Cool Stuff!, Game Dev Adventures!

Game Projects I: Week 6 — GHOSTS!

Being sick over the weekend I was seriously panicking. I had no idea how I was going to write the ghosts.

The problem with the ghosts is that there position is dynamic: depending on input from the player for different parts of their positioning, and then they have to find the track.

For instance: let’s do the ghost for player one.

So player one is at

  • p1=(x,y,z) and rotation r1= (x,y,z).

Player two is at

  • p2=(x,y,z) and rotation r2= (x,y,z).

For ghost one (the ghost for player one), we need determine AT RUN TIME the following:

  • g_p1 = (x, y, z), and g_r2 = (x,y,z)

Problem Rotation: we wanted the ghost to mimic the rotational movements of the player. So if they were moving left, right, or had flipped over, we wanted to show that on the track.

Solution Rotation: So rotation, in 2D space, should be g_r2 = r1 for x and y. We don’t have to worry about z rotation because the road is flat (we’re not in 3 space). Only you do want to show when a player crashes, so z rotation of player1 does matter. Aye, aye, aye. I just assigned g_r2 = r1 in 2D space for now, but this became a major issue in 3D space.

Problem Position: The position of the ghost should somehow measure the distance that player1 has traveled on the path player2 is on if he’d taken the same path as player2.

Problem Metric: How do you measure the metric and what should the metric be?

I had several long conversations about what the metric would be with many different people many different times. In fact, in two different talks with the professors we talked ourselves around to the others ideas, which left me back at square one. What is the metric. Here were all the ideas I thought of and considered. The ones I thought would work the best were from start to current, or relative closest behind.

  • The ideas ranged from
  • Measuring the distance traveled from the beginning to the current position (easy)
  • Measuring a relative distance to the other player by measuring backwards to the closest fork and finding the best path
  • Measuring the best, worst, or average distance to the end.
  • Use some type of displacement

Solution z-position: For this I called in help from a friend. Ben Driggs came over late and we discussed the issue. Since the race I was making happens mostly in 2-space he suggested making the metric the displacement in z. Not a true measure of distance, but a place to start!

Problem Position x,y: While this gave a resolution to the z problem, it didn’t solve x and y. I didn’t have a lot of time to figure something complicated out, and since player2 is the one that needs to see the ghost I slapped on the ghost’s x,y as determined by player2. This meant that effectively player1’s ghost “floated” in space (the backdrop of the race was in the air!), but it gave an excellent place to start for play testing to see if the ghosts were fun at all.

So to sum up:

  • g_r1 = r1
  • g_p1 = (r2.x, r2.y, r1.z)

We also had the art added in with arrows, landmarks, and a finish post. It made the race super fun. We found that having the ghosts on the path with us did provide that head-to-head feeling of having other racers with you and still allowed for you to choose the path you wanted to go on. So the demo was a success.

Armadillo Smash N' Roll!, Cool Stuff!, Game Dev Adventures!

Game Proto-Publishable 4, Week 6: And… PUBLISHED!! WOOT WOOT!!

Phew! Week 6 of the proto-publishable was a rough one! The professors continued to add more “final” projects onto an already full load so sleep I did not. All us engineers had a memory manager due, of which the professor only gave us one half of a lecture on to make it from, Friday at midnight. After two very long days making that, it was actually kind of fun though I spent all my free time on it (and I nailed it! Totally got an A in engineering!), Gagan and I headed over to the game lab for what turned out to be a very long night. Team Monkey Love Hippo also didn’t pass certification, and so Binoy also joined us.

Despite a very long day, it was actually really fun. We all worked on both games: Binoy helped us and we helped him. I helped Gagan with UI aspects of movement, Binoy helped Gagan with sound, I helped Binoy with UI, Gagan helped with photoshop projects, and I did all the builds. Ha, at one point I told Binoy (who needed a break from making his game) to go help Gagan with sound while I did his UI because he couldn’t get it working. Brad occassionally called in to check in on us, and then I gave him a call when we finished our build and uploaded it to the windows 8 store. I then helped Binoy get theirs published. At 4am we called it quits! And by quits I mean we went to Binoy’s and played games til 6am when which is when we all finally conked out.

I was sick with worry all weekend that we’d missed something and would have to head into the lab again, again on our holiday break! Brad called me at 11am at work on Monday and told me the news. “So, yeah, they finally got back…” Oh great, back to the lab, I thought. “So Yeah, uh, we’re published.” Screams of joy ensued.
The levels still need some major tweaking and we’re working on fixing the controls. There have been some major issues with them so I’m very proud of the quick solution we came up with that very long Saturday/Sunday in order to get the game published to Windows 8, but they’re still not quite there for the game play. Really the game’s momentum based movement was optimized for an accelerometer or mouse, and we had to make it work with touch (because of Microsoft’s certification for publication requirements), which ended up being a bit of a hack job. Also the levels, after we finally had some time for playtesting, need some tweaking.

Despite the control and level tweaks that need to be made, Armadillo Smash N’ Roll! is still a super fun game to play! It’s just a little hard to beat! I dare you to pass level three!! 😀 Remember all this when you download the game; don’t be too harsh in your critiques. Give us 5 stars so we’ll come out with improved future releases. (We are working on it!) You can get Armie the adorable armadillo’s game here.

Cool Stuff!, Game Dev Adventures!, Helping Hand

Where’s the fun?

I am so grateful that I’ve finally found a way to do all the things I love doing — writing, editing, math, engineering, games, art, creating, story telling, blogging, collaborating with amazingly talented and creative people, and just having fun making GAMES!

There’s so much theory and study to game design and play, but I love that the most important end goal in every game is FUN!! The question always comes back to, “What makes our/your/this game fun?” Because games should be an experience, magical, challenging, beautiful, puzzling, and fun, Fun, fUn, FUN! Just like life! (Note to those that follow: a question you will always be asked and must KNOW the answer to is: “What is fun about your game?” If you don’t know, discover it. If it’s not fun, fix it or scrap it. If you know, add the fun everywhere you can without being too much and tell everybody!)

I’ve never been so inspired or felt so passionate. This game development/engineering/design journey is amazing. It’s hard, it’s wonderful, it’s challenging, it’s amazing, it’s keeping me super crazy busy (I think I get to sleep at Christmas time, maybe??), and it’s fun! Just the way it should be.

Where’s the fun? It’s right here.

(here = where I am because I am fun!) 😉

Cool Stuff!

Game Sites

In my game research and conversations with my incredibly talented, smart, and fun fellow students, I’ve discovered a couple really cool gaming websites. There are a TON out there, but I thought I’d share the most recent two I’ve come across:

80s Arcade Games!

Aw the 80s; the era of big hair, neon colors, and awesome arcade games played with only a joystick and two buttons. It’s crazy the variety of games that occur on this platform with nothing more than movement and two buttons. There are a couple websites you can go to to play these games for free online but the one I found was It’s crazy the amount of things you can do in this seemingly limited environment: Donkey  Kong, Gauntlet, Asteroid, Commando, Centipede, Frogger, etc. What’s interesting is that though you may not recognize these games for themselves, unless you grew up in the 80s, many of them are recognizable as mini games in later, more sophisticated video games, like Dig Dug, or Donkey Kong. But they’re still fun just play on their own.

Random Game Facts

Did you know that most of Pokemon gold and silver music was composed on an amiga? Did you knowthe iconic Final Fantasy song “Prelude” was made in five minutes? Did you know you could find more random facts like these on I didn’t either, but soon we’ll all know.


Cool Stuff!, Game Dev Adventures!

Rapid Prototyping 1: Game Prototype 1, Week 1 — Game Creation

Aw, rapid prototyping. The class that may just kill all the engineers.

Let me explain: we are to create a new game around a new theme given to us by new clients, with a new team, in a new language — which most, if not all, of the engineers won’t have used before — every four weeks. We have class for four hours every Tuesday and Thursday. Which sounds like we have more time than we really do to program the game. The first class is taken up by the clients and them giving us the game and then our team coming up with a game idea. The second class is spent trying to learn the language (and all the time in between). Then we have the second and third week which is mostly spent on the game, and then finally on week four we practice pitch and t

On Tuesday, the first day of class, we were given our first assignment. Project 1:

  • Game clients: Corinne & Amy
  • Game theme: cute, mobile, achievements (Corinne), pink & purple (Amy), not pick (Corinne), something they could pick up and play at anytime.
  • Group: artitst Jing; producers Toni & Brenton; engineers Hailin, Binoy, and myself
  • Language: Moai

My first thought, “What the heck is Moai?” Then, “I have to make a game in Moai?? How do you even pronounce it?”

Immediately after getting this information we were divided into ten teams. Each team got right down to business in coming up with a game idea, or at least our team did. During our brainstorming session their were some great ideas pitched. Toni pitched teddy bears and I immediately jumped to pet store which everyone else started building on top of. So that’s what we built up a game idea around managing a pet store, splicing for new creations, teaching the pets tricks, finding strays, etc. We had a billion ideas to go from.

My first group is going to be awesome, I can already tell. Everyone listened, compromised, and was willing to do whatever to make a great game.

On Thursday the engineers got to go down as a group to EA in Salt Lake while our teams did an initial pitch of out game ideas. It was hard not to be their to support the team, but EA was a cool experience too. Since none of us were getting to hear all the ideas we all talked about our games with each other and asked the all important question, “Has anyone used Moai or Lua before?” The answer was no. Not a single engineer was familiar with either. Though, to be fair, most of us had at least heard of Lua before. Where did this Moai come from?


Brenton and Toni pitched the idea to Amy and Corinne and the idea of micromanaging the store got shot down. Our artitst, Jing, had also drawn up some awesome concept art of store and the animal, but received the same feedback: loved the animals, not so hot on the store idea. When they brought back the news to the team I was all like, “That’s easy. Let’s kill the store and keep the animals. We can build something else around the idea.” Everyone else seemed to be thinking the same thing. So no store, :(, but lots of cute animals still! 🙂

Jing's store cocept art. The store idea got scrapped. For now we're keeping the animals, but they don't have anywhere to live...
Jing’s store concept art. The store idea got scrapped. For now we’re keeping the animals, but they don’t have anywhere to live…

This is going to be an interesting project, and a fun group to work with. At the end of the week we have concept art for animals which have no place to live, a million mini game ideas, and we’re trying to figure out what Moai is. Stay tuned…