Games Engines Assignment – Tasty Data!

Today was my first day back at university! So it was time to start working once again on my Games Engines assignment. I’ve fixed a good couple of bugs today including an annoying little problem I had with the PhysX cloth occasionally becoming too still and therefore not updating with the rest of the scene – I tried adding a constant force to it… but it didn’t seem to work at all – then I found a really nifty little function:

gMyCloth->getNxCloth()->wakeUp();

That pretty much fixed one of the biggest problems I’ve been having without much fuss at all. Occam’s razor eat your heart out! So now the cloth ‘wakes up’ every frame and no longer stops working properly if left alone for too long. I’ve also changed the colours in the game and made the blocks explode into a shower of debris when the ball collides with them… just to make the game a little juicier.

Another important part of this assignment is the collection and analysis of user data. One of the ways I’ve decided to implement this is by getting the computer to do most of the work and record my data into several files at run-time. The first piece of data I’ve decided to record is the location of the ball in space… this allows me to see where players mostly die and where the ball travels most often. I played a single game and then made the data I collected into a graph… here are the results:

Graph

This graph could also be considered as a really dodgy version of a heat-map. I can see where the ball tends to be often by looking at the concentration of points in certain areas – this could be useful to see if players have trouble getting the ball to land on the bat in a certain place or (as the case above suggests…) where they have used a strategy to destroy blocks vertically without risk of angles interfering!

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3rd Year Project Update #2

After a few hours of fiddling with sizes today I’ve finished texturing the character models for the crowd simulation. I’m using Oliver’s original textures as I want to focus on the body-shape changes and how they affect the visual variety right now. Next on my plate are the wonderfully time-consuming process of fixing all the normals… I’d lie if I said I was looking forward to that bit…

BeforeAfterCrowd

It’s not overly noticeable from the photo above as everyone is rather small, but there is most definitely an increase in the variety between the people in the original simulation and the new one! My hope is that I can run a test alongside the ones I have planned which uses extra textures… this will help me develop a conclusion as to whether the geometric variety is less important than the texture variety or not.

 

“The Legend Of Groomp” and 1st Year Game Challenges

Each year I’ve been at the University Of Lincoln I’ve really looked forward to seeing the games made by the new first years. This year I wasn’t disappointed, there’s some real talent in that group, and I’m really looking forward to seeing them all progress through the year.

Each year the first years have been tested with the creation of a one-button game, here was my attempt. Below is 2011 video for the first year “One Button Game” challenge:

One game that really caught my eye this year (2012) was Alex Saye‘s “The Legend Of Groomp” a tower defence game, here is a basic description:

The Legend of Groomp is a simple tower defense game where you must defend against a horder of soldiers using up to nine different spells. Spells are cast by either tapping or holding the Space bar. To unlock spells, you must get experience by killing enemies. Stronger enemies give more experience!

My gosh is this game fun. It’s got a really clever take on the one button game genre, using taps and hold-downs of the space button to decide which power to use. The game itself is so juicy – spells feel incredibly good to use, even those at a low level. The spells the player can use also can chain together, for example the flame-thrower can be chained up with a push spell to set other enemies on fire!

One of my personal favourite spells is the lightning spell, as it makes enemies spasm wildly and forks across the map in a very cool way. I also love the way that catapults lob rocks at the castle, and then they bounce off under physics… hilariously killing their own men. There is so much to this game, which is especially impressive when you think that they only had two weeks to develop it from start to finish – it has a very high level of polish.

I highly recommend trying the game out it’s so good. Also it’s free to download and play… so what exactly are you waiting for?! Download it  for Windows!

If you’re interested in playing some of the other games made for the 1st year game-maker challenges, check them out here:

Good News Everyone!

Today I received my initial mark and feedback for the first Advanced Games Studies assignment, I got 79% which is a reasonably safe 1st. It also means I don’t have to work on sprint 2 to improve my grade, which gives me extra time on my dissertation, and I like extra time for everything!

I’ve also implemented some more stuff in my PhysX Games Engine assignment, there are now blocks that the ball destroys when it hits them, I’m pretty happy with it (The video below doesn’t show the ball reacting to the blocks, but it does now… trust me.) This coming week I hope to finish implementing some extra PhysX features like joints and convex objects in order to get a higher grade!

I’ve also hit 20,000 words in my novel, I should hopefully have a complete first draft by the end of December. I’ve had a look into getting it printed, 100 copies should cost around £300… which is steep but I can reclaim the costs if I sell the books for £5.00 each. Where I’m going to get the initial funds from I do not know, but hopefully I’ll have a job come summer to pay for it! I’ve also looked into releasing it for the Kindle, which could be a cool idea.

To quote my old history teacher Dr. Perry: “Happy days chums!”

Now for a well deserved drink in the nearby student pub!