Treebasher

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An Unfinished Project
Posted on January 24, 2016 at 22:07

For the sake of closure, I want to make a development blog about a dead project of mine from 2013. It is the last "big" project I worked on. Perhaps I will pick it up again some day, but for the time being, I am working on other things.

If any of you remember playing the first-person shooter Sapphire Tears by JakeX (or Requiem, if you want to go by his fancy new name), you'll also remember that a huge--and I mean huge--game mechanic was the fact that, at the beginning of each match, players had to build a base for themselves or their team. Depending on the game mode, that also involved placing a core (a.k.a. a flag for capture the flag), claiming territory, and so forth. Unless the host loaded a map using a third-party build tool, everyone had to start from scratch in an empty world, and had a limited amount of time until the actual match started.

There was absolutely nothing fancy about the graphics. The most complex graphical aspect of the game was that JakeX turned on fog in the 3D engine. Everything else was solid colors and square blocks. As the player, you were simply an upside down cone with a sphere for a head.

That all said, the actual gameplay was terribly addicting. And I never wanted it to end--even when the community that played the game for years died off.

Although I have experimented with making 3D games many times, I have never learned enough to make something polished. Perhaps I will one day. Coupling that with the fact that I truly love 2D games that have a "retro", "pixel art" feel, I decided I wanted to create a game that had similar mechanics to that which I was addicted, but in a 2D platformer perspective.

Creating a shooter with "complex" mechanics in a 2D platform perspective presented a handful of interesting challenges that I enjoyed contemplating. For example, how could I make "zooming" with a rifle work elegantly? Or, how should walls of buildings be handled when there isn't enough time to necessarily build every single interior detail during the build time before a match starts--unlike how you would in a game such as Terraria.

I also loved the idea of actually being able to build your character. By this I mean, earn items and currency. And possibly level up. But the challenge of implementing this game mechanic while keeping the game balanced and appealing to newcomers also intrigued me.

To cut it short, I loved thinking about how this game would work, and how I would implement it.

For now, the Game Maker files for this game are tucked away on some external hard drive. As far as I can remember, I had just about everything implemented in its most basic form. When I stopped, I was at the point of expanding the implementation of the online play to include lobbies, server lists, and cloud-saved players with stats. It also had a pretty critical bug where some (well, most) bullets would fly right through opposing players because of timing and frame issues.

Ironically, I have always loved designing and developing the networking aspect in games (yes, I was one of those "I'm going to make an MMORPG for my first game" kids...but I actually have three or four working demos of such a game sitting around on an external hard drive as well)--yet that is where I stopped.

So, to finish it up, here are two screenshots from Discord that I found that I would like to share here for fun. As you can see, a good amount of stuff was implemented.



Perhaps one day I will get back to work on Discord. It is still a game idea that is very appealing in my brain. I would love to recreate it in something other than Game Maker, but maybe I should just pick up where I left off and see where I get.




Hello, America.
Posted on January 17, 2016 at 23:08

No, I'm not some strange new kid from a mysterious and remote land. Like Antarctica. Although that would be tight.

I've actually been around 64Digits for quite a while. I can't speak for sure, but I believe I joined the community right around the switch from V1 to V2. Some of you may remember me--and I would imaging rather poorly, if so. I used to be "Lukesterspy". If you want something to cringe at, go ahead and browse back through my old blog posts and comments. They annoy me, so they will probably be like a terrible sitcom for you. I almost deleted them after I got my username changed, but I figured that wouldn't be genuine of me.

Nonetheless, it has been a long time since I have had anything to do with this community! Years ago, when I was first beginning to play around with game design, web design, and all of the real computer science stuff in between, I loved it here. I desperately wanted to be someone here, but I wasn't experienced or mature enough (although I'm sure some would question our maturity now as well).

But I'm back with a new name, although not a new haircut--I'm trying to grow it out so I can jump on the last cart of the man bun train before it falls off its tracks into the abyss of embarrassment. Actually, my long-term goal is to get some dreads hanging, but I'm still a ways off from that.

To be honest, I haven't touched the likes of Game Maker in at least a year--probably longer. I have been busy going to college for my BS in CS, getting married halfway through because having a wife is way better than dorm life, working on software at an aerospace company, and doing more web development than my fingertips can take (which is ironic because I'm sure twisterghost can remember some dumb kid messaging him constantly to ask questions as to why his little PHP/MySQL blog project wasn't working--that was me man, and I'm sorry).

As for that last point, I was brought on with a non-profit early on in university to build a custom CMS that they wanted to, and since have, deployed in numerous locations (I suppose that Wordpress had security issues that they didn't want to deal with? Nah, it was more than that, but that was part of it...). They then wanted a custom analytics system because Google Analytics was too cluttered for them, so I whipped that up--which took a long time. And now, I still do some work on the side for them as needed.

I'm still in school. I probably have another year left because I pulled back the amount of credits that I am taking by a ton (three classes is way better than like six). I feel like so far I have gotten some pretty well-rounded experience in the industry, and, although I have enjoyed everything I have worked on in one way or another, I desperately want to get back to the creativeness of computers. You know--the stuff that got you (at least me) excited when you were younger.

Which is why I am back. I am slowly trying to get back into game design and development as a hobby. But I want to do it from the ground up. In high school, I built an HTML5 game engine from scratch, and that was a blast. Now, years later, I am building a game engine from scratch using C++ and SDL. It's not going to be best engine out there by any means, but it will be mine to play with and make into what I want it to be. I plan to add Python scripting (not Lua, it feels "old" to me) to the engine down the road, and I have been thinking of what it would take to develop and implement my own physics engine into it as well. I also have a level editor and an object editor planned for it. If anyone is interested in checking it out at some later point when it is worth something (although probable not much), I can possibly throw it up on GitHub or Bitbucket.

In developing my own game engine, I am realizing how much influence Game Maker had on how I think about video game development. My game loops, my abstraction, my everything--it all seems very similar to what the first game engine I ever used must have done behind the scenes. Granted, it is a video game--there is a pretty set way of how to create the most basic engine, and it has been the same for decades.

Well, enough of all that. If you want to chat about life, or talk about projects, or make fun the Seahawks (I live in Washington, and the people up here have one--and one thing only--in common: they all worship a football team like it will smite them if they don't), you can hit me up here or on IRC. I finally got ZNC set up on my server, so I am idling on the channel and will get any messages you send me eventually.

Anyways, I'm sorry for the wall of text! I hope that wasn't terribly boring. I suppose that if you got to this point, it must not have been. But who knows, maybe you were more bored than this blog post was boring in the first place.

I'm stoked to be back! I'm very busy right now, but I'm going to be around as much as possible and would love to participate and/or help with anything possible.



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