Programmer Search, PS4 bug, Indiecade East, Twitch

A major part of the last several days has been the search for a programmer to help me finish Manifold Garden. It’s been very exhausting, but also really eye-opening. It has definitely been a learning experience.

Earlier last week, I met up with the Young Horses, the creators of Octodad. They’ve been looking for an environment artist to joined the team, so I talked to them about how they’re going about searching for someone and what their interview process is. It was very informative.

I tweeted about the job post daily for about a week and also sent it to a few mailing lists that I’m on. I got quite a lot of applicants, and it’s actually taking me quite a while to go through all the emails and respond to everyone. (If you sent it in and haven’t heard from me, I will be responding soon.)

Anyway, it’s my first time interviewing people for a position, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount. One day I would like to write a full blog post about this.

PS4 bug where everything is rendered on top of each other

Due to a null reference bug, on the PS4 build, all the renderers for the different levels were getting loaded in simultaneously. It actually made for a really cool looking level. It was unplayable, mostly because you couldn’t tell which things had colliders, but it definitely gave me a lot of ideas for some new levels.

10.0.0.90-20160418-0029 10.0.0.90-20160418-0030 10.0.0.90-20160418-0033 10.0.0.90-20160418-0034 10.0.0.90-20160418-0037 10.0.0.90-20160418-0039

Indiecade East

I’ll be at Indiecade East this weekend. Manifold Garden will be playable at the Sony booth. Need to submit a build to Sony by Wednesday. It’s looking pretty good so far so I’m not too worried.

Twitch Front page of creative

twitch_devstream

Starting last week, Twitch has been featuring my channel on the front page of the creative channel! It’s been really amazing. The concurrent number of viewers went from 20 to over 100! The most I had at once was 150, which was pretty awesome. Also really positive feedback. Lots of people learning about the game and getting excited about the art style.

My stream schedule now is basically every weekday at 3pm CT / 20:00 UTC.

Pacing Across Levels

Starting to spend time thinking about pacing across levels. It’s a very different challenge than pacing within level, especially because everything in the game is seamlessly connected via portals.

I’m still figuring out the proper workflow and what works and what doesn’t. Will aim to keep updates about that process here.

GDC Talk, Portals, and World 002 WIP

The GDC talks from this year have finally been uploaded to the vault. Some of the talks you need a vault membership in order to access.

Fortunately, my talk, “Level Design in Impossible Geometry” is up on the vault for free.

level design with impossible geometry

 

It covers my approach to designing levels in Manifold Garden, and goes into detail of what impossible geometry is. I explain how to image world-wrapping in 3D, and the talk also has some general guidelines that I’ve found to be useful when working with really confusing geometry.

Portals

We finally have portals working in the game now! Well, technically, I had portals about 2 years ago, but the system has been completely overhauled. It ties together with level loading, so is an incredibly complex system. David has been working on it for the past several months. It’s still not complete yet, and there’s still a lot of problems, but it’s really awesome that a basic version is now in place.

This is a significant milestone because portals are the glue that hold the levels together. I’ve mentioned this before, but in the game, there are no loading screens (aside from the first one), and no level select menu. The entire world of the game is seamlessly connected. However, up until now, because portals were not in place, each area had to be tested separately. I could not test for puzzles that took place over multiple levels. I could test for intra-area puzzles, but not inter-area puzzles. Now, with basic portal functions, we can start testing the game as one continuous flow, which is very important.

To connect the portals, David made a great tool, the portal path maker:

portal path maker

Each node is a level, and inside the node is the portals that are contained in the level.

To connect two portals together, I simply need to click on one, and then click on another. The lines show the connections between the portals, which is very useful.

Portal design:

The first version of the portal looked like this:

Portal Going Through

It was similar to the way the portals are in Portal. Stepping through it took you from one world to another.

However, I didn’t really like the way this looked. Looking into the portal, if the other side was a room similar in size to the room you’re currently in, the perspective didn’t look to be that different.

Plus, there is the issue of the edge detection shader picking up the edges of the render texture:

ManifoldGarden_2016-04-10_19-25-08

Note that the other side of the portal has the shadow all screwed up. This is apparently a problem on Unity’s end when doing with the particular view matrix being used here. Supposedly it will be fixed in Unity 5.5, so going to wait to upgrade to that.

Here is the new portal design:

portal going through wormhole

The black zebra stripes were initially placed there to deal with the edge detection issue. The black material covers up the edges due to the render texture, and makes it feel seamless. The stripes also really stand out – the pattern is never seen anywhere else, and it’s a very striking effect when walking down the tunnel. Plus, the tunnel view really enhances the difference in perspective of the portal when looking through it, the sense that there is this other world and the geometry is bizarre.

Right now the tunnel is actually it’s own separate scene, but I think we can make it an area in the same scene (just far enough away that the player can see it), so that the portal into it is an intra-level portal, as opposed to an inter-level portal. It may give us more breathing room in terms of loading and unloading levels.

Loading Percentage

loading percentage

Another really cool feature that David added is that the levels are now enabled or disabled in piecemeal, instead of either being completely on or off.

In the above picture, you are in World_001. On the other side of the portal is World_031. You can see that both levels are loaded in 100%. Both levels are actually in same spot, but the colliders for World_031 don’t get switched on until you cross over, and it is on a different camera layer.

As you step near a portal, the level on the other side gets loaded in. Right now, the condition for loading in the level is when you’re 20 units away from a portal, but this can be tweaked according to each situation.

Wold_002 Work In Progress Pics

Here are some images of the level I’m currently working on:

ManifoldGarden_2016-04-09_14-26-35 ManifoldGarden_2016-04-09_14-28-03 ManifoldGarden_2016-04-09_14-29-03 ManifoldGarden_2016-04-09_14-31-16 ManifoldGarden_2016-04-09_18-37-05 ManifoldGarden_2016-04-09_18-37-21 ManifoldGarden_2016-04-09_18-38-26

Taxes

Spent the last few days staring at spreadsheets until my eyeballs felt like they were going to bleed.

Finally sent off the docs to my accountant to file taxes, so that takes a huge weight of my shoulders.

Now I can get back to actual game development!