Teaser video for an upcoming post

Nearly 12 years ago I got to work with a team of really motivated and talented CS students at UIUC. We created a third-person boxing game controlled by motion-input (via image processing). Here’s a video of the game in action. More details about the project soon.

Add comment August 26th, 2013

CURLEH MUSTACHE

The first annual TIGJam was a smashing success. It was nice to meet various TIGers and people whose games I have played but never been formally introduced to. I also got a pretty cool prototype done.

This was originally an idea by Steve Swink that we discussed a long time ago. The game is a puzzle platformer played in the shadows created by a 3D world. The idea is to manipulated the shadow world by changing the 3D world and vice-a-versa. I spent my time at the jam attempting to implement the technology behind it. Although my current prototype has no gameplay, you can move a sprite in the shadow world and push 3D objects by colliding with their shadows. You can also place boxes in the world using standard first person shooter controls.

Add comment September 29th, 2008

Prototypes

prototypes (click for fullsize image)

Inspired by this post on tigsource I decided to build my own collage of unfinished projects and prototypes. My count is a puny 31 compared to Dr. Petter’s 116… Although this only includes stuff that I have easy access to, and is missing a few really good ones (LD48 entries Crisis Team, Sheep Wars, Nightmare Kid and Guardian X, a failed dating sim game, Dojo, Campus Rumble) Some of these are just art mockups, not real playable games (the cactus game), although it blurs the line with projects that have mockups and playable prototypes (penguin pop, beatball and lifesim.) Some were meant to be games, but never actually acquired any gameplay, others are just shameless tech demos. All of it is glorious programmer art, except Corpus (which is still in development, just abandoned by me) and Poker Fighter (which blatantly rips sprites from Garou Mark of the Wolves.) Some are in active development (FantasyGen), others are on indefinite hiatus (LifeSim, ShadowWorld), or are solid games that need to be made properly (Frooter, Penguin Pop.) Some are even somewhat “finished” (Conformity.)

I’ve been meaning to do a “prototype of the week” feature explaining the goals behind some of them. Some, like Poker Fighter, are pretty interesting ideas. Languages represented include Java (Processing), Python (PyGame), C# (XNA) and C++ (DirectX.)

1 comment May 17th, 2008

WTF XNA, Quaternion to Euler conversion

Okay, so, XNA has quaterions, so you have {x,y,z,w}
Lets say you want to turn that back into {yaw,pitch,roll}
So you hit up Wikipedia and find some equations:

{x,y,z,w} = {q0,q1,q2,q3} right?
Well…NOOO, freaking XNA, that’s not right, hmm, perhaps its alphabetical?
{w,x,y,z} = {q0,q1,q2,q3}???

Once again, XNA slaps you around for nooo reason, here’s the right match-up:
{x,y,z,w} = {q2,q1,q3,q0}
{w,y,x,z} = {q0,q1,q2,q3}

Also, here’s some code to turn a quaterion into a vector of pitch,yaw,roll

public Vector3 QuaternionToEuler(Quaternion rotation)
{
float q0 = rotation.W;
float q1 = rotation.Y;
float q2 = rotation.X;
float q3 = rotation.Z;

Vector3 radAngles = new Vector3();
radAngles.X = (float)Math.Atan2(2 * (q0 * q1 + q2 * q3), 1 – 2 * (Math.Pow(q1, 2) + Math.Pow(q2, 2)));
radAngles.Y = (float)Math.Asin(2 * (q0 * q2 – q3 * q1));
radAngles.Z = (float)Math.Atan2(2 * (q0 * q3 + q1 * q2), 1 – 2 * (Math.Pow(q2, 2) + Math.Pow(q3, 2)));

Vector3 angles = new Vector3();
angles.X = MathHelper.ToDegrees(radAngles.X);
angles.Y = MathHelper.ToDegrees(radAngles.Y);
angles.Z = MathHelper.ToDegrees(radAngles.Z);
return angles;
}

Add comment March 11th, 2008

Great idea for a video game boss

Sure, you’ve seen all sorts of crazy things in games, like guns that shoot chainsaws, chainsaws that you can then pick up and attack with.
How about a boss inspired by this video:

[youtube]4iHOQNNOE8M[/youtube]

It’d be a simple boss, he’d start by turning of gravity, and then attack via hurling cats at you. Cats in 0 Gravity seem like great weapons, they’re like furry spinning ninja stars that meow. Nothing is more terrifying then a meowing ninja star…nothing!

5 comments December 10th, 2007

Its that time of year again – IGF Impressions

It’s that time of year again. Half assed and a little too late, here are my IGF predictions and comments. Unfortunately it seems like there are less playable games than ever before, so many of my impressions will be based on hype, concept and screenshots :) .

Yes

1) Fret Nice – Cool looking . Innovation, audio nominations. I really want to play this to see how the controls work out.

2) Noitu Love 2 – Noitu Love was a pretty well done platformer\beat ‘em up with great pixel art. Chalk was an innovative mouse driven “draw ‘em up” with much better gameplay. Hopefully Noitu Love 2, with mouse driven controls, will be the best of both worlds, “meatier” and more polished than chalk, but with the same level of innovation and quality gameplay. Gameplay, perhaps art.

3) Pixeljunk racers – Q-Games PSN game. It looks pretty nice, and I’m sure it will play nice also. There is a lot of controversy about how “indie” this game is, considering the status of Q-Games and the fact that its a PSN game. The thing is, many of the top IGF games are on or are coming to XBLA and PSN, so I don’t see it being a big idea. The game is self-funded, developed by a small team, and relatively “indie” (whatever that is), probably more so than many of the past winners.

4) Fez – Phil Fish’s interesting looking platformer with cool pixel art. The crush\paper mario 2D to 3D mechanic could make for some great gameplay. art and innovation nominations.

Maybe

1) Gish 2 – The sequel to the 2004 IGF finalist and 2005 IGF winner, the question is what does Gish 2 bring to the table that’s new and does IGF need more Gish?

2) Crayon physics deluxe – Crayon physics was an interesting prototype made by Kloonigames. Its a game about drawing rigid bodies to solve a puzzle. Like Armadillo run, there is a potential for crazy free-form solutions. Hopefully the deluxe version can take a good mechanic and cool art style and make it into a good game.

3) Schizoid - The first “professional” XNA game. Schizoid looks interesting, but I’m still not so clear on how it actually plays. It will be on live arcade soon enough so we’ll see.

4) Undertow – XBLA action game about an underwater war. It looks good, but not nearly as good as Corpus.

Personal favorites

These are games that I have actually played, personally like a lot, but am not quite sure are IGF finalist material.

1) Masq – Masq is a cool open ended adventure game. The choose your own adventure style interface makes it easier to play than Facade, but at its core its basically just an interactive comic book.

2) Dangerous Highschool girls in Trouble - I really enjoyed this game when I played the beta last year. It didn’t make it in the 2007 IGF, I wonder if the level of polish and gameplay has improved enough to catch the judge’s eyes?

Honorable mention

1) Corpus – This is “my”game in a very early prototype stage. Entered because I’m working with an overconfident artist that insisted on entering the game. If you check the IGF site you’ll realize that rctorres.net, not mawsoft.com is linked. The developer is also “Team Corpus” and not Maw!Soft, because RC Torres does not like the name. Wait, it will win for art because the artwork is amazing. It would have won for innovation also if it had a chainsaw gun in it. Nuff’ said.

2) Cortex Command – While I’m personally not a huge fan of this game, it has a big following. Entered in the IGF in the past, I hope Dan makes it this year.

3) Clean Asia – Unfortunately this is a game maker game, so I haven’t had a chance to play it as much as I’d like. I played it briefly on my old machine, but I’m running Vista now. Its a well done stylistic shmup.

4) Samurai Soul Hunters – Dan MacDonald and Chris Hildenbrand’s cool looking XNA game. It didn’t make finalist for Dream build play, but can it make it in IGF?
The winner of the WTF award is Zoo Race. This game looks awesomely retarded. I’d like to see it as a finalist just because its ridiculous.

Is it just me or is there an over abundance of “blob” games this year? Gish 2, World of Goo, Goo, Gumboy Tournament, etc.

1 comment October 22nd, 2007

Random thoughts on game perspective and other thoughts

So, its been a while since I posted about RE4, mostly because work and working on games has gotten in the way.
But, I had two interesting ideas, one that’s not really unique and one perhaps that is.

First, the non-unique one, my thoughts on the game’s perspective. RE4 is an over-the shoulder 3rd-person game. While this provides for easy navigation, it doesn’t quite give the player a feeling of total immersion. Compared to an FPS, say Half-Life, the game is not as much of a simulator. And, speaking of Half-life, I think its interesting to note just how well that game does simulate the life of Gordan Freeman. There’s Zero cut-scenes in the game which show his body, compared to a game like Metriod Prime, which is a simulation for certain parts, and for the story parts removes the player from Samus to show part of the story. I think that disassociation during the non-interactive parts is jarring, but it feels natural for RE4, since the player is never really playing as the character, they are just controlling him. What is interesting also is games like Max Payne which clearly separate the player from the character and also give them inner-thoughts as voice-overs, thus creating an intimate link to the character despite non-simulation-style-view.

While I think the perspective stuff is worthwhile, it just seems like a million people would have come to the same conclusion, so I’ll move along to what I think might be more unique.
At some point in RE4, the player will come across a shooting gallery…that moment made me realize what the overall gameplay of RE4 is, essentially the game is a moving Shooting Gallery. This is enforced by how the player needs to stop-aim-shoot, unlike other 3rd person games like Max Payne. This analogy seems interesting when viewed in contrast to the survival-horror theme of the game. Why? I think of shooting galleries as a safe place, a non-threatening venue to practice one’s shooting skills. The targets don’t shoot back, they don’t even come after you. But RE4 hearkens back to an era where “shooting galleries” did pose a real threat…that is the Wild West. Many shoot out sequences in the game bring about a wild-west-shootout feeling for this very reason. Cover isn’t very useful, because things are coming at you. Essentially, the player has no choice but to enter into constant show-downs with whatever beasties are coming at them. This game mechanic ties back to the themes of isolation, fear, urgency I wrote about previously. Had the game been set in a Science-Fiction-invasion-of-the-giant-bugs-corny setting, the mechanic would have failed to match, and the game probably would not resonate so well with gamers.

So, I must applaud the authors for such a pairing, the constant show-down mechanic really does achieve a constant sense of fear in the player but still allowing them moments of exploration.

Now, does anyone out there have any thoughts about this?

6 comments September 18th, 2007

Best Spam comment…ever?

Oh Richard, thanks for trying..hehe

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1 comment September 5th, 2007

GAMMA 256 4×128 game

This is a crappy entry for Gamma 256. It’s a 1×32 vertical shmup expanded 4x. If you have an XBox 360 controller hooked up it should work if you press A to start the game. Otherwise press Z to start.

On the X axis you are moving in RGB space. You kill enemies with bullets of the same color. If enemies collide with you when you are the same color you will take a hit, you will also take damage when enemies reach the bottom of the screen. Sometimes two enemies will spawn at once, resulting in a two hit enemy of the same color or a complementary color (yellow, cyan or magenta).

Keyboard controls
Arrow keys: move\change color.
Z: Attack
XBox 360 Gamepad controls
Left analog stick: move\change color.
A: Attack

Download

1 comment August 30th, 2007

Video game analyses – new techniques….

I’m taking a break from playing and writing about RE4 at the moment. I re-read my first post on the game and was pretty dissapointed. Even though my goal was to present a unique analysis of the game, I still feel the path I’m taking is the wrong one. I don’t want to write about the game in a goofy stream-of-conscience way and merely hint at the greater ideas.

So, my break began, and I started looking around for some other articles, and as luck would have it, Simon over at www.gamesetwatch.com had found one for me :-) And, that reminded me of a few other great articles, all by the same person:

Dead Rising
Viva Pinata
Animal Crossing

What appeals to me is the care given to the techniques used by the game to create its experiance. The discussion takes the game seriously, and tries to relate the ideas to the human condition amongst other interesting connections. I had actaully played “Dead Rising”, and I found the ideas in his review to be really spot on. And something amazing, his review actaully increased my enjoyment of the game! That’s typically not something that happens.

But, the articles got me thinking about what my analysis might be lacking, in particular analysis techniques unique to video games. Sure, people look at the plot of a film much the same way they would for a book, but a film offers much much more. Sound, space, music, acting, makeup, costume, etc. There are many many things in a film which allow for a deeper analysis. One of my favorite film classes focused on spatial relationships in film, looking at how actions were framed, the use of space, engendering spaces / locations etc. After that class, I had a much greater appreciation for film.

And such, I contine to pause looking for new ways to analyze this game. Most likely the control method, the interface, the gameplay, essentially the interactions are what I’m curious about, as they set the game apart from a movie. So, in that regard if anyone has some suggestions that would again be great.

8 comments August 28th, 2007

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