Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

explosions, texture swaps, allsorts…

I spent part of today adding new explosion effects to the game. Until now, all my particles have had random rotation. This makes them look natural, but for some explosion effects you want the particles to be ‘stretched’ and thus for them to be angled in the direction they face. Anyway, that’s in and looking good.

Also today I added some basic physics to debris so that when there is a big white explosive flash, it’s applied as a force to the debris which makes the explosion seem more 3D and impressive.

I’ve also been thinking about techniques to reduce the number of texture-swaps per frame, which is currently scarily high in some cases. I can’t easily use z-buffers for the game because the huge amount of alpha-blending that I do. (I tried it, and its slower). One thing I’m considering is more use of (manually assembled) texture atlases, another is to make greater use of concurrency by scheduling some tasks for processing by the CPU while the GPU is busy swapping textures.

I havent implemented resolution changing yet, but I’ll be taking everyone’s suggestions for doing so on-board on monday when I do it. I suspect I’ll display all options above a certain minimum height.

Website updated with FAQ and new screenshots

Yesterday I got the GSB website updated a bit, adding the final logo for the game and some small new screen shots and a FAQ. You can see it here:

And the faq is here:

As well as that, I also got the last few bits of GUI done, so the in-game GUI now is generally the final one, not the crappy one in the BBC video, although I’m hoping to add various bits of polish to it here and there. I also have a tutorial to do, and need to code in support for switching screen resolutions as well. From then on it’s back to play balancing and final weapons and data for the simulation.

The screen resolution system will probably support a number of fixed resolutions to choose from, if your card supports them. In the past, I’ve coded games that basically ask the card what it can do and let the player pick, but that can be hellishly awful to support, as some cards return about 100 options, and some can be obscure. Right now, the game needs 1024×768 minimum, but I might try and squash it to 600 for netbooks.

I definitely aim to support at least one stupidly big res, probably 1900 1200 res. If your video card can do it, the game will look real nice at that size.

It’s like BBC, but with me on it

They have put that video on-line about piracy for which they came to my humble abode and interviewed me. It’s quite short, and I lose track of what I said, because they dubbed over it hilariously in Spanish, but there it is:


I look much taller on TV. Actually I don’t, I look like a typical sad dork in his bedroom playing video games, and it’s one of the few times I get to see just how little hair I have left, but thats showbiz I guess. On a slightly more relevant note, theres about 1.25 seconds of me playing GSB, albeit with some horrid debug GUI and a placeholder splash screen. I think they dubbed some tacky dance music over it too, as the music isn’t in yet.

If you are like me, you will be suprised to hear someones voice who you have read things by but never heard. I think subconciously we all assume people whose voices we don’t know sound like us. It must be said, than in real-life, I’m not quite so spanish :D

User Interface

Today was day one of working on th proper UI for GSB. Until now, it’s been a GUI that I put together using my rubbish coder-art. Doubtless a lot of coder-art will make it into the final game, but I have at least some decent artist-drawn l33tness going in now. The general ‘look’ reminds me a bit of the mechwarrior games. I’m pretty happy with it, and am looking forward to transferring all the old placeholder GUi over to this new and better style.

There’s no point in showing screenshots of a half-implemented UI when everyone is watching coverage of E3 and the big corporate console games. It seems that it’s now official that the new Lionhead games main character is called milo. If you peak around the config files for Kudos and Kudos 2 you will see that the player is referred to as MIlo internally by the game. In fact, Kudos was originally called Milo.

Plus my second cat (who died) was called Milo.  Co-incidence? It must be something they put in the lionhead donuts.