Biomes and Getting Lost

For the last week I’ve been experimenting with biomes, ala Minecraft. Basically, I was successful in creating some randomly placed forests using a simplex noise generator. Perlin noise is widely used, so there isn’t a ton of support out there for simplex. However, simplex is faster comes out with nicer looking results. Since I’m a freak for optimizing code, I couldn’t let myself use Perlin. The results are pretty cool. The next step will be to tweak the borders of these regions and make sure that they blend into each other. Right now, there are hard lines between regions. Blurring these lines has been a bit tricky, but I can handle it.

The only real problem that I have with biomes is that players may go out to explore these areas rather than follow the linear path that would take them further up the wall and through the game’s story. I wouldn’t want someone wander off to some random volcano in the distance thinking that they can get a boost there, when really the nearest elevator is a kilometer in the other direction. It’s a linear game set in an open world, so there is a real possibility that players could get hopelessly lost.

My solution may be to have a system that clearly defines waypoints for the player. Mirror’s Edge had a button that would turn the player to face the next waypoint in the sequence. The challenge would be to teach the player to use this function. I’ve designed the game to be mostly intuitive, using WASD + mouse controls. Adding another button to the mix is unintuitive, which means an on-screen prompt/tutorial would be required. I have been resisting adding unnecessary complexity to the game, but this may be unavoidable.

An alternative would be to have some clear and consistent visual signal that would indicate where the next waypoint is. A light, a flag, etc. would serve this purpose. Will have to experiment a bit with both systems and see which one works best.

Oh, and Against the Wall was featured on Giant Bomb the other week!

One-Year Anniversary

I’ve been developing Against the Wall for over a year now! Working on this game has been a life changing experience. For instance, it has helped me get into NYU’s new MFA program for game design starting this Fall. This could slow down production of the game a bit. Then again, I may be able to form a team using the connections that I form at school. Who knows? I’ll be playing it by ear, and doing my best to complete as much of the game as possible before the school year starts.

Last week I was on the Kickstarter panel at NYU Poly, describing my experience with crowd-funding and giving my advice on the subject. It was a good experience for me, even though public speaking is not exactly my favorite thing in the world.

This month I’ll be concentrating on level design and creating models. I really need to flesh out the world and create more locations for players to explore. My current goal is to design four levels by the end of this month.

Bridge Town

I’ve completely redone the bridge town that I modeled several months ago. The old design felt  boring to me, and I wanted something more imposing and unusual. I’ve created a set of tower models, redid the bridge structure, and added some interior locations. Note that the textures here are all temporary placeholders. The level is straightforward, requiring players to climb to the top of the towers in order to access the upper portion of the town.

Bridge Town Exterior
Wide shot of the town.
Bridge Town Street
On the street of the lower bridge.
Bridge Town Tower Interior
Inside one of the towers.

Windmill Varieties

The people of the Wall rely on the wind to power their technology. I’ve modeled a variety of windmills that will be placed around the environment, connected to devices, machines, and so on. These models are mostly based on windmills found in the Prince of Persia game from 2008. There are two vertical-axis windmills, a hexagonal windmill with 6 triangular vanes, and a corkscrew shaped windmill (retooled from a model that I made in December). I’ll be sure to add other wind-based power sources as I develop more levels for the game.

Windmill types.
Double-vertical, vertical, hexagon, and corkscrew windmills.

That’s it for now. I’ll update again once I have more to share.