Archive for July, 2011

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Rooks Keep: Worlds in the works

Greetings everyone!

I’ve been working recently on some more maps for Rooks Keep, and I do have plenty of ideas that I think would cool to see, but only a few can be made. I’ll go over the progress so far here, starting with our first map that we’ve used for all our screenshots up until now.

I’ve added some new foliage and changed the trees in the Courtyard this time. There are a few passes we need to do still, but it’s nearly done. Every now and then, i’ll update it with some new features, textures or details, especially with each new UDK release.

Forests are cool! Right? Well, i’ve wanted to add one to Rooks Keep since the early stages, so i finally got around to it. Save for some mesh work (on the trees and cliff’s), it’s mostly done. I’ve created some foliage and trees to add to improve the forests, so those will go in soon.

This map i created just this morning basically. I created some trees and textures last night, then just this morning created some more textures, imported the meshes, and then made the map. I really like how it turned out for just a couple hours work. There are a bunch of improvements i need to make, but i’m pleased that the idea for the setting works well!

This started more of an exercise in theme than a map idea. But the way it turned out was awesome, so i turned it into a playable environment. Made some dead trees, grabbed the gravestones from The Crucible, and added them all into the place, and here we are!

I’ve wanted to create an environment like this for a while, the red sky, the weird lighting. It took about a day to get the bulk of it made, then a bit of the next day to polish it up a bit. I’ve got to work on the sky a bit, because the orange sun doesn’t match the blue sunlight quite yet :)

Just another map I whipped up quickly with the batch of meshes from the Courtyard. As usual i need to go over it with some more polish, but it’s another map :)

Anyway, i’ll be working on more maps as the game surges forwards, so stick around!

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Rooks Keep: Fighting-game/Strategy

It’s a dark, gloomy night, and more unsettling secrets are escaping the confines of Rooks Keep.

Perhaps you thought Rooks Keep was just Chess with some fancy moving pieces and gore?
Well, we’re pleased to squash those fears (or dreams) and introduce the other side of Rooks Keep, the fighting game! It will indeed feature an expansive, interactive combat mode, where players will take direct control of the pieces and fight in pitched battles for victory.
a battle rages
RK_Combat_July08 RK_Combat_July04
In a variety of game-modes players can battle through fights with interactive combat, using quick and slow attacks, parrying, dodging and counter-attacks to out-maneuver the enemy. Players will be able to engage in this fighting game during standard Chess, or simply play with traditional rules. The attacker will still have an advantage, but a skilled fighter may actually fight back against the attacker and if victorious, the opposition loses their piece.
RK_Combat_July07 RK_Combat_July06
Rooks Keep will offer a selection of game-modes, including, Arena, Chess and Tournament modes to test your fighting prowess and more. We’ll be sure to detail the various modes in due course.
So there it is! And just to be clear, Rooks Keep will feature traditional Chess, various fighting game modes, Chess with fighting and more. It’s more of a strategy/fighting game hybrid inspired by Chess and set in gothic universe.
RK_Combat_July03 RK_Combat_July02
RK_Combat_July01 RK_Combat_July09

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Trash from the Past: AoM Random Maps

I thought I’d showcase some of the stuff I used to work on.


Age of Mythology is the first game that really got me hooked on programming, I enjoyed making random maps in a text editor, the code was simple but still formatted much like any other programming language, but it allowed me to quickly see results from my work..


Here are some of the maps I made, though there are several others.


This map was entitled “Gold Rush”, for those who have played Age of Empires II, they may remember the popular map where you would fight over the gold in the middle, with this map I tried to recreate the classic gameplay of it. Players were also given a free monument from the start.



Next came “Black Forest”, another recreation of a classic Age of Empires II map, except I added a feature to the map that allowed it to pick a random style each time you generated the map, it would make one of several black forest variations, including Classic, Desert, Snow, Erebus, and several others.



Here is another nice one, The “Carribean”, a chain of white sanded islands with ghost ships, undead pirates, and sea snakes who attack you if you go near the rocky islands. Each player would have their own small island, but everyone wants the large center island filled with riches!.



This one was appropriately called “Ring Lords”, it is indeed a pun on Lord Of the Rings. At any rate, players were all on the same large ring which surrounded the small island in the middle, protected by a small stretch of water that separated it from the mainland. This map was very good, and players would fight over the riches in the middle, often defending it well. I still remember the time I had to defeat an enemy that took the entire mainland, while I was left with my base on the island.



Another good map, “Dunes” was a large open desert with sweeping hills, scarce wood, and deadly mummies that protected all the gold. Gifted with free farms and two lighthouses, players had large spaces to work with between the cliffs dotted around the map.



I added several nice features to my maps, making each one unique. All of the maps also featured real-time lighting, where the lighting would change as the time rolled on, surprisingly this wasn’t used in most other maps.


For some of my maps I had to change the AI to recognize that my maps had water in them, otherwise the AI would never attack, this work especially well in the Carribean, where they would assault you on a regular basis.


Well, this concludes the showcasing of my Age of Mythology maps, if anybody wants them they can feel free to ask.


More Trash from the Past still to come.. :D

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Chess Monsters forged in the dark

Its 3:30 AM in the cold dark night and like any mad indie developer (or mad scientist), instead of sleeping, I’m hard at work on some diabolical creation.

This time, I’m crafting the grotesque creatures that hail from the darker recesses of Rooks Keep.
In Rooks Keep players will get a selection of chess sets to play as.
While our previous set of characters were all a bit cleaner and outfitted with metal suits of armor, these beasts have a different style. Their bulky bodies are bulging with muscle and while some of them use only their natural claws or blades. They all wear minimal armor and what litte equipment they do have is crude and worn.
If you stretch your mind a bit, you might notice that the monsters of Quake 1 lent an inspirational hand to their design.

BE WARNED: What you are about to see includes graphic representation of endevours not entirely finished, one might even call them work-in-progress…

This friendly customer is going to be the Knight for the beasts side. It will joyfully hack its oppoents with two big sharp implements.

As you can see it doesn’t have textures yet and the materials are not the most fancy. This is the high-detail sculpted mesh with about 8 million polygons. As you can see I’ve been having lots of fun with muscles and trying to get a reasonable skin on him.
We’ll be sure to post some updated shots when SB gets to work on the textures.

Here are some shots showing the early construction of the mesh. Now you can see how I used box modelling and took it from that initial, basic “box chicken” to the snarling beast at the end. I then stuck a piece of armor on top and moved on to the high detail work.
To get it to this stage took about 5 hours.
Here is a shot of the state it was in just before sculpting.
I did the armore and it’s straps in high detail and prepared the rest of the mesh for scuplting by applying smoothing. I also cut some extra loops into the teeth and spike to retain their shape when smoothed.

Ogre / Rook
And then there’s the next one! Right now, I am working on the brutish ogre that will be the Rook on the beasts side!
He’s not done yet. I am in the middle of sculpting my way through the various pieces.
As you can see I’m getting lots of practice on muscles. Its tough, but its getting easier. I think I am getting better at them with each mesh. What makes them even more fun is that there are slight differences on every reference I’ve got.

And for good measure, here are some earlier shots.
That is the LD mesh and the other is the other is the partial HD mesh just before going to sculpting. Notice how the hard ‘mechanic’ style parts have been detailed out while the organic pieces are just smoothed out.

Ok, enough for now. When I’ve finished this little bugger, I’ll fire off arender or two and post those along with some shots of the initial progression.

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User Interface Evolution

Here are some boring facts about the User Interfaces(UI’s) that have been made for our projects, It’s long, but worth a read!..


We’ll start with the UI that was made for The Crucible’s TC version for UT3, during the time of the MSUC, although I made others before that.

Character Customization Screen


The whole UI was redesigned and remade about 3 times before finally looking like that. Every window that the game needed was made several times, and because of some limitations in the UT3 UI editor, scenes had to be remade even more times when they were renamed.


Next came the UI for The Crucible’s UDK version, although this version was never released, I did make an entirely new UI for it, with a grey and red color scheme, it was styled similar to the above image, but was once again quite different. Here you can see the options menu, these generally made use of my complex and easy to use auto settings generation panel, made my work much easier when it was finished.

Standard Options Menu

This UI also featured a handy tool tip which would appear when you hovered over things, simple function, but actually quite difficult to make..


Then as we started developing stuff using the UDK, we discovered that future UDK updates would no longer feature the UT3 UI editor, and would instead be using Adobe Flash alone. At this point it became obvious that I had to learn that if we wanted to have any kind of a UI in our games…


So I spent months learning Flash, and I was able to make some nice stuff with it, but it was a lot harder to work with, especially the communication between the game and your UI, seeing as how the system is separate.


I began creating the UI for Rook’s Keep using flash, but halfway through I was struck by an idea, and desperate to not use flash I decided to pursue it.


I began creating a 3D UI, one that could render meshes, particles, materials, and just about everything you would find in the actual game. Needless to say, this was no easy task, and there are reasons why nobody else has ever tried to make such a thing, but I aimed to be the first.


I succeeded, up to a point, It could render all the things I wanted it to, I had overcome all of the expected problems in some way or another, and it was going very well…


It was my hope that Rook’s Keep would be a Pilot for my nice UI, and that it would give Rook’s Keep something unique in the gaming world, something that would set it apart, but this was not to be…


Once it came time to actually design a UI for Rook’s Keep, my UI was still difficult to work with, because its so complicated to get it to work, its complicated to make things with it. It would also require much more content than originally planned for Rook’s Keep, and even then, its a bit of a gamble..


So instead Rook’s Keep will be using a simple 2D UI system that DarkCarnivore was experimenting with at the time, and my UI is now somewhat abandoned by me..


However I did plan for my UI to ultimately be licensed out to the UDK community, so long as they credit us for its use. But before it can do that, I have to make and in-game editor for it, and it needs a good cleanup, as well as some additional features.


So maybe one day I’ll finish it, and we’ll have a decent UI that we can work with on the UDK…