// November 5th, 2013 // Comments Off on Ugly Baby Becomes Sexy Baby (no! not like that you perv) // Ugly Baby
There comes a time in every Indie Studio's life when dev art just won't do. For Ugly Baby, this means bringing in Jonathan Elliot to do paint-overs. Jonathan is best known for doing the art on Monster Loves You!. Check out this blog post and this other blog post from earlier this year to see how he works the brushes and rollers. Check out the original images, the paintovers, and the current in-game versions recreated by Dave. Then go play the game and see if you can spot some of the changes.
Original Screenshot 1:
Jon's Paintover 1:
Current in-game WiP 1:
Original Screenshot 2:
Jon's Paintover 2:
Current in-game WiP 2:
Original Screenshot 3:
Jon's Paintover 3:
Current in-game WiP 3:
Original Screenshot 4:
Jon's Paintover 4:
Current in-game WiP 4:
Original Screenshot 5:
Jon's Paintover 5:
Current in-game WiP 5:
We're still working, as always, but in the best instances, the final shots look pretty close to what Jonathan had in mind!
We've been working on Ugly Baby for about
twelve four years now (it started as a prototype called Musorqua right after we launched Aaaaa!), and it's now AaaaaAAaaalmost ready for prime time. A new build is on track for November 18th, so here's a sneak peek at some of what we hope to include therein:
You play the role of Azumi Pentak, blind futurist extraordinaire. She's trying to digitize the whole city of Boston Sky; and to capture the data, she's "wardiving" — BASE jumping through the city, taking measurements and scooping up every electronic signal she can. Including your brainwaves.
Azumi Pentak / Born: 8.25.2004 / Nat: American / Parents: Azumi Asahi, Gertrude Pentak / Sibs: Gabriele Pentak (dec. 4.11.2016) / Edu: BE Computer Science (2029), PhD (2025) Machine Learning, Worcester Polytechnic Institute / Foci: expert systems, neural networks / Whasian, 170cm, 53kg, pH~7.5, 1.4rgn / Prosth: ocular, inner ear / Loc: Boston Sky, Azumi@AzuCo / Incomplete: profession, physical address, biometrics.
Azumi was born blind, but given sight through technology. Her eyeballs (and inner ears) contain computers running what we originally called RetinaOS (though someone pointed out that people may get confused with Apple's Retina display, so we'll call it AzumiOS for now). Here's Ichiro's initial sketch of the startup screen:
- A background; perhaps a blurred view from Azumi's apartment? This is what's actually in front of her as she's sitting there, using her eyeball computers. If she were to shut the computer interface down and go about her life, her eyes would unblur that — but who cares about real life?
- A copyright notice for the OS. Something most players won't even look at, but gives a bit of flavor for those who do.
- The date, cementing the time period during which the game occurs.
- And a button to launch the OS proper.
The point of all that is that we want to place you within the game world right from the onset.
Ichiro sent his mockup to Jonathan for refinement, which looks like this:
We need to add the background, copyright notice, and date, but it's looking muy sexy!
Past that, we're in traditional main menu territory. Here, again, is Ichiro's mockup:
You can change settings, view the game credits, and explore the "Dejobaan Playground" (fun videos and other Dejobaan-related content to enjoy with your face). The text in the background is debug text from Azumi's eyeball computers, since she enjoys hacking them.
Jon's take on this looks thusly:
Again, Azumi's probably sitting in her living room while she does this, so we'll want to show a faint/blurred view of what she's seeing in the background.
Once you log in as Azumi (the green hex above), you're taken to the level selection map:
The hexagons include three types of levels:
- Calibration: One level to teach you how to play the game, with Azumi guiding you via VO.
- "Trunk" levels: A handful of "main" levels where you dive through the songs Azumi creates. Here, she sings about various social topics (what happens in a world where you can 3D print anything?) and her own life (who's Azumi?), and you're jumping and collecting data about Boston Sky to those tracks. (You can also use your own music in these after you complete them the first time.)
- "Challenge" levels: Smaller, tougher jumps that focus on a single mechanic (dodging, hacking, collecting things).
There's also non-gameplay content to experience and love:
- Experimenting with binaural beats. Can stereo sound act as a hallucinogenic drug? (A: No.)
- Azumi's repeated experiments digitizing her personality (listen to Azumi v0.1!).
- Voicmails from other people in the gameworld.
We're also refining/simplifying the in-game UI. Crude mockup ahead:
Our current thinking is that we'll want four UI elements on-screen. From top to bottom:
- A bar telling you how close you are to beating the level's score requirements. It's split up into three segments (fill each one, and you get points towards unlocking other levels).
- Your numerical score ("23,142 points").
- Your score multiplier ("x4").
- How close you are to getting to the next multiplier (i.e. fill the bar at the bottom, and you'll reach "x5").
We'll refine further, but: simpler's better!
Game Over, Man
When you've completed your jump, a view of how you've done:
Above, "Data Retrieval" is your score, and the "Unlocks" refer to points you get towards unlocking other levels in the selection map.
Author's note: It's at this point that I'd like to greet my lovely wife, Alicia, as well as everyone who's reading this. Hello!
Bonus Data Visualization
It's a graph of gameplay flow. Completely useless to anyone who's not writing the game.
Finally, it's time to boost in-game aesthetics. To wit, Jonathan's taking existing screenshots…
…and drawing on top of them with his trusty Wacom tablet…
This gives things meaning and texture. For instance, Jon took the above blank slabs and turned them into solar panels. Based on what he creates, we'll then generate new 3D models and textures for use within the game. It's a virtuous cycle.
I must get back to writing the actual game, so 1. thank you for watching, and 2. here are some further paintovers to keep you company. Until next time!
// August 27th, 2013 // Comments Off on Monster Loves You! coming to iOS and Android // Monster Loves You!
We will soon be launching the iPhone/iPad and Android versions of Monster Loves You! (MLY for short).
Here's the game in a nutshell:
Live the life of a Monster, from birth to elderhood and beyond, making decisions that affect the world of Monsters and Humans.
You live in the village of Omen, and your favorite snack is the fingers of small children. As a Monster, you pop up in the most interesting places — what do you do when three angry bears discover a young child in their cabin? Or when you spy a wolf hunting down that woman with the red cloak?
As a Monsterling, your choices are simple ones. Do you chase those poor little mice (+1 Ferocity) or protect them from the dogs (+1 Kindness)? Do you come clean about that fungus your friends ate (+1 Honesty) or cover for them (+1 Bravery)? As a youth, your choices determine your personality.
But all youngins must grow up. Monsters and Humans have been at odds for centuries, and there are Human villages on the other side of the enchanted woods. When Human children get lost in those dark and winding thickets, do you terrorize them for fun (+1 Ferocity)? Do you help return them to Human civilization to prove that not all Monsters are to be feared and hated (+1 Kindness)? Or do you fatten them up for Human foie gras — a Monster delicacy? All this, to the backdrop of increasing tensions between Monster- and Humankind.
TotalBiscuit's "WTF Is…" Video
Various rejected (and accepted) VO lines for me and Rohit:
A techno opera where a half-Japanese woman sings about digitizing the entire world.
Azumi Pentak flies through the world, digitizing and singing about technology.
A blind, half-Japanese skydiver digitizes the world in a techno opera.
An opera about a half-Japanese skydiving futurist.
Abba? A blind skydiver digitizes the world with your MP3s…The neighborhood cries.
A blind skydiver digitizes the world with Justin Bieber… You are to blame.
A blind skydiver sings about the Technological Singularity.
DRP is a First Person Bullet Hell Shooter where alcohol and sentience are to blame and only you can save Boston
DRP is a First Person Bullet Hell Shooter where human sadness can only end if every human is dead
First-person bullet hell with your robot bartender.
Robots try to end human suffering by ending humans.
Oops! You programmed your robot bartender with sentience.
Best-selling children's horror story comes to iOS.
Delicious human children: coming to iOS.
Devour human children on your iPhone.
Gain respect by eating human children.
Monsters like children soup: coming to iOS
Side-dishes with Childrens toes, now on iOS!
Gain monsterly respect by eating human children soup.
Grow up as a monster and eat human children.
Monsters: Human kids for friends or lunch?
- Human kids for friends or lunch?
// July 29th, 2013 // Comments Off on Sexy Update on Ugly Baby // Ugly Baby
One of our earliest concepts for Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby was to have the game recognize songs and populate a level with relevant artifacts and 3D models. For example, if you played the Team Fortress 2 soundtrack, you might see the Heavy floating through space. In this blog post, you'll see recent experiments where we dabble with song-specific levels. We will also talk about some of Jon's art updates, Dave's level design, and modding!
Dynamic levels with 3rd party assets
AKA: levels with stuff from your music in them!
We asked our good buddies at Fire Hose Games if they'd like a cameo. (They said "hells yes"!) So, we took characters from their awesome pre-historic tower defense game Go Home Dinosaurs (GHD) and created the level you see below. Essentially, if you pop in a GHD soundtrack, the game will eventually create a level with their game's art. Our next experiment will have to be with hats…
Paintovers are the first step in figuring out where we go from a prototype. We'll create a crude-looking level, and Jon will take those and actually sketch over it to show us how to improve it. This first image explores different ways that we can light a building to convey emotion. On the left is a building you might see when you're playing a calm song. The middle one, with brighter white highlights, would be a mid-tempo rock song. Something like Skrillex would give you pounding red buildings such as on the right.
Apart from music, we can also texture a single model multiple ways to create variations. Here, Jon took the above simple building and gave it several different coats of paint:
Next up, with proper texturing, larger buildings appear as truly massive skyscrapers, while smaller ones are more appropriate as apartment buildings or small businesses:
And finally the three sketches in the upper-right show how a building may actually animate to the music (consider how a Transformer transforms):
One aspect of Dave's and Ichiro's level design (and Michael's, now that he's joined the fray) is that much is abstract — it's not all buildings and parks and such. Jon created a few paintovers of those scenes to bring them in line with the overarching aesthetic. Here's a collection of cubes that bear advertisements from various companies in Azumi's world. He suggests that they might be so stylized as to be inscrutable to our 2013 eyes:
An work-in-progress sketch, this is a city's power generator. Raised nodes channel electricity, creating a hazard to the player's navigation:
In the future much is 3D-printed from the comfort of your own home. But what can't be, still needs to be stored and transported. Here's a shipping yard filled with cargo containers:
Dave bares his midriff…
…and experiments with midground elements.
These "midground" elements comprise architecture just outside of the core gameplay area. They're still technically something you can fly through (unlike background elements), but they're meant to surround the main challenge:
Modding is just like coding!
A couple of days ago we added the ability to mod Level 5 — with some basic Python scripting magic, you can tweak the level or change it entirely. There is a forum thread where folks have posted their work. Here's Ichiro with some tips on how to do this:
And that's what we got this week! We're especially interested in any mods you have, so if you give it a go, post some videos or screenshots in the Steam forums.
// July 26th, 2013 // Comments Off on Dejobaan Character Comes in 79 Shades and 47 Hues // DRP
There comes a time in every game when we shift our focus from solely creating fun gameplay to adding delicious character. At Dejobaan, this shiny flashy stuff is as core to the game as the gameplay itself. The Dejobaan Character™ comes in many forms: visual flair, narrative, voiceover, skits, and so forth. Past examples including debristling a pig, Nebin, and flipping off protesters. This week, I wanted to highlight some of elements of character building in the form of paintovers, narrative and storyline.
Jon has been working on paintovers of existing levels in an effort to evolve the visual style. In Jon's words, "We're trying to add more elements into levels that give the world a little more of a populated, lived-in feel, as well as injecting more funny goodies, Dejo-style."
There are decals that litter the world: restroom directions, exit signs (that lead nowhere), and warning/hazard decals at large dropoffs. Trees and bushes are containted in Futurama-style canisters with descriptive plaques ("Tree").There might also be lines of drones that buzz around, maintaining the facilities. Take a look at the "before" and "after" images.
A city should appear bustling before a Titan spawns, at which point everyone evacuates. Further, we'll want to populate the city with street furniture: generators and antennas on the rooftops, vegetation, balconies, low orbit satellites, and billboards which advertize for video games.
This is a simple exploration using simple graphic design elements. Platforms are numbered, and there are large hazard decals underneath all the level geometry: "DO NOT FALLLLLLL." The "Keeper" bots might also whiz around along the transport tubes to add to the feeling of life in the city .
Narrative and Voiceover:
Ichiro and Dan have been drafting backstory, character profiles, and dialog. The idea here is to build a picture of life during this time period and set the scene for the characters in the game. Think technology is advanced today? Your grandma wouldn't know what to do with her built in smart-vision system, and chances are neither would you! Here are a few examples:
A voicemail from Tim the Robot to Reuben:
Obviously voicemail is still around and will never go away! In fact, robots with sentience now add 70% to daily voicemail volume (DVV).
Tim: Hello, Reuben. It's me, Tim! Maybe you could be a sport and stop shooting up my robots? KTHXBAI.
The dialog bits for "Finnegan Arena":
The idea with these is to tell the player about the game's first Titan and give them tips for fighting it. We do this as a dialog between Reuben (check out this blog post for a refresher on him) and his flight suit:
Level start dialog
Reuben: Looks straightforward enough.
Suit: So straightforward!
Titan appears dialog
Suit: Looks like the Titan's inner pieces are reinforced by the outer pieces.
Reuben: I'll shoot the extremities first.
Suit: Indeed, Reuben! You are quite astute.
Level end dialog
Suit: You're alive! Celebrate your life while it persists! Embrace your limited lifespan!
Reuben: You're not a very good philosopher.
Suit: But you programmed me, Reuben.
Reuben: I'm not a very good programmer.
The dialog bits for the "Orbital Titan Cannon" level:
Level start dialog
Suit: Good news, Reuben! We can borrow the chromatic laser array here to deal with Titans more efficiently.
Reuben: And the bad news?
Suit: Control is limited, so you'll need to be under each Titan when you trigger the array. Or on top of it.
Reuben: "Each" Titan? How many…
Suit: Quite a few, Reuben! Quite a few!
Titan appears dialog
Reuben: So you're saying I can kill this thing with a rainbow.
Suit: Technically it is not a "rainbow" but an unnecessarily high-powered art project-
Reuben: Art project? Who built this thing?
Suit: A high school class, Reuben. They won first prize!
Level end dialog
Reuben: I need a drink.
Suit: Well, Reuben, you know a few wholesalers and distributers if you want to do that! In fact I would go so far as suggest that-
Reuben: Are you setting up a joke?
Suit: Yes, Reuben!
Reuben: (resigned and curt) Well, go ahead.
Suit: -suggest that you can dr- (squelched and cut off as Reuben turns off speaker)
Ultimately, all the levels will have dialog elements. We plan to create dozens of them, so Ichiro and Dan are busy putting themselves in Reuben's, Tim's, and Suit's shoes. It's hard to reach into the future to get all of their shoe sizes, but we do it to bring you joy, and you can't put a price tag on that.
Do you have a favorite piece of "Dejobaan Character"? Tell us about it!
Who is Reuben Matsumoto?
Reuben owns a bar in Boston Sky, and it's his robot bartender, Tim, who's responsible for ALL the havoc in Drunken Robot Pornography. But the blame ultimately lies with Reuben, who gave Tim sentience, thereby weighting him down with all the world's unhappiness and dischord. After all, people who can't or won't visit therapists often complain to their bartenders. So, Tim decided to end the sadness by killing everyone. Damn sentience isn't necessarily sensible!
Jon, our lead illustrator, has envisioned Reuben and Tim (below). We're especially fans of Bermuda shorts, which is actually the look we're going for, because screw heroes who take themselves too seriously. In case you were wondering, Reuben's half-Japanese, half-various-European. Tim is at least 3/47ths Japanese.
How can a Titan be a dwarf?
Ryan has been busy building "Dwarf Titans." They're smaller than regular Titans, but are still big enough to squash you without noticing. Check 'em out:
How do you sexify an ugly baby?
Trick question. No baby is truly ugly — just ask its mother.
At Dejobaan, we rely on Jon for sexification. Here is some of his latest work on Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby. Tell us what you think of his new logo work…
…and how about these fancy new graphical elements? Most of them are going into making the game's architecture fuller:
Jon's also experimenting with UI for the level select:
And, finally, some experiments with color:
From the earliest days of the Oculus Rift, folks have been asking us "When will Aaaaa! support?" Well folks, yesterday thanks to the efforts of Owlchemy Labs, who help bring Aaaaa! to iOS and to Awesome, we got to play the game on the Rift. It is the most amazing version of the game yet! Here are some snippets from the Owlchemy team:
We’ve held some internal playtests down in the secret Owlchemy dungeon, and I can say with confidence that this is one of most absurdly awesome gaming experiences to date. The feeling of falling is intense — it's absolutely brilliant to dive off of buildings, feel the wind blur past your face, and graze by buildings for points. Players are ducking their heads when large objects come streaming by their face. It feels so… real.
And here’s a vine showing a "normal" game session:
Today, we’re publicly announcing that this is a Thing, and that it will be available as part of the Steam version of AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome in the future. We don’t have a release date to announce, but you should expect it sooner rather than later!
As I mentioned, gamers and press have been asking for Aaaaa! to come to the Rift for some time:
We think this is THE killer app for Oculus, and can't wait for it to be released!
More screenshots here.
What do you think?
This week, the Drunken Robot Pornography (DRP) team worked on the upcoming build. Amy, Dan, Elliot, Ichiro, Jon, and Ryan all contributed some new content, and the polish is still drying. While that happens, lets look at some sexy new stuff from DRP and some new concept UI stuff from Drop That Beat Like an Ugly Baby (UB):
Ryan created these two Titans as "minibosses," the idea behind which is that they're smaller robots that may show up as multiple instances in a level: