I have been hard at work on my game Sentry Wars, a VR RTS for HTC Vive.
I struggled for several days trying to figure out how to update the Color of a Network.Spawned object, but I finally got it to work. The trick is that you have to call a ClientRpc from the Server, pass the color as a parameter, and have the color set as a [SyncVar]:
In this case, SetMeshRendererColor is called from another script which checks isServer before calling it. GetBuildingColor in my case is just checking which player owns the building, and sets thisBuildingColor accordingly. Worked like magic. Thanks to Miller Tinkerhess and Zack Rock for helping me understand Client/Server relationships.
In other news, Mykolas and I are hard at work on our book about Pathologic, we have recently received advice from Gabe Durham of Boss Fight books regarding steps in completing a book of this sort. We are still gathering notes, reading up on additional resources, and coming to basic conclusions about how we want to approach Pathologic’s game design analysis. Mykolas found this gem: Pathologic Games as Art Manifesto which goes to show just how deliberate Ice Pick Lodge’s artistic intentions were when beginning the production of Pathologic – we definitely plan on citing this in the introduction to our book.
Book Recommendation: “Road Side Picnic” by the Strugatsky Brothers, for anyone who wants to know about an author who had a tremendous influence on Russian Film and Video Games, especially STALKER the film and STALKER Shadow of Chernobyl.
My most recent gamedev stream for carPG-13 involved a demonstration of my car NPCs and their ability to navigate around a world on their own without a nav mesh by using a ray cast detection system. You can find out more in the video below:
I will be taking a break from carPG-13 in the coming months because I have started working on a VR RTS game which I will be releasing in partnership with my current company, BrainRush. After helping my friend Edwon on his VR virtual pet, I have learned a lot about the design strengths and limitations in VR and I think that my VR RTS fits nicely into the VR system.
My friend Mykolas and I are beginning a book on our favorite game Pathologic, we will be playing through the game together 3 times in the coming months while taking notes and outlining our book. We expect the book to be done in 2017. Mykolas and I have been discussing the game design behind Pathologic since high school (8 years ago) and we find it to be the most relevant topic of discussion in video games, so we are finally going to take action and attempt to share our ideas with the world.
Enjoy this photo of me with my first VR head set, the Vive Pre, which Valve sent to me thanks to my good friend Edwon, check out his website at http://www.edwon.tv/
Book Recommendation: “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, a great read for anyone looking to improve their ability to manage a team or expand their network – or interact with humans in general.
User Story: As a player, I want each NPC car to react to every action I take in its proximity.
In carPG-13, NPC cars react to how you behave when you are around them. If you get too close to a car who likes his space, he will get upset at you and back up. He will also angerCounter++ his metrics. If he hits his angerThreshold, say 3, he will getAngry(). In the video below, I show the programming of a Mechanic NPC’s getAngry() function which triggers a machine gun turret to start firing at the player. Check it out:
Book Recommendation: “Inner Work” by Robert Johnson for anyone who wants to learn how to incorporate their dreams into their spiritual life and conscious self.
I have just started a new youtube series where I stream myself programming various game projects. For the next few months, I will be streaming the development of a Drone Simulator and the development of carPG-13.
My intention with these videos is to interact with other game developers and also reflect on my own game development process. Here is my first video:
In this video I build the basic components of a Drone Simulator. My gamedev videos will be long because I will often have to refactor and debug due to the lack of time I have in planning these videos – I am doing them on top of a full time job at a start-up. However, I will be sharing the source code for Drone Simulator which will help compensate for the lack of concision in my streams.
Book Recommendation: “The Stranger” by Albert Camus, for anyone looking for an introduction to existential fiction.
New Important People in VR Robert Brackenridge – Virtuix Nathan Burba – Survios Ray Davis – Epic
VC’s to Approach The Venture Reality Fund Envelop VR – Bob Berry Accel – Kobie Fuller prefers tech to games DFJ – Bubby Murarka prefers tech to games Boost VC – Jeff Wasson – is willing to write riskier, smaller checks (aka games). FACT: In 2015 700 million of investment went into vr
How to Succeed in VR
Get market exposure
Have passion about what you are building
Have fresh perspective and be insane when making a VR product ~Kobie
VC’s find it hard to invest in content creation studios – they are not venture scale. VC’s are not looking for story or character.
Games or content success is hard to predict – so make a scalable idea if you want investors
Know the business model of a venture firm before pitching
Be honest and authentic with VCs
Valuation is mostly determined by negotiation in an emerging market for start ups
New Tech to Check Out
Gpuopen.com open source graphics by AMD
Book Recommendation: “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card, if you saw the movie but have not read the book, prepare yourself for a deep exploration of the human survival instinct, warfare, and theory of the mind in what is perhaps Card’s greatest novel.
I recently developed a standardized design process for my team at BrainRush because we had so much design work that it needed to start being distributed to members that were not previously ordained as “designers”.
If you do not create a Design Document before implementing a design, you will find yourself conceptualizing solutions to problems while working rather than just quickly implementing items off of an already solved list. Determining development solutions on the fly can lead to lulls in attention of “what to do next” and make for a slower development process. Of course, a Design Document does not need to be followed in extreme detail, but it certainly serves to expedite the process of implementation and keep a nice record of work progress.
At BrainRush, we follow the Design Document template below to complete a design task: a creative task that a developer must complete before implementing a substantial feature into a game. Design Documents do not work for everyone, but in order for teams to share responsibility, trust one another’s design sensibilities, and maintain transparency of intention, it is always best to have a preconceived set of solutions and tasks before programming, modeling, and developing a feature.
Design Document Requirements:
Written List of Core Design Elements
All of the core pieces of programming functionality required for a design to work from start to finish
All of the art assets that will be required for the design to be visually complete from start to finish
All of the audio assets that will be required for the design to be aurally engaging from start to finish
A paragraph about how all of the programming, art, and audio will work together in the completed state of the design.
A paragraph about major challenges or unknowns that will need to be confronted during the design process
A paragraph about the goals behind the design and what the user will ideally experience with the completed version of the design
Technical Design / Drawings / Flow Charts
A technical design for a strictly programmatic design can be
A highly detailed pseudo code word documents that outlines the functions and variables of each class
A flowchart or diagram for the flow of input data, classes and their relationship to one another, and changes of state that may occur in the application.
A level design, UI design, or 3D Art Design can be
A hand or computer drawn sketch organizing the visual elements with text description of each element
A series of images that represent the different visual states in which a design may appear and how they transition between one another
NOTE: Hand drawn/written documents are encouraged and are to be photographed and uploaded to the design document in addition to written text of sections 1 and 2
Submit the document for manager/peer review
Book Recommendation: “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards for anyone looking to improve their drawing and perception skills. This book provides foundational insight into how to interpret images you want to draw such that you can break them down into elements and procedures rather than feel overwhelmed by their complexity.
caRPG-13 is the early prototype of a game in which human beings have all become hover cars and consume gas to survive. When a car runs out of gas, it dies just like a human would if it ran out of oxygen or food. Just like humans, these cars can also fall in love. I wanted to make a game where you felt romantic feelings toward a car while struggling to survive in an apocalyptic, resource starved, labyrinthian city. The goal of the game is to reach the top of the city and get into an escape pod before it is too late – time is always ticking and gas is always being spent.
So far, all art assets in caRPG-13 are modified versions from a failed racing game I worked on a year ago – shout out to the artists who made these – you know who you are. The practical thing about using hover cars as humans is that you do not have to worry about animations of any sort, so you can focus on programming other features – in my case I am most interested in NPC AI and character interaction and how they can fit into a game’s design and emotional experience.
I am modeling caRPG-13 off of the famous game Pathologic by using resources vs time to propel the game objectives forward. However, unlike Pathologic which focuses on the simulation of a complex, evolving society, caRPG-13 will focus on character evolution over time and aim to derive narrative meaning out of non-static character interaction.
While Pathologic was a masterpiece, it left a little to be desired in terms of character interaction. With a whole cast of interesting characters all you could do with them was go into one of their houses and talk. These main characters did not move and could not react to you in physical space. In games, it seems that the most common way to interact with characters in a non-violent way is through quests and text trees. While these are a nice staple for storytelling, there are certainly many other ways to build relationships between characters – namely through physical action. What I want to do in caRPG-13 is experiment with a few new types of non-violent interaction between a player and NPC that may enrich the emotional consequences of player agency in the game. In my next blog post, I will talk about the romance that evolves between two lucky cars in caRPG-13. Please subscribe.
Book Recommendation: “The Death of Ivan Ilyich” by Leo Tolstoy, a novella for those who prefer to work hard and make tons of money rather than address their deeper personal issues.