Tiled Map Editor
Screenshot

I was looking into XML Tile Map editors a while ago and I found Tiled Map Editor. The site looked nice and was recently updated so I thought it looked like a good one to try. I recognized the demo maps displayed in the editor screenshots, they were from The Mana World. I contributed a few tiles to the project back in 2004, about midway through my journey through college.

During that time I was trying to figure out how I was going to be able to make games for a living. Although I was developing games like Thugjacker in my free time, I never believed there was a career in doing Flash games. I was preparing to become a 3D environmental artist, hoping to break into the game industry by designing a Half-Life 2 map. But I’ve always had the urge to explore different 2D art styles — I had a huge fascination with pixel art. During that time I would browse the Pixelation forum. The pixel art there was inspiring and I wanted to get in on it, but it was kind of hard with no direction. I just wanted to make some assets and learn the craft, not do all the characters and everything else. Shortly after that, I found a post recruiting people for The Mana World.

The Mana World is a free and open-source 2d MMORPG. It runs on the eAthena server, which is open-source software that emulates a Ragnarok Online server. I thought the game looked cool. It looked like Secret of Mana which was one of my favorite games growing up. It also reminded me of Ragnarok Online, which I didn’t play much but thought was super cool (I loved the art). So I jumped in.

Back when I first saw it, the game was super rough. Laggy. Buggy. But I loved being a part of it, the team was dedicated. It was exciting to log in everyday and see what changes were made while I was away. Most of the game development discussion was done in IRC chat rooms. There were many contributors. And good number of enthusiasts as well, which mostly played and gave feedback.


These are the tiles that I contributed to The Mana World.

I ended up dropping out of the project shortly after finishing these tiles. I had to devote more time to finishing school and my own projects. Looking back, it was my first experience working in a game development team that wasn’t just me and Ricky. I got some practice with working remotely with a team that was based in Europe. I got to feel the pressure of having to deliver game assets and the joy when everyone enjoyed what I contributed. It was also my first exposure to the concept of SVN — which saved me from feeling dumb when I first started using SVN at work.

I think it’s important to remember there’s always a game team out there that could use some help. People in school or just trying to break in the industry can look for these opportunities to gain some experience, and hopefully that leads to more confidence and some good portfolio pieces. From my experience on this project I knew that I could handle tiled pixel artwork. I wouldn’t revive this ability until 2007 on LUV Tank.

Peace!

-Bryson

As usual, I’m working on too many things at once. But it’s nice when I have something nice to show!

 

This is an animation from the revamping of Chris’ game Rush Hour. It’s been done for a while but I’ve been set on adding some new features to make it even better. Chris has resurrected his programming role on this game and I’m glad because I had a hard time trying to figure out how his code worked. haha.

After we finish this, I’ll be focusing once more on the Donut game. And hopefully not much else.

Devoid Game Title

I participated in the Global Game Jam last year after Chris peer pressured me. The game jam is where you meet up with a bunch of friends and strangers and work to knock out a game in 48-hours. I enjoyed the spontaneously creative environment and the new faces I met. Our game last year, Triune Soldier was something that wouldn’t have been made without the Game Jam so I wanted to see what would come out of it if I did it again.

This year, Chris wasn’t able to participate because he was caught up in moving into a new apartment. That was a bummer but my coworker Alex was joining in so I was planning to work with him and whoever else I met along the way. I showed up late again this year and wasn’t able to find my coworker. When I made it to the GamePipe Lab, I found my teammate from last year, Gabriel, and his team working out the game concept. I decided to jump right in.

The theme for this game jam was “Extinction” — like what happened to the dinosaurs. They were working out a concept involving a guy swatting mosquitos. The game was being created in Unity 3D. When I got there, Gabriel was pitching a sort of departure from the concept, trying to simplify the idea and abstract it to make it something more reasonably attainable in the short 48-hours.

The concept was less literal. Instead of mosquitos, the players were destroying these docile “white balls”. The personality of the balls was to be communicated by how they reacted and animated. Gabriel wanted to communicate the story through the movement and sound design similar to what’s exemplified in the Heider-Simmel demonstration or the classic Chuck Jones animation The Line and The Dot. This direction was majorly influenced by Gabirel having to pull an all-nighter last year to finish up the artwork and animations for Triune Soldier. I supported the direction to go abstract. We were working in 3d and didn’t have time to create, setup, and animate assets. And we were working in Unity, which none of us had created any finished games with before.

This new direction created a divide within the team. Our lead programmer was set on creating a literal concept. And even when explaining that the gameplay would remain unchanged, just the presentation would differ, he couldn’t agree to work on something with an abstract direction. The argument against the literal direction was basically scope related: we didn’t have assets, mosquitos would be hard to read visually in a 3d environment, there’s more expectations of what the player could do (jumping, collision with objects, environment, etc.) He insisted that wasn’t gonna be a problem but if there’s anything that I know to be true, everything in 3d takes way longer.

I strongly backed Gabriel’s idea because it was fully conceptualized. He drew up mockups of the style, rendered a short 3d Studio Max animation of gameplay, created a first pass at sound, and the story had a beginning and end. This was hard evidence for his concept.  My support for the abstract direction was a bit of a surprise to Gabriel as I was adamantly opposed it last year (“I don’t want any abstract bullshit I wanna see some characters and a story!” haha ), but I was more open to it now that we were working in 3d and he already drew up mock-ups for the concept.

So anyway, shortly after I joined, I broke off into another team. We were wasting too much time arguing and we needed to move forward confidently. I booted up Unity and began setting up a scene for Gabriel’s concept.

I had mentioned briefly that none of us had completed a game in Unity before — Flash is my area of expertise. I’d done some tests and tutorials before and between the arguing I was giving our developers Jacob and Vishak a primer of what I knew about Unity. Basically how to setup a scene, link code to objects and instantiating objects. Jacob was set to do AI for the game, he’d done a lot of stuff in C++ and C# and was planning to implement some concepts he learned from an AI book. The split of our team didn’t affect him much because his AI code could be used for both projects, as the concepts were practically the same!

That was the first night. The next day, I came in with a basic demo of the game. There was a player with movement, enemy spawning, and some basic shaders applied to them for a graphic look. That morning we got an e-mail from Jacob saying that he wouldn’t be making it back but he sent the AI code he created. I spent an hour or two implementing the enemy code. Throughout the day I worked to get enemy targeting and destruction working. Vishak was handling UI and sound related things. One of the game jam organizers, Mihir, served as our tech-support and goto guy for Unity help as he was in the lab with us and he had finished some Unity projects before. That night Chris H. made it to the game jam and joined our team, offering a variety of abiltiies.

On the 2nd night, I punked out and went home early. I wasn’t intending to burn myself out over the game jam, because that sorta negates the benefits of it for me. Overnight Mihir joined the team officially and took over — working to implement all of the features that weren’t in there. A proximity based enemy targeting system, new modes of enemy behavior, sound and more. When I returned on Sunday, the game transformed a great deal.

On the final day, the rest of the team mostly polished bugs. Working out the enemy movement, sound effects, adding the title screen and whatnot. I pretty much just sat back and watched, and uploaded it when it was done. The result was great and it was great to see everyone pull it off and smile at the result.

I’m looking forward to Game Jamming again next year!

Credits:


The Team, from left to right

Game:

Download devoid (about 40MB)

Source Files:

We’ve released this Unity project as open-source.

More links:

It’s kind of hard to keep up with Flash game competitions. Every time I hear about one, there’s only a little amount of time left. And even if I know about them for a while, I decide at the last minute to enter! Here’s my last minute attempt to get the word out on a few.

2nd Games That Challenge the World Contest

Deadline: February 28th, 2011 at 23:59 est

Requirements: Make use of the Come2Play Multiplayer Api.

This is my first time hearing of this Come2Play system. From what I can tell, games that implement the API use a universal currency called ‘tokens’. You can check out the documentation to get started and Emanuele Ornella wrote a tutorial for implementing the Multiplayer Api that might be worth checking out as well.

Here are the winners for the 1st competition to get an idea of what the competition might look like.

More information at the Come2Play website.

Stanford Hackathon’s Flash game Competition

Deadline: Too Soon, February 13th at Noon PST

Requirements: Create a game with the theme of “benevolence”. Whatever that means…

Prizes: The best part is every submission wins a copy of FDT 4 Pure, the excellent ActionScript code editor. Which is awesome if you’re on Mac because you don’t have Flash Develop. Grand prize is Adobe Master Collection and a bunch of nice goodies. Check the page for the full prize list.

My homies the Super Fulton Bros. (Steve and Jeff Fulton) are judging this one, as they posted on their site. Jeff expressed concern for how subjective the theme is but that may make it more fun in the end! Part of what makes Apples to Apples so great — the other part being plenty of alcohol consumption.

More information at Stanford’s hackathon website.

Pico Day on Newgrounds

Deadline: April 30th

The yearly Pico Day event will be happening on Newgrounds not too long from now. It’s a while so there may be time to plan something! haha

If you don’t know what Pico Day is, it’s a where Newgrounds users submit a bunch of animations and games themed around Pico, the classic Newgrounds Flash game from like 10 years ago. It was a huge inspiration for me back when I was messing around in Flash 3. Gotoandplay genius.

Some info on prizing in the blog update.

Kongregate Monthly Competition

Deadline: End of the month! Every month.

I never knew Kongregate had a monthly competition. But it seems that they do.

More info at the Kongregate website.