Monday, January 14, 2013

Morgan - Intro

Corey suggested that we all introduce ourselves and share some of our plans--everyone I talked to was already in preproduction for their jam game in some way!

I'm Morgan McGuire, professor at Williams College and game industry consultant. I organized the INNOVATE jam to bring together my colleagues from different areas and inform development of the G3D Innovation Engine and codeheart.js game frameworks.  Here's an overview of my plans for the jam.  I'll be doing the Pro16 format in order to still spend most of the weekend with my family.

Working Title: Bit Pirates

Gameplay: Master & Commander meets XCOM

Visual Style: TRON in the 19th century

Mechanics: 19th Century Nautical Warfare Tactics
Slow real-time tactical combat, based on plausible sailing physics:
  • Maneuvering the ship is the primary challenge
    • Different speeds based on wind direction and ship's rig
    • Trim sails and adjust helm for each point of sail
  • Detailed water simulation for real waves and wakes...which affect aiming
  • Primary weapons fire out the sides, ships are most vulnerable to raking fire
  • Target crew, masts, hull, powder room, and sails with different kinds of shot

Art Direction: TRON
  • Viewpoint: Top-down, low perspective 3D
  • Setting: 19th century (War of 1812, Napoleonic Wars), ocean amid many islands
  • Key Elements:
    • Quad-mesh glowing outlines over very dark surfaces (easy to build and modify assets!)
    • Rippling, reflective sea that responds to wave refraction in shallows, splashes, and wind
  • Palette: night: purples, blues, and silvers
  • Reference Art/Influences: Darwinia, TRON, XCOM's UI, Sid Meyer's Pirates (viewpoint, content), Geometry Wars (bloom):

Sid Meier's Pirates!
Geometry Wars
    Technology: G3D
    • Custom GPU water simulation and water ray tracing
    • Stock G3D scene graph and input classes
      • HeightfieldModel for terrain
      • VisibleEntity ships
      • Xbox 360 controller for input
    • Google Docs for Game Design Document
    • Photoshop, 3DS Max, and G3D Viewer for asset creation
    • GPU Performance
      • Ray tracing the water and running a fine-grain water simulation really pushes the GPU
      • Need to amortize simulation over multiple frames, optimize rendering shaders
    • Managing enemy ships
      • Multiplayer?
        • Splitscreen rendering adds complexity to the UI and might overload the GPU
        • I don't want to take on networking; synchronizing the water simulation alone would be very hard
      • AI
        • Sailing is hard
        • Sailing while being shot at is harder
      • No ships
        • Could fight sea monsters, towns, etc...but doesn't sound as engaging as fighting ships

    I've been setting up assets and prototyping the key rendering systems so that I can focus on gameplay during the jam proper.  Here are some screenshots of this work in progress.


    Water simulation:

    Water Rendering:

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