Screenshot Saturday 199

“Level design for days” has been my motto for several months now, and this week is no different.

Behold, new challenge levels! These are timed, bite-sized maps with simple goals that can be completed in under a minute. They’re the kind of things you can create in the level editor and share on Steam.

I need to find a new texture for that garish green material.

Lots of other things are happening, but they’re more like a million tiny updates rather than a few conveniently screenshot-worthy ones. So that’s it for this week! Thanks for reading.

Posted in Lemma

grepr – 7DFPS 2014

I survived 7DFPS, barely. Here are some fascinating statistics:

  • Days to create an FPS: 7
  • Hours spent: 93
  • Levels built: 5
  • Lines of code written: 2313
  • Hours to spare before deadline: 2
  • Functioning brain cells remaining: approximately 4

I’m happy with the result, though. Jack did a great job on the audio as usual, although at the last minute I had to throw in some clunky placeholder sfxr sounds. Blame me for those! Maybe we’ll replace them later.

Here’s the game pitch:

You are a “grepper” – a remote operator hired to collect data from abandoned cities using an AWK drone. At a time when data serves as currency, a competitor appears on the scene with an identical drone. Find her before she finds you.

For the AWK drone, moving and shooting are the same. It attaches to walls, floors, and ceilings, then launches explosively to its next target. Anything in the way will have its whole day ruined.

Here’s a video and some screenshots:

Download it here for Mac or PC and let me know what you think! And make sure to check out all the other great 7DFPS games.

Posted in Game design

7dfps work in progress

I’m participating in 7dfps this year, which means I’m making an FPS game in 7 days. Here’s what I’ve got so far:

In Soviet Russia, you are bullet.

In my 7dfps entry, moving and shooting are the same thing.

Here’s what I mean.

An older version

Here’s my favorite form of humor: physics glitches.

Here’s me getting killed:

Here’s a better shot of the city:

Lots to do still.

Posted in Game design

Screenshot Saturday 196

This past weekend I exhibited Lemma at the Ohio Game Dev Expo. It was an awesome time. Extra Life raised over $9,000 for charity (yes, it is in fact over 9000).

The Oculus Rift was a huge hit!

I worked on various improvements right up to the expo. First, some new textures for moving platforms and doors:

This is the first texture I’ve created that has any kind of directional meaning. The reason is that until this week, I had no control over how the textures mapped to the voxels. It was all procedural. So if I put an arrow graphic in a texture, there was no guarantee which way it would face.

Now  I have editor controls to at least rotate and offset the textures, so I can have more meaningful texture design.

Next up, I wanted the menu to be more visually interesting to attract people to the booth, so I spruced it up a bit.

Both before and after the expo, I fixed a ton of issues with the existing levels. I especially reworked Forest quite a bit (once again… sigh…).

Every time I do it, it gets a thousand times better. At some point I have to draw a line.

I’m also still plugging away at some exciting new levels. Sneak preview:

That’s it for this week. Thanks for reading!

Posted in Lemma

Mass Murders, Christianity, LGBTQ, and GamerGate

With a headline like that, what could possibly go wrong?

In this article I present an idea that may help both sides of GamerGate survive the ordeal. Simply this: negative movements are counter-productive. Positive movements affect change.

What is GamerGate if not a negative reaction? You could say it’s in favor of journalistic integrity, but it’s more accurate to say that it’s against journalistic deceit, despite the efforts of some GamerGate supporters to redefine the movement in positive terms. It can’t escape its reactionary negative roots.

The other side suffers from the same problem. Those journalists and organizations identified by GamerGate as “Social Justice Warriors” mounted the attack over the past few years in articles and other media which condemn gamer culture and promote an “us vs. them” mentality more frequently than they promote diversity.

By now, everyone has picked a side. Bi-partisan discussion is rare. How do we solve this? By reframing everything in positive terms.

I turn to an example from outside the industry. I think Christianity is on the tail end of a decades-long struggle with the issue of LGBTQ individuals. Many Christians changed their interpretation of the Bible to allow for alternate sexualities and genders. No problem there. However, some Christians simply cannot read that into the Bible no matter how hard they try, and they cannot abandon their faith. For them, there are two options:

  1. Openly condemn, alienate, and otherwise crusade against the LGBTQ community. Essentially, become a bigot.
  2. Respectfully show the LGBTQ community what Christian love is supposed to look like without interfering with their lives. Yes, you can do this while still maintaining a belief that their sexual/gender orientation is sinful.

Just for a second, put yourself in the shoes of a hardcore, born-and-bred, farm-raised conservative Christian. You are deathly afraid of the “gay agenda”, a scourge which will rampage across your home country and destroy everything you love. How hard would it be for you to choose option 2? Yet many Christians do this.

Of course you know the Christians who choose option 1. Westboro Baptist Church is the most horrific example. How effective were they? I haven’t heard from them in years. They generated an immense amount of vitriol, probably without changing a single person’s mind. More than anything, they damaged Christianity by driving LGBTQ individuals away from other, more welcoming churches.

The point is, negative movements don’t work. They’re actually counter-productive. Most Christians figured this out in the example I just gave. We in the gaming community have not figured this out yet.

The reason is, it’s much easier to be against something than to be for something. The tiniest injustice on either side of GamerGate instantly mobilizes a massive social media army, because it’s easy to get outraged and click “Retweet”. Both sides of GamerGate exhibit the lowest form of slacktivism.

So, “wat do?”

If you are pro-GamerGate: I don’t know if your movement can be salvaged, which is a shame. You’ve already tried to turn the focus toward positive things like integrity and respecting consumers, but GamerGate will always be a negative reaction against something at its core. Heck, #NotYourShield has a negative right there in the name. If you can, abandon ship and start a new campaign focused on the positive things you find important. Forget the half of the game industry that seems to hate you. Prove them wrong, not by posting a video showing how nice you are, but by forgetting the conflict and doing something positive that fulfills your goals, regardless of what people think. Maybe make a game!

If you are anti-GamerGate: Stop attacking; you’re only throwing fuel on the fire. What does that mean in practical terms? This will sound incredibly controversial (steady… let me explain before you crucify me), but don’t talk so much about harassment, prejudice, and the like. Instead focus on the great positive things women and other minorities are doing in this industry.

Charlie Brooker covers the topic of mass murders in a brilliant 2009 segment of Newswipe.

He quotes Dr. Park Dietz, the famous forensic psychiatrist:

We’ve had twenty years of mass murderers, throughout which I have repeatedly told CNN and our other media, “if you don’t want to propagate more mass murders, don’t start the story with sirens blaring.

Don’t have photographs of the killer.

Don’t make this 24/7 coverage.

Do everything you can not to make the body count the lead story, not to make the killer some kind of anti-hero.

Do localize this story to the affected community, and make it as boring as possible in every other market.

Because every time we have intense saturation coverage of a mass murder, we expect to see one or two more within a week.”

I think it’s not a huge stretch to extend this advice from mass murders to harassment. Of course we all need to be aware that it happens, but focusing on the harassment itself only invites further attacks. Instead, focus on how much these minorities have accomplished, and only mention harassment in passing. They should not be admired for being a minority who puts up with a lot of hatred. They want to be admired for what they do, period. And there’s plenty to admire, so let’s focus on that.

For further reading on the subject of antagonism, tribalism, and politics, I leave you with a wonderful in-depth article written by a libertarian-ish Jewish psychiatrist entitled I Can Tolerate Anything Except the Outgroup.

Posted in Game design

Screenshot Saturday 194

Just a quick update this week to confirm that I am in fact alive. The iOS contract game is just about done. I’m pretty happy with it.

Now it’s back to work on Lemma:

I’ll be running a booth, speaking, and participating in a panel at the Ohio Game Dev Expo next weekend! Come on out and hang with us!

Posted in Life

Shaders: How Do They Work?

Yesterday I gave a talk at Dev Workshop Conf introducing the basic concepts of vertex and fragment shaders. Unfortunately I don’t have a video, just this one potato picture:

It’s probably for the best, because Chrome locked up on me halfway through. The slide deck is pretty cool though. It includes over 20 interactive WebGL samples, complete with source code. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Posted in Life

Evan Todd. Christ follower and indie game developer. Running, music, programming, games, art.

My games

  • Lemma - TBA - first-person parkour
  • grepr - 2014 - 7DFPS game where you are the bullet
  • Snakes in a Tower - 2012 - silly 48 hour Global Game Jam project
  • A3P - 2010 - horrible third-person multiplayer

Other things I've worked on

  • Unannounced iOS/Android game - 2014 - top-down 3D shooter
  • Unannounced mobile VR title - 2014 - theater app
  • Skyward Slots - 2013 - server-based F2P iOS slot game