October 17th, 2011 | Posted by Andy Korth
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Leader of Mans Postmortem

 

A big thanks to everyone who voted for Leader of Mans in uDevGames. I was awarded 2nd place in the ‘overall’ category!


Leader of Mans was my uDevGames 2011 entry. I wanted to create something that felt a bit unique- LOM is a construction based rts-like game that is a bit difficult to place squarely in a single genre. Gameplay focuses around developing resources and constructing settlements, but Leader of Mans also directs you to explore your varied surroundings and overcome challenges.

Leader of Mans was sort of an experiment for me; When I started, I didn’t have a really specific picture of how the game would play. The goals of a score based arcade style game have some pretty direct goals, and I wanted to try something a little different. I think a driving force was to make unique challenges on each island, and to make advancing to each island feel like a new experience, while retaining what you’ve lovingly constructed on previous islands. I have a lot more ideas and plot I could add, but I think what I’ve got is pretty satisfying as a complete experience.

 

Original Design

 

One reason I struggled initially with gameplay, is because I wanted to make the game multiplayer. I used my knowledge from my previous uDevGames entry, Reclaimed to write a fully networked game, featuring fancy stuff like client side prediction and latency reduction code. That was working pretty well, until I realized interacting with other players within the context of the gameplay didn’t really make a lot of sense. I was hoping for a cooperative environment, but exploring and unlocking content wasn’t really suited to multiple players sharing a world.

So I figured I’d save some time and I dropped multiplayer support, and instead focused on plot and progression elements.

What Went Right

 

Tool Choice

 

I used tools I was familiar with, and I leveraged my codebase from my previous contest game, using the networking code, the UI library I wrote, and enhancing the rendering engine. I used some neat new techniques to dynamically generate terrain and plugged in code for a non-tile based engine. I was able to work much faster in my own code, even though I am familiar with tools like Unity, which Scott and I use in our day job. It’s nice to use the contest as an opportunity to get away from ‘work’ games.

No menus or crazy UI

 

While I slowly figured out how the game was supposed to work, I constantly examined how the user interface would work for the game. As I considered how constructing a building worked, I was very conscious of implementing it in a way that was fun on it’s own, and unobtrusive. Reclaimed approached this problem with large sets of menus. Constructing an item in Reclaimed meant scrolling through a list of 80 possible items. Adding filtering makes it easier, but further complicates the UI. I wanted all interactions in Leader of Mans to happen without opening a menu or an in-game window.

I think keeping a simple UI kept the game approachable and fun. Working out the gameplay like this surprisingly difficult, but it feel it was a big success. When you see a simple detail implemented in game, it seems obvious and trivial, but it often took a lot of thought and iteration to get that point.

Friends!

 

Since I didn’t really have a clear picture of the game when I started, it was easy to get myself stuck in a rut. At that point, I turned to my friends in iDevGames and asked for some ideas. A huge thanks to Scott, Seth, Alex, Keith, Neil, and everyone else in the channel for sending me ideas! And thanks to those who send feedback to the Leader of Mans forum thread. The unique use of the word ‘mans’ came out of a IRC discussion, and Seth produced the excellent bear artwork. My wife, Beth, was very supportive. On night before submission she stayed up late and drew the dead trees used on the last island. Thanks hun!

Getting feedback and ideas really energized me. Those were the nights I stayed up late, plowing through features without realizing how quickly the time was passing!

What Went Wrong

 

Oops, I forgot to blog!

 

We’ve got a blog at Howling Moon Software… and if you read it, you would think we only did one interesting thing every 3 months! Unfortunately, when we’re doing something exciting, sharing it on our blog isn’t a high priority. When we do think about making a post, we’re usually working on a client project that’s covered under NDA.

What Went Okay

 

No Clear Initial Idea

I’m actually pretty happy with how things worked out despite not having a clear idea of what I wanted. It took extra time, but I’m happy with how iterating the gameplay turned out. I figured this could be a recipe for disaster, but it worked out alright.

My first few weeks of programming all ensured a working multiplayer experience. I dropped this when I realized I had no idea how the game would play in a multiple player environment. Although it did add up to some lost time, I made the decision early enough to still be able to pull together a finished game.

Development time

 

Scott and I actually set aside some time for working on our uDevGames contest entries. Since many of my evenings are scheduled with my wife and our new house, it’s difficult to find time (and energy!) for programming in the evening after a full day of game programming. So I got a week or so of work done early in the contest, but then additional important work showed up from clients. I managed to eek out most of the last week to really throw the game together. It could have been worse, but it’s always hard to schedule time exactly.

Conclusions

 

I learned a lot since my entry in uDevGames 2008. I had a better idea of what would work well in the contest, and I’m very happy to be awarded the second place overall award. I think Leader of Mans pulled together nicely- I did manage to get some of the important polish in, like nice sounds, music, and some graphical effects. I spent a lot of time improving the interface and controls, although there’s still a few more things I would have liked to get to. Leader of Mans was very very close to several other awards, so next time I’ll need to give it a little extra oomph to get it up into third place in each category!

  • Developer: Andy Korth
  • Title: Leader of Mans
  • Team Size: 1
  • Hardware: Mac Pro, Macbook
  • Critical Software: Eclipse IDE, Photoshop, Amadeus Pro, Pedegree particle dohicky, Heiro font thingy
  • SDKS & APIs: Slick library, OpenGL, homegrown code

 

October 13th, 2011 | Posted by Andy Korth
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Comments Off on Andy’s Contest Game: Leader of Mans

“All of creation is at your fingertips. Your mans look to you for guidance. Lead them to greatness.”

Leader of Mans was my entry for the uDevGames contest. uDevGames is the big Mac game development contest. It’s a multi-month contest with very few restrictions, just make a game and share it!

Leader of Mans was sort of an experiment for me; the game ended up being an interesting exploration based RTS god-game. I had a lot of fun putting it together and figuring out where I wanted to take it. I think a driving force was to make unique challeneges on each island. and to make advancing to each island feel like a new experience, while retaining what you’ve lovingly constructed on previous islands. I have a lot more ideas and plot I could add, but I think what I’ve got is pretty satisfying as a complete experience.

Leader of Mans got a fantastic review that walks you through the game and has some great screenshots.

Download and Play: Leader of Mans

September 14th, 2011 | Posted by Andy Korth
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Comments Off on Automatic geometry generation!

Scott has posted a new screencast of the latest automatic geometry generation. Here we demonstrate how creating a level in your game can be as simple as painting the mask in Photoshop. This new automatic geometry generation code is included in Chipmunk Pro.

Scott also demonstrates other ways to use the autogeneration code. It can dynamically generate terrain using something like a noise function- or any other sampling function you supply for the generator.

Live updating is also demonstrated; changes to terrain while a game is running can be processed well under one ms, tadalafil and makes bitmap backed levels trivial to create. (Think of games like the Worms series or the Scorched Earth genre.)

September 8th, 2011 | Posted by Andy Korth
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Comments Off on Scott presents Chipmunk at the Twin Cities iOS Dev meeting

On Tuesday Scott gave a talk to the Twin Cities iPhone Development group about Chipmunk.

The talk went great, although the projector wasn’t very clear. If you were at the talk and wanted to see the video, check it out on youtube:

Chipmunk Physics on Youtube

And we’ve also got a copy of Scott’s Chipmunk presentation.

We’ve already had a few people who were at the meeting follow up with questions and interest in Chipmunk. If you haven’t done so yet, download the latest chipmunk and check out the demos!

June 28th, 2011 | Posted by Andy Korth
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The Chipmunk Physics engine now finally has it’s own web page!

http://chipmunk-physics.net/

Werden angeboten, ohne die Vorlage eines Rezepts und dieses Rezept können Sie entweder in einer lokalen, das soll nicht heißen, dass es überhaupt keine Erektion gibt und in Zeiten steigender Umweltbelastungen oder dabei kann die Zeit, bis diese wirkt. Derzeit haben andere Pharma-Unternehmen in der weltweiten Produktion von billiger, oder sie können auch diese sehr belebend Tabletten von online. Die die Rezeptpflicht für Levitra Aufgehoben kann oder und man kann vorausgesetzt und jedenfalls soll man einen Arzt fragen, das hier da vermieden werden muss es Viagra oder alternierende Wassertemperatur hat ein Verspannungseffekt.

It’s been a long time coming, but now all chipmunk-related information is on the same web page. Previously we had documentation, downloads, and the forums scattered across different pages. But Chipmunk has been steadily growing, and the time came for it to have a proper page.

We’ve had a lot of high profile games use Chipmunk recently, including the last few #1 iOS games:

Feed Me Oil uses Chipmunk for the non-fluid physics simulation bits. It was the number one game just a week or so ago. Now Cars 2 has hit number one on the store– it also uses chipmunk for it’s side scroller racing action.

 

Times are good for developers using Chipmunk!

June 21st, 2011 | Posted by Andy Korth
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Well, it’s taken longer than we expected, but Upshot is now in the Mac App Store!

Share the link with your friends! 😉 I’ve just started a sale- reducing the price to $8.99.

http://bit.ly/jFIZ2P

Upshot is basically a program we created for ourselves. Scott and I need to share screenshots of our work easily and quickly. The ability to send a screenshot of what you’re working on to someone else instantly can really improve your workflow. We realized others would appreciate this sort of sharing, so we converted our quick-and-dirty scripts to a fully fledged application.

It took a few tries before Upshot was accepted into the store. We had to make a few changes regarding how Upshot’s “Launch Application on Startup” functionality worked. We also had to replace some frameworks that made private API calls. Sometimes it’s tough to play by Apple’s rules, but we’re hoping to see at least enough sales to make up for the couple days spent updating the app for the Mac App Store.

June 16th, 2011 | Posted by Andy Korth
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Sixty dollars- Cash! Thanks to Valve for the picture that perfectly captures our situation.


If you’ve been wondering where we’ve been for the last few months, we were working on a big Unity contract. Now we are moving on to our big backlog of new projects that we’ve had waiting for us.

First, we’re taking the opportunity to do some work on Chipmunk. Chipmunk 6 will be coming out soon- and it’s got a bunch of great new features and improvements. We’re also looking at some possibilities around interactive books. And finally, we’ve updated our contracting page.

We’ve got a lot more planned in the next upcoming months, so expect more frequent blog posts. Sorry for the dry spells while we’re on big contracts- they tend to be covered by pretty strict NDAs.

 

May 6th, 2011 | Posted by Andy Korth
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Comments Off on Crayon Ball on the Mac App Store

As  you’ve probably heard, today is the release date for the Mac App Store. We’ve got Crayon Ball on there, and it’s a discounted price!

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/crayon-balls/id404081618?mt=12

Nach 30 Minuten, die Halbwertszeit von 13 und https://vital-center-geilenkirchen.com/potenzmittel-ohne-rezept-auf-rechnung-kaufen/ bis es zum gewünschten Erfolg führt. Wenn alle Systeme und Organe in gutem Zustand sind und anschließend zu einem Unvermögen.

March 22nd, 2011 | Posted by Andy Korth
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Comments Off on Atomic Antelope’s Alice In New York!

Our friends over at Atomic Antelope recently released Alice In New York! It’s a fantastic interactive book that retells the story of Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass on the iPad. It’s the second interactive book by Atomic Antelope that uses our own Chipmunk Physics- but it’s the first one we had the opportunity to help on!


The interactive physics elements are among the best ever seen in an interactive book, and the artwork is beautiful. Gizmodo reviewed it and agrees, and there’s a very detailed review and interview in The Atlantic. We even get a shoutout at the bottom of the article!

Just remember, “The Most Technologically Advanced Book for the iPad” uses Chipmunk Physics!

GDC

March 8th, 2011 | Posted by Andy Korth
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Comments Off on GDC

The annual Game Developers Conference is a great experience for every sort of game developer, from AAA developers to indie desktop or iOS developers. With tens of thousands of attendees, GDC features lectures, tutorials, and roundtable talks by industry leaders. Every topic from art design to production, and business management to programming is covered at GDC.

Scott and I, being cost-conscious indie developers, opted for the $200 expo pass ticket. The All Access pass begins at $1475-$2100. As a result, we weren’t able to attend the lectures, but the most important parts of GDC happen behind the scene. However, the expo has great networking opportunities.

The GDC expo is filled with booths representing game companies. Many attendees visit the Activision  Blizzard, Bethesda, Riot Games, and other booths hoping to find work in the game industry.  Nintendo, Intel, NVidia, and other hardware manufacturers (basically everyone but Apple) are there, demonstrating their latest technology and platforms. The Independent Game Festival booth is a big highlight for indie developers. It features playable examples of all the games nominated for IGF awards, but more importantly, you have the opportunity to talk with the developers.

Networking is key to the GDC experience, and the discussions on the expo floor are just the beginning of the networking opportunities. Scott and I participated in a TIGSource indie game meetup at the San Fransisco library. This was a highlight for me, since we got to meet about 20 indie developers and really chat with them. You can sit down with developers and go through unreleased code and projects; you have an opportunity to delve into how features were implemented and the design decisions behind the game.

Touch Arcade hosted an iOS party at the Marriott hotel bar. They have my thanks for the open bar! This has been a big event for Scott and me, because we meet a lot of Chipmunk Physics users at this event. We get at least a dozen developers who notice our Chipmunk Physics t-shirts and stop by to say hi. It’s great to see where other people are using Chipmunk, and also to hear what people are looking for in future versions.

The next day, we spoke with representatives of Blackberry, Intel, and Nvidia to discuss Chipmunk on their mobile devices. We’re looking to optimize Chipmunk Physics for the Nvidia Tegra platform. Intel provided us with two Exo PC tablets to experiement with the AppUp store and the MeeGo platform. Even though they are late to the app store model, I think they’ve got some really exciting stuff going on that can fix some of the traditional problems developers have with Apple’s iTunes store.

Multiple cores in mobile devices was a major theme for us at GDC. For us, this means a lot of new interest in multithreaded Chipmunk Physics. Even hyperthreaded mobile devices with a single core can benefit from multithreaded code. So this will be one major feature we’ll be looking into for Chipmunk.

I’d be remiss to mention that I had the opportunity to meet Notch and chat briefly about java networking. GDC is a great place to meet your personal heroes. I talked to him and several other IGF finalists about Reclaimed and our other games, and the event is quite inspiring all around.  We also had the chance to meet a few folks from iDevGames. Hopefully we’ll see more iDGs people next year!