R?a|n-d_o;m}M@a.n and VR Immersive Illusions
R?a|n-d_o;m}M@a.n (pronounced Random Man) made an appearance at the most recent Bmore Indie Games meeting. Here is a compressed video transmission of the encounter:
Weird demo available below. This is my first attempt to find what I'm calling "Immersive Illusions", the optical illusions that I'm convinced exist in VR but have yet to be discovered. Michael Abrash scratched the surface in his F8 keynote:April 17, 2015
The most interesting to me here starts at the 4:11 mark. A woman repeatedly says the word "bar", but what you and I hear depends on how we see her lips moving. We could hear "far" or "var" if we see her lips saying that in the video, even if the audio track is saying "bar".
This illusion is somehwat similar to what I'm exploring in this demo, but I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the new types of illusions and tricks that can be played on our brain when we are immersed in a virtual environment. I'll be doing some research, prototyping, and reporting my findings.
In this demo, I wanted to apply random noise to a humanoid robot with positional audio coming out of the "mouth". When I stare at his face, I see patterns and images emerge. Sometimes I see a moving mouth. Sometimes I see moving pictures. There's some (perhaps useless) equation in here involving visual perception, pyschoacoustics, high frequency hologram flicker rate, random noise, transparency, and a grid background. I'm not sure what it means. It could just be me seeing things. Perhaps the noise isn't random enough
One thing's for sure, you won't see anything in a compressed Youtube video. You need to see it in an HMD at preferably 75+ Hz. You can try it here, but don't stare too long...
You can modify the hologram shader with numbers (1-7) and keys (Q-U) on the top line of qwerty keyboards.
I'm currently working for Sensics, helping develop the Unity plugin for the OSVR project. This will involve ongoing optimizations to try to reduce latency as much as possible. I'll be doing my research and reporting my findings as important changes and new developments are made.
Learn more about OSVR.
March 15, 2015
Global Game Jam 2015 entry: Starflocks 64
Starflocks is an 8 player multiplayer game where each gaming controller is shared by two people. Therefore, each player controls a joystick, which controls a fish. The goal is to stay in a school (or flock) as you descend into deep waters in order to reach a safe depth for your species. Staying close to one or more other fish will give you a speed boost that will help you avoid being eaten and find food faster, so work together. Food is a shared resource. You must find food or starve. It's really hard to beat this game, largely because it's hard to play due to the 8 player requirement :) Have fun!
January 28, 2015
Hellicott City Postmortem
I wrote a short postmortem detailing my experience developing Hellicott City. Check it out here.
November 5, 2014
I have started a new chapter in my life and career. I quit my full-time job in order to focus on Virtual Reality and its applications. VR is an amazing, powerful technology the likes of which the world has never seen before. It's a great time to be a game developer. I'm very excited to get started on creating content. Stay tuned.
September 30, 2014
Battle Prism was on display at the App Arcade -- part of Baltimore Innovation Week's Closing Party. The new build with the new controls were tried out for the first time with mixed results. The barrier to entry is a little bit higher, but ultimately the game is more strategic. The color switching mechanic that once led to button mashing is now about precision and meaningful intent. Play is better.
Halfway through the event, I hooked up my Oculus Rift DK2 to let people have a go in VR. The rest of the night was a blast, seeing people experience a VR roller coaster for the first time is a lot of fun. Some people are very susceptible and move their bodies and scream. Others remain perfectly still. Everybody comes away amazed and excited about the future of VR and its applications.
September 21, 2014
My focus since Gamescape has been on finishing up some major projects at work, but I've also made steady progress on Battle Prism. It's been all about new levels, new characters, and new controls which affect the core game mechanics. Here's a quick overview some recent changes:
OLD SCHEME (xbox 360 controller)
B -- Change color. Always changes to the "safe" color. The "safe" color is the only color you can change to that won't get you stuck in the background. For example, if your character is red and standing against a blue background, you'll change to green. If you're blue and standing in front of green, the safe color is red. If you are standing against a black background, B cycles forward in the cycle R -> G -> B.
X -- Melee attack
Y -- Ranged attack
Right Trigger -- Cycle color forward. R -> G -> B -> R ...
Left Trigger -- Cycle color backward R <- G <- B <- R ...
B -- Change to Red. If red is "unsafe" (see above), the color change is not allowed.
X -- Change to Blue. If blue is "unsafe", the color change is not allowed.
Y -- Change to Green. If green is "unsafe", the color change is not allowed.
Right Trigger -- Melee attack
Left Trigger -- Ranged attack
The core mechanic of Battle Prism is changing colors to navigate the environment. This action should be direct and intentional. We think a 1-1 button-color mapping will remove any confusion about what color you will switch to, allowing players to better utilize the mechanic in their strategy.
Here's a sneak peek of some character concepts that Zach has been working on...
The environment art is undergoing an overhaul, but we're still trying to fine-tune what maps a "good level" in Battle Prism. We're experimenting with two-color maps and more open space. These tiles are still placeholders:
September 3, 2014
Had an amazing weekend at Gamescape. The new venue was a major upgrade from previous years which was great to see! Hundreds of people played Battle Prism
and we received great feedback! It was a lot of fun to meet so many people see the game played. Because it's pure multiplayer, most of the time I'm
working on the game, I can't play it. This is was the third or fourth time I've actually played the game. It was fun :) Thanks to everyone who stopped by!
Check out this Gamescape Spotlight on Battle Prism!
July 22, 2014
Gamescape is two days away. Doing some serious crunching this week to get Battle Prism ready for its first public demo. Come play!
July 16, 2014
Summer Dogs Update
The game jam has concluded and I finally wrote up a postmortem reflecting back on the month of development.
TLDR; time constraints were cruel and the final product did not quite get where I wanted it to be. A little polish would go a long way, and I'll probably revisit this project again soon. Overall, this was a fun experience and I got a lot of ideas out of it. There are no failures, only progress.
June 12, 2014
Halfway through the Play the Music Jam: Summer Dogs.
May 18, 2014
Battle Prism was accepted to Gamescape, part of this summer's Artscape Festival in Baltimore. I've rewritten most of the code from the game jam, figured out our level editing workflow, integrated new character animations made with Spine, and improved the player controls since the last update. If I'm stuck on something or have a creative block, I work on the player's movement and gravity until it feels exactly right. After a few months, it's starting to feel good. I'll get a demo up soon. There are some big visual updates coming that artist Zach Urtes (@cybertoaster) and I think will help fix the major gameplay/visual issues that have plagued the game since its inception. It might involve another dimension.
Big congrats to Zach for a successful Echoes of Eridu Kickstarter!
@JonSchubbe's amazing cubes will also be at Gamescape. He's making a ton of progress getting the illusions to pop and animations to project perfectly onto cube faces. Honestly, I think Jon could show this now at Artscape and it would be a very impressive installation/tech demo. The plan is to make it a multiplayer game (one that's much better than our initial "Simon" demo below). It's fun to work in this design space and I can't hardly wait to write some code that can make this happen. We've got a ton of ideas, but we're still figuring out exactly what's doable by working out the technicalities of player input and managing communication between a plethora of technologies (Unity, Madmapper, Arduino, Syphon, MIDI Controller...). Given our current state of work, school, and life, this project will see more updates come later in the month, and kick it up a notch in June and July.
I promise I'll document the trials and tribulations of all this stuff when I have some time. I'll leave you with some of Jon's latest work because it's awesome.
May 12, 2014
Bmore Indie Game Jam - Play The Music
Bmore Indie Games is running a month-long music-themed game jam.
There is a kickoff meeting this Saturday at UMBC.
Music Video Games are an intriguing, relatively unexplored genre. Looking forward to seeing what creations people come up with!
May 1, 2014
The Mysterious Cubes Update
April 17, 2014
A few Bmore Indie Games updates:
1) A spring game jam is tentatively slated for the month of May. It will be music themed. More details to come.
2) A new meetup location is in the rotation thanks to the kind folks at the Baltimore Robotics Center. It's a really nice space to gather and work. Cool toys, too.
3) Gamescape 2014 has been announced. It has moved from MICA to a much larger space: the Carrot Theater on Charles Street. It will be bigger and better than ever.
I've been very busy this past month with work-work, so no visual updates on my many side projects. I'm in a research phase, learning as much as I can about procedural modeling, L-systems, fractal geometry, botany, and ecological succession before jumping back into the code for a tree/plant generator.
If you want to read along:
The Algorithmic Beauty of Plants by Przemyslaw Prusinkiewicz and Aristid Lindenmayer
The Fractal Geometry of Nature by Benoit Mandelbrot
The Geometry of Fractal Sets by K.J. Falconer
April 6, 2014
I wanted to share an early version of the Tree Generator I'm working on. It's a very rough but working implementation of the Space Colonization algorithm, which models tree growth by populating a volume with "attraction points", then iteratively growing the tree toward the closest attraction points. It was fun to get it working, but I've since moved on to other models as I am looking for a more realistic approach to modeling a tree's growth from seedling to adult.
March 19, 2014
The Cube Experiment
I'm currently working with my good friend @JonSchubbe to create a game played on surfaces of cubes set up in the real world. This is an experiment with Projection Mapping, real-world game design (for lack of a better term), and audio visualization. Learning lots of new tech! Jon has been recording progress along the way. Here are some videos:
March 11, 2014
We've changed the working title of Prism Break to Battle Prism. There have been a ton of additions. See the complete list of added features and download the latest version of the game here!
February 27, 2014
Alien Plants on Alien Planets
While not aesthetically pleasing, these Polygonus Opuntiaceae are able to survive even in harsh, dry, cold environments.
February 18, 2014
2/27 - Baltimore Indie Games Chiptunes Performance and Game showcase at the Windup Space at 8pm
Our team, and others from last month's Global Game Jam, will be speaking about what went right, what went wrong, and how the game has changed since the GGJ.
Then all the games will be set up to play. Prism Break is in dire need of heavy playtesting.
Prism Break (aka Battle Prism)
What a weekend. The theme this year was "We don't see things the way they are, we see them the way we are". The UMBC site finished with a plethora of amazingly high quality games for 48 hours. See them all here. I programmed a game called Prism Break. It's a tri-color multiplayer battle arena game where players are able to cycle their color between red, green, and blue. Players can only collide with tiles that are the same color. Players can only attack other players that are the same color. I'm really happy with how the game turned out. It's fun.
Download Prism Break for Windows (zip at bottom of the page).
Both versions require two Xbox 360 controllers.
January 26, 2014
Global Game Jam
It's that time of year again. The GGJ is tomorrow. I'll be tweeting with progress updates along the way. Very excite!
January 23, 2014
Love Bomb for Oculus Rift
Love Bomb is now compatible with the Oculus Rift. Making the necessary UI changes was a good design exercise for my first development effort with the Rift. If you have a Rift, download the demo. If not, it looks like this:
(Apologies for lag in the video. I had some technical difficulties recording the screen with the Rift plugged in.)
January 19, 2014
The All-Seeing Bonseye
January 7, 2014