Hostile Territory was officially published on Desura this week. We were even on the front page for a while, though I think they do that for all their new games. Still cool. This happened just in time for EAE Day as well. I think that means that almost all of the games are published now and All Is Dust is rocking it on Steam, so it’s only a matter of time for them.
EAE day was awesome. It was amazing to see everyone enjoying all the games so much and I don’t recall another one of these events with so many polished, fun-to-play games from the master’s students and the undergraduates and the GApp lab and a bunch of people that just made games. There were several student games that I would probably buy, even if I didn’t go to the same school as they do. My son keeps bugging me about getting Hostile Territory (he likes changing the colors) and Melter Man (he likes building things out of the ice). I think some of the games that showed the best were Hostile Territory and that dungeon game that was like playing Pokemon on twitch. Both of them weren’t the most complex games in the world, but in a situation like EAE day they really shined. The dungeon one shined because it is only really fun when you get a group of 3 or more people, but once you do it is extremely fun and once a group of people start having fun like that, others join in and it gets even better.
Hostile Territory showed so well because it is easy to pick up and understand and it has short, intense play sessions. It’s weakness on Desura is that it is a 2 person game, but at an event like this, finding people to pick up the game and play with you is not a problem.
I think that EAE day was a fitting final celebration of these games.
I’m gonna miss these people.
With a great deal of help from Skip, we were able to get all the music and sound effects working in the game before sending it off to Desura. I’m very tired now, so I am going to sleep.
All right, I’ve rebuilt the music system and rewrote the music so that it will be responsive in the right ways to the music system. The original system was built horizontally, meaning that the music is just one big long piece that jumps from one section of the piece to the next when triggered by different values of the parameter. This style of music system gives you a great result when you are trying to build a system that builds to a climax, like a countdown timer. The tradeoff comes when a change in the music happens, that change doesn’t happen for 1 or 2 measures because it would sound odd musically if the changes happened instantaneously. We have since decided to base the dynamic music on the distance between the players and since this is changing constantly, and sometimes very quickly, the horizontal system would never respond quickly enough to be useful in that situation. So instead I built a vertical system. A vertical music system is built from stems of a piece of music, or separate instruments stacked on top of one another. In this case the instruments are put together in such a way that when the players are far apart, the music is sparse and when the players are close the music has all the instruments playing together. But one could build the system in such a way as to trigger any combination of instruments at any time. The benefit of this type of system is that it is very responsive to changes. If you had a game that you had to switch from an exploring mode to an enemy attack mode quickly, this is the type of system that you would use.
Even though we were able to get the music written to accommodate the new system, and build the new system, we weren’t able to get the music to work in the game. This needs to happen very soon, or there won’t be any music in the Desura build.
Yay! I finally got the music done. I was able to build a music system that will progress through the music, making it more exciting as the round progresses. It should work pretty well when the progress parameter is attached to the countdown timer. We did run into a problem though. There is no countdown timer. The music is currently built for a certain type of interactivity. I’ll have to go home and rewrite the music to accommodate for this design change. I’ll talk more about it next week. Hopefully it will be done by then (since we’re submitting to Desura soon).
I had a fun time this week playing the game and tweaking some of the values. Rody and I would play and Skip would change the game based on all of our observations to see if we could make it more fun. One of the best changes (that probably won’t end up in the final game) was when Skip changed the amount of tiles that change to your color when you drop a fully charged bomb. The first time he made the change we started the round and Rody only used his gun and I only used the bomb. When I got the bomb fully charged I dropped it and ran away, expecting it to switch about twice as many as normal to my color. I waited for a couple of seconds (I don’t know what Rody was doing at the time. Maybe tying his shoe) and all at once, almost every tile immediately turned to my color. The game was chugging for a couple of seconds because of so much happening all at once, but once it got back up to a proper frame rate, I made them all disappear and we both died. But it was so much fun that we had to do it again. We talked about potentially having a super-bomb in the game and about things that we could do to balance it out with the other player. We ended up reverting the changes we made, but it was one of the most entertaining design sessions I’ve had this semester. I hope there are more to come.
This week I was able to finally finish the sounds that I created with the modem sound. I also created all the FMOD events so the sound could be played with the appropriate behavior in the game. There are a couple sounds that I wanted to mention quickly, because I really liked the way they turned out, though it’s hard to let you listen to the final version because the final version only exist in FMOD and the game right now.
After making the sounds in Pro Tools and making sure they looped seamlessly, I imported them into FMOD and got to work. In both FMOD events I used the Autopitch feature in FMOD (I think I mentioned this earlier when I talked about the character speed changes. I made that sound a couple weeks ago, but I haven’t seen it in the game until now. The other sound I wanted to talk about is the bomb charging sound. I went through such a process that I can’t remember exactly how I made the original sound, but when I put it in FMOD and attached the Autopitch parameter, it played almost perfectly the first time. Everything looped beautifully and when you use the bomb charging button in the game the sound starts off slow then builds in energy until it finally stops at its highest pitch. Then it stays there, indicating that your bomb is fully charged. I guess this isn’t exactly life changing for most people, but I was pretty stoked when the behavior worked correctly. I like when stuff works.
We had a meeting this week about the camera view. This has been a hot-button issue on the team for a while and it has finally come to a head. One member of the team wants a fixed camera system similar to the Spy vs Spy game (the camera stays at a fixed height and angle in relation to the player) and another one knows there is a problem, but doesn’t seem to have a good solution one way or another. I came into the meeting a bit late so I had to watch some gameplay videos of Spy vs Spy. I sat down next to Skip, one of our engineers, and watched the video while I listened to the discussion. While I listened I thought to myself, “You know what, our game kind of reminds me of Splatoon (not a very unique thought, I know). I wonder how they solved their camera problems.” So I found a Splatoon gameplay video and watched it for a while. Then I showed it to Skip and said to him that they solved it by making everything the camera clipped through transparent. At the time, the camera would not clip through the environment. Instead, it would be pushed to an awkward angle by the environment. After he started watching the video we both noticed other things like the camera was at a lower angle as if it was looking down the sights of the gun from behind the character. This gave the player a great view of the world and an excellent sight picture, making it easier to aim than the system we currently had in place. Skip started writing everything down and added a couple of his own observations. When there was a break in the conversation, he calmly told the group about our discovery and gave them a plan of attack that made far too much sense for the rest of the group to contradict.
I found out that the character in the game will be able to move at 3 different speeds so this gives me the chance to use the auto pitch feature in FMOD. I’ve played around with this feature in the past but I’ve never really used it in a game yet so I was excited to see what I could do with it. It’s usually used in making vehicle sounds by taking an engine sound recorded at different rpm’s, placing them in an RPM parameter timeline (instead of the regular timeline), and instantiating an Autopitch modulator on the pitch knob of each trigger region. I would go into more detail about setting it up, but I think that’s a discussion for a different forum. Sufficed to say, engine noises are usually used, but I didn’t want it to sound like a car, so I created 3 different layers that would be triggered at different levels based on the speed that you were going in the game. I used the dial-tone segment, the actual dialing sequence, and a filtered portion of the noise for the three segments. The dialing sequence I pitched up so it wasn’t quite as recognizable, but the other two I left essentially the same.
After I got done with my work in FMOD I had one of the engineers help me set it up in Unity and so far it seems to be working pretty well. I’m excited about creating the other sounds for the game using my self-inflicted source limitation. It should be fun.
I think I’ve figured out what I’m going to do with the sound. The theme for the game is based on the recent DDoS attacks that have been getting a lot of coverage lately. I was trying to think of how to translate something that doesn’t make any sound (like a DDoS attack) into sound and while I was looking through my audio library, I came across the sound of the old dial-up modem and I thought to myself, “I could do something with that.”
Dial-up sound: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsNaR6FRuO0
While I know that it is a somewhat antiquated sound that doesn’t have much to do with the DDoS attacks specifically, it is a sound that is universally associated with the internet, so I decided to use it. In order to make the whole process a little more interesting and to challenge myself a little bit, I decided to make all the sounds in the game, including the music, using only that sound as source material. It is a good sound to use as a starting place because it has the two basic elements that I will need to create just about everything that I’ll need for the game. It has both tonal elements and noise elements. If I wanted to, I could make these elements out of just about anything by over-compressing a signal until it creates noise or by over-equalizing a signal until I get a tone, but since this sound already has both elements I can keep more of the original timbre intact thus making the sound more uniquely “dial-up” sounding. I like that.
I was able to put together an audio system in FMOD that works pretty well. I took just a sine wave tone and some white noise and made a makeshift drum set and simple synth inside FMOD. I then wrote a simple chord progression and rhythm to test out the system I want to create for the game. I used nested events in FMOD to build the music from a simple sound to more and more complex song segments and then once those song segments were done, I tried to figure out a way to use the parameters explained in last week’s post to control the audio for the weapon sounds so that they could be controlled by the chord progression of the music. I was able to get the simple system working pretty well, but now that it is working, I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to make it work at the level I want in the time that I have. I really want the audio in this game to have something about it that I can point to and say “this is why the audio is awesome in this game,” but I just haven’t figured out what that might be that I could finish in the time that we have left for the game. I’ll have to put some thought into this one.