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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsLemma: first-person parkour
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rek
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« Reply #40 on: March 05, 2012, 05:24:28 PM »

Just twothree things:

Why model the head in such detail if you can't see it?
Why not let the player pick a male or female avatar?
Mirrored surfaces could be fun.

Really love the look/feel of this game just from the screen shots and trailer.
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etodd
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« Reply #41 on: March 05, 2012, 08:55:19 PM »

Just twothree things:

Why model the head in such detail if you can't see it?
Why not let the player pick a male or female avatar?
Mirrored surfaces could be fun.

Really love the look/feel of this game just from the screen shots and trailer.

Thanks!

This is a largely unmodified MakeHuman model, so the extra detail on the head was no extra work. But I'm keeping it in to make the shadows look okay. I'm not planning on adding mirrored surfaces (except the water that's already there, and you can't really see your face in the water).

Picking a male/female avatar would be awesome, but would probably be too much work later on when it might have an effect on the dialog; I'd have to write separate dialog trees for male/female. So far it's been pretty ambiguous though. Maybe I could write the whole game that way.
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etodd
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« Reply #42 on: September 16, 2012, 01:43:11 PM »

So I kinda dropped off the face of the earth for a while... but I'm back with a new alpha release!

Just an extremely cut-down demo. No tutorial, no story, no explanation, just showing off new moves, new enemies, and the new weapon.







Download it here for free. Please let me know what you think!

Super-Awesome Change List
  • Totally new block dissolve effects and sounds. Preeeettty
  • A new move that builds a platform of blocks and jumps you to the end of it.
  • The kick is gone; instead you can now roll at any time, which not only prevents you from receiving fall damage, but also blasts through any breakable blocks in front of you and if you're in mid-air, tries to build a platform beneath you.
  • New aiming system that lets you know if you're able to jump to the target or not.
  • A new type of exploding block.
  • A "tower" enemy that falls on you if you get too close.
  • Brand-new pistol, complete with reload animation, iron sight functionality, and magazine pick-ups.
  • When you die, you now drop the pistol and phone, so you have to go pick them up again.
  • You can now change the mouse sensitivity and key bindings.
  • The MSI installer was replaced by a simple Zip archive with a separate executable that makes sure everything is installed. Now it will be easier for me to push out more frequent updates.
  • More tweaks than I have time to list, including animation improvements, lots of new and improved sounds, performance optimizations, and bug fixes.

Stuff To Look Forward To
  • I've been experimenting with chunks of blocks that are not affected by gravity. It's fun.
  • A "power" system where you can turn things on and off by connecting them with blocks built via the parkour moves.
  • A "vine" enemy that tries to build a cage around you and crush you to death.
  • A more open-world design for the island, focused on a central area surrounded by  different sections you can visit. (Somewhat inspired by Bastion, which I got to enjoy this summer)
  • I revamped the story to better complement the gameplay and new open-world design, and I can't say much now but I'm realllly excited about it!

Thanks for reading. Now it's back to the grindstone for me!
« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 02:25:04 PM by et1337 » Logged

Sean Han Tani
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« Reply #43 on: September 16, 2012, 01:50:07 PM »

Ooh I saw this over at reddit! Pretty neat! I'll try to check out the alpha..
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Graham-
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« Reply #44 on: September 16, 2012, 03:00:37 PM »

Just a quick update this time. Been thinking about creating little development videos similar to Wolfire's. Would anyone be interested in seeing that?

Yes. Two tips:
  . organize by topic (or date) - _not_ several per video, just the main one
  . longer videos, less-frequent updates
       -> I'd rather see something more in-depth, than blips of added features, b/c there's already a lot of that around.
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etodd
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« Reply #45 on: September 16, 2012, 08:30:02 PM »

  . organize by topic (or date) - _not_ several per video, just the main one
  . longer videos, less-frequent updates

These sound like good ideas to me. Longer, less-frequent updates are generally less work anyways. I spend less time context-switching from dev-mode to blog-mode.
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Graham-
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« Reply #46 on: September 16, 2012, 08:41:17 PM »

yeah
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etodd
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« Reply #47 on: September 25, 2012, 05:15:02 AM »

I now have the complete backstory and in-game story options written out!

After the initial tutorial, you'll get to a central area of the island which connects to four other areas. At that point, you'll be able to leave the island whenever you want, or you can visit one or more of the four adjacent areas before leaving. In each area you'll have to make a yes/no decision. You'll get a different ending depending on which decisions you make and at what point you exit the island. Your choices also affect how many parkour abilities you unlock. There are 5 major possible outcomes, and each outcome has a number of variations, for a total of 15.

Since the player will be twinking around different sections of the world at will and not in a linear manner, I needed to implement a load/save system and a way to handle transitions between world sections. The load/save menu is simple; saves are identified by a timestamp and thumbnail.



If you're into XNA, I implemented the screenshot feature by rendering to a RenderTexture for one frame, and subsequently copying the RenderTexture to the back buffer to prevent flickering for that one frame.

I also finally switched my voxel renderer to a more sane solution. Before, each face of the voxel was actually a hardware instance of an FBX model. I finally switched to a dynamic vertex buffer system. Everything is faster and more memory efficient now. Yay.

I forgot to mention last time that I've also made a lot of improvements to the editor (which will certainly be released for everyone to mess around with).

To help with all the obscure commands, I added a context-sensitive autocomplete menu that shows the commands you can perform based on what you currently have selected. If you're familiar with the Blender 2.5 interface, it's a lot like that.



I also added voxel copy/paste support, and the ability to move large chunks of voxel around. I also made it easier to add new material types; you can even have custom materials specific to a certain map. This should make it easier for me to create more varied and interesting maps.



More stuff that got done this week:

  • When doing a roll into a low-ceiling area, the player now stays in a crouched state until they get out. Before, it just sorted of glitched.
  • Fixed a really annoying bug from the alpha that had the player model spinning around the wrong way after performing a parkour move.
  • Added scriptable settings that control which moves the player is allowed to perform. This will allow me to do unlockable abilities.
  • Added separate crosshairs that indicate when the player can do a precision jump and when they can do a build/jump move. Before it was just one crosshair that changed color, and I think it was a little confusing.

Before I go, let me just say Borderlands 2 is a blast! And also outrageously hilarious. Hit me up on Steam if you want to play sometime.

Thanks for reading!
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Danmark
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« Reply #48 on: October 04, 2012, 03:51:35 AM »

Glad to see development on this is ongoing, was worried for a little while.

Unfortunately I've little good to say about the second alpha. The block-building stuff is very confusing, and tends to make geometry that isn't clear whether you'll wall up onto or jump clear off of. Can't figure out the conditions for creation (apart the aim and left click way). After a while a bunch of detrimental geometry is created, and getting stuck in one's own blocks at this stage is common. While the first alpha felt more like parkour than any other game I've played, the feeling is totally absent from the second. It's too slow and fiddly and pedantic.

Dodging falling columns is cool except when reformed columns blindside you.

Played for about 15 minutes and didn't bother getting to the pistol- it got too frustrating.

Other than that, I like the sound of things from your latest post.
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etodd
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« Reply #49 on: October 04, 2012, 11:31:12 AM »

Thanks for the feedback! This is exactly what I need.

The block-building stuff is very confusing, and tends to make geometry that isn't clear whether you'll wall up onto or jump clear off of.

If you're right beneath a ledge and it's within reach, you'll vault up on to it. If the ledge is too high up to reach, you'll jump back off the wall. Maybe this should be moved to two separate buttons?

Can't figure out the conditions for creation (apart the aim and left click way).

This is an ongoing problem I'm still trying to figure out. Here's how it worked in the second alpha:

  • When you do a skill roll (left-click), the game will try to build a platform out from a nearby wall or the floor. If you're out in mid-air with no walls nearby, it can't build any platforms.
  • There's also a "double-jump" that works the same way. If you're mid-air near a wall or the floor and haven't used your double-jump, you can jump again and it will build a platform beneath you.

I just didn't want the player to be able to easily spam a move to create a lot of blocks. I'm considering using a sort of energy system that needs to be charged up. Or maybe I should just forget about it and let players do ridiculous spammy stuff.

While the first alpha felt more like parkour than any other game I've played, the feeling is totally absent from the second. It's too slow and fiddly and pedantic.

What specifically did you enjoy about the first alpha? Most of the feedback I got from the first alpha was that the controls and moves were bad, so your perspective is new to me.

I think part of the problem might be the extremely simple level design I threw together for the second alpha. Could be wrong though.

Thanks again for playing and leaving feedback!
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etodd
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« Reply #50 on: October 05, 2012, 08:41:55 AM »

Flying in the face of midterms and other IRL issues, Lemma boldly marches on!

Spawn Point Graphics

I realized you need a way to know where you'll respawn if you die, so I added some spawn point graphics. Got the idea from Borderlands. Actually can we talk about Borderlands? Man, every time I play a good game I have to resist the urge to start incorporating its ideas into my projects. If I ever announce that Lemma will feature randomly generated weapons, just slap me until I snap out of it please.



I also tried my hand at fabricating a sound completely from scratch inside Audacity for the spawn point, and it actually turned out great!

Clothes

Speaking of amateur hour, I also dressed up the player model a bit. Still very rough, but it doesn't look like a scuba suit anymore, and it does the job for the first-person perspective.



Levitation

I messed around with an unlockable ability that lets you levitate blocks and move them around. It's pretty fun, but it's difficult to climb on the blocks when they're at a weird angle. Hopefully I'll be able to just improve the climbing code.

Energy System

I still don't know what to do about this. The problem is, I don't want the player to be able to spam a move and easily create vast amounts of blocks. A straight-up cool-down system wouldn't work, because it just breaks the flow of parkour. I experimented this week with energy pickups, where you have to climb up and grab these little power-ups to keep going. Then I realized I would have to come up with a reasonable way for them to respawn, and I don't like having a UI element on-screen that says "you have 137 energy".

So I'm still stuck on this one. I might move on to something else and come back to it.

Charity

Someone on ModDB said they didn't appreciate the charitable aspect of Lemma. I just dismissed the comment at first, but now I think he/she may have had a point, which was that charity can be used as a cheap marketing scheme. Along the lines of "our game isn't that great, but it's for charity, so try it out!"

It made me think that anyone can donate money publicly. You don't actually give up something for nothing; you execute a transaction that earns you respect and "karma".

Anyway, I don't know yet how that realization will affect Lemma. If anything, Lemma would cease to be an "official" charity project, and I would just sell it normally and quietly donate my share of the profit. But we'll see. I may just be overthinking this.

That's it for this week. Keep being excellent, everyone.
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DustyDrake
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« Reply #51 on: October 05, 2012, 10:39:43 AM »

Well if it's a parkour game, your character is constantly moving, right?
Meaning their arms are likely always moving too, in and out of view.
Perhaps the energy 'meter' could be some glowing around the player's hands?
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etodd
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« Reply #52 on: October 05, 2012, 01:36:58 PM »

Perhaps the energy 'meter' could be some glowing around the player's hands?

I really like that idea! But my main problem with cool-downs is not necessarily the UI, it's the fact that for a short time, the game is preventing you from exercising the main gameplay mechanic, the whole reason to play the game. Instead, it should reward the player for building blocks. I'd like a skilled player to be able to run continuously without having to wait for a cooldown.

Still... glowy hands... so coool...
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etodd
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« Reply #53 on: October 12, 2012, 10:18:36 AM »

Nice Clouds

I got sick of my old pixelated skybox powered by Google Images and decided to make a real one. I used Spacescape to generate a sufficiently trippy outer space skybox, chopped up some cloud photos in Gimp, fought with my code for a couple hours, and wha-la:



Scary Monsters

What's that glowy green thing you say? It's the new monster I just added, creatively named "the vine". See that string of dark blocks coming out of it? It snakes its way to you and basically tries to constrict you to death. Here's another screenshot of its handiwork after running for a minute or two.



It uses a dumbed-down version of A* to find its way to the player. For performance reasons, if it doesn't find a path within a few hundred iterations, it just gives up and uses its best guess. It's not perfect, but it actually makes it a little more interesting, it behaves more like a living creature than an infallible machine. It can also burrow through blocks, which could be useful if the player decides to lure it somewhere. Like the tower enemies, it can only be defeated by destroying the infected green blocks at the base.

More Voxel Performance Improvements

I keep wanting to expand the levels larger, and I keep hitting limitations in my engine. Luckily, so far I've been able to remove every major limitation. This week I made a ton of improvements in preparation for making the largest levels I've ever crafted:

  • The entire level, even parts way beyond the field of vision, was being blasted in from the map file upon loading. Now it does a somewhat better job of loading it in as you explore.
  • Adjacency info was also recalculated at load time, which slowed things down a lot. I now cache it in the map file. The downsides are larger map files and slower save times.
  • Voxels, lights, and everything else are now put in a state of "suspension" when you leave the area, freeing up processor time for other work.
  • Real-time voxel modifications are now partially multi-threaded. This helps a lot with framerate stutters.

That's it for this week. I have a few more minor engine updates to make, and hopefully next week I'll start knocking out more of these enemies I have floating around in my head.

Mirrored on my blog
« Last Edit: October 19, 2012, 12:57:43 PM by et1337 » Logged

Danmark
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« Reply #54 on: October 14, 2012, 05:47:42 PM »

Thanks for the feedback! This is exactly what I need.

The block-building stuff is very confusing, and tends to make geometry that isn't clear whether you'll wall up onto or jump clear off of.

If you're right beneath a ledge and it's within reach, you'll vault up on to it. If the ledge is too high up to reach, you'll jump back off the wall. Maybe this should be moved to two separate buttons?


The problem was I was trying to do the block-building for climbing (not parkour). Just tried the demo again, and the real problem was I was trying to use it at all.



While the first alpha felt more like parkour than any other game I've played, the feeling is totally absent from the second. It's too slow and fiddly and pedantic.

What specifically did you enjoy about the first alpha? Most of the feedback I got from the first alpha was that the controls and moves were bad, so your perspective is new to me.

I think part of the problem might be the extremely simple level design I threw together for the second alpha. Could be wrong though.

Thanks again for playing and leaving feedback!


I hope you're not just being polite about my feedback and you're up for some tuff luv...

This is tough to answer, partly because it was a while ago I played the first alpha, but mostly because I enjoyed it in general. Everything was good, just with a few niggles here and there. The block creation thing is one big niggle. I can only have fun/experience success with alpha 2 when I shut it out completely, and just exploit the hell out of infinite wall running. Even then, it's unfortunate I occasionally create geometry by accident.

It baffles. What purpose does the mechanic serve? Sure, the controls were flawed in alpha 1, but I don't see how you remedy control issues by adding new features even trickier to control, and far less predictable. Why not just let players hold down LMB to perform a roll at the earliest opportunity or something? Block building is bloat. Feature creep.

And it just ain't parkour. I didn't see you use block building to go faster in the video. Didn't succeed in doing so myself. Parkour is about being smooth & fast (such are the only concerns in video games at least). Block building can only make your motion more rough & slow. It's antithetical to what I'd thought was the point of the game. I didn't do parkour IRL for very long, nor did I get very good at it. But I'm familiar enough to reject the building stuff entirely. It feels wrong, it's obnoxious, it's clumsy, it's lethargic... an in-game monkey on my back I desperately wanna tear off.

On the upside, the gun is cool. Got a kick out of my revenge on those damn columns! An empty click sound is needed though, especially since you have to manually reload every time. Wondered why it wasn't working for a few seconds until I figured out it wasn't loaded.

HTH man.
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etodd
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« Reply #55 on: October 14, 2012, 06:41:34 PM »

I hope you're not just being polite about my feedback and you're up for some tuff luv...

No, keep bringing it! I need negative feedback, although I can't promise I'll completely fix it (if I did everything people suggested I'd have a mess on my hands).

It baffles. What purpose does the mechanic serve? ... And it just ain't parkour. I didn't see you use block building to go faster in the video. Didn't succeed in doing so myself. Parkour is about being smooth & fast (such are the only concerns in video games at least). Block building can only make your motion more rough & slow. It's antithetical to what I'd thought was the point of the game...

Block-building is the core idea of the game; but it's supposed to not get in your way at all. The original idea was, you just do parkour, and the environment changes to suit your needs. Obviously it's not doing a very good job of it, but the underlying idea is solid. The purpose of the block-building is to allow you to do parkour moves that you couldn't do normally.



Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time translating that idea into real-time gameplay mechanics. It's an on-going process of experimentation.

So yeah, the block building is here to stay. But not necessarily (in fact, probably not) in its current form.

On the upside, the gun is cool... An empty click sound is needed though...

Glad you like the gun, I do too. Added the click sound to my to-do list.
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« Reply #56 on: October 16, 2012, 10:25:53 PM »

^ Ah. I thought from the last post that the building was something you threw in because of the complaints. I had wondered before why the game was voxelly in the first place, so it makes sense.

That's one hell of an ad. One observation is the guy never uses the same geometry twice (well, only to get back to the ground after it goes blue). And in-game, one of the most annoying things is the clutter of blocks over time. I don't see any point in pieces remaining after you've cleared off them. It only works in the ad cause it looks cool. Games require retrial, staged greenscreen runs don't.

Mostly it's just far too imperative in Lemma. 'Building' is what leads to the Minecraft meets Mirror's Edge mess. Press a button, and blocks get made immediately. In the ad OTOH, it's like the world knows where it needs to be to catch the guy based on his movements which are in preparation for reaching new places (most obviously when he outstretches his legs to land from big jumps from 0:08-0:10), and arranges itself a-prori, not just-in-time. So the system should be fairly hands-off and with plenty of delay.

Short-term planning is a huge element of parkour, so delay is appropriate. It'd also help if the blocks built up gradually in a really visible way in front of you (ideally continuously), so you could guess where you'll hit the piece being made & continue planning before you've gotten there.

The ad works so well because the actor knows the entire layout ahead of time, while the audience sees it being built up over time. Prefabricated environments work. Environments with instantaneous manual changes, as they are now, are utterly broken. There's a balance to be struck somewhere, if it's a viable mechanic.

I do mean 'if'. It may be viable the way you've framed it now, but I'm still not 100% convinced. It's experimental enough (which is a good thing) to go either way.
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etodd
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« Reply #57 on: October 17, 2012, 05:40:23 AM »

And in-game, one of the most annoying things is the clutter of blocks over time. I don't see any point in pieces remaining after you've cleared off them.

The game will be fairly open world; there will be places that the player will revisit many times over the course of the game. The main thing I like about the blocks staying is that you can go back later and climb on all your blocks you've already made.

Clutter was an issue in alpha 2, but I've made a lot of changes now based on your feedback that should help it. For one, the level design in the alpha was cluttered and just bad to begin with. For another, the roll move no longer builds blocks. I'm working to simplify and consolidate the block-building moves. I also put in some more acceleration and momentum so you can't go from a dead stop to instantaneously leaping through the air. It makes you do some of that short-term planning you were talking about.

It only works in the ad cause it looks cool. Games require retrial, staged greenscreen runs don't.

This is the big challenge in any parkour game, whether voxelly or not.

Mostly it's just far too imperative in Lemma. 'Building' is what leads to the Minecraft meets Mirror's Edge mess. Press a button, and blocks get made immediately. In the ad OTOH, it's like the world knows where it needs to be to catch the guy based on his movements which are in preparation for reaching new places (most obviously when he outstretches his legs to land from big jumps from 0:08-0:10), and arranges itself a-prori, not just-in-time. So the system should be fairly hands-off and with plenty of delay.

This does give me an idea... the game could constantly build things ahead of you, trying to guess what you're trying to do, and the blocks would disintegrate after a few seconds to prevent clutter. But then if you used one of them, it would become "solid" while the other ones would disintegrate.

It would take a lot of math and a lot of tweaking, but combined with a few manual moves, it might be worth trying.
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etodd
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« Reply #58 on: October 22, 2012, 12:50:37 PM »

Stamina and Sprint

I finally realized that speed is perhaps the most important resource in a Parkour game. Up until now, Lemma hasn't really understood the concept of "faster" and "slower"; you were always going the same speed. Acceleration from a dead stop was almost instantaneous and the Parkour moves didn't change your speed (with the exception of wall-running).

With this in mind, I decreased the acceleration a lot and made all the moves preserve your momentum. To make a longer jump, you'll need a running start. I also put in some simple combos. For example, doing a roll immediately followed by a jump lets you jump a lot farther.

This is where the new sprint ability comes in. Not only does it make you run faster, it also makes every other move more powerful as well. At the moment, you can sprint for about 15 seconds before depleting your stamina. Without sprinting, stamina lasts about 10 minutes. Stamina is recharged by collecting energy pickups that respawn throughout the levels.

Here's a screenshot of the stamina meter and some energy pickups. The edges of the meter turn red when sprinting.



Slowmo

I'm calling this "slowmo", but there's a lot more to it. This is a new experiment that tries to encourage "flow" by predicting where you will be in a few seconds and building blocks there to help you.

Here's how it works. While mid-air, you hold Shift. The game goes into slow motion and presents you several options in the form of transparent blocks. (Note that slowmo burns stamina almost as fast as sprinting). You release Shift to speed everything back up. Then, if you perform a Parkour move on a transparent block, the block becomes solid (at the cost of more stamina).



Screenshots and text don't do it justice, but I don't have time yet to make a video. Sorry!

This may or may not make it into the final version, but so far it seems to work pretty well. I'll keep polishing it this week and start working on all these enemies I keep promising. I did a ton of other work this week too, but it's mostly boring under-the-hood stuff. I'll let you know when more cool stuff surfaces. Thanks for reading!

Mirrored on my blog
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etodd
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« Reply #59 on: October 30, 2012, 10:24:14 AM »

I present to you, "Voxel Levitation: a Step-by-Step Guide".

Step 1:



Step 2:



Step 3:



Step 4:



Also, check it out. Hurricane Sandy has spilled over into Lemma. It's raining!



That is all.
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