07/03/2023 – Content Content Content

Here I am again. I guess I’ll fill you all in on the things I’m working on.

Remember 7DFPS? The game jam I made a game for back in December? I’d forgive you for forgetting, the game I made was utterly terrible. However, there was one aspect of it I thought I could do something more with and that was the guns.

The models themselves were made and rigged by a friend of mine, but I did the materials and animated them. But I figured it would be a waste to have these guns made and not use them for other things, but I’m not really in a rush to make another FPS, so I figured I should release the assets… For a price.

I’ve redone all the materials, a lot more detail and wearing added. The model UVs are now way less of a mess, meaning much better texture maps to use for Unity’s materials. The next stage of these at the minute is re-doing the animations. A lot of the data was lost, so I need to either try and re-import them from the old files or remake them from scratch.

UPDATE: Three of the guns have finished animations now.

Not fully sure where I’m gonna be selling these, Blender Market, Itch, Unity Asset Store, and my Ko-Fi page are all viable options. Possibly all of them at once. They should be available near the end of this month, keep an eye out.

“How’s the side project?” is something you’re probably thinking of asking.

A small taste

Well, I’ve been making a bit of progress. I’m juggling my time between it and tweaking SICKHACKS.root so it’s not quite as far along as I would have liked. But you can run around, shoot a bow, and ride a hoverboard. Which is like half of what I want from the gameplay side of things.

Actually, GGJ helped me figure out a lot of the problems with the game, like how to properly separate the collision and animation stuff from the aiming target, which was a source of a lot of my woes with this project for the past couple months. The bow stuff needs so much more work, it’s a surprisingly complex animation when you consider that the arrow has to go from the hand to its place on the bow, and then disabling that when the arrow is shot, which is actually just an instanced object being shot out.

The hoverboard isn’t great. It’s quite floaty in the air and the collisions aren’t very precise. I’ve dropped through the level more than once. I have a few ideas of how to fix it, but I’m concerned that Unity’s physics system will break it some more.

There’s a demo if you want to play it, but it’s very, very basic. You can check it out below.

Now I’ve mentioned it a couple of times now, but I have made some small tweaks and changes to SICKHACKS.root.

The most serious of issues were FPS dependant movement where you would move slower at lower FPS or if there was an FPS drop and the camera jitter as the player would move down the track on the first level. Some fairly simple fixes. The original movement code didn’t use delta time so it heavily affected by the FPS. As for the latter, well I replaced the transform.LookAt code with some Slerp code instead and that seemed to help a lot. However, it is still affects the downward trajectory of the player, but I’m working on stuff that should address this issue.

On that note, I’m experimenting with different methods of turning the player towards the track waypoints. I’ve managed to create a system of turning the player via torque and allowing the physics to do its job. It does somewhat work in my prototyping level, but I haven’t fully sent it full the ringer yet with different terrain types, but that’s probably the next phase. But once I get the game to that point, I’m gonna make a decision about whether or not I’m gonna continue with this game.

Check out the updated version here:

As a last point on this, I finally finished the technical(-ish) video on the game, so give that a watch if you want.

It’s not the best video in the world, but it covers some of the stuff I wanted to talk about. It’s harder to make a video in that format than I thought. I eventually settled for reading a script with what I wanted to say and then mushing together the clips that are related to it. I think next time I’ll write the script first along with notes on footage I need and then edit it that way.

I’m not done making videos by the way. I have at least two or three more videos I could make from things I learnt from making SICKHACKS.root, especially on the Blender side. I’ve got about a dozen or so ideas for Blender related videos as well as Unity stuff.

Blender tutorials are going to be rough for me because I’m not super experienced with it, but I’ve gotten alarmingly decent with the shader material tools and there’s a few things I couldn’t find info on that I ended up having to learn how to make, like the sunset skybox in SICKHACKS.root, which is a cube map. Not only did I have to learn how to make the visual effect, I had to figure out how to get it on a cube map. So that’s probably the next video, among many others.

Now Sand Surfer is a side project, and it will stay a side project, and I need a new main project. I have been thinking of taking SICKHACKS.root (I’m getting really sick of writing this title out fully everytime) and turning it into a full game (With a new name, obviously). But that is likely going to be a very heavy project for me, from design, to building, and developing. It’s gonna be a lot of work, especially as a one-man-band. I really want to make more of it though, it’s just fun to play.

Another project I’ve been thinking of doing (Or even going back to) is Rotaction. Specifically making a sequel to it or updating it. I really want to re-do the enemy spawning code because the game is a bit bland after a while, there were also enemy types I never got to implement properly and I want to have another shot at them. Plus, I figured out a way to do multiplayer, but that almost certainly requires a sequel, not an update. But I do need to fix the phone version because the controls are pretty buggered and controller support doesn’t function correctly.

I’ve got a lot to think about, but for the time being, I’m just gonna get done what I can.

Right, I’m not sure how long it will be before the next post, and I’m not gonna attempt to guess, but I’ll see you next time.

-Adam

Global Game Jam 2023: SICKHACKS.root

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is SickHacksLogo_bigger.jpg

Global Game Jam happened again, and this year’s theme was “Roots”. I started pretty early on this one, basically the day after the theme announcement, which happened on the 28th of January. To be honest, the theme kinda stumped me a bit at first, partly because I was doing some prep work prior to the jam that was focused on a hoverboard mechanic.

A small test of the hoverboard stuff.

Eventually, myself and my friend struggled so much for ideas that we just looked up the definition of “Roots” to if there was anything that would give us any inspiration. And I happened to stumble across the following:

ROOT
COMPUTING: A user account with full and unrestricted access to a system.

Putting 2 and 2 together, I suggested making a hoverboard game in cyberspace.

First downhill test.

Early on the idea was to have a player constantly go forward down a track, avoiding obstacles. That was a pretty general core plan. Problem one: downhill movement. As you can see in the video above, it kinda works but it’s slow and stutters a lot. Furthermore, the original turning code from the previous prototype would go against the constant downward trajectory I was looking for. But more importantly, the track I made wasn’t straight, so the constant forward force I was applying would send the player off the track soon after.

There was one solution I knew would work well enough to keep the player on track, and that was to place waypoints along the surface of the track and aim the player along those, while maintaining a forward force in relation to their rotation.

My first implementation was pretty horrible. A lot of stuttering movement and the player curving into the waypoints excessively hard, killing the speed and handling. My first implementation relied on rotating the player’s forward using Vector3.RotateTowards(). After some changes, I switched it to Transform.LookAt(), and that worked significantly better. But there was still a problem. In the original test, from the video above, the board would match the downward slope of the map and match the slopes on the side. With the new implementation, the downward slope is matched, but now the player stays upright when on the sides. There’s also still the issue of the player turning into the waypoints themselves, but it’s pretty rare.

The curved/uneven map used in the first level ended up being a real pain for me, partly due to the restrictions I placed on myself. The waypoint system was just the first problem, the second issue was scaling. Simply put, importing the level directly from blender was too damn small so I had to scale it up, and then rotate it a bit. But when it came to placing objects on it, that was just a crapshoot. Every obstacle on the first level is placed and rotated by hand, and each one has different values for rotation due to the unevenness of the model. It’s way the placement is so messy.

Gravity was the big issue. The short of the issue is that the player cannot get down the slope on their own gravity fast enough. So I did two things, added the forward force (Previously mentioned) and a downward force. This kept the player moving at a good speed and stop them from going flying off when they hit a ramp. It isn’t perfect though, it’s still very much possible to go absolutely flying.

There was something I discovered while rewriting the code, and well here’s a video of it.

Rewrote the code and made some changes so I could perform tricks.

While I was adjusting some code, I was looking at my turning code from my original hoverboard code from the first video on this post. It works by applying torque on a specific axis, the Y axis (Or Vector3.up). As a bit of a fool around, I changed that axis, and noticed that it that it would make the board flip around as if I was doing tricks. But with the first implementation of my code, I knew it wouldn’t be possible to do. So when I rewrote it, I made sure to accommodate this feature. As you can see, it really elevates the gameplay. It’s my favourite feature.

I previously mentioned that I was working with my friend on this, well that isn’t strictly true. Most of the game is a one-man-army effort on my part. Although we started early, my friend decided that his contributions to the game would be minimal until the absolute last minute, so in the extra week or so that we had, he spent 4 or 5 days doing nothing. This was a problem, because my friend and I have an arrangement where we switch roles for each game jam we take part in. This time it was me on the programming and him on the art. Unfortunately, when you require specific assets, like a track or obstacles, and the person in charge of that isn’t making them, it slows down development.

So I made most of the assets myself. Which was interesting. I’m not a great modeller, and you can tell that the assets below are pretty simple. What I have been getting good at is the material work. So despite the low detail look, the materials look pretty good.

I know it seems like I’m moaning about my friend here, but I was very frustrated at the time and I’m still upset about it because I think I could have done more if I wasn’t forced to spend my time generating art stuff.

After learning some lessons from making the first level, I decided that the second level should be a flat plane. There’s only one waypoint, right at the end of the map, so the camera no longer breaks and stutters trying to follow each waypoint. It also fixes a small issue with the lateral movement occasionally being slower than it should.

The big benefit though is significantly easier placement of obstacles. I no longer need to adjust each object individually to fit it correctly to the level’s surface, and additionally, I can bulk edit large amounts of obstacles easily. Level generation become much easier once I switched to this model.

But, it is less interesting to look at. With further experimentation, I might be able to find a good middle ground to have interesting downhill tracks but with the ability to add obstacles to it much easier. That said, I really can’t say enough how much better the second level feels to play compared to the first.

The last level is just a cutscene due to a lack of time. It’s also the only real contribution my friend made to the game. And it was a massive pain in the arse to implement. In fact, I actually finished the last level before making the second level.

But let’s get into what it is and the implementation, it’s quite a story.

The level is a rail going up a tree root. Not interactable at all, more-or-less a cutscene. The rail is a normal mesh and on top of it is a bezier curve. Here’s the problem, Unity doesn’t recognise a bezier curve as a mesh. So I had to find a script to export the curve as a series of coordinates into a CSV file, load it into the game as a text file via the resources folder, convert those coordinates into Vector3 data, making sure to swap the Y and Z axis for each one. After that, I then can to scale the vectors based on the scaling of the objects it needed to be planted on, and then convert it into world space.

Now, all of that is easier said than done, but it took me a considerable amount of time to get working. It was worth it in the end, but I really should have figured it out days prior. I had to make it with less than 24 hours before the deadline.

I like to say that a lot of what I do is a “Learning experience”, and that gives me some motivation to challenge myself during these events. And this was a pretty big learning experience. I learned a lot of manipulating the physics system, generating assets and models for a game (Moreso than the 7DFPS jam), and generally how to build this type of game.

Since GGJ ended, I’ve had this game on my mind and I want to keep working on it weirdly enough. At the very least, I want that first level to play smoother and fix the issues with the waypoint system, or find a better solution to the problem. Perhaps I’ll experiment a bit.

Anyway, that was the game and some of my experiences with GGJ this year. All in all, probably the most productive GGJ so far. If anyone reading this thinks I should continue developing this game, let me know. I would love to get more feedback.

That’s it for this post, bit a long one. Till the next one.

-Adam

The Den: July – December 2022

Another year goes by, and another post looks back at the latter half of it.

As per usual, I write this post over a period of months, it can affect the writing style or flow. Please forgive any inconsistencies.

Killer7

Where does one start with Killer7? I restarted this for my Twitch streams and it’s a really interesting game in places. Let’s get the bad news out the way first, the gameplay is pretty crap and the controls are even worse. The hit boxes for shooting are pretty bad too, I often ended up missing shots I thought were dead-on and sometimes getting headshots despite aiming for the chest.

The game takes place is a few different places, sometimes an apartment building, sometimes a school, and even a small town. Nothing crazy, but the layouts and how you get around them are a bit bizarre. In one of the boss fights I was running circles around the boss in a series of interconnected ambulances.

Speaking of boss fights, they’re probably the highlight of the game. The first one is pretty normal, shoot bad guy in the weak point type of thing. Then later I’m fighting a woman in a schoolgirl outfit and anime girl head mask in an empty car park.

I don’t really know how to explain the story. You’re just gonna have to play it. I will say that I didn’t like either ending. Nothing is particularly well explained. Maybe that’s for the best.

I wouldn’t say I like Killer7, but I think people should play it. Much like Drakengard.

Phantasy Star Online 2 – New Genesis

I liked the original PSO2 but there was a lot of bullshit in it. Minerals, random crap in my inventory, difficulty scaling not actually making any damn sense and just killing you instantly despite being a higher level than what you’re fighting, no real exploration, and so on. But there was a charm to it.

New Genesis fixes somethings and keeps a lot of the bullshit. There’s more exploration now because I can actually explore the world and get all those minerals and fight the same enemies over and over. To be fair, I’m spending a lot less time in loading screens and more time playing. In base PSO2 I spent most time wondering around the hub doing random crap or playing in the casino. And the missions I did were mostly the EXP boosting ones you got from the dailies. I’m still doing dailies in this, but there’s more interesting things to do and I can get side quests done in the process.

I do not know what the story is about. I don’t give two shits about it. So that’s all I’m gonna say on that.

My character transferred just fine, although I made a lot of changes.

Gameplay wise, I’m playing a Ranger and the archer classes, I did have Gunner as a subclass but switched for variety sake; and it’s pretty boring. There’s a lot of the same enemies and the amount of attacks I have is very limited. I’m not sure if I’m understanding the systems poorly but I don’t unlock any new attacks or abilities from the class menu. Maybe I need to fuck around with the other classes and see if that changes anything.

The streamlining isn’t all bad though. I no longer need to go to a bunch of different parts of a hub to do different things and can instead do them from a menu or just a single NPC. There isn’t a casino yet though. I suspect it’s gone. But the item enhancement is much better. No more secret items you need to reveal or multiple version of the same item to upgrade stuff. But there’s still a limit.

Welcome to the paywall. Want to upgrade your gun more? You need this specific item that you can only get via recycling a crap load of other items, the login bonus, or by buying it. Want to change the colour of your outfit? You need a Colour Pass which you get from Scratch Tickets, login bonuses, or buying them. And so on. The most annoying one is storage though. New Genesis shares storage with the original, so if you have a bunch of crap in there from base PSO2 so you’re very limited with what you can throw in there. Unless you pay, of course.

Last point, which isn’t as true now as when I was making notes for this post, there’s a lot of grinding to be done. Story content is gated off unless you obtain a certain combat level, which is a number that represents your level, upgrades, weapon potential, etc. in a general way. Think Light Levels from Destiny. I ended spending a couple of weeks doing dailies and side missions to boost my level up to where it needed to be so I could get to the next story part. Upgrading your weapons and unlocking class skills boosts that number considerably, as I found out at the end of those couple of weeks. Since then though, I’ve become over-levelled doing repeats of daily quests that give you a crap load of EXP.

New Genesis is alright. I’ll probably stop playing it soon though, unless something happens that grabs me. As of 7th of January 2023, I have uninstalled the game.

Final Fantasy X

I’m still pretty early into this. I stream this game with my friend while we chat about it. The HD Remaster is a bit of a mess and requires a mod to work the way I want. So I have PlayStation button prompts and Japanese voice acting enabled, making the experience a bit more bearable. However, the visuals a bit of a mixed bag.

The backgrounds look pretty good, especially the pre-rendered ones, but the characters look weird. Like their eyes are popping out and their face is rigid. Another issue is that various FMV cutscenes break and get replaced with a green screen, which is a problem with the PC port that is unfixable.

The combat is OK, it’s normal turn based stuff, no bullshit ATB system. I’m not super into the story yet, like I said I’m pretty early. I do like Lulu and Rikku though, but maybe for the wrong reasons. Blizball is fucking terrible, just layers of complicated statistical bullshit for something that really didn’t need it. Just make a handball game, don’t add all this crap.

God speed, kid.

I think Yuna sucks. And that’s all I have to say on the matter.

Shadow Of The Colossus

I started playing this again when I was doing research for that action game idea I’ve mentioned on this blog previously. I wanted to get a good idea for how the character moves and interacts believably with the world and the giant enemies. There’s a lot of animation systems at play here and to properly explain everything I learnt would take a blog post of its own. I’ll probably do that once the side project reaches a good point.

Anyway, I kinda got addicted to playing again and wanted to Platinum it on PS3, which was the version I was playing. It was going fine up until I had to do all the hard mode time attacks. Basically, the physics are bugged on the PS3 version due to the slightly higher framerate and some other changes. So movement on the Colossi causes the main character even more than in the PS2 version. This makes a handful of Colossi significantly more difficult that they should be, and it’s very frustrating. I’m struggling with the 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 15th colossi’s time attacks because I unable to get a good foothold to attack them with.

For the time being I’m playing other things, but I do intend on finishing those time attacks.

Splatoon 2 – Single Player

I liked Splatoon 1, but felt the single player portion was a bit lacking, but it wasn’t terrible. Splatoon 2 fares better in its offering content wise, but the quality of that content may vary depending on your tolerance for bullshit.

The single player works by having a bunch of different hubs with multiple levels and a boss. However, first time through each level you’re forced to use a different weapon. And this is where the problems begin. If there’s a particular weapon you hate using, you’re probably gonna have it force upon you for some really crap level.

The gunplay is fine, but the movement is slow and when using some weapons it’s slowed down even further. And then to top it off, there’s an alarming amount of platforming to do, especially if you’re weirdo like me that wants to find every collectable first time through. And if you suck at the platforming, even more bad news, you’re on a lives system. Die 3 times, and you have to start the level again.

The music is still good and there’s a lot of charm in the game. I did play the multiplayer a bit and even won a few matches. I did not play the expansion pack, not sure if I ever will.

Bayonetta 3

I would not call Bayonetta 3 disappointing. But I would say some of it’s ideas are really bad.

To start off with there’s multiple characters now, alongside Bayonetta there’s Jeanne and Viola. They both have their different playstyles, and in the case of Jeanne, a completely different genre for her levels. Bayonetta still plays pretty well, I can muscle memory the dodges most of the time but as I got further in it became more of a problem as I was rushing to just finish the damn thing and having timing issues due to the differences with Viola. But I’ll get to her in a minute.

There’s a good amount of exploration in this one, lots of branching paths leading to challenges, items, and so on. In one level there was a whole mini-dungeon hidden away. And all the collectables are stuff like music, models, things like that. Decent stuff.

A new thing they added, most likely nicked from Astral Chain, are monster companions during fights. They’re fully controllable and do quite a bit of damage, they add quite a bit to your combo. But much like Astral Chain, you’re completely vulnerable while controlling them and it’s awkward as Hell to use. The bigger problem is that they balanced the game around it, if you want high combos and high tier awards for each encounter, you have to use them. There’s also a fuck load of them, like 6 monsters or so. Each have different attacks and powers, so there’s a lot of experimentation to be had. Or you’ll just stick to a couple like I did.

Speaking too much stuff, there’s just as many different weapons to use and most of them are kinda awful. You get to preview them early in the game too, various challenges in the levels will often provide weapons that aren’t available at those points in the story on your first time through. Again, there’s too much and I ended up just sticking to the default weapons most of the time, although I did like whip.

Right, Viola. Absolute trash. The biggest problem in terms of gameplay with her are the major differences in controls and timings for dodges and Witchtime. The biggest control issue being that pressing block in time to parry causes Witchtime, and dodge doesn’t. For further annoyance, it’s on a different button. So my muscle memory for Bayonetta is useless. The dodging itself isn’t particularly effective either, mostly being more of a side step than an actual dodge. I’ll get back to the Witch Time problem in a moment. Her ultimate attack form thing plays a lot better than her base from at any rate.

Her personality is also a sticking point. She’s a bit of a whiny git, even in Japanese. She also does stupid things often to the point where I wonder if she’s taken one-too-many hits to the head.

Back to Witchtime, I’m not sure what they’ve done, but it seems very inconsistent. Often I would go into Witchtime and try and land an attack and half way through the animation it would just wear off. This is especially irritating during challenges that explicitly set that you can only cause damage during Witch Time. It’s not as bad with Bayonetta but with Viola it feels outright broken. There were challenges that were outright impossible because I simply couldn’t get Witch Time to work.

Last negative point, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. Looking at other people talking about the game, it seems like I wasn’t the only one.

I like the game overall, and I think it’s better than 2, but Platinum need to stop adding gimmicks for gimmicks sake.

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare Trilogy (Original)

It has been a while since I last played a COD game, and two of these I already played. Now I only played the single player obviously, because the multiplayer is either dead or a Hell hole. The campaigns are still very fun although there’s a clear shift in scope between COD4 and MW2 & MW3.

Before I get into that though, one small note. A had a weird application duplication bug that would occur when I changed my settings in-game. It would cause the game to open multiple instances of itself on my desktop and I literally could not end the process because I would get stuck in each instance. The only way I could close them was my logging out and logging back on again which would close most applications. This happened in all three games. But my settings did save so I didn’t need to re-do it again and risk the same bug.

Call Of Duty 4 is my clear favourite of this trilogy, it’s still incredible and very chilling in places. “All Ghillied Up” is still a fantastic mission, the levels are surprisingly challenging even on the normal difficulty. One thing this game does that the other two didn’t was unlock cheat codes for collecting the intel laptops. The other two don’t give you anything for getting them other than an achievement.

Modern Warfare 2 is still entertaining, but I always felt it was a little too short. A lot of the levels go by at a breakneck pace. But looking at my highlights from when I streamed it, it apparently was about the same length as COD4. But the levels are way more bombastic and absurd than anything in the previous one, and that makes it a little less memorable in my view. Not to say that levels like the oil rig and prison aren’t cool as Hell. But it’s also an easier game overall.

Modern Warfare 3 is the one game in this trilogy that I hadn’t played until this point. Just from the opening alone, it sets a very different precedent. There’s no training mission, no tutorial about how to shoot your gun and throw grenades, just straight into the meat grinder. In terms of pacing it works well and certainly makes a statement in terms of story that “Shit is fucked” and World War 3 waits for no man.

In terms of levels, I’d say it’s about on-par with MW2, although there are a lot more gadgets and in-game cutscenes. On that first note, there’s a level where you pilot a small robot tank thing that’s got a whole array of weapons attached to it and just riddle any poor sod daft enough to be in-front of it. That’s a semi-new gameplay idea.

The story is alright, can be a bit hard to follow what the Hell the overall world situation is. You’re getting thrown about all over the place and playing multiple characters, some of which only for a single level. The ending is satisfying, although it is a QTE sequence, but everything up to that point is a full guns blazing experience.

Something did irk me while playing through it, and that’s just the current state of the world. Tensions are very high right now, and the strong WW3 themes in this stated to make me feel a little uncomfortable. But that feeling has eased a little bit as of late. I’d glad I finally finished trilogy off though.

ANNO: Mutationem

When I first saw this game, it was on Indie LIVE Expo. A little while later, a demo for it appeared during one of Steam’s Next Fests. Something about the demo intrigued me so I wish listed it and waited for a sale because I couldn’t afford anything. Once it was cheap enough, I picked it up. And my general opinion on it is that it good.

The art style is on point and it nails the cyberpunk look. The sprite animations look pretty good, although a lot of it seems to be using 2D bone animation rather than sprite sheet, but I think it works well. The outfit selection stuff is nice, it has a couple of gameplay related events too. But dressing up the main character as a maid or office lady is pretty great.

CORN MAN

Combat is alright. You get handful of different weapons, I mostly used dual-blades because I prefer fast attacking weapons and the katana wasn’t doing it for me. There’s a ranged weapon and a greatsword too. It got a bit repetitive about mid-way through the game as you get stuck in this underground section for quite a while and I eventually just teleported out of there and did side quests for awhile just to stop myself getting burnt out. Crafting is a element of this game, but it doesn’t really factor in until much later as you can’t really get the money or materials easily till you get to a harbour town nearing the latter part of the game.

I can’t say I cared much for the story though. The main premise is that the main character has a illness that causes her to become violent and uncontrollable, and her brother is looking for something to cure her. He ends up going missing, so you spend the rest of the game trying to track him down. A lot of the details of the background lore and explanations about what the main character is suffering from is mostly told through text documents and things you find around the environment. I’m not really the type of person to read that stuff, so I mostly skimmed through it.

This looks familiar.

The game is full of stuff reminiscent of Evangelion is you’re into that. Lots of crosses and large underground labs and such. It made me roll my eyes a lot.

It’s a good game, I’d check it out if you got the time.

Other Stuff I Played:

SkyGunner

Short little flight game. Like a light Ace Combat. Cute art style. The controls are fine, although the emulated performance isn’t great. The auto-targeting has no bias, so trying to target your actual objective can be a pain. And the actual mission objectives aren’t all that fun. A bit of a disappointment unfortunately.

GTA III & Vice City

I hadn’t finished either III or Vice City until this point, I kept losing my saves. The first issue I have is the game logic being tied to FPS, so I had to hard-limit to 60FPS via the drivers. I installed Silent Patch and the Widescreen Patch to make the game more playable.

The story was more disjointed in III than I remember. You meet a lot of characters and then they often die soon after and you meet some new ones. The driving isn’t good, I flipped my car so many damn times. A lot of the missions are escort quests, which suck. The AI are very aggressive, and by the end of the game I couldn’t drive through many of the streets without getting shot at. Despite my complaints, the game was OK. I’m glad I finished it.

As for Vice City, I installed the same mods again. I played the whole game without its soundtrack, which is a depressing experience, but necessary for streaming on Twitch. The cars feel better, plus there’s bikes. There’s a few more weapons to use. The story is better told and follows the characters in a more sensible way, I had a much better understanding of what I was doing and why. The story does feel a bit short though, or at least it would do if not for the last part of the game being a massive slog because of all the business missions. It’s a real kick to the pacing. Better than III, but San Andreas still reigns supreme.

Call Of Duty: Black Ops II

Another game I never finished. The game has a bunch of story choices and branches, but I honestly didn’t enjoy it at all. Once you get to the end those story choices sort of play out in a disjointed manner. There’s a lot of gadgets and different guns, but I just stuck to the “Old reliables” of AR-15 style rifles and regular grenades. There’s no real reason to use them, which I guess is a downside of selectable loadouts is that the levels can’t be balanced towards certain tools.

The RTS/Tactical missions you have to do on the side are really half-arsed. It’s just a horde mode with a bit of objective defense ones. But the story around it doesn’t make sense and there’s no real reward for doing it. I’m not sure why it’s there.

Other than that, pretty standard COD campaign otherwise. Still a good amount of fun set pieces and missions.

HYPER DEMON

HYPER DEMON. That’s a title. It’s from the same guy that did Devil Daggers, so you should know what to expect. It’s a very similar game, including the replay system. It’s a pretty fun game, but I’m really bad at it. Also my eyeballs start burning while looking at it. It’s fucking cool though.

A replay I made as a test.

Anime Corner:

Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

I haven’t played the game, but I enjoyed this. The soundtrack is good, especially the opening song. The aesthetics are on point with the game. The characters are fun bunch, the story around them is interesting enough to watch it play out. And a lot of characters die in some really fucked up and gruesome ways, which is always nice to see.

Lycoris Recoil

Do you like girls with guns doing anti-terrorist things? You’ll probably like this. I know I did. There hasn’t been much in the “Girls with Guns” genre in anime for a while, so this and Maid Wars was nice to see. The main two girls have a dun dynamic, Chisato is basically an S-tier murder robot who refuses to use lethal weapons and Takina is a shoot first, ask questions later type.

The episodes are fun, a good amount of action and slice of life. The actual plot though probably could have done a bit more or gotten a bit more focus at times. It is elevated by a pretty good villain though who plays off Chisato very well. It’s good watch, I hope they make more of it.

Akiba Maid Wars

Speaking of girls with guns, I was not expecting this show to be anywhere near as violent as this was. The first episode is an incredible ballet of gratuitous murder, featuring a cross-cut between a song performance at the maid cafe and a maid shooting dozens of maids in a shootout on the streets of Akiba. It is quite the sight. I know the maid cafe scene in Akiba during the 90s was competitive, but bloody Hell.

The plot overall is fairly typical of something who’d find in a Yakuza film. Extortion, protection money, rival gangs, etc. But it’s all maids, and animal themed maids at that. The characters dedication to the cafe themes make me question whether they have any humanity left. Great show.

Yojouhan Time Machine Blues / Tatami Time Machine Blues

As a fan of Tatami Galaxy is was nice seeing these characters again. As you can guess the plot this time involves a time machine. They find it in a closet and use it to go back in time an steal a remote for the air conditioning unit in the main character’s room. There’s a crapload of foreshadowing for the time travelling shenanigans they’ll undertake, including something involving a Kappa statue. It actually does a pretty good job and tying up the loose ends caused by the time travelling nonsense and looping back on itself. Great show, I hope it gets a Blu-Ray release so I can keep the physical collection going.

Chainsaw Man

Let’s get this out of the way, Chainsaw Man is not the second coming of Christ. That said, I did like it. Some of the animation sequences are very well done, especially some of the character animation. The gore and violence are as visceral as you would want it. Power is hilarious and easily the most fun character in the show. Makima is good as a character, but I’m not sure they got the right voice actor for her.

All the episodes have wildly different ending sequences and although I like the first few endings more than the later ones, they’re all pretty well done and visually interesting to look at. The ED about Power is especially well done.

I really hope they continue the show though, because I think it ends just as it was starting to get interesting.

Bocchi The Rock

Well this show became a hit out of nowhere. I went into it with the mindset of it being a discount K-On. It’s not. It’s a premium product that is vastly superior. Cloverworks really outdid themselves with this. The animation styles are completely insane, with a good amount of stop motion, non-standard art styles, and real world images superimposed in. Completely insane. The music is top notch, the album that released after the show has become a best seller and I’m still listening to the songs even weeks after.

Bocchi’s reactions and faces are a real highlight. My favourite reactions being her just fucking exploding and lying down in her bed staring at a room covered in the same photograph and just cackling. The other characters are great too, I really like Hiroi. An absolute drunken train wreck full of best girl energy.

It’s an absolute must watch.

My Top 10 Games Of The Year

Released Games That I Wanted To Play Or Play More Of

AI: THE SOMNIUM FILES – nirvanA Initiative
Koumajou Remilia Scarlet Symphony
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

I wanted to play these, but couldn’t afford it. I did play the demo for Stranger of Paradise on PS4 though and had a pretty good time, but I wanted to play it on PC for better performance, unfortunately (As of time of writing) it’s still an Epic Games Store exclusive.

Worst Game Of The Year

Trek To Yomi

The art style could not save this one. The combat felt bad, it was really repetitive, and the story was nowhere near as good as it could have been. Thankfully I played it on Game Pass rather than buy it outright. Saved myself a bit of money.

And without further ado, the Top 8. Yes, 8. I didn’t play that many new games this year.

8. Forgive Me Father

7. Neptuna X Senran Kagura: Ninja Wars

6. DRAINUS

5. HYPER DEMON

4. ANNO: Mutationem

3. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga

2. Bayonetta 3

1. Windjammers 2

If I had more money to spend, I would have played more games. But to be honest, this year was kinda week. Windjammers 2 is a fantastic game, but should it really be my number one? Well for the time being, it is.

Let’s actually give it some credits. It’s classic Windjammers gameplay, snappy, responsive, super fun. It’s got rollback net code, bonus modes, some single player content, and it’s reasonably priced. It’s a damn fine game and I struggle to find fault with it.

Just to answer a question; Yes, I played Elden Ring. No, I did not enjoy it.

And now for the other Top 10 list.

My Top 10 Anime Of The Year

Special Mentions:

Spy x Family & Koi wa Sekai Seifuku no Ato de

Worst Anime I Watched:

Hoshi no Samidare

And now the top 10.

  1. Koukyuu no Karasu
  2. Kawaii dake ja Nai Shikimori-san
  3. Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story
  4. Chainsaw Man
  5. Kakegurui Twin
  6. Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru
  7. Lycoris Recoil
  8. Akiba Maid Sensou
  9. Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Ultra Romantic
  10. Bocchi the Rock!

I bet you didn’t see this one coming. Shit year for games, but a pretty good year for anime. And Bocchi The Rock is one Hell of a show. It’s the kinda show that you watch and then every other anime after just looks like a pile of crap. It’s 10/10. Easily. The characters are great, the animation is great, the music is great. And it was blast to watch and talk to other people about it and see it just absolutely set the anime community on fire.

Watch this show. It’s fantastic.

And that’s your lot. 2022 is over and 2023 is now in full swing. Sorry this post took until late-January to get done. It was longer than I thought and I started working on it much later than I should have. I will try harder next time.

Hopefully things will get better this year.

ADMAN

18/12/2022: 7 Day FPS Jam

I made another game for another game jam, check it out.

It’s not a great game, but it’s my third attempt at a first person game, and my first attempt at an FPS. Unfortunately the date snuck up on me quicker than I expected, and I spent late November and early December being unwell to the point that affected my productivity. So a lot of the ideas and mechanics in this are a little rushed and half-arsed. But as a proof-of-concept, it has some charm. If nothing else, I made a Liminal Space Meme Game with guns.

As I said, I was sick at end of last month and the beginning of this month. Literally the day of the last blog post was when I started to feel poorly. By the evening, I had a really bad fever and even vomited. Very unpleasant. It ended up lasting for about a week, although the coldsores lasted a little longer.

Well from one depressing thing to another, England got beaten by France in the World Cup. I really am not going to live to see the day they’ll win again. I could complain more, but it’s not really worth it.

Now for something completely unrelated; I’ve been getting a considerable amount of Blender tutorial videos from YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. Mostly ones about materials. I’ve been thinking about getting into making textures and stuff, maybe try and sell them as asset packs for Blender/Unity. That said, I probably need to find some unique ideas of things to make to compete with all the existing stuff out there. Maybe I’ll make some assets to use in Godot as well.

I might harvest the stuff I made for the recent jam game and sell off some of that. I imagine there would be a market for the guns in there. But I will need to split the profits with the friend who made the models. Although first we need to improve and fix the models a bit, give them correct sights and improve the animations and such.

Right, last thing: Rotaction is 25% off until the 2nd of January. Feel free to grab it at the reduced price if you want to support me.

I am working on the year end blog post with all the games I played and the top 10s, so look forward to that. Later.

-Adam

28/11/2022 – Analogue Pocket GET

Hello again. A thing I bought a year ago finally arrived, and it’s pretty sweet.

The Analogue Pocket is an FPGA emulation device that specifically plays GameBoy and GameBoy Advance games. FPGA is hardware emulation, not software, so it leads to greater accuracy in terms of emulation. This generally means less visual glitches but also has the downside of emulating the slowdown in games that would suffer it on real hardware.

Although you can play real cartridges on this thing, the OpenFPGA side is the most interesting part. You can just load FPGA cores made for it and then boot games off the Micro SD card. I have Neo Geo, NES, SNES, and Mega Drive cores on mine. Pretty much all the games I’ve tried have worked perfectly, and GameBoy games especially look gorgeous on the screen.

My major issue with the thing is that I don’t find it particularly comfortable to hold for long periods of time. Much like actual Nintendo handhelds. It’s not as bad as the 3DS or Switch JoyCons, which cause literal circulation problems for me, but there’s still things I would have changed.

I mean there is one more issue; the price. I think I’ve spent £400 on the thing all-and-all. It was £300 for the thing and dock, plus shipping, then the FedEx tax was £70 (Customs charges are a fucking scam), and then another £40 for a Micro SD card and UK USB-C plug. Yeah, it comes with a US plug. Be fair warned.

But I like the thing, and I’m gonna enjoy playing it. I actually did a stream soon after I got it where I played a bunch of games, check it out:

In other news, Indie LIVE Expo is happening soon. Why am I bring up here? Well Rotaction is going to appear during the first day when they discuss currently released games, so keep an eye out for it. But this is the first time one of my games has appeared at a major event, although it’s the second time it’s been promoted. The event will be streamed on the 3rd and 4th of December. Check it out, there’s loads of cool games.

Now, I’m going to talk about what I’m currently working on.

7DFPS (7 Day FPS) Jam is coming up in December, and I’ve decided that I want to take part. So I’m putting together a few things to practice and learn how to make stuff for it. I’m looking at stuff like Probuilder and Pro Grids for fast generation of levels, and learning how to do raycasted bullets with appropriate effects, as you see in the video above.

Now I know what you’re thinking, the Jam hasn’t started yet and I’m over here making stuff. Well, there’s no rule that says I can’t work on stuff a little early and most of this work isn’t going to be used in the Jam game. But it’s better I figure out these problems now, rather than during the Jam.

As for the side project I’ve been working on:

Well, progress is slow. I can shoot a bow now, but it’s a giant mess. Unity’s Rig Builder tool is such a giant mess to use that making it this far is generally surprising for me. But to explain the issue, layers upon layers upon layers. At some point I had to undo a lot of work and replace it with a canned animation, which is how I got the bow aiming and firing to work. Although I can explain some of that as well. When I started with the rigging, I was basing it on the idea of driving the player animation in relation to the bow. That was dumb, now I’m driving the bow animation in relation to the player, which is simpler to implement and has lead to better results.

Well that’s it from me for this time. Now I have to publish this before my power goes out. Which is a thing that’s happening today. Fun times. At least I have some books to read.

Till next time.

-Adam

09/10/2022 – The Blog Is 10 Years Old Today

10 years ago today, while I was at University, after 4 days of trying to link up my domain to my hosting; this website was born.

And that’s all I have to say on the matter.
I’m kidding.

I don’t really know what to say. My situation is very different these days, arguably worse. The MyGamingCommunity forum died, MoA moved to Discord, GameTrailers died, I got way into anime and started learning Japanese, I finished Uni in a horrible state, started becoming an indie dev, and then I started streaming again. Sometime after that, the COVID bullshit happened, it fucking made everyone’s lives Hell including me. Then I got a dog and my depression lessened.

She’s 2 years old now.

This would usually be the point where I would go on about what I’m currently doing and things for the future. But you already know what I’m currently doing and I have no idea what the future holds. I do know I’m gonna need to start earning some money. I’ve been thinking about stuff like Patreon and Ko-Fi lately, but I don’t know if it’s a good fit for me and the things that I do.

I’ll work it out.

Anyway, in other news, I took part in another game jam and made this thing:

Basically a Katamari-lite. Give it a go if you want.

As for the side project, well I’ll be getting back to that either next week or the week after. So keep an eye out on Twitch for it.

Anyway, 10 years. Hopefully I can get the funds to keep it running for another 10.

-Adam

27/09/2022 – 7 Years Late

Well the weather is getting colder, so I guess summer is finally over. The season that is, my dog of the same name is doing fine.

7 years after graduating university, I have finally updated the “Uni work” pages of this site. Better late than never I guess. Annoyingly, there’s still a lot of stuff missing from the pages because there’s stuff I just don’t have anymore, or can’t post. There’s also things like documents and such that aren’t programming related.

Either way, it’s something off my whiteboard.

Anyway, you might be wondering what’s going on with my side project. Well you’ll have to keep waiting because I’m working on something else now. A certain place I hang out on, on a certain anime image board started a Asset Jam, a two part game jam where the first part has users submit assets for games, and then the second part has users make games with those assets. Well I didn’t make any assets for the first part, but I am making a game.

Behold.

The beach ball of doom.

It’s a game I’m titling “I MUST CONSUME”, and it’s basically Katamari. But instead of gathering items in a massive ball, you absorb them instead. I’m using the game as an excuse to get familiar with Cinemachine and a few other things. I was thinking of migrating the camera system in my side project to Cinemachine, and used this project as a test bed for it. I’m fair happy with it here, so I think I will be doing the work needed to switch.

I’ve got until the morning of October 15th to finish it. Hopefully I can get it done by then. As usual, I’ll be streaming development on Twitch.

Nothing else is going on really. Still trying to find a game industry job, at least they’re actually replying to me now, even if only to reject me. I’ve started uploading some of my regular gameplay streams to my YouTube channel, and getting some decent view numbers. I think I’ll be doing more of that, especially for the demo & VR streams I do on occasion. Maybe some highlight compilations at some point too.

I was warned that gaining viewers solely on Twitch was a fool’s errand, and they were right. So maybe I’ll try this method. On that note, I am thinking of streaming my game dev stuff to YouTube as well, although I don’t know what the state of restreaming is these days. Maybe I’ll take a look at Restream.

That’s it from me. I’ve got a busy few weeks and maybe months ahead, I’ll try and post when I can. Later.

-Adam

09/09/2022 – ROTACTION IS OUT!

Get it on Google Play

After 5 or so months of development, Rotaction is available for purchase. I hope you guys enjoy it.

Long Live The King

The Queen died yesterday. Although it’s likely you already know that. 96 years is a pretty good run, and a lot of people would consider her to be the rock that held the UK together.

It’s a new era. I’ve not a fan of Charles, but I can’t give him too much grief considering the size of the shoes he now has to fill.

I kind of wish I wasn’t releasing Rotaction literally the day after all this. But it can’t be helped.

Side Project Progress

It’s coming along. Slowly but surely. Learning a lot about inverse kinematics, Unity’s animation system, and more. Gonna be learning the animation rigging system next to get this bow working and fiddle around with the animations more. I still haven’t got far enough with it to show off yet, but hopefully I’ll have something soon.

Hell of a week. Play Rotaction, enjoy it.

-Adam

02/09/2022 – Rotaction Is Complete! Release Date!

After 5-6 months of development, Rotaction is complete and ready for release on September 9th!

It will be available for Windows, Linux, and Android. You can buy the game from the Itch.io page or the Google Play Store page once it is available.

It’s been the most fun project to work on so far. Probably because there were few issues that I needed to deal with or just the fact that the overall complexity of the game was relatively low. That said, rarely ever does a game go from being an idea in my head to being a full product, and retains the art style and gameplay that I originally imagined.

I’m happy overall.

Yet Another Side Project

Having fun with Blender

Over the past few months, the YouTube algorithm has been continuously feeding me various tutorials for things. It started with Blender tutorials for modelling, then shaders. The image above being a tease of the thing I’m working on. After that, the Unity tutorials starting coming. However, these were all about one subject: procedural animation.

I got interested, and decided that I want to make a playable prototype of a game idea using these techniques. However, I’ve underestimated the complexity of this project. To start off with, I have to build a 3rd person character controller with various movement options, and the have it interact with various objects and the large monster I’m going to put in it. This monster will be driven mostly by procedural animation.

The player was originally going to be driven by this system, but then I discovered Unity’s Animation Rigging tools that allow me to use IK targeting in tandem with the animations I already have. I haven’t started using these tools yet, but it should be interesting.

I’m going to try and document the development of this prototype, showing all the different systems and how things work. I’ll be streaming development on Twitch and posting it to my new game development YouTube channel.

That’s all for now, I’ll leave you with this.

-Adam