Robocleaner Update..

So, I’ve been progressing with getting my Robocleaner game on the marketplace (I’ve renamed the game from Sweepy Cleaner for originalities sake). It’s been taking a lot longer then initially I thought it would mainly because I wanted to completely redo the graphics and as anyone will find, graphics can be quite time consuming. On the plus side my knowledge of making graphics and using Photoshop and Illustrator has increased ten-fold.

Things I’ve added so far:

A menu system with options for muting sound and changing the control type from tilt to touch. Touch being useful if your not upright when playing. I also improved slightly my background image and removed the eyes from my hoover. Less is clearly more when it comes to hoover eyes since I think my Cyclopean hoover looks more bad ass then when it had two and actually it’s eye is now what used to be it’s nose :)

So far I’ve only made 4 levels out of 8. I’ve got the living room, bathroom, dining room and kitchen finished. I’m trying my best to make each room quite unique to the last and also slightly increase the difficulty as you progress, mainly by introducing more clutter and extra  stuff that harms you.

Bathroom

I’ve added Hazards which are like regular furniture except you can pass straight through them while taking damage e.g water, spilt coffee, broken glass etc..

Additionally a new little chap I’ve added which I’m quite pleased with is a Dust Goblin, he roams around the maps he’s on and if he comes into contact with any dust, he turns it into a Dust Bomb that he hurls at you, if it hits you, you take damage and you also die outright if you touch the goblin. He adds a significant challenge to the game and in later levels there will be multiple goblins, potentially of different types!

I’ve added decorative particle effects into some of the levels to add a bit of realism. In the bathroom for example, the bath tap is running and there’s steam and water droplets splashing onto the floor and on the kitchen map there’s a kettle with steam particles being puffed out.

Sometimes adding cool little things like the particle effects that don’t take much effort can make a nice difference to the polish of a game so I like to add them. You just have to limit yourself on some things otherwise the game would never get finished. Luckily the programming is pretty minimal at the moment since most was done for my course work (except the new stuff) and adding levels is just a few lines of code or less depending on what objects are present in it.

So there it is so far, hopefully I’ll get the other 4 levels done soon and can get it on the  marketplace asap with maybe an on-line scoreboard and time related scores for each level. It’s certainly a nice feeling seeing the game come together and hopefully not just be a uni coursework submission but an standalone fun little game.

Sweepy Cleaner – Windows Phone

I thought I’d finally get around to making a post on my blog and specifically concerning the thing that has taken up the majority of my time over the past week or so. Sweepy Cleaner!

This is a coursework project we had been assigned as part of the the Hull University Computer Science degree. We were given a spec and tasked with making a game plus extras via C# and XNA 4.0.

I decided I wanted to make as polished a game as I could that stuck pretty tightly to the design specification, but still add a decent amount of extras here and there. In the end I’m pleased with the finished product and really enjoyed making the game.

The toughest aspect of the project was the AI path-finding that I wanted to put in the game so that  in “attract mode” it guided itself around the furniture and collected dust of it’s own accord. This sounds simple but in reality it was the trickiest bit of programming I’ve probably done and let’s just say I won’t be bitching about dodgy path-finding in AAA games any time soon. I may actually make a separate post on this and include a dissection of the code I came up with.  I decided to initially look into an A* algorithm but I wasn’t sure how best to apply that to a game where things don’t move along a grid. So I decided to use static waypoint nodes that I manually placed around the level and then added them to a list, sorting them based on distance from each waypoint to the nearest dust to the hoover. I spent a long time trying to perfect it and although still not perfect, (I had to use at least one workaround) it performs convincingly enough with no furniture collisions and I’m very happy with it. I could later adapt it to make a “vs” mode where you have to race the AI hoover to collect the dust.

There’s only 3 levels in the game, I’ll hopefully add more before I get it on the Windows Marketplace.

Fingers crossed that my demo goes ok next Wednesday!

Here’s the artwork I did for the title screen, it does makes me think a 3D version of Sweepy Cleaner could be pretty fun!

Shear Carnage

So, it all started with an idea based off that gem of a game “Missle Command” (pictured above – and whom most who read this are likely too young to have played) and spiralled uncontrollably into what became a potent concoction of sheep gibbs, explosions and of course laser beams…what else? My one regret is that we didn’t get around to combining that into the direct form of “laser beam firing sheep gibbs that explode”, but I digress.

The Three Thing Game competition is something held by Hull University every 6 months and  is based on teams being given 3 random words and then developing a game about these words within 24 hours (We did have a few days between getting the words to plan and prepare however). Our team “Run Dead Studios” received the words Sheep, Fireworks and High Diving. My good friends and team mates Russ and John have covered all the detail on this marvellously so I won’t cover old ground but do check out their blogs! (You both now owe me a blog plug).

The day was great fun and my first experience of working so closely as a developer on a games (or any software for that matter) project. This itself would have been great enough reward however to actually come second place out of 33 teams and over 100 people, was truly a wonderful thing. We were beaten rather predictable by “The Infamous Two Sirs” who live up to their name I can tell you. They had an excellent game that won hands down in terms of innovation, and though its mechanics are quite hard to explain, rest assured it was good. Next time, I think we’ll go for something more innovative ourselves, now that our confidence has peaked a little. There was certainly an element of playing it safe from us, but like Rob Miles has said on his blog, its much better to make a full game that’s simple,  then a complex one that’s basically just a tech demo.

    

Details wise, we developed it on for the Windows 7 platform using XNA in C#. I’ve got to say I think XNA is a great development library and with the help of Visual Studio and Tortoise/Subversion SVN for source code management, it was pretty much a care free development experience.

I’m incredibly proud of what we achieved, especially considering we are first years and the game is simply great even if I do say so…we certainly had plenty of fun playing it on the day, in fact it was so addictive it may have gotten in the way of us actually trying to get it finished which I think is a good sign.

On behalf of Run Dead Studios, I present Shear Carnage! Coming to a Windows Phone App Marketplace soon, free of course. No Sheep were harmed in the making of this game, however if the sight of cartoon sheep dismemberment is shocking to you, I STRONGLY do not recommend you play this game :D.

Just to add, you can find the video of us presenting the game to the judges (Well, the first presentation anyway) below: