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11. December 2015

 

Don’t you just love it when someone else does your job for you?  As part of my recently completed Tiled tutorial series I was considering doing a pretty detailed tutorial on integrating it into one of the modern C# based game engines.  One engine certainly up for consideration was the Wave Engine, somewhat recently featured in the Closer Look At series.  Well thankfully I didn’t, because they went ahead and did it for me!

 

From the WaveEngine blog:

Using TiledMap to create your 2D game level

With TiledMap, developing 2D games in WaveEngine will not be the same anymore. Tiled maps have been used for a long time in games, now you can load and integrate TiledMap (.TMX) files, created by theTiled Map Editor (http://www.mapeditor.org/), the most popular map editor based in tiles. With Tiled, you can easily design your 2D map levels and run in WaveEngine like a charm.

Load a TiledMap (.tmx) in WaveEngine

1. Install WaveEngine.TiledMap NuGet package

First of all, you need to install WaveEngine.TiledMap NuGet package into your Game solution. This action allows you to use the TiledMap components into your project:

 

series continues here. 

 

With the NuGet TiledMap package, the process is actually quite simple.  They also have a Tiled map example available on Github.

Programming


3. December 2015

 

Having never used or even heard of sketch based animation you can’t help but feel like a “someone changes something in the matrix” moment, when not one but two stories cross your desk in the same week.

 

The first was release of VPaint Beta 1.5.  It is in their own words:

VPaint is an experimental vector graphics editor based on the Vector Animation Complex (VAC), a technology developed by a collaboration of researchers at Inria and the University of British Columbia, featured at SIGGRAPH 2015. It allows you to create resolution-independent illustrations and animations using innovative techniques.

Or you can watch the SIGGRAPH video:

I checked out the free download, and it is interesting, but I decided not to do a story about it.  Then…

 

Just today, Autodesk announced they are looking for beta testers for Project Draco, which is an iPad app that sounds a hell of a lot like VPaint.  Here is their (year old) SIGGRAPH video:

 

Well now Autodesk is officially ready for testing, so if this looks interesting to you head on over to Autodesk labs to sign up.

 

Are there any other sketch based 2D animation packages in the works?  Anyone excited for this technology to mature?

Art GameDev News


30. November 2015

 

 

 

This entry in the Closer Look series is a bit different than normal.  First, Blade Engine is very much a work in progress, so expect bugs and flaws and minimal documentation.  Second, it’s actually built over top of an existing game engine, LibGDX.  Finally, it’s a game engine focused on one very specific genre – adventure games.  Given the popularity of hidden object games on mobile these days, there are no doubt a number of people looking for an appropriate engine.  So without further adieu, I present the Bladecoder Adventure Engine, an open source cross platform LibGDX based game engine and editor for creating adventure games.

image

As always there is an HD video version available here.

 

Meet Bladecoder Adventure Engine

 

Blade engine consists of two parts, the underlying game engine and the editor that is layered on top of it.  It is designed in such a way that you can work entirely in the editor and never once right a line of source code.  You assemble your game from a collection of Chapters, Scenes and Actors and added events and actions in the form of verbs.  If you want to modify the fundamental structure of the game itself, you are going to have to jump into the underlying source code.  Fortunately that is an option, as Bladecode Engine is hosted on Github and the source is available under the incredibly liberal Apache 2 license.

 

Blade Engine Features at a Glance:

  • Multi platform support: Android, IOS, Desktop (Windows, OSX, Linux) and HTML
  • Several animation techniques: sprite/atlas animation, Spine (cutout) animation and 3d model animation
  • 3d character support
  • Multiresolution to deal with different densities and screen sizes
  • Multilanguage support
  • Open source and free (as in beer and freedom)
  • Code free game creation possible

 

The heart of Bladecoder is ultimately the editor, so let’s focus there after we cover getting started.

 

Getting Started

 

To get started with Bladecoder you need to have Java and git installed and properly configured.  Bladecoder uses the JavaFX ui library so you will have to use JDK 8 or newer or be prepared to have to configure JavaFX manually in the build process.  You will also require an internet connection for the build process to succeed the first time. To start, from a terminal or command line, change to the folder you want to install Bladecoder and enter:

git clone https://github.com/bladecoder/bladecoder-adventure-engine.git

cd bladecoder-adventure-engine

gradlew build

gradlew run

 

There is an example repository, including the work in progress game The Goddess Robbery available in the repository https://github.com/bladecoder/bladecoder-adventure-tests.  You should probably clone this repository too, as this is perhaps the single biggest documentation source available right now.

 

The Editor

 

Assuming the compilation process went without issue above, you should now see the Adventure Editor, where the bulk of your work will occur.

image

 

Your game is composed of a collection of Chapters, which in turn contain Scenes.  Scenes in turn are a collection of Actors and organized in layers:

image

 

Game Props enables you to set global properties of your game:

image

 

Resolution enables you to quickly create scaling modes for supporting multiple device resolutions ( think Retina ):

image

 

While Assets enables you to import multiple defined assets include audio and music files, texture atlases, 3D models, images and more.

image

 

You organize your scene using the editor available in the center of the window:

image

You can place actors on different layers, define walk paths, etc.  Click the Test button to preview that scene in action.

 

The actual logic of your game is defined on the right hand side of the editor. 

Here you can set properties of your actors:

image

 

Create and edit dialogs:

image

 

Define sounds and animations:

image

 

Clicking the edit icon will bring up the appropriate editor:

image

 

While selecting an animation will preview it in the scene:

GIF

 

Finally Verbs are the heart of your application:

image

 

You can think of verbs an analogous to event handlers, and they can be applied at the world, scene or actor level.  There are also default verbs that will be fired if unhandled.  Think the generic “I don’t know how to use that” messages from adventure games from the past.

 

Let’s look at an example from the Scene, handling the Init verb which is fired when the scene is ready.

image

 

This verb causes the sequence of actions shown at the bottom part of the above image to be fired when the scene init verb is called.  This causes the player to move, a dialog sequence, the player is scripted to drop an item, a state value is changed, etc.  You can create new elements by clicking the + icon:

image

 

And filling out the resulting form.  Each element has a different form associated with it.  Here for example is the result of the Say element:

image

 

Once complete simply click the play or package button:

image

 

Play launches the standard loader:

image

 

This screen can obviously be customized to each individual game.  While package brings up a form enabling you to build your game for a variety of platforms:

image

 

And that essentially is it.

 

Help and Community

This is certainly a weak point of the Bladecoder engine, it’s the result of a single coder, there is minimal help available and if you don’t know how to debug Java code, you will probably end up in trouble, at least at this point in it’s lifecycle.  There is currently no community or forum available for this engine but perhaps that will change in the future.  I spoke with the developer a few times however and he was very responsive and quick with fixes and answers.  He is also on twitter at @bladerafa if you want status updates on the project.

For now documentation consists of a minimal wiki although for the most part the best source of documentation is going to be from following the examples.

 

Summary

Make no mistakes, this is very much an under development engine so expect things to blow up spectacularly at any time.  When it does, you are probably going to be on your own figuring out why as there is no community to fall back on.  All that said this is a surprisingly robust tool that makes the process of creating an adventure game exceedingly simple.  Once the engine matures a little bit it will be an excellent tool for even a non-programmer interested in making adventure games.  For now though if you are competent in Java and interested in making an adventure game, this engine takes care of a hell of a lot of work for you and provides full source code for when it doesn’t.  Plus at the end of the day, the price is certainly good too!

 

The Video

Design Art Programming


26. November 2015

 

A new beta release of the Krita drawing package; mostly an under the hood revision to add animation support on the road to Krita 3 release.

 

From the release post:

Today we are happy to announce the long awaited beta-version of Krita with Animation and Instant Preview support! Based on Krita 2.9, you can now try out the implementation of the big 2015 kickstarter features!

What’s new in this version? From the user point of view Krita didn’t change much. There are three new dockers: Animation,Timeline and Onion Skins, which let you control everything about your animation frames and one new menu item View->Instant Preview Mode (previously known as Level of Detail) allowing painting on huge canvases. For both features, you need a system that supports OpenGL 3.0 or higher.

For people who previously installed Krita, to get Instant Preview to show up on the view menu, delete the krita.rc(not kritarc) file in your resource folder(which can be accessed quickly via Settings->Manage Resources->Open Resource Folder) and restart Krita. Or just use the hotkey Shift+L.

But under these visually tiny changes hides a heap of work done to the Krita kernel code. We almost rewritten it to allow most of the rendering processes run in the background. So now all animated frames and view cache planes are calculated in the moments of time when the user is idle (thinks, or chooses a new awesome brush). Thanks to these changes now it is possible to efficiently work with huge images and play a sequence of complex multi-layered frames in real time (the frames are recalculated in the background and are uploaded to you GPU directly from the cache).

 

A tutorial featuring Krita 2.9 animation features in action:

GameDev News


24. November 2015

 

It’s hard to believe that GIMP (General Image Manipulation Program) has now been around for 20 years.  To go along with the 20th anniversary, they also released version 2.8.16.  The following from the GIMPrelease announcement:

 

New Releases and The Future

To celebrate the 20th anniversary, we released an update of the current stable version of GIMP. Newly released GIMP 2.8.16 features support for layer groups in OpenRaster files, fixes for layer groups support in PSD, various user interface improvements, OSX build system fixes, translation updates, and more changes.

Our immediate future plans are to release first public version in the unstable 2.9.x series that will feature fully functional GEGL port, 16/32bit per channel processing, basic OpenEXR support, vastly improved color management implementation, new tools, on-canvas preview for many filters, and more. This release will encompass over three years of work and become the first milestone towards 2.10.

Following v2.10 release, we shall complete the GTK+3 port that is required to bring back state of the art Wacom support for Windows users. When it’s done and GIMP 3.0 is out, we shall finally be able to get started on some very exciting and much anticipated features like non-destructive editing. Please refer to Roadmap for more details.

 

Well then, happy birthday GIMP.  Head on over here to download it now.

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