Last month has been a mixed bag of many things to be done.
The survey we ran went very well and the results were surprising. We now have a much better idea of what we can do with the audience we currently have. We still have our work cut out for us if our new game is going to help Redefinition Games keep moving forwards, but at least we have one more piece to our development puzzle.
The new game is also moving along. I spent some time setting up a few new rooms to be generated into the level along with some art. Elise hasn’t been able to work on anything lately since the amount of time she has is limited to only a few days a week thanks to her new job. So I’ve been doing a little bit more 3D modelling and texturing then normal, which has been quite fun.
Part of setting up the new rooms is writing the algorithm which will place props into the room. Initially it was going to be limited to cells on a grid, but the spacing proved to be too weird for particular sets of props. I ended up coding a more flexible way to procedurally place props of various shapes and sizes using the cells (or a series of cells) as the boundaries for where objects could be placed and arranged into. As with anything new, it still needs a bit of work, but the current results are pretty satisfactory.
There’s been a number of improvements to the AI. I added some new animations for the AI to perform which has been much easier to set up compared to what it was like on TVOThief. I also dedicated some time to writing GUI and tools in Unity to make it simpler to work with. Hopefully this means we’ll be able to add more re-usable behaviours for the AI to perform with less work required, from both a coding and art perspective, and in the long term, use across multiple projects.
I also made an important paradigm shift in my understanding of GOAP, learning how the emergent behaviour actually comes into being. Something of which only made sense after sticking my head into the FEAR SDK.
I’ve had FEAR in my Steam library for some time now, and only found out a week ago it had an SDK with full source code. Source code which also contains the AI system, the one that brought Goal Oriented Action Planning to games. One of the difficulties with building a new system is knowing how something is put together is completely different to understanding how it works. The latter usually resulting in a significant amount of experimentation to come to grips with and to get it to work the way you want it to. The great thing about reviewing existing source code from a proven source is that you know it works.
Poking around the FEAR AI code helped with learning a few things that I’d been trying to understand through experimentation, which can be a little slow and frustrating sometimes. Examining the code helped fill in those blank spots in my knowledge which led to the changes I mentioned previously.
I don’t ever think our AI or the system itself is ever going to be as robust and thorough as FEAR’s, and it’s also structured very differently. But the insight has shown me that we’re on the right path, and that there is going to be a lot more code to be written as we build the AI into what we’re hoping it to be.
And if you haven’t played FEAR, I recommend you play it!
The website also has a new page in development, which will be the Roadmap page. It’s going to be an overview of what we’re currently focusing on and where we’re planning on going. It’s been a bit of a problem with some people playing The Very Organized Thief not understanding why we can’t work on it just yet, despite having talked about it regularly. Hopefully getting that page up will help make things a little clearer and obvious for those people, and everyone else.
And that’s last months summary for a few of the things I’ve been up to.
Until next months summary!
The survey has come to an end!
We’d like to thank everyone who has taken the survey. The information you have given us is going to help us understand more about the options we have and the direction we’re likely to move in. Alex is going to be doing a bit of data crunching on the results this week to help us get an even better idea about everyone’s answers.
If you missed the first Q&A for the survey, you can click the link below. We answer a few important questions relating to The Very Organized Thief, as well as some related to Game Development. We’ll hopefully get some time in the next week to answer some more of the questions that have been asked in the survey.
Again, thank you to everyone who has taken part! You have helped in making a difference!
Thank you to everyone who has taken part in the Redefinition Games Survey. The response we’ve received has really blown us away!
Since the beginning of the survey, a number of people have left us a few questions. So we’ve taken a bit of time to answer them in a video. You can watch it below.
We haven’t been able to answer all of them, mainly become some will be answered in announcements to come and a few questions were asked after we had already recorded the video, so we might need to do another one.
We’d also like to give an even bigger thank you to the people who left us supportive comments and feedback. You guys and girls are awesome!
If you haven’t taken the survey yet and you would like to take part, feel free to click the image link below. Your added response will help in making a difference for us at Redefinition Games.
Someone asked us “What software do we use?” which we had an answer to, but cut out of the video because it was kind of boring. To that person, or anyone interested, you will find a list of software we use below to do a variety of different things.
For art, we use:
- Autodesk Maya 2013
- Autodesk Maya LT
- Adobe Photoshop
- Clip Studio Paint
- Adobe Illustrator
For game development we use:
- Visual Studio
- A bunch of in-house developed tools
For video editing and 2D animation
- Adobe Premiere
- Adobe Flash
- Adobe After Effects
We’re currently running a survey to help us understand what we can do with some of our upcoming game releases, and whether they might be a good idea or not. A lot of the questions you will see are related to things we may or may not do in the future, and is largely up in the air. Hence why we’re doing the survey!
Your answers will help us understand our audience a little better to determine the best direction to move in when finding support and funds. Knowing more about you will help us continue to create games, and other content, that everyone can enjoy.
Every person who takes part in the survey will be directly influencing important decisions being made by us at Redefinition Games.
The survey ends on 25th of March. So if you want to make a difference, please be sure to complete the survey before then. It only takes 5-10 minutes to complete. : P
All information collected is anonymous and any personal details (such as gender and age) are optional and will be kept confidential.
Thank you to everyone who has taken part in this survey. Your feedback is going to make a difference!
Amongst the panic and madness of last month, and the continued madness considering it’s already 1/3 of the way into March already, I managed to get a few things done.
Our new game is moving along nicely and now has a basic level editor!
This past week, I’ve been setting up a kind of floor plan editor in-game to help with creating and testing levels. It was relatively easy to set up because the levels are procedurally filled when they are loaded, limiting what the editor needs to do to just rooms and corridors. Doing it this way means from a single floor plan, different challenges and content can be generated into the level to create different experiences every time you play.
Our hopes with this is to eventually allow people to design their own levels to encourage aspiring developers or enthusiastic gamers to come up with their own unique levels, which focus more on the design and flow of a level without worrying to much about all the other details. The bonus of this method is that it creates re-playability for not only the players of those levels, but also the creator.
It is also the first small, and most simple we could come up with, step in the direction of understanding and developing tools for user generated content.
The AI System (PoliteAI) has also had some significant refinements to it, making it a lot easier to work with. The goal with the AI is to create a single creature which reads the environment and chooses the best action to take based on that info. Resulting in what is called emergent AI. Basically you give it the abilities, and based on what it has seen or heard, it decides what to do.
The real challenge is going to be in generating useful information (stimuli) into levels procedurally, to help it make it’s decisions. And with the prospect of users being able to create their own levels, this is probably going to be a tricky task. If that ends up proving way too challenging it may end up just coming down to limiting how the AI interacts with the player and some good use of “smoke and mirrors” to create interesting gameplay.
So far the basic game is there, it just needs a lot more art and a heck of a lot more AI code.
The biggest milestone for the month was the new website. It’s been a long time coming and one of the things I’ve wanted to change for over a year now. The old design was basically a blog which didn’t support what the majority of visitors were coming to the site for. Most of the traffic seemed to be looking for very specific pages, i.e The Very Organized Thief’s game page. With only a few sticking around to keep up to date with all the latest happenings.
So with that in mind, the redesign was to provide information and news to an audience that came here for a very specific thing, and letting them leave with a little more information then they originally came here for. All the game pages now contain the latest news from the blog relating to that game, a long with additional facts and info related to the game. It’s still missing a few other things that I’ll hopefully be adding later this year, to reflect new updates and releases, but right now that isn’t exactly useful since there isn’t much updates happening to our games just yet.
Their is also a new front page, if you didn’t notice (it’s kind of hard to miss), which should help with new visitors looking for us directly. It’s laid out to provide a good summary of all the latest news and the most recent games we’ve released.
There’s still a few fixes and tweaks to be made. And some things are also likely to change as we add more content to the website. But the site feels a whole lot better and is becoming a better home for everything we’re doing. It’s also great to have finally rolled out something new.
Hopefully we can keep up this pace in the coming months!
After a poorly timed random event last month, we talk about a couple changes we’ve had to make, as well as some of the new and exciting things to come. Like the new website and the new game we have in development!
Elise is on Patreon! Support her art by becoming a Patron. Everyone who becomes a patron will be helping her create and share more sketches, art videos and finished pieces that feature her cute art style for her YouTube channel, and gain access to them for your own enjoyment. So help her out if you can!
If you’re reading this, welcome to the new website!
Alex has been working hard to bring the new website to life, as well as a few other things!
For the last year we’ve been experimenting with our art, programming and video editing. A lot of which hasn’t been as straight forward as we planned them to be. And because of that we’re currently just winging it. This month there has been a number of delays and random events …again… so we threw all those plans out the window, and we’re just going to throw things out when they’re moderately ready to be shown.
So with that being said, the new website should help support that and everything that is to come.
All of the pages have been updated, although some of them are still currently being worked on, and there are a few new pages that will be coming out over the space of the coming year. You should be able to view the website easier and find a lot more information that previously wasn’t there. It should also be easier on your mobile devices as well.
The previous site was very cluttered, it was also really annoying to look at after having not been updated for 4 years. But, the design is much more modern now.
We have even added a new post format, that is less of a blog post and more like a status update. This is going to allow us to update people more regularly with what we’ve been up to. You should be able to see an example of this below! The status update is going to allow us to keep everything together, letting us automatically send them to Twitter and Facebook. So you can keep up to date either via the website or by following us on Twitter and Facebook.
We’re a small team, so trying to keep everyone everyone up to date at the same time can sometimes be a lot of work. This should simplify that!
If you encounter any issues with the new site, please feel free to contact us and let us know. And Alex will get right on it! ; D
It’s day time now, I think I might burst into flames.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this video we talk about the year gone by and some of the plans we have for 2016.