Isaac Williams

Developer / Designer / Rad Dude

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Snake Bots

The speed, maneuverability and versatility of these things is unlike anything else I’ve seen real life robots do. They’re really impressive! I wonder what else we’ll see coming from modular robot design?

[via Make]

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Code Dump

Here’s a wallpaper made of aliens from my generator:

Aliens Wallpaper

Only for iMac size screens though.

Also, a random comic generator I made about a year ago: here.

And two quick and largely unsuccessful game prototypes I made a couple of days ago as a base to learn box2dFlash from:

Shopping Smash: Use arrow keys. Try to keep your shopping off the ground and get it over to the left side of the screen.

Bouncing UFO: Use spacebar to fly your UFO. Bounce off the hills to steer. Try to smash the little guys.

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Iron Dukes

Iron Dukes
Play Iron Dukes

Iron Dukes is pretty solid as flash games go. It has a wonderfully silly steampunk setting, obviously inspired by Mike Mignola’s Amazing Screw on Head or Andy Helm’s (probably dead) Fearless Grigs. It’s a finalist for this year’s IGF, in the Best Web Game category.

Basically Iron Dukes is a simple, accessible RPG with mini-game sections for completing three tasks your characters can be given (fightin’, divin’ and sailin’ through storms). The art, sound design and even the minigames are really nice and just plain fun. Unfortunately, the RPG glue that sticks them together is not as good. It basically comes down to the same design flaw-as-feature that many modern RPGs are crippled with: Enemies that power up in direct proportion to the power of your characters. When you have 10 hp, the enemies do 3 damage. When you have 100 hp, the enemies do 30 damage. The only purpose of leveling is to see the next visual gags embedded in the next item of clothing your characters outfitted with and to make the final boss battle easier, which isn’t quite enough to be properly engaging.

Still, the game is fun overall. This is only the demo, but it’s worth checking out.

[via Rock, Paper, Shotgun]

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Stack o’ Characters

All the characters from my game.
Click to make Bigger!!

Here’s the characters from the game I’m working on. Was nice to get back into just plain drawing. Haven’t done that for a while, and I was a bit rusty when starting… but today I was busting out a character in 30 minutes! Still not fast enough, but getting better.

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Samurai Movers

samurimovers

Here’s a little game that’ll distract you for a few minutes this morning. In Samurai Movers, you use a trebuchet to load furniture into an old lady’s house. It’s got some nice (box2dFlash-powered) rigid body physics — so when you launch the table or fridge, expect it to bring the whole house down around it. It’s pretty short and the idea isn’t as fleshed-out as I would like (more house destroying plz), but otherwise it’s a solid little game.

[via IndieGames]

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Off-Road Velociraptor Safari

VeloSafari

I’ve looked at Unity before, but I hadn’t really seen anything really worth the download of the plugin yet, let alone learn the application. Velociraptor Safari is certainly worth it though! The game is just a little download and runs in your browers but it’s in full 3D and plays just like a real game that you would usually have to download and install. Plus it’s a pretty great game! About crashing into Velociraptors with a jeep!

Makes me think I’ll have to check out the Unity builder application again.

[via TIGSource]

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Areas

AreasScreen
Play Areas

Areas is an pretty super exercise in minimalist design. There’s no sound effects, any graphics are purely functional, no text, and a simpler input mechanism than I previously thought was possible. Only the movement of the mouse is used. No clicks. No keyboard buttons. Unlike the graphical design, the decision to only use mouse position as input is not entirely functional. It seems more like minimalism for minimalism’s sake. Which is not a bad thing. I’m all for picking an abstract idea to explore with game design and following it through until the idea breaks.

One thing about Areas that is not minimalist is the music. The music is entirely wonderfully insane, and it really puts the game into another realm from what it is with the sound muted. I couldn’t find anything about the music except for this page on Newgrounds. The guy who made the music, e-d has two other tracks besides Opera of the Frogs, which is the music used in Areas. You can download all three tracks from his Newgrounds page.

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Media for Happiness

KnyttStories

So I just wanted to drop a quick note about Knytt Stories. If you haven’t played it, I assure that it will improve your quality of life. It’s just got a real nice, quiet atmosphere. And the atmosphere is what really makes the game.

Download here.

Also;

spiderman_of_the_rings

I guess I’m a bit late to the Dan Deacon party, but Wham City is seriously the most charming and happy twelve minute electronica song I’ve heard… which I guess isn’t really saying much but that aside it’s a real nice song on a real nice album (also, grab his 5-song EP here).

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Fun Foods

FunFoods

Two fun looking food construction ideas I came across yesterday:

Pixel Cookies. Or biscuits in the old tongue. A playdough extruder is used to create pixels out of biscuit dough, which can be arranged into pixel art!

Edible Googly Eyes
. With FSM attached! Edible Googly eyes are constructed from vitamin casings and large sprinkles.

I’ll post if I get round to cooking either of these. Neither seem very hard to make, but both get honorary crowns the best desserts ever.

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VoxelLand Source

I have finally finished cleaning up and streamlining the code for my voxel engine. It’s even in a sensible class. It seems to run faster and look cleaner than previous versions even though there are no major changes to the code since the previous version. There’s no real hard coded numbers now (previously there was copious amounts), so you should be able to play around with the settings a bit to see what looks and runs best. I hope folks make some use of this or at least some sense of it. Let me know if you do!


VoxelLand
Grab the source!

It moves after the break!
(more…)

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Motor Physics is out!

Adding to the list of free Flash physics engines is Motor Physics. It’s based Box2D (an open-source 2d physics engine written in C++), and so shares some of the convoluted object creation code that the also relatively recent Box2DFlash is shackled with. APE is very easy to use and has been available for the longest, but has an unfortunate lack of rigid bodies (though these are coming), and some other performance problems.

So there you go! All the engines are impressive and major props go to the guys who have made them. Now even mathematical dunces like myself can make fun things with complicated physics!

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Voxel Engine Update

VoxEng2
Click!

I’ve improved the rendering quality. Doubled the number of number of pixels drawn and adding distance fog. Also, there’s some performance increases (if you hold C, you’ll see that it’s only rendering the the pixels that are actually visible. It’s getting to a state where it’s ready for practical use now!

Controls still are: Z & X to zoom. C to show what it’s rendering. V toggles the texture map.

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Flash Voxel Engine

I don’t remember why, but last night I stumbled onto this Wikipedia article about Voxels and decided to try my hand at making an engine in Flash. Voxels apparently draw fast without 3d acceleration, which is great for Flash since it doesn’t have access to any 3d hardware the computer might have. It still doesn’t run as fast as I would like but a few gains could be made with a bit a tweaking. Still, works rather nicely for a proof of concept.


Voxel

Have a go!


Mouse will move around. Use Z and X keys to zoom, holding C key will show the hightmap that is currently being drawn.

Also, check out: VERSION 1; VERSION 2; VoxLap, the ultimate extension of the voxel idea.

I may release the source for this once I get the code cleaned up and streamlined a bit.

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Blueberry

This is one of those things that I have no idea what I should do with it, but it feels unfinished on it’s own. The visuals were inspired by the cover art of the Fiery Furnaces’ brilliant Blueberry Boat.

I’ve considered using it to make a sailing game where you control the height of the water so that the boat slides down the little waves you’ve made. But nothing ever really work properly. So it’s just going to have to be pretty little toy.

Blueberry Prev
Click to go.

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SFXR

SFXR screen

I’ve just downloaded a program called SFXR by DrPetter. Windows only unfortunately, but really worth having. It’s a really simple specialised tool for creating 8-bit style sound effects that even I, who knows nothing of pitches and tones can use to make cool things. You can use the selection of sliders to change the attack, pitch, decay and all the other things that make up sounds, along with a choice of generators (sine, square, sawtooth and noise).

SFXR also has a few commonly used options like ‘shoot’, ‘explosion’ and ‘powerup’ that will create a random sound within the bounds of your selection. Certainly much easier, faster and more effective than my former method for creating sounds, which was to talk into the mic for a bit, then chop out tiny bits with Audacity and distort them until they sounded vaguely like I wanted them to.

Download SFXR here.

EDIT:

You can also grab it for Linux, but no OS X build yet.

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The Captain

Not meant to be the Captain of Tintin fame, though he may look like him. The Captain of Tintin fame has happy use of both his eyes!

The Captain

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Blender Tutorial 3: More Low-Poly Modeling

Today is a continuation on from the last tutorial. This one will look at a few more tools that are used in modeling your Farmer Joe. The series index is here.

Where we left off:


Blender 3 0.Thumbnail

Here’s where we left off, just the basic shape of the head done. Because it’s going to be a very low-poly model, the head isn’t going to get much more detailed. We’ll add the ears and the hair spike though.

You’ll need to be able to change your selection mode in Blender pretty often, so make sure you’re in Edit Mode, then drag one of your 3d view panels wide enough that you can see these buttons:

Blender 3 1 0

These buttons allow you to switch between Vertex, Edge and Face selection. The last button toggles whether you can select vertexes on the back side of the shape (which is something you want in this case).

Build the Ears

Blender 3 1

Here, I’ve selected the two vertical edges on the side of head and used the Subdivide button to split the center quad into two. Blender doesn’t allow you to create illegal polygons, which is nice though it can sometimes make simple modeling tasks into a puzzle.

Select the two faces that are going to make the ears on either side of the head and hit E or the Extrude button. A dialogue will appear asking whether you want to want to extrude the Region or Individual faces. In most circumstances when the faces you’re extruding are connected, use Region. Since the faces we’re extruding are on opposite sides of the head select Individual Faces. Move your mouse around until you’re comfortable with the size of the new ears and Left Click to finish the extrude.

Blender 3 2

To pin the ears back and make them more ear and less block, you’ll need to Merge some of the vertexes down. Do so by selecting the two vertexes on the top edge of the ear (use right mouse button to select them individually, hold down shift to add the selection). Then hit Alt-M, which will bring up a few options on how to merge. Make choose either At First or At Last depending on the order in which you selected the vertices. Then repeat for the lower outer edge of the ear, and for the other ear.

Blender 3 3

The Hair Spike

Blender 3 4

I’ve selected the two edge segments across the top of the head and Subdivided. This creates a bit of a mess, but we’ll clean it up.

Blender 3 5

Select the vertex at the center and one of the newly created vertexes and merge them together. Do the same for the second new vertex. Now we’ve some edges in the right places.

Blender 3 6

Grab the two faces that are now on the top-front of the head and extrude them upwards. Use the Extrude Region option this time, since the faces being extruded are connected.

Blender 3 7

Finally, select all the vertexes that were created when you extruded and Merge them to the center.

Blender 3 8

Hooray! The head is pretty much done! It doesn’t look much now, but since we’re making such a low-poly model, more detail can be added with the textures.

The Body

Blender 3 9 0

To make the body, just select the four faces on the bottom side of the head and extrude them downwards, then extrude them again to make two steps. Select the newly created vertices and scale them (S Key) to fit your turnaround images.

Limbs!

Blender 3 9

I would like to extrude both the legs out of the body at the same time, but unfortunately since each leg has two faces, but the two legs need to be separate, neither Extrude Region or Extrude Individual Faces will serve our purposes. So just make one leg at a time! You can see how large the extrude is with the numbers in the bottom of the 3d view, so the legs can be made to be fairly close in size.

Blender 3 10

Both legs are now done. One extrude to the knee, and another to the bottom of the leg.

Blender 3 11

The front vertexes at the bottom of the legs are merged into the vertices that make the knees. A block is then extruded in preparation for making the foot.

Blender 3 12

The new set of vertexes are merged to turn the foot block into a foot wedge and the legs are done!

Blender 3 13

To make the arms, it’s just more extrudes from the side of the body. This time, Individual Faces can be extruded, so the arms can be created at the same time. To make the hands, just extrude another two levels from the wrists, and merge all the vertices on the ends of the arms to the center:

Blender 3 14

Modeling is finished! Now hopefully you know the essential tools and where to find them.

You can download the Blender file here.

Next up: UV maps and textures.

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Blender Tutorial 2: Low-Poly Modeling

This is the second part in my Blender tutorial series. The series index is here.

So, on to the fun part: 3d modeling! 3d modeling is of course a massive subject. I’m not going to try to teach it, since I’m really not an expert or even particularly skilled. I’m going to teach you the basic tools you need to make low-poly models in Blender.

What to make?

I’ve drawn up a turnaround of the character I’m planning to model. It’s pretty simple, inspired by Phantom Hourglass because I love it so. Let’s call him Farmer Joe for now.


Blender 2 0 Turn Small
Click here to download the turnaround.

It’s important the the turnaround images are the same dimensions. You can either download mine, make your own or ignore turnarounds completely (to be honest, I generally do for low-poly work)!
Now, open up Blender and let’s get going!Interacting

First off, the real basics. Here’s a simple rule to remember when using Blender:

  • Left mouse button interacts with objects and uses tools.
  • Right mouse button selects objects.
  • Middle mouse button controls the view.
    • Unmodified Middle mouse rotates camera.
    • Shift + Middle mouse pans.
    • Control + Middle mouse zooms.

There’s some irritating exceptions to this rule (notably the lasso selection, which is operated with the left mouse button), but mostly it holds true, and makes a fast interface.

Setting up the turnaround

If you plan to keep just a single 3d view screen in Blender, prepare to be irritated if you’re using a turnaround for a background image: Blender doesn’t differentiate between front/side/top views when displaying the background image. Instead, you will be best off creating a few different views. Here’s what I’ve got set up:


Blender 2 1 Basic Setup.Thumbnail

To get this setup, just right-click on the indented border between the 3d view and select Split Area. Drop the line where you want to make the split. Right click on the new border and select Join Area to reverse this.

To set the new views to front and side, click the View menu at the bottom of the 3d views and select Front, Side or User.

To set the background images on the Front & Side views, first save the blender file in the same location as your turnaround images. Hit control-W (yeh, I know) to save the file. Then go View->Background Image… in the 3d view you want the background image to appear on. Click the little folder and find the image using Blender’s irritatingly bare-bones file browser and you should be good to go. Do the same for the other front/side view.

You can also set your Side & Front views to wireframe for easy background image inspection by using this button:

Blender 2 2 View Option

Let’s go!

Okay, okay for real now! Something fun!

On any of your 3d views, click the big old button that says Object Mode and select Edit Mode. You’ll see all the buttons in the panel below the 3d views change. Now they’re relevant to the nitty-gritty of modeling. There are some useful tools to be found here:

Blender 2 3 Some Tools

Ultimately though, to use Blender you’re gonna be learning a whole lot of shortcut keys. But first Subdivide the cube to get started. Do so once, then move your cube onto Farmer Joe’s head, using the handles. Okay, now let’s begin! Here are some keys:

  • S key scales objects
  • G key moves objects
  • R key rotates

These three functions can be modified by (once you’ve pressed S, G or R) by pressing Z, X or Y keys to limit movement in only that axis.

Left mouse button will finish the transform once you’re done and the right mouse button will cancel.

Scale up the cube to fit Farmer Joe’s head.

Blender 2 3 fit Head

Now, some more controls:

  • Control + Left mouse lasso selects vertices
  • Control + Shift + Left mouse lasso de-selects vertices
  • but… Right mouse button selects/de-selects individual vertices!

I’m assuming you have some basic knowledge of 3d modeling. Vertices are the little points at the ends of the lines in your cube. Move them into a head shape!


Blender 2 3 Head1

You can also download the file from today’s lesson here (you’ll need the turnaround images in the same folder to see them in the blender file).

Next up:

More of the same!