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Topics - Hectate

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Below is an email I just sent regarding actor collision issues from a bug report submitted through StencylWorks. I checked to see if we already had a Stencylpedia article or forum post about Continuous Collision Detection, and could not locate one to refer to.


I reviewed your bug report concerning actors getting stuck inside the boundaries of collision shapes. There is an issue related to Box2D where objects can find themselves (from one frame to the next) on the wrong side of a collision boundary, thus getting stuck inside of blocks. Typically this occurs with relatively small objects moving quickly or - as you noticed - at the corners of the collision shapes.

The solution is to enable "Continuous Collision Detection" for any actor who would encounter such issues. There is a block available in design mode that will allow you to enable it for an actor. By activating it, Box2D will calculate the movement path of an object on a much finer basis - at a performance cost. It is recommended to utilize this sparingly to avoid drops in FPS. A typical use would be to only enable it on the Player actor, since it's the one that most frequently encounters the collision issue.

Thanks for the bug report. Let us know if there's anything else we can help you with.

Can anyone confirm the exact location of this block in Design Mode (Palette > Actor > Properties, I suspect) and see if we have an image which can be included in-line here?

Update: HUD coming along nicely. Got it creating objects when selecting one from the header bar. Getting closer to showing it off!

The next thing I'm going to prototype is a combination physics puzzle and platformer game. As noted, no name yet.

If you've played Transformice, you'll have an idea of what this consists of. Of course, in this case it'll be single-player, and rather than having a shaman who has to create things, the game instead consists of two phases.

At the first phase, the player has to place a selection of blocks in a manner similar to Stack-Em. Of course, they have to keep in mind planning ahead for phase two!

The second phase would be them jumping around on their rickety construction and trying to complete whatever extra goals the levels include. A screenshot below shows an concept of one.

The black shapes are pre-existing, the outlines show the expected solution. The star represents a collectible object (Cheese!) that has to be retrieved in order for the player (green) to reach the exit (red).


Some other ideas I had (some related to other physics games)
* Explosives that need triggering during platformer phase
* Dynamic objects that need to be accounted for (frozen until platformer phase, say a rolling ball)
* Weight-based puzzles (balance everything out)
* Ropes/Joints for swinging fun!
* Shapes with different weights (metal heavier than wood, for example)

The biggest thing I want to be able to do is have a "Level Creator" that saves it out to a text file that can be shared among people. That means saving and loading the file. I figure if I can create a decent variety of shapes, it's just a matter of saving/loading the location, orientation, and type of actor. It's not an entirely outstanding game idea (though I've not played one that is specifically the same) but it's worth trying. Especially if I get the loading/saving working it'll be a good base for future games to build on.

I've been reading on the 'net about this, but it's not entirely clear yet. Has anyone used the FileReference class methods to load and save to/from the users HDD? I'd like to implement a simple level editor that can produce sharable levels by saving the location, orientation, and type of actors that are placed by the user. Saving to a simple text file would be sufficient.

Any tips for this in Stencyl?

Game Ideas / "cgMusic", Computer Composed Music
« on: May 13, 2011, 10:30:26 am »
I was discussing this program with Wareya earlier in the IRC channel. I thought other people might be interested in hearing about this program. One caveat, I believe that it is Windows-only and the output is MIDI (although that can be converted or even edited afterward using other software). I would have used this during past Game Jams but it doesn't launch on my laptop (works fine here on my work PC though). It doesn't produce loops (although one could edit the output to create loops) and the instructions are not in English.

cgMusic ( is a simple program that will generate a fairly wide variety of music for you using a scripting language (angelscript) and random seeds. The generated composition can be further altered by changing settings, seeds, part order, and/or algorithms - as well as expanded by adding more parts and repeats. I highly suggest clicking the link above to read the designer's blog post about it, as well as to hear some samples of what it can produce. The download is also located at the above link.

I have a few notes and suggestions to impart to you from my fiddling with the program...

1. Changing random seeds of any algorithm can have a drastic impact on the output - if you have something that you like (or even are just partially interested in) be sure to either save or at least make a note of the seed and other settings before making other changes. I've got a text file that I use to keep track of seeds and other combos that I like.

2. Changing the arrangement and tempo after creating a song is a great way to take the same melody and song structure and make something different but still familiar. An example would be to use the "Latin" arrangement for something bright and cheerful (say, in-town scenes of a RPG), and then switch the same composition to "Piano (Boogie Woogie)" with a higher tempo to get a more frantic feeling (battle scenes?).

3. It's not immediately obvious, but the "Struc" (Structure) tab has a lot of options. If you left-click on any of the cells you can change the order of the parts, how they sound, their individual tempo (good if you want to vary it within the song between parts), their key, and even the "voice" that is used for that particular part. All those changes don't effect the individual parts which each have their own tab for changes.

4. Remember that the output can be very random and not be acceptable. The melody itself often falls into this category since that's the most difficult part to teach a computer how to compose. Like anything "procedural", not all potential compositions are good ones. But since generating them and listening to them are easy, just keep trying until you hear something you like - even just a small part that you like.

Finally, here's a .cgm attached (the save file it creates) of a Dance arrangement I created with this program a while back. There were quite a few tweaks that I did to this - it's all about experimenting! Try listening to it, and then changing the arrangement algorithm and listening again to hear how it stays similar, but how much it changes also. Cheers!

Game Ideas / Magic-based puzzle platformer with physics twist
« on: April 25, 2011, 03:30:39 am »
I've had versions of this idea for some time, but tonight I think I've solved the major design issues that plagued it.
The concept is that the player can turn living things into inanimate stone - statues essentially. This power is used to solve various puzzles. Examples include turning enemies into stone and using them as stepping stones or platforms to reach other areas - turning something light into heavy stone to alter the physics of the location.

Originally I'd had the idea as a magic sword, and then as trolls turning to stone in sunlight, but finally I'd realized that for full level design flexibility it'd have to be some sort of cast spell - a bounce-able sparkly projectile cast from a wand probably.


I was going to do some uploading of my old games via the new b368 so I tried to compile and run HBGolf to see what needed fixing. Oddly though, I found that I couldn't open any behaviors - with a bunch of odd stuff in the log too.
Examining the situation I discovered that when I copied my SW installation to a new "B368" directory from the  "B340" directory (to backup the original) I did the upgrade correctly - but I missed something when updating my shortcut. Apparently Windows allows you to choose a directory to "Start in" - which was still set for B340. The result was that my B368 stencylworks.exe was launching - but pulling everything in the b340 directory and causing SW to silently falter at various points - for example, behaviors would not open but the spinner would sit there saying "opening" making it seem that it was still trying.

I can't imagine this will be an issue for too many other people, but it's something to consider for the future. I included a screenshot of the shortcut's settings (corrected) where you can see what it did if you're curious.

Game Ideas / BioMotionLab
« on: March 28, 2011, 09:38:33 am »
This is neat to play around with, I could see it being useful for animators?

Chit-Chat / Slow motion games on Kongregate
« on: March 21, 2011, 07:17:02 pm »
I was playing Burrito Bison today and I discovered that my low FPS was significantly effecting gameplay. I'd known about it before, but hadn't realized how severe it was.

Specifically, the very first time I was able to "break out of candyland" took me 7 minutes for the entire trip. Also, I'd noticed that it seemed all the powerups were very easy to use to their fullest extent. I just had assumed it was an easy game, but still fun.

Then I accidentally scrolled down slightly, enough to leave the game window fully in the screen, but also enough to NOT have the Flash advertisement just above on the overall Kongregate page for the game. Something incredible happened when I did that, the game sped up incredibly fast. So fast, it wasn't even the same game anymore! Now I was clocking 1.5 to 2 minutes per trip, and the powerups actually required some skill to get the most benefit out of them.

It's crazy to me to think that so much framerate lag - more than 4.5 times of a difference - was possible just because of the Flash advertisement just pixels away. I'm not sure if this was a Chrome specific thing - to stop rendering the off-screen advertisement - or just the way they work, but you can imagine the difference it made for me.

This may already be known, but concave polygonical regions can "break" actor detection for any actors inside.
In my game, I have regions that push the player around if they enter them (typically for one-way passage, for example). I created 10 duplicates of the scene behavior that performs the "pushing" because I estimated it would be sufficient (for the level designs) to have that many regions per scene. I used all 10 behaviors on a level this morning, and to do this I needed to use polygonical regions for a few to make them fit multiple locations that would be "pushing".
Oddly, a couple of them (all concave shapes) ceased pushing the player at odd intervals while the player was inside the region. Examination of the offending regions resulted in the following information becoming apparent...

1. Attempting to enter the regions (successfully or otherwise - since some directions would push the player back) triggered the behavior's code properly, and printed to the console that the player was "inside" the region for that frame.

2. Debug Draw shows the polygon being broken up with vertex-to-vertex cross-lines (expected). Moving over one of these lines (one per region on mine, although more may exist for more complex shapes) causes the region to cease operation, even if the actor is technically inside the region still. The player is no longer pushed, and I stopped getting the prints in the console.

3. If the player, since they're not being pushed anymore, reverses direction manually and attempts to cross the mid-region line (from #2 above), it will revert to recognizing the actor (push, print, etc) while in contact with the line.

4. I temporarily removed the push effect to test (so I could fully re-cross the line) and confirmed that it will only register region interaction with the cross-line itself at this point. You cannot "re-enter" the originally functioning portion of the region once you have made any contact with the cross-line. It is not required for you to traverse in a particular direction, you can merely touch it and return to the originally functioning portion of the region with the same erroneous (no contact) results.

5. If you never touch the cross-line the region will function properly the entire time. 

6. Leaving the region altogether will reset everything and allow the region to operate as normal again until the cross-line is touched again.

Windows / Mac / Flash / HTML5 / Little Four-eyes (working title)
« on: March 11, 2011, 02:01:21 pm »
I've discovered that with the larger the project I design the less likely I am to want to actually continue working on it.
So I gave up on large projects for now. Instead, here is a small project, with very tight restrictions on myself during the creation. Specifically, all tiles and actors are sized at 8x8 pixels - and in monochrome (black and white specifically) with minimal animation.

Little Four-eyes is the name of our main character, a young monster that is attending Dungeon Monster School. This is his first class, Navigating Dungeons and Mazes (as all good monsters should know how), so it is a simple platform-ish game of working out the structure of the level and locating the exit.

A sample image of the visual style is attached to this post. This is actually a level I'd made (and named, noticeably) for testing the various "enemies" for the game.

The arches are doorways that interconnect and the rectangular doorway is the level exit. Our educationally challenged monster is the one in the middle... with four eyes.

Not shown is a more recent update that adds a key to each level (if desired) which must be found before you will be able to exit.

Ask a Question / How to Ask Effective Questions
« on: March 11, 2011, 01:50:45 pm »
1) Phrase the subject title as a question. If you can't put a ? at the end, it's not a question!

Don't name your question "2 questions" or "I have a problem." Make it relevant to the information you are seeking. This will help other users searching the forums with similar questions.

Similarly, don't add "Urgent", "Important", or "Emergency" to your title. Everybody's on equal footing around here, and such labels may be a turn off to others.

2) One question per topic.

Unless the questions are related. In other words, don't ask a question about two completely unrelated things, like the Sound Editor and the Collision Groups Page. If you find yourself using "also", chances are good that the topics are unrelated. This also helps other users when searching for answers to the same problem, because they can identify the information contained in a specific post based on the topic.

3) Be specific.

Tell us what you're trying to achieve rather than having us guess what your intentions are. Be detailed - more information is better than not having enough. Describe any issues or errors as completely as possible (within your understanding of them) and it will reduce the number of questions other users will have to ask of you in order to answer your question.

4) Mark your questions as answered.

Edit your original post and change the Subject line to include [Solved] once the issue has been resolved. Again, this relates to the other forum users being able to find answers to their own, similar questions by picking out forum threads that have been successfully resolved. Additionally, if your question is answered somewhere outside of the forum (such as by yourself, IRC, email, Google, etc), it's helpful to other users to post your answer here.

Finally, please don't hesitate to do forum searches before creating a new post. Thanks!

Original post credit goes to Jon.

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