MyI@FarNiche

Building an XNA Game Studio XBox360 Indie Game.

[page 0072] ~ My HTML Help File :

September/October Backlog:

Updates: –  : Windows Shutdown Update, NVIDIA GeForce 340.52 driver, JAVA Version 7 Update 67-71, Flash Player 14.0.0.176, Substance Painter V0.10.2b438, Substance Designer 4.4.1, Autodesk® Application Manager v3.0.159.0, Adobe Reader XI(11.0.09) .
DownLoads: –  .

Imitation Is The Best Form Of Flattery“, and I say to me, “Don’t flatter yourself”.  But my HTML Help file is going to become a copy, clone, reincarnation, imitation of my own website, in part.  So, once again, I just tell myself to shut up and get on with it.  I figure the best way to get a revived understanding of how to build an HTML Help file, for what I will use as my wizard guidelines to draw out a game production pipeline template, for my game builds, is to rebuild my website, within the HTML Help Workshop, to become a stand-alone help file, that will facilitate the construction of a consistent game model, which will progressively grow in depth and breath, to become my minimal viable product as my OGAM game submissions.  Seeing that my internet site is based on what was an old HTML Help exe I had built about ten years ago, HTML Help Ten Years After, I might as well bring it around full circle and update it with todays’ .css format and layout standards.  In the end, as an end product, I would like to get this new HTML Help construct to have the same format and look as my website, i.e. the background .jpg’s and the like, to also have the same structure and feel while navigating about the help file, for the most part.

The way it looks, from all that I have observed thus far, is that the infrastructure used to connect all of the game assets, having been built prior to them being assembled, is just as important to the building of video games as is the knowledge of consolidation of all those assets that I have built for the game within the game engine.  So not only am I building the game assets to make the game, along with the game itself, but also the infrastructure that is needed to focus on consistency between those pieces, as they are built.  So the integration of those pieces, as they are interchanged between games, levels, scenes and scenarios makes the construction result as a more robust process.  Whew!

What I need now is to build an “in house” help file as a step by step wizard to guide my way through this game creation process.  OK then, open HTML Help Workshop and load the associated *.hhp file.  Then open my game terrain environment setup notes and start that whole game initialization process one more time.  But this time through, as each process is set to task, I will be adding it to the help file *.html page.  And once again, it becomes a long and drawn out adventure running back and fourth between actually doing what needs to be done by following my notes, and then also copying and configuring the *.html page so it will be readily accessible through the Table of Contents(TOC), Index, Search and Favorites of that help exe.

One thing I need to keep in mind is that this is only the start of this help file and it only takes me to the point where I have a terrain of land and water with a sky box that is all given generic lighting.  But even that is somewhat of a long process that is easily forgotten if it is not written down in notes and now, this game creation help system.

It’s good to be back!

G’day.

October 31, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , , | Leave a comment

[page 0071] ~ Once It Starts Just Run With It :

Updates: –  : Substance Painter – Open Beta 9 – Build 0.9.0.403 .
DownLoads: –  .

Well, this month was not what I was expecting.  I was on a tear getting my Titan finished off and setting up another group as a set of web services, tumblr, Wikia and WiX pages that follow the artistic background theme of my Research home site section that I am currently building.  It is becoming a consolidation of ideas for what I would like to see happening as I piece together my game piece asset library, all that, and then building my game for One Game A Month plus a few other things.  So scatter brained could be a good description of the general state of affairs recently.

And while making the rounds about my new webby web production pipeline I noticed that Wikia has released a thing called Wikia Maps.  This new addition helps create maps for use in a Wikia site.  Seeing this, it started another maelstrom in my mind of what to do next and how to do it.  Back in my OGAM profile I found my first Unity game that used a terrain object to construct, build and show a 3D map, in WaterPod.  Looking up that Unity asset folder for that map, I notice that the hierarchy used as my folder structure that holds the different asset types while being produced under different asset creation tools, is lacking in a consistent structure.  Sooo, what you do is open up Unity to try an figure out which map was used to build the terrain in that game and find that not only is the name of that map not in the folder structure of that months game, because it was imported from a different file location, or logically assumed so, but the name is also not in the project itself, hmm.  And just why would I need to do this?  Because, somehow, building an asset library, and then having where each of the assets grew from along with their respective origins just seems to be a good idea, good practice.  Now for the exhaustive search, be right back.  Whatever.

Or, when all else fails, just start over.  I need a new map for this game, Flag-e-llum.  And it looks like, for now, that it’s back to the old drawing board.  Also, I will need to refresh this old memory on how to build another map of this type.  That will inevitably take me back to, “Where is that paper with all those wonderful notes of mine “.  From that set of notes, as they have been refined over time should and will become more helpful with each iteration.  And seeing that these notes themselves are meant to be a type of help file, it makes me want to begin to form a more comprehensive ding-ding-ding Déjà vu help file.  So I look up some of my old programs where I know that I have already built some HTML Help Files for those programs.  These HTML Help files come together as a *.chm file with a Table of Content, a Search and an Index with all the accoutrements that will become my in-house offline trade secret repository of “How do I set up my game build” kind of help file.  So, of course, after searching for all the different help files that I have built I find one that is most representative and most applicable for this application.  My final decision, when finding that Help file, is that now, somehow, for some reason, it makes sense to make a You Tube Video called HTML Help Ten Years After.  This particular help file, with all its bits and pieces, was the beginning of what is currently my base website, FarNiché.

I’m finally ready, after all of that, where I can begin to piece together an HTML Help File for what will become the starting point as most of my Unity Games into the foreseeable future.  This next step will continue to add to my Library “Generic Structures & Resource Templates”.  It is also to be my next adventure in conjuring up a Wizard of Old that will help me guide and piece together my games so they begin to have the same consistency and feel, which will allow me to move further into game play mechanics, and, of course, aid in building more help files that help me remember just what I need to do as I get to each next step with every new level.

Well the Titan results are in, and nope, I didn’t make it into the top ten, but they did have a very nice parting gift for participation.  They have sent out a 50% off coupon for any of their products, which is a valid forever coupon, until cashed in of course, for being a participant in their Titan Contest, thanks again Allegorithmic.

Again, this months game,

FLAG-EL-LUM

and their Titan Winners revealed!

 

But now, I must be running with that 96 hour grace period, yep, not done yet.

G’day.

August 1, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , , | Leave a comment

[page 0070] ~ Wiki-yep Titan-well Game-hmm et-al :

Updates: –  : Windows Shutdown Updates, IE11 Flash Player v14.0.0.145, Java 7 Update 65 .
DownLoads: – Substance Designer Service Upgrades .

Petri dish, home of the Flagellum.

Yikes!  Plan ahead.  My Titan needs to be completed and submitted by July 18th!  That leaves me nine more days to duke it out with the best of them, good luck to me.  At least I have my wiki started up and is well on its way to being … , something, wiki-ish.  As for my game and the Doctor, who is doing something diabolical with the flagellum of his experimental petri dish hoard, will need to wait till after my Titan has been submitted, to then continue his plot to steal away the Wray Pod from the Plumber.  So be it, stay tuned.

Ok, for some odd reason I’m trying to get a blog for my Google g+ Blogger account going.  Hmm, and what I find is that I keep getting claim jumped, http://farniche.blogspot.com/, for BLOGGER, which isn’t mine, and, has nothing added to it, or so it seems, except some cryptic Copts.  That’s par for the course because when I tried to get my original Twitter account for FarNiche at https://twitter.com/FarNiche in 2011, somebody, (from Brazil?), had already taken that name, and I ended up with Far_Niche.  Who or why that should happen I don’t know, but also that twitter has had nothing written to it yet either.  So how many years of NOTHINGNESS have not been written to the name I have chosen through some very strange logical assertions, so long ago, pre 2008, as FarNiche, go figure.  So anyway I now have Blogger hooked into my FarNiche Google site.

Nope, it’s not over yet.  There is a place called www.wix.com that is a great place to build a website.  They have a most excellent What You See Is What You Get interface.  Actually it is rather amazing, I am very impressed.  I would say just check it out for the fun factor, it’s very nice.  So anyway, yes, it is true, I now have a WiX website for FarNiché.  What I’ll be doing with that site is showcasing my Integration Tests in game form, i.e. as #1GAM games that I build.  The pieces will be auditioned from my asset library and become games from the ideas that inspire me.  But those assets need to be tested somehow, so why not in a game situation.  As this process moves along, month by month, the library should fill up with game tested resources that can be reused to promote reoccurring themes within new episodes as I produce more games, and more game assets.  Eventually some storylines should emerge and build up some character narratives, where those too, can become a part of the library.  All this will be showcased from my newest addition, given herein as my most recent creation.  Thanks WiX website.

So my recent escapade has brought about a tumblr, Wikia and a WiX account, each centered on furthering an aspect of FarNiche.  Tumblr is the closest to my asset library initially as it is the pictorial reflection of “Does this work?  Well, how about this.”  It will be filled with milestone pictures and videos taken at each pieces progression through the production pipeline as each moves towards completion.  Wikia is kind of the same except that it is to be geared more toward a written venue and somewhat more of a hierarchical, node based, idea linked, back and forth, brainstormingish site.  And WiX is the hurrah send-off index, where it all comes together, just before the lights are dimmed and the game hits the stage floor.  So WiX is where the building stops and the playing starts site.  Then there is the game itself, but that is outside the scope of what I’m trying to explain about these newest three sites.

Now I can get back to my Titan, seriously.  And how do I get on with creating what I have started.  You’ve guessed it, delays, nothing but delays.  First install service upgrade Substance Designer v4.1.1 to v4.4.0, Substance Painter v0.4.0 to v0.8.2 and Substance Bitmap2Material v4.1.1 to v4.2.1, very nice.  I guess it is better to be slightly inconvenienced and get more functionality than to buy a one trick pony and then call it a day.  The only problem here, and this hints back to the actual idea for the Titan Contest, is that there are no real, in depth, exhaustive resources to explain exactly how to use this Substance Suite of tools.  Even Digital Tutors was rather scant on the video content offered and I’m not even going to check Safari Online Books, nobody will have written a book about the latest upgrades that I had just installed moments ago.  So I guess I will become the scribe, for this, here and now.  It looks like it’s time to muck it up a bit, save once save often, have a backup naming convention like you wouldn’t believe to bring the hammer down on this baby, oh yeah, right to the mat.  Because if it isn’t broken, it still works.  And that’s how that’s going to get done.

Oh no, I’m a noob, in Maya LT hold down the ALT key in perspective mode for orbit, track and pan, duh.  I must have been off and gone doing too much site building.  Hm, I forgot.  Ok, let’s start with something simple, like finding the files that I’ll be working with.  Got one, the Titan base.  Ahh the bad news, now that the SunBase is in Maya LT it can’t be exported as an .obj file unless it has a polygon count under 65,000.  Sad delay, back to the original in ZBrush.  So I open ZBrush and find … was it a .ztl tool or an .obj import?  Time dates of file modifications are a good thing.  That one looks good, the belly cage.  I think I’ll just start a new folder and run with the best assets I have from this point on, the rest are archive fodder, just like Bob Hope, “Thanks, for the memories …”

This is going to be a long trail ahead.  I have an .sbsar file which is the Contest Substance Template. I have my Titan imported into Maya LT.  I have Hypershade loaded up to accept a Substance file and now have the template .sbsar file loaded into Maya LT.  The first thing I notice, after getting the correct settings for the view port to show the Substance on the Titan, is that the texture is not covering the Titan very well because it is not a flat object.  The UV’s are not correct, that is, the UV’s don’t match up with the corresponding pattern of the texture of the given template.  Woe is me, that which I have espied with my most curious orbs.  I know what I would like to happen.  It’s just a matter of figuring out how to get where I need to be using what is requested, and that is the problem.

With the upgrade of Substance Painter I am able to import my Titan for the first time.  Previously I was only able to get the Plumbers’ Wray Pod imported and then, once the Pod was painted, I couldn’t figure out how to export the paint job nor the .obj, i.e. the Wray Pod.  One nice thing about Substance Painter is that it now has a “New” file and a “Close” file protocol to open and close the current work space and project.  Things are either open or closed and the program resets to its default parameters in between.  It sounds silly to be happy about something like that but Substance Painter is a work in progress.  I also know full well, how difficult it is to get everything “tidied up” in between as an onslaught of new projects are requested for input and processing.  My next problem here is that the model mesh needs to have some kind of UV mapping along with the .obj file, or at least that’s the way it seems, so far, so I’ll oblige.  All right, I have a different UV setup and found that I can paint in Substance Painter with symmetry on so, supposedly I only need to paint one side, but, with the UV’s I’m using that doesn’t seem to be the case right now.  My Titan is a very “odd” shape and the UV’s are from ZBrush, where they do have some different choices.  It might make sense to map them out myself, but we shall see.  So once again, file Close and Discard.  Back to ZBrush to delete the UV map and try a different setup.  2048 Packed UV Tiles?  That’s an oldie but goodie.  And I was right about the wacky world of naming conventions, it’s like looking at some old dinosaur lineage map of failed evolutionary bloodlines, no that doesn’t work, nope not quite right, well your good for extinction, hmm try again, and so on and so forth … until it works.

Or until it doesn’t.  Let’s play crash the programs!  I Win!  One might think that I’m trying to punch a little over my weight class, but naw, not me.  That’s one thing that Windows started to fix just before XP.  That is, it would, change the way the Registry was implemented when the boot registry reads and stores a new set of start up points.  So that was just before plug and play too, I think.  So anyway, this is all experimentation and I wouldn’t be happy unless I would see this as me playing demolition derby with all of these programs running at the same time.  Maya LT, once to the mat, ha!  Now back at it.  I don’t know what it is but ZBrush really seems to build these Titan’s small because in Maya LT my Titan is a pip-squeak and fits in one tile of the default grid, Mr. Big Stuff.

Ok, I think I’ve got a heart beat.  I believe I have seen something that looks like a paint job on my Titan in Maya LT using the Substance plug-in in HyperShade that gets its information from an .sbsar file, that I built in Substance Designer.  It’s getting close to “Yippee!” time.  Just a couple more tests to make sure.  Back in Substance Painter, I have my Titan mesh imported while choosing “New” and then my file.  One good thing is that I have my Titan split up into a couple of different pieces now, just so I can move them around and meet the 65,000 polygon count limit as a series of .obj files.  So now I have an .obj file loaded up that was not only an export from ZBrush but then also from Maya LT, and now it is in Substance Painter, pretty cool.  And so after a little bit of uncrashing Painter painting, I save my file and then take a look at what kind of file type it has left behind, and whoa, a whole slew of files that I don’t even know what they are, at least most of them.  So now for the big test, to close and reopen, maybe yikes in stead of yippee, … to be continued.

Well, it loads back up, but the mouse movement is a little clunky right out of the gate, and it has some “Computation in progress …” dialog box in the 3D Mesh viewport and in the UV Map viewport.  Ok, their gone now, about as long as it took for me to click around to write this down, maybe a minute.  It’s back to painting, and after another save, I’m looking around for something to export, like what do I get out of using this program.  So the best thing I can come up with is in File/Export all channels, so I guess I’ll try that and see what happens.  And it says that it will Export a 128, 256, 512, 1024 or a 2048 set of Diffuse, Height, Roughness, Metallic, Normal, Specular and another Diffuse, maps, ok, let’s try it.  The question is where will they be exported to?  So I click Export and I get a SaveAs dialog so I can choose or create another destination folder and I can name the file.  So is that one name for all of the selected files?  Hmm says I and hmm says the Substance Painter Export document progress bar but it looks like it is trying to figure something out, but what, I do not know.

I don’t think I needed all seven of those files, but its a test run, but it is also getting closer to the deadline of my Titan Contest.  Ya live, ya learn.  Wow, my Internet Explorer has stopped working.  Another beat-down.  Send information?  Sure.  So my quad core was running the CPU Usage in between 50 and 75% and it took about 13 minutes to cook out something, so let’s go see.  Well then, the above mentioned seven files each at a resolution of 2048×2048 for a total of 3.96MB, that’s a pretty small footprint for those dimensions.  But what do they do and where do they go and of course, what can I use them for or in?

All right, from what I can recall, I’ll never need all of those files at the same time because there are three different schematics that are used in Substance Designer and they are made up of those seven file types.  So some combination of those seven export types will be needed but never all.  Now I reopened Substance Designer and started a “New” substance and gave that substance four of the seven files and then built a new .sbsar file.  Let’s see what it looks like in Maya LT.  Ok, now we’re getting somewhere.  That looks pretty good on the same Titan version that I painted on, but what if I use a different version of the same Titan, like one that has been run through Decimation Master in ZBrush.  The toughest part about that is remembering which version alpha-number that would be.  That’s the one, 6,616 polys and 221KB, and yes that looks to be it because instead of having all quads the mesh has a lot of tris, oh well.  Oh no, the mesh seems to be missing a lot of painted tris, and that could be due to the UV’s that were used, nope didn’t keep track of that.  So I’ll try to reUV that decimated Titan with the same UV pattern of the Titan I painted in Substance Painter, which has 33,166 polys.  Yep, research, of a sort, kind of.

Decimated down 10%, and it is, 3,316 polys.  All right, new UV’s and following the same strange naming convention for what ever reason.  Now back into Maya LT with you.  Nope, that does not seem to work.  The UV’s don’t match up with the different patterns of the decimated character mesh.  So as it stands, with all of the pieces of my Titan thus far I should be able to get the pieces I have painted and assembled in Maya LT, because although I can’t export an .obj file over 65,000 I can export and .FBX file out and the Titan max size is 100,000 polys for the Titan and 10,000 for the optional base.  Well I know it works and have an idea of what I can do and what needs to get done, but I need some sleep.  Nighty Night.

Good morning, or I should say good afternoon.  Inspiration and “strike while the iron is hot” does not make for the perfect 9 to 5 office hour day.  And it takes a few minutes for this little box of tricks to wake up from its “sleep”-ing state and get all of the programs up and running again, up and at ’em.  So what’s my game plan, what do I need to do to get the required files finished, packaged and out the door.

Well, let’s look at the files that I have from ZBrush.  That is really bad, working till it works and then with my last drops of consciousness, I named some files, so now I have no idea of what the names mean.  Documentation is my friend, my more awake self says to my barely.  But that’s neither here nor there, right now, for once again, it’s time to glean out the best and throw the chaff to the fire. One more new folder, one more new Project Name.

So what do I need for this Titan Pipeline.  First an idea, what is my Titan, how is it envisioned, what is its purpose, how do others perceive and acknowledge its existence.  Is it built for rampage or salvation, does its very essence promote safety or destitution, is there any escape from its clutches or will there be a way to elude its powers.  That was what I started off with.  Then came the idea that was rolling around in the back of my head for some time now and is from my large prototype game and faux GDD.  I see a powerful Titan that cannot be fought, it can only be reconciled to the fact that “It Is” and that is all, for when it “Is Not” those who can only imagine its existence, when the exacted truth in believing “It is not”, will become the failure in their own existences.  Those who once thought “It is” but now believe “It is not” perish, as the Titan that protected them “Is not”.  So in a way they are all a part of the Titan although the Titan exists without them, something akin to “If a tree falls in the forest, does it make any noise.”, or the same for lightning, an exploding volcano or the crashing of the waves on the shore.  So my Titans’ story is that of Spatial Perdition where it protects us from the Universe which we can see, as we see through the invisible powers of the Titan, but we have now grown to this point as slaves to its protection and have been diluted so as to believe the Titan is everywhere and we can go everywhere as if the Titan will follow us around and protect us, everywhere.  And so this is “The Titan God of Spatial Perdition”, where it protects our home planet Earth but not the moon.  It is made of Iron, but it is its mass that holds us close and its magnetic field that protects us.  We are stuck in the belly of the beast, and yet we live on.  The backstory, the Titan.

In ZBrush I started out with some humanish monster in mind that had eaten the Earth, but then realized that I needed to show the cage that we are locked in as we live, generation after generation.  I carved out its belly, and therein went the Earth, then the cage, to surround it, that shows signs for no escape.  But the moon is also there, outside of the cage, to show another place, somewhere that can be escaped to, although it is nothing like home.  But now things start to get technical like the 100,000 polygon count and the main gist of the Contest, using Substance so the judges can see different implementations of the Allegorithmic products.

The Titan Pieces: Earth, Moon, Belly Cage, Split Body.  And then in Substance Painter, [Paint editor] Invalid scene, all meshes need to have UV coordinates, nice warning, back to ZBrush for some UV’s.  Finally, after a long smash, boom, bam fest, with a couple of program crashes, and only two reboots, I have the assets needed that were requested.  Now to package those, just the way they like them, recheck to see if they all work, recheck the naming convention that they are looking for, and then .ftp that little folder off and hope that they like my Titan.

All done, that’s it I hope my Titan is good enough, but I can’t figure out how to make it any better.  It’s a blob of iron, that, for the Mythos detailing for “believers” to engage with, it needed a humanistic attributes, so a body.  Well, I will just need to wait and see, maybe the storyline will help.  Now back to my One Game A Month game and my video game asset library.

The Allegorithmic Titan Page.

G’day.

July 19, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | Leave a comment

[page 0069] ~ Flag-e-llum :

Updates: –  : XBox Live (on the XBox) , FireFox Flash Player 14.0.0.125.
DownLoads: –  .

This months theme, is FLAG.

For purposes known only to the Doctor, the theme FLAG has become misconstrued, and the prescription has become transcribed, translated, misunderstood and will be further known as Flagellum, a possible cousin of the Cilium,  where it is found that the more silly, um, the better, but I can only guess as I digress.  Back to it, I just installed the latest version of Unity(v4.5) and am continuing my pursuit of animation.  What has come to my attention is that there are more new things to discover inside of Unity that pertain to animation.  The first thing to do is to run through some topics I haven’t crossed paths with before in Unity and within its site: Tutorials/Topics/Animation, Mecanim Example Scenes and Unitys’ Mecanim.

Whoop, I just did it again.  “What is a WIKI?”, I asked myself, mostly by accident, but I did have that thought rolling around in the back of my head for a time now.  So instead of digging into Unity animation and my needed walk cycles I am reading a book, actually cheating by having TextAloud read to me from Safari Books Online, Wikis For Dummies.  I guess that would mean that I am learning one more language, “Wiki Markup”.  No, I will not be installing a huge configuration, like MediaWiki, onto a server farm for millions of users, but there still are some choices of which “wiki” will best suit my needs, what ever those may be.  The way it looks most wikis are using  WYSIWYG to get the markup job done these days.  But in any case I need to know just what a wiki is, how it is to be used, what it does, how it is meant to function as a dynamic definition platform and what can be expected as others will be open to have the opportunity to “contribute” to my wiki site.

All right, I think I have it narrowed down to two WIKI providers, “wikispaces” and “wikia”.  At first I thought that wikispaces would lend itself extremely well to what I was looking for and for what I thought I would like for what I wanted to do.  At $5 a month, in wikispaces, I wouldn’t be bothered by any advertisements and I could customize the face, the wall paper, the skin of the site as I would like.  So like most of my “other” specialized utility sites, Tumblr, Twitter, WordPress, where they all had some customizable attributes, the free wikispaces wiki with embedded advertisers did not provide any customizable attributes.  So my second thought was wikia, well actually my first and second thoughts were MediaWiki and TWiki.  But those two were of the type, “Please install our wiki software into your server farm and keep up with the best security practices available,  … yeah sure … , and other jargon … , and on …”, type of wiki’s.  I have come to see now that those are wiki software packages that build the wiki farms, not the homestead itself that one would inhabit.  This meant that where my first and second intended choices would become heavy on the technical maintenance side for what I would need and would like to accomplish right now, my real choice to opt for the less “engaged” site, now, seems to be more appropriate.  So my viable second choice is, wikia.

Wikia sites have a little button on their wiki pages that will grab a random page and throw it onto the screen.  This is what I found to be very interesting because there are many types of wikis on many assorted subjects utilizing many styles for different purposes.  So after an hour of, hmm, that’s nice, that’s … mm … different, I got a pretty good idea of not only what is out there by how it is represented but also for whom I might build a wiki, i.e. my wiki for others to enjoy.  That idea would afford to others points of entry where their changes come about through their utilization of the subject headers.  I could then allow for portions of my wiki site to be sublet or “wiki hosted” out.  My wiki real-estate, the intended theme of my site, could then be enhanced by others without the worry of those additions contorting the directives of my site, its main idea, thus keeping the site from getting completely bent out of shape and redirected.  Of course, this wiki of mine is all about the gamification of games, the games that I build, where the whole topic surrounding this wiki site is Game Design and Development.  So right now, I’m leaning towards wikia because wikispaces seem to be geared more towards solitude and academia, which isn’t a bad thing, but I need to move my little Niche wiki further into the limelight for others to be able to find and be able to contribute to and edit easily, sooner than later.

And “wikia” seems to be taking the lead in my choices.  On YouTube, there is a Wikia University that show some of the features of wikia, and the Safari Dummies book is also a big help in this decision making process.  Another aspect of this gamification addition of mine is that this wikia wiki will fit in well because it fits the motif of some of the sites I’ve signed up for at One Game A Month, like NewGrounds, Kongregate, IndieDB or GameJolt.  So somewhere in between all of those “Hey, we might host your game over here”, when I finally finish my game, sites, I will also have some backing for the game apart from the game site that it is hosted on.  So as I build I will be able to use a wiki to consolidate my game parts into some assemblance of order, which is something that is sorely lacking within my set of web and accompanying sites, at this time.

But the main argument I have found is that wikispaces would be the perfect match, if I were building a closed environment wiki, the cloister wiki, with what I am trying to accomplish with my wiki.  But the other side of the argument is, a wiki is exactly not that when it is opened up to suggestions for others ideas and becomes conducive to changes because the very essence of what a wiki is, is that it is an editable platform, within reason, by anyone, with interests that pertain to the essence of that wiki.  So having it not be exactly what is thought to be needed but at the same time having it become purely not not that case, as it would become a simple and purely internally generated help file, but through its very nature of it being a wiki and therefore, it is by definition not static, it then becomes exactly what is needed.  Logical Weirdness, that’s what you get for handing off the reins, of the wiki, thanks Ward Cunningham.  So a wiki can have structure, but because it is a dynamic reversioning tool, it has a chance to delineate towards something slightly different every time it is visited, or so it would seem, to the administrator who intended a course of purpose for the subject held by the wiki.  There are also protections that are available so as to keep the pages un- or less- editable and thereby capable of maintaining a good portion of the intended structure.

Well then, I now have a wikia wiki going by the name of, yes, you guessed it, FarNiché.  And after trying to pound the weeds down, the advertisements, and flipping over the soil, their templates, which can not be done with too much success, I noticed that the advertisements will go away when editing a page.  So all that is needed, is for the work-a-day editor of the site, me, to just become buried on the inside of the site by doing the revisions.  I’ll just keep working on this newest site of mine, which, while working on the inside should knock down the eye ruckus on the outside.  And that just about wraps that up.  I have a new wiki on wikia that follows the same design scheme of my Home website Research section, where now all three, my tumblr site, my Wikia wiki and my Research section all have the same wall paper theme.

That’s about as good as it gets for now.  This wiki idea has panned out, but at the same time, it has eaten up the time I thought I would be using for my Titan and this months game.

Here it is, links to my FarNiche tumblrFarNiche wiki and FarNiche Research.

Oh yeah, before I go, one really cool thing I got from the Wikia wiki place is a “Favicon”, Fav: as in (favorite) when you make a web page an internet favorite saved to your favorites folder, an “icon” as in an (.ico) like a real live icon, that you need to provide yourself, of course, that is in front of the web address or is shown in the favorites bar of the browser.  So its a “Fav” – “icon” and now, all three, my wiki, tumblr and website all have the same Favicon.  I had to dig pretty deep for that one, about back to 2001-2003 there abouts, which is a duel icon, a 16×16 AND a 32×32 picture of a computer base unit with a monochrome green screen and keyboard all built into one icon file.  Yep, it was a hat trick but I pulled that one off and out of one of my old Visual Basic 6.0 programs that I built way back then, woo-hoo!

Back again soon,

G’day.

July 9, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | | Leave a comment

[page 0068] ~ Look Ma NO HANDS! :

Updates: – FireFox v26.0 to v30.0 :  .
DownLoads: – Unity v4.3.4f1 to v4.5.1f3.

A quick change of plans.

The Plumber looks up at the volcano and wonders if he should try the assent alone.  He could write a note and leave it behind for the Doctor, a seasoned mountaineer, to follow him up later on.  The weather, from all of the previous reports, was to be clear, cool and dry.  But his main base camp, the landing site of the Wray Pod, was some distance from this initial way point.  Leaving it to chance that the Doctor would make it to the Wray Pod on time to then make it over to this first base camp began to seem a little too chancy.  It was in an obscure location and the only feature that marked it out was that of a large tree.  But it was the most expansive and open range at the base of this Island Volcano.  It would be nearly impossible to miss.

The Plumber thought on.  He looked at his map, his tools, his supplies, all his gear.  He could do it alone, probably.  It would be rough, initially.  It should get easier, eventually. And it is nice out now.  The Plumbers thoughts kept rolling through the deck in his head.  “I need to get there.”, he yelled, “I know it’s still there.  It’s got to be!”  Finally the Plumber dug through his backpack for his phone, “What kind of signal will I get out here?”, he mumbled to himself.  “I’ll probably get that Doctors’ answering service, fat lot of good all that will do me now.”  “Where IS that damned phone?  I know I packed it in.  It’s got to be here, … somewhere.”

There must be more nefarious means in the works.  Something is not quite right.  The Plumber finally comes to the conclusion that the Doctor is going to be late and that the journey forward is no longer an option.  “Discretion is the better part of valor“, he thought.  To carry everything back to the main camp would be less foolhardy than to carry it all to the next unforeseen camp, leading him into what he believed would be his impending demise, up the dead volcanoes’ face, alone.  So leaving a note for the Doctor pinned to the tree mentioning that something was amiss but he will speak no further of it in this note, the Plumber loads himself up with everything worth carrying back and heads off to the main camp, his Wray Pod.

Yep, it’s true.  I did not get my Doctors’ animations set up in time and so the story line needed to change and align itself with the new narrative.  This will become a short game of hide and seek, again.  Hmm, and a new version of Unity is now available, so, sure, nothing but delays, let’s go for it 1,149,250 KB of new Unity!  But I am not going to install this until I get this months game finished.

The way it looks, the Plumber has a little bit more life in him than I was first lead to believe.  He has not injured himself, yet, and has come to the conclusion that he must get back to his ship and find his buddy the Doctor before he runs off and gets hurt himself.  So instead of having the Doctor rescue the Plumber, which of course he can’t because the Doctor has no animation cycles, the Plumber will need to hoof and fin it back to his own ship.  And that is the game, for the Plumber to find the Doctor and his ship, hint: they are both in the same place, above water, on a small green Island, not on the volcano island.  And yes, there is no penalty for breathing underwater.

So then, to find that all is not lost, I will see if I can figure out how to get the Doctors’ stretching routine into this game.  The Doc needs to keep busy while waiting for the Plumber, right?  And I have found a file for the Plumber, an .FBX file that has the four animations, idle, walk, run and jump set into one timeline that amount to a total between 0 and 165 ~ 170 seconds.  So each animation looks to follow one right after another.  From there what I would guess would happen is that Unity would read the .FBX file, and from the given scripts that I have yet to build, those blocks within that timeline would be read when that script is called.  Hmm, I think I’ll be using the Doctor but he will just stand there in his T-Pose by the ship waiting for the Plumber to return.

Well, it’s not like I didn’t get something done this month, but as for building a game that becomes more reliant on my own assets to form the plot and draw the lines of the story arcs, it may be just a little longer.  So far I have my terrain, a ship and the Doctor, the Plumber isn’t quite on loan, more like a transitional employee, but he will soon be on his way.  It would seem that I would or should be cruzin’ along a little more quickly seeing that I’ve been building with Unity since February.  But it isn’t just the game engine, it’s all of the other mechanisms that need to work together and the biggest part of working together is the “being on time” part.  The Doctor said he would be there but then, … nothing.  Eventually he showed up but, woopty-doo, he didn’t do anything to move the story along.  He could do his exercises at home, back in Maya LT, but when he was out on the road, in Unity, nope, pure stage fright, nothing to add.

And that is were it all stands.  First, my terrestrial environment is still on the undone side.  I can fall off the edge of the game map without warning.  The player becomes unrecoverable and unresetable so that is not a good thing.  But, I do like the smooth shore lines and the depth of distance falloff.  The fog adds a lot to the sky and the distant mountains horizon.  The size of the map for the Hero seems to be big enough to not know exactly what is around the next corner.  The skyboxes also work well enough and can add up to at least half of the background.  For the foreseeable future my games will be outdoor survival-like games.  I have also tried to use a different sky map for each of my games where I have had a terrain built for, in Unity, thus far.  The Wray Pod was a practice ship from my one month trial of Maya 2014 and Digital Tutors from a “this is how this works” tutorial.  But I built that ship in a version of Maya where they were using mental ray shaders, I think, and were using techniques that didn’t quite pertain to my indie game toolset.  It was more of a how to build a semi-realistic cartoon animation with higher resolution models.  So that one was exported as an .obj file that went into Maya LT and ZBrush for some finish work.  That’s what I ended up with while building my Wray Pod, puddle jumper, island hopping transport, heroes’ base camp.  Maybe I could talk the Plumber out of that ship and give it to the Doctor, somehow, but that’s a different story, for later on.

That wraps up this months game.  I have only built four games in Unity.  This will be my fifth.  I seem to have a grasp on what I would like to happen, and my Cadre of One, The Doctor, will soon be out and about, looking for more recruits, to boldly go where no Cadre has gone … well, no, actually, to boldly go to the next FarNiche, that’s where it goes, sometimes something like that of the last Niché, before.

Again, this months game, The Island of Doctor Merlot and my Titan Concept.

G’day.

July 2, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | | Leave a comment

[page 0067] ~ The Island of Doctor Merlot :

Updates: – Autodesk – Application Manager, Version 3.0.155.0 .
DownLoads: – .

Help me Doc, your my only hope.

Well the Doctor has a low resolution mesh, which is covered by a high resolution diffuse map, where that mesh has a skeleton with the capacity to be driven by animations, because those bone joint chains are manipulatable via a control rig set attached to the timeline.  The main point here is that it has the “capacity” to be driven.  So in this case, right now, it means that it does not drive any animation.  And this is what I am working on.  You would be correct in guessing that I have never built an animation rig, start to finish, for any video game character.  My only joint chain character rig run throughs were during my SoftImage 2012 one month trial and the recent 2014 Maya one month trial, both with the help of Digital Tutors.  The only “real” practice I could get prior to that was from Autodesk Softimage Mod Tool MS XNA Version 7.5.  This was a free offering back in 2008 when getting a paid subscription of the XBox 360’s Creators Club.  That version of Softimage was very helpful for learning what a 3D asset creation program was capable of building, but the save, import and export file types were limited to accommodate only the games made for the XBox with C# using XNA.  So this Doctor animation in Maya LT 2015 will be a case study in itself.  But my big question here is, where are all of the How To’s, and the like, to help me along from this point.  Believe it or not, there are many questions that are percolating up from in-between the, “leaps of faith”, as mysteries, that are growing into a mound of cluelessness.  I try to perceive solutions to fill those gaps but I am finding that they can only be answered, slowly, case by case where I create my own entrepreneurial “trade secrets”.  And so I forge ahead.

Time is slipping by.  The Doctor might not make his flight.  The Plumber could very well perish.  The launch of this months episode, “The Island of Doctor Merlot” is beginning to look rather grim.  There are tutorials that explain what the animation interface objects are and what they do.  But as for making the transition between building a character and then animating it with key frames on a time line … no, there is nothing that is all that clear.  That simple gap is missing.  Right now, I’m trying to connect the parts of my Doctors’ rig into the timeline.  That, when hooked in, will allow them to function correctly and follow the interpolated paths between those set keys.  Afterwards, while the animation is played back using the recorded keys of those objects transforms on the Maya LT animation timeline, a behavior should become apparent.  But getting those two things hooked together, the rig and the timeline, through, I don’t quite know what, is my biggest stumbling block.  I can’t just grab everything and say “Oh magic Maya LT make this Doctor dance” by just clicking a button.  And the biggest problem I am running across is that Maya LT has no “Character Set”, like the full version of Maya does, that is able to grab all of the transforms needed to animate this Doctor, or any character of mine.

Optimally, “The result is to be that character will emulate personifications through their associated behaviors found as the given animation paths”.

But, I have built this character mesh, painted it and have given it a skeleton of joint chains, “bones”.  “Skinning” this characters mesh to it skeletal bone structure provides it some degree of articulation because those bones joints allow for deformations of the mesh, the skin.  At times, because the mesh has been attached to bones whose vertex weights are closer to moveable joints, those polygons have the possibility to deform in a way that outwardly makes the skin of the character stretch beyond what looks natural.  At other times the skinning process allows for the volume of the mesh to not deform at all because it is further away from any moveable joints and so no distortion of the polygons occur.  But, what happens next, and this is where things get a little fuzzy, is that to get those polygons to reposition and possibly deform at all, I need to, somehow, connect those bones to a series of rig controls.

Those controls are like the steering wheels of the character.  A lot of things happen when you turn a cars’ steering wheel.  Both wheels turn, the sway bars follow along and the bushings all have different pressures applied to them along with the shocks and springs, even the car wheels angle.  The same is true for the character rig.  When a hand control, a part of the character rig, is moved, the whole joint chain for the arm moves along.  But the animation rig, being also considered “connective tissue”, depends on a sequence of other mechanisms that provide other “connective tissues” that help the animators life, my life, become easier and consequently, more fun during this process.  But I’m the one that needs to figure this out.  This also means the rig needs to use a series of various constraints made of differing types, point, aim, orient, parent and new in Maya LT 2015, pole vectors.  Also, at times, IK/FK manipulators are consolidated and simplified to assist in building these poses.  In the end, that characters animation tracks out a performance showing some recognizable task repeatable over a short period of time.

But the, “What needs to be selected and therefore attached to the timeline by setting its ‘key’ …” seems to be the part that is missing.  The “What” of the rig that drives the bones that are attached to the model is the “What” I need to find and have that “What”(s’) keys’ set in the animation timeline.  Simple, but I need a “set” the proverbial “Character Set” of all of the “What’s” that make up the character that need to be keyed along the timeline.  So not only do I need to know what to set, but I will need to set them all, the whole set, each time, all of them, between every movement that is to be interpolated between the set of keys that are set.  Eeek!  This leads me to believe that the Doctor is going to be walking around like Quasimodo or Igor (Young Frankenstein) as time, for this months game, grows short.

The biggest thing missing in Maya LT is, again, “What are character sets?”  It seems that animations can be set to any length of time for which their cycle is to be played.  That is the duration of what they are doing, their behavior, and that could be anything from blocking a punch, chopping wood, taking a drink or moving from a standing position to sitting on the ground.  Each behavior needs to be scripted through a series of movements where each movement changes the position of a bone in time and space.  Furthermore, the other connected bones must follow along because of IK/FK constraints.  Those, in turn, move the vertices of the polygons, the skin, of the character.  Concerted movements become the end result, the animation, the perceived behavior of the character.  A set of animations make up all the behaviors of what that character can do.  But right now I would like my Doctor to have something that has to do with him being able to move about the Island in search of his friend, The Plumber.

True, there are no character sets, that I have found, in Maya LT.  And from what few tests I have tried, I have only been able to make my Doctor character go through a short work-out warm-up routine.  Also, I am finding that while I initially construct the character, it is best to know what elements of that character are going to have their key frames set during the animation process, because here, in my Maya LT world, there are no “Character Set”(‘s).  As it stands, I don’t just do a drag rectangle “select all” of the character in the viewport and click Animate/Set Key at the first frame on the timeline.  That sounds like it would be a great thing to be able to do, but no, it does not work, believe me.  It might grab a couple of the right transformation objects, or so it would seem, and set those in the animation timeline, but I have found that while scrubbing through the timeline there are some movements that are missing.  Those missing interpolation keys, I would assume, are the ” Mystery ‘Whats’ ” that I have yet to find.  So, at times, the hands do not reposition themselves to their respective T-Poses from their initial stance, the character does not follow on to the next set of supposedly keyed transform transitions while apparently walking, or trying to, and when further scrubbing through the timeline the character snaps to all manner of unintended positions throughout the sequence.

Yeah, a little more forethought and actual knowledge of what is to be expected is needed and will become very helpful so I can prepend just what my expectations are and be able to extrapolate the process of, “If this is selected then it’s a good thing.” formula.

So, a character set seems to be a catch-all node that grabs everything that needs to be keyed in for an animation.  That is also exactly what I have found to be missing and is what I need now in Maya LT.  To figure out how to reconstruct and consolidate that missing piece from the full version of Maya into each of my character builds now and for the foreseeable future is my only hope.  Tick, tick, tick.

I have come to the conclusion and have found reason to believe that I will not find anything of help, in specificity, about my current needs because I have a whole hodgepodge of Digital Tutors tutorials “helping” me out to get to this point.  It has all been a mash-up of what makes sense, at the time, to me, of bone chains, animation rigs, timeline, pose this, procedure that, sing-a-long for a while, sit a spell semi-coherent, get it to work on my end of the deal learning curve contrivance of my own making.  And because I am learning that some things work in older versions of Maya and other things are missing in Maya LT, and of those that are not in Maya 2011 but are in 2014 but a little of that was added to Maya LT 2015 and on and on to what-ever as I go through the vastly assorted array of Digital Tutor tutorials to make sense of my plight, …  But I grow weary to explain further.  So of course that is how I study what they have to offer and how I have Frankensteined my Doctor together and is what keeps me moving forward.  So be assured that this is me just catching my breath for now and getting ready for my last haul to the goal line.  OK, breaks over, now back to it!

G’day.

June 28, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | | Leave a comment

[page 0066] ~ Doctor Do Something. :

Updates: – Windows Shutdown Updates, Skype v6.16.0.105 .
DownLoads: – .

Hey Doc.

This next little bout of, “I will be using tumblr, because I just signed up for a tumblr account”, is what I’m working on right now.  Tumblr is a recently acquired asset by Yahoo! Inc.  There is also another, plug-in, add-on called Disqus, pronounced (dis·cuss • di-skus’) like a conversation, which is a distinct social interaction API that can be used in conjunction with tumblr as a blog comment hosting service.  Besides having to figure out how Disqus hooks into tumblr, I need to rework all of my links in my website because of the major reconstruction of the Research section.

Yes, relinking my website is time consuming but it should be well worth it.  Over the years it has become somewhat haphazardously connected, just to make deadlines and then to get it to work at all, per usual.  And so, this cleaning expedition turns into something like clearing out a bunch of old junk drawers full of knick-knacks, thing-a-ma-jiggies, doo-dads and whatch-a-ma-call-its.  If those html pages and the like are broken, not quite working, almost understood or a bunch of “I’ll get back to it later” stuff, it’s time to move on and leave all that residual detritus behind, or more appropriately and in actuality deleted.  The best reason to tidy up this old website is because holding onto the best of intentions has a funny way of becoming the bane of the next progressions accomplishments.  And this next accomplishment is reworking the Research section of my site so I can move through the next progression of programming for the XBox.

Thus far, I have been using the (C#, XNA, MSDN) programming style, where it is all done with an “in my bare hands” approach.  This next progression, although not geared directly at the XBox, will use more powerful tools to accomplish the same tasks more easily and with more consistency.  This process will use a standardized structure, My Program Pipeline, to define the who, how, what, why, where, when … aspects of game creation.  And so, the “how” part is to keep track of all these newly realized creation styles and progressions that have opened this section up to all this extra remembering.  This is the Research portion of my FarNiché site.  So up and running with a more simplistic structure of inputting will accomplish this, once again, through an easily updated interface.

Ok, that just about wraps up the refinishing and relinking of my website.  As I click around the site I still find some image files and 404 links that have not been linked back up, but as I find them they get fixed.  So in my site, the pages are back to where they were.  Outwardly they still look the same, but in my admin folder structure the site has a more clear layout.

Now its back to this months game that incorporates a Doctor.  He has been built as a low poly mesh in ZBrush, then raised to a high poly mesh to have his high density surface PolyPainted, also in ZBrush.  Seeing that this high poly count high resolution character is only used to get the texture output, the diffuse map, all I need to do is import the low res mesh and use the diffuse texture from the high res map to cover the low poly count character mesh in Maya LT.  The export from Maya LT as an .FBX file sent over to Unity is the preferred method of asset transfer, in this, my asset production pipeline.  As a side note, if the export is an .obj file, from Maya LT, it must be under 65,000 polygons, because that is the highest resolution permissible.  I have no problem with that because the files smaller size keeps the assets sent over into Unity small and manageable.

Well then, my website is now set to its best configuration yet.  Also, in my index page, on my Home Page, in the middle main section, when scrolled down to the bottom, is where I have placed my Disqus discussion service.  So instead of having Disqus hooked into my tumblr account I have placed my DISQUS-sions in the Home Page of my website.  As you could guess, this means I have figured out how to add the DISQUS code to my website so that it is embedded in the Home Page and allows it to function as the designers intended to, the facilities are up and running.  The topics covered are anything about indie video game design & video game development.  That is the scope and focus of My FarNiche DISQUS.  The depth of my discussions and the breath of my commentation and responses will be aligned with indie video games.  So storylines and their progressions, character build up, NPC usage and placement, asset creation programs, technical skills needed to use them or artistic abilities to draw with them, advanced planning with Game Design Document techniques or hindsight reworks and asset rebuilds, anything about indie game building and gameplay, successes and failures, it’s all good.  I figure the subject matter of design and development should be a large enough platform within the venue of indie video games.  These baseline ideas should provide for and allow enough leeway in the diverse discussions about the many and varied aspects needed to consolidate the build ideas that make up any indie game desired.  Now, the last important ingredient in any discussion for the “Instant party, just add people”.  But of course, any great party always starts as a party of one.

G’day.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , | Leave a comment

[page 0065] ~ The Doctor and My Titan. :

Updates: – .
DownLoads: –  .

This OGAM DOCTOR is in.

… and so is my Titan.

I have been giving my Substance Designer Contest Challenge some thought.  So with what I have accomplished thus far and the way that the storyline has taken hold of the character, I think I could use even a little more articulation to bind the Titan with the story.  This Titan is huge.  And what I am doing is personifying the concept of the Titan because this Titan, “The Titan God of Spatial Perdition”, does not have any natural human form, per se.  Like the Gods of early Mythology and more precisely, those descried by Mythopoeic Thought, my Titan is only an “idol“.  It is a fleeting glimpse of a representation that conceptualizes its power by drawing from the beings that deem themselves affected by it through relational reasoning.  The myths of this Titan are bound to those it protects only because they have become aware enough to acknowledge the powers of this Titans existence and have attributed that power to that Titan. To this end, I will attempt, in part, to form the where or how this Titan came to be.

The concept of “Spatial Perdition” comes from what I saw as Earth’s magnetic field.  This barrier is not only essential to complex life as we have come to understand it, but that it also protects us from even greater Titans or Gods that would befuddle the more basic concepts that lead to the evolution of evolution.  I know, recursive is the thought of evolution being a part of the process that evolves evolution into its own evolutionism, and it is, yes … , I won’t say it, “evolutionary”, but I did.  So this Magnetosphere, our squishy torus of safety, is what I am calling “The Titan God of Spatial Perdition” because it saves the lives on this Earth but it has also made us fully unaware of the deathly dangers it has been protecting us from through our sorted evolution.  And because of this “cradling in the arms of our protector” we, have instead of growing in enlightenment, have been dragged through a world of protected disillusionment.  This Titan is therefore a protector of life because it has taken residence inside a place that is another perfect balance of powers, the proverbial “Goldilocks Zone“, another Titan God.  But my Titan,  “The Titan God of Spatial Perdition” has also, by its very nature, deceived all those that it has come to protect.  But then again, maybe that’s too much to ask of a Titan that can only express itself through protection, for its leaving would produce utter annihilation.

So that is a continuance of the larger picture and is a greater storyline of “The Titan God of Spatial Perdition”, my Titan.  Although this Titan, actually the powers of this Titan, which have been at work from time beyond the time of our sorted evolution, has in some way become an integral part of every life on this Earth.  But this Titan has been locked out, as all Titans are, and will never participate with us through communication directly as we have found ourselves able to interact with each other.  But as a Titan, it will continue to communicate its mercy and fury, the whims of the gods, which will always remind us of its powers as we recall them through their Mythos.  Now, back to the picture, the drafting room, the cutting room floor.

One Game A Month continues once again with the terrain for my game being refined as a part of my pipeline process, always different, though cast of the same mold.  Each time I use my guideline schema, to format my next terrain, I find that what was previously written becomes more stable and requires less modification internally.  The guideline sheet, however, becomes slightly more lengthy because what I have accomplished will always add a few more objects to fill out and fit in what apparently is missing as each build becomes more routine. So after the terrain is up and running for this new game, I find I need a Doctor along with a Plumber.  My last games tried to incorporate the Yellow Mechanic that is a free asset from Unity to begin to understand how Unity character animation works.  But this time around, instead of using one of Unity’s starter assets as the main character as in my previous games, which was in this case The Plumber (a.k.a. the maintenance guy), I’ll be trying my hand at building my first animated character from scratch, The Doctor.

This months storyline:  The Plumber has gotten himself into a little bit of trouble and has injured himself.  Per usual, his Air-Wray island hopper craft is far away and because of some mishap,  the plumbers’ ship is further away than he can move.  Luckily his friend, The Doctor, was going to meet up with him to do some rock climbing on the old volcano in the island chain where he was sent to do some plumber maintenance.  This game will be another search the terrain for something, this time it is a , find the Plumber game.  The Doctor starts out at the Plumbers ship because they were to meet up and start their little rock climbing adventure from there.  But the Plumber was nowhere to be found.  This is highly unusual, the Plumber is usually very punctual, so the Doctor leaves behind a walky-talky at the ship and takes the other on his journey with him.  The Doctor must now run around the island chain looking for the Plumber.  That is it, that is all.  The Doctor must find the Plumber, The End.

It may not seem all that much of a game, but what I am doing this month is building a new character, The Doctor, my first most complete Avatar to date, starting in ZBrush.  This process starts out using ZSpheres to form a basic biped that is turned into a PolyMesh3D object with a Unified Skin.  The initial poly count for the Doctor is around 3500 and is somewhat faceted.  So the next thing to do is to build some UV’s and then subdivide that mesh so the poly count is about 800,000.  This will set the mesh up for Poly Painting where each vertex not only retains its position in 3D space, but it is also given a color value.  The 3D mesh is directly painted on in concert with the UV’s using the Poly Paint texture map.  The ZBrush tool is saved as a .ztl file that can be reloaded back into ZBrush.  An .obj (object) file, along with a clone of the Poly Paint texture map are saved which allows me to transfer my work initiated in ZBrush to be continued in Maya LT.  These last two files are then imported into Maya LT and, after a little bit of rigamarole, are turned into a single mesh that is retextured from the previously painted map so it looks just like what was seen as the exported file from ZBrush.  But in Maya LT, the next step is to build a skeleton of IK/FK joints which are Inverse Kinematics and Forward Kinematics chains.  Building these chains produces an artificial bone system which becomes the base structure that is bound, skinned, to the model mesh.  Once the skeleton chain has its relational influences bound to the mesh vertices, a series of secondary controls are constructed to form the basis of its animation rig, for example, Beginner’s Guide to Rigging in Maya.  This is where I am right about now so I should be able to accomplish something to this effect by the end of this month and have something to submit that is, more or less, gamelike before the start of the next month.

Needless to say, I am no where near finished yet.  All of this learning and building leads me further on to my next uncharted venture, for me at least, and takes me to Creating Run Cycles in Maya.  This looks like what I will be needing to create the animations for my Doctor if he is ever to find his buddy the Plumber.  The Plumber, the freebee asset from Unity, has an idle, walk, run and jump cycle for the characters animations.  But for now, in this story line, his only animation will be a “Help, help!  I can’t move” cycle.  In this game, the Doctor is the one that needs to move around and get to the Plumber, in such a way, that it preferably resembles something similar to bipedal ambulation.  But for this to happen, I will need to figure out how to build these character animations.  Then I will need to export them so those animations that are built in Maya LT can connect up with those of my Avatar Doctor back in Unity.  And this will complete this months game cycle using assets from my previously built games of “Hide and Seek”.  From those games I can borrow the previously built logical assets, which have made them play as they do, and then add this newest asset, the yet to be built Animated Doctor.

Doing this by studying more Digital Tutors videos, continuing to build my Substance Designer Titan, working on the Research pages of my website, keeping up with this blog and figuring out what I need to keep track of additions to my month by month calendar is “The Doing” for the foreseeable future.  So …

Again, My Titan Concept.

G’day.

June 8, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , | Leave a comment

[page 0064] ~ A Pipeline A Plan. :

Updates: – .
DownLoads: – Audacity® .

This months theme is DOCTOR.

It’s still early in the month and I really have no idea of how, “Doctor”, will be incorporated into this months game.  I have a vague idea, but nothing substantive.  One thing that I am aware of for what I have accomplished so far, this month, is that I have finally completed my index page, that is my Home Page, for my website.  Until now, it was just flapping in the breeze with a couple of well meant directions and ideas.  But now that it is finished, it has become my mission statement for my site and reads off what I intend to accomplish as time rolls on.  On the left hand side of my Home Page is a column that I have allocated to my previous calendar years and the months therein.  But I am not all that impressed with how well I have kept up with my progress during each month in that calendar.  In the most recent section, “Game 2014”, of my site, I have built a general structure that helps me document my ideas as I move along and to help me see what direction I am moving in for each month.  But for now, it remains just a framework that has an intent to gravitate my major milestones of what I have accomplished or am attempting to accomplish within its week/month/year calendar format.

What I am looking to do and what I would like this site of mine to become would be a registry like structure that would be akin to a 100 MB Excel spread sheet I had constructed nearly fifteen years ago.  That project, from some time ago, kept me financially on track as I squeezed every penny out of my disposable income.  The funny part about that project was the storage medium, an Iomega zip disk 100, that had only enough capacity to hold my Über-Excel formatted spread sheet construct.  Then to use it, each year, I needed to copy that 100 MB project to the hard drive so that the data it stored within that spread sheet project file could have some extra room because the file size would grow with each use.  In hindsight, the totality of my idea while building that Excel Behemoth, had nothing to do with separating the programmed application, the Excel project, from the data, my finances, that could have been stored in a different file in lieu of it filling that same application file.  This would have taken a little bit more finesse to incorporate and use MS Access, which is a database programming application that simplifies data collection where the input data is stored in a separate database structure.  From there, the Excel project could read the Access database data back into the spread sheet cells.  But, at that time, I just looked at the bright side and felt that I always had a backup copy that never had any data written to it.  And those are the major points that I am looking at right now, and, is what I will be getting at here.

So I think I will be using my website, in part, as a big relational index for my mass-storage backup filing cabinet, of sorts, that will allow me to look back in time and help me find my files in a general era.  From just looking at what I was involved with at the time and from there, where my mindset was drawn to as I built my games and assets, that, should help me find what I had accomplished in step with what is portrayed in my site because it was updated along with the construction of my site.  Doing this should help me locate files that I might need in the future when they are stripped from my main hard drive and bulk dumped onto my backup mass general storage place.  Then, when I need to take a sip of past endeavors to get a taste of what I had forgotten, or hopefully had previously built, I’ll be able to more easily find where that might be relative to my scrawlings that I leave behind in the yearly calendar directory that I am building, as my website.  It is a strange filing system but it is best seen as a living system, as it will grow, much like the data of my 100 MB Excel structure grew.

And that gets me on to my next little bit of housekeeping, which will be putting more time and effort into the Research part of my website.  I have done little to nothing with that part of my site since my initial start with game entries with One Game A Month, about eighteen months ago.  I was using C# and XNA along with the MSDN library to build games on my computer that I could “Port and Play” over to my XBox console.  Back then I thought I could get a smaller version of HUD-On or SpaceWar II as a submission to the Global Game Jam and One Game A Month, but that was naught to be.  So anyway, what I’m getting at is that I have grown in the use of many game asset creation applications since then. Those programs have spun me in many directions as I tried to come to some resolve in building for the XBox.  But while not being able to submit any XBox games to #1GAM because the games needed an “http://” address where they are playable on the web, and that would have involved me getting them off to Peer Review and the XBox MarketPlace as one of my marketable game submissions slots on XBox LIVE indie games.  So I had concluded that I would be turning more towards web applications using HTML5, the <canvas> object and Processing.js.  That worked well enough for a time.  But now I have found that Unity is bringing me back to a programming style that more resembles what I had become accustomed to while programming for the XBox.  I have also come to realize that incorporating game assets is much more simplified using Unity than it was working through Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 Express for Windows Phone.  With that simplification I have had my time freed up to build my own game assets and to use those in my storyline as characters, props and expression driven content.  So this gets me back to what I was saying about my “Research” portion of my site that has been long neglected.  It needs some work, some worth, a reason.  This means that it needs to be redesigned.

So this month I will be looking at the internal structure of my website, the layout, the files, the hierarchy, the design, the links, image files, all of the HTML and the accompanying CSS pages, in general, all of its structure.  And all that comes back to what I found myself saying back on my Home Page, “The more I think I know, the more I find I need to know”, and is why I need to “retool” my Research section of my sight.  Back then, it was C# with XNA.  Now it is StoryBoard Pro, Unity, ZBrush, Maya LT, PhotoShop, Cakewalk and the list goes on.  Each of those asset creation “power tools” cannot just be picked up and used efficiently and effectively out of the box.  First there is the understanding of the program itself, all the ins and outs.  After that its a matter of how well because of how seasoned I have become in the creation of what the program can facilitate in building.  As a comparison, a great guitar still sounds crappy if you don’t know how to play, and a great guitarist can make the crappiest guitar sound beautiful.  Then there is, how will all of the assets of the many programs fit together, the size, the colors, the designs.  So it might do me well and be time to see how capable I am and in what proportions I am able to learn, build and grow, with each of these applications.  Somehow I think I’m doing alright right now, but I need to redesign my plan.  I’ll need to see how “beautiful” all of that, with what I am trying to accomplish, actually is and can be.

Until next time,

G’day.

June 7, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | | Leave a comment

[page 0063] ~ Always Bite Off More Than You Can Chew. :

Updates: – GeForce 337.88 Driver, Java V7 U4 (build 1.7.0_45-b18) to Java V7 U60 (build 1.7.0_60-b19).
DownLoads: – .

It’s still Money month.

But I do need to expand on my grand synopsis up to this point and refresh myself of what I have yet to do.  I have about a week and a half to put together some kind of game for OGAM and will be using something from YouTube, Unity Rapid Prototyping: Flight Sim Control, Terrain Basics, Chase Cam, Skybox.  I also have about six and a half weeks to finish off my Titan, but there may be a possible extension.  This is my plan, to do this and to do it right, as I move towards the end of this month and push forward with a better concept of what I need for a real monthly “game plan“.

So what is this “Biting off more than you can chew”, adage.  Well, for starters, like I had mentioned, I could continue to reinvent the wheel, or, I could invest in some power tools, which I have, which also means, “Biting off more than I can chew”.  I figure that I have been contributing to One Game A Month now since it began, which is nearly a year and a half now and brings me to around eighteen games.  Previously, I had been tinkering with the idea of building games for the XBox 360 using C# and the XNA frameworks.  In doing so, I have built some games on my PC to then have them ported over to the game console where I can play them using the game pad.  Since then, I have changed my venue because I have found that it was a much easier route to showcase my mini-game creations through my website.  In doing so, I have continued work on my website by building up facilities that afford to me a platform that is conducive to the display of my creations, my games, which I had begun building using Processing.js and am most recently coalescing within Unity, which are then played through the Unity Web Player.

But this “Biting off more than I can chew” idea is taking me into a new place and is, out of necessity, showing me the ropes.  I can begin my game using StoryBoard Pro and MS PowerPoint.  After the general idea has been given some thought and a short synoptic game plan, not quite a GDD (Game Design Document), has been formulated, I can begin to come up with the “What will I use to get this done” phase.  At this point I can form some basic concept art in SketchBook Pro to then build my game assets from those sketches in ZBrush and Maya LT.  Next is the texturing of those assets, in either ZBrush or through the assistance of programmatic asset texture painting within the Substance Designer Indie Pack set of tools.  As the game build continues, the game prototypes, documents and screenshots, from the creation pipeline process, are archived in MS Word after being preprocessed in Photoshop Extended.

After the visual aspects of the game have begun to take shape, the theme and mood music, voice overs(VO) with plot and character direction, special effect sound bites and background noises begin to be incorporated, but which have yet to make a cameo appearance in most of my mini-games thus far.  So sound would need to go under the next category of “Biting off even more than I can possibly chew right now”.

But for each game, each month, I am getting a better idea of what I can build and how I like to build.  I find out more about what I am capable of doing with the tools that I have invested in and what my investments of time and effort are producing for me.  I continue to learn, from what I have previously done, and as I remember more of “How to do …”,  I find those building blocks are now the prerequisites that allow me to continue to “Bite off more than I can chew”.

Next, once I have my game concept, my primitive art constructs, general color, mood and feel for the game level and storyline plot sequences, I can begin to import all of these concepts and files into Unity, my current game engine.  Here, in Unity, all of the static pieces are given a life of their own.  They become animated to bring fluidity to the games plot which is further manipulated through the players minds eye.  This becomes the logic phase of the games building process.  It is another big chunk of “Biting off more than I can chew” and brings into play, bookwork, reading and game theory concepts that necessitate a repeated steeping in, time and time again.  Learning the different game styles like, zero-sum games and a multitude of other win/lose scenarios in game theory are needed but they also need to be refreshed as successive overlays for each game that I conceptualize and build.  Each game is slightly different and will have a different flavor of play and outcome from the different logical structures entwining the game.

But, to top all of this off, the final phase of game creation, which has eluded me completely up to this point, is going to be some kind of cross between a PodCast, VideoLog(Vlog) and some kind of help file wiki, I think.  This will bring about another completely new phase of “Biting off more than I can chew”.  Although I am somewhat comfortable, now, with the idea of Blogging on WordPress, this next step of Vlogging about something somehow using YouTube, or across Skype or possibly incorporating a Wiki platform, although a daunting foreign concept, is becoming an intriguing idea.  So not only will I be “Biting off more than I can chew”, but it will be of something that I have no idea of how it will taste nor of how I will react because of ingesting this next concept and making it my own, a part of my articulation, another essence of me.  But like the many things I have done previously, I should be able to deal with it.  I have been in and out of 5 major work Unions, been employed at about 27 different companies and businesses and have participated in scholastic wrestling, football, gymnastics, karate and yoga.  So as for something new being exceedingly intimidating, although instilling the initial scary feeling, I think it might be “plain old fun” to just get out there and muck it up for a while, big deal, sounds good to me, just another little break in the action.

But, once again, it is next month and the One Game A Month background theme for the #1GAM site has changed to reflect the next months theme.  So as the theme of Money is now in the rear view mirror and has become more of a “How do I pay me” issue and not so much a “How do others pay me” issue, (that happens as you get older, remember, no rules), I will end this month off with a better understanding of all that it takes to grow as an Indie Game Creator because it does involve being able to truly adhere to the concept of “Biting off more than you can chew” and ends up as a whole lot of payment in kind to ones-self.

Again, this months game, Air-Wray Glider and my Titan Concept.

G’day.

June 1, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | | Leave a comment

[page 0062] ~ It Is All In The Doing. :

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Money, the May OGAM Theme.

To aid in the quest of this months theme, “The Doing” will be added as diversification.  Why would that be?  What would that entail?  How do I diversify to be able to “Go Pro”.

As an Indie Game Creator, this #1GAM Money Theme might be better served if I were to explain to myself by asking, what does it take to begin to Go Pro?  What am I doing now, so I can figure out what I need to do next, as I go forward, as I go pro.  What needs to be realized so I can timeshare my efforts and resources more effectively.  And again, what is my end game?  What would I like to accomplish, seeing that I have set myself on this path that, once again, I can only envision in part.  So, as an Indie Game Dev, how do I figure out were this next step is going?

Instead of reiterating everything I have been blogging about thus far, I’ll just look at my next branch of diversification as something that has naturally come about as a result of my most recent investments.  There is a challenge I have become aware of, a competition that will be judged on the usage of a product called Substance Designer.  This product can be used to construct materials that are used to map color and texture through the UV’s of a 3D models mesh surface polygons, programmatically.  This procedure paints the low resolution model with high resolution detail.  It is a process that allows Avatars, level Bosses, game characters, set pieces, environments, etc. to exude more expression from the given CPU and GPU cycles through the use of maps in lieu of thicker mesh geometry.  This allows more game or film props to be added to a scene without overburdening the entire process.

But as it goes here, in this competition, I am to come up with my version of a “Titan” that I will model as a 3D figure.  I will then texture it using the assets that I create using Substance Designer.  This little venture will put to use many aspects of “Character Creation” and “Characterization“.  It will use a backstory, concept art, low and high poly count 3D model meshes, painting and texturing of the model, putting it all together in a program to use shaders with lighting to finally showcase the completed “Titan”.  They, Allegorithmic, have also made space available on their site, during this competition, where we, the competitors, have been given the opportunity to update our progress.  This gives all competitors, and willing spectators, the ability to watch how everyone else in this challenge is progressing through their interpretations of the theme.  In the end, there are rules for submitting the requested assets so the judges can come to their conclusions and reveal their results.

So this diversification plan, that I am implementing for this month’s One Game a Month theme and the Substance Designer Contest, should fulfill my needs of, Going Pro, where the proverbial, “getting two birds with one stone” adage still holds true.  The rewards are in “The Trying” and the effort is in “The Building” of something that is requested, not by contract, but by a competition to be judged.  The result is having the Titan build selected as one of the Top 10 Prize Winners, and therein the “Going Pro” because of The Doing.  But while this is going on, I need to get one more game finished this month.  So far it has just been one game, one blog, some website maintenance work, and some research and study.  This month I will be adding asset creation in the form of this first competitive challenge, this next branch, the Titan Contest.  This also is a continuance of how I pay me, by working to win, and learning by doing, as I stated in the title where it is “All In The Doing”.

My next concept that will help me diversify comes from the school of LBD, Learning By Doing.  I have a subscription to Safari Online Books and now Digital Tutors.  These two resources have become an excellent source of help since, back in the day, the only place to get “books” were at Radio Shack or possibly a Video Game store that had an oddments book shelf somewhere in the back of the store, with some obscure kind of computer related material.  The three “flavors” that I could find that had anything to do with what I was trying to do, back then, were; CP/M, Assembly Language and BASIC, that was it.  But that was then.  The information now pertains to every platform from Windows to Linux operating systems, from desktop to mobile programing, from console to web game creation with all of the inter-related materials for nearly any construction pipeline someone could put together.  It is just a matter of having a desire to build and, of course, be willing to work to win within the school of LBD.  So, a lot of effort and love are the driving factors here, for me at least.

Back to focusing on this Substance Designer contest.  I have started my Titan backstory by restarting an old idea from my game prototype of long before 2012.  This overall game concept is also my inspiration of how I founded my website and company name, FarNiche.  So, to make good use of my LBD, I am working through another Digital Tutors lesson set, Retopology Techniques in Maya LT.  I’ll need to implement what I’ve learned here because the rules state that the polygon mesh must adhere to a certain maximum of, tris (see: Items/Poly Count),

•Titan: 100 000 tris.
•Pedestal (optional): 10 000 tris.

which are to be the limits of the Models Asset Constraints within the competition.  This means that it will not be optimized for video game animation but it still must be brought down in graphics load size, from ZBrush, while keeping enough detail.  The idea here, for me, is to create the high res mesh in ZBrush, retopologize that mesh in Maya LT, add materials to its surface in Substance Designer, try to use Bitmap2Material, possibly Substance Painter and if time allows see how it looks in Unity.  But for it to be accepted in this competition it needs to initially meet these afore mentioned criterion of tris.

Now then, what I will be doing for this month, is building one more game or more than likely refining last months game, working on my Titan for this upcoming competition, continuing these blog posts, tweaking my web site, and learning how to improve my game creation skills with Safari Online Books and Digital Tutors.  I still haven’t gotten to the sound FX, music, nor any concerted efforts of audio within my games.  So that may be my next branch of diversification, unless something else jumps ahead in line.

For the time being, more study and practical application is my research, then one more game and one competition ready Titan.

Until then, Going Pro, “It Is All In The Doing.”
My Titan Concept.

G’day.

May 18, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , , | Leave a comment

[page 0061] ~ How I Pay Me! :

Updates: – Windows.
DownLoads: – .

More on Money, the Theme of the Month.

Finally, getting something back, the worth of my labors, the fruits of my fields, the stock of my pens, the me of my ness.

Me of my ness?  Me-ness?  What is meness?  This meness, is a word in the blogosphere, like fruitfulness expresses the “state or quality” of being fruitful, so it would also go as the “state or quality” of the many aspects of myself that constituently make up my “me”, my meness.  Another concept on the same lines is known as “Thing-age-ness”, pronounced: thingedgeness.  Thingageness is the state or quality of some “thing” where, when it is whole and can be used at its full potential for its intended purpose without alteration, it is then said to have attained stability in, and retains its state or quality of that in which it is further referred to as having its own “thingageness”.  A things “thingageness” may also have varying degrees before this state fails.  As an example, a coffee mug with its handle broken off is still a coffee mug, but if it has a hole in it, it has lost its thingageness, it is no longer a cup to hold coffee, its state has failed, as it is now more of a sieve or a funnel.  The same can be said of a car, for instance, if every time I would like to go somewhere, I turn the ignition key only to find that to start the car I must get back out, crawl under the car and hit the starter motor with a large hammer or a lug wrench, to then hopefully have it start and to not have to do that again that trip, especially if it is raining or snowing out.  Here, the cars thingageness has been tarnished, yet it is retained, its thingageness has not been lost.  But, for example, if the car leaks power steering fluid and will no longer turn left nor right because the power steering reservoir perpetually runs dry, and as most destinations are not in a strait line from where one would begin the trip, the reasoning then goes that the car has now lost its thingageness.  The car is now entering a failed state and is finding it difficult to retain its “state or quality” for which it was acquired, i.e. a vehicle that will get me from point A to point B successfully, consecutively and hopefully safely.  In this case, instead of the car being able to turn back and forth to get to its goal, the car has instead been turned into a money trap, moving that car only closer to its demise, and hopefully not dragging me along with it.  And as a final recourse, used motor oil could then be recycled by pouring it into the ever emptying power steering reservoir at the beginning of each trip, but then, in doing so, it will quickly find resolve in being relinquished fully of its thingageness and be towed to the junkyard in hopes that there will be some repayment as scrap, true story, sad but true.

Well then, what did all of that last bit of rambling have to do with this months theme, money?  I think I hinted at that with vague gestures of meness and the blatant nuances explaining thingageness.  So to keep this odd train of thought going and to follow through by somehow putting meness and thingageness into the same sentence while bringing all of these thoughts together under this months theme, a thought like, “If I do not figure out, ‘How I Pay Me’, resulting in a failure of my meness, then my thingageness will have been corrupted to my loss.”  And where is all this thesis explanation going?  It is going to build for me a path to where the money is, a place where my meness incorporates my thingageness, a place where what I can do becomes a factor of what I am worth, a place where I can come to grips with the thought of ‘How I Pay Me’.

So far, this blog has been nearly all an amphigory, almost.  But the scary thing is, is that that it actually did make some sense to me.  But the theme is money and I believe, for the time being, my capacity to “collect” money, by me doing things as an “Indie Careerist”, will need to be set to a stance where I will be initially working to win.  This will not be me exacting a price that I will set, nor anything like a steady income of any kind but more of an intermittent windfall, hopefully just enough to keep my love alive as an Indie Game Designer and Creator.

And as I had mentioned before, power tools expedite the building process and aid the developer by improving the rates of Return of Investment and thereby granting a better chance of success with a timely completion, be it building a house or building a video game.  That success reaches back to that comment of working to win, whereby when using those tools, more skills are acquired and iteration times are decreased while production is increased.  The capacity to compete successfully is improved, with the end products becoming more polished and the with rewards becoming more frequent, to at some point in time, to become a steady income with the possibility of finding myself perpetually gainfully employed, and therefore enjoying the title of a self-employed Indie Careerist.  It is a simple formula, a time tested method of success, working to win.  But to win what?  From whom?  How and how often?  Then when?  Where, and of course lastly, why?

So with this months’ theme, where my results will not be known until a future date, I will set my sights on putting to use my recently acquired investments.  A competition has been brought to my attention that involves Substance Designer, Battle of the Titans.  Keeping in mind the ideal of “Working to Win”, Substance Designer has initiated a competition that involves building with “Materials“.  An invitation has been given to asset developers to build something according to their theme while using their product.  To help cover the model mesh the developer is requested to find “a clever use of the Substance tools”, see: Contest/Submission Rules.

This will be how I will initially find myself in this One Game A Month theme, money, learning how I pay me, while working to win in the “BATTLE OF THE TITANS”.

This all sounds like fun.

So here is my progress moving along:
My “Titan Concept“.

G’day.

May 14, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | | Leave a comment

[page 0060] ~ The Money-Go-Round:

Updates: – Windows Shutdown update && Autodesk Maya LT 2015 Service Pack 1.
DownLoads: – .

Money, the Theme of the Month.

But first, an honorous rendition of the same song of the title, The Kinks – The Money Go Round, with feeling, (click About/Show more, and sing along with the lyrics.)  I still have tee-shirts from those Kinks concerts, along with their albums and now CD’s, plus a whole bunch of conjunctive memories where their songs are now, at times in part, the conjunction of my memories, i.e this blog with the theme in the theme.  So anyway, Thirty years of Rock ‘n Roll from 64 to 94, fifty years if you count up to 2014.  The Kinks did what they loved and that is what gave them their longevity.  So what does all this singing have to do with this months’ theme?  Well, if you listened to the song and more importantly read, or better yet, did sing along with the lyrics and then felt the spirit of the meaning, then you’ll have learned how to laugh, or, have found it is better to laugh along with that, and is what could be the best and in practicality, be the only and best answer I can think of, or could possibly give for this months theme, Tah-Dah, Paid In Full, or half of half of half … of half in full!

Beyond that, the whole money theme, this month, is about the aspects of Indie Game Creation in that, how can I build my rendition of a video game, to then have it give more of everything that that player could use to succeed while playing that video game.  To that end, the theme jumps back in and asks, how then can I find recompense and remuneration because of my efforts in building the satisfaction that is found therein, while playing that new game, that I have brought into existence.  As it goes, in nearly every conversation in concern to the building of video games, the same themes keep popping up to the forefront, with those ideas being, fun and immersion.  The game needs to quickly draw the player in, then continue to draw the player further into the story, moving the player through the game mechanics because the game play is simple enough to grasp, with the rewards readily accessible, ascertainable and pertinent to advancement in the game.  So the immersion is retained by receiving the rewards given through the players own competence.  This makes the game fun, and adds to the levels of challenge, which it needs to have, but challenge and fun are very subjective terms in that everyone perceives them differently.  So it is all up to the players own definition of what fun means to them in the arena of challenge, thus the competition, then back to the money, the investment, and of course, The Money Go Round.

Now that we are back to the money thing and because my goal is that I eventually build Indie Games for the XBox 360 and now possibly for the XBox One, I’d like to draw out what my path will be that I’ve chosen to reach this point which should bring me to a monetary influx.  With the XBox Live Indie Games membership, a developer, me, actually MyI, with a paid subscription, can submit up to 20 games per account with each game being up to 500 mega-bytes per game.  So that would be ten giga-bytes of storage dedicated to completed, peer-reviewed, indie games sold on the XBox Marketplace, to then be played on the XBox 360 and/or Xbox One game consoles.  The other half of that, or half of half of … half of that, is how are those games to be built.  And of those games built, with tools I already have, what other tools will fit in with, and compliment, my precursor tools so I can create games that will port back into the XBox platform, more easily.  And further, as yet, I’m still somewhat sketchy as to how Unity can be integrated within the use of their licenses to provide a clear port into the Microsoft XBox systems.  Then, are there other kinds of prerequisites that I will need to aspire to to get my games built within Unity to then be sent to the XBox Marketplace.

So, as for The Money Go Round, I think I’m still on the negative returns end of my production–possibility curve in that my capital assets are still being asserted.  And in doing so, the game production assembly line is constantly being perturbed with new, although appreciated, technologies, along with their varied utility, as is evident through the ramblings of my most recent blog posts, i.e. research of video game asset creation software.

As it stands, there continues to be many challenges that need to be confronted and mastered before I would believe to have any claim in outside thanks through contribution or of any monetarily invested interest from others to what I would be able to provide, as a game, at this point in time.  But like many things in life, money and payments go out more easily, even more-so as a noob, than they come in.  And right now, because I somehow cannot see myself building an entire game using only C# and XNA as my only tool set for the XBox, and because I have, myself, some longevity moving along in this Indie Game environment, I believe that I will need to invest in some more appropriate tools of the trade.  Just like a carpenter could build a house with a hand saw and a hammer, I could use just C# and XNA to build a game for the XBox.  I’m well versed in the use of both hammer and saw along with C# and XNA, but as I have mentioned before, power tools make the job easier, with the job moving faster to the finish while making the days work, in general, more pleasurable as a whole.

Having some idea of what tools I might need is just as important as what job I am going to attempt to accomplish with those tools.  During the hot summer, a carpenter would rather do the demolition work, breaking a sweat outside during the long hot day, with a pry bar and a nail puller.  A continued thought in supposition to the timing and tool use of this carpentry work is also true.  When in winter, outside it is cold, it is then better to work inside with the days being shorter, as the tools used for interior finish wood working, cabinetry, like a coping saw and a jack plane, have a more focused and consistent lighting which gives a far better choice of environment, tools and timing, then done so, seeing that it is cooler at that time of year, and to do so then as to not drip sweat on and to keep from marring the unstained, unlacquered, nonvarnished and nonpolished raw crafted wood.  It’s the same when building games out of assets in that some tools work better at doing certain things through certain processes, and so, are used to accomplish those tasks at certain times during the build process.  And that, is what I am trying to figure out right now.  How am I to go from start to finish.  What tools do I need to complete those tasks.  In what order should I try to complete those tasks.  How do I keep those processes of reiteration low so the rework is kept down to a bare minimum and the amount of waste becomes lessened with each iteration.  And then, to do all of this within a limited budget, while keeping track of what I have learned as an ROI and thereby finding my scale of remuneration and recompense for my time, service, effort and product provided.

There is also the propriety that goes along with the building process, ergo all of the EULA’s(End User License Agreements) that are to be read with each program, service and application used, along with the TOC’s(Terms of Service agreements) that are given as “heads up” FYI’s expressing the point that it isn’t just a big free-for-all, in many respects, but in many cases must be adhered to, with again, a reference to the wonderful involvement one becomes enfolded in, again and again, because of The Money Go Round.

So just as jumping into the pool doesn’t make me a swimmer and just being able to swim doesn’t make me an athlete and then being an athlete still will not grant me any rights to medals and awards, and in the end, just to top it off, all of that will not guarantee me any happiness while simultaneously providing me any gainfully employed semi-retirement funds, but that what I have found, is that if I am unwilling to jump into that proverbial pool, initially, it will most assuredly preclude me from any progression in whatever that trade may be.  If I choose to not pursue any track to satiate my needs, wants or desires, to lead me into my future, which also has a very high probability to include The Money Go Round, there remains also a high probability that I will never find any remuneration nor recompense, i.e. payment of kind or even of any “in kind” payment if that track is never pursued to any degree beyond the simple hobby status.

With that said, and knowing myself as one not to be at a loss where I am left behind to then be seen as unable to punch my way out of that proverbial “wet paper bag“, I will need to console myself, with broader ideals, that will provide me with this remuneration and recompense through a revised understanding.  In some instances, this thought can be reverted back into something called money.  But in this case, to stamp this revised inception further into my mindset and to come to some agreeable conclusion within my own current set of bounds of what I would feel is just compensation, I will need to realize just where I am at this point in time.  At the current time, right now, right here, I consider myself an “Indie Careerist“, and from there I will need to accept the idea of payment as one of where it is me paying me.  I had a boss, back when I was a roofer, who said he wasn’t having a good day, at work, unless he fired himself at least four times a day.  So looking at that, I tried to understand what type of compensation he felt he received from being his own boss, when he “himself” would be the one who would have to tell “himself”, “where to go”, because he didn’t feel he was being treated on the up and up, fairly, or on the level, by “himself”.  And then, what type of recourse did he find, to bring to “himself”, as something that he would need to resolve of “himself” to mollify those affairs, internally of “himself”, and further then, to continue on with his days work, and of course, on to his next inevitable firing of “himself”.  For him, “Walking off the job” would not be a viable option as bankruptcy has nothing to do with one paying oneself, but is a situation of oneself failing to pay others.  So this, now, is my conundrum, and is what I will be coming to grips with for the rest of this month, as this months theme, is money, or the way I like to look at it, The Money Go Round.

More to come.

So as a little distraction in the mean time and somewhat of a side show to all of this money theme seriousness, here is a video I made of a program that I wrote over the course of a few years while taking courses trying to finish off my Computer Major with a Business Minor at the University, UW-Milwaukee.

 

So how do YOU do Calculus?

Click to watch, Calc Fx.

G’day.

May 11, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , , , | Leave a comment

[page 0059] ~ To Be or Not To Be:

Updates: – Adobe Reader Version X (10.1.9) to Adobe Reader Version XI (11.0.06) && QuickTime 7 on Windows 7.
DownLoads: – Maya LT 2015 free 15-day trial.

Yep, still Water.

Hmm, well, that’s actually pretty nice.  Customers with an active Autodesk Softimage Subscription contract can migrate to the latest release of either Maya or 3ds Max, at no additional cost.  But it’s getting close to the end of my Maya 2014, 30 day trial and I’m not as sad as I thought I would have originally been.  It was a lot of give and take, with the shuffling around of my own thoughts, of why SoftImage was what I was saving up for and now would need to change my focal judgments and scry as to what my next best options have in store.  So while weighing the cost against my needs, I got an e-Flier that said the AutoDesk 2015 product line was out.  In fact, what I have done, is to see if I can get the Maya LT 2015 free 15 day trial during my Maya 2014 30 day trial and be able to compare the two products, simultaneously.  And I can.  So right now, I have ZBrush 4R6 connected to this Maya 2014 free trial, and am going to test if Maya LT 2015 also hooks into ZBrush through GoZ.  If it does, then I think its a done deal for the purchase of Maya LT 2015.

But after looking around at some banterous internet critiques, and after my own trial and error work-arounds, the Maya LT product does not support the GoZ paradigm.  But, Maya LT, from its main menu File dropdown list command item does have a link that provides an asset insertion point right into the Unity Project/Assets/folder interface.  But there is a limitation of 65,000 vertices with the file transfer directly into Unity’s internal folder directory.  At this point in time, I don’t believe that that transfer file size will be much of any issue seeing that animatable characters should be in the range of 3000 to 8000 vertices each.  This smaller vertex count is also needed for the CPU and GPU to keep the FPS(frames per second) in a range that does not slow down the frame rate, changing the players game focus to finally de-immerse the player from the gaming experience.  Building other meshes as environment and set props will, I would guess be of a comparable size limitation also.  And as for collision meshes, those are constructed to have much fewer vertices than the textured meshes they surround as seen in the game.  But in any of those cases, building many small pieces would be to the advantage of the designer, as unit testing of small pieces could be done incrementally.  The stress loads could be varied more easily while using many pieces instead of having the only option as one big mesh that could not be switched out.  And it isn’t like what is built in ZBrush can not be opened in Maya LT, or visa versa, with some limitations.  Both programs have the capacity to import and export .obj files.  It just comes down to the extra time used to access those files from the systems folder directory, a small inconvenience, not a dead stop from a fabricated dead end in the work flow of asset creation.

So, somehow I need to think that this seamless transfer process built into Maya LT that links the game assets directly into the Unity Game Engine will lessen the time spent digging through Windows Explorer, as all that is needed now is to click and watch the transferred files appear from one app to the other.  This might be a small, but positive, factor in my calculations for a ROI as I duke it out between the pros and cons of what my next best option for a 3D model mesh asset creation program will be.  It was really nice to see that transfer happening between Maya and ZBrush, where GoZ affords to the designers the best of both worlds in tweaking iterations back and forth of the same model mesh.  But seeing that I am a low-poly-count Indie Game Creator and not a high-poly-count Movie, Commercial or Cartoon Producer, I must relegate Maya to the back burner, for now, and Maya LT to the front burner to get cooking with some low-res 3D mesh interactive game characters, set props, environments, animations and storylines.

I’m not writing a story book that when read will follow the same story plot, in the same time frame, with the same characters, saying the same thing, in the same place, to further the same ends, in the same order, every time, that the same book, or in this case, same movie, same cartoon or same commercial is viewed, with “high” poly count meshes.  But, I will be designing and creating video games that are seen, by playing through the games with different characters, having different points of view, doing different tasks, at different times, to accomplish different strategies, obtained by different objectives, through adhering to different directives, using different means, that achieve different goals and produce different rewards, with “low” poly count meshes.

So my two major concerns, which I have addressed, will be, am I going to build for Film Rendering or will I build for a Game Engine.  I think I have just about made up my mind with how, I think, this should turn out best for me, with Maya LT, 2015.  Well then … back to the next reality, and, as Inspector Clouseau would say, “Until then, a case is sol-ved”.

Or maybe not.  I’m going through another Digital Tutors training module, Retopology Techniques in Maya, and am using both Maya and Maya LT to see any differences between the two, (see: Maya vs. Maya LT), that may make some final difference to me.  The tutorial theme is the speed of mesh transforms, which here, is made out to be the central issue because that is what this Digital Tutors video is intending to express.  It shows why and how to escribe methods that lower the poly count for a model mesh that is to be sent to a game engine.  Initially, when the entire model is selected, it is approximately one and one third million polygon faces with over twenty million edges and in the end it becomes a character mesh with about 2700 faces and 5500 edges.  The UV’s are flattened and the high resolution texture is baked over to the low resolution where both models are compared side by side.  After this tutorial my thoughts remain the same, High poly vs. Low poly, Rendered Viewing vs. Animated Interactivity, Film vs. Game.  In other words my final decisions will be best served as I look to my next direction from what I will be creating.  So will I be moving towards: Static Sequential Video Story’s using Maya with its Rendering Engine and topping it off with something like Storyboard Pro 4 or will I be putting my efforts into Random Variable Input Games using Maya LT 2015 and topping it off with the Unity 5 Game Engine.

Next on the list is the Indie Game Development Pipeline.  This is a set of nine Digital Tutors volumes using Maya LT, Photoshop, ZBrush, Mudbox and Unity to build a Boss Battle.  The run time is about 28h and 23m in length, but with breaks in between it will assuredly run longer.  Then actually doing what is taught in each of the lessons inside each course will also add to that time.  So, so far they have gone through the lead up phases in getting the general idea of the game together as a side scroller using 2D and 3D elements to show how many layers it may take to formulate this Boss Battle.  They have gone through the Hero and Boss prototyping to agree on what they should look like as 2D characters in Photoshop.  Then they moved on to the 2D environment where the Boss Battle is to occur also in Photoshop.  As of now, I’m up to volume 3 where they are beginning to get the Hero and Boss proto-animation hooked onto the environment so they can have that interact using scripts to transfer their information using game Triggers and Event Handlers provided in Unity.  And per usual, I began to recall what I had to come to grips with in the Microsoft Game Studio using C# with XNA from MSDN(Microsoft Developer Network).  There they also used the concepts of Handling and Raising Events, here, just as a side note.  But I’ll need to research both to compare the similarities and differences at a later date.  And with that, back to the show.

After the concept of a working game mechanic prototype with place holders is finished, the next couple of volumes deal with the Hero and Boss 3D meshes as they are created in Mudbox and ZBrush.  Each character is fashioned in 3D space where afterwards the UV’s are flattened out and painted in a mixture of Photoshop, Mudbox, ZBrush and Maya LT.  After that, the Hero and the Boss characters get the “Rig” they both need as the skeleton that will be used to build and drive their animations with their meshes that are “skinned” to the skeleton rig.

But it is the end of the month and for all I have gotten done this month, apart from my game, I have also built a small game, using the One Game A Month theme, Water.  This “let’s see what I’ve learned how to do so far”, game is about a plumber that was quested to repair the plumbing in a small brick house on an island, somewhere.  In the morning, the plumber stands victorious on top of the brick house but then realizes that he can’t remember exactly where his watercraft is so that he can move on to the next island, his next quest.  This game is only concerned with him running around the current island in search of his water craft.  To aid him in his search, he has a GPS-like display that gives the player an (X, Y, Z) position that will move closer to (0, 0, 0) as he moves closer to his watercraft.  There is no time limit, there is no problem with breathing underwater or climbing any mountains and there really is no leaving the island.  There is only finding the watercraft, somewhere along the shoreline of the island.

Play WaterPod Here.

G’day.

May 1, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | | Leave a comment

[page 0058] ~ There Under Breathe Couldn’t I:

Updates: – Adobe FlashPlayer Version 13.0.0.182 and Substance Painter, version 0.5.0.319 from 0.4.0.303.
DownLoads: – .

The theme is, Water.

So if all you have is a construction worker in red overalls wearing a yellow helmet holding a huge crescent wrench, and water is the theme, it only makes sense to have the Hero be some kind of plumber.  But, not a Mario Plumber, I think Mario was a plumber, jumping around, collecting coins, where every jump he would make would sound like “More”, “More”, “More”, or so my dad would say, back in the day.  But now, I need a story line, for my plumber.

More Digital Tutors, and with that my PhotoShop has another trick that it can do, Scalable Vector Graphics.  And I have learned a little bit more about SVG’s and how they have less artifacts that build up to degrade the initial view of what was intended to be seen as the contents are scaled up and down within whatever application they are sent to, be it for a resizing web page or in this case a video game HUD.

So I looked into a possible purchase of Adobe Illustrator to use for SVG game art creation.  But one thing that I didn’t quite understand is what Adobe has done with their product line.  Everything has been turned into a “Rent a Product” with a Cloud memory, which to me is not conducive to the way I work.  I might use their product for a total of a few hours every couple of months, and the way it looks, I don’t actually get to buy the product, to then keep it and to use at my own leisure.  But it is more like a lease of an apartment, payable every month, even if you are just going to poke your head in the door to read the help file, during the month.  And further, it doesn’t seem to compare to the likes of a car lease where you could then buy it outright at the end, where it would have a set purchase price that would be paid into until fulfilled or at some point in time, be granted an opportunity to make a complete buyout.

With Adobes’ current business model, if I were to have used that product for, well, let me see …, I’ve been doing this game building stuff on and off since about 1980 till now, and at 30 bucks a month that would be, hmm, over 12 thousand dollars, payable to Adobe, for a product that I would use so sporadically that I would remain inefficient in its use.  It seems to be a rather high cost just to be able to keep my love alive.  Truely, I can not schedule my love to learn for what, nor for when, it will present itself, for the sake of any needs.  And as a hypothetical, if I wanted to use their product for a half an hour this month and then work on some Maya FBX file stuff for the rest of the month, get some textures ready in Substance Designer to then build some models, flipping them back and forth in between Maya and ZBrush using GoZ, then afterwards, see how those textures work in Unity on those models, so then, when I get back to an Adobe product to work on some small GUI HUD for the game like, “how many lives or medical packs do I have left”, which would take about a half an hour or maybe forty five minutes to draw something out, I would need to get another “lease” for that half an hour to use their product for just that half an hour, again?  There is no version that I can purchase and simply open and use when needed?

I really don’t get their sales, lease paradigm or business model.  Not happy.  So it looks like I’ll be stuck with my ol’ reliable PhotoShop CS4 Extended for the time being and if I need something in the future I’ll look to something else.  Until then, what I have, I will need to agree, has its own kind of special charm from out of the past and is even more charming because it is there to greet me and I don’t need to go out to rent it again.

But really, a lease?  I understand ZBrush with its deactivation and web reactivation after an upgrade, just to make sure I am me.  But a lockout with Adobe products?  That isn’t the way I work, play or test with others.  I might be totally wrong but that is what it looked like to me.  Whatever, good for them, I guess.  Maybe that’s how it works for somebody.  But if I am only going to open it up to get a little practice in during the month to hone my skills, I’m not going to pay anyone for a whole months worth of rental.  I wouldn’t be using it at all.  Then my skills would atrophy and my desire would wane.  The skills I have in other aspects of game design that currently use an array of different asset creation tools would become more prominent from their ease of access.  I bought them to use them and to keep them close in proximity.  And when I would like to use it, I would like to not need to feel that I must use it, as an obligation, to their monthly leasing business model, wow, so be it.

I can’t figure out if they or I are actually frugal or cheap.  It seems that they feel it is better to give somebody the newest and the best, apparently every month, or at their directed leisure.  But each time I would get around to opening up that application, it sounds as if it could have something of a different look within the API or a different feel in the implementation of the components.  But, I have done more than enough carpentry in my life to know if buying a Sawzall or a Hole-Shooter makes more sense than renting something that would have a different grip, shake, shimmy and feel each time I would show up at the job site.  For me, consistency, ease of access and reliability through stability is more paramount than someone else’s ideas of what cutting edge learning curves and perpetual changes in work flows can make, for me and of my desires, because of their products.

I think they were chasing the MicroSoft paradigm with the online web office suites of Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint and the like.  And I really do believe they should rethink their payment schedule and their no buyout clause as they have what seems to be a much better than average set of tools to get some of the odds and ends jobs done.  And what is with the lack of a, “This is the total cost”, bottom line.  I mean, it’s like what they used to say, “Where’s the beef? & in (YouTube)“.  How am I to factor in any ROI(return of investment)?  The biggest question I would have is, at what point in time would I have paid enough to no longer need to continue to pay them every time I would like to open that Adobe product.  Would that be, ever?  It seems that they have no belief in customer loyalty because of the virtues of their product.  And if you get stuck in a mode of work that forecasts the reliance on that product then that end-user is stuck in the perpetual payment system.  To me it’s like going back to the days of the video arcade, paying at least a quarter every time you want to play a video game, where it’s all pay-to-play as you watch the quarters go away faster and faster.  Well, enough of that, no sale, this time, not my quarters.  Sorry Adobe Illustrator, it was not meant to be.

 
OK, I found it, Never Mind.
Adobe Illustrator CS6 & Full Versions.

 
So anyway, scalable vector graphics seem to be the best way to have interface components drawn in a video game screen because their definition and clarity remains consistent after being resized.  But after watching “Unity Mobile Game Development User Interface Design“, I was somewhat disheartened by all of the manual hot-fixes and work-arounds that are needed to get SVG’s prepared for and working in Unity as HUD interface elements.  It’s not like it can’t be done, but even to me it sounds like a little bit more ham-fisted knumbskullery than I would be willing to attempt, as a work flow or build process, even if I did have Adobe Illustrator helping me out.  There just seemed to be too much long winded file regrouping and curious guess work going on, although in the end it did work, or from outward appearances it seemed to work, as a resizable SVG.  And it is supposedly light weight enough to run on a Pad or a Tablet as an SVG in Unity.  Probably even a Smart Phone too, but I don’t know how small the scaling for all that, along with the other game assets, would come to the screen and find resolve.  Well, enough of that, too.

Then, after going through a short set of “Quick Start to Unity: Volume 1“, I started reworking my pipeline for the construction of a terrain in Unity.  I followed the same construction methods I had used from the old global settings of the save files I had previously used for my XNA HUD_On game to create my Height, Diffuse and Normal maps in GeoControl2.  But now, with the addition of Substance Designer Indie Pack, I can get a better Normal constructed to give to Unity, which catches the lighting better across the entire terrain.  I think I might be able to formulate some kind of dawn to dusk lighting set up, eventually.  And who knows, maybe even a dusk to dawn C# script.  And then, I could work on a day and night cycle of day-break, morning, afternoon, twilight, evening and night skyline lighting.  But right now I’m getting the shoreline of my maps smoothed out so the beaches are not so jagged and saw-toothed looking.  And for the next little while it will be a grand endurance contest against the dreaded ennui and its desolation fraught with tedium.  But after it is all done and said, it should make for some nice beach front scenery, for a video game at least.  And so it does, but now that I know how that works, kinda, I’ll need to come up with some type of “production pipeline” that can recreate that whole process for all of the processes with all of the differing tools that are needed to go on to get me to this point, again and again, to give me a finished terrain.  It’s nice to be able to do this once, with a lot of hunt-and-peck, but to have an actual work flow within a stable process that can produce the same effects, repeatedly, with consistent results to then be seen and felt as natural without caveat is a whole ‘nother story.

With that being said, and my terrain up and running in Unity, again, I’ll be jumping right back into the Digital Tutors “Introduction to ZBrush” to continue my adventures in that asset creation tool.  In this tutorial, their little whirlwind tour isn’t just a bunch of, click this then click that, then this, then that, but it’s more of a field trip through all of the buttons and settings needed to turn a lot of concerted effort into a nice looking sculpt of an angry worm where the tutorial uses a huge set of a lot of the most common and some of the less common sculpting configurations ZBrush has to offer.

It would seem that I am really digging into this Indie Game Culture thing with all of its conundrums, headaches, triumphs and trophies.

Now, where is that Plumber Hero and what is he up to …

G’day.

April 22, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , , , | Leave a comment

[page 0057] ~ Water Water Everywhere:

Updates: – Windows ShutDown Update, Xbox 360 Update.
DownLoads: – Maya 30 day trial and one month of paid Digital Tutors.

The theme is, yes, you guessed it, Water.

I hate it and I love it all at the same time.  SoftImage is going out of print and AutoDesk will have the 2015 version as the last model year out from their product line.  This makes me happy and sad as I was saving up for that and it was the package that I was looking to use for my mesh asset creation and animation production pipeline.  But now I’m happy because I won’t be getting a product that will no longer be supported after 2016, small consolation.  Earlier, I picked up their 30 day version of SoftImage and never hooked it up to my copy of ZBrush and that made me angry and sad, mostly sad because of not realizing that I could hook those two up until about a day or so after that 30 day trial had ended.  But now I’m happy and glad because I have downloaded the Maya 2014 30 day free trial and have hooked, yes that’s right, ZBrush up so both apps, Maya and ZBrush, are connected and can seamlessly transfer model meshes.

What started this all off was a question of @McFunkypants which caught my attention as I had just installed Unity as my game engine and had downloaded some free 3D models that were used in the tutorials of the Unity web site to get last months game moving along.  But from that question and after doing a little inquisitive searching, I found there would no longer be the app, SoftImage, that I was looking to build my assets with, so therefore the glad to sadness, :) to :(.  Then as I continued my search I also found a ZBrush 4 – GoZ Tutorial that explains how to connect Maya with ZBrush using the ZBrush “GoZ” asset transfer utility, so sad to glad, :( to :).  Wow how emoticons have grown.

All of this has made for an, um, very interesting and informative month of April.  Then along with the searching and researching, I’ve been working on various applications that compliment the Digital Tutors tutorial videos, or I should say, the tutorial videos that compliment the applications.  One of the tutorials was going on about how to get a texture mapped to a mesh so the uv’s of the interior environment would have the desired ambiance portrayed within that portion of the game.  That tutorial mentioned a product from Allegorithmic, which sounded familiar from my previous work with XNA for the XBox, MaPZone 2.6 circa 2007, also by Allegorithmic.  But it had been a while since I had opened that old application.  That old app had a clumsy interface.  But after going through another tutorial for Substance Designer, I found their updated replacement of their product to be more intuitive.  And after visiting their site, it just so happened that they had a sale going on.  So, as luck would have it and to my chagrin, with their enticement along with my need to have a more expressive environment in my games, I became another happy owner of their product and walked out the proverbial door to put their texture creation application into my toolbox and into my games.  I can now work with this new application, building textures for my games, within any software package that supports Substance Designer, which for me would be Unity, my game engine, and also Maya, which is my pick for asset creation because Softimage will become unsupported and then nonsupported in the near future.

While building these textures in Substance and thinking about how to use these textures efficiently in Unity I found Scripting Shaders in Unity, again on Digital Tutors.  These two ideas of building textures and then having the appropriate shader provided in Unity for the proper lighting, that, and the fact that Maya has a built in plug-in for Substance, has made the idea of utilizing Maya as my game asset creation software a much easier choice than I had first thought.  All of these affordances to easily transfer assets across applications has also brought some resolve to the choices of which applications I will be studying and using for my own game production pipeline.

So it looks like April will be a Digital Tutors kind of month.  Because of my one month subscription I’ll be digging into Maya, Unity and ZBrush tutorials, for the most part, while I try to build this months game about water.  Seeing that I’m just starting off with Unity, my games will be very basic, and probably boarder line almost not games, as they are hallmarks of study rather than production models of games to hit the showroom floor.  Some would further debate that, but these games are built to follow the One Game A Month theme and incorporate the new technologies that perpetually become apparent as a continuous onslaught that make themselves obvious as my game building journey progresses.

To be Continued …

G’day.

April 15, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , , , , | Leave a comment

[page 0056] ~ When In Doubt:

Updates – .

The theme is still NEON.

When in doubt, read the instructions.  And so, off to where it all began, kinda sorta, for me at least, something more like the near of doing Xbox C# stuff in the past and not so much as the far off of the c++ past, and definitely not the really way back BASIC past, for the most part, I think.

Well, the Unity Project: Roll-a-Ball reminds me of the MSDN FuelCell Example Game which uses the MicroSoft XNA Game Studio 2010.  I also found this, Unity Third Person Control: Camera Follow – Tutorial 7, which is a multi-part tutorial that runs a character around using an XBox 360 Joystick Controller, my favorite means of game input.  Currently I’m using the afore mentioned controller that is connected via the USB Wireless version to my PC.  Using this, the PC can take up to four controller inputs simultaneously.  The wireless models let the XBox 360 connect up to four controllers concurrently, if the game is built for that type of allowance.

And so, not only is this game going to be focused on neon, but also on getting a camera to follow the game character around the game, correctly.  This simple game, FuelCell, uses the XBLIG Vector3 class to define its usage much like the Unity Vector3 class.  Both of these game platforms with, XBLIG FuelCell and Unity Roll-a-Ball, use the class GameObject as a binding structure to consolidate its game pieces and be able to reference them, by a named tag, as a component from within the contents heap of the game.  The FuelCell game builds the GameObject as a simple class to hold the 3D models, load content and bounding sphere, its draw transforms and lighting effects, input and movement routines, collision detection and camera placement in relation to the Avatar, seen as multiple classes all within the same code page,  with name spaces, using statements, class constructors, definitions and declarations, methods and functions, accessors and mutators for public and private properties, etc., all written in C# code in text.  Unity uses GameObject in much the same way except for the fact that the game engine adds the protocol and code “Under the Hood” behind the API in a black box fashion as Components, with a single click of a button, where the public access of its variable contents are seen in the Inspector tab and where extensions that connect the objects and variables can be implemented through a scripting language.  What I will be dealing with here as I move through both of my XNA Game Studio and Unity games will be an old school new school thing.  It’s kinda like what XNA was to DirectX back in the day, a wrapper that simplified the coding of broiler plate templates to initiate the start of getting something to begin to become what was intended to be needed, for the actual task, required, to get ready to …  Well let’s just say it was a long hard road to go from a computers system space to go to a games name space.  But the concepts are all much the same although the simplicity of implementation has grown in complexity to encompass what is now seen as the Unity Game Engine, XNA is pretty much the same thing but without the walls.  Sometimes walls can be nice, and a roof, and some plumbing, and … but it is good to know how it all came to be, fits together and why.

So every GameObject has a Transform, in either case, so each piece exists at a specific location in the game.  Now to take a look at how the XNA FuelCell is put together and try to compare it to the Unity Roll-a-Ball so my game, Neonlithic, can get done and submitted.  The XNA Camera uses an offset from the target to position the camera back and up from the target to look back down at an angle.  These values are given to the View Matrix and Projection Matrix which are in turn given to the World Matrix which is drawn to a 2D screen space.  Back in Unity I need the offset to remain constant in relation to any rotations that are given to the target, i.e. the Avatar.  OK, MonoDevelop has a “find all references” to see where and how all of the variables are placed and used, that’s nice.  What I need to do is get the Avatar to rotate in a direction and then give it some forward velocity to make it move, in that direction.  The camera also needs to have the same direction and velocity, and then to find how something else works so that it moves more like a chase camera.  Something like having the camera placed behind and up to become an offset with the cameras’ LookAt point being the Avatar.

And that is where I will be going next, Chase Camera.  I already have the XNA Game Studio installed and loaded up.  I also have the Chase Camera downloaded, unzipped and running.  Chase Camera is one of the code samples that I used to build HUD-On and will hopefully become of help again with Neonlithic.  Well it looks like, for this game anyways, I’ll get the direction that my Avatar will move towards from an ol’ quick and dirty trigonometric function.  Using the left and right buttons of the mouse, I’ll get an input register from the FixedUpdate() to count at an increment and decrement for either button.  This will give me a positive or negative number which I’ll give to a Quaternion.Euler to build a new transform.rotation from my target. After that I’ll take the .y of the transform and change it from radians to degrees.  Giving this number to both the sine and cosine functions I’ll multiply it with the forward velocity and give it back to “movement” which is the force added to the rigidbody component of my Avatar. Eeek, but it makes enough sense to move my game piece around the board so the controls seem to do what is intended.  Now I need to get that camera to follow suit and follow my Avatar.

That’s interesting, the Debug, DrawLine and DrawRay act almost the same when the second Vector3 argument of Line has its value of the character position added to the direction, without it, the DrawLine function does some really weird curly-Q stuff on the screen.  Another thing is that the Ray points directly out horizontally while the Draw has its second vector pointed towards the ground, one more line and it would become a triangle, but for now its just an angle. Debug.Draw and .Ray are really good features for testing and research. But I need to get this chase camera thing hooked up to my Avatar.

Or, I could go back to what I usually do and add some text to the screen, although I have some text running in the Debug Console now.  And the text will be a compass with the direction in degrees that the Avatar is facing.  Simple, but how do I add text to the Unity screen.  “7. Displaying text” from the Roll-a-Ball tutorial gives me enough insight into and direction for me to get my faux-magnetism of this games rather flat terrain displayed as a number between 0 and 360, where 360 becomes 0 again.  One thing that I find very strange is that little deadened “ding-bonk” is missing for all the mistakes that I make when the Unity scripting compiler, which gives me my error messages, finds an error.  I’m having some phantom error message sound beleaguerment going on in my head.  So guess what I’m working on right now, that isn’t doing exactly what I think should be happening, with many scripting errors.  I need to get the camera hooked onto the end of where the Ray is positioned, but I can’t figure out how to get one variable from one script in the Player object into the Camera class to be used by that script, “ding-bonk” (Red Stop Sign Exclamation Point) error message, “ding-bonk” (Red Stop Sign Exclamation Point) error message, “ding-bonk” (Red Stop Sign Exclamation Point) error message, hmm.  Well, at least there is some constructive and safe feedback and not a blank stare of Oh-No, where I’d be lost in lah-lah land with the blue screen of death and a hopefully successful reboot, without a loss of data.

With a little bit of searching I have found “20. GetComponent” that explains well enough, for now, how to get properties from a script to another.  And there is another somewhat odd feature in Unity, where, when scrolling the mouse all the way across the screen while holding the mouse button down to change a variable, the mouse will reappear on the other side of the screen and continue to scroll the variable, rather handy, indeed.  Hmm, it seems that Unity has no Vector Line Drawing capacities or anything that I was used to doing in Processing.js, which was a whole lot of vector drawing, or something like it.

I think that I’m starting to figure out the way that their textbox drag and drop stuff works.  It seems that what it is doing is making a reference to an object and therefore its properties.  The other option is that it is that it is copying it by value, to then be worked on further, which seems unlikely.  When accessing an object “By Reference” what is happening is that the memory space allocated to that object has a residence starting at some memory value and continues to fill that memory space until the end of the objects length.  Many things can access that object by reference and if it is changed, then all forthcoming requests for that objects properties or actions are also changed.  “By Value” is when a completely new copy of that object is made, and subsequently uses up another objects worth of memory space, so twice the space is used but the are two separate objects that will perform differently.  But how does this help me.  I just deleted the Main Camera and placed it in the Avatar object to see if that would make accessing the rotation any easier.  What I’m trying to do is take my sin and cos values I get from the mouse buttons and change them back into a rotation for the camera.

That makes no sense, why would a rotation transform for an axis not be used to move that object in the direction that it is facing.  The camera rotates in a direction to “look” in that rotation but how does the forward velocity become altered so that the LookAt direction is the new forward and therefore taking on the roll of forward velocity.
OK, I have something that moves the Avatar forward and backward while pressing the w and s keys and then comes to a halt when the keys are no longer held down, that is my forward velocity.  Now I need to have that velocity distributed throughout a Vector3 so the forward velocity is relative to the rotation of the objects transform.  OK, so I need a Vector3 force influenced by the transforms rotation of the y axis, possibly a torque value.  And, per usual, what is observed as obvious becomes the complete antithesis of what is needed and provided.  It’s as simple as the Kata in Karate, first you look in that direction, then you strike, block or evade using that side of the body that you moved your attention to.  So my Avatar must look in the direction that it will be going, then it will take that as the new forward and move in that direction.

Well, I’ve got a camera that pivots around the Avatar even while it moves forward, which is the only direction that it can go, for now.  I’m getting there.  Instead I need the camera to always point forward as the Avatar changes its position on the playing field.  Hmm, just a lot of flailing about with EulerAngles, LookAt and other Quaternion things.  But what I haven’t been doing lately is making script Back Ups so when I get to a place in time that things are working correctly I’ll be able to paste the back up back into the script and start over with a stable working model.  The only draw back is that there may be more objects that have been added to the game engine that are dependent on some of the variables in the previous script that wasn’t working all that well, but that bridge will need to be crossed when I come to it and if it is ever reached.  Until then, it’s time for a back up save of this C# script.

Blah de-Blah, I have a rotation in the y axis.  I need an x and a z value for my Avatar rigidbody.AddForce so it has an argument value being a Vector3 made up of (x, y, z) where y = 0.0f, no voluntary jumping, and the x and z are comparative to width and depth of the game board, no need for the y axis because this Avatar is stuck to the ground.  When I go forward, my y rotation in degrees is 0.0 and, Hey Hey, it works!  Time for another save.  Hmm, but after moving around for a short bit, like about ten seconds the screen starts to shake and then the screen begins to spin in a perpetual loop, until the stop debug button is pressed.  So what am I missing here.  That fixes it, in Rigidbody/Constraints/Freeze Rotation, I needed to check all three X, Y, and Z boxes.  No shutter or recursion spin.  Now to tidy up and off to #1GAM.

And that is that.  Not the best game in the world, but it is a slightly better or at least a more Neonie version of Roll-a-Ball with a hint of FuelCell.

NeonLithic:
Your Avatar must collect the eight neon stones that have been thrown about the map, as they sparkle their neon shower.  They will soon disappear but don’t run your Avatar so fast as to fall of the edge of the world.

Controls :

A-W-S-D keys and Up-Down-Left-Right arrows move the Avatar in those directions.

Play NeonLithic Here.

G’day.

April 2, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , , | Leave a comment

[page 0055] ~ Neon Designs:

Updates – QuickTime 7.7.5 and Windows ShutDown Updates.

The theme this month, is NEON.

And Unity4 has grown to become Unity5.  But the task at hand is that I get an MVP from my SOB where the book this month is, Unity 4.x Game AI Programming , to wit, obtain my Minimum Viable Product from Safari Online Books to produce a neon kind of game in Unity.

So I read on from my various sources and continue to view tutorial videos.  This brings me to the conclusion that what I need for this months game is to start out with a Particle System.  This is a component that is created through the dropdown of the Hierarchy tab within the Unity Game Engine.  This particle system produces what initially looks like a cascading fountain of fuzzy light gray sprite fluff balls.  This component also reminds me of the XBLIG samples, Particles and Particles 3D and the banter in XBox LIVE, for example, in the Community Forums.  With Unity, one thing I have noticed is that the “free” version has been given to use as a base model, in comparison to the Pro Unity version which is full featured.  But this free version gives me an opportunity to get an understanding of what this Game Engine is all about and what it can do.  Then, because of my previous experience with the Xbox LIVE Indie Games Developer site I have a better understanding of the code that builds up particle systems and further, what makes this Unity Game Engine a game engine.  Now with Unity taking care of the technical aspects of the implementation and usage of, for now, the particle system, I can work on differing aspects which will include building the Materials.  This then will also take me into the wonderful world of Shaders, free up some time to dig deeper into ZBrush and continue on with the many other parts of game building.

Well it looks like, I would guess with this version of Unity, I’m still in the kiddy pool.  With that I will start this game from scratch and see how far I can get, without any training wheels.  As I continue to study how to use all of the programs that are needed to create my game assets, be it 2D art, 3D models, code scripts, story lines, or countless other understandings, tasks and processes, I need to consider how I will be consolidating all of these within the Unity Game Engine as my game, with neon things in it.  And after that brief jaunt I find that that didn’t last long, because for now, starting from scratch will need to become another self modified project from using the base game of Unity Tutorials called Project: Roll-a-Ball.  And the name of my new game will be “Neonlithic”, where neon is an element and lithic is of stone.  This may sound strange for the name of a game but my direction within One Game A Month and my direction for game building because of One Game A Month has also taken a strange turn.  I have realized that there are many parts and varied processes that are involved in the creation of video games.  So my direction needs something lucid but also something solid to build from and upon.  Instead of focusing on a whole game per se, I will go into the different aspects of game parts and make those concepts into mini games that revolve around something that can be used within many games.  In short, what I will be doing with the Theme of the Month for One Game A Month, is to come up with reusable game parts, like a wizards wand blast in this months case.  The game will have nothing to do with a wizard nor the wand, but will focus on the blast, which will be in neon colors.  This will be the game part that comes under scrutiny for this month.  It will then be placed into a game format so a unit test can be performed while it also retains some gamish quality or enough so as to pass for a game of the month.  This way I will get another validated game part into my tool box, I get a finished game to submit for One Game A Month and I’ll get a little more back-story and future reference for the game and the part just built.  But beyond this I’ll become more confident in my own understanding of the different programs that are used to construct the varied assets needed to make a game an interesting and hopefully fun game to play within my own production pipeline.

To this end I will be reviewing the Roll-a-Ball tutorial in full, again.  And then why waste time, as I have already gone through viewing this whole tutorial project video sequence once, just recently, before.  It is time to learn and build, both together, just like math class lectures and home work assignments, learn and fail, just be consistent, test and adjust, remember and pass, it all works out for the best.  One thing I am noticing about using this game engine is that the object names assigned within Unity and MonoDevelop no longer need to be as long winded as I had become accustomed to making them.  I will never see these objects names outside of the game engines’ scripting API and the game engine itself.  So the variable names for the objects and the structures that make up the features of these objects, for all practical purposes, are encapsulated within Unity and Mono.  There is no longer any real need to make variable names any more type specific than that of just knowing what they are or possibly named for what they do in the game.  No longer will they need to incorporate prefixes for the implementation in the code because of, the slightly higher than low-level purpose that the naming conventions would normally provide, like in the c or c++ naming conventions.  Rather amazing, indeed.  But this does not preclude the use of syntax or pragma, so be it, such is life.

While chopping right into the scripting aspect of Unity, I seem to already have a general understanding of how scripts are used to augment the objects behaviors.  The objects in the game are altered by calling properties and methods of the object that then become affected and change the modifiers that create aesthetic appeal, promote a challenge for the player or somehow evolve game play that could not normally be accomplished with static processes.  While previously building games completely through code using XBLIG and Microsoft Visual C# 2010, I began to try to understand how I could add scripting to the games I had already written in C#.  What I really didn’t quite grasp at the time, was that, for all intents and purposes, that was pretty much all of what I was doing already.  My games, although precompiled into an .exe, were one huge mega script that became a homogeneous, part and parcel, game and game engine integral combination.  I would guess that is why, for me, the Unity Game Engine is so intriguing.  Back when writing pure C# games, but of course while also incorporating .obj’s and .bmp’s and the like, I began to run into stumbling blocks that took the form of something that could have been remedied, from what I thought would be some kind of flowchart.  I was trying to come up with some type of schematic that would help me consolidate the “whole lot of everything”.  All of that had need, for me, to come together and become more apparent in structure in that: it would have the capacity to retain orderliness while building, would be seen as rather amorphic until put to use and once again intriguing in facility because of its vast and varied scope of conjointed implementations.  I think I like this Unity Game Engine, even though I am still learning what it does and how it works.

But this current game is going to be a template for better things to come.  What I’m working on now is getting the Roll-a-Ball ball to move around on a flat surface, but then to also have a third person camera follow that “Avatar” around.  The problem currently is trying to figure out how to have the camera follow behind the Avatar.  I have gotten the camera to pivot 360 degrees horizontally from the offset point, which looks down at the Avatar at an angle.  It is from the tutorial, but it is always attached to the Avatar from the south so the Avatar is completely out of view when looking south.  And as there are four walls that are barriers that help to keep the Avatar on the board, but the Avatar is always hidden when the camera is facing south and blah de-blah de-blah.  Hmm.  And, there is something else that is going wrong here, that is, if while moving the Avatar about the playing field and the camera is spun to look backwards the controls that were N,S,E&W are also backwards and do not work as intended.  The camera turns but the controls do not follow the Avatar and subsequently the camera, well they do but left is right and so on and so forth, it gets backwards, dumb stuff and stupidity, whatever.

Almost done, maybe not, so,

To Be Continued …

G’day.

March 22, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , , | Leave a comment

[page 0054] ~ One More Time to the Well:

Updates – NotePad++ DSpellCheck 1.2.12.

And still, the theme this month, which is actually for last month, is LOOPS.

A late submission courtesy of …, how the (!) does it work?  And so, back to the Unity Tutorials/Projects.  Their Space Shooter game is the base template that I was attempting to get the ideas and assets from.  From there I was then to add my take of HUD-On and turn that all into a mash-up in a Unity WebPlayer game for February with loops.  And of course this was not the case.  Flying in 3D space takes a little more work to figure out than flying in 2D space, that is, that Z-axis adds a whole new level of unaccounted for complexity.  So once again it is time to break out the ol’ mind-machete and enjoy my third screening of the Unity video series: the Space Shooter Project.

Math and molasses comes to mind where both move along with just about the same consistency.  So, instead of trying to figure out what might have worked and what was just a half baked guess, I have a new game called FastFlight.  This new game project has a fresh asset download, of Space Shooter, from the Unity AssetStore, as well, because there was a lot of ham-fisted knumbskullery going on, that I added and deleted, bent, folded, spindled and mutilated to say the least, inside of the script files with that first download game.  In the viewing, I have been whisked along to Chapter 4) Camera and lighting.  This is where the fun began before.  The type of projection that the camera uses in the tutorial is an orthographic top down view while my game is going to use the perspective view with a skybox background.

Hmm, icky sticky stuff, I have it kinda done in the other project but, I can only have one instance of this Unity API open at a time and therefore only one project open at a time.  Yeah, it’s all flip flop, grab a setting, open the other project, view an argument, back to the first project, check how things were there with how I would like them to be here, back and forth, sure, ok, got it.  Their little Unity Project Wizard should be of some help with all this, and it is, the load new project and reload times, for this small game, are fast enough.  But this is where the guess work begins and the faltering with the head scratching starts all over, again.  They are talking about a blank background but I need a skybox.  And instead of a flat picture used as the floor of the game, I need to import the 3D terrain from HUD-On.  OK, first the terrain, then the skybox, we’ll see how that works out.  And for the life of me I can’t remember how I got that terrain imported for my last game, ha!  Alright, in the API’s main menu under GameObject/CreateOther/Terrain is where it is, and that is it, back in the game.  That’s right, I had to convert that height map into a .raw format in Photoshop before I could do anything with it, now it’s just a matter of copying that terrain asset folder out of the last projects directory and into this new games directory, done.  Well, at least it will let me readjust the Length, Height and Width settings for the map with the argument text boxes after I’ve imported it.  And it’s a lot better than having to run all over trying to figure out the searches looking for which class was used to build the terrain and then to find and change it all inside my head first to get it to work later in actuality as the game build, oh no, but yes.  But now, off to get a quick set of screenshots to get all of the settings from the old project to transfer, as best I can, over to the new project.  And finally Assets/Import New Asset … to get the color map for the height map.  So far so good.  Now I need that skybox thing to happen.  But first a little coffee and to press on with more of that video tutorial.

I guess the good side of redoing this game build is the remembering part.  Not only the how but the why and where are proving to be more illusive as time moves away from that last build.  But I have it back, and slightly better than before.  Now to think up what the game is, as that of which I can actually do something as I get the old HUD-On into Unity.  As it stands, my ship starts at one end of the terrain.  There is a constant velocity to keep the ship moving forward so the only controls are the up-down and left-right movements.  A camera follows the ship across the 3D map and that is about it.  My game, it’s done, it’s great, on to bigger and better things.  Well better at least.  But it has no loops, so it is not done, yet.  I still have some time, a matter of hours, before this month expires, and who put so few days in February anyways.

The next thing that I’ll need is a loop for this ship to fly through.  Seeing that the Space Shooter project only has one other ship, the enemy ship, and an assortment of asteroids, three kinds, I’ll take a look at what ZBrush has to offer.  Opening it up I find that they have a loop, a Torus shaped “tool” as they like to put it and with that I’ll begin to try to do some prep work on it with Polypaint inside of ZBrush.  And after that refresher video I have a Loop that looks like a life saver, kinda like a Lifebuoy with a white ring ad red loops at ninety degree angles, it is exported into a folder and is waiting to be placed inside this FastFlight game.  Sounds easy, but this is where their step-by-step tutorials end and my take of this games evolution begins, where things tend to get real messy with that ham-fisted plop it down and see how it works, or doesn’t work, knumbskullery, again.

The weirdest thing about ZBrush is the way that saves are made, or what each different type of save consists of because of the 2D, 2.5D and 3D painting and/or modeling configurations that can be accomplished in the application, much weirdness.  I hope that what I have built can be accessible in Unity somehow because I closed the ZBrush 4R6 program and now have a folder with .bmp, .mtl, .obj, .zbr and ztl files in it.  And what I would like to do with these is to trade off the asteroids for the life saver loops, but for now my computer thinks its time for a security scan so I’ll just go away for a while, back in a bit.

Well that’s it, as done as done.  It has potential, and much room for more potential but it is another game that will once again become my template for the next few months.

Just fly the ship through the loops and score big, (100 points).  Get a bead on the loop with your laser blaster, (1 point for each hit).

Controls :

A-W-S-D keys and Up-Down-Left-Right arrows move the ship in those directions.

The tracer rounds are shot with the left mouse button.

The forward thrust is constant from the start to the end of the game.

 

Play Fast Flight Here.

G’day.

March 5, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , | Leave a comment

[page 0053] ~ The Unity Game Engine:

Updates – Windows shutdown update.

The theme this month is still LOOPS.

I started reading “Unity 4.x Game Development by Example Beginner’s Guide” from Safari Books Online as another way of getting some idea of what to expect while jumping into this new type of game creation environment.  So far, but back in the day, game programming was all line numbers with code pages and auto-Make files, then it turned into classes, sprite sheets, .obj, .fbx and .x files, height-maps with some fairly fancy precompiler things that wouldn’t bark at all even if there were errors, but which, when done running through that pipeline found their way into the main compilers prolific debuggers that would bark at everything if it would work at all, if it got to that point.  Now I’m looking at this Unity Game Engine trying to figure out how it will become of any use.  Although, I really think it may become of some great use because, of the features I have seen so far.  They have made sense and are things that I was looking into building or was more like looking into figuring out how to start building to use for what I was looking to do, which is build video games, and not reinventing another wheel that helps build video games.  I guess this is going to turn into more of that “Its got to work or all of this wouldn’t seem like it should”, kind of deal.  And that is what I have run into already.  In the Unity web documentation and tutorials the C# language protocol is emphasized while in this Safari Unity book the JavaScript language protocol is initially emphasized.  But, as I read along, I find a C# appendix at the end of each chapter that gives a translation so as to not just “dust” the reader and leave them to hunt and peck their way through the differently coded language contents of the books games, good for them, good for me.

Well then, after uploading my .unity3D file and its accompanying .html file, that provides access to my game, and then going to where I thought I would see my first try at something like a game in my browser , I found instead from the built in the given Unity Web Player page, “Failed to download data file”, how special.  So, like most things in life, it was not the end of the world but more Search and Research.  The first thing to do was to paste, “Failed to download data file” into the Unity – Search eyeglass on their website and voila it seems to be a common problem for those who don’t work with the IIS of their website directory that much.  It seems that each server provider has their own specific way of dealing with this problem, being that the file cannot be downloaded from the uploaders site because the file extension type is unknown and therefore inaccessible.  Simple enough, so here it is, Failed to download data file, and that’s the homework.  The other half is, is to read the documentation for the specific server platform from your provider and follow their directions to allow Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) access to the types of files that are to be recognized by putting them in a config-like file on the topmost directory of your websites folder structure.  Here are some other searches, one on Unity’s site Publishing the game, and one on Google, iis add mime type.  Of course it will take a little, “does this work, how about this, hmm, well, and so on and so forth …”, but in the end it does work from the given files of the build from the Unity API when placed in the owners directory to be accessed from the web, beautiful.  And as a bonus, I added a second file type, that for Processing, a .pde file type, then low and behold, that also works from their given .html file and the constructed .pde file on my web directory.  So I have figured out that mystery, thanks Unity, I no longer will need to have my entire running code base accessible from my web page, nice.  I think I might backlog my chess games and let them be accessed by the .pde files, oh well, all that happy logic and code was out there for a time.  Now back to Unity.

After reading another chapter or two of the “Unity 4.x Game Development …” book I went back to the Unity 4 website and started to review the Space-Shooter video tutorials.  With a flash of inspiration I thought, “Hey, I’ve already built HUD-On”, so maybe I could see if any of that previous work would fit into the Unity pipeline.  And per usual, it’s an ongoing battle to get things to work by trying to remember how they used to work, or at least how I would like to remember that they actually did work.  And now I have my big terrain in Unity.  Also from all that camera transforms and rendering stuff back from the XBox 360, I could find Unity’s “fog” in their Render Settings.  I gotta tell ya’ that those Unity sliders and input text boxes are a good thing, it beats building a bunch of code lines to capture the variables of object positions, converting all that to some lines of text and then figuring out where on the game screen it would fit so as to not be in the way and still be viewable in a discernable fashion.  I think I like this Unity Game Engine thing, and, I might be able to use it to build games for the XBox 360 for their Indie Games for XBox Live, maybe, but I might be jumpin’ the gun on that one.  So anyway, after getting my terrain in the Unity Game Engine and having the camera along with the fog with its near and far viewing frustum set up well enough I took it a step further and thought, “Sure, what the heck, that Space Shooter game has a free 3D space ship that isn’t doing a whole lot in their 2D game, so, maybe if I imported it into what I’m working on now …”.  Then, after clicking on the Download Assets in the Space Shooter introduction page and following their instructions I now have an all Pink/Fuchsia colored space ship, along with all the other assets from their space shooter game, thank you, again.  But fuchsia isn’t quite the color that I was thinking, for my space ship, at least, and there are some other textures that were downloaded along with that ship, hmm, more research and development.  Wow, now that’s cool.  I now have two ships that look like the ones in their given tutorial that work with, and in, my new 3D Unity game.  This could be HUD-On’s big resurgence, ok, now back to the tutorial videos.

There are going to be some problems in taking this Space Shooter 2D game into a HUD-On 3D game.  The first is when adding a Rigidbody component and not being in Space Shooter space.  This 3D game takes place on the fringes of the atmosphere where there is gravity, and by selecting Use Gravity on the Player ship Rigidbody component, when the game is started, the ship plummets towards the terrain.  And so the gears start turning, “How long before the collision when the ship hits the ground?”, that would be some kind of altimeter gauge for the HUD.  Next, having added a collision detection component to the Player ship model they also request that the Prefab engines are to be added to the ship.  One problem though, this is a 3D game and the thruster light from the burning fuel is positioned to only shoot out of the back of the ships engines when facing one direction as in what is seen in the 2D game.  This could probably be fixed by some kind of script that aligns the engine thrust to the rotation of the ship, somehow, but also another question, where in the HUD is the fuel gauge and where does the ship get refueled for all that thrust. On to the next video.

Alright, this video has to do with the lighting and so it has to do with the API and the models that make up the game.  And, as things tend to make sense through repetition, or at least are realized to be in correlation because of their continuity being in close mental proximity I have found that this Unity game and GeoControl2 both have a similar system of saving parts of the API as a separate file and then that of the game project as another file.  I would guess being able to keep those settings separate helps keep the continuity between differing instances from different game build types while keeping the same feel from the same API settings would prove to be useful.  I’m good with that, makes sense to me.  I’ll just have to remind myself of that when I start digging into ZBrush 4R6, that interface is somewhat, no, more like most intriguing, but that will be later on.

I’ve gotten to the Move Player video and they don’t use the “Y” axis in the video or give it in the “Done” C# script in the downloaded assets either.  It looks like I’ll need to hook all that up myself if I would like to see this ship fly around in my game.  Whoa that is simple, double click on the script to open it up in MonoDev and in less than three seconds, one copy, one paste and two change “x” to “y” for the Min Max values in the script declaration, save and enter Unity and there are the new values with labels and input boxes, way cool, gotta love it, this is goin’ to be good.  But that doesn’t change the fact that adding that PlayerController script makes my ship disappear, now why would that be?  That’s good enough for now, the Player ship moves, but the camera doesn’t chase after the ship or follow it around.

And now it does, but flying a space ship around using a keyboard does not bring any fluidity to the actions that help the player realize, from viewing the game, how to grapple with flying in 3D space.  Joysticks are the best way as they use values from [-1.0, 1.0] decimally to provide an accurate transition through an increasing and decreasing magnitude of input variables.  If I want to move left, just a little, I press left on the joystick just a little and ease back just a little while getting into the line of sight that I would like next.  A keyboard is kind of clunky when it comes down to things like that, but it could be done by using a timer to count off how long the key is pressed.  Using that mode of input would allow the player to always slowly add to the desired turn and while the button is held down longer the rate would increase more quickly.  But what if you would want to make a slow sweeping turn with a constant low rate of input.  On a button configuration, either another button set would need to be used via an alt or ctrl key mix or a new set of assignments to the keyboard map would need to be laid out and constructed.  I can see why there are so many 2D games out there and why so many faux 3D games, games that use 3D assets on a 2D surface (no Y axis) are so prevalent.  But I like my XBox 360 joystick controller and it works with both my PC via wireless receiver and XBox console through its built in wireless receiver.  One thing that this Unity Game Engine does provide is a robust set of C# script programing that can be easily incorporated into a game building methodology.

Or, to move the ship, I could just try something like building a Reticle and by using the mouse to move that reticle around the game screen the ship would then follow the reticle, it might work.  But first I need to figure out how to get this script for the ship to work because I used that same script for the camera to navigate in tandem with the ship as it flies.  The only, well more than only, thing that happens is that, because that script is used to also fire the weapon for the ship that too is incorporated when given to the navigation of the chase view camera within the same script.  So, of course there needed to be some tinkering around with that because the camera threw an error where those laser bolts had no launcher incorporated with that camera.  A camera doesn’t shoot laser bolts.  Now its time to have two separate scripts, but what might be more likely is to have supra script and sub script builds so the overlap of code that is needed and referenced because the ship needs Bounds checking and so does the camera.  But if both scripts try to build a Serializable class of the same name and type there is a conflict where one could possibly overwrite the other, thus the thrown error.  It can’t build the inspector panel because of the error, bark goes the compiler, par for the course.

Slightly familiar my mind says to my brain, in 15.Counting points and displaying the score of the Space Shooter tutorial video.  It was some time ago that I was trying to do the vary thing that they are talking about.  Theirs had to do with a method that was called to do an internal search for an object <type> to get the running in-game instance of a class that would access its runtime variable, change its value and update that what was seemingly disconnected to be seen as a change on the game screen, all quite magically.  But before this little jolt, at the time, way back when, it was a very mysterious and strange way of taking care of business, which may also have seemed to be too much work, as a one man operation, and that may be why I would always opt for the global variable route where everything is accessible from anywhere simply and easily.  Old methods die a slow death from the school of hard knocks.  BASIC, line numbers, 64k of memory and of course global variables, are my version of the good ol’ days.  But this video did spark a vague remembrance of intrigue which is better off left in a haze of twilight just so I can use what this tutorial chapter has made more clear for what needs to be done here within Unity.  Back then is just some dark and spooky stuff, like an old forgotten dungeon that I remember I had walked through from time to time and then when something new that is actually quite old passes by like a specter becomes the thing that is pointing the way out, strange brain, but its mine.  Two more videos to go.

And that’s it, two times through this Space Shooter tutorial with the second time through having an incorporation of one of my old XBox 360 games.  Now for some more reading and then to do this all over again with this month theme LOOPS in mind.  ‘Till then.

G’day.

February 23, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | , , | Leave a comment

[page 0052] ~ Back to the Beginning:

Updates – .

DownLoads – Unity Web Player for Windows v4.3.4.0,  and free Unity 4.3.4, just for the fun of it.

The theme this month is LOOPS.

After updating my website by adding another calendar year, 2014, section of pages, and after installing Unity as my next API (application programming interface) for video game construction, I have begun to go through the Unity help files, tutorials and starter programs on their website.  As I watch the videos explain how things need to come together in order to build the given starter games, I realize, from all of my previous Xbox 360 programming that I have done, I can see all of the classes and variables behind the UI (user interface) drop-downs, check and text boxes in my minds eye, bully for me.  So far this is making some good sense and I hope that the scripting language for this game engine, one of which uses C# (see-sharp), can expand the out-of-the-box freedom of experimentation that I have become accustomed to with my previous Xbox programming.  One bonus is that the Xbox uses .NET4.0 and a dedicated subset of gaming declarations known as XNA.  Some circles of people seem to enjoy the fact that Microsoft hasn’t changed the protocols for the Xbox in some time, and thereby have come to the conclusion that XNA is dead.  But in all actuality I really don’t see why they should feel a need to.  The big push, lately, has been for the touch screen market of non-keyboard pad readers and smart phones.  That really has nothing to do with base units or consoles so why put any self gloating in the direction of something that has actually become stable within the world of computing?  What ever.  In any case Unity uses C# to run its scripts and the Xbox uses C# exclusively seeing that it has no UI, Xbox game creation has no skin, it is all code pages of classes and a compiler that is very good at barking at your every mistake.  It seems that I will be championing XNA, C#, the XBOX and now Unity as this year progresses, so be it.

Another thing that Unity has consolidated and has made more easy to use is shaders and the implementation of them.  Previously, in Xbox programming, shaders needed to be given within the draw method, possibly via a preprocessor, while using the projection, view and world matrix transforms of the object that had the lighting focus.  In Unity, that has been simplified into the check boxes and drop-down text boxes that set the type and amount the selected object will use.  Thus far, in the SpaceShooter game, it seems that all of the assets have a static position in concern to the light source position, maybe later on dynamic positioning will come into play through the use of their scripting language.  But so far the use of shaders and their incorporation into the games lighting system looks to have been simplified.

Ok, now the Unity tutorial, SpaceShooter, is talking about classes in the C# scripting language.  And for me, that is a good thing because back when I was using Processing to build my first web games, although everything was written in code in one page, there wasn’t any easy way, for me, to build classes that would consolidate sets of variables into discrete and reusable blocks of code.  This looks promising, but when using classes serialization is the vehicle that affords to Unity the ability to have its variables and their values viewable in the Inspector panel, and that is a subject more attune to higher or possibly lower level programming, when looked upon from differing points of view, and not one to be reckoned with in this beginning tutorial.  But as it turns out the utilization for serialization is given in respect to the API although not the specifics of what serialization actually is, which is understandable.

The tutorial is beginning to talk about how to add the laser bolts that are shot from the ships cannons.  It uses textures and materials that remind me of what I had been using in SoftImage when building 3D assets to use in my Xbox games.  After going back into Softimage, the texture coordinates and projections that are needed for the materials with their fx files that transpose a picture onto a mesh of vertices formed from an object that produces a representation of anything from a biped to a ship to a laser bolt, yikes, in a flood it all rushes back into my head, OK, whatever.  I hope Unity makes all of that easier to do.

More Unity study.  Having worked a little with XMLSpy by Altova which I have used to build some search and storage systems using hierarchical and SQL database structures and have noticed that while they are building and placing the different parts together in Unity’s SpaceShooter tutorial training, the techniques are similar.  The gist of the tutorial is how to figure out what they intended that makes the consolidation of resources work together and thus become a Game Engine.  I haven’t gotten to the point where I have added any resources myself so I don’t know what that entails, so back to the show.

That’s pretty cool.  While watching these Unity YouTube tutorials, I just had a flashback to when I was writing code back at school on the Universities Unix/Linux computers for my C++ classes.  That was a lot of coding back in the day, day after day, where when at home I was using Microsoft C++ to figure out the given assignments while building classes and UDT’s and then afterward connecting to school using Telnet and sending in those finished assignments, done.  The C# scripts shown and used in Unity are comparable to those classes and UDT’s where now, in the end, the whole finished game gets sent to the Web, as something for fun, not a graded assignment, of course.  So that flashback seems kind of “loopy” to me, and maybe even a little recursive.

I’m starting to get the script thing.  It looks like the public variables in the class becomes a label with an accompanying input value textbox that is then added to the IDE of the Unity Engine interface.  That is a really nice thing to have.  It is concise and makes the connection between the art assets and their  mechanics that drive their actions and motions within the game more charted, without an actual flowchart, per se, although I do like flowcharts.

The next thing that I have noticed is that when something is highlighted in the “Hierarchy” tab, the properties fill out the “Inspector” form with the values for that highlighted selection.  That is a nice tidy way of keeping all of the relevant classes together where all of that items capacities are seen without needing to scroll up and down a code pages lines or trying to remember which other tabs contain the code needed for a particular event to occur.  I’m good with that.

Building scripts that are modular and reusable seems to be the trick in keeping the Unity IDE workflow moving along smoothly.  This might be where keeping track of what needs to be done with the objects used in this game and ideas for future games could become problematic but necessary.  Hmm, things that do the same thing but differently elsewhere with open ended tweaking through the inspector interface.  Prefabs seem to be classes of classes that become reusable objects that can be called as a single unit that performs as the original.  But I still don’t get some of the drag and drop stuff that provides access to an objects properties by reference.  It’s my first time through this show, OK, back for more.

Simple is over, they just said something about “co-routines”, not quite ominous nor disconcerting, but it still makes me think, unfamiliar.  It must be a Unity thing.  Ha hah!  Finally, IEnumerator, which makes me think of the name of my Xbox360 Indie Developer name, MyI, pronounced “my-eye” which in its inception was a play on all of the “My” stuff back in the day.  And so the “I” in IEnumerator is the Interface which became my Xbox Gamer tag name MyInterface and of course that came from MyI which is short for my interface.  Yikes, I am such a geek.  So anyway,  IEnumerator in spawning waves is something that will go into the research bin for now.

Another interesting concept in concern to the scripts in Unity is that they seem to be being used like the scripts when building a website.  To get a website to work well, or at least to have it present itself uniformly it needs to have code pages that perform duties that maintain a consistent structure while each page is loaded into the browser.  The CSS script page, known as the Cascading Style Sheet, is what makes the webpage look as it does, that is if the web page accesses a css script page from its header section.  Each portion of a webpage uses little snippets of code so text and images are placed in the positions that the web designer intended.  With Unity the same seems to hold true where little snippets of code are accessible by many game objects to have them perform consistently within the game environment, just a note to self or an FYI thing about this Unity game engine.

With this next tutorial video it sounds like my games will finally get something for the players to listen to, if I can figure out how to use Unity and get something done as this months show case for One Game A Month.

More fun stuff, in the Unity tutorial when getting the game to keep score of the asteroids blown up by the ship.  I can vaguely remember what I needed to do for my Xbox programming when adding game objects and components.  There was some universal game reservoir that held objects that were built as either drawable or just game components.  You would have them built in code as a class then when the game would start they would be instantiated as a class instance and have the variables assigned.  After that, the program would call .add(classInstance) so it would sit inside the draw call loop, and I think there may have been an option to assign a numeric value to that instance so it has the possibility to be called before some other instance in that component storage heap.  Yeah, its been a while since I’ve done any Xbox360 programming but there are still a couple of light bulbs that go on occasionally.

Well, that is one time through the Unity Space Shooter Tutorial, I’m sure it won’t be the last.  After that I found a couple more inspirational videos on the Unity What’s New page.  Hmm, looking around Unity is a little bit like looking around Softimage, but I’m not building 3D art assets I’m looking to put a game together into a package.  Yeah, I’m lost and feel like a noob again, back to the beginning.

G’day.

February 12, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | Leave a comment

[page 0051] ~ Home Sweet Xbox:

Updates – Windows, Adobe Reader X 10.1.9. Version, Adobe Flash Player 12.0.0.38, Adobe AIR from: 1.5.3.9130 to 3.2.0.2070 and then to 4.0.0.1390

The theme this month is RESPAWN.

And what kind of small game can I build as my January Web Game 2014 and how can I use last months game “Flakey Kitten” as the base template for this month.  I thought I might be going to the Global Game Jam 2014 and then get a game finished there, but, my car battery died.  I wasn’t going to leave my car outside in -10 to -15 degree weather and then hope that it would start after I had just charged it back up.  So getting stranded at the GGJ 2014 was a no-go.  But what goes along with being able to respawn.  What needs to happen to have a need to respawn.  Why would I think it would be to my benefit to get someone or something in a video game to respawn.  Many things respawn in a video game.  And if you want to get technical about it, everything in a video game respawns, all the time.  Each time the screen is redrawn that part of the game has been respawned.  But like it was said a while back in this One Game A Month adventure, Keep It Simple Stupid, and use the KISS methodology to demystify the uncertainty of the quest being taken.  And that is what I will be doing for this game.

The name of this new game is “Bone Hunter”.  Once again the Hero of this story had died and has left the party behind.  Maybe others will be following shortly?  But this Hero, having been laid low, is now a ghost and has been taken one step further from the party.  As a ghost the Hero still has a chance to get back to the fight and rejoin the party.  The Hero’s ghost must gather the bones of its past corporeal being to be able to return and carry on.  There is one small problem.  The Netherworld is forever calling all ghosts to enter the light and lose all chances of returning in its abandon of forgetfulness.  The feat here is to collect the bones of your former self and avoid the spots of light that seek to consume you.  If time runs out or you cannot avoid the light it will be your final quest.

This little game is kind of sappy, but it’s just something to shake things up and add some diversion while still keeping on a coding track but to also be less serious than I might need to be while working through something for my Xbox 360.  For starters, it builds on my last game and uses the same ideas to move the main character around the screen, that is, just hold down the left mouse button and the main character will move toward that point.  The last game had a cat that needed to evade the snowflakes to keep from being frozen.  In this game, a ghost needs to collide with its bones as they move about the game screen.  The last game was avoid collision while this games objective is to move into a collision.  The last game used a bunch of lines, rectangles and ellipsis to draw pictures on the screen while this months game uses more computer built pixel drawings to generate the ghost and its former lifes’ skeleton.

The coding in this game is by far the most messy unruly bunch of unarticulated gibberish that I have yet thrown together and still have it do what it was intended to do.  Find and Replace was used to change the names of the variables from Kitten to Ghost and there were some other very unorthodox less than kosher practices that even by my standards makes me chuckle and hmmm at the same time.  It has nearly no comments nor remarks to give much if any guidance as to what does what or why something happens because it is where it is or needs something to do something somewhere sometime.  But I did keep the collision bar at the top of the screen.  Above that bar is a timer and now, in this game, below the bar is a label for what Level the player is on.  This game also relies heavily on RND, randomize, random() whatever in what ever language it might be known in or as.  The idea is for the ghost to capture the bones by colliding with them as they fly by.  This means that for a greater part of the game things will be moving toward the edges of the screen and them off the edges of the screen.  So to be mindful of this but not being quite too attentive to this predicament, when in doubt, give it a new random location.  Keep the action going and hope for the best.  There really is no assured way of winning this game, it’s more of a fly by the seat of your pants kind of deal.

So anyway, the way it goes is, with the levels, capture the skull, chest, pelvis, arms then legs, in that order.  Also for each level, the skeletal piece when it has been hovered over, (I don’t know if the ghost is chanting over it, casting some charm, or trying to eat it), will add time to the collision bar.  When the bar reaches its capacity the skeleton piece pops off the board and into place in the upper right hand corner.  Getting all of the pieces into the coffin is what is needed to RESPAWN and bring the Hero back to life.  But there are three endings to this game two losing and one winning scenarios.  As mentioned, collecting all of the skeleton pieces is the winning scenario.  Then there are the other two, losing scenarios.  While playing there is a timer at the top of the screen that counts down from sixty seconds in one second increments.  Each skeleton piece needs to have a spell cast on it long enough to fill out the bar at the top of the screen.  But as that bar is being filled the beckoning light also grows making it more difficult to hunt down the skeleton piece and complete the chant.  Being in the light fills the same bar with red and if it is completely filled, the Ghost has spent too much time in the light and is drawn into the NetherLand, and the game ends.  The other scenario is that there are seven levels to this game because there are seven sections of the skeleton that need to be collected.  With each level the skeleton piece can move faster, the Ghost can move faster and the light will grow faster.  The time remains the same, sixty seconds per piece, and is reset at the beginning of each level.  If time runs out before collecting the given piece for that level, the game once again ends.

Now all I need to do is get this little game onto my website and see if it runs from there.  Then hop on over to One Game A Month and check it in, get this bit of scrawling into WordPress then call it a day.  Then I can get back to thinking about where I’ve been and where I would like to be doing what with this upcoming year.  PS: The arms and legs of the skeleton have its central collision point at the top rotator balls, not at the elbow or knee which is central to the arm or leg as a whole, oops.  But to continue.

Last year at this time I had no idea of what I would be doing in 2013.  As it turned out I took a complete hiatus for the year from my Xbox project solution building process and turned my attention to building web games for my website because of One Game A Month.  This was very fortuitous because just after reading that sites creators book, “The Game Jam Survival Guide“, that creator built that #1GAM site and the invited was sent out, but everyone seemed to join him in building one game a month.  And so I got in and started building web games.  At first my jump out of the gate was more than a little rough.  I began with a Global Game Jam and posted that for my first entry on my Far_Niche channel on OGAM.  As I built my games for each month I would keep the code build from the previous month, take the theme for the current month and try to bend the logic to fit the narrative of that months theme.  It worked pretty well as the year progressed and now I have a bunch of completed web games on my site that anyone can play for free.

Now for this year, 2014, I am to run off and begin excavating that old Xbox site and begin to mine what is mine, the treasures of Xbox Live Indie Games.  I’ll try to keep up with the short game entries for One Game A Month, but my main push will be to go through my old Xbox project stubs, trials and tests so I can consolidate what I have built so far and archive the rest.  There is a bunch of junk that has taken up residence on my hard drives and that space would be better served as empty space rather than clutter.  So this year will be a reclamation and consolidation time for all of the stuff that I had previously build to get me to this point.  Art assets, 3D model assets, half baked project code, semi-inspiring logic paths, incremental builds that are no longer pertinent, copies of copies just in case something got overwritten, a whole slew of nuts and bolts from all over the place, everything that isn’t done and will more than likely never be finished will go into storage, not deleted yet, but just eternal storage, the black hole.

But unlike a black hole, I can choose just what I would like to go past that event horizon and become lost from the realm of information existence.  And so I start with my pinnacle of game creation, HUDOn, (Heads-Up-Display On).  This game uses many parts from the Xbox 360 Education Catalog.  With these many parts from this content catalog I have put together a myriad of game stubs, each becoming a further progression that stabilizes a greater test environment for forthcoming additions.  The best thus far are a 3D game HUDOn and a 2D game SpaceWar II both built to run on the Xbox 360.

Play Bone Hunter Here.

G’day.

February 1, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | Leave a comment

[page 0050] ~ Good Typing’s of Great Joy:

Updates – From: Firefox 25.0.1 to Firefox 26.0.

And the themes this month are FROZEN, SECRET, and KITTEN.

That’s It, Game Over, The Games are Complete…

Well, it’s been a good year.  I’ve brought some new and old games onto the scene and have learned how to program web games using Processing.  I would like to thank everyone at One Game A Month, #1GAM, for a great run over the last twelve months.  This spirit of competition was just enough to keep the challenge out in front, which added some distance in-between getting just a little more done each time before the finality of each project.

At the start of the year I had no real idea of what I would be doing.  Now that this year is over I can look back and see, both from my life and programming point of view, how a lot of blanks got filled in.  For one, I had never built a game from start to finish, they had all previously been kind of gamish or app-like.  And from that, I learned that it is best to start a game with the end game in mind, not exactly what the games’ end will be, but what will bring about a series of attainable goals that culminate as the winning scenario, that is, the sense of victory found within the end game.  Another huge paradigm that has come to light, for me, and is something that I can now truly believe, is that nothing is ever irrectifiably complete, or more simply, done or finished.  Being done commits a process unto finality and precludes any further successions of evolution.  And now, having Christmas come and gone once again, and drawing off of that Christmas Spirit, I can think of only one thing that has been done once and for all, that has been brought to its finality and is the best evolution of that, that that, may ever produce.  But as it is that we all must carry on, and now, for all to move into this new year, change will continue to be.  And that brings about my last point, because now, I will continue where I left off last year, being, getting back to my Windows PC C# built, XBox 360 run, precompiled programming as an Xbox 360 Indie Game Developer.  I have not done any 3D game programing for an entire year, a rather long sabbatical, and that is more than long enough a time to be away.  And, I grow weary of immediate mode program code compilation, or more truthfully, I think the HTML5 <canvas> object grows weary of the velocity and crushing loads that my programming style has seemingly inflicted upon it.  For most, if not all, of the games produced this year, they ran well enough in the Processing API, when initialized from the resources on my computer.  But when accessed from the web, there was a considerable lag in all respects but mostly pertained to code page logic cycle speed.  And with that, I need to get back to building an .exe using C# that is given over to COM++ to run via the Windows .NET resource data blob thing that controls all of the GUI stuff, using C#.NET framework on the Xbox, with those neeto game pad controllers, of course.  It is my way, so be it.  Go Microsoft!  Again, to all who participated in, to those who have actively contributed and who have helped build this OGAM, thank you …

But before that all happens, one last game for 2013.  Following the themes given for December, I’ve built a short game.  There is a boisterous kitten that thinks it is better to be outside than inside.  One day the kitten sneaks out and has to spend the day outside in the snow.  It is cold and the kittens master will not be back for some time.  The game itself is simple.  Use the mouse pointer to left click at a point where the kitten is to move.  Snow flakes randomly appear and move across the playing field.  If a flake crosses paths with the kitten the kitten begins to freeze.  If the kitten gets hit by too many snow flakes the kitten will freeze and the game will end.  If the kitten doesn’t freeze before the master gets back home, all’s well that ends well, and the sneaky kitten ends up back inside, again.  The End.

Play Flakey Kitten Here.

Happy New Year, and of course,

G’day.

January 2, 2014 Posted by | 2014 [0050] to [00??], The Process | Leave a comment