Friday, May 20, 2016

Retro gaming!

Here you can see some gameplay footage of a really old game, made in Cuba. It ran on 8080 PCs with MS-DOS, and here Im using Dosbox to play it under Windows or Linux.

Labyrinth of Knowledge was very addictive, and Im working to implement a remake using Unity3d, with mobile devices as main target. Regrettably, the project should have been ready for january, but was delayed, so I cant have any release date, or even screenshots.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Progress report

The problem of advancing in a project is that things start to get more complex. I have implemented a few features I wanted, and currently Im going slower than before. The taks in this stage are few:  changing from one scene to another, dialog system and item system.

The second is specially complex. Dialog system is not difficult (when you have spent several years researching and implementing all the possible ideas), yet, the problem lies in how to provide a tool that eases the work of creating and modifying a conversation. A dialog is a big tree, with branches that share leaves, and both of them being subject to constraints like player attibutes, items or quests status. It requires some equally complex tool to manage such amount of information without loosing your mind, or with a minimum reliability.

Regrettably, there is not a free solution for this. The best seems to be Dialog System, which costs $65, and I havent bee able to try it because the donwloaded package is corrupted or it is not compatible with Unity3d 5.2 (according to official site, it is compiled for 5.3, whihc, I cant download). If some day you find yourself in this problem, I recommend that you buy it without hesitation.

The item system... well, it is a pending task since my first project. Im reusing most of the code, and I have advanced a lot. But that doesnt means that Im even close to have something that works. Specially considering that the ammo system is still a blurry idea somewhere in my mind, where the elusive wild ideas live.

But there are good news! I decided to put the modeler to do some concrete work: an scene. Also, assigned the first task to my second programmer. The goal is to have the first real content made for the game and test how capable they are to accomplish the assigned work. Perhaps in a week or so both will come back to report.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

How to develop cooperatively... in a single pc

It is time to seriously think about bringing more people to the project. The big problem is that none of those potential candidates (not many, really) have internet access. How do you set up a working environment when all your team is disconnected, and will be for the next 2-3 years?

I have been thinking about that since a month ago. Using the same PC by turns is annoying, but could be a Plan B. Preferably, a Plan Z. Putting several PCs in a single room is impossible: that would require renting a place (it is a zero budget project, remember), and setting  work hours, like an office. I think that creation shouldnt be restricted to specific hours, and videogame development is mostly about creation.

The best solution seems to be to set up a git repository in one PC, and let the developers bring their work in flash drives. I have been doing it for some time, working at home and then pushing the changes to github from here. But that doesnt works when part of your team lives more than 50 km away. In that case, the optimal choice is to have one laptop for each member that inevitably requires access to Github, and pull/push from public WiFi spots (not free, and the laptops would require a heavy investment).

Not an simple problem. Suggestions are welcome.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Unigine 2.0 scores one

Like 7-8 years ago no commercial engine supported Linux. Every game developer knew that Linux users were a few, and they only played free games. I was working with Ogre3d then, and suddenly, Phoronix came up with this fancy new engine that supported Linux natively, Unigine. Impossible not to fall in love with it.

But soon I realized that Unigine was a sort of platonic love. The developers refused to provide the engine for evaluation, unless you were an established studio (which probably, didnt need to try another engine). Very few people knew how to properly use it, as I discovered later, when hired for a project. The documentation was scarce, and you had to figure out how the things worked by looking at the provided samples.

Since then, most of AAA engines became free to use and implemented Linux support, leading to even more videotutorials and such. Unigine, still closed, still very expensive, has been relegated to some post, once in a year. Like today, when I read in Phoronix that a new MMORPG project has switched from Unreal Engine to Unigine 2. Im really amazed by such decision, but they have their reasons, that you can read in the original post. I just wish them the best luck.