LACops_Logo_March

After keeping it quiet for a while, we’re now announcing our new game!

Its called LA Cops. But rather than have me explain it poorly, why not hear all about it from a man that writes far better than I, Anthony Swinnich on Indiegames.com!

Of course we’re keen to know what you think and hope you will sign up to our mailing list so that we can keep you upto date on how development is going.

Prototype 1 video

Prototype 2 video

 

Till next post!

Ollie

I’ll keep this short. It has been an incredible year.
So much happened in such a short space of time. It became impossible to keep this blog up to date and do everything that needed to be done. We’ve been so incredibly lucky to have some once in a life time opportunities. Here is a brief summary.

We started the year by releasing The Button Affair in February which went on to receive a lot of critical praise. We went on to produce a special version for the Gamestick console from Playjam.
We’re happy to say that every single penny of the money raised went to Special Effect. A charity dedicated to improving the quality of life for disabled people by creating kits for them to play games with.

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Straight after we began working on a follow up to our massively popular game The Cat that Got the milk called Abstract No3 Kandinsky’s Violin. But then tragedy struck and we found ourselves laid off from our day jobs. This meant we had to change plans radically and put Abstract No3 on hold.

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We’re not done with this game by any means and hope to return to it some day soon. In actual fact, over time we’re hatching more great ideas to make it an even more amazing experience and journey through the world of the arts.

Fortune favours the bold as they say. In the fallout from losing our Jobs we had the chance to work on and finish a new version of the cult classic game Typing of the Dead for SEGA. Here’s the full story as told by Gamasutra

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It’s incredible to be able to work with a legendary and great publisher. They’re gamers who truly love games and love making them as much as us and anyone else you care to mention.
All of us involved in making the game have been so proud of the way gamers have taken to the game and we’ve had lots of great feedback from gamers who love it and wanted to let us know. It made the difficulties of release all the more worthwhile for us.

In the mad effort to complete Typing of the Dead we somehow found time to setup as a new games studio called Modern Dream.

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And last but certainly not least. I was incredibly lucky to be selected as a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit.
This huge honour has already opened doors I could only have dreamed of walking through this time last year.
I have no doubt these doors will lead us to another amazing year in 2014.

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One of which is the chance to become part of Arch Creatives. A not for profit games co-working space set in a very cool renovated Victorian arch in Leamington Spa. We’ve got some great plans in the works and you’re going to see some amazing things happening there real soon!

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We’ve also begun development of a new game! It’s our most ambitious and exciting game yet and we can’t wait to see what people think of it. More news soon!

I’ve learnt so much this year.
Most importantly I’ve come to appreciate how important it is to have good people around you. This year I’ve been lucky to have the best. It’s made an incredible difference to my life and I only hope I can continue to work with them in 2014.

I’ve met, worked with and received invaluable advice from some amazing people. It has made me realise we are a very lucky industry to have such people on board. If you have the chances to get out and meet people in 2014, do it. It will be the most valuable thing you do next year.

I hope to do more to help the games industry go from strength to strength. I absolutely love it and I want to work in it forever. The more I can do to help it, however small, the better.
I’m starting by running a talk for students at De Montfort University in January. Through Arch Creatives and other initiatives I hope I can do so much more.

Here’s wishing you all a very happy new year and to making 2014 the best yet!

TheButtonAffair_AllAboard

 

 

 

We’re very excited to say that Modern Dream is releasing two games for players today!

The first game is the critically well received indie game The Button Affair now made available on the new Gamestick console for 99p in the UK and $1.49 in the US from today the 29th Oct 2013.

The Button Affair, originally released in February of this year, is the story of Enzo Gabriel. His quest. To steal the priceless Button Jewel from the infinitely wealthy business tycoon Victor Meirelles.

 

We’re very happy to say that every single penny & cent of the sale price is being donated to Special Effect. A charity committed to increasing the quality of life of disabled people by enabling them to play and enjoy video games.

specialEffectLogo

 

We’re proud to be a part of the GameStick console experience which offers great games on a very solid feeling pad for a very reasonable price. Its a lovely console made by people who really love games.

 

Second Game imminent – More news soon!

As well as the imminent release of The Button Affair on Gamestick. The second game from Modern Dream is also out today in a surprise launch.It is a game being worked on closely with SEGA and one of their IPs which has a cult status. All will be revealed later today!

SEGA_logo

 

If you’re itching to know more, here’s a clue SEGA tweeted last night…

BXrdQqqIgAAc5I8

More news soon!

The Button Affair, GameStick and Special Effect

As you might have heard, Modern Dream has ported The Button Affair to GameStick!

The game is going to be available for £0.99 from the GameStick store and 100% of the revenue is going directly to Special Effect, a charity that we are very keen to continue to support.The guys at Special Effect help people with various disabilities providing modified controllers that allow them to play games that you and I love.

As people have asked for guidance on how to setup the GameStick input using Unity3D, I have decided to dedicate this blog post to exactly that. So here we go…

Input Manager – Axes Setup

There are 15 axes to set up for GameStick.

Which means you’ll need to set the number inputs to 15 in the input manager.

To open the Input Manager in Unity3D select Edit -> Project Settings -> Input

Then expand “Axes” on the Input Manager window and set the Size value to 15.

 

The images below show the axes you should have setup in Unity3d.

DPad_Right_Left

DPad_Up_Down

GameStickA

GameStickB

GameStickX

GameStickY

Left_Analog_Button

Right_Analog_Button

Left_Analog_X

Left_Analog_Y

Left_Shoulder

Right_Shoulder

Right_Analog_X

Right_Analog_Y

Start

 

Input Manager Calls – Code

To help maintain and control the input system calls, not only for the GameStick platform but also for PC and Mac, I decided to create my own static Input Mapping class.

This class was disabled during splash screens, between scene loads and cutscenes.

By doing this it fixed a common issue affecting many GameStick developers where the player would bash the buttons (as they do) whilst the game was loading. This button bashing led to a game crash and left the player back on the GameStick menu.

By disabling the class during loads it fixed the issue.

Luckily in the newer version of Unity3D, version 4.2, this bug has been fixed.

 

Get the current value of an axis:

float currentValue = Input.GetAxis(“Left Analog X”);

float deadArea = 0.015f

if (currentValue > deadArea)
{
    // Positive direction
}
else if (currentValue < -deadArea)
{
    // Negative direction
}

Get button state:

if (Input.GetButton(“GameStickA”))
{
      // code to execute when the GameStick A button is held down
}
else if (Input.GetButtonUp(“GameStickB”))
{
     // code to execute when the GameStick B button is released
}
else if (Input.GetButtonDown(“GameStickY”))
{
    // code to execute when the GameStick Y button is pressed
}

 

If you would like to know more details about anything in this post, or have questions about modifying your Unity3D project to work with GameStick drop me a line. I will be more than happy to help :)

@helana_s

Happy Coding!

Update!

Here is just one more important piece of information. Tonights gathering will be in Arch 2. Previous gatherings have been in Arch 8 a few arches down. So make sure you’re at the right arch. The doors will be open from 1800. Till later!

 

Hi Everyone,

Here is the running order for tomorrow night at the Creative Arches.
Just in case you need it, here is a map to the carpark handily situated right outside the Arches.

1800 – Doors open
This will be a setup period however you’re welcome to turn up and get talking

1830 – Games on
Bring your games and show them off
There will be a couple of screens, an appleTV and a projector

1900 – Situation update
Steve and I will update everyone on what’s been happening over the last month in working towards our goal of the countries first permanent games co-working space before we turn to our first visitor.

1910 – John Vega – Gamestick
John is totally enthusiastic about games and cant wait to meet us.
John will do a small talk describing what Gamestick is about.
He will also bring some newly minted Gameticks to the event for you to try out.

1920 – Kevn Booth – Autodesk
Kevin is a very experience 3D master and can answer all your questions
Kevin will tell us about autodesks plans for software that is powerful yet affordable for Indies such as MayaLT

1930 – James Mackie – Sony
Unfortunately Agostino has had to pull out due to unforseen circumstances however James Mackie has kindly volunteered to take his place.
James is a passionate supporter of indie game makers and is keen to meet gamemakers like you guys and get talking

1940 – Once the short talks are done, we all eat, drink and play games!
Get out there, get talking with people and see how you can get involved and how we can help each other.

If you have any questions give me a shout!
Cheers
@ollieclarke

The development of AbstractNo3 Kandinsky’s Violin is really coming together now.
Every day cool new features are making their way into the game.
We’ll be sharing more over the next few weeks, especially focusing on how we’re making it.

There are lots of useful tricks when it comes to making games. Here’s a little trick that can help balance the tonality of a level.
In a game, players should know what the goal is, how to get to that goal and where they’re at in relation to that goal. It’s a basic foundation of game design and yet very difficult to implement effectively.

One way to help the goal become clear to the player is to use contrast and tonality to visually aid the player towards their goal.

But when working with colour it can be difficult as colours have their own properties that can hide the points of contrast and tonality in a scene.
By de-saturating* the image it makes it much easier to clearly identify the points of contrast in the scene and work out where they should be.

*pretty much every paint program has a function that allows you to desaturate an image.

kandinskys_Violin_lvl3_b&w

kandinskys_Violin_lvl3_colour

kandinskys_Violin_lvl4_b&w

kandinskys_Violin_lvl4_colour

However there is an issue with the level below. The tonality is not clear.
But I like the mood of the level, I want to keep it and by changing the tonality we might lose the feel of it.
So I came up with another solution to point the player towards the goal which I’ll share in another blog post.
It involves one of my favourite game development toys/methods. Scrolling UVs.

kandinskys_Violin_lvl2_b&w

kandinskys_Violin_lvl2_colour

If you want to know more about tonality and colour there are some great Tomes of guidance out there.
Here’s a book I heartily recommend as a starting point by Edith Anderson simply called Colour:
http://goo.gl/f3QOe1

Your thoughts and feedback are more than welcome to us. As is a vist to our facebook page. Check it out!

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If you’d like to make a Like that would be much appreciated!
Till next time have a good one!

We’ve been working very hard on our first game as the game making collective Modern Dream. The game is called Abstract No3. Kandinskys Violin.
I’m happy to say that it’s coming together into a solid, cohesive gaming experience.
Which means it’s time to get the show on the road!

Over the coming days and weeks we’re going to share more about the game and how we’ve been making it. We love games and we love making games and want to share how we approach it. Everyones way has differences, this is how we do it.

To start with, this post is about a concept video designed to convey the mood of the game.

But why make a mood concept video?
When I started making games many years ago just getting the damn things to work was the biggest challenge. Years later the tools to make games have improved immensely.
Now the trick isnt just to make a game, but to make a game that stands out whilst offering a great experience with feeling.

To that end, this Video was made to see whether the music and visuals would work together to create the experience we’re aiming for.

The images of still art contained in the video were created by hand.
Photoshop is a ruddy marvelous tool for creation however paper, pastels and inks create more diverse and interesting textures. These were scanned in and given minimal treatments to maintain those textures.

The animatics at the start and end of the video show how the game will start. Its one of the many layers of effects we’re implementing to create an interesting world full of abstract life. As in, the feeling that its alive but you’re not quite sure what it is.

Chris has been experimenting and writing lots of music to find the right fit and mood for the game. I think he’s hitting something really effective here. Look forward to his posts about the journey of writing music for this game.

Have a watch of the video, let us know what you think and your help getting the word out about the game on the internet is always appreciated.

In developing our first two games we used Dropbox to shared and back up our files. I really like Dropbox however, it is not the best solution when it comes to syncing a lot of files, especially Unity’s library files. We also had the drawback of not being able to have Unity open on two computers at the same time. Plus we got some weird effects when Unity and Dropbox were open at the same time.

There were definitely lessons to be learnt on how to setup our work and I’m sure a lot of people will be pulling faces at the sentences above.

For our new game we have decided to use a version control system – Mercurial with TortoiseHg (windows) and SourceTree (mac). If you’re unfamiliar with it, here’s how to set it up:

Initial Steps

  • Signup for a repository (database to store all files) from Bitbucket. It is free for up to 5 users and you can use Mercurial or GIT.
  • Setup your Unity project settings  by enabling meta files – more information here
  • Download source control program:

TortoiseHg

SourceTree

 

Setting Up Repository 

  • Source Tree – Mac

SourceTree

 

Open Source Tree

Click on the AddRepository button when the window below opens

Untitled

 

Choose the Create Repository option

Select the Mercurial repository type

Add a destination path to a new folder on your mac (e.g. /Users/<my_name>/<project_name>)

Click the Create button

Untitled2

Double click on the new listed item to open the Source Tree project window.

Map the Bitbucket repository to the project folder on the mac:

Click on the Settings button (on the right top corner)

SourceTreeMapRepository

 

Add the URL (e.g. https://<account_name@bitbutcket.org/account_name/project_name)

Click the OK button

Click on the  button to sync all the server files to your machine.

Using Version Control

 diagram

When you are ready to commit your changes to the server:

  • Clear out working directory files by: committing changes to local branch, reverting, deleting, or ignoring files. Right-click on selected files to perform one of the actions.

uncommitted files

  • Yellow icons show files that already exist on the server version of the project and have been modified locally.
  • Green icons show files that do not exist on the server version and have been marked to be added locally.
  • Red icons show files that already exist on the server version and have been marked to be deleted locally
  • Blue icons show files that do not exist on the server version, they only exist locally and have not been marked to be added or removed.
  • Gray icons show files that exist on the server version but are missing locally.

Legenda

When ready to commit to the local repository just click the  button.

  • Type a description for the changes made.
  • Check that the ticked files are the ones to be committed
  • Click the Commit button

CommitWindow

With all files committed to the local branch, the next step is to get the latest server changes. Click on the  button.

Merge your local changes with the server files and resolve any conflicted files.

Click on the  button to commit all pending changes to the server.

 

Using Version Control – Tortoise Hg

download  Using Tortoise Hg on the PC is very similar to what I described above but with a slightly different interface.

 

Click the Pull (Pull) button to pull latest changes from the server repository

Click the pending changes (outgoing changes) button to view the pending changes that currently exist on your local repository

Click the Push (push) button to push all pending changes to the server repository

tortoiseHGUI

  • Blue files already exist on the server version of the project and have been modified locally
  • Green files don’t exist on the server version and have been marked to be added locally
  • Red files already exist on the server version and have been marked to be deleted locally
  • Pink files do not exist on the server version, they only exist locally and have not been marked to be added or removed

When pulling latest from the server repository and you see that the two top dots are not connected like the picture below, then:

merge

  • If you have no modified/pending files on your working or local directories and you see the red text saying “Not a head revision”: right-click on the last dot of the lower line (right-hand side) and select the Update option.
  • If you do have modified/pending files on your local directory then: right-click on the last dot of the lower line (right-hand side) and select the Merge with local… option. Make sure any conflicted files are resolved.

end

When all is merged and updated you should only have one line as shown on the image above.

 

Important Notes

  • When adding new files make sure that you check in the correspondent .meta file. For example, If I add myScript.cs file then I should also add the myScript.cs.meta file that will be displayed on the working directory list.
  • To revert any pending changes just right-click on the pending files and select the Revert option.
  • If there are files that you don’t wish to ever commit to the server repository you can click on the files and select the Ignore option.

 

On this blog post I will be talking about the localisation system I have created. I really wanted to invest time in it as I believe localisation is important. Our games ended up being viewed and played in many different countries and it would be nice to take all our players into consideration. One of the cool guys that reviewed The Button Affair and made a video about it on YouTube mentioned (in Portuguese) that he didn’t quite understand what the text was saying because he wasn’t very good at English. If they are spending their time with our game, it is only fair we give a significant bit back.

Having said that, I can’t promise support for all languages (I speak a few but not that many :) ). If you would like us to translate the game in your language and would like to help out then get in touch! :)

I decided to create a little C# tool to refresh my memory, as it has been just over two years since I started focusing on the game side of development. Some people may ask why bother with a tool when there is Excel, Google docs, or Open Office. My reason was simple – I wanted to do it!

C# Tool

On the localisation tool I created, there are two important bits:

  • a KEY column – the word identifier
  • an English column – the default language
  • other columns for different languages can be added to the table.

Each row on the table represents a word, or sentence to be localised. The tool has a master binary file (.loc file) storing all the data. It also generates a text file for each existing language column containing all the words in that language (e.g. PLAY=Jogar).

With the language files created, the next step was to load them from Unity!

 

Localisation System in Unity

I saved all the language files under Assets\Resources\LocalisedText folder. The folder itself can be called whatever you like but it is important for it to be under the Resources folder as I used Unity’s function Resources.Load.

I created a LanguageManager class that loads the currently selected language file and creates a table based on each key=word line in the text file. It also saves and loads the currently selected language. If none is available, English is set as the default language.

Menu items, HUD buttons and any other text object in game then requests a string to the Language Manager given its key during the initialization phase.


If you found it interesting and would like to know more just get in touch :)

You can have incredibly well composed music coupled with the slickest production but if it doesn’t suit the aesthetic of the game then your soundtrack will fall short. What’s more, one person’s idea of a suitable soundtrack may not match another’s. For this reason it’s important to spend time on the concept of a game soundtrack and to make sure everyone knows what to expect before putting pen to paper.

To decide on a musical direction for Kandinsky’s Violin, the team and I have been using Spotify to create and maintain a folder of reference music. Spotify has a phenomenal library of music these days and it’s really easy to make the most of it’s sharing functionality. The team has access to an up-to-date playlist and if they like a particular song they can easily find others from the same artist or album. Spotify will let you know when new songs are added to the playlist and it can be accessed virtually anywhere from a computer or smartphone.

Here’s how to do it:

1) Create and share a playlist

To create a playlist in Spotify, click ‘New Playlist’ in the grey panel on the left and name your playlist.

You’ll need to make your playlist collaborative, so right click it and select ‘Collaborative Playlist’.

Hit ‘Share’ near the top of your playlist and choose ‘Send to friend’.

Send it to anyone you’d like to collaborate with. Your request should appear in their Spotify inbox. Once they accept they’ll be able to add, remove and reorder songs from the playlist (Plus you’ll have gained a Spotify follower! Woohoo!).


2) Add music

You’re now ready to fill your playlist with music. Use the search function to find a track, right click it, hover over ‘Add To’ and select your playlist.

At these early stages it’s a good idea to add anything you think might work. Don’t worry about consistency, you can always come back later to remove anything you’re not happy with. In-game music can be quite unpredictable and a style of music you thought would never work might be perfect!


3) Discuss

Once everyone has had a chance to add to the playlist, it’s worth discussing what works and what doesn’t. For Kandinsky’s Violin, this meant going through the playlist whilst looking at the early concept art and talking about each track. We discussed things like musical styles, instrumentation and the size of the soundstage. Before long we had a list of things we wanted from the soundtrack, everyone was on the same page and I had the information I needed to get going.

4) Organise

It’s a good idea to maintain the playlist and remove any tracks that don’t match the vision of the soundtrack. Move the tracks that work best to the top of the list so that the reference is roughly laid out in order of best to worst fit. Over time your playlist will become more focused and anyone wanting to get an idea of what to expect from the soundtrack can do so by listening to the first few tracks.

The Kandinsky’s Violin reference playlist is embedded below. It’s still at an early stage, so expect it to change as the project progresses. If you’re a fan of minimal composers like Philip Glass and Steve Reich then you might like it.

Do you have any tips on creating a powerful reference music collection? Maybe you use Spotify in other unconventional and creative ways. If so, let us know in the comments section below.