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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsGame of Life Platformer [Win/Mac prototype!]
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Author Topic: Game of Life Platformer [Win/Mac prototype!]  (Read 8031 times)
Super-Dot
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« on: March 31, 2009, 02:00:22 AM »

(mockup)

I wanted a project that was awesome, yet implementable given my skill level. So when I was brainstorming for ideas, I decided to make squares a theme, since squares are always easy to deal with. Thinking about squares brought me to two things: platformer levels and Conway's Game of Life. It occurred to me that the cells from Life would probably make good moving platforms. And so my new project was born!


I'm making this topic because I finally have a rudimentary prototype. Arrow keys to move, down to jump to the cursor position. There's no goal, just jump around and pipe up if you notice something cool and emergent.

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It took a lot longer than I expected because I needed to use a big ugly hack that didn't work well and demotivated me for a month. But now I can start working on it motivatedly again! Gentleman
« Last Edit: April 01, 2009, 11:09:25 PM by Super-Dot » Logged

Kelsey Higham, student at SJSU
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« Reply #1 on: March 31, 2009, 06:05:01 AM »

mac download pleeeeze

been thinking of using cellular automata to generate levels for a while.


tooo coool!
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« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2009, 06:54:45 AM »

Heh this is a great idea and made me smile for some reason. Somehow controlling the flow of time or even the cells themselves in order to move from point A to point B could be a quick and (fairly) simple way to make it into more than a prototype. Perhaps let the protagonist add or remove single cells as he jumps around.

It always bugged me that the game of life wasn't actually a game  Grin
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« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2009, 02:21:29 PM »

You need to make someway of not getting stuck in squares.
I have 3 suggestions for what should happen to him when a square spawns on him:
1) He dies
2) He gets pushed out of the way
3) He blocks the spawning of the square
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Mikademus
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« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2009, 02:26:16 PM »

Obviously the character should act as a square, that is, he contributes to the crowding and fertilisation of the cluster he's at (that is, for the other squares he IS a square). Unless having taken a red pill when he only contributes to crowding, or a green pill when he only generates, not crowds. The black pill is dangerous, because then he doesn't interact and squares can grow on him, which is lethal.
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« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2009, 03:31:22 PM »

You need to make someway of not getting stuck in squares.
I have 3 suggestions for what should happen to him when a square spawns on him:
1) He dies
2) He gets pushed out of the way
3) He blocks the spawning of the square

One thing that occurs to me is having squares grow out of other squares.  That is, instead of making generations transition immediately, plan the next generation, then migrate cells from one place to another .  If a cell dies, it either gets absorbed into the nearby cells if any persist, or shrinks into nothingness.  If a cell is spawned, have the nearby blocks push their edges in that direction, i.e.

Code:
                                      @
###        ####       #####@     ######
###        #### @     ######     ######
###  @ >>> ###### >>> ###### >>> ######
######     ######     ######     ######
######     ######     ######     ######
######     ######     ######     ######

It's still possible to die, i.e. if you have 4 cells on all side, you have nowhere to go.
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« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2009, 07:41:47 PM »

mac download pleeeeze
I can't guarantee that it'll work properly, as Game Maker Mac is still in beta, but I'll put one together as soon as I boot into OS X.

Somehow controlling the flow of time or even the cells themselves in order to move from point A to point B could be a quick and (fairly) simple way to make it into more than a prototype. Perhaps let the protagonist add or remove single cells as he jumps around.
I considered this kind of thing, but ultimately you're probably not going to be able to control the cells, as they're way too unpredictable for me to maintain a difficulty curve. Controlling the speed of the cells is something I've been considering; pressing the "next generation" button repeatedly, shaping the terrain as you're going, has a lot of potential. Though I'm not sure that I like the thematic implications--the whole appeal of Life is that it's unpredictable, and such a button would make it more predictable.


You need to make someway of not getting stuck in squares.
I have 3 suggestions for what should happen to him when a square spawns on him:
1) He dies
2) He gets pushed out of the way
3) He blocks the spawning of the square
This is pretty much the main obstacle to this game becoming fun, and I've given it a LOT of thought. The main problem is that Life is unpredictable, and it's hard to tell if you're standing in a bad place, especially if you're jumping around.

I'm thinking that cells should fade in or slide in from the background or something, so that you can tell that you're standing in a cell's birthplace. I'll need to prototype that to see if that's enough of a warning to justify killing the player.

My most recent idea, and the one I like the most, is that the part of the cell that would touch you doesn't actually spawn at first. So the cell would be shaped like a U or an L or an O. As you move out of the cell, the remaining part fills in. Since most of the time, you're not in the very center of a cell as it spawns, this might fix most of the problem.

If the cells spawn and die exclusively when you press the "next generation" button, I can just prevent the next generation from occurring if there's a conflict.


One thing that occurs to me is having squares grow out of other squares.  That is, instead of making generations transition immediately, plan the next generation, then migrate cells from one place to another.
I considered this, but I want to try to keep the Game of Life part relatively pure. It's awesome as it is, and I'm worried that modifying the representation like this or elsewise would make it less awesome. Life is largely neat because it looks alive even though it's sitting on a grid, so I want to keep the grid.
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« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2009, 12:59:43 AM »

On my mac atm, but I'll test it when I get home to my pc. I like the sound of it.
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« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2009, 07:14:17 PM »

Mac prototype ho!
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Game Maker Mac beta means that there are key sticking issues, it's antialiased, and it's 20 MB. At least it works? Shrug

So the current plan is to have a Braid-style level system, where each level explores the gameplay possibilities of a new concept (though I doubt that there'll be puzzles). Concepts will be things like oscillators, still lifes, spaceships, methuselahs, and anything else I (or you!) can think of. There'll also be levels that show off cool things (emergent or created) like Gosper's Glider Gun.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2009, 11:09:47 PM by Super-Dot » Logged

Kelsey Higham, student at SJSU
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« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2009, 02:53:07 PM »

running it on my laptop with windows 7 here. It behaves a bit wierd.
It's a really tiny window, but if I press space, the window pops up to a size of 1/4 of the screen resolution.

Maybe something windows 7 specific.
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« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2009, 03:03:14 PM »

it felt pretty weird (except for getting stuck; I imagine it's probably best to have the player be pushed up when blocks appear over him?), but it was definitely something I can imagine myself playing.
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« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2009, 04:18:12 PM »

Somehow controlling the flow of time or even the cells themselves in order to move from point A to point B could be a quick and (fairly) simple way to make it into more than a prototype. Perhaps let the protagonist add or remove single cells as he jumps around.
I considered this kind of thing, but ultimately you're probably not going to be able to control the cells, as they're way too unpredictable for me to maintain a difficulty curve. Controlling the speed of the cells is something I've been considering; pressing the "next generation" button repeatedly, shaping the terrain as you're going, has a lot of potential. Though I'm not sure that I like the thematic implications--the whole appeal of Life is that it's unpredictable, and such a button would make it more predictable.
Hey, it's great to see this up and running!

Yeah, I'm with you in thinking that Life isn't 'readable' enough for interacting in the grid to be a very rewarding experience in a platformer. There's also the fact that most modifications to a pattern just break it, rather than creating interesting variants like they would in Go or Chess. I think you're right to go the direction you are with this.

I'm looking forward to using trapped gliders as elevators. Cheers! Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2009, 06:03:17 PM »

Just use a step event to check if your stuck in a block, and if so move up till your not in the block. this is muck easier than most stuck in a block checks since your only moving up, so you don't need to check the nearest direction out.
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« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2009, 12:25:48 PM »

It behaves a bit wierd.
It's a really tiny window, but if I press space, the window pops up to a size of 1/4 of the screen resolution.

That's because I built it on top of Platformajigger, which uses weird drawing code. This is just the prototype; I'll be rewriting it (not necessarily from scratch) when I've done enough design to know what the programming will look like.

I imagine it's probably best to have the player be pushed up when blocks appear over him?

That's a good idea! I am considering that so hard.

Oh, and thanks for the nice words, dudes! I am even motivateder now. Grin
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Kelsey Higham, student at SJSU
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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2009, 12:40:28 AM »

it felt pretty weird (except for getting stuck; I imagine it's probably best to have the player be pushed up when blocks appear over him?), but it was definitely something I can imagine myself playing.
This. Are the patterns procedural, or is it just a bunch of patterns that are constantly switching?
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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2009, 04:53:36 AM »

Are the patterns procedural, or is it just a bunch of patterns that are constantly switching?

The patterns are generated from the "game of life" algorithm I think..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway%27s_Game_of_Life

here is an interactive web-version to play with.
http://www.bitstorm.org/gameoflife/
« Last Edit: April 04, 2009, 05:00:55 AM by havchr » Logged

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« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2009, 08:50:28 AM »

Are the patterns procedural, or is it just a bunch of patterns that are constantly switching?

The patterns are generated from the "game of life" algorithm I think..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conway%27s_Game_of_Life

here is an interactive web-version to play with.
http://www.bitstorm.org/gameoflife/

I know what the game of life is (it's pretty cool), but he may have simply replicated it by having a bunch of randomly switching backgrounds.
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« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2009, 12:53:11 PM »

The beginning is populated with randomly positioned pixels, half black and half white. Then the whole thing operates based on the Game of Life's rules.
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« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2009, 03:25:14 PM »

The beginning is populated with randomly positioned pixels, half black and half white. Then the whole thing operates based on the Game of Life's rules.
That makes it a lot cooler than I thought! Gentleman
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« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2009, 04:05:00 PM »

This freaking rules. Smiley I'm glad you made this, because it really needed to be made.

What if the cells only advance when you're in the air from a jump (and only once)?  That way you could have some platforms that you could only make after the next generation while in midair.  Also, some platforms you'd miss if you tried because that cell disappears in midair.  For instance, you could never jump on a single square because it'll be gone, and you can jump on a vertical 3-square because it'll turn to a horizontal 3-square.

I suppose this direction is more at the core of what platforming games are - maybe you're not wanting that direction.  Could be fun to try out tho. Well, hello there!
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