Rabid Lion Games

Exciting times

January 18th, 2011


I’ll be honest, there were times when I thought this day would never come. I set out about 10-11 months ago to create 5 ‘learning games’ whilst at the same time developing the basics of a 2D engine to base future projects on, including editors.

I originally planned that I’d need around 6 weeks to complete those games. Today, I have finished.

This announcement is tempered somewhat by the fact that I actually wrote this blog post last week, when I ACTUALLY finished. Unfortunately I just haven’t had the time since to get the video below together.

Never the less, it is done, and Alta’s embryonic phase if complete.  Still, the important thing, is that Mario, the final game, is done, and here is the video to prove it!

YouTube Preview Image

(Excuse the poor quality, and the bit at the end!).

As you can see, its not polished in the slightest, in fact in places its  downright sloppy. I make no appologies for that. I realised around xmas that somewhere along the line I’d lost sight of why I was making these games.

These games were meant to be the basis for my ‘game driven development’  approach to Alta. And in my humble opinion, that process has been a success.

But wait, I hear you cry, how can you say it’s been a success when its taken you months to put together a single level Mario clone? Well, to be honest, that’s a good point. It has taken me far, far too long to accomplish what many could accomplish in a week.

The simple fact is, life has gotten in the way on a number of occassions, and that will always be the case. Nevertheless, I feel that the quality of the engine I have gotten out of this process has made it worth it, and will help me no end in the future both by making use of the engine itself, and from the experience that I’ve gained from it.

I still have a fairly hefty to-do list left for Alta, but that’s the way it  should be, a good game engine should never be ‘finished’.

And now to the future. First up is migrating to xna 4.0. The change to 4.0  happened during the development of Mario, and I took the decision not to  switch immediately. This has turned out to be a good call, as the difficulties in migrating between the two have now been extensively  documented, meaning its much easier for me to find information on the  upgrade process.

Also, having a finished demo allows me to ensure that Alta actually functions as intended post upgrade, rather than just making sure that it builds under 4.0, only to find much later that a particular feature was broken during the upgrade.

Migrating to 4.0 also means upgrading the version of Farseer that I’m using. Although Farseer 3.0 builds under 4.0 already, there are a number of fixes and optimisations in Farseer 3.2 that should be worth the upgrade. I’ll also be doing an updated version of my Farseer Platformer upgrade tutorial for  3.2, probably this weekend, so keep an eye out for that.

Once the migration is complete, I have some more work to do on the engine, in
preparation for my first commercial title. Things on the to-do list include an overhaul to the central gameState system. There are a number of bits of the system that are clunky and that I don’t like, so fixing this is the first order of the day.

The second biggest change is to the Map editor. This editor needs to have line segments added to it to enable uneven terrain, it needs layers added to it, to enable parallax effects, it needs the ability to  search for tags in a map, and it desperately needs undo/redo implemented.
There are also a large number of other features that need adding, plus a lot of bugs that need squashing, but I won’t list them all here.

I need to finish implementing an audio engine, as I didn’t manage to finish it fully for Mario.

There are a large number of graphical features I’d like to add, including a particle system, including editor, for particle effects, and serveral  special effects in the rendering engine, such as dynamic lighting and bump mapping. The rendering system also needs optimising if its ever going to run on the xbox.

There is a sledgehammer option that I could use to crack all of these nuts in one go, and that is to migrate the rendering system to Sunburn. I have a pro license for sunburn 2.0, and its an amazing, ready optimised system, but it would mean learning a new API (even if only the 2D aspects for now)and I’m not sure that I can invest the time in that right now.

So what’s all this in aid of? What’s the point in upgrading the engine unless I’m planning to release a game. Well I am.

A few months ago I posted a teaser of a project that I was planning. The
image was below:

Today it gives me great pleasure to announce a new title from Rabid Lion Games, intended for entry into Dream Build Play 2011.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce, Sphero! (working title).

Sphero is a Metroidvania style platformer, with some interesting takes on classic game mechanics. You take the role of a Blip (a peaceful species of perfectly round beings) who, when his treetop village is attacked by the greedy industrialist Polygoni, sets out to rescue his fellow Blips who are being enslaved and forced to serve as machine components to make up for the Polygoni’s inability to create anything round.

You must venture down from your treetop paradise, journey through treachous jungle, perilous mines, derelict cityscapes, and frozen wastelands. You must battle uncountable angular foes, the results of Polygoni’s failed experiments to create artifical round beings for their machines. You must  find ancient Blip artefacts that will aid your journey, and allow you to defeat the soldiers and Lords of the Polygoni, and liberate your fellow Blips from their captivity. You must become the Sphero!

More information about Sphero will be released in future blog posts, but suffice to say, I’m very excited about this project. I’ve written a design document, which I intend to stick to, to try and nail down the scope of this game, and I’m already starting to make level and character designs on my
daily commute.

In terms of artwork, I may struggle with Sphero. The fact is, I’m not an artist, no matter how much I’d like to be. My attempt at a teaser and concept for box art (below) attest to that.

My plan is to create Sphero with the best programmer art I can muster, and keep trying to catch the attention of potential collaborating artists from within the community. Its almost  certainly too late to get an artist on board before DBP now, but if I can get something together that is fun to play and doesn’t look too bad for DBP, hopefully I’ll be able to attract an artist to the project on the back of

Phew, well, that’s quite enough for one post. I’ll post soon with an update to the Farseer Platformer tutorial, and probably an update on the woes of migrating to xna 4.0.

Until next time Lion fans!

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