Super Mario Maker, Sky Rogue, and Stipple Effects

24 09 2015

Super Mario Maker came out two weeks ago and I’ve been having an absolute blast with it. The Mario Paint influence can be felt throughout the game; from the title screen having the same “mess with the letters to see things happen”, the Rocket eraser to clear a level, and a somewhat well-hidden Gnat Attack/Coffee Break minigame that even unlocks another version of Mario for you to mess around with via the Mystery Mushroom. There’s other stuff there of course (sound effects you can add also coming from Mario Paint in some ways) but if I went on and on about that we’d be here all day.

I could try to explain this, but I don’t think you’d believe me.

 

Super Mario Maker is a very comprehensive level editor so people can make their own Mario levels in one of four styles (Super  Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros. 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros. U). Players can place blocks, enemies, powerups, hidden powerups, coins, etc. etc. etc. to make their own take on Mario’s adventures or just make something really unfair and vicious if they want to keep making Expert mode really impossible . After you’ve made a level you then have to beat it before it can be uploaded for the masses to stumble through.

One of the neat things Nintendo did was go back and add things to game styles that didn’t necessarily have certain enemies when the game came out (example: Thwomps and Wigglers in the original SMB, as well as Airship tilesets for SMB and SMW, stuff like that). Another neat thing is that you are not necessarily limited by what Nintendo would do. After all, Nintendo levels didn’t have things like Spiny’s riding giant Goombas, or Bullet Bill Launchers that shoot Coins at you, or The ability to jump into a Koopa Clown Car and terrorize enemies from above. It’s this sort of expanded innovation that allows the formulas of Mario to stay grounded yet with room for expansion.

There are some downsides, of course. Nintendo doesn’t really have a good grip on curating all this user-generated content so popular level makers/YouTube personalities will always be at the top of the list while the rest of us struggle for attention. In addition, the Expert Mode of the 100 Mario Challenge (beat 16 levels with 100 lives) is nearly impossible at this point, with most of the levels in there being the kind of Kaizo-level insanity that only the obsessive can beat. That said, I’d imagine over time as people get more accustomed to what makes a good level, we’ll see less and less impossible stuff and more just plain challenging stuff.

Also we still don’t quite have everything from the four Mario games listed. Inclined surfaces like in Mario 3 and World aren’t in, nor is the Angry Sun from SMB3. But there’s already rumors of (hopefully free) DLC to add this kind of stuff, and Nintendo has expressed interest in expanding the toolset. I hope the game continues to do well so that it does.

I’ve also been playing, and modding, Sky Rogue, which is an Arcade flight sim that seems to mix a bunch of styles together, like Nintendo’s Star Fox, and Sega’s Wing War, as well as adding a slight Roguelike twist on it.


In Sky Rogue you select a plane, select your weapons, and embark on an increasingly dangerous series of missions launched from a SHIELD-esque floating aircraft carrier in an effort to defeat enemies controlling an archipelago of islands. It’s tough but a lot of fun, and I’m a big fan of the retro, low-poly aesthetic, reminding me of Sega’s mid 90s arcade games like Virtua Racing, the aforementioned Wing War, and so on.Combat is pretty tense, with players having to frequently dodge missiles while firing off their own on a variety of targets both ground and air-based; and of course since this has a roguelike element, if you die not only do you start back at day 1 but you also just might lose some of the new weapons you researched, so you have to weigh the risks and the benefits of taking such weapons with you.

The game recently got released on Steam in Early Access, and along with that also got Steam Workshop support, so that players can add their own planes, skins, and emblems. I took the opportunity to make a version of the de Havilland Sea Vixen jet fighter from the 1960s for the game, and because I’m a huge nerd I made a fake ad for it that you can see below:

The game still has a ways to go before it’s really complete but it’s definetely worth the $9.99 price tag and it’s a lot of fun. Feels very much like you’re in an episode of Macross or again playing something like Star Fox (specifically more like an All-Range Mode mission, but w/e)

Lastly I’ve also been getting back into doing texture works…which didn’t actually involve a lot of Stipple Effects but shut up I needed a third S for the title. I’m working on a texture and material pack for Unity which is going to be primarly of office textures. Things like carpet, cubicle desk surfaces, cubicle walls, and of course, drop ceilings

I’m especially proud of this because this is my first attempt in a long time of doing an emissive map for a texture and it came out great. Hope to have the whole thing done in a few weeks, time permitting.





At least Sisyphus didn’t have to call Tech Support

20 05 2015

So right after I talked about appreciating the small victories, I got handed a not-so-small defeat. My motherboard ended up burning out, thus cementing my dislike of MSI motherboards, and further cementing my dislike of Intel’s factory-provided CPU cooling fan/heat sink combo. Some time (and money) later, I now have my computer back online with a new motherboard (Asus) and a liquid coolant setup so I don’t have to deal with that fan nonsense again.

Since then I haven’t been doing as much as i’d like, though I did create another entry in my “Roguelike’s Gallery” video series, talking about Teleglitch, which you can see here (part one of three).

And I am, still, slowly, working on Ablation, having now added a few enemies and finally fixed the player movement. Here have a .gif of progress.

Pew Pew Pew

It does run a bit fast but oh well, you can see the gist. I’m currently trying to get the upgrade system in place and then have a first level ready to go. I wish I was a lot more dilligent on this kind of stuff but I’m getting back into the groove.





Appreciate the Small Victories

17 04 2015

About 8 months ago I had, sort of on a whim, created a texture and material package of various wood textures (floors, walls, etc.) and put it on the Unity Asset Store. Not being very good at self-promotion nothing really came of it, which I guess was to be expected. However, a couple days ago I got an email that told me I had received some money from Unity. Turns out someone bought the texture pack last month. Turns out someone else bought it this month too. Granted that’s just two sales, but as the title points out, appreciate the small victories. And I want to thank both those people that bought the package, even if they never read this, and even if they think it’s bad and they wasted $2. I’m still grateful that those two people thought the package was at least worth more than a glance.

Technically this also makes me a professional designer now, so yeah, small victories!





I swear I’m still around, honest

15 03 2015

Haven’t had much time to work on anything recently. My day job sent me off to Arizona for a week, which was admittedly pretty cool, but not really related to this blog. So, moving on!

Been playing Homeworld Remastered. It’s still really janky, such is the problem with porting Homeworld 1 into an updated Homeworld 2 engine, but it’s still Homeworld and it’s still fun and it’s still evoking the same feelings the original game did for me. Also nice is the ability to make custom emblems…which of course means its time to put emblems from other sci-fi properties into it…

AndrossScout CornerianInterceptor StarfoxAttackBomber

Yes, I am still a huge nerd. And while it’s still broken in a lot of respects, Gearbox and the modding community are doing a lot to fix it, so I think in time it’ll be great again. Plus the game looks gorgeous.

On the art front I’ve been doing more enemy designs, specifically making some enemy fighters that look more like modified mining craft:

EnemyMiningFighter_AnimStrip

In this case, the cannons on the front were originally drills. I’m still working on more designs but this week I’m also getting more into the actual tech of the game. More to come later.





Careful what you write for – a series of thoughts on writing and designs.

23 02 2015

I really need to do better at writing any sort of post even if I don’t have much to talk about. In this case I do have a bit to talk about which is my slow process at working on Ablation again. While trying to figure out if I should get 2D Tookit or not (yes I’m going to), I also worked on making a Design Document so I could ground my ideas a bit better. This helped in a few ways, namely identifying I want PC and FireTV releases above all else, and while I’d like to put the game on mobile phones and tablets I think that should come after I at least have the core tech down.

I also tried to write a very bare-bones plot for the game in the document. While doing so I got reminded how your story decisions, even when you don’t expect it, might influence your artistic decisions.

When I first envisioned this game, back in college, it was going to be more of a free-form shooter similar to Escape Velocity, only set in a massive debris field. The idea being this field was the result of a never-ending series of battles between two rival star empires. The player belonged to neither of those empires, instead a “neutral” third party that would routinely scour the debris for technology to repurpose. Of course the empires would also send their own salvage teams to recover tech, as well as patrol ships. The idea being the player could grab other pieces of debris to make their ship bigger and more powerful, but at the cost of maneuverability. The top “layer” of upgrades (i.e. the newest attached ones) could be cast off as missile/bomb type weapons to also free up speed)

While I do like this idea still, I feel it’s very similar to the game Habitat (although my idea would control differently), and as such I probably won’t try visiting it for a while.

Anyway, for this iteration of Ablation I initially wanted the attacking force to be colonists, miners, etc. attacking Earth over some greivance or another, but I felt that was cliche so I wanted to turn it around, that the player was on the side of the colonists attacking a facist Earth government. The problem is that doing it with the colonists as the enemies would’ve actually been more interesting from an enemy design standpoint. After all, miners could be using ships that were jury-rigged or repurposed mining vessels rather than purpose-built military craft.

So I almost want to go back to that idea, but I want a way of doing it that doesn’t feel cliche, even though this is a vertical space shooter and the plot doesn’t really matter. Also at the same time a bunch of jury-rigged ships might be seen as less powerful than a military one, but at the same time i’d imagine mining craft, especially out in space, would be made to be pretty robust.

Anyway, I hope to have more in a bit, possibly some art or something of that effect because I have been doing a lot of art work in the background.





Pixel Dailies and other stuff

27 01 2015

So a bunch of life stuff and a sinus infection happened this month so I haven’t done too much worth of note. I am starting to get the hang of doing mobile/touch based gaming which is nice, and I spent some time making nicer sprites for the new version of Ablation:

Golden Jackal Mk IIBasically after looking at a bunch of different vertical shooters both old and new, I realized the way they tend to “light” their sprites as far as shading is to do it as if the light source was directly (or almost directly) overhead.

I also started doing up some of the new bosses but they’re just in what amounts to the sprite version of a sketch or wireframe so I can’t show you those right now.

And lastly I’ve also been doing Pixel Dailies a lot, via the twitter account of the same name. Some of them haven’t come out too well but here’s a few that I am particularly proud of for those who don’t follow my twitter:

Boat at Night

Bomberman theme

Tron Theme

That’s all for now, I really plan to update more in 2015 and stay on top of things so stay tuned!





2015 Starts off with a Blue Screen

2 01 2015

Well, not literally. But I did get a virus just days before the new year necessitating a complete reinstall of Windows. Fortunately nothing truly important was lost because my OS drive didn’t contain any vital programs, games, or files.

It also means I can show off a couple small 2D textures I worked on in the past month (out of many)

Red Brick, 64x64

Red Bricks, 32x32

 

Variations on a theme, obviously, but just giving you an idea. Most of the stuff I’m working on now is going to be 32×32 pixels like the second image. All of this in preparation of course for my next big project of revisiting Ablation from 2013.

Also since I was reinstalling Windows, I decided to install the Graphics card my parents gave me for Christmas

GTX 760

Even came with a cool new case sticker for me to slap on my computer case.

Not pictured, the bizarrely horizontal sticker from EVGA from my last graphics card

Not pictured, the bizarrely horizontal sticker from EVGA from my last graphics card

I seem to be all about computer case stickers for some weird reason, possibly just because it lets people see at a glance what someone’s rig has under the hood, and adds more personality.

Well that’s all for now, hope to talk more games and game dev stuff soon.





So, I made a Starbound mod

25 09 2014

I used to play a lot of Starbound when it first hit Steam. I had a few friends who were into it and we spent a lot of time exploring the stars despite the game’s jankiness. Frequent update wipes did put a damper on things for a while, but recently some of those same friends of mine got me back into it. They also suggested, as a way of dealing with my occasional bouts of developer’s block, to create a mod for it. Initially I was opposed because I wasn’t sure what to mod for it, but I eventually relented and started working. Being able to work in 2D again was a welcome change from all my more 3d-centric stuff recently, and within a month I created a mod that I just today put up on the Starbound community for anyone to download.

Tommy Gun Preview

It’s a mod pack of WW2-era firearms, which intially was just going to be a Tommy Gun mod but my friends convinced me to go a bit farther and I’m glad they did. I had a lot of fun making the mod and I hope people enjoy it. There’s 5 guns in the pack, a Tommy Gun, an StG 44, a Sten, a Mosin-Nagant, and a Colt 1911 pistol. They’re weapons by and large for the Beta sector of space, and hopefully are balanced appropriately. If you want to check it out as well as see more screenshots, click the link here





Wood Flooring and Paneling Texture Pack now available on the Unity Asset Store

6 08 2014

After my nearly month-long break to work on a small project, I finally finished and submitted the Wood Flooring and Paneling Texture Pack I was working on to put up on the Unity Asset Store. Today I got an email saying that they had accepted the package and now it’s up on the store for all to see and purchase. I’m rather excited about this, even if nobody buys it. It still feels so weird to realize that I’ve released something now even though that was the whole point of this little project.

The package contains six textures, all with normal and specular mapping, as well as a sample scene showing how they can all work together.

If you want to check it out, click here for the Asset Store link. It’s only $2 and I think that’s well worth it for the time I put into it. Hopefully I’ll be able to make more texture packs of other materials as well!

SampleScreen3

SampleScreen





Apologies for the lack of updates

3 07 2014

Due to a few extenuating real-life concerns I haven’t really been able to work on my games and other projects as much recently, but I have been working on them. Shuffle Breaker is getting some feedback and adjustments from the people at TIGSource as well as some of my friends. I also finally went back and textured the ship I was working on in Blender, deliberately going for a very flat, retro style:

Golden Jackal Front 3/4 View Golden Jackal Back 3/4 View

Granted it’s not perfect, but I think I learned quite a lot from doing it.

I’ve also been working on making textures and materials in Unity as a way of increasing artistic output. I did a set of wood textures which I think came out pretty well:

Two Types of Flooring Wood Paneling Basic Painted White Wood Fill with texturing A larger view of the test room

I’ve made diffuse, normal, and specular maps for everything, learned quite a bit, and feel pretty accomplished. I’m hoping maybe in the future to have something up on the asset store but we’ll see how that goes.