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December 18, 2014, 03:29:30 AM
TIGSource ForumsFeedbackDevLogsTRENCHBRAIN - Playable Build
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Author Topic: TRENCHBRAIN - Playable Build  (Read 3992 times)
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« on: September 26, 2012, 10:37:24 AM »

Latest Gameplay Footage




Trenchbrain is a zombie shooter designed to use the muzzle flash horror effect used in many Hollywood films as a gameplay mechanic. In this game, this flashing muzzle effect is the one of the few light based tools you have at your disposal to illuminate the level you inhabit.

The game is loosely based in a WW1 trench, in which an experimental gas attack sends soldiers into a state of rabies. As one of the few wearing a gas mask, you face a far worse fate…


Here is a video of the first available footage of gameplay!


Main Menu

Muzzle Flash View of "Tunnels"

View of “Bunker” with only spotlights on.

A muzzle flash view of “Bunker”

An early version of the game will be available in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more updates and thanks for taking the time to look at Trenchbrain!
« Last Edit: August 10, 2013, 06:05:52 AM by AlexVsCoding » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2012, 01:04:18 PM »

Update – Trenchbrain Build 2

Upon testing the game with a bunch of people in a local (e.g. non published game) environment, I came to these conclusions for needed updates:

Visible marker for player
There is no way for the player to see where they are going, meaning the characters become lost in the dark to the point where they can’t play the game, especially when the player runs out of ammo. To give the players at least an idea of where their character was, I created a radial torch for each player so that they could at least see within a basic radius of their position.

Telling the difference between each player
Since both characters are duplicates, telling the difference between them is near impossible. Need differently designed characters. Solution to this was to redesign the characters to give each a distinct look. I looked into the conflict of World War 1 and noticed the variety of gas masks available. I gave each of the characters a unique gas mask and a slightly different structure to their character.

Background light
Whilst using ammunition as a method of light helped, the player had limited ways of seeing the battlefield. To give the player a sneak peek of the battlefield, I added in lightning consisting of a 3 frame flashing animation approximately .3 seconds long. (.1 seconds per frame). This gives the player a freebie look at the battlefield and creates atmosphere by building on horror stereotypes.

Ammo Refinement
Since the players seemed to continuously die at the same point, This was 42 seconds. This happened to be twice the amount of ammunition that the player received, so I came to the conclusion that the players were using their first set of ammo, using the second batch then running out, at which point they were swarmed by piles of zombies. As it stood, the players received 1 bullet in the ammo pile a second, so to increase those numbers yet still force the player to slightly wait, the player was required to wait 3 seconds and receive 5 bullets each time. Further testing in this area will determine whether this is enough, too little or too much.

Co-op Refinement
Rather than creating characters at the start of the level (which didn’t allow objects to be assigned to follow such as the radial light), the players were already placed in the level but dependant on the number of players in the level the correct number was deleted e.g. if player numbers = 1, recycle player 2 and recycle player 2 glow.

Also included in the co-op refinement experience was making more suitable keys for the player to use. The two sets of controls I decided on were WAD for movement, S for aim and F for fire and for player 1 up left and right arrow keys to move, down to aim and spacebar to fire. Once again, testing will prove whether this is the most comfortable layout for gameplay.

Enemies Recycle Upon Screen Exit
Found a slight leak of memory in which enemies were able to cross the entire screen and fall off the other side. To fix this, I ensured the zombies recycle upon exit from the screen.

Bullet Consistency
Bullets in the original flash as they are fired, but the flashing makes them unclear so players didn’t know if they were even causing damage to enemies. To fix this, the flashing animation was made to not loop e.g. flashes from black to yellow. I additionally added an impact animation in which the bullet scatters when it hits an enemy to indicate the bullet hit something in the dark.

More Levels
Built some additional levels including a warehouse/bunker layout, a tunnel with holes in the ceiling, a series of stepped terrain and a couple more that I am yet to build.

Things yet to complete -

Music and sound
Need to pitch project to the bloke who creates my music, Luke Smith (http://soundcloud.com/lethalbadger) so that he can get started creating some music and sound effects for the project. Music is going to be bleak haunted house with a retro sound (or whatever he comes up with as an alternative). For sound effects, as with Narcissus, the approaching direction of the zombies will determine which earphone the sound will come out of. This is to give the player an additional sense to work with to help them find enemies in the dark.

More Levels
I am aiming for the final number of 15 levels and dependant on the demand will continue to construct more.

I might be incorporating more zombie types in the game, E.g. one that can only be seen in the dark (zombie in flames?)

Refinement of Scoring System
May take an alternate approach with the scoring system e.g. Based on kills, a countdown system from 100, a countdown timer in which you have to get as many kills as possible, wave based etc.

Refinement of co-op deaths
As it stands, if one player dies, they both die. I hope to fix this soon with an alternative. If you think this approach is fine, let me know!

Updated Screenshots

The Menu (New Levels to be added)

New Outpost Level – Less safe than it appears…

Warehouse – Choose your route of death!

Radial Character Lighting on the level outpost

Updated Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5J-C9LDYtQ4

Stay tuned for future updates and let me know any improvements, feedback or suggestions below!
« Last Edit: June 30, 2013, 04:49:28 AM by AlexVsCoding » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2012, 08:31:59 PM »

Looks nice and atmospheric. Reckon music & sound will make or break this one.

Love the lighting concept!

Motion of the everything needs to be much smoother, going by the video.
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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2012, 02:30:10 AM »

Nifty! I like the use of single pixels as rain, it really adds to the atmosphere. My only comment is I find the whole screen 'lighting up' rapidly for a short time a little hard on the eyes, could you maybe rapidly fade out the view to mimic persistence of vision? Just an idea, otherwise great job, keep it up!

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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2012, 12:36:54 AM »

Really nice looking visuals.

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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2012, 10:25:58 AM »

The yellow was hopefully desaturated, but could you also lighten up the black?

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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2012, 06:21:55 AM »


Sorry for lack of updates on the game, after reading the article in the forums about finishing projects, I have decided to stop idling around with this one and get it finished!

Wrote down a bunch of improvements needed to get the game done on the train home:

1. Finishing the menu structure (buttons, pages, linking)
2. Putting levels in a linear order
3. Add different levels of difficulty (easy medium and hard) with varying statistics that alter accordingly
4. Recreate the upwards counting system to a countdown timer
5. Tally zombies killed per level
6. Fix death animation for player

Other things I also fixed in the process were:

1. Fade speeds decreased to reduce waiting time for player
2. Smallness of text on screen was fixed by allowing the player to rollover the text and see a larger version of the writing.
3. Level buttons were added with restrictions dependant of levels unlocked

I proceeded to fix the lists above then moved into the area of testing to see what else needed adding. This list of findings included:

1. Zombies took too long to die
2. Barbed wire killed off too many zombies leaving long idle sections at beginnings of levels
3. Testers who were player 2 requested shift to be used as the firing button rather than F due to shift sitting nicely where the thumb rests
4. HUD needs to be clearer
5. Alter the order of levels to make it easier
6. Request for more lighting - suggested a droppable flare that the player can drop to give an extra bit of light to cover a route throughout gameplay
7. Players were confused by sudden changing between levels.

I took went through and fixed all of these problems then proceeded to contact my good friend Luke Smith with a list of sound effects I needed for the game. This included:
Rifle Firing
Rifle out of ammo
Zombie moan left
Zombie moan right
Sprinter moan left
Sprinter moan right
Flare sizzle
Thunder rumbles
Rain pattering
Click menu noises

The ones he created whilst I was there sounded fantastic and since he has a week off, I should hopefully have them by the end of the coming week!

I will doing a bunch of testing in the form of a WIP demo to get ideas from the wider community (since testing thus far has been in small physical groups) to gain a wider insight into what tweaks are needed to get the project to that joyous place - the land of the finished. I will try to get this posted by the end of the week but University final year keeps piling the work on.

Answering previous questions!

Looks nice and atmospheric. Reckon music & sound will make or break this one.

Love the lighting concept!

Motion of the everything needs to be much smoother, going by the video.

As mentioned above (or in previous posts), I've acquired the help of a sound designer to get the needed sound effects for the game. With the player view being so restricted with light sources, the use of different senses to judge the position of enemies will be used. Since the zombies entering the screen are separated into left and right, earphone users will be able to hear which direction the zombies are coming by sending certain sounds to certain headphones.

The video included in earlier posts sadly doesn't capture the gameplay at it's optimal speed. Things run a lot smoother in gameplay, along with a couple of memory drains that were slowing it down in the previous builds plugged. I'll try and get a video posted up in the near future showing gameplay at realtime speed!


Added in a transition screen between levels to avoid the player becoming disoriented. Has total zombies killed and zombies per level killed.

Flares introduce the ability to light up chosen sections of the level at the beginning of the round to give the player a chosen route they want to view. In this case, its the rather *ahem* active ground floor as seen in the screenshot below.

An accidental benefit of setting the player two firing function to shoot is that it works as a flash for the screenshots (since shortcut is shift command 3 for screenshots), meaning you get lovely screenshots such as the one above!

Revamped the menu, creating separate pages for each aspect of the screen. Additionally, for those who struggle to read the text, upon rolling over the text reveals a larger more in depth description of each button in game below the title.

I will try as hard as I can to keep this thread as updated as possible, thanks for reading!

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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2013, 06:03:52 AM »

Hello Everyone!

I'd just like to apologise for the huge gap between the posts - a current unfortunate irony is the course I joined to design and build games restricts me from doing just that by chaining me down with deadlines and coursework.

I would additionally like to take the time to thank Dom (Dom2D), who has given Trenchbrain the fantastic opportunity of two features in the Devlog magazine, gives me a fuzzy feeling every time I see my work in there.

I hope this update was worth the wait!


1.   Sprites are given basic shading and detail, implemented using a low opacity brush and eraser to flesh out the characters and enemies. A large low opacity eraser used to lighten half of the character and create a flash effect on the character as he fires. Also, using opacity rather than colour means if I decide to change the colour palette of the game it should just be the background colour and the lights that need changing.
2.   Animations of characters made more efficient by scaling the characters width -100% for moving left (rather than using different animations for left and right).
3.   Testers complained about the ammo being difficult to see above the player, so the ammo counter is now attached to the radial light around the character that follows the player.
4.   Issue of dead player still being able to create a muzzle flash fixed.
5.   Reworked the level unlock system – kill based milestones on each level determine how many levels you unlock (30 kills = 1 level/60 kills = 2 levels/90 kills = 3 levels). This way, players have the opportunity to be awesome at earlier levels if they are struggling with harder levels and still unlock the entire game content.
6.   Upon being mauled by zombies, the soldier now joins the ranks of the undead with a slightly faster speed and his own animation (have also made him unaffected by barbed wire).
7.   Splash screen introduced.
8.   Large set pieces built added into levels e.g. stranded tanks, dead trees and artillery guns.
9.   Flare throw function added, issue of flare sliding along the floor fixed.
10.   Zombies can now turn around rather than running indefinitely into walls.
11.   Ammo bug that stopped players shooting if ammo box was empty fixed.
12.   Zombie spawning improved by using 1 character with 2 different possible outcomes with matching attributes (1 = left side, 2 = right side).
13.   Additional flicker and fade animations added to the flares.
14.   Low opacity blocks used for indoor environments.
15.   Screen width increased to accommodate for spawning zombies at different heights.
16.   Reworking of menu to fit in with rest of game, incorporating rain and darkness.
17.   The barbed wire was far too efficient at killing zombies, so damage inflicted to the zombies was removed, simply keeping the zombie in position whilst the player lines up the shot.
18.   Opacity of the radial lights has been slightly lowered to create a pretty ven-diagram-y effect when they players overlap. It also applies for lights throughout the level.
19.   One of the major hold-ups was a communication breakdown between the sound designer and me. Since, I have contacted another sound designer for the project, Will Bedford (http://soundcloud.com/2-byte/sets/portfolio/), who will be producing the musical score and a variety of sound effects. (Will is looking for work so drop him a message if you’re interested ^^).
20.   Ordering of levels re-worked due to complex levels featured too early.


1.   Melee implemented (If zombie collides with player (if player unoccupied = kill zombie + play playermelee animation)/otherwise kill player) - would like to hear your thoughts on whether I should add this.
2.   4 or 5 more levels (2 of those are done, 1 designed).
3.   Refining of enemy spawning for levels.
4.     Adding in sound.
5.     Flare throwing feature still needs work (see gif second from the bottom to see solider pooping a flare out).
6.     Direction of player needs to match their initial direction (should be an easy enough to fix).
7.     Probably a duck-tonne of stuff to tweak and polish.


I have about 3 to 4 weeks left of University left – unfortunately since my holiday is now coming to an end work once again takes the priority with these last minute paperwork crunches (already spent too much time today working on this project). Whilst waiting for Will to finish the sound, I’ll be refining and fixing as many problems with the game as I can with the time available. As soon as the sound is finished, I’ll post up a link to the first public demo so you can get your mitts on it. Once again, apologies for the delays and feedback on the footage or things you want to see in the game, let me know!

Thanks again for reading!

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« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2013, 08:43:24 PM »


Quick video of how gameplay is shaping up - video includes a short section of single player footage, featuring sound effects and the musical score. Hope you enjoy!


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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2013, 05:27:04 PM »

Hey folks! Trenchbrain has a trailer, give it a nosey and stay tuned!


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« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2013, 05:49:47 PM »

Not really a game for the Epileptic. But it looks great! nice concept. Very creative!

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« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2013, 06:36:30 AM »

Not really a game for the Epileptic. But it looks great! nice concept. Very creative!

Thanks! In the final game, it does begin with an epilepsy disclaimer - not too sure if theres any way to tell whether the game triggers epilepsy but better safe than sorry!

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« Reply #12 on: August 12, 2013, 09:07:11 AM »

Hey folks! The first build of Trenchbrain has been released for testing, warts and all online! If you can give it a go I'd love to hear what feedback you have. I would also like to take the time to thank Will Bedford for his fantastic work on the sound for the project. Check out his work at:

Thanks, and once again, this game does contain flashing imagery


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« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2013, 07:42:57 PM »

Hey Folks!

Update for Trenchbrain - altered the controls for player 1 to something windows friendly - enter for shoot rather than shift!

Tweaked the tutorials and in the process of altering the ammo count and the method of spawning zombies in the level. Should be an updated build release soon!

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