Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Logjam as mourning wood

Logjam is the latest in my gay sexuality series -- a short small game about a middle aged lumberjack daddy processing wood and other hard things. It's about forestry, masculinity, and history, but on a surface level it's a simple work simulator with a burly stripper and occasional twists.

CONTENT WARNING: Some of the screenshots have some CG nudity in them. It is "NSFW".

SPOILER WARNING: This post spoils what happens in the game. If you care about that, then you should play it first.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Why I still use Unity

There's been some game dev twittering about Unity vs. Unreal lately. Why use Unity when Unreal is better?

The basic consensus is that Unity's advantages have been crumbling for years, and its attempt to challenge Unreal on high-end graphics has meant neglect everywhere else. But if you want high-end then UE5 Nanite / Lumen is light years beyond Unity HDRP anyway? And if you're making the typical aspirational photorealistic action game, you'll probably want UE's gameplay architecture and free photoscan assets too.

Most recently, respected developer Ethan Lee has weighed in. For him it's not about the graphics, it's about source engine access and engineering processes. Being able to pinpoint bugs in the core Unreal Engine code, fix them, and submit patches to Epic is how modern software development works. Comparatively, Unity is closed source, and even if you go to the trouble of filing a bug report you'll still have to wait a year for an official bug fix if you're lucky. This is important during the second half of a game dev cycle, when game making becomes a terrible slog -- when your game randomly crashes on Nintendo Switch for some reason and you have to figure out why but you're already so so tired.

So why on earth would anyone still use Unity? Everyone has their own situation, and here's mine:

Friday, April 1, 2022

new Quake map: The Close And Holy Darkness

This post spoils what happens in my Quake map. If you care about that, play it first.

I made another Quake map -- this one was for a map jam called Retro Jam 7, where we all spent 2 weeks making level design homages to the greatest hits. 

The theme here was "Koohoo" or "The Castle of Koohoo" (2001) by Vondur. The theming felt very fresh for Quake at the time, taking notes (and maybe a few textures) from Unreal. The novel use of greens and blues, as well as the outdoor hub layout, contrasted a lot with the browns and reds of Quake 3 Arena inspired aesthetics popular at the time.

Of course, I figured everyone else in the jam was going to lean on those dark greens and blues, so instead I opted for a rosy morning brown type of mood.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

new Quake map: "Heart Like A Bird's Nest"

Heart Like A Bird's Nest is my new Quake map made for the weekend level design jam "Quake Speedmap Snack Pack 2" organized by Fairweather a few weeks ago.

This jam placed specific constraints on submissions, asking designers to map for a "slot" with a specific texture theme and weapon progression. I chose slot 1 which represents the start of a campaign with a "cr8 base" theme (grungy brick / concrete / metal industrial sci-fi) and shotgun / nailgun (+ optional super shotgun / grenade launcher secrets).

I started by blocking out a small arena. The arena has a little observation deck with a little floor hatch to drop down into the fight when the player's ready. I wanted a typical 2010s era play pattern where the player can safely scope out enemy positions and form a basic plan before getting into it. But I also mess with the player's limited information and hide some enemies underneath the observation deck sometimes, in proper Quake fashion.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Darner's Digest, vol. 3: on the Yarn Spinner v2.0 release + a YS primer

Darner's Digest is a series of blog posts about Yarn Spinner, a free open source Unity dialogue tree plugin.

On December 21st, 2021, the Yarn Spinner project finally made its public YS v2.0 for Unity release

YS 2.0 has gone through six (6!) preview versions / betas over the last few years, with several debates and redesigns that have finally culminated in this version. If you're familiar with Yarn Spinner already, you should go read the changelog for upgrade notes from v1.0 to v2.0.

But a lot about YS and its ecosystem have changed, so it's probably helpful to recap what's going on.

1. What is Yarn Spinner in 2022?
2. When to use Yarn Spinner
3. How to use Yarn Spinner
4. Current Strengths / Weaknesses
5. The Future

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Resolutions, 2022

Well, 2021 was a year, huh? Here's the work in 2022 that I'm looking forward to:
  • Release 1+ gay sex games. I have two projects that have been perpetually stuck at ~95% complete, and two that are 50% complete. It's been tricky to find time (and volition) to sit down and finally finish them. But again! 2022 is going to be the year I bet! I mean, it has to be, right??
  • "Launch" my level design book project. While the book is already open and public, I haven't been talking about it or publicizing it since there's still so many gaps and missing pages. It's a very unstable book, even though I've somehow written 100,000+ words over the past 2 years. But this year I feel like it's finally going to feel complete enough that I can start recommending it to people.
  • I'm going to start streaming again, maybe in a few months. Since my move to New Zealand last year, it's taken me a while to get settled with a more reliable schedule. Now I'm finally on my way to figuring out my routines again.
I also have a few other projects in the works, but those'll get announced later in the year. There's one in particular that's pretty unusual compared to my past work. I've been having a lot of fun making it though.

Good luck everyone, and here's hoping 2022 treats us all a bit better.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

new Quake map: "When There Were Wolves"

I made another Quake map, this time in collaboration with fellow mapper @mrtaufner for the 2021 Quake community Xmas Jam

Taufner handled the initial blockout and gameplay, while I did the art pass and tweaks. (With textures by Makkon as usual.) 

The collaboration here was ideal because I didn't feel like doing gameplay stuff, and Taufner didn't want to art pass, so we exchanged duties and took turns working on the level.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Deathloop deconstruction / design thoughts

SPOILER WARNING: this post spoils levels, main quests, and gameplay systems in Deathloop

I guess this post is my contribution to Deathloop discourse. This is similar to my tactics games writeup and Enderal (huge Skyrim mod) writeup where I spoil some interesting game designer / systems design things. I don't discuss much of the game narrative. I assume general game design knowledge but minimal Deathloop-specific knowledge. Perfect for pretending to have played Deathloop if you find yourself talking to a game dev. Not that you should ever talk to a game dev.

Just to warn you, this post is 5700+ words with 3 sections:
  • General systems overview
  • More specific gameplay stuff -- stealth and level design notes, combat notes, invasion implementation
  • Critical path / progression overview with "beat sheet" tables