I’m old enough to remember the first wave of VR. Old enough to remember the excitement of seeing this new frontier in the pages of magazines and on TV shows, but not old enough to have ever made it to one of only a handful of places where it was available to use in my country. The other day I got my hands on an Oculus Rift and took my first infant-steps into this Brave New World. Trying it with Half Life 2, below is a documentation of my first impressions in the name of science, research and procrastination…
After spending the first several minutes crawling around the train floor trying to get under the seats of the virtual train, my first adventures into this new mysterious land of VR were almost unceremoniously cut short by attempting to lift myself up off the floor by a in-the-real-world-not-actually-there train seat and very nearly bringing the contents of my co-workers desk (including iMac) crashing to the floor. I could see that this VR stuff was going to take some getting used to! I started to feel mildly sick after checking my virtual limbs, only to realise I HAD NO ARMS OR LEGS IN THIS VIRTUAL WORLD. Slowly making my way back to the seat (the one back in reality) and attempted to orient myself with the keyboard (a somewhat difficult exercise with a big set of VR goggles on), I took stock of my situation, and began to swing back on the Aeron chair and look upside down behind me and under-between my non existent virtual legs. I could feel myself slowly getting used to this strange world, maturing from useless toddler-hood and through into child-hood in a matter of minutes (all while maintaining control of all bodily functions, quite a feat given the motion sickness I was feeling). I got off the train and started walking around this familiar, yet strangely different landscape.
Squaring up to the guard with the tazer (who suddenly felt somewhat shorter in stature than I remember) and getting a little more motion sick as the disparity between my real world movements and the in-game movements increased, it came to my realisation (I lie at this point of insight, it was actually a coworker that came up with this one) that this seemed to be the crux of one of the major forms of motion sickness – that when real world motions and in-game motions go out of sync, then queasiness occurs. The motion involved in this digital act of macho-ism involved something of a “whatchoo looking at” kind of neck-thrust motion, yet the camera (which is presumably controlled via gyroscope, which is unable to detect neck thrusts) didn’t quite respond in the way it would of if it were a pair of eyes in reality… Somewhat disconcerting…
After several more minutes of acclimatisation, things started to make more sense. Knowing the limitations, and working with them, the sickness started to abate, and gradually the potential of this device started becoming apparent… In particular, I noticed how even the more mundane background details such as a kids park slide or swing started to take on new significance. I wanted to climb up the slide, I wanted to investigate every nook and cranny of the fountain, I wanted to try and look behind the vending machines. It’s hard to describe this feeling. I think it’s close to 20 years since I first played an FPS, and of course Half-Life 2 was a fantastic game the first time around, but after nearly 15 years of FPS game training the fascination found in scaling slides or seeing what’s the other side of the fountain wall had long disappeared… The ability of the Oculus Rift to bring about that new sense of exploration was refreshing and exciting.
Despite the limitations the technology has, I’m massively excited by it’s prospects… It’s really quite hard to describe how suddenly details that you otherwise passed on in Half Life suddenly became fascinating, and the excitement of what is to come for this device is almost palpable (or perhaps that was just the sweat forming on the inside of the goggles). It feels like there hasn’t been a real paradigm shift in the tech landscape for years (since the release and rise of the smartphone really), and I had high hopes somewhat bruised after trying out the Leap Motion. But the Oculus Rift, this feels like something that could potentially bring about this paradigm shift, especially in the realm of entertainment. I can’t wait to play the first Pokemon Snap or Skate-like game that comes to the platform! Especially, I can see great things coming using this along with other haptic and motion controllers (check out these crazy kids and their skydiving game)
Bring on the ever increasing convergence of the virtual and real worlds I say!
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Update: Wohoo! they made it!!
Jed Henry & David Bull are probably two of the most talented non-Japanese Ukiyo-e aficionados on the planet. So why can’t they strike gold in the same place twice?
Something wonderful is happening, a video game is being made from Japanese woodblock style prints and they are asking for your support.
The rewards themselves are freaking amazing – albeit niche – original hand cut woodblock prints. I personally want an 8-Fuji woodblock print for $50 (that is nothing, considering the original prints they did a while back now go for $200+).
Previously, they had a major success on Kickstarter with Ukiyo-e Heros (Japanese artwork of video game characters). The project raked in $313,341 of their $10,400 goal. It was a true rags to riches tale, a very low asking point and a very high turn out.
Video games get funded quite well on Kickstarter. The artwork on Edo Superstar is gorgeous. But this project only just made it.
It’s an iPhone game.
Quite possibly, if this were a Steam game, or XBox Live, or even PSM Vita – from the outset – they would have sailed through their target and hit the stretch goals. They did add a vague PC and Mac support option during the campaign but it lacks direction, and wasn’t the initial goal of the project.
Why is the platform a problem? A few reasons:
- It appears they have over estimated how excited people can get for a game that is being released for free on their phones, and why they should contribute at all when hundreds of games land on the platform every week. (This game is clearly head and shoulders above the waterline, alas)
- Plenty of games developers can and do release their own games, feature rich and highly playable, in small teams without any funding whatsoever.
- Mobile games as fun as they are, simply do not command the same kind of material worth or community support that a Steam or console game might.
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These could be very entertaining for tinkerers and hobbyists. Useful for device creators to prototype ideas.
You can get the complete low down on the Tessel Website.
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Some game screens flash red when the player has pain inflicted. Some do this the “wrong” way, some do this the “right” way.
What exactly makes these wrong and right?
In our opinion the “Wrong” way is flash the screen red, for the same duration and opacity regardless of the nature of the players health or power of the hit.
Usually fighting and action games do pain the wrong way.
So, the opposite of this would be the “Right” way. Which would be to flash or pulse the screen red in ever intensifying flashes that are connected to the players health.
Usually FPS games do this, with even more effects thrown in (blood splattered on the screen, monochrome, darkening). This could be a bit too much for an iPhone game, though.
Lets have a look at how one might go about the variables for this code:
- variable for your max health (maxHealth) Float
- variable for your health (health) Float
- variable for the opacity of the effect (… lets do a trick here) Float
- variable for the duration of the effect (… lets do a trick here)
- variable for the fade out duration of the effect (… again, we can use a trick for this)
- variable that is the trick (intensity)
So your pseudo code for calculating effect intensity every time you need the pain effect the would go something like this:
intensity = maxHealth – health; (get a low number, say 5)
intensity /= 100; (get the float, because opacity is measured in 0.0 to 1.0, gives out something like 0.05 in this case)
then use the “intensity” float variable in your code to show both the intensity and duration of the pain effect, building up as your player loses their health!
The effect will be barely noticeable if the player is doing well, and very noticeable if they are losing a lot of health or almost dead.
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Today we were re-invited to talk at PicoPico Cafe in Tokyo (after initially being too busy to present, sadly), where founder Hawken King talked on his personal project that helped him learn Unity3D to a degree whereby it is possible to publish a game. This in turned helped him create Bath Time for iPad / iPhone.
Many thanks to Joseph White @ Lexaloffle for the host.
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Well, this looks interesting. Part of a larger network called indiecity, this has the potential to be big in the coming years as more people buy the $25 linux board.
Theres only a handful of games on there, which probably carry no copy protection at all. But for budding game creators, this is revolution. (the raspberrypi is aimed at the educational market for kids, in a bid to rekindle the C64 style bedroom coding boom of the 80′s)
The quality of the games could prove to be quite outstanding, as this video shows:
And something for Dadako to get it’s hands on and start fiddling with. Finally I can see the potential in this tiny box.
Footnote: shame they didn’t call the store ZAPP64
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First prototype is almost complete, but I’ve decided to shelve it for a little bit. The game it’s self is solid enough, so it’s good to come back to. I’ll be diving in to another prototype for a few weeks, see what advancements can be made there… the payment model is weaker, but the game is more fun. So it may end up being a paid game with a free limited version (much like the Angry Birds model).
Hope to build about 4 or 5 prototypes quickly, test them out on people, and release the better received ones.
One last thing…
Tilterpillar is officially getting a revamp! We have quite a high install base with this free app, so it’s time to provide a better experience.
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Things that have happened since the last post:
- Game has been decided on, orientation of device, input and so on.
- Financial model. (necessary evil)
- Programmed basic working demo
How evil and capitalistic of me to figure out the financial model before making the art huh? Ah the realities of making games.
The payment model is much like that of recent puzzle games, allowing lots of free play but payment is needed if you wanna play the game a lot in a fixed time frame. Phew! Well, at least the game will be free. yep.
OK back to programming; I’ve never embarked on coding player movement before, being more versed in interface interaction and physics. So I rigged the player with rigidbody physics to move about in his work. Moving left applies a force to his right. Moving right applies a force to his left, jumping applies a force from underneath him and so on. Letting the physics engine sort out his basic interactions with objects. It would be nice to read other peoples code on player movement (I’m probably doing it all wrong).
Then came switching out the textures of the player based on what he’s doing. All went fine, a little tricky as one needs to know the state of the player at all times. Is he in the air? Is he standing on the floor? Is he hurt? Is he walking left? Theres a fair amount of code here, which needs to be written to make a convincing player move about the screen. Within this I reached my first hurdle: making the player change his texture after he has come to a stop after walking. Unfortunately as mentioned above, I’m using forces to move this guy about, so I need to check for his velocity, see if he’s come to a stop and change his texture. Well… yes and no. Yes, that sounds good. No, as he’s wondering about in both directions one is just a minus of the other. He is not trackable by directional velocity.
So another method is needed. And it turns out this other method is dropping transform markers and measuring them compared to the distance of the player from them against time. (easier than it sounds, 2 lines of code) This enables me to do other things, like cycle the walk animation faster or slower based on his velocity (which I am now measuring by his previous position in relation to his current position per few milliseconds)
I also implemented a scoring system that is related back to the “start” screen, so you can beat your previous score in 3 lives. Had this up and running on the iPhone, input works well.
And some other complex stuff which the foundation for my next dev diary entry. (in which I will reveal more about the game, and hopefully a little bit of art)
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Well the good news is, I’ve embarked on writing a new game. It’s a physics puzzler.
The bad news is, I have a full time job / woooman to keep, so updates may be a little sporadic.
I’ve already fleshed out the basic premise of the game, coded up a working prototype of the core mechanics and everything is looking promising. Well, I say looking, it’s just a bunch of white boxes flying about the screen right now.
Considering a really flimsy storyline based on a global disaster, where you need to escape a oncoming tide of debris & doom. As you do. (being based here in Japan, the subject is still a little close to the bone. Maybe have to change the story) Anyway, the basic premise is that you are a guy trying to escape something, with things in your way, we calculate a score from that somehow – provide a competitive leaderboard environment and quick play time – boom! Theres a game!
Usually when making games I either create, or are provided with, a game design document. Usually they are massive. In this instance I’m trying to keep things lean and discover what elements work from a playability point of view, then decide what features go into the game. My colleague had a quick spin on the prototype and immediately suggested a core feature. I would prefer to make the game in this way.
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Good clean fun.
In this post I’ll talk about the following:
- Feedback from iBath 1.1
- Issues faced
- Changes I’ve made
- New features
- Easter egg
Feedback from iBath 1.1
After an initial release of iBath, and largely giving it away to friends with toddlers / little people in tow, I’ve had quite a swathe of feedback. (more…)
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