Developers Log #1 – Introduction

Let’s get ready to rock and roll!

Currently, we’ve been working towards the ‘Asteroids’ milestone of the project. We’ve made a lot of progress over the last few weeks.

So far, it’s been a real journey in identifying our art style and establishing the pipeline. We’ve definitely got that down pat now. We’ve also been working hard on the data structure and access pattern for the Ships and Modules, and how that works with a save file. The controls are pretty solid, and soon we’ll be looking for feedback on how it feels.

Asteroids are generated using a particular set of rules and ratios, and can contain more than one type of ore. Beam and Projectile based weapons can be installed on the ship and fired, either forward firing or as a turret with a specified firing arc.

Beam weapons and some Projectiles can cause the ships reactors to heat up, which is visually indicated to the player. An installed reactor module defines how much heat the ship can take before becoming damaged, and how fast that build up of temperature will dissipate.


What is ‘The Asteroid Milestone’?

The Asteroid Milestone involves the player being able to navigate their way through an asteroid field, harvest minerals from the asteroids, and bring them back to a central point.

Failures will be simulated such as life support, reactor, and mining beam troubles due to the cheap and shoddy nature of the ship you’re flying, as well as the hazard itself of navigating around the rocks and other ships in the area. Of course, the ore itself is valuable.

The credits you earn from depositing this ore will enable you to purchase better ships, or better parts for ships you’re flying, so that you may work your way up the ranks.

It’s safe to say that the Asteroids Milestone is a real base for the project – as it should be being the first milestone.

So much setup has been done here for the rest of the game to follow from. From Modules being installed on Ships, to little failures that occur with cheap Ships and Parts, Station Docking, Weapon Firing systems (Note: While combat isn’t a focus now, the ‘Mining Beam’ is an extension on the Weapon System), robust Cargo Systems, and even little Notifications that tell you what you’re up to.

Everything we are completing in this milestone is setting up future functionality. The way we will continue with development reflects this – each milestone will be setting something up for the next, when eventually all the little pieces will fall together, and with enough content – create something amazing.

And on to content.. we are also beginning to setup some of the lore and ships of the universe!

We really want to create a world that you can get lost in. I don’t know about you, but examples such as ‘Wookieepedia’ or the Star Citizen Universe are just so rich and full of history, information, and story.

This is exactly the kind of thing we want to create for Beyond Orbit, to the point where that random ‘Food Ration’ cargo item can tell you its nutritional value and what system it was produced in.

We realise this will be a lot of work, but we plan on using Procedural Generation techniques to make this job a little easier for us. We’re designing tools to help writers define chunks of content that can be pieced together to make something larger.
‘Faction’, ‘Location’, ‘Industry’ are some things that might be used to randomly generate some Module Producing company – it’s production being identified from various rules that are associated with the chunks it’s associated to.

The idea with this technique is that it’s the smaller chunks that are written. Some values may also be assigned, like Wealth, Age, or Tech Level. Rather than having to write thousands of different combinations of these, the combinations are generated automatically using the chunks and values that are written by stringing them together in a logical but creative way.

A very good example of this is with the Module System.
Modules are made up of ‘Components’. Components have different values that may affect how quickly heat is built up, how much energy is used, how large the component is, the colour it makes its beams or reactors, the sound effect the engine uses, etc. Rather than us create different Modules and try to balance and vary them – the system does the work for us.

By defining rules such as ‘An engine must have one or more of these types of components’ and ‘This production company has access to these components’, we can dynamically build Engines of varying power and style – just by saying which components the engine is made up of.

Oh yeah, and ‘Components’ are something we plan to make producible by the player in a future milestone. Every component is made up of some combination of Ore/Mineral, and other components. You can start to see a real production chain forming here, and this makes us really excited. Not only will it speed up the creation process for us, but it’s really easy to generate thousands of unique modules – and eventually give the player the ability to create their own.

Some of the earlier setup we did was involved with defining the roles and classes for ships. We plan on having everything playable, from the little Mining drone, all the way up to the Battle Ships and the Command Vessels.
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Art Style

The art style is still ‘Lit-2D’. Everything you see is a sprite, that has a normal map created from a 3D model with some directional lighting, to enable us to simulate the sprite as if it was lit from any particular direction.

Shaders are built in a way that they can do a lot of the work. Things like the color of the hull, the illumination of the glass, and the heat from the reactor can all be customized and use properties coming from modules on the ship (with Reactor heat being the best example). In that example, the glow coming from the reactor heat is dependent on how much stress the ships reactor is under, and will shine brighter if under a higher load.

This is all done based off of one single texture, with different information in the RGB channels respectively. To enable some more variety with the ships, a ‘paint job’ can also be overlayed like a skin, which just sees the RGB texture as a simple RGB texture.

Asteroids have been created in a similar way. A 3D model was used with some directional lights to generate a strong normal map, but in this case the main texture is saved in greyscale. The asteroid shader enables us to modify the color of the asteroid to fit different types of scenes. Another texture is used to define where the ore is, and this is applied over the asteroid texture to show the ore contained in the Asteroid.

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We are still searching for a 3D modeler interested in this vision with the right skills. Please contact us for more info


Conclusion

So as you can see, things are moving along pretty nicely!

We’ve got some great ideas for the project, and we can’t wait until they materialise into something that we can display to the community.

If you’re not already following, Twitter is our best source for images and updates on what we’re working on. We try to keep the feed updated semi-regularly as we have content to show, and we love hearing all your feedback.

If you have any feedback, questions, or comments, you can get in contact with us via Twitter and Facebook.

Give us a follow and a like while you’re there! We would greatly appreciate it and will gladly return the favour to other indie devs!

Thanks for reading.
That’s all for this one, we hope you’ll stick around for the next entry!

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Concept Artist – Xiaodi Jin

Freelance concept art Xiaodi Jin creates impressive fantasy artworks.

The scale of the artworks itself are particularly overwhelming, bringing to life a fantastical world where heroes themselves are overwhelmed at he intimidating, powerful foes they encounter.
His artworks convey the cruelty of the monsters, the helplessness of their victims, with stark mysterious lands and beautiful forests.

The heroes are grim and stoic, the villains stand regal and all powerful. In the artwork can be seen the subtle influence of neo-classical art of greek mythology as well as elements of other art styles.

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Xecute and Ludum Dare 32

Twice a year a certain global competition is held: Ludum Dare. The aim: for indie developers to create a game in 48 hours, based upon a theme voted by the community and released on the Ludum Dare site as soon as the countdown begins.

First held in 2002, it been revised and refined over the years, from annual to bi-annual. Over the last few years it has gained increasing popularity, particularly with the participation of Notch (creator of Minecraft). The original ‘Ludum Dare 0’ had only 18 participants, but the most recent ‘Ludum Dare 32’ had a total of 2821 participants.

Our game was 298th.
 
We (Arkelite) decided to compete this year, the theme: An Unconventional Weapon.
Our driving idea was that the player itself is the weapon, and the player affects the environment, while the antagonist is more of the traditional game character.

The mission is simple: stop a duck from reaching the kill-switch which will destroy the machine (you). In order to stop the determined duck you need to use various traps, puzzle solving skills and chaotic robots to win.

Link: http://www.indiedb.com/games/xecute
http://ludumdare.com/compo/2015/04/15/welcome-to-ludum-dare-32/

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Merdor

Over the past few months I’ve been working on a game called Merdor. It’s a project I started five years ago, back in 2009 when I first started programming. Things have been pretty hectic with Architecture over the last 6 months, and I haven’t had much time to work on side projects. So I made time. I have a number of things I’m working on; which I’ll reveal later.

http://www.indiedb.com/games/merdor

Merdor is built in a game engine called Game Maker.
Over the past few months I’ve rebuilt the game [the previous mechanics were horrible due to a lack of programming knowledge].
Personally of the various game projects I’ve been working on this has the greatest appeal to me.
As it is currently a playable build, I’ve decided to release it as an Alpha to see what everyone thinks, and gain some feedback as to what I can prove/what works well. I’ll release updates to build on the existing game and add more features/levels.

http://www.indiedb.com/games/merdor

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7 Useful Add-Ons

There are numerous great Add-ons available, so it’s difficult to choose just a few good ones. These ones I’ve found to be fairly useful, making life a bit easier and increasing productivity.

Fireshot allows you to save screenshots of webpages to your computer. Useful for saving information for offline use.
While on a webpage, by clicking on the Fireshot icon on the top right of your browser, you can crop and edit the screenshot, then save it to your computer. By saving your preferences, you can set it to make the process much quicker, good for gathering information quickly.
It allows you to save the captures as pdfs or images, edit and annotate the images, email them, and upload them to sites such as Twitter, Picassa, Flickr and Image Shack.


Multirow Bookmarks Toolbar Plus
This Add-On allows you to hide your bookmark names by just displaying the icon, and to auto-hide the toolbar. It also for, as the name suggests, multiple rows of bookmarks, good for those who tend to collect a large number of websites.

Stylish allows you to ‘restyle the web’; to choose new themes for webpages. It supports a number of major websites, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit.

 










Web of Trust helps you to find trustworthy sites by screening website links and checking the safety of websites you might visit by putting a green circle next to the ones that are okay. Good when encountering suspicious, non descript links as well as for shopping and web browsing and greatly reduces the chance of getting viruses and malware on your computer.





Automatic Save Folder
Saves certain files in specific folders. You can set filters, specifying where to save different file types. For example, you could set jpg and png to the pictures folder, pdf and docx to documents, avi and mpg to videos and mp3 and aac to music.  By setting the filters it cuts the time spent saving files to certain folders by doing these automatically.
Custom New Tab
Opens new tabs to a particular website or url. This add-on can be a solution for opening a new tab to the google homepage.

 

With this Add-On, by right clicking in a login field you can use a free login. Useful for sites you need a quick login to, or sites you may not use as much.
http://bugmenot.com/



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Instincts Public Prototype

The last week has been quite productive, I have worked on quite a few things such as getting The ranged weapons and ammo working as well as redoing the character system to not use any buffer calls in unity.

The reason for doing this with characters is that I found when someone joined it didn’t account for respawns of old characters. So when a server receives a new player request it will get a new networkViewID with the Request and assign it to a new character object and tell each other client joined to make this new GamObject and also tell the new joined players about all the other players that are active. This system was a lot easier to set up then I thought.

What happens next is hopefully starting to set up some playable builds that run over the LAN and anyone that can host public IP’s, this will then be used as the prototype that will hopefully entice people to look further into the development of this game.

After getting LAN working server side inventory management will be next on the list to add.

So all in all the prototype should have these features.

  • LAN servers
  • Inventory Management
  • Simple Ranged Weapons/Ammo
  • Simple Food/Survival system.

Things that are planned at the moment are

  • Crafting
  • Building
  • Server side inventory
  • Server character saving

Thanks all for reading and please follow us on the following sites

http://blurift.com/

http://reddit.com/r/blurift

http://twitter.com/blurift

https://www.facebook.com/pages/BluRift-Entertainment/199764086701446?ref=hl

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Well its been a long time since my last post, to be honest the happy holidays have taken a lot of…

Well its been a long time since my last post, to be honest the happy holidays have taken a lot of time away from me, but let’s get to something you want to read. 

I have been working with the new Unity3d 2d tools, and after some learning curves I have come to really enjoy the speed in which I have been able to port the survival game Instincts to it. I have so far worked on the item and inventory system, networking and server infrastructure and some basic ai and combat.

Over the last few weeks I have been struggling on different ways I could do the items that are dropped by players or item spawners in the world and how to handle them over the network. I first wanted to make an item class that just got attached to a game object in the world, this seamed like a great idea but was harder then I expected to get working in unity. I found it was going to be too time consuming to make each item inside a class with each item description since this way I couldn’t use Item prefabs, what I decided to do was make each item a prefab that doubled as the item drop container for the world also and once it was transferred to a players inventory the game object would be deleted and only the Item script would be kept by the player. Each item has a script attached with a control list which allows me to give each item a different function such as being disposable or melee or ranged weapons or usable items like torches.

The prefab system has ended up working very well so far in the game and is working well over the network in multi-player also.

Here is a picture of two players and one with a torch and some simple AI.

image

There is definitely a long way to go but I am impressed what will be able to be accomplished with some more hard work.

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This week I’ve been learning the new 2D tool set of Unity3D which I’m rather impressed…

This week I’ve been learning the new 2D tool set of Unity3D which I’m rather impressed with and should really help with the development of Instincts.  I figured the first thing I needed to make sure I could do was make the networking interface. which really wasn’t too hard. I followed this good tutorial by Paladin studios for most of my networking set up

Here is the link http://www.paladinstudios.com/2013/07/10/how-to-create-an-online-multiplayer-game-with-unity/

One thing I would add to this is that the NetworkView must observe the script you are making rather then the objects transform. It took me quite a while to work that one out.

The next tasks to tackle I think wlll most likely be the tileset map or the AI system, both should be fun. 

Also Monday the 9th of December will be the official release date for Little Space Adventure hope you give it a go.

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Little Space Adventure

So I’ve been working like a slave on this. trying to get the project finished so I can move onto a bigger team project, and to be honest it’s been going pretty well.

Haven’t had many problems. Though I did have to change the whole way my weapons and parts worked because we added shields in to the mix of available parts. Thankfully a lot of this was pre calculated so it wasn’t as big of a job as it could of been.

The other thing I have been trying to do is get the background paralaxing just right, but this has been a lot harder then I thought. The stars are always moving too fast or too slow I can never get them to look just right.

At the moment it looks like a December 8th release for Little Space Adventure and I think this is generous really, now that I have heaps of time free because the Uni semester has finished.

So I hope to see all you people at least breaking one high score.

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