New Gymnastics game devlog #6

Progress continues toward a playable alpha version of the gymnastics game. The most visual thing I’ve done lately is to test out implementing an actual human character model into the game and start figuring out how I will pose a 3D model to match the 2D physics of the game.

Here’s a look at how that turned out:

Gymnast2_29.gif

Overall I’m happy with the progress. I’m also working on lots of other little issues like properly working checkpoints, adjusting flip detection code, supporting twisting(!), etc.

As always, the most frequent updates happen on my Twitter. Also don’t forget to sign up for my mailing list if you want to be notified when the game becomes available.

New Gymnastics game devlog #5

Progress continues, although most of it is pretty invisible, behind-the-scenes type stuff around data formats, level editor improvements, menu flow, etc.

Recently though I decided to create a system to show a generic “controller overlay” so that you can see how the controls map to the gymnast more visually:

Gymnast2_27.gif
  • Left stick = shoulder

  • Right stick = hips

  • Left Trigger = “pull in” arms

  • Right Trigger = “pull in” legs


Hopefully this gives an idea of the physics-based control scheme of the game. Up next is working on a checkpoint system, adding a few more item types, and preparing for an alpha version to get feedback from players.

New Gymnastics game devlog #4

Good progress lately. I now have a “stun” / “K.O.” system implemented now. It’s pretty simple: if you get hard enough in the head, your gymnast will “K.O.”, losing their strength and releasing any bar they are gripping, requiring a level restart.

If you hit an object hard (but not hard enough for a K.O., or with a body part other than your head), you can be temporarily “stunned”. This briefly reduces strength to the joints, causing the gymnast to react more realistically to a strong impact.

The entire system is quite flexible, including thresholds for a small stun to large stun, duration of stun, curves for describing how the strength is lost and regained in the joints, etc. Each boy part even has a multiplier on how hard a hit is required to cause a “stun”. Torso, Pelvis, etc are sensitive, with arms and legs being less so (you have to hit them harder to cause a stun). hands and feet are basically invincible.

Gymnast2_23.gif



I’ve also made many small improvements to the bar release/re-grab logic, as well as various features in the level editor, such as undo and redo. Overall it’s coming along nicely!



Here’s a fun little test level I made today while play-testing the new fixes:



as usual you can follow me on twitter for higher quality videos and other posts related to the game’s development.

New Gymnastics game devlog #3

Quick post today.  Good progress on the trick scoring system, including differentiating between a flip that's the same direction as the swing leading up to it (normal flip), and one where the rotation is opposite to the swing direction, similar to when a gymnast does a "Tkachev" move on the bar apparatus.  I've also got a combo system now in and working, which heavily rewards chaining tricks together.  All the point values and timing need to be adjusted of course, but the system is in!

Gymnast2_21.gif

 

I also created a new item, a track for sliding/free bars.  This was also a nice excuse to show how the in-game level editor is coming along.  All of the levels that ship with the game will be created with the same editor that players will be able to use to create their own levels.

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New Gymnastics game devlog #2

Lately I've been doing a lot of the invisible work, things like code to create player profiles, save their results when they complete a level, put a list of levels into a sequence and allow access to them based on progress, etc.  And of course making simple placeholder menus that allow all of this to actually be used in-game.  The good news is that this means I should have a playable build pretty soon that I can open up to testers to gather feedback as I develop the game.

One more visible thing I worked on today was the start of the scoring system.  It can now basically track when you're doing a trick, and rewards increasing amounts of points for both flipping (rotation), and airtime

Next I need to make a combo system that rewards chaining tricks together.

After that, add a "K.O." system to detect when you biff, and then on to adding some more object types into the game, and make some more test levels!

New Gymnastics game devlog #1

I figured it's time to start a develog of my current project, an as-yet-untitled physics-based gymnastics/acrobatics/parkour type game.  It's generally a re-imagining of an old freeware game I created called "gymnast".

The core idea is a very direct control over your gymnast character, similar to something like Ski Stunt Simulator or QWOP.  In this case, the game is best played with a modern gamepad with 2 analog sticks.

The left stick decides the shoulder angle, and the right stick decides the hip angle.  You can also use the left/right triggers to "pull in" either the arms, or the legs, respectively.
With just these controls you have an amazing amount of different things you can do with the gymnast.

Gymnast2_17.gif

When designing games I find it pretty useful to try to express the "core pillars" of a game, which help make sure that you have a clear idea of the game, and what's important (and also not!) to the design.  This should help make other design decisions easier because you can bounce options off of the game pillars and see which one makes more sense as it pertains to the pillars.  So here is my first pass at the pillars to this game:

1. Realistic Physics

2. Any Solution Is The Right One

3. Exciting But Friendly Tone

 

As you might imagine from the physics-based control scheme, the game is very difficult at first, as you need to learn how to move the gymnast's body in order to swing, generate momentum, and release, fly through the air, and catch the next bar.  But with the commitment to realistic physics also comes great expressivity.  Most levels should have any number of valid ways to complete them, and even the 'same' line from two different players can look quite different due to the 'style' of how they move the gymnast.

Gymnast2_19.gif

The current idea is that the game will have a lot of small levels, which generally consist of starting hanging from 1 bar, and then having to leap and traverse from bar to bar, eventually completing the level by grabbing the "target" bar at the end of the level, or sometimes landing on a target landing mat, etc.  These levels will track not only whether you've completed them or not, but also your best (fastest) time, and also your highest score (based on tricks and combos).  So hopefully players will get a lot of replay value out of each level given that you can try to optimize for speed or score after the main task of just completing it.

I have some other ideas for different content types as well, but I'll save that for another devlog.

Please note that the current graphics of the game are completely placeholder.  The physics are simulated in 2D,  but the eventual graphics will be 3D.  I'm imagining a look somewhat similar to the Trials HD games, where the gameplay is confined to a 2D plane, but the visuals are attractive 3D.

Gymnast2_18.gif

One More Flip on pause, new Gymnast game in the works

Welp, as you might have guessed from the lack of posts or tweets lately on "One More Flip", I've not made much progress on the game.  The reason isn't a lack of motivation however... it's sort of worse!

I had some really promising physics at the beginning of the project, and I was so excited I sort of charged into working on all aspects of the game in earnest (art, menu screens, replay system, character customization, etc).  All the while I was pushing the core physics system forward, a little bit at a time.

Recently I tried to put together a build that I could send to testers.  This meant trying to make some "real" tricks in the game and package them up into a sequence that made sense.  I started running into lots of trouble getting the tricks to play how I'd like.

The biggest problem has been twisting tricks.  One of the main reasons I chose a simplified two-button control scheme for One More Flip was so that I could have really interesting, realistic, and complex flips be possible (including twisting).  This wasn't possible for example in Gymnast (my older freeware game) because the controls were very detailed and direct, but therefore really only allowed for 2D gameplay.

Anyway, twisting tricks are simply not working in One More Flip.  I've tried a lot of things, and my current hypothesis is that the physics engine in Unity just isn't really designed for the amount of accuracy that the game design is requiring of it.

This leaves me at a crossroads for One More Flip.  I can simplify the game to remove the types of tricks that can't be simulated well, or I can keep trying to find a solution.  I've decided to do the latter.  In particular, I want to try out some other physics engines and see if I can resolve the problem by finding one that simulates angular conservation of momentum for complex objects (like a human body!) a bit better.

However, that's going to take some time, as integrating different physics engines into Unity is no simple task.

As a result, I've decided to focus in the meantime on a new project, sort of a modern re-imagining of my old game "Gymnast".  The exciting thing is that I have a very clear idea of how this game should work, and I'm confident I won't run into the same physics problems (considering the gameplay will essentially be 2D).

I've got the project started, and progress is great so far!  So it's looking like my next game release will still be a gymnastics-themed game, just not "One More Flip", which I hope to continue to work on slowly, at a lower priority.

Here's some recent videos from the new Gymnastics game.  I'll post more details on the game soon.

How to Walk in Wobble Frog Adventures

Wobble Frog is a really hard game!  Although I've recently updated the game to (hopefully) make the tutorial a bit more successful, the most common feedback I get is, "I can't do it at all!".  To help, I've made a tutorial video and uploaded it to Youtube:

Wobble Frog Adventures is available now on the App Store and Google Play.  Also please sign up for my mailing list if you'd like to be notified when I announce and release new games.

Wobble Frog Adventures is available now!

Well, my first release as "Walaber Entertainment" is now available on the App Store and Google Play: "Wobble Frog Adventures".  It's a good feeling to release a game, and always a proud, yet humbling experience.

Making a final "official trailer" for the game (that's a bit more gameplay-focused than the other silly trailers I made and posted about before) was how I spent the final days before release:

The new mobile physics game from the creator of "JellyCar", and lead designer of "Where's My Water?" *** Available in the App Store and Google Play July 12, 2018.

Currently I'm working on an update that should address some of the concerns people have expressed with the first level / tutorial of the game being confusing and off-putting.  I hope to have that update submitted to the various app stores very soon.

Depending on the response to the game I also have some ideas for updates, mostly adding some new frog "parts" inspired by other animals, and or course more obstacles and level pieces.

Overall, however, I'm also excited to get back to making good progress on an acrobatic/gymnastics themed game next.

Wobble Frog Adventures:

App Store Link

Google Play Link

The Making of a Wobble Frog... Trailer?

One of the reasons I love posting frequently about games as I make them (I mostly do this on twitter), is not just because of the encouragement I get from seeing people interested in what I'm working on.  It's also because of the great feedback I get from people, positive or otherwise.

An extreme example of this is the story of how I came up with my brilliant marketing plan for Wobble Frog, specially the game's trailers.

It all started with this exchange on Twitter:

FloppyFrog_84_robot_origins.png

I had posted the first video of the updated Frog character design, and got a response from Brian implying the character would make for a cool/interesting working physical toy.  That planted a seed in my mind that slowly took roots over the next few months.

I eventually decided that I should make one.  A working Wobble Frog "toy"!  Mostly, I just thought it would be a really fun project.  Of course it would take time and money to create, so I gave myself the ever-so-flimsy justification that "I could use the toy to make an interesting and original trailer for the game!" and started the project.

My basic plan was to get a robot-building kit that would provide the basis for the electronics, and I found just what I needed in the EZ-Robot system, in particular the EZ-B IoTiny and the LiPo Robot Battery 7.4v so the toy could be completely wireless.  

IMG_1821.jpg

Next I had to find some servos with enough travel to handle the wide range of motion of the Frog's "jaw" and "waist", which in the game is ~250 degrees.  Most servos apparently max out at around 180 degrees.  After much searching I found some "270 degree" servos and ordered them.

Now I had the electronics side worked out, so I had to make the actual physical toy shell.  I thought about 3D printing, but I knew the toy would need to be pretty big (based on the size of the electronics), so I decided on a simpler DIY solution instead:

Print out the design on paper, spray-glue that to foam core, and build it like a very thick paper craft model.  This idea worked great!

First I used a 3D modeling program to create a simplified 3D model of the frog, to the real world scale, based on measurements of the servos, battery, and logic board, to make sure they would all fit.  

FloppyFrog_58_robot_making_06.gif

I used a great Windows program called "Pepakura Designer" to take that 3D textured model and "unfold it" into a layout I could print and re-assemble into the 3D model.  

I first tested the model with regular white paper to make sure it was going to work, and test the size and scale of the model.  It's a good thing I did to, as it made me realize several errors in the sizing of things, particularly around the servo mounts.

IMG_1898.jpg
FloppyFrog_84_foamcore.gif

Next I printed out the textured version at a copy shop, sprayed it onto foam core, and got to constructing the shell.  

It took quite a while, but was actually really fun to see the pieces come together as a physical object.

Finally I had to mount the servos and fit all the electronics inside, and voila!  A working Wobble Frog.  The EZ-Robot system is really cool in that it has a simple interface for designing customs controls for your robot, which you can deploy to your mobile phone and use that as a controller.  So when I want to use the frog, I turn it on, join my iPhone to the robot's own Wi-Fi network, and then connect through the app.  My little control system consists of 2 sliders, just like the controls in the game, which control the physical servos on the toy.  It can't quite move as quickly and strongly as the toy in the game, but overall I'm really happy with how it turned out!

Anyways, now that I had this ridiculous creation, I needed to fulfill my internal promise to use it to the fullest possible extent in the marketing materials for the game!  I came up with 2 ideas for videos, which I've since shot, edited, and finally finished up!  I'd almost forgotten how fun it is to make and edit videos (I majored in film production in university).  So without further ado, here are 2 ground-breaking marketing videos for your viewing enjoyment:

Trailer #1 "Let's Play"

Here we see Wobble, who is apparently a "Let's Play" personality, playing a game apparently based on him/herself! This was really fun to make, and try to match the editing style of Let's Play personalities, whilst still communicating the basics of the game, and keeping the length of the trailer as short as possible.

 

Trailer #2 "Clickbait"

This one really plays up a fictional conceit that Wobble Frog was an actual popular toy from the early 90's, that's being revived with a new mobile game.  I liked the conceit for the popular 'list video' format, and the variety of ways to play up the physical toy as well.

 

Well, that's the ridiculous story of how someone on twitter inspired me to make a working robotic toy of my fictional character, and then use that in a bunch of likely misguided "marketing" materials for my silly little free mobile game.  Hope you enjoyed it! :)

Droney Eagle

Introducing "Droney Eagle", a helpful Eagle Drone (naturally) who always seems to be there to catch you when you fall!

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He can take you back to the beginning of the current level, OR he can take you right back to where you fell from.  In exchange he only asks you watch a brief presentation from one of his sponsors (video advertisement).  He's a pretty reasonable guy though.  If you fall right away after just watching a sponsored presentation, he'll drop you back where you fell without having to watch another.

Wobble Frog Adventures is coming soon to mobile devices.  Please sign up for my mailing list if you'd like to be notified when the game is released. And as always, follow me on twitter for more regular development updates.

Professor Bubbles

Introducing Professor Bubbles, expert in Wobble Frog Biology and locomotion techniques.  And also a bubble-making Octopus bath toy.

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Professor Bubbles can be found at the start of every level, and is always happy to share some wisdom about how Wobble Frogs can "walk", "run", "jump", even "climb".

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The game will be available "pretty soon", look for a bit more in the way of game trailers and info in the near future, hopefully including a release date!

Wobble Frog Adventures

Introducing the other game I've been working on (and it's almost done!), called "Wobble Frog Adventures".  What's a "Wobble Frog", you ask?  Well... they look like this:

Screen Shot 2018-05-01 at 10.38.31 PM.png

 

This is a pure-physics based "platforming" game, with a simple, and unique control scheme: two sliders that directly control the angle of the 2 joints on the "frog".  They stay where you leave them (they don't snap back to "center" like a joystick or radio controlled car stick), and also "snap" to position when you tap anywhere along the slider -- you don't have to only drag the handle.  this creates a surprisingly expressive control scheme that allows a very simple physics toy to do a variety of surprising movement methods and techniques.

FloppyFrog_67.gif

 

The game is very simple, with a focus on discovering how to maneuver the environment.  You can also earn coins to order new "parts" that let you customize your "frog" with different animal-inspired parts, materials, and paint schemes:

FloppyFrog_28.png

Wobble Frog Adventures should be done soon, and will be released for free (with ads and 1 in-app-purchase to remove ads) on iOS and Android.

As usual follow me on Twitter for more frequent updates, and please subscribe to the mailing list if you'd like to know when my games are released.

Old game download links added

I occasionally get requests for download links to my old freeware games (found in the History page).  Today I dug out an old hard disk and re-uploaded all the various old games to the site.  These games are all pretty old at this point, so I can't guarantee they will run properly on modern versions of Windows / Mac, but I thought it'd be worth putting them up, even as a "download at your own risk" :)

Progress continues nicely on Wobble Frog and One More Flip, Wobble Frog is very close to ready for release at this point, and my focus is moving back to One More Flip.

Added "Games" Page

I've finally added a "Games" page to this site, with super simple pages for the 2 games I have in-development at the moment.  If you've been here before you probably know about "One More Flip", my physics-simulation-with-simple-controls acrobatics simulator game.  The new game I haven't talked about much is "Wobble Frog Adventures", a challenging mobile physics platform game where you control a 2-jointed "frog" wooden toy on an adventure through a strange world of contraptions and challenges.

Both games are due to release in 2018, with Wobble Frog coming first, and One More Flip second.

Wobble Frog is slated for mobile platforms, and One More Flip for PC/Mac.

As usual, please sign up for my mailing list if you'd like to be notified when the game(s) release. And of course follow me on twitter and/or instagram for more frequent development updates.

Progress Has Been... Uneven

Long time no blog post!  Progress continues on "One More Flip", but has been somewhat interrupted by a smaller side project that I'm finishing up and releasing soon.  I had found that my motivation on One More Flip had been waning around the holidays, and decided to pursue a "tiny" project to rejuvenate myself.  That project took a bit longer to finish than I expected, but it's nearly done, and I'm excited to return to One More Flip now in earnest.  

I'll post about the other project soon, but in the meantime here are some clips of Uneven Bars, which I've added to One More Flip recently, focusing on the variety of amazing release moves that are possible on the apparatus.  Here are a few:

Obviously the one above is not a real release move, if it was I'd have to assume it would be called the "Ankle Breaker"...

 

I really like making these comparison videos between the game and real athletes, I'll probably start making more of these as a way to show off the realism of the game.

One More Flip is still shaping up for a 2018 release.

January Progress

Continuing progress on One More Flip into the new year, this month I've been working on adding some of the sequences I need, as well as slowly adding more tricks to the game.

Here's a shot of platform diving, which now has judges and scoring:

 

And here are two new release moves on the horizontal bar, a "Jaeger" and a "Tkatchev":

Up next I want to revisit the core physics systems and tuning a bit to make sure they are as solid as possible before I continue to add tricks and polish up the launch content of the game.  The reason for this is because sometimes things like this can still happen:

Details, Details

Work continues on "One More Flip" at a pretty good pace.  Lately I've been fixing a lot of invisible issues and bugs, and working on a variety of detail work.  For example, making better wires and rigging for the various equipment in the game.  Here's a look at a cable supporting the horizontal bar:

Here's another example, this time of work on the trapeze net- finally not just a 1-sided flat cloth, it's now made up of twine and rubber bands, and bends and flexes pretty realistically:

 

Another example is the feedback when you land a trick.  The game takes 3 "snapshots" of your position after touching the ground, and if (in this case) 1 of them are "OK", you landed the trick!  You must land the trick twice in a row to consider it "mastered". Hopefully the green clay ball communicates this pretty well, and is an example of the thought that goes into communicating game logic to players in a way that's easy to understand, and also evokes the theme of the game (clay / stop-motion animation).

As usual, follow me on Twitter or Instagram for more frequent development updates, and sign up for my mailing list to be notified when the game is released!

Environment work

I've been plugging away at the game, although it's been a period where there isn't too much visual to show for the progress.  I've been alternating between creating environments for the different sports, while fixing bugs and adding missing features to the game.

Here's a look at recent environment work, first the platform diving environment:

 wireframe view of the diving set

wireframe view of the diving set

 with lighting

with lighting

...and here's the aerial skiing jump set:

 wireframe view of the aerial skiing environment

wireframe view of the aerial skiing environment

 with lighting

with lighting

other recent work includes working on snow slide/impact effects (this is hard one to decide how it should look, given the "claymation" visual theme of the game):

And here's an updated look at the title screen of the game, which now looks a bit more professional.  Eventually the athlete (and the trick they are doing) in the background will be randomized as well.

 

I'm starting too see the light at the end of the tunnel for my initial launch vision of the game, so I'm pretty sure this game is coming out sometime in 2018 at this point :)

As usual follow me on twitter (and now also on Instagram) for day-to-day development updates, and sign up for my mailing list if you want to be notified when the game is announced / released.