More fluid game progress

Heyo –  the fluid game (which, if you haven’t been reading the post categories, is going to be titled “Freelance Chemist”) has been making more steady progress, though I’ve also started working on a contract programming job, so I can’t focus on it exclusively anymore.  I’ve now got all of the levels prototyped, and some of them have been tested and revised enough times to be release-ready (although they still might change before it’s all said and done).

I also received some initial background art from Leah Smith, the game’s visual artist, so I have some new screenies to share!  The set that I have so far is for Chapter 2, but these screenshots are all taken from not-chapter-two levels, so eventually they’ll have different settings…but using these backgrounds everywhere has already made the game much prettier (and it makes the remaining placeholder art look more placeholdery than ever).

As usual, click an image to see it in full size.

Updated goggles, now with visual detail for the effect to play with

Updated goggles, now with visual detail for the effect to play with

A melty screen transition effect – similar to the one used in post-1.1 versions of Not the Robots, except this time it’s more doper

A new fullscreen effect for a “glitchy video feed” look

Something else

The fluid puzzler is still making good progress – I made a first draft of the last missing puzzle yesterday, so now it’s all playtesting, revising, polishing, putting in stuff from the other team members as it arrives (audio, visual art, voice acting), and some miscellaneous stuff.  Still don’t really want to show too much of the puzzle content for fear of spoilers…

…so instead, here’s something new and totally unrelated.

Fullscreen shaders

Heyo – got another update that’s a little more…uh, visually interesting.

Specifically, the fluid game is going to have two segments that use fullscreen shader effects: one’s a flashback and has that classic “degraded film” effect going on, and the other involves the player character wearing a mask of some sort.

film effect

 

mask

The mask distortion is a little hard to see with the tiny amount of surface detail in the scene, but it shows up pretty well in the top-left and bottom-center.

The “mask” effect is controlled by an texture that looks like this (it’s a placeholder for the time being):

mask texture

This texture is intended to be a very “non-technical” image format – the white parts of the image are the parts of the screen that get distorted and darkened the most.  The idea is that it’ll be really easy to explain to our visual artist how the texture works, and then they’ll be able to make a higher-quality texture for us, without any hassle in the explanation.

 

A vague progress report

The fluid puzzler is coming along really well!  Since it’s a short-form puzzle game, I don’t want to show too much of its actual content for fear of ruining some of the fun.  The current plan is to have 21 levels, and as of today I have 11 that have at least a first draft.  Each puzzle needs to go through a few rounds of playtesting with fresh eyes, or else they’ll end up being shitty and frustrating.

We’ve found our visual artist and two voice actors, but I don’t have content from them yet, so I’ll save their intros for another time.

Here’s a quick screenshot that shows a text renderer that I implemented yesterday and today.  Not the most exciting tool…but a vital one for this game.  I couldn’t use Unity’s default text-mesh-generator, because it didn’t support some important features like smooth word-by-word reveals and wordwrap (which would have been a pain in the ass to work around).

Mild spoiler - the chemist mentioned is Louis Fieser, a real-life historical figure...

Still lots to do, but progress is looking good!

I’ve got bad news…and two kinds of good news

The bad news is that Titanium Frontier has been cancelled for some very frustrating financial reasons (and I don’t mean that we ran out of money – don’t worry, we’re fine).  If this is disappointing to you, too, contact me and I can explain the circumstances in further detail.

The first good news is that Not the Robots is about to get its biggest update so far – more information can be found on the Steam forums.  It adds a Save+Quit option for Campaign mode, improves performance (particularly for lower-end hardware), makes it easier to access You Find Yourself In A Room 2 (which can be unlocked with a cheat code now, instead of only by completing all 20 Challenge levels…which is extremely difficult), and various other tweaks and fixes, too.  I think it represents a noticeable increase in the overall quality of the game, and I hope that you guys will agree!

The other good news is that cancelling a project means we get to work on a new thing instead!  This one’s got a smaller scope – and this is probably going to be the general plan for a little while.  Smaller games, faster development times, cheaper prices, and we’ll expand further on the ideas that are received well by the audience.

First up:  A puzzle game centered around a fluid simulation!  The tech is in a similar vein as Spewer, an old game that I worked on…but this time there’s no platforming going on, so the gameplay’s focus is more on the fluid mechanics.  Can’t talk about the puzzle structure yet, but for now, I’ve got a fun little tech demo video.  More info soon!

A city

Part of the single player campaign in UntitledBulletHell.com (…new title soon) calls for 3D flyover views of 19 different cities.  This is a gargantuan art task for a team of our size (…two), so I’ve been making a procedural-generation-powered tool to help with creating cityscapes out of a manageable number of art assets.  These cities will only be presented as screensaver-style flyovers (since all of the core gameplay occurs out in the field), which gives the generator a ton of wiggle room to be naive and stupid about its placement rules…as long as the results are pretty from above.  Here’s what a current result looks like (with all placeholder art assets):

(Click for full size)

(Click for full size)

I’ve also been doing a lot of groundwork for the game’s storyline lately, since it’s nearly time to start plugging away at single player/co-op content in full force.  I figured out some key narrative points about the overall setting yesterday, which will help me for…probably the entire duration of the writing process.  Hooray!

Enjoy your Sunday.

Three quick screenshots

Heyo, I’ve got a few shots of some more world map progress.

First, another update to the swamp zone – everything was looking a little low to the ground, so I added some droopy trees to act as larger landmark-style objects.  The leaves on these trees use an alpha-cutoff shader (“gif-style” transparency, where each pixel of the surface is either fully opaque or fully invisible) which aims to break up their silhouettes a bit, helping them to look less polygonal and more…bushy.

I also enabled FXAA, a fast (and approximate) antialiasing method that’s done entirely as a post-process.  One nice thing about this method is that it treats regular geometric edges and shader-driven alpha-cutoff edges in the same way, meaning these trees can benefit from it.  Lovely!

swamp zone

Next, I started to work on the desert zone – I don’t have any detail objects scattered around in it yet, but I did some work on the map’s main terrain shader so that it could support sandy areas.  There’s some notable influence from Journey’s sand renderer here because let’s be honest – they nailed the sand in that game – they released a paper that described sand as a zillion tiny mirrors that all may or may not be reflecting into the camera.  What an intuitive and accurate way to approach the problem!

sand shader

Shaders are all about reacting to light, so here’s another shot of the sand shader at nighttime.

sand at night

Ooh shiny.  That’s all for now