// November 3rd, 2012 // Comments Off // Ugly Baby
Dave from Zapdot is working with Ichiro to create PCG worlds that respond properly to your music. And we’ve made an important stride this week, discovering a solid way to visualize beats using the BeatBox module AndyE created. This PCG city follows a few rules:
We basically create a layer of background geometry based on the song’s “stress” value. (Again, if you want to see how stress is calculated, check out this research paper here. It’s a doozie.)
For example, if a song stars out somewhat quietly (as many intros do), you’ll see the above. At a few points during the intro, we might hear a cymbal crash. At that point, we hit this:
Similarly, once we get down and dirty into the verse proper, the background resolves into this:
…and so forth. The end result would be something like this:
What’s really neat are the purple cubes you can sorta see in the screenshots. They appear to the beat, and their size depends on the momentary stress of the song.
If you want to submit to Steam Greenlight, but feel you can’t because of the required $100 Child’s Play donation, I want to make it possible. Here’s my money where my mouth is:
- I will loan $100 to one awesome aspiring indie developer. (Read on.)
- I’m calling on other established indie developers to do the same.
(Update 1: If you’re an indie willing to do put up $100 as well, please drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
(Update 2: The outpouring is already fantastic. Indies and non-indies want to help folks make great games.)
(Update3: We’re all done. Results to come.)
It’s been my experience that indies help each other out. We spend countless hours sharing successes and mistakes in talks and e-mails, and over the phone. When I started, over a decade ago, there weren’t many of us, so I’ll be damned if I’m going to hoard everything I’ve learned in the intervening years.
This blog post isn’t about whether Greenlight is good or not. I’ll leave that to you to decide. (Ed: I love Steam and Valve. I think they’re pretty awesome for indies.)
The biggest piece of advice I have to those who are working on a new title is this: I’ve seen people who are dead serious about their games. There is nothing in the world that will stop them. We eat ramen for months. We sleep on couches when we need to. All to get our games done. You’re able to create a game? You are pretty goddamned smart! I know you can find a way to make it a success, if you stick with it.
But you ain’t alone, right? Look: I’ll loan one indie $100 to submit their game on Steam’s Greenlight platform. For consideration, you must do this:
- Email: (Update: We’re done. E-mail submissions closed. Results forthcoming!)
- Say: In the e-mail, a) tell me a bit about your game, b) tell me a bit about yourself, and c) promise me that you realize that nobody owes you anything, and that you’ll pay me back before the end of the year.
- Disseminate: Spread the word so that other indies will offer similar loans.
By the end of this month, I’ll pick someone I feel is awesome, and loan ‘em the cash.
Again, I don’t care a hoot about whether Greenlight sucks, or is the best thing since pet monkeys. This blog post won’t solve world hunger. It may not even solve your problem. But it’s one way to help.
Guys and gals: Keep making those games.
By this time next week, we’ll be setting up for PAX Prime. I (Ichiro) am heading out on the 29th of August, and will stick around until the 3rd of September. With us will be Rohit (aka Leo) and Jonathan. Sadly, Elliot (DRP’s tech lead) will not be able to make it, but I’m thinking we should set up a two-way live stream on a mobile robot.
Anyway, while we’re out, here’s our checklist:
1. Be part of the Indie MEGABOOTH
30 indies. 30+ games. Here’s the trailer:
2. Grab a Bite with Valve
You know a publisher loves indies when you say, “Hey, want to meet with a bunch of us for dinner?” and they say, “Sure — when’s good for you?”
3. Show off DRP
“A massive, angry robot fires banks of lasers at an orphanage, slicing it apart to the horror of thousands of onlookers. You emerge from the wreckage on your jetpack, and blast at its weak points, breaking it apart like you’re dismembering a boiled lobster.” So goes our press release. And we’re ready to show off some of the latest Titans we’ve been creating. [Website!]
4. Show off Monster Loves You!
“You’re a young monster, orphaned by humans who now wear your parents as luxurious pelts. You live in the village of Omen, and your favorite snack is human toes.” We’re still working to polish the PAX Prime build with Radial Games, but it’s working on PC and iOS! Haxe for the win! [Website!!!]
5. Show the Ugly Baby?
Development is fascinating (read more about the PCG component here), but lengthy. Will we get to show off a snippet of the game at PAX Prime? Time will tell. [Website!!!!!!] Here’s the latest background test:
There you have it. If you’re in Seattle, come say “howdy”! Here are some shots from PAX East:
Sadly, Alicia (left) is staying in MA for this one. Kate (right) will be at the SEGA booth with her brethren and sistren at Owlchemy, showing off Jack Lumber.
What do these numbers have in common?
0.4748333320, 0.9506041660, 1.4263749990, 1.9021458320, 2.3779166660, 2.8536874990, 3.3178541660, 3.7820208320, 4.2577916660, 4.7335624990, 5.2093333320, 5.6851041660, 6.1492708320, 6.6250416660, 7.0892083320, 7.5649791660, 8.040749999000001, 8.516520831999999, 8.9806874990, 9.4564583320, 9.932229166000001, 10.4079999990, 10.8837708320, 11.3479374990, 11.8237083320, 12.2994791660, …
They’re our first attempt at beat detection using our new Unity-Ugly-Baby-compatible system. In particular, beats detected from the first 12.3s of Don’t Hold Back, Just Push Things Forward, which is, in and of itself, an amazing damned mashup. Seriously. Listen to it.
With the help of DC-ite Andy Eiche, we’re using a few tools to help us analyze the audio:
Vamp Plugins: Vamp is an audio processing plugin system for plugins that extract descriptive information from audio data — typically referred to as audio analysis plugins or audio feature extraction plugins.
Libsndfile: Libsndfile is a C library for reading and writing files containing sampled sound (such as MS Windows WAV and the Apple/SGI AIFF format) through one standard library interface.
For those not versed in the demonic arts of programming, these are just libraries that help us convert/digest the WAV data and spit out beats. Our next step is to connect this to the level structure. Stay tuned.
// July 30th, 2012 // Comments Off // Monster Loves You!
Ichiro: I’m just going to let Jonathan Elliot introduce himself.
Jonathan: <insert Dejobaan introduction to its tall and handsome drawing-person and /or what the post will be covering.>
Ichiro: Okay, so this is a post about the background art development process in our upcoming Monster Loves You!. I will mix you a drink while Jonathan regales you with all things.
Step 1: Sketchy!
Jonathan: This is how every masterpiece starts: with squiggly lines everywhere and no real clue as to what I’m doing. We only know that this drawing will resemble a house! Or the inside of one. Who knows! Moving on…
Step 2: Lines!
Jonathan: Yesss, now we’re on the ball. Lines like these help people understand what they’re looking at. They’re so helpful I might even use them later. Maybe. At this point, I’m even considering going so far as to add color(s) to the piece, which may or may not be a good idea. Let’s find out.
Step 3: Color(s)!
Jonathan: Bam! Somewhat success! So, a base coat, for all you soon-to-be artisty types, students, etc is your best friend. This is where we make big, smart, cigar smoking, executive color decisions. We do this now, rather than getting teary-eyed later when we figure out we’ve been detailing for 4 hours and haven’t gotten anywhere, give up on the piece and never see it again. True stories, there.
Ichiro: Gentle reader, I’m back with your Strawberry Cosmo. I won’t judge.
Step 4: Highlight and Shadow!
Jonathan: Easy peasy, lemon… something. Anyway, now this picture has some depth. This is also under its own layer, just like the line art and base color. Again, doing things this way is keyyyy. This will make it easy to change these little details if I need to, rather than getting sucked into the prementioned bottomless pit of detail over-correction.
Step 5: Details! (1 of 3)
Jonathan: Now things get fun. This is where we get to throw in all the little tidbits that make the picture look like serious business. I’ve also bumped up the saturation on the base color because it looked about as exciting as gum on a sidewalk. Now it looks like freshly chewed gum on a sidewalk.
Step 6: Details! (2 of 3)
Jonathan: Oho! Now we’ve done leveled up. Tons of questions answered here: “Doesn’t water usually reflect things?” According to science, yes. “Doesn’t a limited light source usually create more extreme illuminations and shadows?” Also yes, I guess, so, fine, we’ll add that too. “What happens when the monst…” No more questions.
Step 7: Details! (3 of 3)
Jonathan: Mmmmm… effects. A friend mentioned the piece looked a little flat. I said he was wrong and secretly proceeded to remove all flatness. Anyway, this is an easy, fun fix. Setting a new layer to “overlay” with low opacity, and strategically spot-painting on some black or white gives us much more depth than we had before, and makes the piece less flat, something I figured out entirely on my own. Anddd, finished! We’ve gone from an indiscernible series of squiggles to a thought out, fully rendered piece.
Thank you much for reading this and looking at pictures. Any other questions / concerns / critiqes (critiques which I will deny the existence of, only to implement later) may be directed in email form to: email@example.com. *Wave*
Ichiro: Do what he says, and nobody gets hurt.
I received this e-mail from a gamer a few days ago:
I have recently purchased your title from the Steam store, and wanted
to email you directly to thank you for participating in the Steam
Summer Sale event. As a consumer, I have limited entertainment
dollars, which means (especially for games) I have to be selective
about what I buy. The SSS gives me an opportunity to consider games I
never would have in the past, and that includes your game.
There has been some debate on if such deep discounts devalue games. I
don’t know if it changes consumer expectations of game pricing. I do
know, however, that I made a purchase because of the SSS that I had
not made prior to it, and had no intent to make. Now I own your game,
and I’m also keeping an eye on your company to see what you make next.
So again, thank you for participating in the Steam Summer Sale. It has
given me the chance to enjoy your work.
I’m a fan of Steam sales. Check out what I had to say about them here at the PA Report.
// July 13th, 2012 // Comments Off // Ugly Baby
Here’s what we’ve been working on over the past week. First up, the “Arc Complex” — a tunnel of vertical slabs surrounding a column of sliced washers:
Simple city lights — layers of additive-blended planes:
A test of shaders; the blue planes are from the above shot, but the purple cylinders are given a cutout pixel shader:
This is a graph of the pixel shader used to create the above. We use a lovely Unity utility called the Strumpy Shader Editor to generate the code:
We’re all about variations, so this is a variation on the above Arc Complex, as seen from above (left) and isomorphic view (right):
The “Elbows Gauntlet,” using pieces we’ve posted before. Here, each layer comprises four “elbows” that are turned at 90-degree angles, then slightly nudged:
And, finally, a nod to a favorite game: