A Case Against Photorealism in Games

This post will explain why photorealistic rendering in games is important and, paradoxically, why you shouldn’t care too much about it.

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Photorealism is the Bonsai Kitten of game development: everyone talks about it, but it has yet to be seen. Despite this, there’s an ongoing battle of wits between game engines, ferociously fought with tech demos and last-minute announcements. Being able to render reality seems to be the priority. But… does it really matter? Continue reading

Game Barcode: A Study of Colours in Games

This tutorial shows how to download videos from YouTube and to process their frames with Python; I have used this technique to create game barcode, an image created by sorting the colours in each frame of a particular video. You can see some of most intriguing here:

This tutorial is divided in four parts:

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The UGC Dilemma: post-mortem of a level editor

It is undeniable that user generated content is getting more and more relevant for games. When a player has the power to create their own content , they engage with the game in a completely new way. But if you’re a developer, you should know that creating a proper level editor can be even more time consuming that creating the game itself. Giving players the chance to create content is not enough: it has to be fun. On top of that, level editors need to be intuitive, or players won’t be able to use them properly. The best solution is a trade off between giving players the power to create whatever they want, and the need to simplify it.

500px-Puzzle_Creator_initial_viewA perfect example of this is Valve’s Puzzle Creator, which beautifully captures the essence of Portal’s gameplay. There is no space for scripting or custom events, making most of the original levels from Portal impossible to replicate. Valve has made a very clear design choice: they add constraints, but in a way that guide players’ creativity.

This post go through some of the challenged I encountered while working on the level editor for 0RBITALIS, and how I solved them. I will show in the second part how the editor actually works.

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A practical tutorial to hack (and protect) Unity games

If there’s a term which is often misunderstood, that’s for sure hacking. When it refers to softwares, it usually gets a negative connotation which smells of piracy and copyright infringements. This post will not cover any of these topics; quite the opposite, I strongly discourage readers from taking any action which will damage (directly or indirectly) other developers. That said: yes, this post will be a practical tutorial to hack into Unity games. You can use the techniques and tools described in this post to check how safe your games are. If you’re a developer, you’ll also find useful snippets of code and technique to add an extra layer of protection to your games.

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The most anticipated games #17

Observatorium | indieDBwebsite

Observatorium is a game currently developed by Jonathan McEnroe, Clive Lawrence  and Peter Satera, knows as the Observatorium Team. Part of its gameplay will requires to create constellation and to somehow link them to with the rest of the environment: merge space with nature, as the website says. The player moves the boat using the keyboard, while the mouse connects stars into a constellation and catches fish. Despite the game has been showcased at Dare to be Digital 2015, very little is known at this point. Yet, Observatorium looks amazing and I honestly can’t wait to play it.

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The most anticipated simulation games

Big Pharma | Twice Circled | website | pre order

When I was a kid, I used to play Theme Hospital for hours. I’m pretty sure I was terrible at it, but this didn’t stop me from enjoying its lovely animations. I had to wait 18 many years to experience that same feeling again. Big Pharma is one of the most polished games you’ll see this year. Developed by Tim Wicksteed, it’s an intriguing RTS game which explores the sick world of the pharmaceutical industry. Every detail of Big Pharma has been crafted to perfection. The animations, created by the incredibly talented Rob Wicksteed, are simply beautiful and perfectly match the clean aesthetic of the game. The game has also a dark aspect, which you’ll eventually experience after the realisation that the focus of this industry is not on the patients, but on the profit. As a developer, it saddens me to know the final players won’t be able to see the incredible amount of work Tim has put into the making of this game. During its development, Big Pharma has changed so many times: it’s interface, it’s graphics and even it’s gameplay. I think many developers should learn from Twice Circles that changes, even if scary, can make the difference between an average game and an awesome one.

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The most anticipated, aesthetic driven games

It’s not uncommon for games to have a visual style which is not directly related to their gameplay. In these three games, instead, graphics and gameplay entangles to create beautiful, aesthetic driven experiences.

Memory of a Broken Dimension | Ezra Hanson-White | itch.io | website | steam

If there’s a game which is pushing the concept of aesthetic to the limit, that’s for sure Memory of a Broken Dimension. The game seems coming out of a corrupted VHS tape, with compression artefacts are all around you. So much effort has been channel into the making of this game that it’s not hard to understand why it was one of the IGF finalists for Excellence in Visual Arts. On top of that, Memory of a Broken Dimension cleverly mixes 3D environments with DOS-like shells. While at GDC, I met Ezra and player the game for few minutes. It’s not just visually stunning: it’s also very innovative. Part of the game plays on the concept of perspective. Is hard to tell more about Memory of a Broken Dimension because not much has been revealed. While waiting for the game to come out, you can play a prototype version on itch.io.

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Extension methods in C#

Following the heritage of C++, C# comes with a number of powerful features which can either be used to massively improve your code …or to make it completely unreadable. In this post we’ll discuss a technique to add new methods to already existing classes. Yes, even classes you don’t have access to such as Vector3 Rigidbody and even string. Let’s introduce extension methods with a practical example.

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The most anticipated exploration games

Dream | HyperSloth Games | website | steam

The first time I played Dream was at the BAFTA Inside Games 2014, where I also had the chance to try Monument Valley. After more than one year, Dream has finally been released and it has really exceed my expectations. Made by a very small team, it has a graphics and a level of content which is comparable to many high-profile games. Dream brings you inside the dream of a man, allowing the player to explore a variety of bizarre and diverse environments. Physics and Logic don’t always make sense in dreams, and HyperSloth is building clever mechanics out of this. Dream has been released this week; even if you’re not into puzzles, its dreamy and relaxing locations make it one of the perfect exploration games so far. And if that’s not enough, Dream features some of the best music you can hear in a game.

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The most anticipated adventure games

Darkside Detective | DoomCube | demotwitterwebsite

If you like your pixels big, Darkside Detective is the game for you. Developed by the incredibly talented Paul Conway, is a dark (yet charming) point and click adventure. By cleverly mixing pixelated characters, fake shadows and soft lights, it manages to create a very modern atmosphere which still blinks at the best retro games. To make this game even better, Ben Prunty is working on its music; yes, THAT Ben Prunty who composed the OST for FTL. The game also features some guest writing from Brenda Romero. Compared to how traditional games are released, Darkside Detective will come out in seasons, much like a TV series. The first one, “Deadbeats in Downtown“, is planned for later this year and it will feature five different cases.

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