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Game Development Chronicles

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AVANYU - The Process & Journey

By @ursling


"Awanyu (also Avanyu), is a Tewa deity, the guardian of water. Represented as a horned or plumed serpent with curves suggestive of flowing water or the zig-zag of lightning, Awanyu appears on the walls of caves located high above canyon rivers in New Mexico and Arizona. Awanyu may be related to the feathered serpent of Mesoamerica- Quetzalcoatl and related deities. Awanyu is a frequent motif on Native American pottery of the Southwestern United States."



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Awanyu

The alien, Avanyu, was born out the mystic ancient South American culture, and subsequent theories that there was an alien presence that visited earth and left its mark on our planet. Avanyu represents our own relationship with our origins in the universe that are intrically linked to water.



Maya

The mesh model is born in Maya, giving the basic shape and form. Each color represents a different material that later can be procedurally modified, at run time, using Unity.




Photoshop

Photoshop's 3D layer is useful to drop textures and images onto the model to assist in building an interesting and varied material




Substance Painter

The materials are imported into Substance Painter, from Maya, where amazing pre-set textures and substances are available to be applied and modified. Layering and masking enables extremely creative results.




ZBrush

ZBrush enhances Maya as it is a mesh sculpturing tool where the polygon density can be increased and fine tuned mesh sculpting can be performed. I used a Wacomb tablet for better hand control and a natural life-like feel of "painting" the sculpture. The result of this is an .obj file which can be imported into Designer, and baked into a Height Texture map for fine detail.




Substance Designer

These substances are exported into Substance Designer where they are linked to produce a single file that can be exported into Unity. This saves hours of back and forth and keeping track of hundreds of texture images. Updates from Maya, through to Painter and Designer are streamlined and inter-changeable in real-time. Designer's key features allow weathering, aging, blending, coloring, masking etc. This is where parameters are specified which can the later be set, at run-time, in the Unity engine.




Unity

And, voila, the creature emerges in Unity, alive and breathing.




Ludum Dare 32 - A.R.C.K.

By @morbidcamel

"To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the meaning of true knowledge."
- Socrates



A study of the cosmos continues to fuel the quest for unknown knowledge. In this latest update, another week of inspiration has led to the participation into Ludum Dare 32. For my 48 hour game competition entry, I've created an ancient "computer of the future". This futuristic computer simulates a hacking experience to obtain secret knowledge, rife with "Illuminati" symbolism. Admittedly, I could have made a more mainstream game, but I wanted to create a game that will really challenge people intellectually.


Due to a power failure I couldn't add more game types, but the basic principle applies.


You have a belief system that right now has been hard coded, but could easily be equivalent to a "Journey" or a "subset of a journey". The belief system contains a bunch of concepts. The concepts are all related by "evidence" or "insights". So basically Axon - Synapse typology.


An insight gets evaluated by the "tribe" and labeled as "Fact", "Good", "Bad" or "Misleading". Based on the collective weight of those insights you basically get a relationship with a weighted score (synapse) between the concepts.


The aim of the game is to let people discover the insights that would make the relationships apparent within the belief system. Armed with this knowledge the "theme" of the belief is discovered which becomes a main password to jump to that place in the system.


The concepts cycle which means through the process of deduction you could figure out the secondary password to the classified "insight".


Once you've figured out the secondary password (concept), you either go deeper into the belief system (another puzzle) or you reach a dead end. The dead end is not really a dead end - it will lead to an insight that the player needs to research on the internet. The player then reaches his own conclusions to get to the ultimate goal of the "journey", which is usually to "prove" something through thorough research.


In my case, I focus on a small snippet of words from JFK, "new in it's intensity, ancient in it's origin" and try to prove that "unconventional weapons" are ancient and were used by Augustus, Alexander the Great, and ancient civilizations. The Ark of the covenant possibly? That's the beauty of it - it's a belief that - given enough evidence can change.


This could be used as a learning tool. I can picture a class of kids, all trying to guess the relationship between concepts and when the insight gets revealed the teacher handles the lesson with that specific insight in mind and the media associated with the insight.



Ludum Dare 32 - A.R.C.K.


Creating Inhabitants

By @mrkenz0

"[My study of the universe] leaves little doubt that life has occurred on other planets. I doubt if the human race is the most intelligent form of life."
- Harold C. Urey

The potential for life beyond our solar system is undeniable. Somewhere beyond the stars, on a resource abundant exoplanet, intelligent aliens are gathering to create and build a world of their own.


What would life forms from another planet look like? How would they differ from humans? This is an exciting question to ponder. Maybe in our lifetime we will discover the answer. But for now, we're taking creative liberties and using a bit of imagination to design inhabitants from another world. These distant aliens would come in all shapes and sizes, exhibiting unique abilities that make each one special.





In the Inhabitant universe, we imagine a diverse community of alien residents. Strategy will be key in managing tasks, goals, and the emotions of your fellow inhabitant. How well you manage your colony of aliens will determine the success or failure of your cosmic economy.




Game design and development continues weekly as MorbidCamel and Ursling creatively build new 3D inhabitant models. Soon to be revealed are surrounding environment enhancements and new space station construction logic. Make sure to tune in to the latest Twitch sessions for first look previews of the latest improvements.

MorbidCamel's GameDev Chronicles


"There may be aliens in our Milky Way galaxy, and there are billions of other galaxies. The probability is almost certain that there is life somewhere in space."
- Buzz Aldrin






Defining the Experience

By @morbidcamel

"A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

We aspire to provide our players with an engaging and interactive experience, an experience that delights rather than one that frustrates. The user interface is one key aspect of gameplay interaction. Modern software design is far removed from the boxed UI implementations of yesteryear. It’s difficult to tell what the OS of the future will look like, but we are almost sure it won't look nearly as cool as our latest UI design.


Experience implies something more than just dropping a button on a form - it's a design philosophy that governs where that button is placed, how big it is, how it appears, in what context it is used and how the user feels about pressing it. There is no reason you cannot apply UX design principles to a game and that is exactly what we did.




In the latest development efforts we started converting our GUI system over to a new refreshed UI. This time focusing on how to make interaction easier for the player. A brand new HUD design makes it easier to view gameplay information and common command actions. We've built a framework to repurpose the same HUD elements in the different game settings and modes.


If you’re interested in seeing how we developed our UI system, check out our Twitch channel. Be sure to view "Building a Radar” to see how the new radar mini-map system has been implemented and “Target Selector” to see examples on how to use Unity’s animation tool. Both videos include tips on how to approach UIs using the new Unity GUI system.


"Once you have an innovation culture, even those who are not scientists or engineers - poets, actors, journalists - they, as communities, embrace the meaning of what it is to be scientifically literate. They embrace the concept of an innovation culture. They vote in ways that promote it. They don't fight science and they don't fight technology."
- Neil deGrasse Tyson

Technology is constantly evolving, offering innovative options for interface designs. For more than a decade, I’ve been developing apps for various platforms (e.g., web, windows forms, WPF, iOS and Android). What frustrates me about even the most modern tools is it doesn't give you enough flexibility, or requires you to write in some arbitrary made up XML based markup and there's nothing more painful dealing with mobile UIs.

And then… along came Unity 4.6 and trust me, I would have settled for anything that reduces the amount of code and rectangles you have to calculate. What I found was more than that...


The verdict: Unity nailed it! The new flexible UI framework allows you to create a AAA quality UI without the pain of creating a AAA quality UI. Finally someone got it. Not only did they build an amazing set of design tools, they stuck to what makes Unity great. They seamlessly blended the new UI components with the rest of the Unity framework. The Unity GUI no doubt is based on some trend setters on the Unity Store like nGUI, but the end result is even better than expected and certainly delivers on every promise made. Next up… Unity 5 can't wait.

Building an Exoplanet

By @morbidcamel

"We inhabit a universe where atoms are made in the centers of stars; where each second a thousand suns are born; where life is sparked by sunlight and lightning in the airs and waters of youthful planets"
- Carl Sagan

Outside our solar system, awaits a diverse array of undiscovered exoplanets. These vast celestial bodies orbit distant solar systems to reveal the grandeur of the cosmos. In the Inhabitant universe, we seek to capture the realism and exhiliration of space discovery. Like explorers to a new found land, your search across the cosmos will uncover the mysterious. Pockets of the galaxy never before seen. Planets and moons, rich with elements required for life and sustainability. The potential for life in the far reaches of space is undeniable. Somewhere out there, a G star similar to our own sun has given birth to a warm superterran. A new super earth, possibly inhabited by intelligent beings. These inhabitants of alien exoplanets are waiting for your visit.




"The eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility."
- Albert Einstein

The world building experience demands a realistic approach. This means we have to pay attention to the details and do our research at every turn. Every aspect is important to bring our love for the cosmos to your fingertips. True to science algorithms are implemented to simulate atmospheric scattering effects. Planet densities and conditions are calculated based on actual molar masses of periodic elements. The orbit and rotation of planets in exo solar systems determine the duration of night and day. We can also generate planetary rings based on Roche's limit to simulate the formation or destruction of moons by tidal forces. Just a few of many factors used to build exoplanets in the Inhabitant universe.






We're continually striving to improve the world building experience. More procedurally generated enhancements add to each unique and dynamic gameplay. Will this be the best space discovery game ever? Stay tuned to find out!

For sneak peeks of cosmic creativeness, be sure to check out MorbidCamel on Twitch.
MorbidCamel's GameDev Chronicles








"One in 200 stars has habitable Earth-like planets surrounding it - in the galaxy, half a billion stars have Earth-like planets going around them - that's huge, half a billion. So when we look at the night sky, it makes sense that someone is looking back at us."
- Michio Kaku

Superclusters, Nebulae, & Stars

By @mrkenz0

"Man must rise above the Earth to the top of the atmosphere and beyond for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives."
- Socrates

We're searching far galaxies for undiscovered stars. In this latest update, MorbidCamel has created a system for locating galaxies, nebulae, and stars in the expansive cosmos. Interstellar dust clouds give birth to new worlds and in the Inhabitant universe, these distant regions of space are waiting to be discovered.




Traversing from supercluster to nebula star regions will be crucial in creating your own space empire. World building begins when our Inhabitants gather resources and find habitable areas of a newly found galaxy. This is a grand task for any explorer, but the rewards are great and the voyage of discovery is even greater.






Our development space saga continues weekly. Make sure to join MorbidCamel on Twitch for more procedurally generated goodness.
MorbidCamel's GameDev Chronicles



"Exploration is in our nature. We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars."
- Carl Sagan

Navigating the Cosmos

By @morbidcamel

"The Cosmos is rich beyond measure: the total number of stars in the universe is greater than all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the planet Earth."
- Carl Sagan

The ability to transition between space and time convincingly in the Cosmos has always been the plan from day one of game development. It was only recently that I had the courage to pursue this challenging task. The biggest fear in attempting this goal is to handle the jump in grand scale cosmic distances.

"I now know, by an almost fatalistic conformity with the facts, that my destiny is to travel..."
- Ernesto Guevara

In Inhabitant, your fleet must travel thousands of parsecs within a span of seconds. Sure I can just make your ship defy all the laws of physics but I wanted the solution to obey the golden rule that the speed of light is the cosmic speed limit. Let's say you are part of an intelligent species that has existed for millions, if not billions, of years and you can manipulate the very fabric of space and time. How would this be done? The answer according to Einstein is a wormhole.




If your fleet were to bend space-time from one place to another in the universe, how could this be plausible? This ability of course would come at a high energy cost and what better way to power your mothership than to harness the power of neutron stars. Stars harvested from the middle of a Nebula, a remnant of a super nova! The fuel is out there, it just requires technology on a scale that stretches the imagination.




My biggest challenge was to build a navigational system that will enable you to traverse the Cosmos. You see, navigating the Cosmos will require a special mapping system. An interface to display entire clusters of galaxies. A visual of the stars much like the Perseus cluster. We like to refer to this system as a "UPS" (Universe Positioning System). The inspiration comes from details described in the Travis Walton alien abduction along with the Milky Way navigation design seen in Mass Effect.

I knew the solution for me would only make sense if I invented a machine firmly rooted in a planetarium style dome. Through this dome, you are the "control pod", commanding your space craft with unprecedented search capabilities. You will be able to view the entire universe and observe pockets of space where sustainable life could possibly flourish. With this knowledge, precious energy will be used to make the jump across the galaxy. Thus begins the experience of Inhabitant world building.

"In an infinite universe, anything that could be imagined might somewhere exist."
- Dean Koontz


To gain a better cosmic perspective, I would have to visualize entire clusters of galaxies! With a little experimentation and some more research, I decided to plug in Newton's Gravitational law on a galactic scale. Why? Because I wanted to not only visualize space but also time. Of course we're talking trillions of kilograms in mass, so this required a bit of trickery. The code is in play and I think the result looks really promising.



Procedurally Generating Solar Systems

By @mrkenz0

"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants."
- Isaac Newton

It's far beyond the stars and the stars continually inspire us to create. In this latest burst of inspiration, MorbidCamel has procedurally created the solar system. Using NASA data along with Newton's laws of gravitation, a stellar new addition to Inhabitant has risen: A code generated system of planets, orbiting moons, celestial rings, and nebula dust clouds.




Explore the solar system and experience the grand scale of the planets. If you're a fan of the cosmos with a passion for smart sci-fi games based in science fact, stay tuned for what's next on the event horizon.

Follow us on Twittter for a sneak peek of what's to come.
Inhabitant Twitter Page






Visit MorbidCamel's GameDev Chronicles for more procedural game tips
MorbidCamel's GameDev Chronicles



"When you reach for the stars, you are reaching for the farthest thing out there. When you reach deep into yourself, it is the same thing, but in the opposite direction. If you reach in both directions, you will have spanned the universe."
- Vera Nazarian

Live Feed

Intelligent life forms on Earth are encouraged to use the code name #InhabitantGame

Surveillance

Commander, our sources have tracked down a video of a MorbidCamel in its natural habitat...