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Tag: Anime 3D SFX

Upon reading iFanzine’s enticing article about our coming title, Project Spectral, I noticed that a link pointing back at the blog directly (and somewhat logically) hit a one year old article: Appworks 2011.

So I thought it would be a good idea to quickly summarize what we’re up to at Anime 3D SFX.

Antistar 3D: Rising – New chapters in dev?

YES. 90% of game features developed for Project Spectral (see below) will support the long awaited Antistar update.

Please bear with me; Antistar will remain a chatty game; Antistar will remain an adventure game; Antistar will become a physics enabled action game with light RPG elements. The first episode was stir-fried over 8 months. Can’t entirely apologize for stewing up a sequel.

Project Spectral – Why? What? When?

I’d been toying with the idea of creating a dark piece - an interactive journey into a universe filled with nameless fears, with just a tiny light shining at the end of the tunnel.

For the best part of 2011, the Antistar project had been the driving force behind the development of our game platform - around last September I checked what we’d got and I thought, enough for an exciting new game, not enough for the Antistar update.

In the meantime my ideas about gaming and my approach to game design have matured so I thought it would be interesting to put that into practice, giving us a chance to explore and validate some of the goodies I’ve thrown into the game engine (see ‘our game platform is evolving’, below).

So I cooked up a few key features for an action game and started hunting for musicians, telling myself above everything else this game needs bewitching music and ambiances and I’m surely not the person that will create this.

More about Spectral later this month…

Our game platform is evolving

Listing a few exciting features is better than telling the naked truth*

  • NPC AIs – You know how so many game AIs can’t do much other than attacking the player? It’s in part because many games are designed to play this way, but I think we can offer interesting gameplay going way beyond that.
  • AAA Pathfinding – Navmesh oriented pathfinding, including pathfinding between disconnected / moving (!) platforms
  • Bullet Physics – We have integrated Bullet Physics, a popular, open source physics engine also used in Blender and MMD.
  • Level editor – Blender based.
  • Animation software integration – Blender but also MMD and others (via COLLADA).

*Naked truth: At the moment I care about how clean and productive our engine is a lot more than about what it actually does).

Outlook

A recurrent question is whether I’ll port our stuff to Android. The answer is: not very soon (dear Android user, an infuriating article awaits your wrath).

For now I’d say that never mind well “documented” misgivings, I believe Apple are aptly supporting small developers, whether coincidentally or not.

Regarding plans to port to JME, scrap that; while the ‘bright new kids’ ( Apple? Google? Dem new kids? ) didn’t invent anything and trashing decade old industry standards and technology may be a waste, sometimes moving in early appears to be the recipe for failure (remember Ngage?). Either way I vaguely heard that Nokia is migrating to Android so there’s nothing left to say.

This year I’m looking at the Mac App store and feel excited about the NGP; additionally, given intrinsic compatibility at the GPU level, the 3DS is somewhat attractive – assuming the old wizards actually open up to to smaller studios, that is.

And the iPhone 5, yea. I really want an iPhone 5 so don’t 4S-bulls**t me anymore.

2011 will see Anime 3D SFX hard at work as we’re still developing the Antistar sequels and the JME conversion, to say nothing about future plans (why, we’re busy enough doing what we do and doing it now).

While Antistar: Rising rallied hard fans, they are often prompt to note that they belong to an enlightened minority. Ay, a good game’s a good gift, so we decided to share Antistar with a wider audience, the 31st of December 2010 and the 1st of January 2011.

Heuristically (if ever coincidentally), connoisseur iPhone review site iFanzine listed Antistar in it’s 2010 roundup. A select club where our heroine in pajamas coexists with Spiderman, Marblenauts and Lara Croft.

Devil’s in the details still

So what are we working on? Well… lots of technical stuff is going through. Notably, evil stuff muxing user experience and artwork. For example, I never wanted to make the ground flat and square, although it could *simplify* walking around and path-finding. So instead I wrote methods for path-finding on meshes, and following contours, so the controls will feel nicer and we actually gain artistic freedom, instead of stepping back.

Another example is the blue kitten. Players (beta testers even) noted that the blue kitten doesn’t follow the player everywhere. It isn’t necessary to have the kitten around beyond chapter 3, but it’s nice. So because I don’t want the kitten to teleport auto-magically, I implemented path-finding to defeat moving platforms too.

I wasn’t all satisfied with our custom 3D engine, or the game framework for all that matters. I thought all this lacked flexibility, and it turns out that the design of this game demands flexibility – no wonder considering this title is meant to push our codebase forward, versus relying on existing functionality.

Quite a bit of work is going into avoidance / simple attack behavior too. And yes, again, all of this could be extremely simplified. But I don’t really want to do that. Why then, do these “small features” really add gameplay, isn’t it just a little bit of un-necessary polish?

Don’t think so. First, I already explained that artwork gets tied easily to draconian constraints regarding the shape of the terrain. But there’s something that’s a lot more important going on here. If a game world doesn’t implement minimally robust physical and geometric constraints, there won’t be a way that this game world can develop rich system dynamics grounded into physicality. Truly, from this angle it doesn’t matter just now, or for the coming update.

Well, just the beginning, is what it is.

With a fine brush

While a couple of pros are blessing the main character with their fairy hands, working on modeling and animation, I actually started redesigning and re-creating parts of the environment. I have a lot more flexibility on this side since I implemented the level editor. For now, I find the added element of freedom almost threatening. But somehow I’m getting fond of what used to be ‘just a design for a game’ and I feel willing to spend time ‘doing it over again’. I don’t want this to be just a bunch of platforms, move on and forget. So I guess even Klinnburg will look somewhat different in the next release. Later parts of the story will give us chance to unravel more of it’s mysteries too.

Stepping stones in the myst

Controlling a storyline doesn’t necessarily mean knowing everything in advance. I know fairly well what’s meant to happen in Antistar, up to Chapter XVI and beyond(!). I know it so well that I might change my mind about it. The same goes for game-play. It’s so easy to sketch ideas and settle on a plan, only to find out that we don’t like it anymore.

So I guess the next Antistar release, however overdue, will be a surprise for our players… …and for us.