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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsAstroman 2064 - 3d platformer, low-poly style
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Author Topic: Astroman 2064 - 3d platformer, low-poly style  (Read 8158 times)
bkslsh
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« on: January 28, 2015, 03:36:42 pm »

Astroman 2064

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UPDATE APRIL 22, 2015:

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Astroman is a 3d platformer game with Mario 64-like mechanics and a stylized low-poly look. You play as Astroman, a goofy little astronaut whose mission is to explore alien planets and collect mineral specimens. Run and jump across a low-gravity planet with wild inhabitants and diverse terrain. Find rare specimens for extra points, just make sure to do it before your oxygen runs out…

Technology: Unity, C#
Platform: PC (use a gamepad!) plus maybe Xbox live if I get really ambitious
Follow along: https://twitter.com/backlashblues | http://instagram.com/bkslsh

My goal is to “make the game I want to play” as they say, which for me means a game that’s all about exploration, an immersive environment, and leveling up in some sort of way. When I get home from work at the end of the day, I want to play a game where I can relax and zone out to the art and music and enjoy the game feel. I like intense, darker games too, but I really miss games like Mario where it was about having fun and exploring a wild imaginary world instead of trying to survive the post-apocalypse. Games you could play with your kids, but more sophisticated than a “kid’s game” if that makes sense.

Here’s how the concept started and evolved:

The origin of Astroman – a sketch:



And here’s him in an environment, running around to look for minerals:



I used Modo to work up a rough 3d model for some concept art:



Eventually that evolved into this:



Rough versions of the models were then brought into Unity to prototype the gameplay:



The color palettes and level of detail are all over the place, but I guess that’s why you do concept art – to hammer these things out. Still working on achieving the same look and style in Unity as I got with Modo, but getting closer every day.

Sometimes I worry about the “it’s just a super mario 64 knockoff with different terrain” aspect. But since it’s my full first game, I’m working under the assumption that it will not be perfect, in fact will not even be as good as I hope – but completing it will put me another step closer to creating a future game that’s better.

Public accountability is my new strategy for staying motivated, so I plan on updating this regularly. Plus the Tigsource devblogs have always been a source of inspiration, so I’m excited to contribute my own little game baby to the hive mind. I also welcome criticism and questions, so holler back, y’all.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2015, 03:48:10 pm by bkslsh » Logged

Working on Astroman 2064: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=45912.0
pixel pusher + coder. on twitter @backlashblues. on instagram @bkslsh.
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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2015, 05:29:43 pm »

the style you mocked up is reminding me of Before, and the guy making it did a little write up on some of the stuff he does for the look. it may be of some use

mario 64 is a sick style that never caught on afterwards really, so even if it's a close clone you wont find many people holding that against you.

good luck, as far as that goes Smiley
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bkslsh
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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2015, 06:14:58 pm »

Thanks, tenderface. I have seen images from Before, but never saw any technical info on how they achieved that look. One of the next areas I'm digging in to is improving the look with shaders and post-processing effects, so reading this info about their use of toon shaders is very helpful indeed. Thanks for the link!
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« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2015, 06:25:49 pm »

I love the look of that little hamburger man
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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2015, 01:35:52 pm »

Thanks, crusty. He is a funny-looking little guy for sure. Never would have thought to compare him to a hamburger, but I definitely can see it.
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Working on Astroman 2064: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=45912.0
pixel pusher + coder. on twitter @backlashblues. on instagram @bkslsh.
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2015, 01:45:47 pm »

Today I futzed with colors and added ambient occlusion to the terrain. With a low-poly mesh plus the toon shader, the environment was so abstracted it didn't quite feel real to move around in. Adding the ambient occlusion gives it enough depth to have more of a physical presence, but it still feels cartoony. Here's a before and after. Subtle, but definitely makes a difference.

No ambient occlusion, just toon shader + solid material with no texture:



With ambient occlusion:



I baked the ambient occlusion map in Modo. AO is a technique that's used to compensate for the inability of shaders to compute global illumination in real-time. It's basically a hack way to get soft shadows in areas that are normally occluded from direct light. Unity 5's new global illumination support may make it unnecessary, but since there's still no release date for version 5, I guess I won't hold my breath.

AO with toon shading is a style I've seen a few places before, but the only good example I can think of now is this project by Josh Rice of Fez.
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Working on Astroman 2064: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=45912.0
pixel pusher + coder. on twitter @backlashblues. on instagram @bkslsh.
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« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2015, 02:16:36 pm »

Looks really nice!
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« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2015, 03:08:00 pm »

This is great so far! I'm loving the reincarnation of these 3D platformers; I've been seeing a lot on here and each one is standing out.  Keep it up.  I'll have my eye on this one Smiley
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bkslsh
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2015, 12:16:31 pm »

@Leo J and @amanfr01 - thanks for the encouragement! Knowing that other people are watching for progress helps me stay motivated. Well, that and coffee. Coffee
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Working on Astroman 2064: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=45912.0
pixel pusher + coder. on twitter @backlashblues. on instagram @bkslsh.
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2015, 12:27:34 pm »

Last week I broke the cardinal rule of early game development and worked on making things pretty instead of on perfecting the core gameplay mechanic. Bad gamedev! Took longer than expected, lesson learned, moving on…

The prettiness consisted of a custom shader to make the water/lava/liquid methane/alien goo pools behave more like waves. (GIF compression and weird artifacts are a result of the GIF upload, not the actual game visuals.)



The shader moves each vertex’s y position by an amount that changes over time (using the sine function for wave-like forms). Still trying to get the shadows to play nice with the re-shaped mesh, but I’m going to leave that improvement for later so I can focus on the core mechanic again.

Also, after showing the mini-prototype around, lots of people think Astroman's oxygen tank is a jetpack... which actually sounds like a pretty cool feature. Could be fun to blast around the planet, not just run and jump. Something to think about.
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2015, 02:01:26 pm »

I really like the idea of this game and I'm a big fan of mario 64. You mentioned, that you will take the focus on exploring. Will the platforming part be challenging like in mario 64 or will it be more a means to an end?
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bkslsh
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2015, 04:37:48 pm »

I really like the idea of this game and I'm a big fan of mario 64. You mentioned, that you will take the focus on exploring. Will the platforming part be challenging like in mario 64 or will it be more a means to an end?

Thanks, GameQuester. Right now I'm testing out a design for a traditional platform-based level, where the platforming part is the main challenge and exploration less a focus. I've been looking at old Mario level designs recently, and it's made me more conscious of how much of an art there is to the actual level's design - it's all about balance and precise placement of obstacles etc. If you can allow for the suspension of disbelief that floating platforms requires, it's a fun genre. Smiley

This week's goal is to get the prototype level show-able this week in some form or fashion. Now I'm off to model some platforms!
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pixel pusher + coder. on twitter @backlashblues. on instagram @bkslsh.
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« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2015, 01:02:06 pm »

Now appearing in this 3d platformer test level - platforms!



Not sure if 26k tris is still considered "low poly"...  Wink

Rebuilt the player's controller today. Previously I was trying to use Unity's rigidbody physics system to control the player's movements, but I've finally accepted that accurate physics aren't as much fun to play as physics that "feel" right. So I've removed all rigidbodies and am now manually calculating velocity and jumps. Which seems to be the generally agreed upon way to go for platformers anyway... gameplay feels much better now. Next I'm going to add the "sliding stop" from Mario 64 – that move always made the character control feel extra responsive.
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« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2015, 02:53:15 pm »

This looks cool, can't wait to try it out! Also I love the look and feel of the mock ups can't wait to see the game looking as good.
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« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2015, 05:13:46 pm »

Now appearing in this 3d platformer test level - platforms!


Hey man, really nice art style so far  Well, hello there!

I'm curious, where did the name 2064 come from? You should consider 2048, since it's a power of 2.  Well, hello there!

I'm down for a neat 3d platformer. I really hope you'll be able to jetpack around, since I see he has one but you only mentioned running and jumping.

Will be keeping an "eye" on this project.  Blink
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« Reply #15 on: February 04, 2015, 05:47:27 pm »

You had me at low-poly.
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« Reply #16 on: February 04, 2015, 06:16:11 pm »

posting to follow. me likey 3d platformers.
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« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2015, 08:07:22 am »

I'm curious, where did the name 2064 come from? You should consider 2048, since it's a power of 2.  Well, hello there!
...
I'm down for a neat 3d platformer. I really hope you'll be able to jetpack around, since I see he has one but you only mentioned running and jumping.

Thanks, Overman. 2064 is my little nod to the 64 in Mario 64. It's a working title, we'll see if it sticks. I do love a good power-of-two reference though.  Smiley

As for the jetpack, yep, definitely been thinking about adding one. Seems like it would be a good addition to the mechanic. Stay tuned for future jet-packing fun.
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pixel pusher + coder. on twitter @backlashblues. on instagram @bkslsh.
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« Reply #18 on: February 11, 2015, 12:46:56 pm »

Lots of little progress is making this start to feel like a real game. This week I added the beginnings of an NPC creature and reworked the jump mechanic. I also discovered the glory that is Unity's humanoid animation retargeting and Mixamo's cheap stock animations, which are saving me so much time it's kind of unbelievable. Other bits - finished up phase 1 of the pause, level select, and game over screens. Next will be adding the ability to win the game (always important) and a full level design with a beginning, middle and end.

Below we see our good friend Astroman traipsing around a test level, gathering minerals and avoiding the NPC creatures. There's a video here, too: https://twitter.com/backlashblues/status/565603760052113408. Animations and sound effects are coming along... no level background music yet, though.



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« Reply #19 on: February 12, 2015, 11:46:51 am »

Great to see a low-poly game. Good concept about creating a "chill" game, essentially. I enjoy exploration games, but I need something to do along the way else I get bored quickly.
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