Dev Blog

Dev-Blog: 158 Oh! Those Zones!

04/15/2015

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Welcome back followers of the fearsome! This week we will take a look at our world map zones! This involves a whole bunch of artwork that needs to be scaled down and still look recognizable. It’s a bunch of work but is pretty cool so let’s take a look!

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We try to keep each zone covered in relevant elements. for our second zone for example, we like to keep the Snowclaw’s culture in the large map. This will include things like Fishbier kegs, huts, carvings  and totems relating to their love of fish and snowy home.

When we need to crunch these elements down into a big scale world zone it’s important to keep them feeling the same but not being too busy. We also have to consider our line weights as we will be zooming in and out whenever our players pick a destination. It took quite a few attempts to get this looking right, but after a while we settled on a flatter look with brighter colors and less lines.

It’ll end up looking something like this right here!

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We can see that we have a lot of the elements we saw in the top image! Large greenrock fish totems, a bunch of pine trees and cliffs that emulate our gameplay zones and unite the game with the world map. We keep some larger areas blank and able to fit in the destination nodes, it’s also pretty easy to move elements in the artwork and the gameplay around to meet our specifications, if we for example want a cave level to appear near a cave we can move the nodes around to the right visual area.  And that’s pretty much how we are tackling our zone maps! Phew!

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And as always we’ll be doing our Dev-Stream today at 4pm-6pm PST. We’ve been having a great time streamiong with everyone and getting great feedback and discussion generated in the chat. We’ve been trying to get in touch with the Twitch stream community as well and there’s a bunch of local streamers right here in Vancouver! It’s always a great time so be sure to stop by and say hey!

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And that’s another week here at Slick! Hope you liked our quick look at the art action of Viking Squad! keep those helmet-horns sharpened and your axes ready for raiding! have a great week!

Jesse_avatar64-Jesse

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Google+: Nick: +NickWaanders Jesse: +JesseTurner Caley: +CaleyCharchuk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

Posted by: Under: Art Work,Slick Entertainment,Vikingsquad Comments: 0

Dev-Blog: 157 Setting the scene!

04/08/2015

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Welcome back followers of the fearsome!

Last Saturday we had an awesome time showing off Viking Squad at the Butcher and Bullock and wanted to thank those great guys over at Filthy Casual for the invitation! Also a huge thank you to everyone that checked out the game in between all the festivities! Our friend Jumpjet Rex even made a surprise visit in Viking Squad in the form of a stylish hat! Whoah!

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This week we have a quick one about setting up scenes in Viking Squad! The areas our players will be visiting should always have some flavor to keep them interesting. Whether they be raiding a strange ritual, crashing a snowclaw party, or even alongside the rickety bones of a whale carcass!

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Here’s a few elements we made for a draugr ritual level. We wanted it to be moody so we were sure to add some lighting solutions like blood-red candles and creepy ancient statues that reflect our Draugrs and all the bad stuff that they get up too.

It really helps to keep these elements away from hard black outlines so they compliment our enemies and characters instead of fighting with them visually.

Below is a challenge level with these elements in mind. Caley builds these levels to be a tough set of enemies or mini-bosses for our Vikings to tackle. Since it’s a single screen with no longship intro or outro we can focus on making the screen full of great stuff!

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You can also see that background we had going on a few dev-blogs ago as well as some flame effects on our lighting solutions. Now it’s just going to be making these little scenarios for each zone! We’ll visit them soon and be sure to show you guys what we have whipped up!

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And as always we got our Dev-Stream Wednesdays! come on by at 4pm-6pm PST for some great times and game-dev discussion with all of us here at Slick!

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That’s it for this week! So until next time keep those scenarios full of interesting props and art! have a great one!

Jesse_avatar64-Jesse

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Google+: Nick: +NickWaanders Jesse: +JesseTurner Caley: +CaleyCharchuk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

Posted by: Under: Art Work,Vikingsquad Comments: 0

Dev-Blog 156: Filthy Casual Afterparty

04/01/2015

Welcome back followers of the fearsome!

As most of you know Fan Expo is hitting Vancouver this weekend and our good friends Filthy Casual have a booth there. They also happen to be throwing an after party at The Butcher & Bullock Saturday April 4th. If you’re in the area stop by for a pint with the coolest clothing company this side of Winnipeg, eh! Oh, and we will be there knocking glasses with the rest of them.

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If you’re feeling extra fearsome you can take a stab at one of the bosses in Viking Squad. There will be a demo station running the latest build!

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Doors open at 7pm with a $5 cover (but you get a 1 free drink). See you there!

Don’t forget to stop by the twitch stream between 4-6pm pst to see Jesse performing sans beard.

 

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Google+: Nick: +NickWaanders Jesse: +JesseTurner Caley: +CaleyCharchuk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

Posted by: Under: Slick Entertainment Comments: 0

Dev-Blog 155: Taking the plunge

03/25/2015

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Welcome back, followers of the fearsome!

Over the years, and a few times recently, I’ve had people ask me what made me decide to quit my job in the AAA games industry, and start my own game-studio. Many people expect there to be one definite short term reason, but in reality there are multiple long term reasons. It all ties into what your life-experiences are, and what you want to do in your life. I guess a little history is in order.

Before I started working in the games industry I was creating PC demos. Mostly parts of demos actually, I didn’t ship that many actual products. I sure started a lot of them though! By building these little (parts of) demos, I taught myself how to program in Basic, Pascal, X86 Assembler, C and later C++. I learned about programming graphics, audio, input, file management, data compression (‘this has to fit in 64Kb!’), encryption, and many more topics. The thing I loved the most about it was the freedom to create whatever I felt like creating. Sharing what you created with like-minded people at demo-parties, exchanging ideas, it was awesome.

Then the whole 3D movement started with Castle Wolfenstein, Doom, Descent, etc. This made me start work on my own 3D engine, and soon after I teamed up with a friend who had a company and was also working on his own engine. We combined the two, and in 1997 Digital Infinity was formed. A few years later Digital Infinity merged with Orange Games and Formula Games (a division of Lost Boys Interactive), to form a company called Lost Boys Games. Suddenly we were working with around 60 people, and everything changed. We still worked in three teams roughly made up out of the original companies, but we were all working in the same building. This was awesome as well as not so awesome. Awesome because I was working with a lot of talented people whom I learned a lot from. Not so awesome because suddenly there were managers and bosses that were to be kept happy.

In early 2002 the decision was made to cancel two of the three games in development, and focus on one game instead. Unfortunately the game Knights was one of the cancelled games, and most of the team working on it was laid off. I was allowed to stay and work on the remaining project, but I decided it was time for a change. In that day there weren’t many alternatives to Lost Boys Games in the Netherlands, so searching outside the Netherlands was pretty much required, and I sent out application letters all over the world.

One of the companies I sent my application to was Relic Entertainment Inc. I was a huge Homeworld fan, so I was really excited when I got a phone interview with them. They invited me over to Vancouver, BC, Canada. They showed me around the studio, and showed me Impossible Creatures, their new endeavour in the RTS space. Then they took me to a different room in the building and showed another game they were working on: Homeworld 2. (OMGWFTBBQ!!) They were looking for a physics programmer, which happened to be my thing, and they made me an offer at the end of the interview. I walked back to the Hotel deciding what to do. Should I accept the offer? Do I take the plunge?

Well, what’s the worst that can happen? I move, somehow it doesn’t work out, what then? I had enough money for a ticket home, so I’d fly back, and find a job somewhere. Didn’t seem like that big of a problem. I got my work visa in April 2002, and I hopped on the plane and flew to Vancouver, BC, hoping for the best.

And the best it was. Relic was a fantastic company to work for. I met so many super talented people at Relic, many of which I am glad to still call good friends. I learned a lot about adopting a different code-base, different coding techniques, saw amazing producers at work, and shipped a bunch of projects. While working on Homeworld I met another coder called Jamie Cheng. We talked a bit about side projects, and he told me he was working on a game in his spare time, just for fun. A few months later Jamie quit and started his own company Klei Entertainment. I told him that I really admired his choice, and that I’d want to do something like that at some point.

About 2 years after I started at Relic, THQ bought the company. The company quickly grew from about 70 people to about 200 people, while a lot of the old-timers left. This drastically changed the culture, and I felt the mandate was no longer ‘make the best games’, but ‘make the best game within this budget and timeline, preferably with this license’. We still worked on cool games, but something did definitely change. I was the Lead Programmer on Dawn of War – Dark Crusade, and Dawn of War 2 had just started. Being a lead meant exchanging actually creating code to leading a team of programmers to finish a game. Though in reality it always was, lately it had really started to feel like ‘work’. I missed the days where I was actually excited to go to work and get cracking on some cool piece of code. Then the phone rang. “Hey it’s Jamie. I’ve got this proposal to do N for XBox Live Arcade on my desk that I don’t have the manpower for right now. Want to start your own company?”.

Well, what’s the worst that can happen? If everything fails, I’d just find another job in games somewhere. It was early 2007, and at that time the games industry in Vancouver was pretty much booming.I had saved up some money, and I made some money off some Lost Boys Games shares when Sony Entertainment bought them and renamed them to Guerrilla Games. I had about $30,000 in my savings account, so I could live for a bit if it all went south. Also, I should note that I didn’t have a mortgage, nor kids, so there wasn’t really a big constant cost in my life other than food and rent.

I decided to take the plunge. I had seen how to create games, how to finish them, and I was pretty confident I could manage finishing a relatively small game. Also, this might be the chance to create my own thing, work on my own projects after the starter project was done, and get back to that demo-scene feel! So in 2007 Slick Entertainment Inc was created, and I’ve been running Slick ever since, and hopefully for many more years to come.

A few of the things where my expectations of running my own company are different from reality:

- The buck stops with you. At bigger companies, there’s always somebody else who can take on a task. Not in your own small company. All those tasks that need to be done? Guess who’s doing them. This requires a certain type of discipline that I didn’t need as much at the AAA studios I worked for. I think my early days in PC Demos helped, since I was quite self-motivated to learn programming, something that comes with a lot of mundane tasks.

- Working at a AAA company is frowned upon by some indies. I think it was an amazing experience, and I wouldn’t want to miss it. I learned so many valuable lessons on how to ship games, both technically as well as organizationally, I don’t think Slick would still be around without this experience.

- Stability is a myth. When I announced that I was starting my own thing, many people said ‘Oh that is awesome! I wish I could do that. It’s too risky for me though.’. I honestly think it wasn’t that risky. I felt like everybody was saying ‘but the water is so deep!’, and I felt like ‘I can swim, so the water depth doesn’t matter!’. Strangely enough only a year later (2008) the shit hit the fan, and a lot of ‘stable’ game companies went under. A lot of people were laid off at bigger companies. Meanwhile, I was plugging away in my own company, making decent coin.

- The freedom to create anything you want is paralyzing! It is really hard to decide what to commit to if there are no limitations. Sometimes it’s really nice to have somebody tell you what to do, and you just do it. Instead, you end up making decisions all day, every day, which can be very exhausting. It’s actually a real thing in game design as well. Giving the player too many choices makes the player not want to make any decisions.

- I do miss working with many super talented people in my field. I work with really talented people right now, but none of them are hardcore programmers. I miss being able to bounce ideas off fellow programmers. Luckily I’ve built up a fairly big Skype contact list, with many technical people I can bounce ideas off. Still, there’s something cool about absorbing new ideas from coworkers simply by walking by their desk and seeing what they are working on.

Alright, I think I’ve rambled on for too long. I think I might be procrastinating this network programming I need to do.

The buck stops right here!

Nick_avatar64-Nick

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Google+: Nick: +NickWaanders Jesse: +JesseTurner Caley: +CaleyCharchuk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

Twitch: http://www.twitch.tv/slickentertainmentinc

 

Posted by: Under: Slick Entertainment Comments: 1

Dev-Blog 154: Parallaxin’ Backgrounds!

03/18/2015

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Welcome back followers of the fearsome!

This week we are doing a quick one involving some of the artwork we have going on in the backgrounds of Viking Squad!

When designing backgrounds I tended to approach it like I did all my character stuff which was a BIG mistake. As an artist I rely on my lines way too much and it ended up making everything in the game clash. I never felt that I could get enough detail into the background elements if they didn’t at least have some line work on them.

But that’s why working with other people is so great! After telling me to experiment with line-less and more simplified background art we really started to get some much more clear stuff happening. Backgrounds were always a weak spot of mine so it was really helpful getting some outside advice. Plus, line-less elements can be scaled up way easier and not look out of place!VS_silhouette74

Here’s some examples of our basic set up. Each one of these tiling textures is going to be linked to the camera in slightly different ways so that they crawl past the screen at different speeds. We noticed that we didn’t have enough overhead elements or large, vertical objects so we started adding them to all of our zones. you can see some of that happening in the gif below!

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Keeping our cartoon lines on our players and game space makes them a lot easier to see when the game really gets going. Our black lines help important elements pop-out and let the background actually behave like a background and not draw too much attention.

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And it is of course Wednesday! So that means that we are going to be Dev-Streaming on Twich! Come on by at 4pm PST for a couple hours and talk with all of us here at Slick while we get our draw on!

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So another week slays by here at Slick! We are super charged from our showing in Boston and can’t wait to tackle the rest of Viking Squad! Wish us luck and keep those axes sharp!

Jesse_avatar64-Jesse

Twitter: Nick: @nickwaanders Jesse: @jouste Caley: @caleycharchuk SlickEntertainment: @SlickEntInc

Google+: Nick: +NickWaanders Jesse: +JesseTurner Caley: +CaleyCharchuk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SlickEntertainmentInc

 

Posted by: Under: Slick Entertainment,Vikingsquad Comments: Comments Off

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Dev Blog

April 15 2015

Welcome back followers of the fearsome! This week we will take a look at our world map zones! This involves a whole bunch of artwork that needs to be scaled down and still look recognizable. It’s a bunch of work but is pretty cool so let’s take a look! We try to keep each zone […]