Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Indie Speed Run is looming on us!

Just a quick blog post to tell you all that next week, I'm going to participate in the Indie Speed Run with two of the top-tier backers for UFHO2!

The original text of the reward description (among other things):
[...] we'll have a brainstorming about a small game which then we will develop with your creative help.
As a part of their rewards, in fact, the backers of this tier were supposed to be able to brainstorm and create a game with me. We will use the Indie Speed Run as an excuse to do it, and to do it fast!

I'll work with Bill, a musician turned web developer with years of experience, who'll take a coding role - collaborating with me on Github. Nathan will join us, but since he's very very busy with a day job in the game industry he will probably only be able to chime in for the concept part.
Here's our team, Team Peach Pie (in honor of Bill, who's from Ontario) follows my naming convention for jam teams, like GGJ 2010's Team Focaccia or last year's ISR's Team Pastiera.

So, follow us on Twitter @ccontinisio and (if Bill feels about using it) @estrategylab, or on Tiny Colossus' FB page. We'll start around 23 GMT on monday, which will be midnight here in Rome and between 14 and 18 in Bill and Nathan's timezones. Crazy!

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

UFHO2 is out on Desura Alphafunding!

After 9 months in development, we finally launched UFHO2 on Desura Alphafunding!
You have the chance to get it now at 40% off while in alpha/beta stage, and of course this purchase will become the full version when it becomes available.
You can get it for PC, Mac and Linux! Nobody's left out!

UFHO2

What's this "alpha100"?

This version of the game is called alpha100, and will be the base for the progress that will lead to version 1.0. Future alpha builds will be called alpha101, alpha102, and so on...
Speaking of features, here's the changelog as it appears in the Desura build:

Added Commander palace stage
Added Void stage
Added a 2 seconds waiting time before starting the turn for the AI
Added a Quit button in the main menu
Added full galaxy map with missions submenu
Added interface animations in the main menu

Changed the banner for the resolution dialog
Changed the black overlay so now it's shown on the very first turn as well
Changed the maximum player number for the Downed UFHO stage at two players
Changed the menu so it goes back to the last option after a match
Changed the stage selector in Local Match

Fixed the audio bug in the main menu

As you can see, there's a couple of new stages to try in local multiplayer (both more or less dedicated to Commander Video), some tweaks to make the game more smooth, and a taste of what is to come in the story mode.

The game went live yesterday, and I already patched it once (it sported a nice game-breaking bug in one stage). I hope nobody encountered the bug yet, but anyway the guys at Desura were quick in getting the patch on the system during the night.

Kickstarter backers

If you backed UFHO2 during our Kickstarter campaign to receive the access to the alpha version (which means, 55$ and up) you already have a Desura key waiting in your inbox. Check the email (check the spam folder if you don't see it!) or log into Desura with the same email you used during the campaign, and you will get the game.

We hope you will enjoy this first version of the game! Stay tuned and check the updates on Desura/IndieDB (or our Facebook page, or my Twitter) for more features coming!

Friday, October 19, 2012

New Alpha and IGF Submission

Submissions to the IGF 2013 are now closed, and we sent UFHO2 as an entry in the closing hours (so much near the end that we didn't even receive the confirmation email :P).
The build we sent is also the new alpha version that I'm going to send to our backers of the campaign this evening, both on the iOS and desktop platforms.

Additions:- Tutorial!! An interactive and complete tutorial on the basics of the game.
- Voices for all the characters
- All the characters are unlocked
- AI is really though now, uses powerups LIKE A BOSS
- New improved Gem apparition, now 99% fair
- Posters on the walls in the main menu with references to our friend games (i.e. the ones where guest characters come from) - Can you spot them all 6?
- Minor improvements here and there, and also somewhere else

Also, on a side note, this morning the good folks at IndieDB/ModDB/Desura launched SlideDB, a new sister site specifically for touch/mobile games. And guess what, UFHO2 was 2nd in popularity right after his highness the Holy Minecraft! Cool!
(we're third now, but well...)



So check your inboxes people, because UFHO2 is coming!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2D is not 3D (in case you didn't know)

Hej hej! (swedish greeting)
I just wanted to tell everybody we've been working hard and have not escaped with the Kickstarter money.

No, really, today I want to talk about the switch of UFHO2 from 2D to 3D.
I was convinced that it was an easy change, and in terms of the overall work it is, because UFHO is ultimately made of simple geometries and the characters themselves are not humans with tons of bones, clothes, hair, etc - all things that are hard to render in 3D and that require a lot of work.
Our characters are mostly jellies, the UFHOs themselves are collection of repeated geometries (extruded hexagons :D) and so on.

This doesn't mean that it's all a piece of cake though.
One of the biggest issues I had was to port the point of view from 2D to 3D. Consider the old 2D top down view:


As you can see, the aliens were filling the entirety of the room that contained them. This was on purpose: there's 49 rooms on screen at once, so they can have only a limited dimension. Making the alien as big as possible to keep its appearance interesting and meaningful, meant that he had to fill all the room.

When you port all of this in 3D, it doesn't make sense. Imagine a room that's 2,5 meters tall (I made it this tall so it can hold all the characters).
Now one of the first features I thought about when deciding to switch to 3D was the ability to rotate the camera a little bit to better appreciate the characters and the scenery. If you do, that's how 2,5 meters tall rooms look like:


Additionally, if you see these rooms with the characters in them, it looks like they are in very, very narrow elevators where the walls are 2 cm from their faces. Which doesn't make sense, because they are supposed to be rooms.

So a friend had a good idea: why not make the walls lower? Well, "lower" wasn't the right word. But I could literally cut them, as if the player was seeing only a section of the UFHO.
This is a trick used by other games I guess, and it worked. First I cut them in half, getting this:


But it wasn't enough. So I cut the area walls (the big hexagons) in half, and divided the rooms' walls by 4:


This way, the UFHO looks like as if it had been sliced horizontally, while the characters, the gem and the powerups stand out beautifully and can be appreciated when the view is skewed. When you play normally, the camera stands almost perpendicularly to the playing area and gives all the clarity of the old 2D representation with a bit of the nice 3D depth:


The 3D is exaggerated with the help of external elements, which sit way above and below the UFHO to give additional depth of field. When you rotate the camera you see them on top of the UFHO, but if you just play they are arranged not to cover the playing area, so they don't disturb the actual game (if you are a hardcore UFHO player you know you don't want distractions).

A screen of another level, as you can see the virtual reality spotlights are mounted on structures that sit way above the floor, but you notice only when you rotate the view (as in this screen):


A lot of things in those screens are not final of course (the characters, first of all!). But you can get a hint of the direction where UFHO is headed.
Do you like it? Any suggestions? Voice them in the comments, we are listening!

Until next time.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Gish in UFHO2

After a long hiatus, here's the long promised character update that we've been delaying for some days now. Latest addition in the cameo rosters is...

THE GISH
(from The Gish)

The Gish is one of Edmund McMillen's creations when he was working at Cryptic Sea. This ball of tar will make his appearance in the campaign, and once unlocked, become controllable in multiplayer. We have chose to port Gish's multiform capabilities in UFHO2 with a twist: you will not be able to control them! Read more in the gameplay section below.

STORY
Gishes are a species of dark, black balls of tar. Their bodies are highly unstable by nature, and their composition changes as well in a random fashion. Sometimes they have the body density as tar, then suddenly their molecules ease and they become very liquid. Suddenly, they may become sticky as glue and stick to any material they touch, until they change their status again.
It is known that Gishes cannot control their form and many think that they suffer from these sudden changes. Due to their very proud nature though, it will be very difficult to hear a Gish admit it.

GAMEPLAY
Since the Gishes are highly unstable, they change density every turn.
On the first turn, any Gish character has 6 moves. The next turn he'll become fluid and fast, getting 7 moves. On the following turn, his body will become sticky and moving will become difficult for him, and he'll have only 5 moves to spend.

This three-turns phase repeats through the entire match, making the Gish a very unpredictable opponent, and a difficult character to master without careful planning.

So with Commander Video, the Super Crate Box critters, the brain from Cortex Command, the Goo balls, the Tetrobot and the Gish, we have our full roster of guest characters (for now). I cannot promise anything, but look forward for new cameo appearances in the near future.
For now, check out our Kickstarter campaign because only 4 days remain!

Friday, February 03, 2012

The Goo balls in UFHO2

After the big adventure that was the Global Game Jam (I'm going to post about it in a while) where I had the pleasure to work with Arvi Teikari and the Vlambeer guys, here's the promised update. This time, some familiar faces are going to be unveiled, they are...

THE GOO BALLS
(from World of Goo)
From 2D Boy's World of Goo come the mythical balls of goo in their most classic grey guise. You will find them in the story mode in an UFHO that is boarded using a bridge made of goo balls. After beating them, they will be selectable in multiplayer as usual.

STORY
These harmless grey balls are part of a somehow simple race that more evolved species call "Gooo". The name suggests that they are ancestors of the Gooys in the evolution tree, but they also share two bright eyes with the Jeevils. In fact, research shows they may be the species that originated both of these aforementioned races, which developed different evolution traits after being exposed to different climates and ecosystems.
It is known in fact that the Gooys developed a bigger and visible brain that gives them increased reasoning capabilities.

The Gooos instead tend to be simple-minded and stay in big packs. They also show a tendency of building high structures when in big numbers, getting one on top of the other, and stay in this position for a long time.
The reason for this behavior is uncertain. Some Gooy scientists affirm they have observed that they tend to do it near pipes, but this theory has no scientific ground and other Gooys would shrug their shoulders at this claim, if only they had any.

GAMEPLAY
The Gooos have 6 moves like many other races.
Their peculiarity though is that they leave a goo trail behind them, each time they move. If the trail is not broken by rotating rooms, they can use their last move during a turn to sling back in the room they started from, using this goo trail as if it was an elastic to quickly go back on their path to save moves on the next turn.
If a goo trail is broken by the rotation of a room or area, the Gooo can only go back as far as the trail is still intact.

Don't forget the World of Goo is available in the latest Humble Bundle! Don't let the name fool you, it's for Android as well as for PC, Mac and Linux.

This is all for now, stay tuned because another guest is coming tomorrow.
Also, we're into the last week of the campaign. We're almost at 50%, help us in reaching the goal before the deadline!