Monday, 27 June 2011

Time to get WORKING

Okay. Exams are over. Shit's going to get messy. We're on it now. This is HAPPENING.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Big Jim

Early design of a boss, Big Jim. He's supposed to be pretty big, as indicated by his name and also bucket of dwarves.

p.s Big Jim isn't really his name

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Making progress.

Sorry for the lack of posting. Been working in C# trying to get the basic engine ready. I've got a simple physics system working for it so I'm currently trying to make a nice little level editor. I had a crazy bit of code that converts a bitmap to a set of tiles but it was scary because you couldn't actually SEE the level map until you played it. Going back to the basics and having a level editor for Marcus to use instead. Should be nice. When we've got a framework I'll probably post it up here or somewhere.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Goblin Sketch

Moar concept art, of a goblin this time. Concerned he looks a little too Warcraftesque but that is easily rectified.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Concept Arts

Just a few character designs for the game. A hipsterish elf, a dwarf (the main character) and gorilla hat merchant.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

More on development

So the development of our game is going to be divided between me and Marcus. Marcus is doing design, art, and I'm doing the programming and that sort of stuff. We'll probably be cross contributing to each other's work and the animation job will most likely be shared.

I'm going to be making little cheap prototype things in Flash, purely because you can throw something down that shows you whether your idea will work in less than an hour most of the time. It's nice to be able to get a little something working in no time at all and it means I don't spend a lot of time chasing something that's going to turn out shit. In the end the game will be made in either C# with XNA or Java.

In coding the graphical side of it I doubt there will be that many complications. We're looking at a 2D game with animated sprites so there's nothing complicated there. The complicated bit is the physics.

We want the physics to feel quite a lot like sonic but more 'meaty'. You're not a light little hedgehog, you're a fatass dwarf. Fatass dwarves don't get up to speed easily and they don't stop easily either. Sonic works on a system of matching your horizontal coordinate with a corresponding height coordinate. It isolates your coordinates to a tile and then the tile has a 'Height mask' which positions you accordingly. We're intending to use this system since it's simple and shouldn't prove limiting in any significant ways. The differences between our system and Sonic's appear when you look at how the characters move. In Sonic, you accelerate pretty quickly and slow down pretty quick aswell. Now since our philosophy for our game is that you commit to a jump and throw yourself balls first into whatever is in front of you, it wouldn't fit to have your character slow down easily. We also don't want our players to be able to slowly walk up to an edge, decide on an action and then throw themselves off, so we are going to have him accelerating pretty slowly. Basically, you look down a slope, think 'Well shit, here I go.' And bolt down it. This should be easily achievable using the basic idea from before, but fiddling with it to make it more about going forward and less about slowing down. Another point on this is that this isn't going to be the kind of platformer where you go from floating platform to floating platform. We're not having that kind of precision. This is about thinking, planning, and then going for it. This means we won't have to fiddle with some of the problems of little twitchy moving platforms. I'm not saying we definitely won't have moving platforms but they won't be little twitchy things that you can fall off. And you know the little teeter animation Sonic has? Fuck that shit. We intend to make it so you're never at an edge about to fall off. You've either fallen off or you haven't. Now I know that might not sound good, but it will be. It will fit with the speed and weight of the character. You're a dwarf with massive balls. Dwarves. Don't. Teeter.

That's probably the main complicated thing to program. The enemy AI will be pretty simple. In some ways this is almost a puzzler. We don't want enemies running around too much. You plan what you're going to do with them quite carefully so we don't want them slinking out of your way last minute. That's not because it would be 'hard' to play like that, it's because it would be fiddly to play like that, and fiddly is not a good design philosophy, right? The shoes are an extra bit to program but they'll mainly change variables around and I don't foresee many of them needing a huge slab of code to work.

I think that's a reasonable bit of shit for now.
Comment with thoughts.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Game Dev Bits and Bobs

Okay so we've vaguely agreed on a working title, for now it shall be referred to as "Dwarf Story" until further notice. Progress is hindered by general lethargy and procrastination, but that's all in the experience of being a game developer I suppose (here's looking at you, Gabe). Rather than actually making the game, we spend a lot of time brainstorming ideas, which is probably a good thing, I'd rather have all the ideas sorted and planned before we dove in head-first, to save work shoving it in later.

So far we've come up with a few things:

  • Shoes: Work like items in the zelda games. Select your shoes and overcome specific obstacles. e.g winged sandals á la Hermes which would let you fly a short distance to overcome obstacles. Using the right shoes in the right places could help you find some SECRET SHIT. 
  • Momentum: The game focuses on the physics of your character, if you hit a spiked enemy when your momentum is huge, then chances are you're going to get a full on spike facial, and die. It works to your favour too, where jumps can be made and walls can be broken using higher momentum. Jumping works differently from a game like say, Super Meat Boy, where you have a lot of aerial control. In Dwarf Story you will have to time and calculate your jump before actually making it, as you have little control after you leave the ground.
  • HATS: Self explanatory. Bought from merchants, or unlocked.
  • Attacks: We figured giving the dwarf an attack that easily killed things would stop you using momentum to kill things, and instead just smack them or something. So your character doesn't actually have any weapons, just a shield. He can do a few things with the shield; slide on it like snow/surfboard, ram it into enemies for a weakish bunp, or smack it into the ground for an emergency brake.
  • Story: Storywise we don't have a massive amount to say yet, this will probably come after getting everything else sorted, then we can change the story to suit our ideas, rather than change our ideas to suit the story. 
  • Setting: The setting will be a sort of fantasy world of course, with a few standard fantasy races, but with a few twists to make them a little different from the clichés everyone is used to. One idea I love is that gnomes are tiny, even smaller than normally portrayed, and if you're running relatively quick, you just stomp through them, splattering blood all over the place.
  • Format:  Levels will be spread over about 10 hub zones, each with a different theme, also clichéd but with little twists. We haven't gone into too much detail about this, but I can see something like 5 levels per hub zone, possibly with bonus/secret levels dotted around. The levels will be of moderate length and difficulty, with difficulty increasing as the game goes on. A few levels will be in a different format, like a downhill level where you snowboard using your shield. 
I've probably missed a few things that we thought of, but this is all I could think of off the top of my head. It'll do for now, and I can forget some of this stuff, and just remember to come to this post for reference.

As a bonus I have included a page of sketches with rough ideas for some hub zones. These are of course, subject to change.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Work. Work. Video games. Work.

Wow, it's been a fun week. No posts have happened over here since we've both been terribly busy finishing up on coursework.

That, and Battlefield 2.

Obviously, we'd both heard about this game, but it took it being on a fantastic Steam sale for us to actually buy it. We've only been playing as casuals for now but damn is it good. All that shooting, bombing, playing chicken with helicopters. We're going to start posting a bit more now we've done being busy with stupid amounts of coursework (Mine ended up at 15000 words). Marcus will probably post as well once he's found a game to review or something to be interested in.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Portal 2 Review

Note: I'm reposting this from my other blog so that we can get them all in the right place and establish the kind of thing we're doing here.

So on the first of April the cool fellows at Valve starting throwing potatoes at indie developers as some kind of secret mission. Some crazed nerds realised this definitely meant something and started frantically picking these potatoes up in an attempt to win Valve's favour. There was a huge Alternate Reality Game messily solved by the aforementioned nerds while some guy pretended to be relevant and provided by far the most interesting parts of the ARG despite actually just being a bit insane. It all converged into Valve announcing that Half Life 2: Episode 3 wasn't out yet and some other shit about Portal 2 being released early if people bought and played indie games that they weren't hugely interested in. I was majorly pissed off and lost all hope of Episode 3 ever being announced before realising Valve were dangling their monopolistic dick in my face and I clearly wasn't doing my job, so I got on Steam and bought Portal 2, which turned out to be the right move.

It preloaded and I went to bed with my girlfriend, innocently. At maybe 7 in the morning my brain twitched me awake and I got on with playing Portal 2 against the woman's protests.

First Impressions:
Portal 2 starts you off with a part-tutorial-part-satire-of-tutorial tutorial, where it talks you through the complex processes of looking, walking, staring at art, and laying waste to human vegetables, all the while displaying confidently Valve's ability to push the source engine to the limits many have speculated exist but so far remain out of sight. The Bristoltacular voice acting of Stephen Merchant fully creates the character of Wheatley by basically being himself. The tutorial cuts off after teaching you how to WASD and doesn't really teach you the basics of portalling which may be a problem for casuals but is no issue to people with a spoonful of spatial awareness. The Enrichment Centre's overgrown, under maintained design stands out well against the glistening whiteness of the first Portal and really gives you a feel that you’re not being as controlled as in the first game.

9/10 – Inspiring.


The story was kind of spoiled for me as I frequent certain boards, but the dialogue and acting still kept me pretty damn captivated throughout. The characters are built upon, digging huge canyons of depth under the basic set up of the first game. The antagonist of the previous game, GLaDOS, returns to bust out some hurtful hateful lovable dialogue, while the little metal moron Wheatley has some fantastically British humour that only Steven Merchant could deliver correctly. The story takes twists and turns that lead you down to the old Aperture Labs where you hear some pre-recorded words from Cave Johnson including some of the most amazing shit you’ll ever hear said about lemons. The game builds up to a fantastic confrontation and an over the top ending that grips you pretty tight.

9.4/10 – Fantastically written and voiced.


The original gameplay from the first Portal returns with the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device providing you dimension fucking abilities that you can make use of as long as you’ve got a lot of white walls around. The issue with this iteration of the franchise is that they’ve decided that you had too many white walls in the first game and concluded that they should just give you one space of white wall per test chamber so you never get too lost. They make up for this by throwing in a shitload of new gameplay devices to assist in making the real world seem even more inferior. Valve surprise in how many interesting ways they can combine lasers, light bridges, asbestos tractor beams, and two different momentum altering goos to give you an interesting and diverse set of puzzles, but they have taken out a lot of the more reaction based tests, which can leave the game feeling a tiny bit slower than the first. Still, Portal 2 manages to keep you thinking with a wide array of different puzzles and test chambers letting you really explore what’s possible with impossible tools. The new Co-Op mode is also a great play through and they take advantage wherever they can of the extra Portal gun. Though relatively short, it provides an interesting challenge and a well developed twist on the Portal gameplay.

8.8/10 – Well developed and still fantastic, but lacking in speed and complexity in some areas.


The source engine shows in Portal 2 that it is still easily capable of pushing out great looking games even with being around 7 years old. The lighting and design is superb. One fantastic thing about the source engine is how you never encounter texture popping, but this does lead to frequent loading times. The constant updating of the source engine means it has all the features to keep running close to modern standards, but it still doesn’t as realistic as the newer CryEngines or the newer Frostbite engine. The new style of old and unmanaged still has the feel of Aperture Science and even the underground test chambers have the feel of ‘insane research facility’ while clearly being from a different era. Overall it looks fantastic and you’d have to be trying very hard if you think that the source engine holds back the visuals.

8.5/10 – Fantastic design easily hold the aging Source engine up.


Portal 2 is a thoroughly enjoyable experience and should easily entertain anyone for 6 to 8 hours single player and somewhere between 2 and 6 hours of Co-Op depending who you’re playing with. Easily a purchase that no one should look back on, it holds everything that a good game should and combines great design, gameplay, and dialogue to envelope the player in the world and rules of the Portal universe.

Final Score: 9/10 – A great game that’s well worth playing.

- Aaron

Saturday, 30 April 2011


We've started this blog in an attempt to create one far superior to our individual blogs.
Me and Marcus both have blogs that we use to provide you desperate readers with a fix of witty and informative opinions, reviews, and doodles, but we decided it was time to get serions. Fuelled by coconuts, women, and prog-rock, we're ready to throw our thoughts into the open and proudly state our opinion as fact. While we're here we'll also act as meta-journalists and bring news that is important (to us) to your attention and tell you our thoughts. Prepare for cynical comments and masses of Valve cock sucking from me, and cynical comments and doodles from Marcus.
Hope you enjoy.
Watch this space.