Moving to 3D

Although we have a lot to make up for, some recent developments may provide just the content we need to generate more posts. One of the ideas that has been percolating in my mind since Maven's inception is the idea of allowing the player to jump. But 2D games make it difficult to enable such an action. So here is the bottom-line: Maven is going 3D. In this post, I would like to talk a little bit about 1) where we came from, 2) why we wanted new features, 3) what options we considered, and 4) how we implemented our system. However, writing this blog post has shown that this outline will need to span multiple posts.

Part 1: Where We Came From

When I decided to get into game development, I had no idea what kind of games were even possible to make, since I had no experience with programming at the time. Fortunately, I did not try to go the route of full 3D game development, because that would have been difficult. So instead, I wound up pursuing 2D game development.

Types of 2D Games

To state the obvious, 2D games necessarily lose one of the axes that is present in the real world. Therefore, 2D games generally fall into one of two camps:
Top-Down like Pac-Man
Side-Scrolling Platformer like Super Mario Bros.
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Flash Into Action

Obligations have cleared up recently in a significant way to allow development on Maven. We're looking at having something new presentable by the time CGDC rolls around.

In the meantime, check out this trippy shot of soldiers with Flash-like symptoms in the middle of some timing refactors.

Flash Soldiers Screenshot
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Finding Howler

This week, we got another awesome song from Michael Shawn Carbaugh II! (At the moment, I'm going to make you wait to hear it though.) After receiving the song, I realized that we have some serious issues with audio looping in Maven's engine. There are basically three methods to looping audio that I have pondered.

Audio Loop Using Single Audio Element

Currently, the engine uses HTML5's audio element with the loop attribute.

The great thing about this method is that it is built into HTML5 and is very easy to implement. For example, the HTML for the example above is simply this:

<button id="playAudioSingle">Play</button>
<button id="pauseAudioSingle">Pause</button>
<audio id="audioSingle" src="IntoDarknessHalfLoop.mp3" loop controls></audio>
	document.getElementById("playAudioSingle").onclick = function() {
	document.getElementById("pauseAudioSingle").onclick = function() {

However, as you may have noticed, the playback of the loop is imperfect, and the extent of this imperfection varies depending on the browser.

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Better Weather

Did I ever show off the new weather graphics from Freedan Studios?
Better Weather Screenshot


In the real world, when one person is standing in front of another, you see the front person and not so much of the one behind. In a game world, it is a little bit difficult to ensure that interacting objects display to show accurately who is "in front." Let me show you what I am talking about.
Guy on top of woman's head

If we choose to not think about layering, we may easily end up drawing sprites in random order, with the effect that one sprite may look like it is walking on another sprite's head.
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Git'n Back Up and Runnin'

This is "The Designer" here, back from my internship. As a team, SoloVid is at a place now where I think we are shifting into "full-time" production (as full-time as a handful of students' free-time work can be). We are looking dreamily at a release around the end of the school year.

As Freedan briefly mentioned earlier this summer, we are now using Git to version-control Maven. For those of you unfamiliar with Git (as was I before the summer), Git is one software which allows multiple people to work on the same set of project files simultaneously and then merge the changes together. On top of that, Git keeps a record of all changes made to the project so that changes may be reverted if necessary. Basically, what that equates to is easy collaboration and an total inability to irreparably mess up the project--no more emailing or Google Docs-ing files back and forth, and no more archives.

We are working primarily out of a private repo on BitBucket in order to hide our assets (we have to save some surprises for the game's release), but we do have a periodically up-to-date mirror of the repo (minus assets) on Github. Feel free to check it out!

Unfortunately, we didn't make our goal of releasing the new and improved demo yet, but we are still hoping to get that out in exactly soon...

Hiccups Hath Occurred

I do not want to be writing this post. Unfortunately, The Designer and I were mistaken to give a release date of August 6 for the demo. Being new to game design, we are still figuring out how long goals will take to reach. Ironically, though I made a blog post concerning time management just last week, The Designer and I are still working on our own. We hope that you will nevertheless continue to follow our progress for the day on which the demo actually releases. In the meantime, here is one of the sprites that you will find in the map:

Thanks for reading,
~ Freedan


Working with Time

This week has been a busy one in the development of Maven. The Designer and I have been working on our own respective roles for the game, in order to reach the point where we have something playable. One of the most difficult aspects of a project like this is organization. Knowing when to get something done, and how to complete it, can be a challenge. We have been using online resources to help overcome this, such as a nifty organizing website called Trello. Tasks in Trello are created on "cards," which can then be relocated to slots such as "do to," "Finished," etc. Because of this visual representation, we can see everything we need to do and when we need to do it.

This system has allowed content for Maven to be created in a more timely manner. It can also be quite satisfying to literally drag "to do" cards into a "finished" slot! In fact, I need to mark my "blog post" card as finished. See you next week!

~ Freedan

P.S. Don't forget ... the demo releases on August 6! :)

Progress Update


This is just another quick update on the demo progress. The designer and I will be looking over the completed demo map tonight, in preparation for adding story and gameplay elements. We would also be happy to hear peoples' feedback on the demo when the time comes. If you are interested, read the August 6 blog post. Again, that is when the demo will be released.

Come back next week!

Demo Next Month

This week, I've been putting together more of the demo map. The Designer and I plan to release it in August. I am aiming for no later than August 6th, specifically. The demo will include a full map, basic NPC interaction, and hopefully even a combat section. In the meantime, The Designer has been experimenting with the engine to see how many sprites we can run, as well as fixing bugs.
I won't be showing any screenshots just yet, although I may show a very, very small screenshot later on, just so that you can see a portion of what The Designer and I are working on. For now, mark August 6th on your calenders!

See you next week,
~ Freedan

P.S. We have a simple playable demo on the site that uses a much older version of the game, with mostly pre - made graphics. This will use custom graphics and an updated, custom engine created by The Designer.
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