Tuesday, November 30, 2010

ONE MILLION 3D points in Flash

I've been playing around with Flash lately and thinking how to take PhotoCity models to the next level.

I wanted to make a flash-based online model-cleaner-upper, where a user could erase errant points from a dense point cloud. Here's a dense point cloud loaded into flash with the same interaction capabilities as the PhotoCity 'swisher':

Amazingly, there are ONE MILLION 3D POINTS floating in space in that little Flash applet. Unfortunately, there are 6M points in that particular model, and just the 1M points made my computer pretty angry.

I decided to write a blog post instead of implementing the point-erasing, because (I'm sleepy and) I'm not sure I should be going down the Flash route for dense point cloud editing. Maybe/YES for sparse point cloud/bundle editing, though!

Tech specs: I'm using the Sandy 3D engine (a custom StarField, specifically) to draw the points.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

TIGjam Day 4 and Night Hike

Like I mentioned before, in addition to TIGjam just generally being awesome and inspiring, it was also really productive. This post is about the game/experience that I produced, and how it evolved from a little nugget of an idea.

Whenever I go hiking with Adam, at some point or another during the trip, the conversation turns to talk of making a hiking simulator. On the fancy end of things, hikers would wear backpacks with cameras/laser scanners/microphones mounted to them and record as much of an actual hike as possible. This would perhaps allow someone else to virtually experience the hiking later. On the simpler end of things is something like our Night Hike: a hiker walks along through a rich, beautiful environment and encounters a variety of sights and sounds.

night hike version 3

I had spent the first day of tigjam getting more acquainted with flixel. (Adam spent the day writing a paper.) I made a few demos (described in a previous post) like a broken pong game and a thing where a guy sort of ice skates around, but I didn't have any brilliant, complete game ideas. But! Late that night! I said to Adam that we should make the (simplified) hiking game that he's always talking about. Vanquish that headcrab...! (Headcrab here being a nagging idea that wraps around your brain until you bring the idea to fruition.)

The project seemed like a good size for tigjam: we could get something finished in a few days, yet there would also be tons of improvements and new ideas to expand upon if/when we had time. Here's the evolution of night hike:

1st night hike sketch

Aesthetics of night time and silhouette stuff decided on fairly early. As you can see in the sketch, we did sort of talk about how the game might end. Perhaps, after walking all that way in the dark, you'd come to the warm glow of a lit up tent or campfire. Maybe, when you walked into the light, your face would be turn out to be horribly grotesque! The end in nighthike right now is jut that you walk off the edge of the screen after moving right for about 10,000 pixels.

I drew up this picture of how the whole scene might look:


Adam sketched out all these additional layers:

adam's proposed night hike layers

He also drew this picture, which except for the wormy caterpillar hiker blob, sort of put my drawing to shame.

night hike (layer compositing mock-up)

Great. So, our aesthetic style is in order. At this time, I was working on making the terrain randomly generate itself and let the character walk along it forever. This is the first hikable night hike, with pokey mountains everywhere:

night hike in the very beginning

Soon, the terrain-walking improved. I gave up procedurally generating the distant mountains (for now) and just drew them. I also drew some grass and a tree and planted those in the scene. The second version can be played here:

night hike version 2

In between the second and third versions, I think we added new trees, a single sound, more hilly terrain, and a dark fringe effect. The game got a little tooooo dark, so I added a 'lightning key' -- 'D' and a fast-walking key -- 'F' so I could see all the trees more easily and dash along the world. The third version can be played here:

night hike version 3

While I don't expect the current version to suck you in and keep you entertained for very long (it is no dolphin olympics 2, nor dino run) I do hope you find it kind of pretty and soothing! Maybe some day I will make that hiker's world a bit more interesting... more explorable... and more treacherous!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

TIGjam day 3 and the games

TIGjam day 3 and the games

So what happens when you put 50 game developers in a room for four days? They make games! On the third day, I wandered around and peered over peoples' shoulders to see what kinds of games they were making. There was also a pretty epic Madhouse tournament on saturday night. Even though the fourth day was when we actually showed off our games to each other, I feel like lumping game blurbs into my official 'day 3' post and saving 'day 4' to talk about what I made.

Here are some of the games I happened to remember, ordered by proximity to where I was sitting at a table in the back of the room:

Digging in the dirt a la minecraft and motherload
kinda-like-minecraft games!

Both Santiago and Tim were making games like this. Tim's game (made with Flixel) featured fancy HDR lighting where the outside light shone down into caverns and if you lighted a torch deep in a cave, there would be a bright flash and then your character's eyes would adjust to the new light. Santiago's version was made in HTML5 (and/or javascript), I think, and could run in any web browser. It had textured tiles just like the ones in Minecraft, and even the appropriately textured main character and the green explodey creatures.

Honey Time
Also at the table, Amanda made a game for the iPad with bees flying around, visiting flowers, and returning to the hive to deposit honey. The game was a lot like Flight Control, where you touch a bee and draw out the path you want it to take. It was more complex than Flight Control, though, because bees had to go to multiple flowers of the right color before going to the hive, and if they got too close, they wouldn't crash, but they'd get distracted and fly around each other for a while. I'd been talking to my parents about game ideas before I went to TIGjam, and my mom, who does beekeeping as a hobby, had totally suggested a game with bees and honey. I guess she needs an iPad now to play Amanda's game.

Space Bus
At some point during the second day, Adam had drawn a nice starry night scene as a prototype for Night Hike, and this sparked inspiration for Ben's game.

The main chunk of inspiration, though, is Penn and Teller's Desert Bus (watch a video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npTRkTIlrZs) where you're driving a rickety old bus from Tucson to Las Vegas in real time, a drive that is painfully straight, boring, and about 8 hours long. After driving the bus for 8 hours, you earn one point and are asked if you want to drive back to Tucson. Additionally, the bus veers to the right, so you actually have to keep steering to keep it on the road. Otherwise, it drifts off, overheats, breaks down, and you get towed back to your starting destination for the same amount of time you spent driving.

Ben decided the bus had made the Tucscon/Las Vegas trip enough and that it was time for something a little more substantial. How taking the bus to Alpha Centauri, the closest star besides the sun, which is just a mere 4.37 light years away? Ben taped off the steering wheel, installed a joystick, and upgraded the bus to travel at about 45 million miles per hour. At that speed, it'll only take about 60 years to reach its destination! Better not drift off course though, otherwise a space tow truck will come and take you all the way back.

space bus art in progress

I took a sneaky picture of Ben working on the art, but maybe we'll see the finished Space Bus pop up on the internet some time soon.

The mustache game
Okay, moving away from my local tigjam neighborhood/table now. Somewhere on the other side of the room, an amazing mustache game was forming, based around the absolute truth that everything is better with mustaches. In this game, heads would bobble on by behind a fence and you would shoot cute little mustaches onto them.

Platform Party
Not only did Daniel put together this nifty procedurally generated platformer, but he also, I think, built the web-based Pixie game engine that he used to make the game. Try the game out here!

Unlike many of the other games, this game had been under development for about 6 weeks already and was mainly working on polish, play testing, and fixing of final bugs. I don't want to explain too much about it because playing it and figuring it out is part of the experience, but I'll say that it's got puzzles and platforms and a pair of players. It should be online and playable soon.

Madhouse Tournament
madhouse tournament

Day 3, 1am to 3am, we had an epic Madhouse tournament. The internet says that Madhouse is a "bloody top down shooter with rpg elements." Also, it makes a great tournament game, especially when combined with commentary from the game's creator, Paul Hubans, himself. I was especially impressed with the variety of characters, environments, power-ups and special abilities. There were also a fair number of glitches, like characters getting stuck in walls, but that made the event all the more interesting. Probably the most epic match was Amanda vs. Tim, which actually came down to a tie with both characters getting their 5th kill at the same time, and then Amanda shooting Tim in the tie-breaking dual. You can watch a video of part of their match here.

And that wasn't even all the games! There were so many more! This Randy O'Connor fellow blogged about more of the games, including Night Hike, which is the one that Adam and I made.