Posts Tagged ‘best-work’

Bending the Light

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

bending-the-lightDon your Oculus Rift headset and grab your Touch controllers for this mind-bending puzzle game. Manipulate beautiful beams of energy with all manner of tools to try and charge up the targets. Includes 40 levels, each with its own secrets to discover.

Play on Oculus Home

  • – 40 levels, each with secrets and collectables
  • – Designed for Oculus Touch
  • – Playable with gamepad
  • – Even playable with just a keyboard
  • – Abstract, dreamy, beautiful and atmospheric
  • – Meta-puzzles for those who solve everything else
  • – Low pressure, relaxing gameplay, but not simple!
  • – Can you achieve 100% completion?

Watch the trailer

Puzzle Putt

Saturday, October 17th, 2015

Puzzle PuttPlay crazy-golf with Shaun the Sheep! In this game though, you get to bend the course to your advantage by adding new blocks to the course. Can you get a hole in one? With 72 levels across 8 courses, there’s loads to conquer here. And if you’ve beaten the lot, why not make up your own levels with the built in editor? You can even capture and share instant replays of your best shots (or worst failures).

Download Puzzle Putt for iOS

Download Puzzle Putt for Android

Download Puzzle Putt for Kindle

This game was designed and built with Aardman Digital. They gave me loads of freedom to design the game, which is always a lot of fun. I wanted to build something unique, and which gives the player freedom to express themselves. The idea for Puzzle Putt is based roughly around the original Trackmania game, mixed with elements from Minecraft and of course other crazy-golf games that have been around forever.

Puzzle Putt: Three StarsTechnically, this build presents a few challenges. The first is the shot preview line. I really wanted the game to be more about solving the puzzle of how to get to the hole in the fewest shots, rather than being about performing the ideal shots with skill/judgement. To help the player achieve great shots, they need an aim prediction line that gives a lot of accurate detail about where their shot is going to go before committing to it.

The only way to get a super-accurate prediction line is to compute the shot via the physics engine, before it is played. You can’t write approximations and expect them to match the built in physics beyond the most basic of shots. Unfortunately, Unity’s physics engine is tied like clockwork to the FixedUpdate calls, and can’t be computed separately to the passage of real time. In other engines, you can often take a full copy of the physics world, then allow it to run several seconds of updates all within a single frame. Then you can present the results as a preview line instantly.

As the game was developed, it appeared totally insoluble within Unity. You simply don’t have API access to the physics engine at the level required to precompute outcomes. This was a classic case of designing around the problem, rather than solving it directly. Rather than giving the player an instant preview line, the game fires invisible golf balls into the scene continuously and records where they go. The frame by frame progress of each ball is shown as a separate preview line. It gives an interesting mix of perfect prediction, but delayed, so you can’t expect to easily find that perfect ridiculous implausible bounce shot. Add to that the imperfect precision of touch inputs, and it actually gives a lovely balance between prescience and guesswork.

Unity’s physics engine presented another challenge too. Since the levels are made from lots of separate blocks, the simple approach is to build them from lots of separate prefabs, each with their own built in collider to form the ground. The problem is that where two flat colliders meet, there’s a little seam. When a ball rolls across that seam, it sometimes catches on it and flips up into the air. This is a disaster for the gameplay since it gives unexpected bounces on smooth ground, and lets people break the level design by hopping over things they shouldn’t be able to.

The solution was fairly involved, and took a few iterations to get right. First, I built a separate mesh collider for each separate wall of each individual block. When the level is started, it iterates through all the walls and searches for overlapping identical walls. So two square blocks side by side will share a wall between them, and that can be removed. This helps, but doesn’t solve the problem completely.

The algorithm for comparing walls is actually pretty simple. Grab the verts of the wall being considered, convert them to world coords, then compare to the verts of each other wall. If you can match off every vert with one from the other wall, both walls are redundant and can be removed. In this game, you only have to consider walls from the neighbouring blocks (including above and below), since any other blocks will be too far away to have overlapping walls.

The next iteration performed the wall removal as above, then also iterated through all the remaining mesh colliders and stitches them into one big mesh. Well, two big meshes – one for normal grass, and one with different physical properties for mud.

The algorithm for stitching colliders together feels more complex at first, but actually it’s pretty simple again. You generate a new empty mesh with no verts, which will be the output mesh. Then you iterate through all the input meshes (after removing redundant walls) in turn. For each one, consider all of it’s triangles in turn. For each triangle, translate the verts into world coords and see if a vert already exists in the output mesh. If it doesn’t, copy it in. If it does, remember which one it is. Create a triangle in the output mesh that matches the one from the input triangle, and move on to the next. Once you’ve worked through all triangles from all meshes, you’ve got one big mesh with shared verts in all the right places. The physics engine now gives perfect rolling behaviour across the seams, which is a total solution to the problem…

…except it’s slow. 10 seconds or so on a typical level, and 30 on a big one. I did consider simply hiding the mesh creation when the level was first entered, but you have to allow for the player’s edits. That means you have to run it at the point where the player hits “play”, and 10 seconds is totally unacceptable there. I considered computing the fixed part of the mesh at the start of the level, then adding in the user blocks later. Turns out that doesn’t let you remove redundant walls around the edges though, since they’ve already been stitched into the main big mesh.

I was including collider geometry as a GameObject within each block, and physically deleting it from the world. That works, but it turns out that creating and deleting all those GameObjects costs quite a bit of CPU time. The solution was to remove them from the prefabs, and instead load example wall meshes from Resources into memory. There’s a list of which ones each block requires, and it just uses the data from the shared meshes over and over, rather than creating/deleting them. Sounds obvious, but it does complicate the workflow of creating a block quite a bit, and you don’t get automatic translations between the local and global coords system when working through the mesh data.

The final technical issue was the Everyplay plugin. This is a lovely bit of software that lets people record their gameplay, then share it with other players. So if you pull off a spectacular trick shot, you can send it to your friends, show off with other players and so on. The plugin integrates pretty easily, and works fantastic on most Android devices. On some Androids however it doesn’t work, and worse than that, it totally breaks the rendering of the game, displaying a black screen. Everyplay is supposed to cope with this by asking a server if the current device is compatible or not, but it doesn’t seem to know the answer. In the end, we made a simple white-list of devices where it worked, and left it at that. When new devices are launched, we’ll have to update the game to include them, but that’s better than running the risk of ruining people’s games entirely.

Shaun in the City

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

shaun-in-the-city-1The Shaun in the City art trail is a series of 120 unique sculptures placed around London and Bristol. This app was created to help you find your way to each and every one, tick them off as you go, and much more besides! You’ll earn achievements along the way, discover details about the statues and have an all-round good time!

I developed this app with the lovely folks at Aardman Animations. Testing involved an eighteen hour day trip to London and ten hours of walking a marathon and a quarter to check the location of all the sheep! Bleat that if you dare!

shaun-in-the-city-2(Proceeds from app sales go to the charity)

Buy the app for your Android phone/tablet.

Buy the app for your iPhone/iPad.

Visit the Shaun in the City website.

Send a donation to the charity.

Pi-Pi-Ee

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

pipiee-screenshotWage epic battles in this turn-based strategy puzzle game. Play on your phone or tablet, with a friend or against the computer opponents across 30 increasingly challenging levels.

Play FREE on Android

Try for FREE or buy on Windows Phone 8

No longer available on iOS. Apple make old software obsolete for no reason other than it’s old. Same as they do with hardware. I can only recommend you go with an Android device next time you drop your iPhone!

Move next to your opponents to capture their cells. Shuffle one space, and you’ll grow a clone. Move two spaces, and you’ll jump, potentially leaving a gap in your defences. The balance of power can shift rapidly back and forth, and with deep and engaging gameplay you’ll be engrossed for hours. And if you do manage to beat every level, you’ll unlock the full-strength computer AI to really test your mettle.

Built with Unity3D
unity-logo

Home Sheep Home 2: Steam

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

hsh2_steamOnce upon a time I made a cute browser game called Home Sheep Home for Aardman Animations. It was a surprise hit, so we built a sequel, Home Sheep Home 2: A Little Epic. We released this on the web in low-res episodes, and on iOS as an app, and as a glorious super-high-res packed-with-extras Windows desktop version.

But this was the little game that dreamt of being on Steam, the PC’s premier download platform. It’s taken years to get there, but finally it has made it!  And in style too, with tons of Steam achievements and lovely Steam cloud saves too. So what are you waiting for? Go and get it immediately! Especially if you enjoyed Thomas Was Alone which takes much of its gameplay mechanics from this game.

Buy on Steam

Home Sheep Home 2: A Little Epic

Friday, December 9th, 2011

Help Shaun, Shirley and Timmy find their way home in this super-cute BAFTA-nominated physics puzzle platformer.

Play the London episode on the web, free

Play the Underground episode on the web, free

Visit the official site to buy the game for your PC or iPhone/iPad

After the success of the original Home Sheep Home, Aardman asked me to work on a sequel with the ultra-talented artist/animator, Robin Davey (who did all the art/animation for the first game too). The original game was a pure Flash web game, hastily built just to raise brand awareness for the Shaun the Sheep show. The new game was to be a multi-platform paid download game, as well as a free-to-play web game. We had our work cut out for us!

So, what could both work as a free web game, and as a paid download? Why would anyone pay to play something they can play for free? Well, we came up with a few reasons:

  • Super high resolution graphics, running super-smooth in full screen
  • Lots more content – more episodes, bonus levels, more to collect
  • Developer’s commentary
  • Exclusive fun/silly cheat modes
  • Runs on your iPhone/iPad

Robin and I scratched our heads, scribbled lots of notes, drank lots of tea and ate lots of biscuits until we had a rough plan of the game. Then came months of hard work building it all. Top-designer Gavin Strange worked on the lovely interface screens. Tech genius Richard Davey orchestrated a textbook perfect technology-intercept with AIR3 for the desktop version, and lots of other people at Aardman were involved (check the in-game credits for the full list).

Alongside our own development we also worked closely with the amazing Mobile Pie to help them create the iOS version of the game. Mobile Pie’s star developer Matt Arahna and the rest of the team did a truly spectacular job of bringing the experience to the iPhone and iPad. They slaved for months ensuring the mobile version played just like the desktop and web versions, including every frame of the rich animation, beautiful layered backgrounds, physics, controls and more.

It’s been a long journey, and one of the most complicated projects I’ve ever been involved with! The multi-platform end product was well worth all the hard work though, and although the game has only been out for a couple of days as I write, it has already had hundreds of thousands of plays. Initial feedback from players seems very positive too! That’s the bit that really matters in the end – bringing a beautiful and fun experience to people who love games.

 

Wallace’s Workshop

Friday, October 15th, 2010

wallaces-workshop-0Unleash your inner inventor and build crazy contraptions in the BAFTA winning Wallace and Gromit game, Wallace’s Workshop. You’ll need to use your intelligence, imagination and cunning to build everything from battery powered cars and rocket powered sleds, to Heath-Robinson contraptions and giant trebuchets!

Play Wallace’s Workshop now!

This Flash game is a little deeper and more involved than a lot of the other games I’ve produced. Take your time, and don’t be afraid to skip ahead if you can’t figure something out.

wallaces-workshop-2

Crazy contraptions!

wallaces-workshop-4

Battery powered car

wallaces-workshop-1

Inventive machines

wallaces-workshop-3

Rocket sled!

Sprocket Rocket

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

sprocket-rocket-1Use your imagination to modify your spacecraft in this Wallace & Gromit game built for the Intellectual Property Office (IPO). Draw a shape and it is attached to your craft and works in the game world. Can you create the perfect tool for the job?

Play Sprocket Rocket now.

sprocket-rocket-2

Home Sheep Home

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

home-sheep-homeShaun, Shirley and Timmy must team up and work together if they want to get home in this physics platformer. Expect stacked sheep, sheep-seesaws, trampolines and more in this fun action-puzzle.

This game was built with graphics and sound from the amazing Aardman Digital team to promote the new Shaun the Sheep website. Check it out, and don’t miss the second series of Shaun The Sheep either. Both are awesome!

Play Home Sheep Home now.

Prose and Motion

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

prose-and-motionA new genre of physics-word-game! Not half as silly as it sounds, give this thoughtful and laid back game a go. Rearrange the letters to form a word. Try to find the perfect word for each level’s particular prose.

Play Prose and Motion now

Update: A few people have been asking what the music is for this game. There are actually three tracks that get seamlessly blended mid-game. It starts mellow, then ramps it up a bit, then ends melancholy. The idea is to shuffle you through various moods reflected in the levels, but at a mostly unconscious level.

Anyway, the music was purchased from the excellent sounddogs.com. Unfortunately the licensing agreement with them means I can’t make them available for download. They’re rather expensive to download just for your own enjoyment too – they’re intended for inclusion in a project like a game or TV production. Anyway, the preview IDs (you can search for these on the site) for the music pieces at Sounddogs are:

1: 729807

2: 405637

3: 559477