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Mass Effect 2: The Future of RPGs? Oh really?

February 12th, 2010 16 comments

There has been a lot of hype around the release of Mass Effect 2 some weeks back and some people already start claiming that this game is going to be the Future of RPGs. Rampant Coyote took a stance and so did The Brainy Gamer. Being an old hand RPGer and having played Mass Effect 1 to the end and started playing part 2 I feel I need to have my say to the hype around that game.

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Categories: Gaming, Random Picks Tags: , , ,

From the Labs: Tetragon Tile Engine Early Preview

February 11th, 2010 2 comments

An early tech demo of the tetragonLib Tile Engine on which I restarted work on recently again. Click the image to view. There’s not much interaction yet though. You can scroll around with the cursor keys and apart from that open the Rhombus App Framework built-in debug console with F8 and the FPS monitor with SHIFT+F8. Everything is still under heavy development.

However the demo already shows some of the special features of the tile engine. It’s a blitted multi-layer engine which supports animated tiles (but it doesn’t use MovieClips or Sprites for this but animated Bitmap tiles). The demo shows two layers, one as a backdrop and the other with the maze on it. Additionally layers can use layer effects like the second layer here uses a drop shadow filter which is also defined in the tilemap file.

The engine tries to be resource friendly. If there is nothing to update it will not waste render cycles. E.g. if you move to any area without animated tiles on the screen the engine will shortly after start to consume less CPU.

tile_engine_2_early_demo.png

Quite a list of features is still planned to be implemented, for example map-wrapping (to create endless maps), auto-scrolling and support for hexagonal as well as isometric tiles has already been started before but these implementations are going to be completely overhauled.

If you’re interested in having a look at the engine’s tileset and tilemap data files, they can be found here.

RPG Design: Character Development Example

November 19th, 2009 No comments

Welcome back to the RPG Design series where I try to talk a bit about the work and progress on my game project, the development of the darkish, space -themed computer role-playing game Stellar Conspiracy: Entanglements Of The Marenis Sector (working title).

eliza5In the last part I’ve introduced the character design template I’m using and mentioned to post a character example next time which I’m doing hereby while introducing you to Eliza Retinienne, a Gessjanian security systems expert from the planet Shielle, a small world bordering on the fringe of the Suulun Sector which in turn stretches over a large area of the southern galaxy.

Eliza is one of the key characters in the game’s story and one of the characters whom the player is supposed to encounter and who eventually joins the player’s party. She is also supposed to receive her own side-quest in which the player can engage to help her out of the threatening situation she is currently in.

Note that this sheet is basically just here to give an example of how the character design template can be used to shape out a character so I suggest not to look too critically into the details. Things can (and will) still change and also the sheet is not filled out completely, for one reason because some details are irrelevant for this character and for another that I haven’t found any other suitable details for her yet. Either way I hope this gives a good example of how to utilize the template!

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Good Old Games releases Realms of Arkania

September 25th, 2009 2 comments

roa3After their last RPG masterpiece release, the Might & Magic 6-Pack, gog.com have now released Realms of Arkania 1+2 and 3. RoA is the English version of what I only knew as Das Schwarze Auge in German back in the 16-bit days of Amiga. If my memory serves me right only the first part of RoA made it to the Amiga while the two followers were only available for DOS.

Realms of Arkania is classic hardcore role-playing, flip3D style intermezzed with isometric combat screens and you can get this for a ridiculous cheap price now.

roa2So far gog.com is only releasing DOS or Windows based games. For some games I wish they’d add Amiga games to their line-up simply because many Amiga games were better than their DOS conversions, just take a look at highly regarded Hired Guns. in case of Hired Guns you feel that the developers were a team of Amiga enthusiasts. The DOS version feels bland and rushed compared to the shiny and atmosphere-oozing Amiga version.

Either way, for DOS games Good Old Games are packing their releases up with a copy of DOSBox pre-configured and ready to install and run. For Amiga versions they would probably have to pack up a copy of WinUAE to assure a hassle-free experience. Not sure how that would work out.

RPG Design: Character Development

September 24th, 2009 2 comments

char_banner

And back to the game design topic! The part I love most about game design is that you can create worlds full of life, intricacy, intrigue and interesting characters, experimenting with scenarios and situations (that would otherwise probably have negative  repercussions in RL™).

As a programmer you’d ever only write your code and if you are happy with it that’s fine but we one-man-game-developer types are more like Jack of all trades who want to create complete worlds … and stories. And then tell those stories by means of the game. And maybe throw a bit (or a large chunk) of dynamics in there again … as programmers.

One extremely satisfying aspect of game design (for games where narrative is important) is the development of characters that should act throughout the game. Creating characters is just as much fun as the other bases! If you do it right and create deep and sympathetic characters people will love them.

And even villains can be sympathetic. In fact they should be! Who likes an antagonist that is completely unsympathetic? Nobody, right? But why should you even like a villain, after all he’s the guy who needs to be defeated? The answer to this is that the guy who is the villain is so only in the context of our story. Maybe he’s not so bad after all in a different context. Or in short: Antagonists also have a life, feelings … but guess what? Now I totally digress! I actually wanted to show you my new and all fresh character template that I came up with to shape out characters for my game.

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Bad Language in Games

August 18th, 2009 4 comments

The other day I was playing the Point Lookout Add-on for Fallout 3 and there is this one main quest where you go to inspect an area named Calvert Mansion just to run into a ghoul named Desmond. He seemed very busy trying to defend the mansion against Tribal intruders and without asking me directly he made me help defend the house. At first I thought Desmond seemed to be a cool guy, after all he wears a suit and appeared like some sort of gentleman (as far as a ghoul can appear as a gentleman anyway).

But after we finished bouncing off the intruders and I’ve started a dialogue with him it turned out that he’s not such a gentleman after all. In nearly every second sentence in his dialogue he makes use of the notorious ‘F word’! No exaggeration! After a short while listening to his insults (calling me a moron several times) I got fed up of his overuse of nasty language and started to loathe this guy. Note that it turns out that he’s supposed to be an unlikable character but this could have also been very well transported without the overuse of bad language. … *Spoilers ahead*!

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Categories: Gaming, Random Picks Tags: ,

RPG Design: Choosing the right Graphical Projection

August 11th, 2009 6 comments

Neverwinter Nights 2 Banner

I’ve been designing on a rather ambitious Role-Playing game project since a while now (in fact quite a long while but I’m not in hurry to finish it anytime soon) and while I’m in the process of working out the story, technical details like the combat mechanics, skill system etc. and creating interesting characters I still haven’t made a decision on the type of graphical projection for the game so far. I’ve been thinking about five kinds of projection from the most basic one (2D orthographic) up to full dynamic 3D which would be quite an effort. As my development platform of choice happens to be Flash, the resources in terms of 3D are limited.

So with that in mind I thought it would be good opportunity to introduce some of the most-used projections in computer and video role-playing games to get to know them a little better. This is by no means a complete list of all sorts of projection used in games but I believe these the ones most commonly used for role-playing games.

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Tutorial: Creating a Galaxy in Photoshop

July 20th, 2008 69 comments

In this tutorial I will explain how to create a relatively realistic looking galaxy with Photoshop. I was searching the web up- and downwards to find any tutorials that could tell me how to get a similar fantastic result. There are like 100.000 planet tutorials out there and the few tutorials which were about creating a galaxy where either very basic or the result looked like everything but a realistic galaxy. The galaxy I wanted should have looked massive and intricate … just like the real ones but with a slightly more artistic touch. I’ve needed a galaxy that I could use as a star map for a space-themed roleplaying game design and the image you see above is a part of the result. Let’s go try to do such one …

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Using Kore 2 more efficiently with User Tags

July 16th, 2008 No comments

Kore 2 from Native Instruments is probably every sound organizer’s wet dream with sugar on top. Not only  can it control a multitude of Softsynths but it’s database makes it easy to organize sounds and find them quickly when needed. I’ve purchased this nice tool last December and what’s better than telling a few details on how I put it’s features to good use?!

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Facelift for Ableton Live

July 11th, 2008 1 comment

Download: dark & modern looking UI skin for Ableton Live 6/7.

A while back I’ve created a custom skin for Ableton Live with this handy freeware skin editor. The editor dates back to Live 6 but it seems that skins made with it work just fine in Live 7. Live’s approach to UI design is very minimalistic which I think is a step into the right direction but the default color palettes are not everyone’s taste. I’ve been using this skin since a couple of months and it works nicely so here is Dark2008, a dark – but readable – theme for Ableton Live 6 and 7.

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