Mechropolis – Fleeing AI

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I’ve recently started working with the talented folks at Digital Tuna (creators of CoBots) on a new project for the course Big Game, the grand finale of our second year here at Campus Gotland. The game’s name is Mechropolis. It’s a first person action puzzle game in which the player is invited to explore a long lost underground civilization. The only remaining inhabitants in this derelict world are the robot servants still carrying out the orders of their vanished masters, blindly digging deeper into the planet.

Mechropolis’ core mechanic is something we’ve dubbed “Fusion”. The player is able to stun a robot, pick it up, and throw it into another robot, fusing them into a single entity that combines the characteristics of the other two. By exploiting these fused robots’ unique traits, the player is then able to progress through the environment.

My main task so far has been to implement the robot AI and fusion system. The AI system is a simple but flexible state machine with single purpose states (e.g. “chase”, “flee”, “attack”) that are tied together and transitioned between when certain conditions are met.

I’d like to tell you about one such state that proved to be an interesting little challenge: the “Flee” state. (more…)

SGA Conference – Day 2

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Yesterday was the second and final day of the Swedish Game Awards Conference. I attended several interesting talks, among them:

Dan Thronström from Avalanche Studios gave a talk about how the dynamics between publishers and developers in the AAA segment seems to be changing as developers turn to other ways of financing their games, such as crowdfunding or self-funding.

Romi Gråhed from DICE gave a passionate talk on project management, the best part of which was a segment where four audience members where invited onto the stage to demonstrate the differences between scientific management and directed management, where our own Oskar Månsson played the part of an over involved manager telling an artist exactly how to draw a house.

Martin Lindell, also from DICE, gave a talk on an interesting subject that’s becoming more and more significant every day: What happens to our digital cultural heritage when our consoles and cartridges decay beyond repair? Should we store and preserve our games, and if we should, then how?

I’m pretty sure many of the talks at the conference were filmed and I’ll try to get a hold of them. If I do, I’ll put some links up!

Overall, my experience this weekend was very positive. The talks were great, but in the end, what I found most rewarding was seeing old and new friendly faces from the other game educations spread across the country. That, to me, is SGA’s greatest strength: bringing Sweden’s game development students together to form a creative community rather than bloodthirsty rivalry.

Me charming some first-year students from Skövde

Me charming some first-year students from Skövde

The Campus Gotland Gang

The Campus Gotland Gang

SGA Conference – Day 1

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I’m in Stockholm over the weekend for the Swedish Game Awards Conference. After a long day of traveling (got up at 5.30 in the morning to catch the ferry to the mainland), mingeling and lectures, I retreat to a well deserved night’s sleep.

Two highlights stood out for me among the day’s events:

I met Angelica Norgren and Josef Fares, both involved in the Swedish gaming-focused radio show P3 Spel that I enjoy every week in podcast format. Josef Fares is also a well-known filmmaker and game director behind Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons.

Me and Josef Fares

Me and Josef Fares

The second highlight was an incredibly fascinating lecture by Sjoerd De Jong from Teotl Studios. He demonstrated Blueprint, the visual scripting language in UDK4, which I must say looks very powerful and flexible. He also showed a small slice of Solus, the game he’s currently working on. The attention to detail and atmosphere made my mouth water :)

Enticing scenery in Solus

Event System in C++

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As a part of getting input into the game I’m working on for the programming course we’re taking right now, I wanted to implement some kind of event system. I come from a background in web development, working a lot with javascript and actionscript and I tend to draw inspiration from there. I always liked the flexibility and ease of use of the event handling in javascript and actionscript, and I wanted to try and do something similar with my system. (more…)

Teapots and pretty lights!

Teapots

I’ve recently been experimenting a lot with OpenGL as a part of an assignment in the programming course I’m taking right now. Playing around with lighting has really captivated me. I love creating visuals through code, the instant feedback that you get when the smallest code change entirely transforms the feel of a scene is simply intoxicating!

Buccaneers

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We recently finished the course Advanced Game Design during which I and three others have developed a board game that we named Buccaneers. The game has a pirate theme and lets players sail around the game board searching for treasure and fighting sea battles.

The movement system in Buccaneers is centered around the ever changing wind. Players sail along a hexagonal grid at a speed dictated by the wind’s direction, if you sail with the wind, you get further in one turn than if you sail upwind.

Players hunt for treasure using treasure map cards. By identifying and sailing to the area marked with an X on a treasure map, players are rewarded with the game’s currency, gold coins, that can be traded for cannons and voodoo cards with magical effects.

The combat system in Buccaneers is at it’s heart an arms race. All players start the game with one cannon each. During the game, the players can upgrade their ships by buying more cannons and placing up to two cannons on each of their ship’s six sides. The more cannons you have on one side, the higher your chance of succeeding with (or defending against) an attack in that direction.

Among the treasures are four pirate relics, in order to win the game, a player must get a hold of all four. These relics can be aquired, either by treasure hunting or by defeating those that carry them in battle.

I’m very pleased with what we managed to create in just four weeks time and I feel that the game became engaging and intuitive. But there are some things left that I would love to improve upon. I would especially like to work out the balance between positive and negative feedback for leading and trailing players as well as experiment a bit with the win condition in order to narrow down the game’s duration, as one session can last for anything from half an hour to two hours as it is today.

Retro games!

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I got this in the mail today! I’ve been thinking that I should try to get a hold of some old classics. So far my modest collection consists of Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy IV, V and VI in japanese and now Super Mario World!

The Final Fantasy games were actually a real bargain, I found them in some sort of retro store in Tokyo when I went to TGS. I even got a discount and got all three for a little less than 1500 yen! Now I just need to remove the region lock from my SNES so that I can play them :P. Well, that’s a project for another day, but I’ll make sure to post when I get to it.

Building a Board Game

We’ve recently started working on our final assignment in Advanced Game Design. We’ve been tasked with making a board game, or rather a well polished system to be used in a board game.

One of our first priorities has been to set an aesthetic goal for the project. We got kind of hooked on a pirate theme where players sail their pirate ships into a thrilling sea battle, but in order to focus on polishing the core system (ship movement), we later abstracted this to an aesthetic goal of delivering the experience of sailing. It is, however, very likely that we’ll return to the pirate theme later on. Because pirates are awesome.

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Building the prototype

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Alumni Days && Everybody is a Noob Jam

Our Alumni days have come and gone.

The lectures were great, but the what stole the show was probably the miniature 6 hour “Everybody is a Noob” game jam that was held. The reason why everyone was a noob was because we were required to build our games in Game Maker Studio, a tool that most of us knew about but had never used.

The theme of the jam was “Everyday Doom”. I teamed up with an alumn, two first year students and a classmate. Together, we made simple sorting game where you play Paris Hilton as she’s flipping burgers in her own personal hell.

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My personal favourites among the games that came out of the jam were these: (more…)

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