dinsdag 28 september 2010

I am drowning...

Hi all,

First blog post! My name is Pieter Albers and I’ve been at Xform since… forever. In these blog post I will discuss and/or nag about a lot of things! This time I will nag about programming. I’ve been programming a lot and most of it, if not all, is done in Adobe Director. I wasn’t schooled as a programmer and had to learn along the way. Thankfully, we now have a couple of real programmers helping me out.

Currently I am working on the same project Matthew mentioned a couple of posts ago. It is unannounced and just like Matt I can’t discuss or tell a lot about it, but I can tell a little bit of the technical hurdles we need to take. The game has a lot of water in it and our vehicles need to have a decent behavior when floating and racing on it. As we simply don’t have time to build this into the extremely realistic behavior that you see in some console games we try and aim for the nearest approximation of it. I also think most type of games don’t benefit from such a realistic behavior as it is simply not fun to control when sitting behind your computer or on your couch. I’m always much more in favor of an ‘arcade’-like control scheme and feeling. Something that is actually fun to do! This  can also be enhanced by having a decent visual effect on the vehicle (or object) you control. For example a car that banks when taking corners. It is not always necessary to have this physically correct. You can do all calculations on a simpler base object and have the car follow and do all the smaller things that can enhance the feeling of control.

This was my starting point for our new game as well. Funnily enough, I took the AI car code of Burnin’ Rubber 4 to start developing a boat like behavior. I did this because this code is very simple and will allow me to have more AI controlled characters instead of opting for the more complex and CPU intensive player car (as seen in Burnin’ Rubber 4). Furthermore, behind the scenes this code almost already acts like something that is floating above the ground. Quickly I ran into issues. The waviness of the water, either static or animated, would cause my vehicle to jitter and bounce all over the place. It is a bit different than actually use it to drive around on a ‘flat’ ground. So after throwing almost everything away I ended up with some new code using a base object that’ll follow the water model perfectly, either static or animated. It still jitters a bit, but it is good enough. I am now up to creating the visual ‘layer’. The actual visual vehicle that’ll bank and turn in the corners, move up and down while floating, etc. My guess is this will enhance the feeling of control even more, while it doesn’t actually ‘do’ anything. We’ll see how that will turn out in  a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed…


Going strong and more to come

Hi All,

We're into our second week of blog posts for our Xform Game Development blog now. I hope you find this window directly into our office informative in some way. We really want to give readers an idea of the work that goes into our obviously awesome games ;) and we really want it to deliver some great insights for aspiring developers or artists so you can start developing your own skills. 

Currently several new projects are being worked on here simultaneously, this creates a new challenge for us. We need to split up the team into two  seperate workforces that work side by side on totally different projects. On top of that, both of these new projects are genres we've had little or no experience in creating.

However, as the allround fanatic gamers that we all are and Xform's proven track record in creating fun (and awesome) games, we're confident we can pull it off! As a manager I'm not responsible for creating the actual contents of the game, but I'm enabling the others to work their awesomeness. 

I want to leave you guys with our newest release: Burnin' Rubber 4. A game that captures Xforms' idea for fun, racing and explosions in one great package. This is what you can expect from us...but there's lots more coming, in all types of genres.

-- Erik

vrijdag 24 september 2010

Matt's superfantastic almighty art-blog

Hi Y'all,

Welcome to the great and allmighty Xform blog! I'm Matt and have joined the team about two years ago as an 2D and 3D artist. I'm currently working on a unannounced 3D browser based game. Right now I can't say too much about this project but I can tell you that is takes place on the water and will (In good Xform tradition) be action packed!

The past few weeks I've been designing, modeling and texturing two environments for this game. One of these is a harbor, you can see a work in progress screenshot below. The harbor environment is just about finished, it only needs some invisible walls (for collision) and a nice skybox to finish it off.

In the next few weeks I'll keep you updated on this project!
Cheers, Matt

A Star Pathfinding

Hello all,

My first post then! I'm Joep and I joined the team a year ago. I started doing 3D / Graphics work, on 'Race to Rome' for example. But at this moment I'm working as a programmer on the time-management game. This project is very interesting. It is going to be something that I haven't seen before.

Currently I'm working on a pathfinding system which will be used in our time-management game. It is based upon the A* or 'A Star' algorithm. It seems to work very well for us in this project. The grids we'll be using aren't that big so we should be fine with search times/delays. Also the system I made is able to spread individual searches over multiple frames, which really helps when searching complicated paths. It doesn't freeze up the game doing it this way.

I got this little teaser screenshot to show but that's it for now. Have a nice weekend!
-- Joep

Programming our first platform game

Dear readers,

I am Stijn and I've only recently joined Xform as a programmer. Past weeks I've familiarized myself with Adobe Director and helped out fixing bugs in Redline Rumble Revolution.

This week I've gotten a project of my own. A brand new game in the platform genre which Xform has not done before. You might think "Platform? Didn't Xform focus on 3D games?"; Indeed we do, our platform game will be viewed in 3D although the depth probably won't affect gameplay.

Currently I'm writing code to control the player, get the animations right, add some interactivity with objects. Right now, there are no animations, only a single image of what will be an animation, but it already looks and feels good and it's only going to get better! So I'm quite excited about it.

I hope that soon I will be able to show you something.

Take care!
-- Stijn

woensdag 22 september 2010

Designing our first time-management game!


At this moment, we’re working on a brand new game, and it’s going to be our very first time management game. The game is aimed at more casual gamers and will feature no explosions or cars whatsoever. Promise!
All we can say at this moment is that we’re very excited to be working within a genre and setting that is new to us. It’s a well deserved change. Release date is TBD, but the platform will definitely be browserbased (3d).

My job is to work on the game design document of this game. The game is far from done, but we’re  already well underway with the whole design. The first technical tests and temporary art assets are already being made.
In my blog entries, I’ll try to explain major game-design issues that we need to tackle, hopefully providing a little bit insight into our design process.

Arcade VS Casual


The biggest challenge for us is to determine the main gameplay focus for the game: will it lean more towards an arcade or more towards a casual game?  If it is an arcade game players will try to get as far into the game as they possibly can, fail, and then retry to improve their score (much like Donkey Kong). When they’re done with it, they may (or may not) come back to have another go. The scale and variety (i.e. amount of different characters, backgrounds and functionality) of the game can be fairly limited; the player must be able to have a fun experience for let’s say 30-60 minutes. If it’s not an instant classic however, people tend to get bored with the game fairly quickly and the replay value / fun is not very big.
If it’s more a casual game, the player will only gradually advance in the game. The game needs to be huge. Players will play a couple of levels for 10-20 minutes. They can come back later to pick up where they left off, completing more levels, unlocking more functionality and collecting more trophies. The pacing of these types of games is usually a lot slower. Problem here is, that you need a whole load of content to keep the game interesting.
To make things even more complicated, there are client demands, deployment limitations and resource issues to consider. In  most cases, you’d automatically start compromising, adding gameplay elements from both types of games until the game concept feels okay and meets the most basic external demands. My fear is, that, if we create a combination of the two types of games described above, we’ll end up with neither a good arcade game nor a good casual game!

Our approach will be to get the core of the game going as soon as possible. Creating a good fluent test level that is typical for the game. We can then get an idea of what kind of pacing feels right for the game-mechanics that we’ve come up with. Then, we might create a couple more levels to test a longer sequence to determine the more global pacing and learning curve that is necessary for the game. It may turn out that our game-mechanics our too hard to get the hang of without some sort of tutorial. This might drag the pace down, making it less fun to replay early levels for a pick-up-and-play experience. To sum it up: Pretty tricky stuff!

-- Diederik

dinsdag 21 september 2010

Xform Blog Kickoff!

Welcome to the Xform Game Development Blog! We are Xform, a game development studio based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. We specialize in the production of 3D, browserbased games. We're certainly not limited to the production of only one kind of game, since the company has started 6 years ago we've tried many different genres and directions. Xform has also published a downloadable DSi Ware game called Flipper.

My name is Erik Coenen and I started working here roughly two months ago as the Production Manager. This basically means I need to get everything in line production wise so the programmers and artists can do their work and deliver you their awesome games. I have a background in game journalism as a writer, in television production (specifically related to games) as a cameraman and editor and also in videogame marketing. I hope to provide you with any interesting observations I can share with you, but you can learn the most from the really creative people in our company that actually make the games. I hope the programmers and artists can offer you some interesting insights on game development and specific problems and issues they come across.

If you have any questions, please let us know! Here: http://www.xform.nl/ you can see more of our projects and find out more about what we do. You can also visit us on Facebook and like us more actively by actually clicking the thumbs up icon (please do so we know you like us :)! We also have a Twitter account, so don't be a stranger and drop by every once in a while. We're always very open to suggestions and new ideas!

-- Erik

maandag 20 september 2010

Xform Blog is finally underway!

Hi all! 

Starting from this week we’ll be adding stuff daily to our development blog! Expect to see updates on every aspect of game development: game design, asset creation, programming, marketing etc. If you want to know what we do and how we do it, this is the place to be!

Greets from everyone at Xform!

-- Diederik