Hitpoint Games – Progress Update

I thought it might be a good idea to write a little blog post to talk about what is going on at Hitpoint Games; what our current plans are, what we are doing at the moment and what you have to look forward to this year.

Let’s start with Hashtag Dungeon: myself and Kieran have been doing postgraduate degrees so unfortunately development has stalled since last December. We had plans to bring out a bunch of different updates but decided against it so that we have one massive update before we release on Steam that’s jam packed with new stuff for both old and new players to try out. We’re returning to full time development in August when I move up to Lincoln, we’re looking at a late September release on Steam.

As part of the new update we have overhauled all of the user interfaces to make them easier to use. We’ve added a bunch of new traps and enemies and fixed a lot of renderings bugs. We’re also putting in different classes to play as: The Ninja, The Blood Mage, The Hunter, The Paladin and The Robot, to name a few – these will shake up the way you play the game and how you tackle certain enemies and situations.

So yeah: Hashtag Dungeon, on Steam by hopefully the end of September. We are definitely going to need some beta testers so I suppose we’ll release the update early on itch.io and ask people to help test it for us.

Secondly: Utopian – now called Utopia-N (based on the nth term of something…) has had a few changes. We’ve decided (for the moment) to remove the Wikipedia ties – the reason for this is that Wikipedia’s edits aren’t reliable enough to generate exciting and interesting gameplay: a lot of the time you’ll end up flying around a space without any enemies spawning because no one is vandalising Wikipedia at the time.

We’ve also made the decision to try and make it into a mobile game. We think it would be really cool to get something out on mobile which is exciting to play and also graphically impressive. We spent this weekend getting the controls nailed down and now we’re getting in the core gameplay. It should prove to be a really fun mobile game without any of the general awfulness of traditional mobile games.

Moving swiftly on, let’s discuss LUST: we’re currently working on the design document for this and I’ve drawn a lot of concept art for it. It’s not really safe for work though, so I’m not going to post it up on here until I finish teaching for the year. The game is going to be a procedurally generated FPS with a old-school aesthetic: nice low-poly enemies with pixelly textures. I’m really digging the way it’s looking and I’m excited to show you some screenshots of the level generation system when I get back from holiday!

Finally we’re still working on Nectar Collector alongside Andrew Deathridge. He’s just taking a break after having finished his course and should be back on the development in the next few weeks. It’s a game about bees, so I am happy about it no matter what happens.

The rest of this year will be a super exciting one for Hitpoint Games, we’re going to be releasing our first game on Steam and we’ve got a bunch of other projects simmering away. We are also accepting client work for the first time since opening our doors, which is a great way to keep us afloat whilst we continue doing this crazy little thing called game development. I’m really pleased to be spearheading things alongside Kieran and I’m sure you’ll all be pleased with what we’re working on.

Advertisements

VideoBrains November Talk: Using APIs For Completely Insane Reasons

I was in London a few weeks ago and I did a talk on using APIs to make weird and wonderful games. Apparently it went reasonably well despite me being unable to recall exactly what I said or did…

They recently uploaded the video so I thought I’d make a blog post to show it on my own website!

I warn you – it’s definitely an interesting one:

(In other news I’m still pretty down ever since the end of GameCity – don’t let my cheery nature on that video fool you… I was screaming internally. Being on my own is horrid, being on my own in LONDON is even scarier.)

Can Jam 2014

Can Jam Logo

Hey everyone! Just a quick blog post to tell you all about the upcoming Can Jam at The University Of Lincoln. It’s a 24 hour long game jam ran by students and staff at the university for the glory of game-making students everywhere!

It’s going to be starting on the 8th of March at 9:00am and any UK student with a valid form of identity is welcome to come along to participate. We’re really hoping that you’ll be able to come along and make games with like-minded people. If it’s anything like the last three it’ll be an awesome event. I will be there helping out and providing people with my homespun brand of passionate encouragement (until about 3am – then you’ll have to deal with grumpy Sean).

There will be people coming from both Crytek GmbH and Rockstar for the judging so it’s a great opportunity to network and show off your skills!

Also… this year we have a fancy trophy. I’ve yet to lay eyes on it because apparently it’s far too fancy for any one person to lay eyes upon. It’s really that fancy.*

You can sign up here! There’s only a limited number of places so make sure to grab a ticket quickly! Also feel free to share the details with anyone or anything you might think will be interested.

*I have literally no idea how fancy it is right now. But I can only assume it’s going to be pretty fancy.

Game Jam Round-Up (#7DGGC and #ScareJam)

I’ve been a little busy recently so I didn’t get chance to write a round-up for either the Gentlemanly Game Challenge OR the Scare Jam. Yes, I know it’s been a while since both of them… quite a while – but I don’t care! It’s time to round them up and discuss how they went! Grab a glass of wine substitute (grape juice) and enjoy my game jam round up! Cheers!

DSC_1502

So I’ll start with the Seven Day Gentlemanly Game Challenge. It was interesting to see what people took from the idea of ‘Gentlemanly’ as a theme. There was a whole lot of steampunk stuff – which I approve of, however I’m still not sure if steampunk always equates to gentlemanly or the vice versa.

We had a nice array of games. Team Noname (Now known as Volatile Element) made a cool RTS game in Unity. Kieran Hicks (who is now working with me on Hastag Dungeon) made a game in which you play a hobo who must rise through the ranks in order to get into the country club. There were some really juicy ideas in the game entitled ‘Monoculus Rift’ which placed the player in a retro environment as seen through a fancy monocle.

DSC_1484 DSC_1474 DSC_1494DSC_1487 DSC_1498

The Scare Jam was awesome. I can’t believe how many people turned up to make games. I was so impressed by the turnout from every year of the computing courses at Lincoln. All the games were pretty well done too and there was a great deal of variety among them. I’m not entirely sure why I chose to do a game jam based on scary games since i’m a very jumpy person myself. This was particularly evident when I jumped halfway across the room when playing one of the games.

Halloween

Alex Saye won the prize for the overall best use of mechanics for his game “14565” where you play a blindfolded person attempting to escape from a terrifying monster. Its lack of visuals and reliance on sound really made for a great experience as your imagination fills in all the blanks and makes it far more terrifying. You can download it here. Wear headphones.

Kieran Hicks received the award for scariest game. His 3D Gamemaker maze game pushed the boundaries of what most of the judges thought could be done in the software. Plenty of jump scares all around.

Team Volatile Element gained the final award for most interesting use of the theme for their game “Child’s Whisper” for the Oculus Rift. It was a surreal and spooky experience that had the player controlling their right and left eyes with a controller.

Duncan Rowland gave out a special award for a game developed using the Mindwave. This game tried to gauge the players stress levels in order to change the environment around them. It was a very interesting insight into getting the Mindwave hardware integrated with Unity.

As with all the game jams I’ve ran at Lincoln i’m always impressed at the creativity and skill the students have. It’s great to see people who are passionate making games and I love to give them opportunities to just make games for the hell of it. It’s my hope that at least one or two of the games will be developed further after the jams are done – there’s definitely a few gems that deserve the attention of the gaming public!

 

The Scary October Jam #ScareJam

Boo! So it’s time for the first of my many little game jams that I’m going to be running at the University of Lincoln! Since it’s Halloween soon I thought it might make sense to make it a spooky-themed scary game jam of occult hi-jinks!

Halloween

So ‘The Scary October Jam’ will be coming this Friday (18th October) to the University of Lincoln. I’ll be starting it at around 5pm and it’ll be finishing 72 hours later on the Monday! Anyone at the university is welcome to come along, we’d like to see as many first year games students there as possible – you can use the weekend as a crash course in GameMaker!

Let’s make some games that make people jump. Make games with all those creepy things that go bump in the night. Make something terrifying that’ll terrify the judges!

This time around we’re having an online poll to decide on a mechanic to add into everyone’s games. This should give people an interesting challenge and push them to think a little outside of the box with their game ideas. (Let’s avoid having a thousand and one jump-and-run games, people!)

You can come in a team of up to five people. The event will be in Computer Lab B on the top floor of the MHT building. Don’t be afraid to ask me some questions about it: if you want some more information on the jam then send me an email or drop me a message on Twitter.

Flu, LEGO and Crowd Simulators

This week I have developed a rather nasty case of flu. A particularly devilish strain of flu  that just happened to seemingly know that this week was the one week I wanted to be firing on all cylinders! As I write this post I’m bed-ridden and shaking like a leaf, but my condition is definitely improving so I should be better for just before Christmas.

On Monday I travelled down to Wolverhampton to stay overnight for a teaching event on Tuesday at Highfields School, normally I’d take an early train down on the morning of the event, but to ensure I’d get a better nights sleep my boss booked me a hotel! I was really looking forward to a relaxing night’s sleep… but that’s when the flu kicked in. Whoops.

I wasn’t exactly running on all cylinders when I got to the school, but I was still taken aback by the sheer awesomeness that surrounded me there. There were no corridors in the school… all the classrooms were wonderfully open-plan and there were canteens and seating areas on every floor. I was incredibly jealous – all the students had access to a cyber-café and had been given free laptops to do their work on. Their product design department had a 3D printer AND a laser cutter – sheer bloody madness!

We then proceeded to start work on the LEGO event for the day – two guys from LEGO Education came in to run the event and I was tasked with aiding the students with anything they needed help with. They were tasked with making robots to do specific challenges as part of the “Green City Challenge” pack, which has several different engineering problems incorporated into it – pushing, lifting and carrying being the main three that were tackled during the day.

Lego Robot

It was good to work with LEGO during the day, I’d not used Mindstorms equipment in years so I was a little rusty. But it’s really easy to pick up and the kids took to it like a duck to water. They didn’t need much help and really got into it once they understood the basic principals of moving the motors on their robot. It was an awesome day apart from feeling really crumby in the physical well-being department.

Other than that I’ve also been working on my dissertation in my spare time. I’m currently working on the model design for my characters in the crowd simulation I’m adding to. Carefully programming in vertices and having them deform and change based on the characters body type. I’ve been wrecking my brains over a bug I’ve been having for AGES and not been able to notice. A bug that meant my little models were rendering in very ‘abstract’ ways:

Vertex Problems

The bug had eluded me for ages until last night when my girlfriend pointed it out to me when I was grumbling through my array of indices: I’d accidentally skipped a few numbers in the array… Whoops! So after changing that I can now declare proudly that my project is now progressing nicely again! I’ll be doing another post about my current final-year project progress as and when I have my model completed and working reasonably well.

Also… today is the start of the Steam Christmas Sale… may we all be blessed by Gaben’s great deals.