Gemi Games

Indie Games Developer

Dev Log #3 – Full circle

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Orientation

It’s been quite the few months recently and apart from the well known stress associated with organising a wedding, it really all began about 2 years ago when SuperCube was barely a prototype.

I’ve mentioned before that SuperCube was originally going to be an endless, free running platformer but I toyed with the idea of changing the gravity direction and liked it.  There’s probably loads of games with a similar gravity mechanic but I was drawn to it anyway because way back when I use to create levels for Portal, I really wanted to have a gravity changing mechanic in one of my maps.  The problem was that Valve’s Source engine, which underlies Portal, does not allow this without modifying the engine as far as I could find out.  SuperCube then became a more traditional, controllable platformer and also it became the basis for You can Double JUMP’s bonus levels as YcDJ was originally going to a sequel to SuperCube.

So why another Double JUMP game?

Fast forwarding to a few months ago, where I wanted to create a new game for the sole purpose of resetting my game design head a bit by trying some new ideas out.  I could then return to You can Double JUMP with a fresh mind so to speak and enthusiasm to get through a bit of designers block, which I have been going through lately.  To speed things up a tad, I decided to use YcDJ’s engine and level editor to create an endless runner which then became Just Double JUMP.  It really should have been a week long project for a change of pace but any game developer out there will testify that projects always take longer than you think.

Now that Just Double JUMP has been out for a few weeks on gamejolt.com and it’s core gameplay is roughed out, I can finally turn my attention back to my main project.  My current mindset with JDJ now is to incrementally add levels and objects to it whenever I get a chance and to one day release it onto Android and iOS devices.  I also want JDJ to be as free as possible and will most likely settle on a completely and unobtrusively ad supported model.  Come to think of it, micro-transactions seem to be all the rage at the moment so I may play around with that idea.  Nah only joking but I do think rage is a word commonly used with regards to micro-transactions 😛

Overall, Just Double JUMP has been a really good project so far but funnily enough it’s also been great for YcDJ.  The improvements to the game engine made during JDJ will merge very nicely into YcDJ.  One of those improvements is something that’s been upsetting me for a while but I’ve finally found a decent enough solution to the problem I’ve been having with v-sync.  Unfortunately I only have direct access to two PC’s at the moment and on both of them, when v-sync is on, it causes horrible input lag.  Also, both games’ update loops run at a fixed 60 updates per second to ensure easily repeatable physics but this causes pretty bad screen tearing when v-sync is off.  Before the initial release of JDJ I first changed the internal clock to 125 updates per second, which might seem overkill but the physics updates for both games are very simple and there’s been no significant drop in performance.  It also adds the benefit of making the controls feel an almost perceivable amount snappier but I genuinely feel that people can notice, on some level, frame rates and input latency times above 60 times a second.  The second change related to v-sync was a way for the rendering part of the game to smoothly blend between the update ticks using interpolation.  It’s not full proof, nor is it fully implemented but as far as the player character and camera movement goes, it works well in really minimising the amount of screen tearing by spreading it out over the repeated renders while the game waits (less than 10 milliseconds) for the next update.

What’s next

My focus now is delivering on a promise I made too long ago and that is to create a video update on YcDJ.  The problem I’ve been facing with the video however, is that whenever I try to start it, it just feels like I’m showing more of the same, although I’ve not really shown much yet anyway.  It feels this way because YcDJ is at the point in it’s development cycle where I’m just creating content such as levels and objects and I’m hesitant to show too much of these because I want most of the game to be new to players, at least before any YouTube videos surface anyway.  This got me thinking that maybe I should make a video about something other than gameplay.  I like the idea of showing the level editor and maybe even walkthrough how I go about designing and making a level for You can Double JUMP which I hope some people will find interesting 🙂  I’ve also started work on the level select/map screen so I’ll put together an update on that as well.

Thank you for reading all that and please comment and share if you so wish 🙂

Marios

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