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mattiasf
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« on: August 21, 2013, 09:28:35 PM »

Machinist-Fabrique
This is the devlog for Machinist-Fabrique, a educational puzzle game where the player learns the basics of programming while solving fun puzzles.



Here's a gameplay video; http://www.indiedb.com/games/machinist-fabrique/videos/machinist-fabrique-gameplay

See the Machinist-Fabrique indiedb entry: http://www.indiedb.com/games/machinist-fabrique.

The Problem
A while back, a friend talked to me about the lack of ways to easily teach kids to code. I looked around and I found that though there are tools, they're not really sufficiently game-like. Don't get me wrong, I think tools like Scratch are awesome. But the barrier to entry is too hard and you typically need someone to show you the ropes in the beginning.

I left it at that, but then later another friend was talking how code is the language that is driving the future - and if you know nothing about how code works, you don't actually know how your world works. Everyone knows how a car works, the engine turns and that's rotation is transferred to the wheels. Nothing magical about it. But how does code work? What parts are there? How do they fit together? It's not magic, but yet it's totally unknown to most people.

Writing Code is Hard Because it Must Be Hard!?
But how could you make coding simple? There are so many things to know, not the least of which are syntax (ordering and formatting of code) and what operators do what. Without knowing so many things, you can't do the simplest thing which leaves you without a place to start? Not quite, syntax is only required when you write code as text - with graphical programming, syntax takes care of itself!


The next problem is what programs should someone who wants to learn programming write? And in what order do you write programs? And how do you guarantee continuous feedback and gratification?

Scratch that I mentioned above allows you to easily write programs, but it's totally open ended. That's good and bad, it's awesome once you've figured out the basics, but it's really difficult when you're just starting out. Something more limited with intermediate
steps would be perfect.

The Game That is the Solution
Well, the solution is a game, of course! And that game is Machinist-Fabrique. In Machinist-Fabrique you'll solve a well defined and fun puzzle program components to solve parts of the puzzle use some (or all) of a limited number of supplied operators (open door, close door, loop 10 times, send message etc)

The components can do things like flip, blow, kick or elevate orbs.


What's Next
Right now, our next goal is to release a playable beta of the game so we can start collecting feedback from potential users. If you're interested in getting your hands on an early beta, let me know!
« Last Edit: September 19, 2013, 11:51:32 AM by mattiasf » Logged
mattiasf
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« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2013, 09:46:26 PM »

My Graphics Guy (Patrick Thompson at http://pkillustration.com/) sent me some machine parts for a number of components that I want for my game (claw, hopper, pusher and dispenser). These will be programmable so the player can make the claw pick up an orb by a programmed sequence as such;
  • move left
  • open claw
  • lower claw
  • close claw
  • raise claw
  • move right
  • open claw



It's a great feeling to send off a request describing some bitmaps you want for your game and getting something back that makes your game look much better than it did before. You spent some energy sending of the request but you get more energy back from the feeling of seeing it fit and making your game look better. And my programmer art is terrible...

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mattiasf
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« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2013, 10:27:58 PM »

Work continues, I've added a couple of new programmable components to Machinist-Fabrique, a puncher and a see saw




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mattiasf
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« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2013, 09:13:34 PM »

Please, let me know what you think - fun idea for a game? Terrible idea?

Lots of new stuff in Machinist-Fabrique, I've added a puncher that punches the ball and a claw that can lift the ball and move it sideways and then drop it again. All programmable, of course!




« Last Edit: September 03, 2013, 09:19:55 PM by mattiasf » Logged
Zimonak
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« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2013, 11:37:09 PM »

I just love all sorts of programming games  Durr...?

Keep up the good work. Looking awesome so far.
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mattiasf
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« Reply #5 on: September 04, 2013, 05:03:24 AM »

Thanks; here's an animated gif of the latest component, the Claw;

« Last Edit: September 04, 2013, 05:23:44 AM by mattiasf » Logged
mattiasf
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« Reply #6 on: September 04, 2013, 09:18:30 PM »

Same claw as on the previous image, but in the tool I use to design physics stuff,  R.U.B.E.



If you're creating a game with physics, you should really take a look at R.U.B.E., it saves me 10x time on all the components I create! Everything from debugging physics to placing, scaling and sorting bitmaps!

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josh_s
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« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2013, 01:24:31 AM »

Fantastic idea, and looks as though it's coming along very well!

Will there be a level editor?
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« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2013, 03:10:31 AM »

Love the idea!  Can't wait to try it out!
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« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2013, 04:11:05 AM »

awesome concept, really awesome. It would helped me a lot when i was younger, and it also would help people that want to make games, but dont know how to  Beer!
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mattiasf
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« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2013, 04:50:15 AM »

Fantastic idea, and looks as though it's coming along very well!

Will there be a level editor?

Thanks!

I have a level editor, it's windows only, it might be made available sometime in the future, but thats way down the line. You have to be a sucker for punishment to use it Wink



The most challenging part, though, is creating new components and the operations that are available to them - that probably won't be made available as a level editor.
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mattiasf
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« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2013, 04:52:03 AM »

Love the idea!  Can't wait to try it out!

Thanks!

I _think_ that the basic gameplay is in place - but I haven't done the main menu so you can only play the single map over and over again Wink

There are more maps, but I have to edit a little text file to switch over to a different map. Creating menus is the pits!

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« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2013, 04:54:19 AM »

awesome concept, really awesome. It would helped me a lot when i was younger, and it also would help people that want to make games, but dont know how to  Beer!

If it works out, my goal is to create a series of Machinist games where the player progresses to learn more and more complex programming concepts. The one I'd love to see is where the user programs a flock (10-100) of robots, each with the same program, to cooperatively solve a problem. That problem might be to collect nectar, move stuff or fight another swarm. But first, I have to get this one done...
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« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2013, 05:16:05 AM »

I have a level editor, it's windows only, it might be made available sometime in the future, but thats way down the line. You have to be a sucker for punishment to use it Wink
It may be worth streamlining your editor, even just from your own perspective. I did that quite early on in my project. It seemed like a lot of work at the time, for little payback in "awesomeness" but the benefits have been:
  • I can create more levels.
  • I can try out a new component more quickly because I can quickly create a test level for it.
  • I don't mind throwing levels away if they aren't right because I can always quickly create more.
  • I can play around tweaking the details of levels until I am totally happy with them.
  • I eventually plan to make the editor available to players, which should act as a plus for the game overall.

IMHO the core value of a puzzle game is the quality of the set of puzzles, so making an editor makes sense from that point of view because it increases both puzzle quality and number of puzzles. Plus, it improves the chance of getting a real community behind the game, perhaps even swapping puzzles amongst themselves?

The most challenging part, though, is creating new components and the operations that are available to them - that probably won't be made available as a level editor.
I agree that would be challenging. You have to sandbox the custom components so that they behave properly in your engine, choose a scripting language, create an API which custom components plug into etc.

But, even a level editor with a fixed set of components is a massive plus in my opinion. Each component in your fixed set will potentially interact with all the others so acts as a multiplier on the number of possible puzzles. Therefore, even a medium-sized fixed set can lead to a huge amount of puzzles. The ability to define/mod/script custom components can always come much later.
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« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2013, 05:23:15 AM »

If it works out, my goal is to create a series of Machinist games where the player progresses to learn more and more complex programming concepts. The one I'd love to see is where the user programs a flock (10-100) of robots, each with the same program, to cooperatively solve a problem. That problem might be to collect nectar, move stuff or fight another swarm. But first, I have to get this one done...

That reminds me of a couple of very simple programming games which are actually board games:

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/18/roborally
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/6936/robotanks

They are a lot of fun!
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mattiasf
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« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2013, 06:07:57 AM »

But, even a level editor with a fixed set of components is a massive plus in my opinion. Each component in your fixed set will potentially interact with all the others so acts as a multiplier on the number of possible puzzles. Therefore, even a medium-sized fixed set can lead to a huge amount of puzzles. The ability to define/mod/script custom components can always come much later.

I hear you and I'll re-evaluate the current editor and see how much work it would need to be publishable. It needn't be part of the main release, it could be something that hard-core users could download if they really wanted to.
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mattiasf
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« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2013, 06:09:46 AM »

Thanks! Some good ideas there, even though there wasn't super-much information available.



That reminds me of a couple of very simple programming games which are actually board games:

http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/18/roborally
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/6936/robotanks

They are a lot of fun!
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mattiasf
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« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2013, 06:45:37 AM »

First look at the menu system - let me know what you think!

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mattiasf
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« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2013, 08:26:23 AM »

I've just released a beta that you can download here; http://barbarianraidingparty.com/

Some users have had problems with starting the game, that's being worked on. I'm unsure what they have in common at this point. Datapoints would be very welcome!

* There are only 10 levels for now, there will be 50-80 levels in the finished game.

So give it a try!
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mattiasf
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« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2013, 07:59:47 AM »

My game has a distinct foreground and a distinct background. The backgrounds have been hand painted my my art guy and the foregrounds were actually fruit skins that he'd filtered in different ways. It looked kinda neat but there was absolutely no logic to it...

So I decide to come up with something different - I decided to try to make a bitmap with tons and tons of gears. Since I have about 12 distinct backgrounds, I wanted foregrounds that matched the backgrounds - which I feel I succeeded in. Here are two examples, showing how my automatic palette matching technique is working as intended;

Cold Background and Cold Foreground:



Warm Background and Warm Foreground:



What do you guys think?
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