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TIGSource ForumsFeedbackDevLogsAce Ferrara And The Dino Menace
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Philipp_S
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« on: January 03, 2014, 01:50:15 pm »





Hi! I've spent most of the last year working on "Ace Ferrara And The Dino Menace":

The Game

Website: http://www.aceferrara.com
Dev-diary: http://blog.aceferrara.com

The game is a mission-based space combat sim in the spirit of Wing Commander / X-Wing. Steering is reduced to 2D, to make the controls more touchscreen-friendly, but there's plenty of barrel rolling to make up for the missing degrees of freedom. It's built in Unity and will come out for iOS first, then Android, PC and Mac. I aim to get the iOS version out by early April.



The Universe

The story is set in a sci-fi universe with a very 80s-kids-cartoon vibe. There are war-faring space dinosaurs, cybernetically augmented cats, a scientific genius, his niece and her dog Ranger...

You play as Ace Ferrara, a military academy hotshot and blabbermouth, who has just landed the most prestigious internship in the Galaxy: among the Proton Riders, an elite group of oddball pilots who are mankind's foremost defense in its war against the dinosaurs. However, between telex duty and escorting coffee freighters, Ace soon finds out that working with his heroes isn't what he thought it would be.



The Trailer

Back in October, I released a first trailer, including in-game footage:





I have since made pretty major chances to the graphics, though, re-writing all shaders and adding color grading:



Who's working on this?

I'm doing everything about this game myself - graphics, code, music, writing, marketing. I'm financing it mostly out of savings, with a 2 days per week dayjob at a gamedev company helping to soften the financial strain, throughout the past year.

If there's anything you'd like to know or see more about, please feel free to ask!
« Last Edit: August 21, 2014, 09:28:59 am by Philipp_S » Logged
TurboGun
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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2014, 02:04:45 pm »

I've probably told you this before but I love the look/idea behind this game :D Really fresh take on this genre!

Didn't realize it was locked to a 2D plane - that's really cool, looks like it should work well on iPad.  What are the controls to do a barrel roll on touch?
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Philipp_S
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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2014, 02:32:37 pm »

Awesome! :D

You barrel roll through a small horizontal flick anywhere across the screen. You can also start a flick and hold, to continue rolling. Basically, you can use your right thumb to roll, like it were on a second joypad. Since the fire button toggles autofire on and off, you can use a combination of turning and rolling to strafe around your enemy, while firing at them.
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Philipp_S
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2014, 02:54:11 am »

I've made some GIFs of visual effects for screenshot saturday:



A starfield of billboards that stretch with the camera's motion to give a sense of velocity.



Muzzle flashes - these are just a sprite sheet animation that I rotate randomly whenever a new flash is initialized.



Wobbly text-effect: I'm using NGUI in my story engine, so it wasn't super straight-forward to hack this effect into the library. I ended up storing each character's index in the blue channel of the character's vertex colors. Then I wrote a vertex shader that would displace the character based on this value and the current time. The character's original colors are packed into the red and green channels, so I can still have colored text.

And some older GIFs:



Hyperjump! I'm doing this by having colored lines blaze past the player while warping the rendered image.



Cartoony engine exhausts - just a vertex shader operating on a cone shaped mesh.



Stretching/squashing the ship as it barrel rolls and uses the afterburner... Cheap and effective way to make the whole thing feel more cartoony.
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DrunkDevs
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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2014, 08:28:42 am »


The engine exhaust looks positively delicious. Everything is looking awesome. I Love the way the ship squishes and squashes as it does more acrobatic maneuvers.
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Alec S.
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2014, 10:35:55 am »

Oh man, this looks awesome.  A space combat sim with a more colorful/cartoony vibe is something I've been wanting to see for a while.
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Philipp_S
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2014, 02:02:45 pm »

Thanks, that's really great to hear! (both of you Smiley)
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2014, 06:26:21 pm »

Very cool effects there. I love how simple things can look so awesome Hand Thumbs Up Left. thanks for sharing how you achieved the look!
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Philipp_S
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« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2014, 08:46:34 am »

I uploaded one of the music tracks to Soundcloud yesterday:
https://soundcloud.com/philippe_is_a_bee/ace-ferrara-story-music

^ This is the background music for the story/dialogue scenes. It's a more laid back and quirky version of the title song (used in the trailer), which was meant to sound like the intro music to cartoons such as M.A.S.K or Thundercats:
https://soundcloud.com/philippe_is_a_bee/ace-ferrara-and-the-dino

I record the music in my living room. Software-wise, I'm using Live and Reason (mostly because the Maelström is still the synth I'm most familiar with). Except for the guitar, the hardware setup is really low end:
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Philipp_S
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« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2014, 06:33:04 am »

A few of the backdrops of the story sequences of the game:



This is your carrier's hangar.



A space bar - I recorded a 6 minute time-lapse of drawing the image in Illustrator (originally about 12 hours) here:





And this is the main hub. Here you can choose between watching the next story scene, flying the next mission, or accessing your savegames. Through the currently black windows, you'll be able to see a rotating view of the star system you're in. I made a time-lapse of this illustration as well:

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Philipp_S
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« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2014, 06:15:28 am »

Spent some time in Blender in the past couple of weeks... Among the models I've made is this dinosaur cruiser, pictured here alongside a freighter in Blender (diffuse texture only):



And here it is inside the game (maybe I'll dial back the candy colors a little), with you escorting a bomber to take it out:


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« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2014, 04:43:40 pm »

Wow very interesting use of cell-shading in your game. Retro and weirdo 're worth definitely a follow (ohoh I'm good for rimes today...).
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Philipp_S
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« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2014, 05:05:33 am »

Thanks a lot! Just to be clear, the graphics are cartoony and saturated, but technically not cell-shaded - the screenshot of the cruiser and freighter was taken in Blender, not with the in-game lighting, which does have some smooth shading.
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Philipp_S
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« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2014, 07:48:39 am »



Here are a few more dinosaur ships, with the dinosaurs that fly them. The goal here is to create an 80s plastic toy look with some resemblance to the dinos' physique, without using obvious things like scales and horns.
I create the models in Blender and the textures in Adobe Illustrator, which is why their shading is pretty flat.
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Philipp_S
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« Reply #14 on: January 25, 2014, 08:06:03 am »

Painted a new skybox this week, among other things:



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Philipp_S
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« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2014, 06:45:58 am »

Spent the first half of the day making a picture for a briefing slide show...



Pictured here: Baron Odious, velociraptor noble and enemy top pilot. The photo was recently taken in Geneva.
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Philipp_S
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« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2014, 01:56:59 pm »

The game is now about 90% complete (which means it's still 2-3 months out), so I thought I'd film one of the early missions played on an iPad, to show how the controls work:



After a dinosaur battle group was discovered hyperjumping through a secret Terran system, Sneaky Jacques and the interns escort a scientific shuttle investigating the enemy's jump trace...
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Rebusmind
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« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2014, 12:11:14 am »

This looks awesome! Will follow. Smiley
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Philipp_S
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« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2014, 06:21:43 am »

Thanks! :D
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« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2014, 07:49:54 am »

I'm loving the look and style of this game so far! The 3D modeling and sprite methods you're using are very clever and efficient, and I totally dig the cartoony texture painting look. Well done so far!
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