Sorry, we're closed!

So, as the title says, this blog will probably never get updated again but despair not, and head on over to my new home at:

Hope you'll enjoy it there! See you around :)


(Week 1 - Day 7) - ToweRing

(Cross-posted from

Well, way to finish the first week on a disappointing note...
Except for a couple of tech stuff (like getting the Blender to Panda3D exporter set collision geometry as such automatically instead of having to open the model file and do it manually) which will save me a lot of time down the road, I did nothing yesterday (not even post :\).
I still have 3 weeks, but as I don't have so much time to invest during the week, I would have loved to keep the pace I had set for the whole week. Anyway, not to sound too down, I managed to repopulate my to-do list, and I think I'm narrowing down the opening sequence of the game in my head. I also have a couple of ideas I want to try with the interior scenes.
So I have not been completely idle, but I have no new screenshot :( At least, it should mean that next time, it will not be random geometry, but a first draft of an actual location in the game. A good way to start off week 2, I guess ?


(Week 1 - Day 6) - ToweRing

(Cross-posted from

Good news ! I managed to get quite a lot done today, as I think I have nailed most of the platforming stuff.
Isn't he looking nice, standing on his block like that ?
I managed to get a much cleaner behaviour than what I had during the LD, so I am very very happy about that. I crossed all the items I had on my to-do list so far, which is awesome, but my planning still has some things I want to address before moving on to week 2 and the beginning of the level design.
That said, I did stumble upon a little problem that I will have to solve : the character cannot pass through point (0,0) anymore. I need to adapt what I am doing to make that possible again, I'm sure I'll figure something out. Apart from that nagging problem, I am super excited at the idea on making some more graphical experiments (do settle on a art style) and delving into the design of the game proper!

(Week 1 - Day 5) - ToweRing

(Cross-posted from
The post is a bit late, but I didn't have the time to post yesterday, so here it is.

I have worked on one of the key gameplay features of the game : the perspective switching (thanks, Fez). As the game takes place around (and in) a tower, the player can move around its center, but I wanted to provide the ability to move from and towards said center, to enable more intricate level designs, as well as a better exploration inside the tower.
It now works in my test level, and by a key press you can switch between the two perspectives.
Moving around the center, as per usual.
Coming towards the center.
Now that I have this thing out of the way, day 6 will be for collisions and platforming. I keep shuffling the order of my to-do list, but at least I am getting things done :)


(Week 1 - Day 4) - ToweRing

Well, so I have a character running in circle around a scene, and my first tests seem to indicate that using sprites for the character won't interfere with the shaders I plan to use. I found a (very good) placeholder on, and will keep using it throughout most of the development, until I can come up with something of the same level.
It runs !
The plan for tomorrow is to turn off the fancy shaders, and get down to the core mechanics of the game. So the next screenshot will probably much less dramatic, and only show our character standing on a plane. Exciting !


(Week 1 - Day 3) - ToweRing

Well, a little less progress than I would have liked, but I did manage to get many "technical" things working. For example, volumetric lighting.
Nice "god rays"
I will start with some actual gameplay, maybe tonight still, or else tomorrow. I am still thinking about the structure for the code, even though I cannot afford to dwell on this to much : I have to make progress.
So, yes, running and jumping for tomorrow, starring a placeholder character. See you then !

(Week 1 - Day 2) - ToweRing

(Cross-posted from

Today, I made some initial tests with the baking of ambient occlusion (as I want to have something that is mostly devoid of textures). But apparently somewhere between Blender and Panda3D, texture coordinates get mixed up...
I was on my laptop today, so I will use my more powerful desktop to experiment with other shading techniques. I will also try to include a controllable character.
Something went wrong there...


(Week 1 - Day 1) - ToweRing

Hi there !
Today is the first day of June, and June is for the first time this year the "NaGaDeMo", or "National Game Development Month". That makes it perfect for starting on a 1 month game project. So without further ado, I present to you :
The game itself is going to be what I couldn't get to work during last April's Ludum Dare competition, with a lot of changes and additions. Which means a platformer taking place on the outer surface (and inside) of a huge tower.
For this first day, I have spent a lot of time brainstorming about what I should include or change in the first design of the game. Then, as the cool kids seem to do these days, I have put everything in a Workflowy list. This will hopefully help me stay on target during the month, and I have made it available here if some of you would want to see it evolve during the month. Please note that it will of course include many spoilers as I will probably put there every bit of story. So don't open that part if you want to keep surprises intact.
Tomorrow, I plan on getting started with the programmation, and will try to get some basic platforming going on. So hopefully, screenshots !


Gamedev Bucket List - I - Tear down the wall

What do I want to accomplish while developing games ? This question has so many answers I could not for the life of me try and summarize them in a single blog post. We are only beginning to see what games are capable of as a medium, and each year technology puts new experience within our grasps. That is the beauty of games, and that is why I find them so fascinating. As I said earlier, I find  myself constantly chasing new ideas, and so I have decided to make what you can call a "Gamedev Bucket List". And it better be something you can call that, because that is what I called it...

Anyway, this will be a repository of some broad ideas, not even full game ideas, that I would want to work on at some point. These are not anything like a plan of what I am going to do, but just a reflexion on what I would want to if I could. These posts will also be a good occasion to ponder on some design points from some of my favourite games along the way.

So, without further ado, here comes the first item on my bucket list :

I - No invisible walls

That's right. I would love to work on a world that doesn't contain artificial, explicit borders. In most games, your avatar is limited in its movement by a variety of arbitrary obstacles. All games have to do that, otherwise you would end up with something unmanageable, but some handle it more gracefully than others.

[01] The lazy hero

This first kind of way to funnel the player down an intended path is easily the worst. How many adventurers have you controlled that stubbornly refuse to lift their weight to leap over a tiny chasm or step over a tiny bush that is "blocking the way". I find survival horror titles, RPGs and some FPSes to be the wors offenders there.

To take a recent example, right at the beginning of Silent Hill Downpour, you will most likely try to go uphill, only to have your path cut off after a handful of steps by the fall of a tree. This could be a believable way to hinder your progress if it was not a waist-high obstacle... But apparently, otherwise fit protagonist Murphy Pendleton cannot be bothered to hop over the thing and continue on his way.

Murphy Pendleton, forced to go through Silent Hill because he couldn't be bothered to hop over a trunk...

This is a glaring example, but that kind of things plague countless games, and usually it is very noticeable when involving vegetation. Or when a simple wooden door supposedly resists to the ten grenades you just threw at them. I personally consider this practice as the worst way of handling the problem. You could as well have a big sign reading "Attention, you are in a videogame, please move along" for the way they break the immersion of the player.

[02] Thou shall not pass!

No better than the first kind of barriers for immersion, you have the real invisible walls. Walking too close to the edge of the map ? A stern command from above will tell you that "There is no reason to go further in that direction". "But", will  you say, "there is a reason! I want to explore!" Unfortunately, that is not what the powers that be intended for you, so turn back, that is your only option. This plagues many open-world games. A recent example of that can be found in Skyrim, where a tantalising door stand, wide open, between you and another province full of adventure. But, you know, "You cannot go that way.". Sigh.

Yes, that door is open. No, you can't go to the other side. Talk about teasing...

[03] You cannot beat nature

Next, there is a quantum leap in quality for this next method. Because it mostly stays within the confine of the game universe, and thus keep things feeling coherent. I want to speak of the use of natural elements to keep you in the sanctioned play area. The most usual implementation of this is making wind pick up more and more as you reach the edge of the map, until the character is blown several steps back by a particularly strong gust of wind. Thatgamecompany's Journey does that in all of its open maps, where it quite frankly is the only viable solution they had given the scenery.

Journey... A game that will blow you away!

Another game doing that is Shadow of the Colossus. The game world is huge, and for the most parts completely self-contained and devoid of very noticeable invisible walls. But there is a single spot in the game which has them use the wind blowback technique. This is to my knowledge one of the most tasteful application of that mechanism, because it looks really plausible seeing the configuration of that particular spot. Not only that, you also have to go really out of your way to reach said place...

But I came in through this pass... Why can't I get out?

[04] Getting there

The next, again much better way to keep players where they belong is simply using your level design  to make it impossible to leave. Either by making the environment impossible to navigate with your character's capacity, like, for example in Mirror's Edge, where a simple high building or a wide enough street can prevent you to stray out of your way.

Free running allowed on designated rooftops only!

Or by using some other tricks. Like Portal games, where you are placed in a tightly constrained environment. Even with a quasi-magical portal gun, you are strictly limited in the places you can attain.

How is it being a laboratory rat?

Again, these techniques have the advantage of enforcing the developer's decisions without leaving the game's fiction. But most of the time you end up with levels that do not feel truly "open". Because you can more or less feel the constraints placed on you. Even in Shadow of the Colossus, which for the most part uses this strategy with high cliffs surrounding the vast world, you cannot help but feel somewhat "trapped" when you go next to the world's borders. Still, it is for many games the best you can achieve. But as a dream goal, it still does not quite cut it. What I am looking for is...

[05] The Holy Grail

And I think I found it in a game that I am currently playing : Xenoblade. The big stroke of genius of that game lies in its world. For all the good that could be said on the gameplay and story (so far), its world takes the cake.

Monolith Soft as managed to craft a huge, open, and almost seamless world like nothing I have been able to experience in a game. The main trick is that the game world is actually the frozen bodies of two colossal titans. Life had colonised the giants and now legs, arms, heads and backs have become lush plains, intriguing swamps and dense jungles. The variety on display is really great, and doesn't feel out of place thanks to the strange geometry of the world itself. Skip around the video below to get a taste of it :

I think I am in love with this world.

Now then, if there are plains stretching over several kilometers, surely there are a lot of inaccessible areas ? Well, no, not really. The catch is that because of the peculiar setting, it makes sense that the ground continues only so far. The regions have natural edges that coherently restrict your movements. Of note is the fact that you can easily fall off the world. No invisible handrail will keep you safe... For the rest, everything is accessible if you can jump/run/plunge to it. And yes, your character can swim. So that distant coast ? You can probably reach it. Experiencing this, on a Wii no less, feels like such an eye-opener. The freedom of movement is really a delight, and the fact that each zone is one big area without any loading time makes the scale of the places really impressive. It is a concrete proof that you can have a vast, densely populated world, and make it enjoyable without having to resort to putting some areas arbitrarily off-limits.


So that bucket list you ask? Well, I want to craft a world without those pesky invisible and arbitrary barriers. It could be a city block or it could be a whole continent, but I want to be able to devise an area that will seem naturally coherent and still be fully explorable. I want to give players that thrill that accompanies those moments when you realise that yes, you can actually go all the way there. And never tell them that they should "go back from where they came".