May 242017
 
K Once again I went to Jönköping Sweden with my students for LBS Game Awards [SV].

It have been a long year with a lot of hard work as usual for my students. Once again that paid off and sure, I’ll take all the credit… But if they ever deserved some it’s now.

Well to start things off we missed two hours of the event due to a broken down bus, missing all the speeches from the jury. But we did get there in time to win some awards.

We won best graphics with Owen’s Rumble and we won best technology and second place for best game with The Adventures of Commander Sid.

Down below you can see a perfectly edited film about our day, so if this game dev business doesn’t pan out I can always work in the movie industri.

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May 202017
 

This week I (Krister) had the oppertunity as a programming and game development teacher at LBS Stockholm [SV] to visit the Nordic Game Conference. The largest game conference in the north.

My first visit to this conference in sunny Malmö.

Nordic Game Conference 2017

Nordic Game Conference 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Epic with Unreal was major sponsor of this event and a lot of other great companies including Unity was here as well. To schedule all the talks was no easy task to say the least. With speakers from major companies to some awesome indies showing us their work or teaching us a plethora of subjects.

Testing all the great indie games was beyond awesome and to see how strong this community is during the Nordic Game Awards showing support to each other.

The conference was great and meeting up new developers are always nice. Overall you can’t have a bad time during these events, everything from what you learn during lectures or whom you meet. The only downside is the Swedish prices of alcohol, not like Vilnius and GameOn.

If you understand Swedish and are interested in education you can read my summary from the perspective of a teacher here.


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Oct 292016
 

drunk_villain_01I’ve been to my first expo and the boys did an excellent job… Well I expected no less with their experience. They’re currently gathering their thoughts, so check back soon for a more detailed post!

 

 


KJ Oh Vilnius, the memories you’ve given us.

A few hours was all it took, a few hours and the science of aeroplanes landed us in the somewhat scary outskirts of Vilnius, Lithuania only to arrive in its beautiful but cold city center in which our lovely hotel was located.

We did to stay in and work a lot but the booze was cheap and the food was good and plentiful, a combination that kept us up way past our bedtime.

The GameOn expo was great, we got some fans and made some friends and (kinda) soon(-ish) you’ll get to know more about what we actually did there!


 

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May 292016
 

I’m not only a programmer here at KJ working on our RPG and shop manager game Eco Tales: My Item Shop but I’m also a teacher at LBS Stockholm where game development and game graphics are two of our most popular programs to study. There are 14 LBS schools around Sweden and every year LBS Jönköping hosts LBS Game Awards.

Me and some of my students traveled there to support the two projects from our school that took part in this event with there projects.

Outside the event building,

Outside the event building,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The event itself was held in this old brick warehouse prior to destruction looking building suitable for rave parties and game awards, an improvement from last year where we where in a corridor, the only negative thing I can see this year is the fact that I like toilets, I dislike porta potties and lets just leave it at that.

It was filled with eager students all showing off there games that judged by some awesome jurors from the industry, King was there representing and held two really nice lectures.

LBS Game Awards 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like I said we were there with two projects, one first year project from GotoStart Studio showing of their game Owen’s Adventure.

We also had a second year project from Red Line Games and there project Turf Wars that might be nominated in Swedish Game Awards next.

 

It makes me really proud what my students have accomplished, well beyond the scope of what was reasonable to accomplish, something they jury agreed upon because we took home a lot of prices.

Owen’s Adventure came in second for best 3d graphics and best technical solution and first price for best newcomer of the year.

GotoStart Studio

Winning best newcomer of the year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our second year students, the crowd pleasing project Turf Wars took home second place in best game, first place in best 3d graphics and most importantly peoples choice.

Red Line Games

Turf Wars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So needless to say, as a teacher I was overwhelmed, not surprised ;p and I consider myself to be the real winner and expect at least 10% of any future income from them.

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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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Aug 132015
 

The thing we’ve all been waiting exactly one year for has arrived, that’s right, it’s time for #SIGGRAPH2015!

Last week we were (finally?) allowed a sneak peak into Autodesk Stingray, a new engine for the development of games made by Autodesk, with the promise of incredible workflow between 3Ds Max/Maya and Stingray, I must confess, I’m intrigued.

So, back to Siggraph and the unveiling of the new extensions for Maya and 3Ds Max 2016. Extension 1 which will be available on the 11th of August for 3Ds Max subscribers and on the 9th of September for Maya subscribers will include a few things which I personally am very excited about!

Autodesk 3Ds Max 2016 Extension 1

  • Geodesic Voxel and Heat Map solvers are finally coming to 3Ds Max, this means we’re finally getting some long awaited skinning improvements, test these when you can!
Heat Map

I’ll update the post with a video showing off this skinning method in Maya soon!

  • Max Creation Graph (youtube) will be receiving controllers especially made for procedural animation!
  • A new “Game Exporter” which will not only work with Stingray but also update (replace?) the old FBX Export tool to better accommodate for game assets made for engines such as Unity and Unreal Engine 4!
  • Stingray live link, which’ll allow for instant updates between Max and Stingray.
  • A new updated 3D Text tool, finally!

Autodesk Maya 2016 Extension 1

  • Stingray live link, Maya also gets the instant update feature, however in Maya you will allegedly be able to do quite a lot more as far as editing goes!
  • The already existing “Game Exporter” will be updated (watch out for a video on how the current one works for Unreal Engine and Unity.)
  • Hypershade gets procedural texture nodes.
  • The new updated 3D Text tool.
  • Scalable Vector Graphics will now be supported, making 2D vector based art from Adobe Illustrator and the like easy to handle in a 3D world.

Look forward to more coverage of the most interesting things for Unity and Unreal developers unveiled at Siggraph 2015!

All the best!
//Jona

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Jun 072015
 
Traveling to Jönköping and LBS Game Awards

Krister looking forward to a long train ride. Image from Red Line Games

It was the last Friday of May, the clouds were hanging over us like an overly active shower head, our clothes trying to suffocate us by clinging to our cold bodies. The tunnel of our minds was dark, damp and lonely, but suddenly we saw a shimmer of light at the end of it and as we draped our eyes with whatever designer sunglasses we brought with us we started our journey towards it.

A few hours later, still early for us hard working developers we arrived at Jönköping, why? Because it was time for LBS Game Awards, the yearly event where all the game design student’s knuckles up and compete for the affection of the industry related jury members.

This year they represented:

LBS Game Awards took place at the same time as Consolidate (a LAN event working for the noble task of bettering the world of E-sport), and LBS Game Awards got to be a part of that.

LBS Game Awards 2015 crowded event

LBS Game Awards 2015

All and all the Game Awards part of it was pushed out in a balcony like corridor with a smaller stage below it with no lights except for the backlit projector making it very difficult to see anyone stage.

The students were kind of shy, but that’s understandable, they might be inexperienced and afraid to grab a hold of people letting them play their awesome game. I remember myself on these kinds of events, I use to hide behind anything I could find.

Anyways, all the projects could compete in several categories that you can read about below, LBS Stockholm (my awesome students) were there with two projects; Sallad and Goof Rat.

LBS Game Awards categories and winners (some Swedish might appear in project links):

  • Best pitch – The Traveler.
  • Best Sound – Kontur with Binary as runner up; and please take note that Kontur mentions in its description how the have place holder sound effects but everything else is made by them. 😀
  • Best Technique – W0rp and Antihero as runner up.
  • Best 2D Graphics – Spacecode Atlas and runner up was Kontur.
  • Best 3D Graphics – Sushido won and runner up was Goof Rat, how Goof Rat did not win is beyond me, they had a fully animated human and humanoid rat but I might just be biased.
  • Best Newcomer (first year students) – DRPG with Goof Rat as runner up, and here I’m just at a lack of words…
  • People’s Choice Award – An interesting award indeed as there were no people, the public was not invited, it was just students and teachers, but Sushido won, a fun wave fighter game.
  • Best Game – Cut was number one with Kontur as a close runner up.

It sure can’t be easy setting this event up as teachers that also have to deal with class and everything, and it shows, mainly when it comes to the information and communication to our students what to expect the format of the event so they can prepare and make the most of this event.

We did have great fun and it is a good experience for all students to have and I hope the event in future years will only grow and improve as well as including the other branches of education the LBS schools have to offer.

I’ll let you go with a video summary of the event from Red Line Games point of view, and yes, I’m in it so you know you don’t want to miss this piece of eye candy.