July 27th, 2013
This last week I’ve been engaged in the solemn work of texture mapping! It’s the step which comes directly after the model is complete. We’ve got to translate every 3D surface onto a 2D sheet, so we can later paint in all the pretty textures.
For anyone who missed last week’s post, here’s a render of the final 3D model with a flat grey material applied:
So most 3D programs will spit out a 2D projection of your model with minimal work by the artist. But the results are always off by a pixel or two. Generally this is acceptable. But when you’re working in an intentionally pixelated style, you need per-pixel accuracy. So I end up re-painting the 2D wire frames by hand. I actually enjoy this quite a bit. In the end it gives me a pixel-perfect template to paint on. So I know all the tech details will line up perfectly on the model.
Here’s what the final template looks like (1/4 size). The orange is the command center, the blue are other defensive structures.
So this is a layout of every detail, every nook and cranny on the model. It’s built on an exact ratio of 16 pixels per meter. The entire game is actually built on this ratio. So when we’re done, there will be a 100% consistent pixel density on all parts of the world at all times.
Once the sheet is laid out, the next step is to map the ‘UVW’ or texture space of the 3D model onto this 2D sheet. This part is fun, as you get to see the model slowly turn into a TRON-like labyrinth of edge lines.
To anyone else the correlation between the orange model lines and the 2D sheet might look incomprehensible. But as the colors and details are painted in, the connection between the sheet and the model should become pretty clear.
Once I have the texture painted, I plan on making the model and the texture available to anyone who wants to play around with the final texture or the model. So you guys can see the pieces of the game up close. If someone has a better texture idea, that might even make it into the game!
Until next time!
July 19th, 2013
Hey, happy Friday! So Brian and I have been hard at work on two big contracts. That’s why we’ve disappeared. The idea is to build up funds to pay for full-time development on Slime City. The work has been great, and we’re still finding time to push progress forward on Slime City.
The time we have been spending on Slime City went into an overview design doc for potential investors (as I mentioned in a previous update). It covers all aspects of the game in a speculative form. Inevitably play testing will reveal issues and obvious improvements. But it’s helpful to have a basic shared vision to aim at. We’re keeping the specifics confidential at this point. But here’s a blurry pic showing our hard work : )
Once we got the design doc sent off, Brian pushed forward with implementing a bunch of cool features. We now have a resource based economy in-game as well as basic procedural level creation. Next he’ll be adding some of the weapons and ‘monsters’ in the slime’s arsenal. This should greatly improve and excite the feel of the core game-play.
I’ve been designing your first, and most important game building, ‘The Command Center’. It’s the only building you must retain to stay in the game. Currently it also acts as a collection drop for resources, and a minimal power source. Here’s the finished base model with no textures, and mocked up lighting.
It has heavy pressure doors on two sides that lift to allow in resource drops. That central shaft launches resources up to an orbital building construction station. On the back there’s a rotating communications disk that handles coms for the whole ground operation.
That’s it for this update. Look for more progress updates soon!
June 6th, 2013
Weston and I have been doing a high level design review of Slime City and one of the things that we decided is that we want to tie the game strategy more to the level layout than what we currently have running in the prototype. The idea is that the player decisions will be more interesting and varied depending on the level, especially early on in the level.
How do we accomplish this? One of the biggest ways that we are doing it is by having various resources in the level and having each one favor a strategy or combination of strategies. I’m not going to go into what the various strategies will be (yet!), but we talked about a number of different resources that we could use, and to choose between them I made a short list of resources that might be useful. I’ve fleshed it out a bit explaining possible uses for each. It may be useful to us for a future revision, and who knows, maybe it will be useful for budding strategy game designers out there looking for a little inspiration.
Here’s the list:
Water is present in most every terrestrial strategy game out there, although it’s usually used as an obstruction, pathway or medium for ship combat, not as a resource. We thought it would be cool if it does a number of things, such as propogate the slime faster, obstruct city expansion, act as a possible energy source (hydroelectric), and/or act as a literal resource for food or cooling high tech machinery (lasers!). The player has to decide whether to try and harness the water and therefore protect it from the slime (risky!), or avoid it like the plague and try and win without it by harnessing other resources.
“Ore” is a general term for ‘building materials’. Mining ore is an age old strategy trope, but an effective one. It puts a cap on how much the player can possibly build and when there are multiple variations of it present (iron, gold, coal, etc), it can determine precisely what the player can build. The position and quantity of ore are usually the most important aspects of this resource.
Think of “lumber” as a general “renewable resource” that can be hacked down and regrown constantly throughout the game. It’s an interesting resource because it ties into so many other areas. The lumber itself can be used to build specific things, but it also requires people or machinery to harvest and plant it, which is a kind of secondary resource. If the player can control where new forests are grown, this also plays into the “space” resource (more below).
Energy/Power is what I would call a secondary resource - it’s something that the player builds and may or may not be required to be built in a specific area, like a hydoelectric plant. It requires some other resource (ore,etc) to build a plant that produces energy, so it really can be thought of as a derivative of whatever resource is used to build it. Ideally there are more interesting links between energy use/management than as a time delay between harvesting ore and essentially converting that into an energy source. One way to do that is to tie it to a location (again hydroelectric), or have it require a lot of space (solar panels), which is another valuable resource.
People are another secondary resource and so again we must be careful to make sure they act as more than a time delay for harvested ore to be converted into things that require people. They could tie into a food system, or even provide power. I once proposed a giant human powered hamster wheel as a power plant alternative, but Weston didn’t seem to respond much to that idea An interesting property of people is that they typically stick around forever until they die, usually by unnatural means. Sometimes they can be assigned multiple tasks, which makes them versatile. They can move themselves and other things around, which is interesting as well.
If a level has a limited size, than space itself can be considered a resource. In Slime City, we have limited sized levels, but space is also at a premium since the slime extends over every square meter that the player doesn’t actively protect. If a certain strategy requires a lot of space, then that must be accounted for early in playing the level. As designers, we can make certain buildings require a little or a lot of space. It’s an easy way to tie in an existing resource to a particular strategy.
Time is a resource that plays a role even in turn-based games (moves can take multiple turns to execute, the game has to be played within x turns, etc). In Slimce City, an important constant that we haven’t locked down yet is how fast the slime moves, which is essentially a time based issue. To think of it directly as a resource, constructing a building or a set of buildings can take a certain amount of time, so if the player is under a lot of time pressure, they might be forced to switch to a faster strategy.
That’s the rundown, as usual it came out much longer than I anticipated. If you made it this far, I salute you.
Till next time,