Author Archives: Joshua

App icons version 3, which one should I choose?

Colours, and transforms, there probably is some psychology here so perhaps certain colours in certain countries? Anyway after taking a look at the cool games on mobile their app icons are always simple, so I am also going to simplify what I had and go with one of these…

Image 1
Image 1
Image 2
Image 2
Image 3
Image 3
Image 4
Image 4
Image 5
Image 5
Image 6
Image 6
Image 7
Image 7

 Yep, if you have a favourite particularly slanted vs square please let me know!

Chinese, English, French, German, Russian, Spanish and almost complete + other news.

(Not happy with this image as ball is dull, and its during falling section which makes little sense in a single image)
(Not happy with this image as ball is dull, and its during falling section which makes little sense in a single image)

I’m now at the stage where I’m doing the boring (but I love it) stuff which is localisation. I have done a little research and it seems silly not to support other languages so I am. One of the few perks of a masters course is meeting clever people from all over the world; then coaxing them into helping me localise Forgotten Ball’s in game text. There isn’t much of it, so no biggy really and most are glad to help, but I don’t know any Russians.

So, Russian? Please help :D

Also, should I support any other languages? I can probably fit 3 more into the space, so Dutch? Swedish? Norwegian? Portugese? Indian? I dunno outside of the other languages.

Moving blocks are back to the (very) old off-orange.
Moving blocks are back to the (very) old off-orange.

Now is also a good time to write that Forgotten Ball is almost complete. Which is surreal, and kind of scary. All of the big tasks have been ticked off, and that means the game is playable from start to end. Everything is there. User Interface was completed yesterday and localisation code went in this morning. AI was wrote months ago, and I fixed that up last week. UI was the last major pain, and I’ve got it down.

UI has not been easy, I made a decision to support desktop/mobile in a single design and that was kind of tricky to implement. I mean, it has been tough. I’m happier with it now, but yeah it was a few days of hell. I plan to have a narrated video of current UI on mobile soon, which I will try and post next week. I suspect the UI won’t be to everyones taste, but it’s not too far out. Full controller/keyboard support in navigation was a little nightmare and multiple display resolutions was what broke my first (beautiful) design.

Balls look at eachother.
Balls look at eachother.

One of the last things I’m working on is giving the ball some personality (random squeaks, jumps/movement) as there is life in there, I’ve just got to show it.

I’m hiring a teen (in a ballsy, somewhat crazy move) to test Forgotten Ball for a few days over a couple of months. This is the last of my pennies, so yeah boo. I plan to trial him for a day, if good, hire again.

I’m a proficient tester, but oh my, its hard testing a game you’ve built. You just don’t see stuff.

Always worth sharing a little gameplay segment, as this area is late game and quite tricky. New code pushing player out of world, and yeah I am happy with what is happening. Testing it with people has been good too.

Still busy, but coming to a close.

Narrated play through of area one of Forgotten Ball on mobile (iPhone 5)

Last update of the month from me (I realise this would be the third post this month! sorry). Lots of progress over a short period of time (nice lull between exams and thesis start) so I feel like I have more to show.

I haven’t done a video like this before, really I’m just showing where I am and what has changed. The video is out of focus at times, but it’s still okay. Really, I just wanted to show the in game menu, at around 1:45. and show you all how it is looking on mobile platform.

Wait, when I say things are perfect – I mean I am very very happy with them.

Just sharing App icon ver 2

So this is version two of the app icon, after 4 days of 12 hour dev I feel like I have really brought the project together. And hopefully this ‘icing on the cake’ icon shows that. Few minor things to fix, then the next month is fixing bugs.

Demo coming very soon, and Beta release being rolled out tomorrow!

Hope you are all well, Josh.

A glimpse of the first couple of minutes of gameplay

Really, I wanted to show Forgotten Ball’s final ‘look’. It’s cleaner, colours have balanced and the game doesn’t trip over itself with geometry blocking camera. Background is not staying black either.

This video shows a play as if from a new user (no save data), in this instance there is no title menu, the game launches, and the title of Forgotten Ball appears during the drop to bottom as do leading credits. The reason for this is I noticed players could not tell if they were falling to their death, or not during that section during playtests, also I like it.

This video is now out of date, but I try.

Read this nice little opinion on Forgotten Ball from ready-up.net

It’s not often I read about Forgotten Ball on the internet, I mean I’m not the most vocal developer but I feel like maybe I am starting to do things right. Lovely chap, spoke to him for quite some time, words continue after the image.

“Last but not least I rounded off my demo derby by playing The Forgotten Ball. Developed by Josh Croft, a Computer Science student based locally at The University of East Anglia, this is a 3D maze puzzle platformer that sees you guiding the titular ball up a massive tower. You know it’s massive because in the opening moments the game forces you to fall off the top and drop through the entire world to its base, on the way giving you a glimpse of the incredibly complex mesh of geometric intersecting pathways that lie in wait. Since Josh intends the game to work on a range of mobile devices, the games graphics make very few technical demands, and yet the game has an elegant but bold aesthetic, which benefits from its simplicity. It’s a fine example of technical limitations producing some creative design solutions. Instead of a dynamic lighting model, for instance, Josh tells me that he uses a heavily adapted shader to simulate the shifting shadows and highlights as you roll around each ninety degree angle, but the resulting effect feels just right.

The forgotten ball shares some technical and aesthetic approaches with Thomas was alone (Josh got some pointers from that games artist), and feels like a revival of Playstation Classic Kula World by way of Echochrome. Most importantly to a simple puzzle platformer the games jumping physics feel spot on, with an emphasis on analogue control (the longer you hold the button the further you go) and the introduction of a float mechanic, which sees you balancing the opposing forces of gravity and upward inertia as you traverse some tricky obstacles, adds a significant level of skill to proceedings. The games level design, with its massively intricate interlocking world filled with hazards and shortcuts that loop back on themselves, also has more than a little inspiration from Dark Souls as I learn from Josh.”

http://ready-up.net/features/norwich-gaming-festival-2015/

Lovely, really.

The changing of colour

Colour is a pig, I barely understand it, I dress in black, white and grey almost exclusively. Colour is not my thing. This post is going over some of my older screenshots through to where Forgotten Ball is today, some lessons learned too.

I have been unhappy with the way Forgotten Ball looks for a long time and the last few weeks I had gone a little into colour hell – I was prepared to make the change. Forgotten Ball is nearing completion and let me be frank – it wasn’t up to the aesthetic standard I had hoped to achieve.

Forgotten Ball’s mechanics came about as a mid teen, playing with Lego. I think the style Forgotten Ball started to take was inspired from those bricks too.

legoTower

Forgotten Ball, Lego, minimal, a lot of blocks, lots of colour combinations, and ultimately a lot of mistakes. These images are kind of in order, from years ago to today.

This is one of the very first shots from the very first builds of Forgotten Ball in late 2012, was a whole new world of learning and looks horrible, but for the sake of progress…

old

This image is an old image. From around Jan 2013. Green floors, placeholder UI, Specular shaders – not ideal. It didn’t look good.Bo_a7BvCcAA7k8E

Brown body, black background, poor lighting. Looked clean though. 2014-07-17 18.51.59BpjRQPkIIAAXQyC

Solid background colour – looked drab, uninteresting. Conflicted with world.B6_4Xy-CAAA525s

Lighting in some sections was poor, trying to create atmosphere at the expense of visibility. Darkness certainly induces tension, but it was never perfect. It has gotten better though, the second image down is still somewhat used, but it’s much more visible.006007
Bllo7uyCQAAcCmg BmJLxtKCMAAhV2-

The falling section of Forgotten Ball is another area that colour really never made sense. As you would fall through world, the colours would show different areas, but really in the end it just made a mess. Colour was starting to create confusion.2014-09-09 17.37.142014-09-09 17.37.19
In a similar series, I was happier with the lighting, but the game still looked unpleasant. 002004

I like this image. 005

I’ve always liked this area, and with a fixed camera Forgotten Ball looks very clean. This area is still the same in game but colours have been changed of the floor.008003001

I still hope to create a fixed camera version, one day.

Everything before now, was an pre-alpha image. So they are old. The next images are recent, up to today.

The next two images show that I really had started to think about colour. The ball with a pink skin was lost within the blocks, the red objects were not as prominent as they should have been due to the red of the smaller body blocks.

Untitled

I desaturated the image so that well, everything was grey. This brought the red objects and the ball into clear view.CApS-e-WAAE2CCY

When this change was made I was very happy, as much as I like the colour of the older versions grey meant that the ball, and objects of the game were prominent. However making the geometry grey had a very clear problem and one I didn’t really see at first. Grey is boring, different shades of grey, makes it confusing for the player to separate playable area and geometry, this was a problem.

The last week or so of tweaks..

The next two images were the 4th or 5th iteration, a midpoint from the old to the new. The big change is that the millions of small blocks are no more, and that I am introducing colour again.CBSF_GrW8AA3bNGCBSF_jcWwAAhJtA

Transparency didn’t really work without shifting the rest of the game into a futuristic transparent wireframe version. It also made a user during a play test say she felt ill.

The next changes were quick, and clear.

The lighting in Forgotten Ball has been changed- one light, above the player as opposed to two lights to looking at the player from the side.

I reduced the colours of Forgotten Ball. Right now there are 18 colours in Forgotten Ball, 13 colours for the Ball themselves, with a maximum on screen colour count of 6.

Enemies and buttons have been desaturated, their colours are more in line with pastels. A dark background highlights the game area. The ball has a stronger colour, highlighting the ball to the player, hopefully showing importance.

a

As Forgotten Ball is moving into its later part of two years of development – I really am starting to feel happy with the game, and also where I am going with it. 

It really does look very clean.

Thank you UEA, thank you.

UI update, weekend improvements

This has been a little while coming, but Forgotten Ball is finally getting the UI overhaul as part of the last things to tidy before completion.

I’m not exactly one for taking the most attractive screenshots, but I try. Really, I like to share honest shots. This image shows a few things, firstly the game UI no longer looks horrible (remember this). Also, the UI is kinda neat, the little ball to the right moves up and down dependant on whether Ball is floating or not.

UI Mobile Touch controls
UI Mobile Touch controls

The other thing to address is the that the two circles on the right (solid) are pixelated currently due to poor scaling on my part. This is to be fixed.

The in game menu is the next thing on my list, which will house lovely names from you all, show off your unlocked skins, and then that is the UI finished. Currently the in game menu UI is as follows:

UI menu
UI menu

Top left, that bar blob is the menu button, click/touch/press C and it will pause or un pause game.
Second down is the button to see all of the Skins unlocked, by default they will fill the right side of the window.
3rd is the save icon, I made that one up – better than a floppy disc icon, but probably not final.
4th button to be added is the options.

I should ask, do the button icons make sense? That button that looks a little like the DeathStar, and also Pacman is the button to pause the game – one press and the user will know – but still worthy a discussion. The Save icon – uses a downwards arrow – may not be obvious, but It falls under the one press knowledge gained usage.

The Desktop UI doesn’t have any of the touch screen buttons, but has the same menu UI. Only UI needed is just this one (once the floating ability is unlocked):

Desktop UI
Desktop UI

Makes it easier to know when you’re in air.

Lots more to update you on, soon! The game is now more grey, probably the most important one. I also realised that I haven’t been posting on my development blog anymore – hopefully you all don’t mind, but I plan to double post everything on both Kickstarter and blog from here on – which means there could be more updates, possibly 2 a month – hopefully this won’t be too much of a problem.

Hope everyone is well.

- Josh