Developer Diary

January 2016 Summary

The last month has been a complete blur. With our current project moving along, a new look for the website about to be launched and a whole heap of other things written down on large quantities of post-it notes. I haven’t had much time to actually write one of these things for a while, amongst the coding, designing, business related stuff, the occasional 3D model, and plenty of new things to learn. It has been a very productive time.

And I figure, it might be a good idea to summarise what we’ve been working on this last month to keep you all up to date.

So what’s been happening?

ATATATATATATATATATTTATTTATTAAA! WATAHHHH!!!!

ATATATATATATATATATTTATTTATTAAA! WATAHHHH!!!!

The current project is doing well. We’re working on a re-imagining of what we attempted in July last year (2015). Taking everything we’ve learnt from then up until now, and putting it together into something that will hopefully be an interesting and unique experience for people to play. And yes, it is a horror game!

Why a horror game? It’s been done to death! In terms of a project and scope within the genre we’re currently developing for, it’s just the right size to not get completely out of hand. The focus is going to be on using everything we currently have and creating something that has relatively solid and enjoyable game-play.

Sticking with the PSX visual style horror (WIP).

Sticking with the PSX visual style horror (WIP).

It is also a major test of everything I’ve coded in Unity up to this point. Putting it through a full production cycle to tease out any issues and improve things. So keeping the scope small means less headaches, and a higher chance of the game being completed.

The overall goal is to test what we have, try something new, get it done and sell it on a number of online marketplaces to be better acquainted with that process. Currently there is no estimated time for release, but with a number of pieces of tech being signed off on in the last few months we should be able to create a game quicker than normal.

Early last month, I spent a fair bit of time getting the new AI system ready for use in production. The new AI system is called “Polite”, and is a Goal Oriented Action Planning, or GOAP, system. Last year I spent a significant amount of time researching and testing out various AI systems. I ended up going with GOAP because it simplified some problems I’ve been trying to solve with our previous system, while letting me re-apply what I created for our old system back into the new one.

One of the largest parts of the last month has been learning, and coding, ways to create levels procedurally to help us speed up the level design and visualization process. Being just a team of 2, designing and creating levels takes a long time, and coming up with ways to help us explore and experiment with levels has been pretty important.

Initially created using a "tunneling" algorithm. The map data was then manipulated to create interesting areas and features.

Initially created using a “tunneling” algorithm. The map data was then manipulated to create interesting areas and features.

And so far, it’s working! Things have been moving much faster than normal. Being able to experiment with levels by tweaking parameters and using a modular approach to art has let us test out more ideas without the need for spending hours or even days making adjustments to a “hand” modelled level. The process has been pretty enjoyable.

The tool-kit itself is based on what I learnt from working on The Maze – Keeper of Doom. Taking the ideas that worked and coming up with something a little more flexible for us to use. The long term goals is to eventually have a system we can use to help us create levels of various shapes and sizes, for both design purposes and randomly generated levels in game.

I’ve also been working on a new look for the website that is coming in the next week or so. This is to help support some of the new things we have planned, and have been doing, making things a little easier for people visiting. It’s a lot more modern and clean, attempting to strike a balance between something that looks relatively professional with something that still feels kind of indie.

The new front page for Redefinition Games (WIP).

The new front page for Redefinition Games (WIP).

There’s also been some mobile and TVOThief web version developments going on. But I might save that for another time.

And that’s been my last month or so.

Oh. And caffeine. Lot’s and lot’s of caffeine.


News

RÅ-H! Elusive “Moving House”

After many months of searching, we’d finally encountered the elusive “Moving House”. As we entered battle, new plans were devised and are now in motion! Prepare yourselves!

Defeat for this house is inevitable.

Defeat for this house is inevitable.

Like so many RPGs, we had a random encounter on our long adventure this year. Oh no, it wasn’t a monster. The thing we encountered was suddenly moving house (hence the no news for the last month).

And now that we’ve settled in, we’re slowly winding ourselves back up with some exciting things we have planned. Here’s a brief look!

  • A brand new mobile game (Android / IOS)
  • A new small game which we will be selling on itch.io and other indie marketplaces.
  • The original online version of The Very Organized Thief will receive an update on GameJolt, along with some announcements

The ETA for these updates and releases is currently vague, but hopefully the coming months are a little less random, so you’ll be hearing more about them soon.

In the mean time, follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Or watch our Developer Diaries on YouTube and leave us a comment. We’ll be happy to respond.

Thank you to everyone who has stuck by us through everything so far. We will continue to persevere, to create awesome games for everyone to enjoy and play! : )

Also, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone.

-Alex & Elise


Developer Diary, The Very Organized Thief

The Very Organized Thief Q & A

We finally got around to answering some questions we’ve been wanting to answer for a long time.

If you’d like to ask more questions about us, The Very Organized Thief or if you’re interested in creating games yourself and want to know more. Just send us your question on Twitter.


Developer Diary, News

Trying Something New

Once again, its has been a while. But this time, we have a video!

Our goal with Video Diaries is to do them regularly, as a way to keep everyone up to date and informed with what’s going on with development in a less formal manner. From that, we hope everyone gets to know us a little better.

Also, feel let us know what you think of this format. We happily welcome any ideas, questions, feedback or even just leave a comment if you feel like leaving one.

We hope you enjoy the video and continue to look forward to things to come!

-Alex & Elise

P.S The Terraria game play footage was just for fun : )


News, Videos

We’ve Been Let’s Playing!

Ever since we watched the first bunch of people Let Playing The Very Organized Thief, they inspired us to attempt Let’s Playing ourselves. And for the last 2 years, whenever time permitted, we recorded some of our own as a way to have fun and relax.

But unfortunately, we were so busy we were never able to edit them.

Until now!

As part of the changes we’ve been making. We’ve given ourselves a little bit of time to edit those videos as way to create more content for people to enjoy while we continue to work on games.

And thanks to a two year backlog, we have plenty to release. We also have a some other types of videos planned, such as developer video diaries (and more), in addition to these videos.

They will be featured on our individual YouTube channels, and sorted into playlists on the Redefinition Games channel. So feel free to subscribe to one, some, or all of them to stay informed of new videos when they get released.

Click any of the links below to go to our channels.

We’re hoping to release them regularly, but given our current situation it may not be as regular as we’d like it to be. At least for the moment.

But until then, here’s some of our most recent videos that you can watch right now!

Watch us playing Sniper Elite 2. Our most recently recorded video to start it all off.

And/or watch us playing Minecraft on our friend’s (Ben Reali) channel, playing on an endurance adventure map they created for us. A map which took him, and our other friend (Richard Graham), a year to build.

We also have older videos on our channels that you can look at if you’d like. If you’re an artist, or interested in art, Elise’s channel also contains art videos.

Please feel free to Like, Subscribe and leave us comments. Any feedback will help us make better videos for everyone on our channels.

We hope you enjoy our Let’s Plays, and the many more videos to come.

– Alex & Elise


Art, Developer Diary

Spooky Environment Art

Since my last art update post, I’ve been working on the environment props and textures. Because our new spooky themed game is set in an old run down school, most of the props include things like school desks, benches and chairs.

I set up an example scene in Unity where I’ve been testing out the models and tiling of the textures. This was also to see how they looked with the PSX shader Alex made previously.

A screenshot of the scene where I was testing some of the environment art for our spooky game!

A screenshot of the scene where I was testing some of the environment art for our spooky game!

The textures are all low resolution and pixelated, so that they match the old 3D PSX game style we are going for. Some of the textures still need a bit of tweaking, but they are coming along nicely.

The challenge for some of the textures is to make sure they look weathered and visually interesting, yet still tile very well so they can be used all over the place. This is the first game I’ve worked on since I was in university that had a lot of textures, so this is a fun challenge for me.

Another screenshot of the test scene!

Another screenshot of the test scene!

Unfortunately this is the last week of my holiday, so soon I will have less time to devote to the game. I’ll continue to post art related updates as often as I can, and of course Alex will still be around to update you more regularly on the progress of our games!

I hope that you enjoyed this post, and that you’re looking forward to seeing more of the spooky games progress. Please let us know what you think! :D


Game, Releases, Super Mega Jump 3D

Super Mega Jump 3D

After 72 hours of jamming. We’re proud to announce the release of SUPER MEGA JUMP 3D for the Indies Vs Gamers Jam over at GameJolt !

Click to Play It Now!

Click to Play It Now!

Super Jump from platform to platform! Shoot octahedrons with Mega Weapons! Watch your step and mind those gaps while you try to generate loads of points!

SUPER JUMPIN’!

Shoot them Octahedrons!

The jam may be over, but it won’t end there. Their will be many updates to come to add more features, fix bugs and to simply make it even more fun to play.

But until then, we hope you enjoy Super Mega Jump 3D!

Now go go go!!! START SUPER JUMPING!!!


Developer Diary

Participating in the Indie Vs Gamers Jam

So I’ve decided to take part in the Indie Vs Gamers Jam!

For a long time I’ve wanted to take part in a Game Jam, but always found myself too busy to really take part in one or I was caught up in something which wouldn’t really allow for it. It was really annoying, because I’d always come across a Game Jam, get excited by it and then turn to Elise and say “wouldn’t it be cool if we made a game like this!”. We’d often end up talking about what the game could be in kind of a free-4-all verbal game design session.

And as fun as it was doing that, it kind of sucked because those ideas never materialized into a game.

For the last year, that feeling has been there all the time. Holding ourselves back to focus on one thing, which overtime accumulated more problems around it then we could really deal with. Not so much in terms of developing it, but more from the limitations of the environment we currently live in and sorting out problems which happened naturally over the years with TVOThief. It reached a point where it was impossible for 2 people to handle.

And the worst part of it all was we felt we couldn’t express the ideas we wanted to create. Like we had built some kind of wall in front of our creativity to keep us working on something which needed the thing behind that wall.

Something had to change.

So part of the changes that we’ve been making is to help break down that wall and tap into our creativity again. And from what I’ve seen, there’s nothing more creative then a Game Jam!

The source of my motivation is energy drinks and Elise with a baseball bat.

The source of my motivation is energy drinks and Elise with a baseball bat.

Sooo… while Elise continues to work on art for our spooky game and dispense motivation. I’ll be throwing myself into the fray getting no sleep, powering up on energy drinks and hopefully staying alive to create something fun, and hopefully cohesive, for everyone to play in the Indie Vs Gamers Jam!

Wish me luck!

And best of luck to everyone participating in the Indie Vs Gamers Jam! I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!!


Developer Diary, Game

PSX Inspired Shader

For last few days (amongst other things), I’ve been working on the PSX shader to simulate that distortion you often see in PSX games. The goal is to use this shader to help add a layer of creepiness to the environment through the shader.

So before I did anything, I did a quick search on “PSX Shader” on Google to see what would come up. I ended up coming across a few forum posts which pointed me in the direction of Affine Transformations.

After doing a little bit of a deeper search, I came across a basic shader which simulated the effect, but wasn’t exactly ideal for what we were trying to do. So I spent a few hours experimenting to try and understand what was going on and come up with our own.

And I did it! But it did have some problems.

The same Affine shader creating different distortions based on the number of vertices in the mesh.

The same Affine shader creating different distortions based on the number of vertices in the mesh.

One of the problems with the shader was when in first person view, the textures underneath the player would become extremely distorted. So I ended up adding a cut-off value which determines when to blend between Affine Transformed UVs, and normal UVs to help remove the distortion underneath the player.

Distortion effect underneath the player, without and with UV blending.

Distortion effect underneath the player, without and with UV blending.

It kind of makes a nice sense of normality around the player, while everything else is distorted and feels like it’s moving.

I also added vertex snapping into the shader to simulate PSX fixed precision. I used a single float value which indicates how many increments there are per unit, and rounds each vertex axis to the nearest increment.

Simulated Vertex Precision on a ... sphere?!

Simulated Vertex Precision on a … sphere?!

Sliding the value back and forth also creates a pretty neat effect causing the vertices to move around and shake. Which we might incorporate into gameplay some how.

Sliding the vertex precision back and forth makes the room look like it's breathing!

Sliding the vertex precision back and forth makes the room look like it’s breathing!

Once I got the base shader, I wrote variations which add Vertex Coloring and support for Unity Lighting, which will allow us to create interesting lighting and set the mood. And to save time on writing too much shader code, I wrote it in a Surface Shader.

Affecting the Lightmap UVs to create distorted looking UVs.

Affecting the Lightmap UVs to create distorted looking UVs.

After testing it a little further, I was pretty happy with the results. The final result is a nice distortion effect to create a slightly creepy environment.