This is about three years of dev screenshots for our upcoming Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby. We are still not finished with it. I will finish it if it’s the last thing I do before my company implodes into an indie singularity.
Thanks to everyone who’s cheered us on over the years!
Score one for sensational blogging! Ugly Baby is going portable, in the sense that we’re incorporating Portable Python into the current Unity prototype. This theoretically will allow anyone to mod the game.
Over a year ago, when Ugly Baby was just a zygote, some fans had success with modding, and we’re hoping to create a flexible environment that blows that out of the water. Ichiro says he’ll need to continue hacking away to ensure that it works on anyone else’s system.
While Portable Python experiments continue, we’re also working on a way to convert (outside of Unity) the ever-popular MP3 file format to WAV, since Unity doesn’t play MP3s the way we want them. We wrote a utility called “Wavifer” that both converts that (exciting!) and does the FFT analysis so that we get spectrographs to make procedurally generated, music-based things happen.
As a tech side note, the debug panel in the above image (thanks, Owlchemy!) allows us to turn on and off objects, transparent layers, and other graphically based programming pest control. In sum, while Ugly Baby goes through this second period of gestation, we are creating many tools that hopefully make this reincarnated game a success.
We’re hard at work with porting Ugly Baby to Unity, but we wanted to share our very raw, work-in-progress with everyone. Ugly Baby went under the knife for PAX East 2012, and we’re still refining and perfecting.
While Ugly Baby Unity is not as visually sharp as the original yet, we have a few new effects already in place. The background and other shapes now throb to the music, so players can feel the beat more. Enemies now have distinct paths; we can give them a sequence of areas to move around in that they will follow. The blue and yellow enemy flies in formation until one is shot in the middle, then the others disperse in wild, angled directions.
Finally: File Browser
The file browser is also going through iterations. The silly Ichiro wallpaper may be unlockable content or even DLC — or, perhaps the DLC could be an option to make Ichiro go away.
Generally, our objective is to get to where we were in 3D Game Studio in Unity. We won’t rest from nipping and tucking Ugly Baby until it’s as awesome as these inspirational videos but with its own flair.
In case you haven’t noticed, Ugly Baby is an ambitious project for us. We are still working hard to implement all sorts of awesome ideas that lead to a thrilling first-person shooting and dodging experience that matches with your music and gives an unparalleled sense of flying.
As we dig deeper into research and development, we wanted to pop our heads up and share some visually stunning and inspirational videos that we think could inform Ugly Baby’s final product.
This is not Ugly Baby…
Futuristic looking cities rarely fail to inspire. The design in quite’s “zeo-x-s” comes to life as it zooms into the camera. The first-person POV camera itself rotates, inducing a sensation of motion, while at times narrowly edging by various structures. This video director looks to be a natural Kiss/Hug chainer for Aaaaa! We also like the bright neon colors contrasting the dark tones, here.
At the 1:30 mark, the perspective changes from falling down to giving a sense of flying horizontally towards something. Complicated, polymorphic objects at the 2:15 mark could also be inspiration for Ugly Baby enemies. The central object eventually creates something like a vortex to absorb and assimilate into new parts. The rest of video adds some more brilliant hues, playing with different shapes and camera speeds.
That video from quite comes courtesy of developer and friend Shawn McGrath of ][ Games, who is releasing an exciting tube-based arcade psychedelic trip called Dyad for the PSN. Dyad is stunning visually, and everything happens so fast, that this next video may not show the game properly in all its glory even in HD.
This is Dyad, not Ugly Baby…
Again, Dyad’s speed is worth noting. The visuals are insanely kaleidoscopic, and they, along with the music, react to what the player does.
Backgrounds aren’t the only thing that should dazzle players in Ugly Baby. Youtube user cyclones90‘s video made me think more of enemies in the game, and particularly how their movement can be controlled by the music.
This is also not Ugly Baby…
Enemies shouldn’t probably move like the line does the _whole_ time. But certain horizontal and vertical moments, when in sync with the beat, could be pretty neat.
While a lot of these videos have a “tube” casing to them, that may just be constricting for the stage design of a rails shooter. What if Ugly Baby had stages that took place in the sky, over land or over water?
Also not Ugly Baby
Some concrete, rather than solely abstract, visualized landscapes could give the game a sense of cohesion or supplement a narrative.
But when you are researching generative art and music visualization, you can’t help but be entranced by such images as synthesizerwriter‘s algorithm come to life:
And finally, not Ugly Baby!
On a final tangent, part of me feels the thrills of a first person experience flying/shooting experience could be like a roller coaster ride (set to dubstep or any other beat). Just saying, I wouldn’t mind shipping a game that requires users to take Dramamine to enjoy.
From April 6-8 at PAX East, we will be part of the The Indie Megabooth, situated on expo floor prime realty and encompassing 16 of the most creative studios. Collectively the Megabooth includes 20 titles, and (we’re 90% sure) 3 of those are ours. That means Dejobaan’s Games make up 15% of the Megabooth. Not bad!
We think you should be able to name our almost certain triple threat. Say it with me: Drunken Robot Pornography (that one sounds even better if a whole crowd yells it, like at a game show), Ugly Baby, and F=ma. We’re frantically polishing up the first two to be playable and fun, and we’re really stoked about how so many people love the iOS version of Aaaaa!
We admit PAX East is huge, and we are thrilled to show off all our hard work. To help guide you to almost all of the awesome indie titles on the PAX East show floor and to give you a reason to goof off even more with us, we Megabooth devs created the Indie Mega Passport. So that no mobile indie child is left behind, we appended the six games from this year’s Boston Indie Showcase to the passport hunt, topping it off with some Joe Danger spice from our friends at Hello Games.
But rather than hunt down a couple dozen indie booths, do you instead want to maximize your time stalking Ichiro at PAX East? Check out this post for a detailed map where we all will be on the floor and what exciting indie talks he will participate in.
We hope to see you at PAX East, and maybe even get a restraining order on you.
Dejobaan’s preparing to meet its friends and to make a few thousand new ones at PAX East 2012. There, we hope to show off F=ma (now available for iOS), along with the Drunken Robot Pornography and Ugly Baby on Unity prototypes April 6 -8 at the Boston Convention Center, booth #661.
Dejobaan’s no noob when it comes to PAX East. We had two stations at the inaugural event in 2010, thanks to MIT GAMBIT and the Boston Indie Showcase. We’ve grown since then, and now have our very own booth. Understanding the strength in indie numbers, we joined more than a dozen other developers to create the Indie MegaBooth, making it easier than ever for indie game fans and press to find us all. (We’ll have lots to reveal about the MegaBooth in the coming weeks, too.)
Fourteen developers make up the proper Indie MegaBooth, which is spread among three large areas adjacent to the Boston Indie Showcase. PAX East has uploaded an official map of the expo floor. Take a moment to find Dejobaan’s booth, #661.
Make sure you stop by, as most of the extended Dejobaan family will be there: Alicia (mistress voiceover of ceremonies), Elliot, Ichiro, John, Leo, and potentially others!
When Ichiro isn’t at the PAX East booth talking to fans and press individually, he’ll be addressing two rooms full of gamers. He’ll be speaking in the “Indie Game Development: A Day in the Life – Part II” lecture in the Cat Theatre on Saturday from 12:00pm to 1:00pm with Ska Studios and Arcen Games. His second talk will be “The Indie Rant: Indie Developers Gone Wild” in the Naga Theatre on Sunday from 4:00pm to 5:00pm with a slew of indies, local and international!
While Ichiro’s appearances at those lectures are finalized, our game line-up and physical booth are still in development. We hope you’ll join in cheering on the team on Twitter and Facebook, as we enter these final two weeks. Our resident drunken robots can turn all that positive reinforcement into smutty developmental energy!
We are hard at work to polish a playable slice of Ugly Baby on Unity for PAX East, with only 2.22222221 weeks to go! Start from the beginning, with a huge, ugly baby head on the title screen. Then: a new, totally awesome song selector. The graphics aren’t final, but we are happy to report it now allows players to select from all drives and folders:
Those asking for more control options are in luck; we’re working on [WASD+mouse] and [gamepad] (though we’ll focus on the latter when we try for a PAX East showing).
Tying the music to the gameplay is still a cornerstone for Ugly Baby, in addition to the core gameplay of dodging or kissing, shooting, and collecting. While we are tweaking algorithms to exploit the music/gameplay relationship for all types of genres, we are thinking the PAX East demo will focus on a few playable songs. Ideally, though, we’d love a scenario where fans could bring their thumbdrives and play the songs they want to.
How many enemies we get in the possible PAX East demo (or if we get the game there at all!) is up to timing. Either way, be sure to check out our booth at PAX East April 6-8, where Ugly Baby on Unity should be playable, along with F=ma and Drunken Robot Pornography. Don’t fret if you can’t make it to PAX East, as Ichiro hopes to release the new playable build of Ugly Baby to current owners not too long after.
Dejobaan R&D is progressing smoothly with an Ugly Baby Unity prototype. We are finally able to call out to Python, which handles all the fancy procedural content generation, through Unity. As a basic example of this success, the following video shows a level generated with buildings that blink to the music.
These buildings GOT RHYTHM! We’re still using Awesome assets for now to speed along Unity migration. Ugly Baby’s visuals will be back and better than before once everything else is in place on the Unity Engine.
Our next steps will be to convert the level format to JSON and to get Python actually to build a level to the music, beyond blinking buildings.
Our Unity pros over at Defective Studios are seismically progressing with our Unity Ugly Baby prototype. In this first experiment, we’ve gutted and borrowed parts of Awesome (which is also written in Unity), leading to this seizure inducing video:
This is remarkable because it’s Ugly Baby running in a COMPLETELY NEW 3D engine! Now that we can connect visuals with the music, our next task is to tie Python into a shinier Unity Baby, which analyzes the music and handles all the random generated craziness that builds the cities.
Aside from Unity’s potential to give us shiny new graphics effects, Unity will help us make the game more easily. Our art production pipeline used to have five steps: Maya -> FBX export -> Unwrap 3D -> MED -> Ugly Baby. Now it will only have two: Maya -> Ugly Baby. Making this less tedious gives us the chance to add more into the actual game.
Speaking of adding things, we have more notes in the Unity Ugly Baby Public Google Doc . There’s a description of a “vertical sliver” of what the game experience will be. Those careful readers will notice we’ve added something oft-requested by our fans: a file browser for song selection. BAM!
The next Ugly Baby experiment we’ll report on will be a test build for ourselves that essentially takes Aaaaa! for the Awesome and adds music response to it. We’ll create a simple city that gets denser or sparser with the music.
(Nota bene, since folks have asked: When this Ugly Baby becomes a completed “thing,” it will roll out free to whomever owns Ugly Baby already.)