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Atlantian Problems part II

 

Happy New Year and welcome back! This is our first update of 2015 and we hope you’ve all had a great start to your year! Here at CoffeePoweredMachine the work never stops, and we’re still chugging away on the Atlantis levels, which we first showed you in our last update.

Back then, when we introduced Atlantis to you, we also talked about its ornaments and it’s foliage, and you guys gave us a lot of great feedback! Thank you very much for all your thoughts, we’re going to keep working hard on those details to make sure it look just right!

Okhlos’ water

The composition of the water in Okhlos is quite simple: it’s a plane.

waterPlane

The water is above the actual ground of the game… duh.

It’s a plane above the actual ground of the level, so the units, buildings, and enemies never interact with it. The ground is the one that posseses all the physics components, so it still handles all the collisions itself. The water is just a mesh child of the ground.

The water has a transpartent/diffuse material, and there isn’t much more to it than that. We don’t reduce the opacity of the texture, we just change it in the materials settings. This gives us much more control, and, since we’re working directly on the final look as we make changes, we can just do it all within Unity instead of having to export out a texture for every tweak we want to make.

matProp

“Agua” in spanish means water :P

As far as water within other objects goes, all the water in streams and containers was made in 2DToolkit, which makes animating it so much easier and gives us far more versatility.

agua

 

As you can see from the picture above, almost all the water streams for the objects are made using sprites. We animate them frame by frame. 2DToolkit has an incredibly useful pipeline for this kind of work. We still need to export the sprites, but we change their sizes, shapes, and orientations very quickly, and we can see the results almost immediately.

barrilbebedero

 

waterFountain2

This fountain has 8 different sprite animations, just to illustrate the versatility of our system.

fuente

The only real problem we had with this approach was that we had to change the material of the water within the objects to differentiate it from the water plane. The water has an Additive Vertex color material, which is why it almost seems to glow.

 

 

The cascading water, as we mentioned before, is a sprite animation, but the ripples are produced using Unity’s particle system.

waterFlow

It’s actually a pretty simple effect, it’s just a looping particle that throws instances every now and then.

Captura de pantalla 2015-01-07 11.07.37

With just a few tweaks we can apply the effect to a character. We just need to change the Emission from Time to Distance, and the simulation space to local.

waterRipplesCharacter

The buildings

The buildings, fortunately, were pretty straight forward to make. We added some moss and a strange glowing pattern that we thought exuded a certain Atlantean look.

buildings

 

We added the obligatory moss, following in a looooong tradition of water levels.

As for the edges of the level, we got rid of those old fashioned mountain bases and we replaced them with water walls that have ancient Atlantean runes! So cool!

water

 

Oops… this update ended up being a little long, didn’t it? We still have at least another update to write about Atlantis, talking about enemies and hazards, but there’s also so many other things we want to talk about! We’re still not quite sure what we’ll focus on for next week, but stay tuned, it’ll definitely be exciting!

See you all next time, and happy new year!

As always, this article was proofread and edited by @pfque_!

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Okhlos: A year in review (2014)

Hey! How’s that we are not writing about Atlantis? That will have to wait a little longer (as it happens with almost all things this time of the year). Instead, we wanted to share what we thought were the coolest moments of this year.

A huge thanks!

First of all, this year we were overwhelmed by the amount of support we received. By our supporters (fans is a such a strong word!) and our colleagues. We usually post all this stuff in three different places: our blog. TIG, which is an amazing forum for developers, and IndieDB. We got so many wonderful comments, helpful feedback and lots of cheers from these communities.

Also, lots of tweets, shares and a plethora of nice words from our friends. We really got the chance to see the best part of the industry this year.

2014-2

 

Best of 2014

-We started our year with a full press coverage in RPS and Kotaku

-We had major HUD changes (and we are still making more!)

-We had our own take on prefab inception

-We had a good amount of Lets Play

-Gordon joined the team as our musician/sfx guy/Canadian friend

-We made things harder

-We now have a cool Trailer

 

-The trailer’s making of was featured in Gamasutra

- We turned down three different publishers offers! All of them included upfront money, so it was very difficult to say no! (and we didn’t  write an update about it)

- We received private funding! And now we can eat! (and we didn’t write an update either)

-We added Sparta, Ephesos and Atlantis to Okhlos’ world roster!

-We went to a lot of events!

-The last part of the year, we worked very hard on improving the gameplay! (We are preparing an update about it!)

-We met and chat with Adam Saltsman and Rami Ismail (and they played Okhlos!)

 

So, in short, it was an amazing year for us, and we hope that 2015 will be even better. It will definitely be the year we release Okhlos, so at least, we can expect that we will live interesting times.

 

Thanks again for reading, and liking, and tweeting, and sharing the love!

 

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Atlantian Problems Part I

Hey gang!

We’ve been doing a lot of work on the core mechanics of Okhlos and we’re experimenting with quite a few things, some of them a little weird. It’s quite intensive, and coding for all these tweaks and new ideas has been taking up a lot of Sebastian’s time, so in the meanwhile I’ve been designing Atlantis, one of our new game worlds.

We know three basic things about Atlantis: It was circular, it was fictional[citation needed], and it was somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

People tend to imagine Atlantis as an underwater city, since it sank into the Ocean, and we’re running with similar imagery. We’ve ditched the circular part, and are working with the idea that people kept living on it, despite the humidity.

Decorations and ornaments

As we’re running with a water theme I did a few quick google image searches to help me set the mood. I think we ended up with some good design constants for the city:

stock-vector-illustration-featuring-elements-commonly-associated-with-underwater-scenes-194520425

I still regreat not using the dolphin

We’ll have a lot of coral and ferns around the buildings, and tridents as ornaments on the roofs and higher floors.

Ornaments

Foliage

We’re having an ongoing problem designing the foliage and we still haven’t decided how to address it.

These are our current options (any and all feedback is welcome!):

  • No foliage.

As a soaked, inundated city, there should be no foliage. This is a simple approach, and although it makes sense it’s a bit boring. It definitely lacks something.

fol1

 

  • Rocks, Ferns, and Coral Everywhere.

This option adds quite a bit to the visuals but is rather messy, to the point where it’s not pleasant to the eyes. (Keep in mind, the bamboo is a separate element, and not part of the foliage we’re discussing here.)

fol03

 

  • Ferns and Coral only

This last option still adds some flair, like the option B, but we took the rocks out of the equation. It looks better and a bit less cluttered, but it still doesn’t feel quite right.

fol2

We’re going to try a few other things for the foliage and we’ll come up with some more options, but we welcome your opinion on the matter. If you want to see Atlantis within the context of the game, there’s a few screenshots below!

 

screen1

screen2

These screenshots were taken from the No Foliage Option

 

This is it for this week, but there’s still a ton of things about Atlantis that I’d like to talk about in the near future! We’d love to hear your feedback about this new game world, so please let us know what you think!

This article was proofread and edited by @pfque_!

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Regaining Control – Aftermath

Hey guys! These last few weeks have been very busy for us here at Coffee Powered Machine.

We’ve shown our game at three (3!) different exhibits in just as many weeks, and let us tell you – after almost a whole month without weekends, we’re exhausted! We’ve been so busy we didn’t even get a chance to put up an update last week.

The events were great though, and we got a lot of great feedback from the people who tried out Okhlos at the various shows. We now have a ton of data to work with as we head back into development. Thanks to any of you who came out and gave our game a shot! Seeing you guys play the game and talking to you has been incredibly helpful.

As you might remember from our last update, we had been talking about implementing a new control scheme for Okhlos. We had proposed three different schemes: the non-zero option, the alternate keyboard option, and the mouse option.

 

EsquemaTodos

 

We got a chance to test out these different control schemes at the various exhibits and have learned a lot from our experiments. Below you’ll find a short break-down of each of these exhibits and what we managed to learn.

The Events

These were the events in where we showed Okhlos.

EVA

EVA is short for Exposición de Videojuegos Argentinos, or Argentine Videogames Expo. It is the principal videogames event in Argentina, and it’s mainly oriented towards developers.

We exhibited Okhlos 0.4.1 during EVA, the same build we sent off to the IGF, and used our original control scheme.

The biggest problem with this build was that the players didn’t realize they had to keep holding the second analog stick in position in order to attack. The QTEs also proved problematic as it’s hard to push the face buttons when you’re supposed to be holding the second analog stick at the same time.

MEET THE GAME 2

Unlike EVA, Meet the Game is more of a public event where people get a chance to meet developers and try out their games. One of its goals is to facilitate one-on-one interaction between developers and players. It’s still a small event but there’s a lot of potential in the format and we hope it’ll grow.

We showed two different versions of Okhlos at Meet the Game, each one sporting a different control scheme. We showed one with the non-zero joystick layout (scheme 1 in the chart above) and a second one with the mouse layout (scheme 3). We were particularly interested to see how people would feel about controlling the game with a mouse. We had only tested the mouse internally up until that point and hadn’t had a lot of time to tweak its controls.

 

notebooks

Thanks to Marisol Estevez for the picture!

We found out some very interesting things.

Players had an easy time with the non-zero joystick scheme, and had no problems attacking enemies throughout the demo. They used the second analog stick to adjust the position of the mob whenever necessary and had no trouble hitting the face buttons during the QTEs. It’s still far from perfect though and we’re still very tempted to eliminate the QTEs altogether.

What really amazed us though was how positive the reaction to the mouse scheme was. People really liked it a lot! We were told it felt quite intuitive, which is great! The only problem was that we didn’t map an action to the left mouse button, which, as it turns out, is what players naturally tried first and wanted to use. I guess using the mouse just makes people feel like they’re playing an RTS!

TRIC VI

I still don’t know what this event was about. It was some kind of scientific or academic tournament endorsed by the IEEE? Maybe it’s just because I’m the graphics guy but I really didn’t get it.  It wasn’t as cool or as crowded as the other events but we managed to test out the keyboard scheme nonetheless.

Seeing how the attendees (all two of them!) reacted to the keyboard controls we concluded it was a very good control scheme for the game. We changed it a bit from how it’s shown in the graph above – instead of using the Del, End, and Page Down buttons for items we went with the 1, 2, and 3 keys which are much closer to WASD. We realized not all keyboards have Del, End, and Page Down buttons close to the arrow keys.

10626422_1962326810572963_7462021763699652972_o

Thanks Yiyo Flauros for the picture!

 

Overall, we gained a lot of data from each of these events. I think we almost nailed the keyboard control scheme, but it seems Okhlos still has some game-mechanic issues that we have to resolve before we can perfect it

To the drawing table, again

We had a long session with Daniel Benmergui on Friday in which he helped us test out and think through some of our base mechanics. We tried some quick changes, analyzed the flow of the mob, ran through our challenges, and at the end of the day we asked ourselves whether our game is robust enough as it stands right now or whether we have to keep working and tweaking its mechanics.

The conclusion we came to was that that we need to keep exploring our base mechanics. We have a cool concept but it’s just not enough. As Daniel said, we need to start thinking in verbs. In the current build you gather, you run, you attack, you solve QTES and you use items. We need to add more verbs to that. And as for removing QTEs, that would make our gameplay even simpler than it already is, so we can’t really afford to just yet. Not until we’ve built something more robust.

It was a great experience talking with Daniel and we came out of it with a huge list of changes we want to make. We’re thinking of removing any unnecessary numbers, changing a great part of the HUD, axing the bureaucrats, reducing the options available in the market, and changing the dash. That may seem daunting, but I think one of the things that Daniel helped us corroborate is that doing something original, something that hasn’t been seen in any another game, is very difficult, and we’re on good track to making it happen.

We also had an interesting experience with our sound designer, Gordon, @jouste  and @Nelsormensch. We had a video chat with them while they played Okhlos, which was a little weird but very cool! We weren’t sure if we should be looking at them or at the screen – they had to turn the laptop around for that – but once it started we were able have a good conversation, even in my rusty English.

Their suggestions were very similar to Daniel’s on most things, but they were nonetheless very helpful. Talking about your game always is! We’re very thankful for their feedback and now have plenty of work to keep us busy for quite a while!

That’s more or less it! I will continue to work on new worlds for Okhlos and Sebastian has already started conducting weird experiments with the mechanics. We’ll see what come out of all that and we’ll let you know!

This article was proofread and edited by our new collaborator, @pfque_!

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Introducing Ephesos [Part 2]

Last week, we started talking about Ephesos, Okhlos’ new world, and we left a few things out. This week, we are gonna solve that.

ENEMIES

We have some new enemies for Ephesos. Mainly the Centaurus and the Forest Giants. Granted, Forest Giant is a silly name, but they are powerful enemies, we promise!

gigante

This is the second Gigante (Giant) we introduce! The first one was the shield bearer. And we still have a few more to show!

The Centaurs, on the other hand, they are a very different enemy.

CentaurA

For starters, Centaurs will search for you, and try to trample you. So, their attacks are continuous and in line.  You’d better try to dodge them, because they will not stop even if they hit a unit.

Another thing that they have, is that they can crash with the buildings, and this hurts them. This was something that came from the early prototypes, and we don’t know if it’s a good fit for the current state of Okhlos (having changed so much since then).

HAZARDS

In the subject of hazards, the new ones in Ephesos are these kind of bear traps. These traps will hurt any unit that walks on top of it.

ArtemisTrap

Also, there is a new variation of the exploding barrel hazard, but they involve only graphical changes.

ARTEMIS

Artemis is Apollo’s sister, so in character design terms, it was pretty easy to develop her.

You can see that she has lots of things reminiscent of Apollo. And we translated some of the yellow elements to green ones, in order to push the nature theme a bit further.

ArtemisApollo

Artemis also has a few special attacks, like filling the stage with traps, and shooting arrows like his brother. It’s very likely that she’ll have a third attack, but we haven’t done it yet.

As for the stage where she is, we are currently using a placeholder, but she’ll definitely have a version of the Temple of Artemis, and a huge open area for the battle. As one of the cool things about her is that she places traps, having terrain covered by buildings, thus not being able to place traps there, can nerf that. As with Ares, this boss is much more enjoyable with an open terrain where you can fight her. Obviously, we can’t just put a blank chunk, we have to decorate it!

ArtemisChunk

Well, that’s pretty much Ephesos. We still have a lot of work to do here, but with all this, you can get a grasp of how it will feel like!

 

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