Unfocused Dude

Writing about things that i give a damn about

Archive for the ‘Programming/Scripting’ Category

I’m back!

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Whoa, 8 months after the last post – i apologise to all my three readers out there 😉

A short recap on what I’ve been doing and my opinion on some subjects debated here:

Boardgames: I still love them, but there’s a lull at the moment in our lunch breaks, when we usually played at least one game of one of the following: Ticket to Ride, Who Would Win?, 7 Wonders (awesome game!), and some more. Things will pick up, i’m sure, with new games and newfound boredom.

– Lua: even more awesome than I thought at first, just looking over it and reading the game list it’s been used on. I feel working with Lua really makes an inprovement on you as a designer, especially when working with programmers. I used it on my last project and made things much easier than before.

– Bobby Kotick : Hey dawg, I heard you had a big lawsuit and don’t(!) try to deflect by countersuing – in the industry, we know them corporate bigshots that sell their souls for profits. Just keep in mind that if West and Zampella get co-ownership of the Call of Duty franchise, your single big paycheck will be Blizzard. It maybe enough, but I have the feeling it’s not 😉

Design: still learning, still trying to be better at it. The journey has been fantastic so far and I look forward for some more! The last project i’ve worked on is one of the best games of my career (in case you were wondering, the picture on top of this article is a little hint ;). My next post will be about level design, so stay tuned.

See you after the break!

 

 

Written by unfocuseddude

08/04/2011 at 2:46 PM

Will Blizzard let the modding community use characters and places from the lore?

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Say i build a single-player campaign – wouldn’t it be cool to use some established characters like Findlay, or Kerrigan or whoever at least in a cameo role or just a passing reference in a dialogue between two characters?

I think it would be nice to have your map/campaign have a connection to the main story line, as long as you don’t break it, but i sincerely doubt Blizzard would let users influence the Starcraft lore.

Then again, I would like Blizzard to let the modders know what can we do about this – what can we use and what not.

So, BLizzard, any guidelines about the use of lore in our maps?

Written by unfocuseddude

17/05/2010 at 2:59 PM

So you want to be a level designer, right?

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… but what does it take really just to get hired.

I was looking for some job listings for the Level Designer position and i stumbled upon Runic Games’ LD position. I will paste it here just in case the link will not be available in the future:

Runic Games is looking for a talented Level Designer to work on our next project currently in development. The ideal candidate has experience designing layouts, prototyping ideas, building and, scripting a level from start to finish. Runic Games currently uses our own TorchED level editor that shipped with Torchlight to build and script levels. Knowledge of these tools is a plus, but not required. The ideal candidate should work well in a collaborative environment with a small and dedicated team passionate about making great games. He/she should also possess good communication skills, and the ability to prioritize tasks, and meet deadlines.

Runic Games offers a fun, creative, and rewarding environment with excellent benefits and compensation. We’re in the heart of Downtown Seattle with numerous living, entertainment, and social options a short distance away.

Requirements:

  • 2+ years experience in game development building completed levels, mod work is acceptable
  • Self-driven, good communicator and a great team-player
  • A desire to work collaboratively in an iterative and organic production process
  • A passion for games and level design, and the ability to articulate what you love about both
  • Ability to create visually inviting and fun to play environments
  • Be able to provide playable samples, or screenshots of your previous work
  • Able to work full-time in the Seattle area

Bonus Skills or Experiences:

  • Shipped at least 1 game for PC or console as an level designer
  • Previous experience working on a RPG/Isometric title
  • Experience playing Torchlight and familiarity with the gameplay mechanics
  • Familiarity with TorchEd and Logic scripting for Torchlight is a plus
  • A passion for games that utilize fresh and exciting visuals rather than gritty realism

Please send a cover letter, resume, and salary history to jobs@runicgames.com with level samples attached or a link to an online portfolio. Email submission is preferred. If you opt to attach samples, submit your 12 best examples.

Everything they require sounds sensible, and it can be used as a guideline for getting a job in a similar position in the industry as a junior/intermediate Level Designer.

One thing worries me tho’, and it’s the last sentence:

If you opt to attach samples, submit your 12 best examples.”

12?!

I don’t like this at all, and here’s why – the way these things work at every studio (that i know of), every time you send someone a portfolio or a level map or code sample, you practically give them away and some studios have applicants sign waivers of copyright for their submitted work, so studios won’t be sued by rejected applicants on the grounds that the studio used their work at a later date.

So, maybe i’m paranoid/bitter or whatever, but wouldn’t this mean that Runic will get their hands on  a lot of diverse levels with quite a few good gameplay ideas? I mean, you would want to submit your best work when applying to a studio that made Torchlight (a good game IMHO).

Frankly, i’m not interested in working my ass off for a few weeks, at least, and then be rejected, but my “good” ideas being taken and used for free by some studio.

I’m not accusing or anything, but i’m just pointing out the “what ifs” and things that “could” happen.

Now let’s compare with Bioware’s submission requirements for a similar position (level designer at Bioware Montreal):

Required Submission:
A game level must be provided for review. The game level needs to have been designed using a prominent 3-D action game toolset

Just one – even if Bioware would get good ideas from your level, at least you don’t have to do twelve AND get rejected.

Bioware’s requirements seem fairer to me, how about you?

Here’s a story I remember from back in the day that tingled my Bat senses – it’s very educational and i repeat myself, maybe i’m paranoid, but these things can happen -> here It’s not the same thing, of course, but this made me wary of certain requirements some studios have when applying for a job.

If you don’t like something about what’s required of you , just don’t do it – it will save you a lot of grief in the end.

And as far as working in the game industry goes, just remember that it’s a business and you have to be profitable, and this means working your ass off for 12-14 hours , 7 days a week for periods of time, while marketing and producers reap the big bonuses (remember the Activision/Modern Warfare 2 lead developers that got sacked after their game sold in the hundred of millions?). I wonder if there are places where this is NOT the norm…

</rant>

Later edit:

I think i was pissed about something that day – this is not too bad for people that have been doing level design for a few years; even so, there are some problems: studios usually don’t allow employees to showcase their work fearing they might be trying to leave and get a job at another rival studio. I even know for a fact that a certain mobile gaming studio would not write the name of the developers in the credits section so they won’t be approached by rival studios with a better job offer. And for the beginning level designer, this is even worse: even if you have a game or two, 12 best examples might just mean all your maps you’ve done as a professional.

Written by unfocuseddude

26/04/2010 at 11:19 AM

Starcraft 2’s Galaxy Editor to be released this week

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This just in from Shacknews:

Yesterday, Blizzard revealed that the next beta patch should be launching this week along with the much-anticipated Galaxy Editor, which will allow gamers to create their own maps and script their own scenarios.

At best, the patch could hit today along with another database reset, but should be released by the end of this week according to lead producer Chris Sigaty.

The editor will not allow users to publish creations to the Battle.net 2.0 cloud, which is planned for the retail release of the game, but it will give players an opportunity to learn the scripting engine and get to work on their creations. Eventually (a year after release) map-makers will be able to sell their creations on the Battle.net Marketplace (…)

I’m pretty hyped about this – no reason to hide the fact that i wanna work at Blizzard 🙂 I have a few ideas for some campaings and custom maps already sketched out so I can hardly wait to get my hands on the editor.

Here’s a look at the editor (literally look) and another video at what you can do with it:

Written by unfocuseddude

21/04/2010 at 8:38 AM

On Game Design and scripting languages

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Recently, i’ve heard a rumour that some games that I have a chance to work in the near future on will be  using Squirrel and Lua. I was like…

I’ve been working for years with tools and scripting _methods_ very specific to the game that was being done and frankly it SUCKS to switch gears between projects, more or less to forget about the tools you were using and start learning a new way of scripting your missions or whatever.

What’s up with that, mr. Programmer and mr. Producer, but especially mr. Marketing Representative, since you get to decide what do you think it’s best for the game, because you only take into account the deadline, the team budget, projected profits and all that jazz?

“Oh no, we can’t afford R&D on the design tools, we’ll just grab an old editor and graft it onto the new project”.

FAIL!

Since there’s very little chance I’ll be working with UED3/UDK and Kismet, let’s have a quick look at both scripting languages:

LUA:

– lightweight programming language

-easy to integrate in C programs

-objects

-used in some games, most famous being Dawn of War I & II, Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft, HAWX, Empire: Total War, Homeworld 2, etc.

Here’s an example of code:

function factorial(n)
  if n == 1 or n == 0 then
    return 1
  else
    return n * factorial(n - 1)
  end
end

Now a recursive function isn’t the best example of what you would use in a mission script, both as usability and performance, but there’re two important improvements over the scripting methods i’ve been used to working with: functions (that return values no less!) and conditional statements. This enables a much more complex script in which you gain code abstraction (using functions instead of copy/paste some code every time you have to use that piece of code in different places) and checking on complex game states. For example:

if getPlayerHP() > 0 and spawnedEnemies < 5 then spawnAdditionalEnemies()

or something like (if you want to kill all enemies in case you poison the entire level and enemies have to die:

for enemy in getLiveEnemies() do
    wait(random(300)+100)
    kill(enemy)
    playRandomSound(DIE, die_1, die_6)
end

Okay, programmers still have to let you have global variables that contain useful data like player’s health, number of enemies and useful functions like wait(milliseconds), random number generator and all that, but i like this a lot more than doing it with a lot of triggers activating and deactivating between them.

Did I mention coding-style scripting is much easier to debug ? Let’s say you write your level script in a .script file that’s basically a .cpp file including all the lua and the custom scripting functions that you need. You can check if scripts run or find bugs by simply using breakpoints in your IDE.

Squirrel:

– lightweight language

– used in game development – Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King and Code::Blocks (google it)

-objects, inheritance, etc.

– C-Style syntax

The last bit seems to me the major difference between Lua and Squirrel, although someone in the know will laugh at this- and with good reason; i’ve just glanced at the two and barely scratched the surface. But let’s look at the same factorial function for some syntax differences:

function factorial(x)
 {
   if (x == 0) {
     return 1;
   }
   else {
     return x * factorial(x-1);
   }
 }

So, no more do/end but curly brackets ({, }) to enclose code blocks, a semicolon at the end of statements,  using == instead of = when testing a logical condition. I guess this could be good for programmers because the more familiar syntax and thus easier/quicker to debug faulty scripts.

All in all, i’d work with either or both, since they’re very much alike. The MAIN problem is, as a fellow Game Designer put it a few days ago when talking about scripting languages, is:

You can have the greatest scripting language in the world – if the programmers don’t dump everything you need as custom functions and variables for the designer to manipulate the game world using the script, you still got nothing”.

You can check the wiki entries for both here: Lua and Squirrel.

Oh, one more thing – i might give Lua a try sooner or later in a small game demo i’m trying to build. Nothing fancy, more like a tech demo of Lua in action 🙂 Stay tuned!

-UD

Written by unfocuseddude

11/04/2010 at 2:11 PM