Game Development

Blog 859: Past Mistakes

Sometimes, you just have to admit that you’ve ended up melding critical gameplay logic with artwork, and maybe that’s not such a great idea.

Yes, as I was working on beefing up my Milkshape model importer to automatically generate entire units, I stumbled into… well, an issue that had been on my mind for a while (as well as realising that making a model wholesale generate a unit is also a bad idea). Time to do a whole universe of rewiring to achieve absolutely no visible impact!

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Game Development

Blog 854: Ultralight

Some of you may remember that I used to go to a meet-up for local Edinburgh game developers called GameDevEd… In fact, I went so regularly that I ended up becoming the organiser (oops). This is a fun role for somebody who doesn’t have a smartphone, seeing as it requires being able to broadcast which table we’re at on social media. To compensate, I take along my little laptop, because the full game dev laptop is too massive to cart around all day (let alone keep open next to my dinner and a drink or two).

Now that the pubs are definitely open again, I’ve finally restarted GameDevEd. Unlike the Before Times, however, I now have a demo — my precious Exon can truly be played live! But my little laptop can’t run Exon smoothly, so no, actually, Exon cannot be played live…

… Unless I can find a way?

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Game Development

Blog 851: Crafting the Waystation

I have a complicated relationship with crafting mechanics. In terms of narrative, I actually tend to hate crafting — it’s very likely to devalue any item you find in the world, because you can always make something better than any pre-existing “legendary artefact”. Skyrim is particularly egregious, as enchanted weapons are no longer exciting to find, instead becoming mere feedstock for your own creations.

But I fucking love forging arms and armour in Skyrim. Even though it ruins half the game for me, and it’s a huge missed opportunity, I looooove hoovering up exotic metal ingots and carting them back to Whiterun to make stuff. I wish there were more different styles of equipment to craft from the same materials. I wish the game was entirely about being a warrior who forged stuff.

What I love more unquivocably, however, is when in Baldur’s Gate you take some ankheg shell to Taerom Fuirim, and he makes ankheg armour for you. That’s our way in.

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Game Development

Blog 848: Fragment v0.04

I’ve done it. I’ve committed to the orthographic camera. There might still be teething issues I’ve missed, but I think it makes the game look a thousand times better so it’s worth the pain. (Feel free to make me eat those words in a year or two if/when I give up and switch back.)

Which means, of course, now is probably a good time to let some real people test the water. I’ve also done a whole heap of other stuff, including rain and bug fixes, so please head on over to itch and give it a go!

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Game Development

Blog 845: From a Certain Point of View

So I just finished playing an old game called Gunlok. I thoroughly enjoyed it (give or take a few difficulty spikes), but there was one thing that seemed a little off about it right from the start. Eventually it clicked: Gunlok renders its 3D world using orthographic projection rather than perspective projection! This gives it a completely unique look, somehow managing to come across as a classic isometric RPG no matter how much you rotate the view.

And I started thinking: Exon is top-down. Exon is spiritually isometric even if it’s in full 3D. What if… What if I switched Exon to use an orthographic camera?

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Game Development

Blog 844: Meandering

I’ve probably repeated many times how difficult game development is… or rather, how difficult it is to make the sort of game I’ve set my heart on (alone). I’ve been developing Exon‘s first big mission, a multi-part dungeon which has required all-new artwork: rocks, industrial equipment, even animals. I spent a long time working on the opening Academy level, so the environment — and the requisite decoration art — came together at a leisurely and natural pace. Meanwhile, trying to forcibly flesh out a whole brand new biome has been somewhat painful.

So I’m procrastinating. I’m faffing. I’ve been working on random bits and pieces that do not serve the short-term goal of “finishing the rest of the prologue”, because random bits and pieces is still better progress than just staring at the walls.

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Game Development

Blog 836: You Have Been Waylaid

Random encounters have been on my mind a lot recently, because I’ve been playing Final Fantasy VII for the first time. However, even before I was 25 years late to that seminal JRPG party, the well-established Baldur’s Gate influence ensured that random encounters would be on Exon‘s roadmap. In the mood for a break from working on the dark underground mine levels (and the obligatory Towers of Hanoi puzzle within), I decided it was high time I got some sun-soaked wilderness battle arenas in there.

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Game Development

Blog 832: Exon: Mobile

Sometimes in life, you have to admit that you’ve been a fool. I’ve had to admit that I’ve been a fool about many things over the eight years of working on Exon, and today is… well it’s just another in a long line of admissions of foolishness. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to solving it, right?

So I’d been focusing on Exon as a mouse-and-keyboard PC game, but I realise that most people aren’t remotely interested in that. No, if I want real human beings to actually play my game, I need to go out to meet them — I need to be on mobile. So I’m reworking Exon for mobile. How hard can it be?

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