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Dream Build Play entries September 30, 2008

Posted by Jesse in : Uncategorized , 5 comments

Looking at the gallery page there’s over 280 submitted entries. That’s insane! I knew going in that I didn’t stand a chance to win anything, and that I was only entering because it’s fun to participate, but I’ve been really blown away the the quality of some of these games. (Note: The gallery page seems to have disappeared, so I removed the link to it, but the rest of this post should be fine.)

I present some of my favorites, in no particular order.

First up is Bloc from Metacreature Games. It looks similar to a dual-stick shooter, like Geometry Wars, but it plays quite a bit differently. I enjoy this game a great deal, but I have to admit that I’m completely terrible at it.

<a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=473f2fc5-4312-4524-ad28-68c3a754ed96" target="_new" title="Bloc">Video: Bloc</a>

Next up is Zeit2. This game marries a side-scrolling space shooter with a time rewind ability similar to what’s in Braid. Instead of undoing your mistakes, though, you use this to take out more enemies and getting special attacks by shooting at the previous version of yourself.

<a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=8ed38ddf-8aae-48f5-88bc-12a852af5856" target="_new" title="zeit² - dream build play 2008 entry ( dbp2008 )">Video: zeit² &#8211; dream build play 2008 entry ( dbp2008 )</a>

This next one is An Awesome Game Where You Shoot Stuff And It Blows Up And You Win The Game. (An Awesome Game for short.) It’s a Metroidvania game (a term used to describe games that combine elements from the 2D Metroid and Castlevania games), with tons of clear influence from other games. This trailer is insane. (The game is nuts too. In a good way.)

<a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=b4a0aa8b-bd5a-45ea-a398-00dcaeec4485" target="_new" title="An Awesome Game... XNA Dream Build Play entry">Video: An Awesome Game&#8230; XNA Dream Build Play entry</a>

And finally, here’s Battle Tennis. I don’t really need to say much about this one, the video speaks volumes.

<a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=7cacdd73-c857-4e70-812e-f9a2a76d829f" target="_new" title="Battle Tennis - Dream Build Play Trailer">Video: Battle Tennis &#8211; Dream Build Play Trailer</a>

Work progresses September 26, 2008

Posted by Jesse in : Being,Game Development , add a comment

Feedback has been very positive about Being. It’s not going to win any awards in Dream Build Play (I’ll make another post – hopefully this weekend – about the DBP entries. Some of them are crazy good.), but I’m really happy all the same.

Moving forward I have a few more features to implement before the game is ready for the Community Games launch. I’ve added a new enemy type, who throws water balloons at you. It was originally grenades, but my wife wisely objected that I shouldn’t add grenades to a violence free game. I’ve also added a bit of scripting, and that’s allowed me to add some simple dialogue. Here’s a screen:

(Click for larger version.)

I need to create a few more levels and then boss encounters, and I’ll have everything finished. I’m eager to work on my next project, but I’m gonna keep plugging away on this.

Ready for Dream Build Play September 21, 2008

Posted by Jesse in : Being,Game Development , 2 comments

It’s as ready as it’s going to get, anyway. The DBP uploader is currently broken, so I’ll have to wait a little while to officially enter, but I’m ready to go. They require three screenshots as well as a gameplay video, so I had to grab a few more.

Screenshots: (Click for larger versions.)

And the video:
<a href="http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?vid=a9e179e9-ed6f-473e-b63d-456c6a77c3b9" target="_new" title="Being Trailer">Video: Being Trailer</a>

I was able to upload my files, so I’m officially entered. If you’re an XNA Creator’s Club member and have an Xbox 360, you can play the demo I entered. (I’ll work on a Windows version soon.)

Title screen September 19, 2008

Posted by Jesse in : Being,Game Development , 1 comment so far

Just a quick update.  I wrote my first particle system, and I think it turned out pretty neat.

I needed a title screen, and rather than throwing up a bit of static text, I decided to write a function that creates a template mask from an image, and then I spawn particles in the region allowed by the mask.  Here’s what my title screen looks like:

(Click for larger version.)

Those little stars are randomly colored, spinning in random direction, at random speed. They fade out over five seconds, with new ones are popping in all the time. I’m pretty happy with my first attempt.

Update: Here’s a clip of the menu running on Youtube.

Being Assets September 17, 2008

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Time for me to write about where I got the fantastic content that I’m using to make the game.

Ari Feldman’s SpriteLib – License – GPL
This is where most of the graphics I’m using come from. When I started the project, I was hoping to use only SpriteLib graphics, but it was missing a few things that I needed. Considering that he drew these back in 1996, I think it’s awesome that they’ll be seen on the Xbox 360 in 2008.

Hermann Hillmann’s Character Pack #1 – License – Free (With restrictions.)
When my wife got involved in the level design, she wanted more tiles than were available in SpriteLib. I found these after quite a few searches. We only ended up using a couple of tiles, but there’s alot of nice stuff in there.

Danc’s Miraculously Flexible Game Prototyping Tiles – License – Free
There are alot of cool things on Danc’s site Lost Garden. Not only has he put up a bunch of excellent artwork for free, but there are several excellent essays you should read. If you’re just getting started as a game developer, I highly recommend How to bootstrap your indie art needs.

Quirky Loops Licensed from PartnersInRhyme.com
I spent a little money and got some great tracks. I probably could have used completely free music, but I played a couple of their samples in the background while I tested my game and fell in love with the tracks. Plus the set includes several other great songs I’m not using on this game, so I have more content for future projects.

Kevin MacLeod – http://incompetech.com/ – License – Free
Kevin’s got alot of great tunes that he’s just giving away. (There’s a link for optional donations.) Quite a few of his tracks are easily as good as the stuff I found on the pay sites. Since I found out about his stuff through a posting on the XNA forums, I expect we’ll see quite a few indie games using his tunes in the near future.

Sound effects
Soundsnap.com – License – Free
All of my sound effects are from one site, and it’s all free. How awesome is that?

And that’s it for the assets. I think next time I’ll post about the programming involved, including some links to the resources that helped me along the way.

New web host

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I had a bit of downtime here for the last couple of days. I’ve been moving the site over to a new host, and things didn’t happen invisibly behind the scenes like I’d hoped they would. (My mistake, not the fault of the new host.) Whoops!

This is a much newer version of WordPress than I had on the old server. If things looks odd, that’s probably why, but I’m working on it.

Tools September 9, 2008

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In this post, I’d like to talk about some of the tools that I’ve used to make Being.

As I wrote before, it’s written in C# using Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio. I’ve experimented with a number of other game development frameworks in the past, and I’m just blown away by what Microsoft is giving away here. It prevents me from deploying on Mac or Linux, but adding Xbox 360 deployment more than makes up for that to me. Everything necessary to work with XNA Game Studio is available for free from the Creator’s Club download page.

For graphics, I’ve been using Paint.NET. While my wife (an artist) keeps telling me that she prefers more beefy art packages like Photoshop or the stuff from Corel, this has done everything I’ve needed, and it cost me absolutely nothing.

For audio, I’m using Audacity. It’s another free program. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that I’m used to from some of the software I’ve used at my day job, but it’s been great for trimming files and tweaking volume levels. I recently read a little about the included nyquist sound generation tools, and I’m going to have to play with that a bit more. It seems pretty cool.

The other big tool in use is my level editor. The WinForms integration into XNA 2.0 is much nicer than before, and so I was able to combine everything into one window, unlike the stuff I wrote about in the past. I should mention here that I picked up quite a bit of how to do this from the tile engine video series Nick Gravelyn put together, using great software for this, like a video transcoding which is perfect to prepare the videos.

And here’s a screen of my editor in action:
(Click for larger version.)

I think my next post will be about where I got my graphics and audio. I’ve posted two screenshots now and definitely need to get up credits for those great artists asap.

Help the homeless ninjas! September 6, 2008

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A good buddy of mine is making a movie. Check it out:

If you dig the video, please take a second to digg it and help him get more exposure.

Being September 4, 2008

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Here’s what I’ve been working on in my spare time for the last three months or so.

(Click for larger version.)

It isn’t finished yet, but it’s far enough along that I can start writing about it. I would have written sooner, but I’ve got more than enough vaporware entries here.

The game is called Being. It’s written in C# using Microsoft’s XNA Game Studio, and should be available on Xbox Live Arcade later this year when they launch the community games program. I’m very excited about the program. It’s been the perfect inspiration for me to get off of my ass and write something.

In the coming days/weeks I’ll write about the tools I’ve used, the techniques I’ve learned, and where I got the graphics/music content that are turning this little project of mine into a real game. I also have some games I’d like to write about. It’s been a particularly good summer for me as a gamer.