Against the Wall is now one of IndieCade's Official Selections. This is still an honor to be recognized, even though I didn't get a nomination (there's always next year!). Also, this Wednesday I'll be showing off a newer version of my game at the NY Game Conference.
Yesterday was my orientation for the NYU's new MFA program for Game Design. I'm very excited to have the opportunity to attend and act as a pioneer for future graduate students at the NYU Game Center. There are 18 other people attending the program, coming from a variety of backgrounds and skill sets, all with a common passion for game design. Keep in mind that Against the Wall is still my full-time job, and that I'll be working on it in tandem with school work.
Last weekend I attended the Babycastles Summit. I define Babycastles as a DIY arcade hacker collective. They often take existing games and build unusual interfaces around them, such as Ms. Pac Man played on the walls and ceiling of a room or original Mario Bros with an unwieldy giant controller. Also present was my friend Joe Kowalski, a graphic and interface designer at Double Fine. He had a great presentation that centered on doing things that he was never asked to do at work. For instance, when at Harmonix he designed the Guitar Hero logo in his off hours, and did the same with the Rock Band logo later on. He also designed the main menu interface of Double Fine's Brutal Legend without initially being assigned this task. Kotaku's Evan Narcisse did a write up on Joe and his video pitch for Guitar Hero III (which was not adopted).
Progress Report: Game Feel and Optimization
In keeping with my recent focus on game-feel, I've added several visual effects to the player when they are falling. To be specific: there is now a radial blur that appears on the edges of the screen as the player increases in speed. Several small cloud-like particles will also generate around the player and streak by, creating a greater sense of speed. Finally, both the player's camera and the wand shake with increasing violence as the player descends. This will make falling much more intense, and dispel any expectation of survival that players may have when falling from a ridiculous height. I also plan on having the player kick up some dust particles whenever they drop down a shorter distance, and animate the wand to reflect the jump/impact.
I've redone the algorithm for procedural generation of chunks, making it many times faster than before. This is in part thanks to a code snippet that I found which allows my noise generators to create random values with less overhead. I strongly recommend this snippet to Unity or C# users who frequently use random numbers in their code.
Hand-in-hand with this is the creation of LOD (level-of-detail) meshes for chunks. These sections of the world have minimal geometry and textures, meant to be viewed at a distance. As you move through the game, chunks first generate a stripped-down mesh, and then generate a more detailed mesh as the player approaches them. With this system, players will be able to see twice as far into the world from any point. However, the chunks with LOD meshes each contain much of the data that a full chunk would, meaning that while performance is good in terms or rendering, more memory is being used at any given moment just because the additional chunks exist (even if it has no geometry at all). I'll have to find some way to minimize this impact, or better yet, have an option in the menu that turns off the extra chunks and LOD generation.
Right now I need to get the game back into working order for Wednesday's conference, which means updating the elevator scripts and rebuilding the forest level. When the school year truly starts, my focus will be level design instead of the usual implementation of core mechanics, bug-fixing, optimization, and adding effects.