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Messages - TheRoboticRobot

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Journals / Re: What are you working on?
« on: June 27, 2011, 05:26:33 pm »
I was working on a physics-based puzzle platformer with a sort of gothic art theme for the June game jam, but it looks like I'm going to hold off on submitting it until it's polished and free of glitches.

If you'd like to help me with the programming, feel free to drop me a line. I've got all my art and level design needs satisfied so far. The game is about as simple as it gets, so I'd just need help with simple stuff like moving platforms and switches and whatever other simple puzzle-related functionality you think you could get to work.


Game Ideas / Re: Identifying Good Game Design
« on: June 07, 2011, 09:32:46 pm »
While we're on the topic (more spoilers, i guess), that same beach can be found in Shadow. There's no boat, though. Given everything that happens at the end, it seems to point to Shadow being a prequel. But, the thing I love so much is that I'll never really know for sure.

Game Ideas / Re: Identifying Good Game Design
« on: June 06, 2011, 06:47:24 pm »
 I love Katamari too (pun... intended?). It's so simple in concept, and yet every time I play it, I find something new.

 The whole game is one big easter egg. You'd find all of these seemingly out of place characters and objects, but they always made me think about how they got there. There was this subtle story being told in each level, and it made the world feel somewhat real and alive, despite the fact that the whole thing was so balls to the wall crazy. The world is so densely populated by all of these fantastic and humorous characters, it's really goes to show how attention to detail can really enhance the overall experience.

 The music, the visuals, the gameplay... it was all masterfully cohesive. It remains one of my favorites.

I guess I'll select a game to analyze; another one of my favorites, if not my absolute favorite: Shadow of the Colossus.

Shadow was the kind of game that changed my perspective on what a game should be. It came to me during a time in my life where most of what I played where these lengthy, prosaic JRPGs that, for the most part, had unoriginal stories to tell, and told them in ways that were just as cliche. I just kept playing them, and even enjoyed them at times. I attribute it to being young and naive.

 Then came along SotC, a game with practically zero dialog. You were alone, in an absolutely beautiful forgotten land. The only other living things you would encounter would be your horse, and these giant monsters that you had to track down and kill. Some people griped about the horse rides to the next mark, but to me, this is where the game really shined.

 This was truly a storyteller's game. Instead of some drone of an NPC shoveling lore down your throat, the world of Shadow showed you its history, simply by being there. All of these temples and towers that lie in ruin beg the question of who constructed them, and why were they all gone? Buildings that you may never see during your playthrough (since you only see about half of the world if you're just going to kill the colossi) hold such elaborate detail, and clearly suggest purpose, all of which is up to the player to consider. The ending is really the only time you see dialog, and most of it is cryptic enough to keep you guessing, but it makes you question the nature of your quest, shedding only so much light on the origin of the colossi, and why such a beautiful paradise is now a forbidden land.

 I played ICO, the spiritual predecessor to Shadow a year later, and though I didn't need to play one to enjoy the other by any means, there were just enough parallels between the two that made me want to ask these questions all over again. Still, when I think about that game, I want to fill in the blanks, and know that the answer will always be just out of reach. THAT'S SO COOL. Nobody even tries to do that. Most games give you all the answers before you ever feel compelled to ask; there's nothing fun about a world you completely understand. The magic is lost that way. Shadow makes sure you only understand enough to know which way is up, and that makes it one of the most magical games I've ever played.

Ask a Question / Re: Trouble with actor physics
« on: June 06, 2011, 11:38:21 am »
I tried this level with jumper (the default rectangle player) and it seems that the problem isn't nearly as persistent, but it is still there.

I then changed the size and positioning for the collision boxes of all of my custom player's animations to be the same. Again, it helps, but it's still happening.

I think initially, it was most commonly set-off by the change in collision between my "falling" animation and my "idle" animation; since there was a few pixels difference, it may have caused the collision box to clip into the platform, causing the player to pass through it.

We're making progress, but I'm not completely there yet. I think the length of the platform may be affecting the problem. I might be forcing it to make too many collisions at once to correctly calculate where to go. ...But I want this to function so bad  :'(

Ask a Question / Re: Trouble with actor physics
« on: June 06, 2011, 09:35:05 am »
nope, that's not it. The rectangles have rectangle collision boxes, the square boxes have square boxes and the barrels have circles.

The player's collision is always a 4-point shape as well, but it changes depending on the animation. Could that potentially affect this?

Ask a Question / Trouble with actor physics
« on: June 05, 2011, 09:35:14 pm »
I'm having trouble getting my actors (primarily boxes that are being pushed around) to behave as intended.

My scene gravity is 100 down.
All actors in question can rotate, obey gravity, and weigh less than 1kg.
The only behavior set to the actors in question is the default "always simulate" with continuous collision turned on.


Here you can see a simple little puzzle. The player pushes the long rectangle, then hops aboard as it rolls on the barrels beneath. Eventually the barrels will roll out, the rectangle will tip over and the player will fall off if they are still on board.

When the long rectangle is well-balanced, it rarely shows any problems, but when it gets further into its journey and tips over, it causes multiple problems.

The rectangle will often ignore its collision and spazz-out, sometimes getting caught in the tiles, when it hits an angle of about 40 degrees or more. The faster it rotates, the more likely it is to do this. Sometimes the player will jump or fall onto the rectangular platform and it will jitter in such a way that it drops through its supports or causes the player to pass right through it.

I haven't been messing around with custom behaviors for these actors.

I've been unable to determine whether this is a physics problem, or a collision problem, or both, or neither. I'd appreciate some direction.

Thank you!  :D

Game Ideas / Identifying Good Game Design
« on: June 05, 2011, 08:37:04 pm »
(warning: Language)

This video has been around for a while, but I've used it a few times, and it always spurs some good discussion.

I think it's a good case study of what works and what doesn't in games with simple mechanics like Castlevania. He makes the very good (and often overlooked) point that just because the mechanics are simple does not mean the game itself has to be. The difference between good and bad is the thought you put into your game.

I see this sort of quantity-over-quality mentality a lot, and it's really too bad.

As for the discussion, lets talk about games you've played with exceptionally good -or bad- design, and what exactly made them that way for you. Like any other art form, dissecting the games you love (or hate) can make you better at making a better product yourself.

Game Ideas / Re: What is Your Working Process?
« on: June 05, 2011, 07:50:31 pm »
I'm more of an artist than a game designer, and more of a designer than an engineer, so...

I do all the art first. I make blind concept art until I get inspired, and start thinking about how to apply that art.

Then I try to make the game.

Then I realize I have to simplify the idea, because I'm incompetent.

Then I make the rest of the art.

Then I spend weeks on end listening to podcasts and house music building scenes and playtesting.

Then I usually give up.   :(

That's just if I'm working by myself. In teams, I'm a lot more organized, and generally whatever I work on finds its way to completion in one way or another.

Game Ideas / Re: Leveling up in RPGs
« on: June 05, 2011, 07:38:21 pm »
It depends on how the game implements levels. I generally enjoy RPGs, but I've been straying away from JRPGs because more often than not, they make grinding a requirement.

The important thing is that levels shouldn't constantly impede the forward momentum of the game. If I forget what the story is because I'm out in the desert killing crabs for three weeks, something is wrong.

The new levels should be used as a means to introduce new strategic options to the player, first and foremost. To me, the stats come secondary. Becoming generally stronger doesn't keep the game fresh like a new skill or ability can.

Ideally, an RPG should be paced so that if you are going to the right areas and doing a moderate amount of exploration or side quests, you are being constantly challenged, but rarely overwhelmed. Grinding should generally be reserved for completionists and people that want to headbutt their way through a game.

I like levels, the way most games these days use them. Even in my FPS's, they're there to give me access to new equipment or abilities, and that can keep a game fresh for months. That being said, the game itself has to be fun first.

Game Ideas / Re: Block-pushing puzzle platformer... with a twist! (?)
« on: June 05, 2011, 12:18:53 pm »
Sounds like a good idea. Either way, the plan is to keep the puzzles from being too spatially expansive. I don't know how I feel about making puzzles that require multiple screen widths to solve. It's looking like that's something I'll have to do eventually, but for the first few levels, it doesn't seem fair to have puzzles that you could screw up before you're even able to see the whole thing.

Game Ideas / Block-pushing puzzle platformer... with a twist! (?)
« on: June 04, 2011, 09:20:26 pm »
I chose this genre mostly because I want something simple to work on, and these kinds of puzzle games are generally fun to me. Here's some cropped and artistically positioned alpha screenshottage:

I'll spare you the details of the story and get right down to the mechanics:

-Your character can run and jump and push certain blocks, or other specific objects (for the sake of organization lets call these objects "physics objects").

-Unlike most other block-pushing puzzle platformers, these physics objects can rotate, gain momentum, bounce and crash into walls and other physics objects. The idea is that, though you should be able to get through all the levels by planning-out your course of actions strategically, sometimes a bit of recklessness can pay off in unforeseen ways. Also, it's fun to watch things crash into each other.  8)

-Physics objects have different weights and properties. There may be blocks that are too heavy to be pushed, exploding blocks, blocks that bounce extra high, etc.

-There are platforms that hold physics objects, but not the player.

-There are platforms that, conversely, hold the player but not physics objects.

-There will be a restart button in case you mess up, which, given how physics objects can be unpredictable at times, it's assumed you will, quite a bit. Levels will be kept fairly small for this reason.

Most of the levels will be "get from point A to point B" type objectives, but it might be fun to throw in additional challenges like "destroy the bridge" or something like that. I haven't decided yet if having enemies in the game would add or detract from the game, but for now, there are none.
Some initial concerns:

-Since the puzzles are more free-form than traditional games of this genre, it'll take a lot of playtesting to make sure that the levels are possible and/or not too easy.

-I am, so far, completely inept at building custom behaviors, and have even been having trouble with some preexisting ones (specifically "one way platform"). I'm hoping that will change...

So. Feedback. Brainstorms. Help. I'll take it all. Thank you.

Game Ideas / Re: Good pixel art creators?
« on: June 04, 2011, 08:34:21 pm »
I do just about everything in photoshop due to the layers and custom brushes (which actually work really nice with certain pixel art styles). But, like every kind of powerful software, it takes some getting used to. And if you like obeying the law, it's pretty expensive.

Chit-Chat / Re: How did you find out about us?
« on: June 02, 2011, 10:23:27 am »
A friend of mine recommended it to me. Glad he did.

Chit-Chat / Re: Introduce Yourself!
« on: June 02, 2011, 10:21:57 am »
Hey guys, my name is Ben. I'm a recent graduate in a Game Art and Animation program. I've worked with programmers and have done some design work myself, but I've never had a knack for scripting or programming. So, naturally, this whole thing has taken my considerable interest. Looking forward to getting the hang of this, and maybe meeting some cool folks on the way.

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