Sunil's Blog

I make games! Mostly weird ones.

TV King: Retro CRT Shader

Since Ludum Dare is over, I’ve continued working on my puzzle game again. I’m currently implementing puzzles and working on the design, but on the side I’ve been working on the look and aesthetic of the game. Since the game takes place inside of a TV, I’ve been looking around for a solid TV/CRT retro shader. Thankfully, Gamasutra published a little tutorial for making my own CRT shader. The article was written by Svyatoslav Cherkasov, a game developer for an up and coming indie game called VHS Story which actually looks pretty cool! I’m looking forward to playing it

 

I followed the tutorial and added a little of my own custom code, and here’s a screenshot of the game using the shader:

Game CRT Shader SS

 

Still debating if I should keep it in the game… On one hand, it totally fits with the themes of the game and being trapped in a TV, but at the same time the look is a bit jarring. The player will need to look at the screen for a while since it’s a puzzle game, so would I want to annoy the player’s eyes with a tacky look? Well, one way or another, the shader will definitely make it into he game, just varying in degree.

 

My next post will probably deal more with puzzle design, but since I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and all my experience from puzzle design is from GDC lectures and PuzzleScript games created by Stephen Lavelle, it might take me a while to formulate my thoughts. Until next time!

Ludum Dare 32

This Ludum Dare was quite different than what I was used to. I usually compete in the compo going at it alone, stressing about the deadline and ultimately leading to an either interesting or boring prototype with sub-par pixel graphics. This time, I actually had teammates. This isn’t the first time I’ve worked on a game jam with other people, but it was the first time when i felt a connection and got along really well with everyone on the team. Ultimately, it was a very fun experience and a very silly/funny prototype came out of it.

Here is our entry, our game/prototype was called: The Forest of Hamelin

Here’s the team:

Alex Chytrowsky: Lead, HUD, Planning

Matt Murphy: Planning, Documentation

Sunil Rao (Me): Gameplay Programmer, Grandmaster of Unity

Ian Swift: AI/Pathfinding

Keith Thomas: 2D Art

Bryan Spahr: Voices, Music, Ambient Sound, ALL THE AUDIOS

Nathan Hurde: bringer of the chicken

 

I’ll update this post with some screenshots as well as some pictures of the game jam.

 

 

 

Motivational Video

I usually don’t post these kinds of things, but I stumbled upon this short little video while working on my prototype and it really moved me. Let’s all have a productive 2015!

Omnivision: Screenshots

I’ve been working on another prototype, it’s currently called “Omnivision”. Not sure when it’ll be finished but progress is being made. I’ve been in love with pixelation shaders as of late (no, they’re not just shitty low resolution screens!) I guess this game really shines in motion, I will post a video for it some time in the future, but until then:

7DFPS Forest SS   7DFPS Forest Hub SS

7DFPS Forest Level 0 SS   7DFPS Deer SS

 

Yearly Round Up: Awesome Games of 2014

Since 2015 is right around the corner, I’ve decided to create a little list of unique  games that I enjoyed very much this past year.  Let’s cut to the chase (links to the games are found in the titles):

1.) Danganronpa

Dangan.Ronpa

This game is not what it seems. From a surface level, it looks like a visual novel with Phoenix Wright elements of crime solving thrown in. At first I was skeptical of the story, because, well, it reminded me of the Hunger Games. But man was I wrong. The game revolves around several high school students who are locked in a prison of sorts. The only way out of the prison is to kill another student without being caught. The headmaster of the prison, named Monokuma, a cute but absolutely deadly (and hilarious) stuffed bear constantly heckles the students as they deal with their messy situation. Instead of simply focusing on the shock value of killing others, the game rather focuses on despair, depression, and motivation. I was honestly very surprised with the themes it decided to focus on, but it ultimately made for a unique and fresh gaming experience.

(Note: Since I couldn’t afford a PS Vita, I played an English patched version of the Japanese game on my PSP with custom firmware. The link in the title contains more info if you’re interested.)

 

2.) Dominique Pamplemousse

Dominique Pomple

This game is insane, and there is literally nothing like it. It may look like a simple point-and-click adventure, but the kicker is that it’s also a musical. Every piece of dialogue is sang by the developer Deirdra Kiai, and it makes for some heart warming and hilarious moments. The game also has a unique visual aesthetic, containing clay models for everything found in the game. The game deals with gender, politics, and whole host of other things.

 

 

3.) The Talos Principle

Talos Principle

This game is very special. Not only is it a puzzle game with intricate level design, but it also has a very deep and rich story that treats the player like an adult. No answers are given, but everything that’s needed to piece the story and puzzles together are given to you. I honestly haven’t felt so exhilarated playing a game since Braid, which is my favorite game of all-time. I can’t recommend this game enough, and I will probably write up a separate post solely dedicated to it. It’s a first person puzzle game with a science fiction inspired world, and deals with humanity, artificial intelligence, and consciousness. Seriously check this one out, it’s probably my favorite game of the year.

 

4.) Jazzpunk

Jazzpunk

Leave it to Adult Swim to publish a game that is creative, funny, and makes you laugh like a goddamn child. Jazzpunk, simply put, is a linear first person adventure game. It is filled with jokes, and it felt like the whole game was designed to make me smile. Hell, even Hunter S. Thompson makes a cameo!

 

5.) Battleblock Theater

battleblock theater

If you’re a fan of Behemoth games, or Castle Crashers in particular, then this game is just for you. Battleblock Theater is a platforming puzzler with a heavy emphasis on co-op. Although the game can be completed solo, I highly recommend playing it with a pal. The game’s story is also voiced by the one and only Will Stamper, adding hilarity and a sense of originality to an otherwise great and fun little platformer.

 

6.) Alien: Isolation

alien-isolation

Alien: Isolation is a pure homage to the original Alien. A first person horror game that isn’t afraid to copy from it’s predecessors, while still retaining a sense of originality. The game’s visual design is stunning, with an 80s inspired vision of the future that definitely makes the game stand out. If you’re a fan of the original Alien (I like to pretend the other Alien movies don’t exist), then you simply need to play this at some point, you’re in for a treat.

 

7.) Towerfall: Ascension

towerfall_ascension

This little indie game is the best to play with friends. It is a balanced and accessible platformer where you shoot arrows at your friends. The game is simple to pick up, but requires some strategy and a quick set of thumbs to be very good at it. If you have some gamepads lying around and a few bored friends, then look no further. This game has great replay value, with a great retro visual aesthetic and unique gameplay elements that will make you wanting more.

 

There are definitely more games that came out this year that I wasn’t able to play, and I hope to play them in the near future. I wish everyone a happy new years!

 

Made a weird game for Halloween

So I attended the Asylum Jam earlier this year. I went at it solo and made a really buggy prototype.

 

Here’s a little summary of the game jam:

Asylum Jam 2014 is a game jam that lasts for 48 hours where the only rule is to not use asylums, psychiatric institutes, medical professionals or violent/antipathic/’insane’ patients as settings or triggers.”

 

Here’s the GameJolt page.

SS_0 SS_3  SS_2 SS_1

 

Web

Windows

Mac

Linux

And here’s the source code on my GItHub.

Rise From Your Grave… Kind Of

Games are weird. You spend a lot of time designing and creating them, and by the end of it you’re left with this weird mutant baby right out of Eraserhead. Sometimes this mutant baby is nice and you grow to like it. Other times it spews venom at you every time you try to hold it.

 

At the end of last summer, I was completely stumped on the game I was working on: The Museum. I decided to just give up on the game, or at least put it aside until I figured out some issues. After that summer I kept thinking about the game in my head, over and over. Then, when this summer arrived, I figured out a lot of the design issues and made even more progress on the game. But, time is a cruel mistress and history loves to repeat itself. As I’m on the last day of my summer, nearing the first day of University classes, I feel the same hopelessness and dread as I did last year; I’m completely and utterly stumped on the game.

Who knows, maybe a year from now I’ll figure out the design problems I’ve been having as I did last year, but it’s looking grim. Thankfully, I’ve been feeling this hopelessness a bit earlier, a month ago to be exact. On that day of dread and despair, I realized that I have one month left before my classes start back up. I could have done two things: A) Realize that this is the last “summer break” I’ll ever have in my life and just relax and enjoy it before I join the cesspool of death that is the job market or B) Prepare myself for the job I want to pursue by practicing some C++ with OpenGL. Well, good news. I didn’t do either.

I instead just started to work on another game! (Commence onslaught of eye rolls) Except this time, I really focused on the missteps I took with The Museum. With every death of a game prototype, I learn a tremendous amount. I scour the grave of the prototype, trying to finding hints of why it went so horribly wrong. After some analyzing, I find some clues about why it died; simply bad (not fun or challenging) core game mechanic, lack of scalability, lack of art, no creative ideas found within the game’s systems. So, for this new game I decided to work in a preexisting genre; 2d grid-based puzzling. I then realized that, hey, I’m not an artist and shouldn’t waste my time on it. So after I completed a short prototype of the game showcasing the puzzles and ideas, I posted it on /r/gamedev and /r/INAT (I need a team) and lo and behold, I got a few responses! To be honest, I was utterly shocked. Who the hell would want to create art for a game made by me? Especially for free? (Also, the game is set to be a free release once it’s finished)

But real talk, the artist that I’m working with, Sara, is seriously talented. Just look at some of the stuff she’s made: https://imgur.com/a/Ek4NI

But alas, the artists I’ve been talking to share the same enthusiasm and passion for the game as I do. And with that, I spent my remaining summer crunching on the game and designing the puzzles. It’s also a short game, containing 5 levels of puzzles with each level taking approximately 25 minutes to beat. I currently have 2 levels completed, and am working on the remaining 3. Here are some screenshots:

 

TV Menu

level 2 boss

Channel 1 Animations

 

Unfortunately as a result of my last year of University classes starting back up on Monday, I won’t have as much time to work on the game. I’ll still try to squeeze in some game dev on the weekends, or If I have any down time during the week. But for now, I’m going to focus on honing my C++ skills and learn to use the OpenSceneGraph library. Thankfully, I have an opportunity to do research this semester on virtual reality, which entails me using C++ and OpenSceneGraph to make cool stuff. Until next time.

University classes start back up on Monday, working on my shitty game, and am a bit stressed about the future.

GAME DEV CRUNCH BEAST MODE ACTIVATE

THE END

Bzzzzzzt

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