Playing around with shaders

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Just some fooling around with shaders and such. It’s kind of hard to get a good balance with specular, but I’m getting the hang of it. Gun is still very wip as you can see. I’m going to bake some high poly normals for it.


Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Here’s a pic of the new revolver. I am UV mapping it right now.


Btw, I will being working on several tutorials as soon as the AI test project is complete. Maps and textures are done, and guns are close to being finished as well.

“Gameplay First”

Monday, March 14th, 2011

I was watching a retrospective video about Blizzard the other day, when I heard one of the company’s founders say something that, honestly, I have very much neglected in my game development. He said, “Gameplay first.”

I’ll repeat that.¬†Gameplay First.

This is the kind of thing that should be written on the wall next to your computer, because it is that important. I have worked on quite a few indie game projects in my 6 or so years as a game developer and artist, and the two things they all have in common, is that they are unfinished or canceled, and they started with assets first, gameplay later. I think one of the most common reasons indie teams fail at making a game, is that they begin with a simple idea, and then proceed to model, and texture, and map away, forgetting that at some point, all those assets will have to come together to make a complete gameplay experience. They spend their time creating art and fx, because that’s all they can do. They have no AI, and they have no scripts to incorporate their assets.

Do you want to know why Marathon: Infested isn’t release yet? Simple. Nobody has yet been able to make a decent AI in dim3. I loved fighting the AI in Marathon, and it is one of the primary reasons I still play the game. The variety of monsters, the varying aggression, “tactics”, and the hilarious weakness to circle strafing makes for a very entertaining game experience. Marathon: Infested was supposed to be an epic “Durandal vs Tycho” fight (if you’ve never played Marathon, skip this part), and included a huge variety of locations and creatures, including the infamous “Battleroids” which were the center-piece of the entire M:I story. The levels were all planned out, the story was all written down, the monsters were designed, but even after years of¬†development, the most I had finished was a complete 3D recreation of the Marathon Infinity multiplayer. The campaign? Nowhere to be found. The reason? I had nothing to play. Sure, it’s fun to run around a cool looking campaign map, and shoot weapons and read terminals, but without monsters to fight, I had nothing. Nothing kills motivation like building a whole campaign level, and getting bored after playing it once. The reason I still have some motivation left to finish this game, is that about 2 years ago, I played a very hacked together multiplayer match in Marathon: Infested with two of my siblings. It made me so happy to see people actually playing the game I had spent so long working on. They ran around the map I had built, picking up weapons I modeled, and blasted each other apart with funny animations and big explosions. At that point, I threw the campaign out, and decided the only chance I had of finishing this game was to go for a multiplayer-only experience. Trouble is, the folks who had been following my work for that long, had seen all the monsters I had made, and I knew they would be disappointed if that was all ditched in the process. So I decided to add a “Survival” mode to the multiplayer options, whereby gamers could work together to defeat waves of alien attackers in classic Marathon “run-n-gun” fashion.

Except, oh wait, I forgot something…. I still have no AI.


The moral? do yourself a favor, when you have that awesome idea for a game, don’t write in the design document, “Story: … Enemies: …. Guns: Pistol, rifle, rocket launcher..” Don’t make your first priority be to model a gun, or design a character, or make a texture. NONE of that contributes to the immediate gameplay experience. Instead, design a map for the first part of your game story, throw in some boxes to be placeholders for cool guns and stuff, and get you some enemy AI to fight. If your game is an RPG, make some placeholder characters, and 1st map, and start adding simple dialog options that affect the game world. You should be able to enter a box marked “INN” long before you can see a beautiful 3D model of an actual inn. If it’s a puzzle game, design a simple map, and start working on puzzles to solve. When you play your game, you should be challenged, you should have to fight, or think your way through the levels.

Add all your visuals later, especially if you are the only developer. Large companies like DICE, Bungie, Nintendo, and Blizzard all have separate people who program, create art, and write story. The guy modeling an SCV for StarCraft 2 isn’t concerned about gameplay, because the programmers and designers are working on that along with the mappers. Nobody cares if Mario actually looks like a real plumber if he can’t jump or walk, and nobody would play Battlefield 2 if all you did was spawn in your base and look at pretty tanks.

Do yourself a favor, if you can’t play your game yet, you need to close that “ak47rifleawesome.wings” file, and start adding content that actually means something. I’m not just telling you this, I’m telling myself this as well. All us indie devs, lets work on what matters, and show off our cool stuff later when we have something to use it in.


In conclusion. We are not making tech demos. Gameplay First.


Hammer Time

Monday, March 7th, 2011

WIP prototype of the new hammer for the dim3 demo.


EDIT. Also new hand. Deformation test. Very wip!