoyed the read!

//Jona

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