Life

Unfortunately, the real world meddles with things again. With the end of the semester I have to cut back a bit on the game design to do far less exciting things.

However, I’m only human, and although fascinating, I can’t read about .net forever. I still squeeze in some gaming for release, and am still looking forward to one particular game coming out next week. The Sims 3. I say it’s because I think both the original concept and great execution provide a good example, which is true, but the real reason is that I’m a control freak. But aren’t we all? Every game is about control, The Sims just extends this to entire families, and now, an entire town. I’ll put up a few more words about it when it finally arrives.

Creating spaces

I’ve been fascinated with architecture for a while now, how buildings affect our interactions and feelings within them. This is partially why I became intrigued with game design, aside from my obsession with games. I like to think of level design as an almost purist version of architecture, although they may disagree with me.

A level is designed purely to guide players experiences, whereas an architect also has to think about pesky things such as physics or livability. If a space in a game is not working quite as it should we can simply add/remove doorways, stairs, walls, even entire buildings. This is most apparent in multiplayer games such as TF2, where maps are constantly refined.

This, however, can be level design’s downfall in comparison to architecture. Buildings have a permanence that game maps can’t really hope to match. A design in a game can only live while it’s being played, hours of work would have gone into designing the world of say, Tabula Rasa, all now in dust. Obviously a building can always be demolished or horrifically renovated, but while they’re standing they have always been and will always be.

A favourite blog of mine is BLDGBLOG, this recent post where the author, Geoff Manaugh, interviews Jim Rossignol,  author of another blog I frequent, Rock Paper Shotgun. In it they discuss, among other things, how level designers are lucky enough to design essentially whatever they want, flying castles, spaceships, etc., while real world architects are constrained to design something “reasonable”, giving us post modernist blandscrapers and such. Unfortunately, especially with today’s game budgets exploding, level designers may someday have to be just as cautious, having to pander to critic’s and fellow designer’s wishes somewhat.

Freedom, we have at the moment, so lets make the most of it! I can now get back to designing a space where people meet up to kill thousands of zombies, maybe I’ll move that lift to the other side of the foyer, or add another couple of stories to the building, won’t take too long…

UPDATE: Just bought both these brilliant writers’ books from Amazon, Geoff Manaugh’s BLDGBLOG, and Jim Rossignol’s This Gaming Life

Team Fortress 2 Map

I just downloaded the now available Left 4 Dead SDK, which reminded me of the only map I’ve released for TF2. The map, ctf_depot, is a cozy little CTF map with rather frantic gameplay. I put that up about 6 months ago and haven’t touched it since, maybe I’ll tweak/fix it soonish…

As for the L4D SDK, I’m looking forward to playing around with it, trying to put a traditionally single player narrative into a dynamic multiplayer map is rather unique, and I’ll able to find out more about the elusive AI Director that monitors the players experience.

Suppose something should go here…

So, this is GrapeFruit games, a place I can put my work and other thoughts relating to gaming. If anyone takes note it will hopefully give me a bigger push to get a move on, as well as giving me feedback as I go. Oh, and I know the site and server isn’t great, I’m on a free host while I get things sorted.

Currently working on an iPhone game, my first to be released into the wild, although that is still a while away now. I haven’t settled on a title yet, and I’ll keep gameplay specifics to myself until it’s in a more working state. However, the background stuff I can share. I’m using Unity(iPhone indie version) to build it, a fantastic tool worth every penny, I tried the direct OpenGL way and it would’ve taken me years. Unity lets me build the world directly, and gameplay programming is done through scripts, which are much easier to program, and more importantly, let me change variables quickly so I can fine tune the gamplay.

Unity is really geared towards 3D games, and since mine is 2D, I’m using a mod for it (Sprite Manager)that lets me easily render sprites rather than 3D models. Since I had already made progress making it 3D, I’m currently reverting all my ingame objects to sprites, which hopefully won’t take too long. Once that is done, I can start putting up a couple of screen shots.

Anyway, enough for now, more details about Unity and the game soon,

Thanks for reading!