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Being is approved November 7, 2008

Posted by Jesse in : Being,Game Development , 3 comments

I just got the most awesome email ever. I had to run around giving high-fives to everybody I work with. Allow me to share.

Dear Chounard,

The XNA team is delighted to tell you that your community game has been approved by your fellow Creators. You should see the game appear within 48 hours of the time of this message on the community games area of Xbox LIVE Marketplace.

Your game should also show a status of “Approved” in your Creator profile at http://creators.xna.com within that timeframe.

If you receive this email, but do not see your game in either location within the approval timeframe, please use the feedback form on the creators.xna.com site to let us know, so we can track down any issues.

Since you are now a successful game author, you might consider sharing your tips and tricks on forums.xna.com, celebrating, or just bragging a little. 🙂

Thanks again for making our community great!

The XNA Team

Before and after October 30, 2008

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My wife has given me the final level of Being.  The game is now very close to 100% completion.  While she always plays down just how much work she’s done to help make the game a success, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share with you some before and after images of the final level.

It took me a long time to piece these images together, but if you notice any oddities, it’s probably because I was rushing to get them stitched together.  I think you’ll agree that it’s a pretty amazing difference.

Please note: These screens are taken from the level editor, and there are some game play objects missing that are added by scripts while the game is running. (Switches, platforms, the final enemy, etc.) So if it’s looks like there are things missing, that’s why.

Before and after – click for bigger versions (WARNING! Very large images.)


Seeing stars October 1, 2008

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One of the complaints I received about the version of Being I submitted for Dream Build Play was that there wasn’t much point to the game. And that’s absolutely true. You just jump around, make your way through the levels and eventually end up back where you started. I’m working hard on changing that.

At the end of each world, you’ll rescue one of your friends who has been kidnapped by the evil Zargon and find one of the magical stars. Once you’ve collected all three stars, you’ll get access to another doorway and have to face Zargon himself.

This gave me another chance to play around with my little star particles I liked so much. Here’s a screen of what it looks like when you’ve found them all.

(Click for larger version.)

Work progresses September 26, 2008

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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.

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.

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.

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.