Author Archive

New Voxel Based Game “Lexov”

So I’ve decided to take a little diversion from work on Caster… again… and make a small multiplayer voxel based shooter.  The development name is Lexov, but it will not ship with that name.

I have this trailer for Lexaloffle’s game Voxatron to blame for this diversion:

Pretty cool, eh?  Get more details here: http://www.lexaloffle.com/voxatron.php

I’m targeting Xbox 360 via Xbox Indie Games.

Working on this game with C# on the 360 has some interesting problems that have been quite a bit of fun to try and overcome.  For example, say I have a 128 x 128 x 64 volume of voxels.  Simply walking across that volume of voxels requires over a million operations.  Doing one million operations alone in C# on the Xbox brings my frame rate down to less than 30 frames per second (just write a for loop and increment a local variable to see what I mean).

Here is an early version of Lexov where I am evaluating the voxel volume and adding the appropriate geometry for rendering:

Because of the performance issues with C# on the Xbox, I’ve had to get pretty creative in my approach.  I’ve started using approaches that reduce the number of operations that need to be done while favoring doing more work on the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit).  For example, in C# on the 360, it’s faster to draw an extra million triangles to save several thousand instructions per frame.

Currently, I’m using several dynamic vertex buffers and updating changes to the buffers as they happen in the game rather than evaluating the entire voxel volume each frame.

One important difference when using this approach is that I no longer have to render cubes on voxel boundaries.  This breaks some of the retro feel from being a true voxel volume, but allows for much smoother movement.

At this point I had to ask myself what it was that I really wanted to do with this game.  I decided that what I really wanted was a simple fun destructible environment game at 60 frames per second on the Xbox 360.  As cool as evaluating a single voxel volume would have been, it was secondary in importance.

Still, it’s hard to sacrifice the simplicity and beauty of the single voxel volume approach.  In the end, I’m actually very happy to have sub voxel movement in the game.

Here are some more videos of progress I’ve made.

And earlier today:

I’m going to try and keep an active blog on my Lexov’s progress.  I’ve been debating if the extra time to write blog posts is worth it when I could spend that time working on the game.  I’ve decided that if I get extra feedback and community support from doing the posts, then it will make for a better game.  Caster is a great example of this.  Caster would have been pretty lame and boring were it not for the amazing feedback I got while showing the game off to friends and colleagues.

More details on the plans for game play and design forth coming.

Thanks!


Caster in the Mac App Store

After a few eye rolling head shaking rejections, Caster is finally available in the Mac App Store.

You can get it here:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/caster/id406520140?mt=12

Thanks!


Caster 1.3 update on Linux!

Thank you all for your patience!  Caster 1.3 has been released for Linux in 32 and 64 bit versions.  You can get the update here:

www.casterthegame.com

In other news, future updates to Caster are in the works.  Currently, I’m working on a new mod for Caster called “Sunshine”.  Here is a tech demo of some scarf animation I’ve been playing with:

Thanks and have a great new year!


Pumped about Caster!

So having taken a break from Caster for a while to work on some other projects, and then having taken a break from working on games in general over this Christmas break (playing a few instead), I’m pumped about working on Caster again!

I have some ideas for game play and story that I’m really excited about.

Story has been a weak point for Caster and hopefully the next few updates will make it more compelling.

I’m also adding in better mod support.  Instead of adding in mods in a separate mods directory, I’m going to treat them like separate game with their own sub directory.

Before I release the next update to Caster, I’ll be releasing Sunshine as a mod of Caster. Most of my initial work on Sunshine has been in 2D (because I wanted to do something “simple” ), it looks like I’m going to promote that to 3D as well.  A lot of the game play will be 2D, but I might play around with the camera a bit.

As far as updating the visual style for Caster (higher poly, shaders, etc), I’ll probably wait until Caster 2 to do that.

Here’s for a great 2011 with some sweet updates to Caster!


Hydrophobia: A Lesson in Play Testing

I just finished Hyrophobia on Xbox Live Arcade.  I really enjoyed the game!  It had a few things that could have been improved to enhance my play experience, but I liked it enough to play completely through the game which is more than I can say for most games.

The sad thing is that this game did very poorly on Xbox Live Arcade.  According to Wikipedia, only selling 17,000 copies by the end of October 2010.

It appears that the main reason for this is that many people were disappointed in the game when it was initially released at the end of September 2010.  You can see some reviews here on MetaCritic.

Dark Energy did an update to the game about a week ago that addressed numerous issues the people found with the game (see the list here).

Had the studio made these updates to the game before release, I have no doubt it would have done much better in the market.

Based on Dark Energy’s initial reaction to the feedback, I think the problem was that they either didn’t do enough external play testing or just ignored people’s feedback.  It’s difficult to keep an open mind about a game you’ve been working on for quite some time.  Fresh players are an invaluable source for a clear perspective on the game experience and you discount what they say at your own risk.  Obviously you should not change your game to adapt to every whim of every play tester, but if someone is getting frustrated or confused while playing your game, that’s a clear sign that something should change.

I’m sure they’ve learned their lesson, but what a price to pay!

So like I said, I really enjoyed the game and I hope they will release a sequel.  But this time, I hope it’s after addressing play test feedback.

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Rainbow Ball into Aventure is LIVE!!!

Woot!

My family’s game passed review and is now available for purchase for a mere 80 Microsoft points!  Check it out today!  It’s the most fun you’ll have since Katamari Damacy!

Thanks all!


A.R.E.S. available!

A.R.E.S. Poster

One of the funnest games I’ve ever played is now available for your enjoyment!  If you liked Caster, you should definitely check out A.R.E.S.

Available Dec 14th.  You can pre-order here:

http://blog.x10studio.com/?p=511

When I first got a hold of a pre-release of this game it was good.  After a few iterations on controls and difficulty balancing, it became FANTASTIC!

Definitely check it out if you like any kind of shoot-em up game.

Thanks!

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Rainbow Ball into Adventure Submitted to XBox Indie Games!

Just submitted our family’s game off to Xbox Indie Games.

Hoping it hit’s the market before the holidays.

See final trailer below:


Rainbow Ball into Adventure!

Okay!

I decided I needed to do right by my kids and finish up the game we’ve been working on here and there for about a year now.

We’re so close to finishing!

The game is called “Rainbow Ball into Adventure” and will be for Xbox Indie Games.

You can seem some older footage here:


Hidden Path Entertainment is Hiring!

I really love my job at Hidden Path Entertainment.  If you don’t love your current job, we’re looking to hire a few great game developers!  Look below and see if something is a good fit for you. Feel free to e-mail me directly if you have any questions (  ).

Thanks!

Hidden Path Entertainment is growing and is looking for three new full-time candidates: an Environment Artist, a Senior PS3 programmer, and a Senior Tester.  The initial project for these positions focuses on the growth and development of an highly popular online action game:

Please send recomendations or submissions to jobs@hiddenpath.com.

1. Environment Artist:
Responsibilities:
– Collaborate with the Project Art Director and other team members to conceptualize, and develop level environments for the game
– Take primary ownership of multiple level environments and collaborate with management to meet quality and schedule requirements
– Drive the game’s visual quality to new heights through level construction, modeling, and texture design as well as the effective use of color and lighting for both aesthetic and gameplay goals
– Be a collaborative member of the art team, and contribute actively to reviews and feedback

Requirements:
– Exceptional visual and technical understanding in 3D modeling, texturing and world building
– Expert understanding of next-gen game environment creation processes and tools
– Ability to quickly learn and utilize proprietary engine tools and pipelines
– Excellent communication, time-management and organizational skills
– Proactive, Task driven, Self-motivated
– Ability to give and respond to feedback and constructive criticism
– Shipped multiple titles as an Environment artist

– Skill with 3DS Max a significant plus

Portfolio submissions should include:
– Examples of high and game resolution modeling, both organic and architectural/mechanical
– Examples of full set design and scene management
– Examples of texture work

2. Senior PS3 Programmer
Responsibilities:
– Take primary ownership on the development, maitenance and compatibility of the PS3 side of HPEs active projects
– Be a collaborative member of the programming team and contribute actively to reviews and feedback
– Work closely with art and design on requirements, as well as providing internal feedback on products.

Requirements:
– Experience implementing PSN service integration
– Experience with SPU programming and optimization
– Familiarity with PS3 development tools and techniques
– Deep experience working on lower level engine, graphics, or network code on a PS3 title
– Expert understanding of console and PC games programming and development
– Proactive, task driven, self-motivated
– Shipped multiple titles as an engine or graphics Programmer
– Passion for games and game development

3. Senior Tester
Responsibilities:
– Develop and implement test plans for verification of game functionality and content
– Request and use test tools and methodologies from the programming team
– Be involved in bug tracking and bug management
– Interface with external test houses as appropriate
– Work closely with the development team, providing internal feedback and check-in verification

Requirements:
– Experience testing downloadable and/or retail core games
– Strong understanding of console and PC games testing including appropriate test cases, TCRs, TRCs, compatibility, etc.
– Excellent communication, time-management and organizational skills
– Proactive, Task driven, Self-motivated
– Ability to give and respond to feedback and constructive criticism
– Shipped at least one significant game title as a tester or senior tester
– Skill with Black Box testing

– Skill with White Box testing and debugging is a significant plus

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