On learning from the past while building for the future.

It’s been a while since last I wrote and that’s on me, so first off I’m sorry. I’ve spent the last few months working on and off on a new project and am now ready to announce. It’s a partnership with one of my very best friends, Steve Kingston, to build and release high quality games. It’s called Runaway Tales and we’re pleased to be able to announce our first project March of Progress which we are aiming to release by the end of the year.

Before talking about the game a little, I want to discuss my two week prototypes project from earlier in the year and first days of this blog. It was a very exciting period for me and it was a challenge I was very happy that I chose to undertake and it taught me a great deal. But with the benefit of hindsight it was a project doomed to failure. Attempting to release a working decent quality prototype of a game every two weeks while holding down a full time job was never going to work in the long run. …

Ideas, Motivation and a Willing Lack of Crassness.

So prototype number five should have gone live on the 11th of March and clearly we are well passed that date with not a release in site. So what happened? Societal collapse? Sordid drunken evenings? Rampant bouts of anxiety, depression and insomnia causing my life to spiral out of control? Well no not exactly. (Although an argument could be made for number 1, and number 3 would have been a chief suspect last year).

After Space Station Amadeus went live (I’m still really happy with that one), I came up with an interesting concept for a game in which you my dear reader would have played as a potion store owner in which you had to manage your time between brewing potions, cleaning the shop, selling and chatting to customers and then trying to maintain a decent quality of life outside your harried time as a potion store owner. …

In which a deadly crime is investigated in the far future…

Get it here

With Break the Bank in the… well bank I wanted to switch gears away from from 3D action based games. I also wanted to take on a prototype that would yield a greater passion within me than the zombie banker shooter that had instilled so much apathy within me. To that end I began work on Space Station Amadeus, a murder investigation set on a city sized space station far in the future.

I’ve had the idea of an adventure game on a space station kicking around for a number of years, albeit with a different plot entirely. The idea was to establish an awe inspiring locale and give the players a bit of a taste of what life on the station would be like. I opted not to tell the original tail I had in mind as I didn’t believe I would have time and writing talent (at the moment) to do it justice. …

Zombie Bankers, Ragdolls and the lessons learnt from failure.

Get it here for free.

OK so prototype three is finished, and honestly thank God for that. It’s been a very interesting lesson in the art of motivation and the dangers of underestimating the complexity of programming video game A.I. I realise this is also my most late blog post yet, fortunately the reason for it’s delay is my excitement for prototype number 4 which is coming along very nicely indeed.

So Break the Bank is a simple arena shooter in which you shoot zombies with a pistol until you die, or the game crashes. If a zombie touches you, you die. You may notice this is nothing like the concept I described a couple of weeks back. Well it turns out building a proper first person shooter with multiple guns, physics and AI based enemies is a really complex, time consuming challenge and I simply wasn’t motivated enough by the concept to do it. …

A farcical first person shooter in which the player seeks to reclaim that which the bank has stolen from them.

With prototype number 3 I step away from my own ideas for a minute to try and build something suggested by a colleague. He asked me to try and make a game in which the player can set the texture of the enemy faces then shoot them, preferably while set in a bank. I found the premise a tad uncomfortable but have set off to craft a highly, highly farcical first person shooter that will be so ridiculous that it should not be offensive in any way.

The challenge of this prototype will lie in building basic FPS mechanics. Player shooting is fine, I can import that from Sunwalker. More problematic is enemy A.I. something I have very little experience of. I’ve got some basic ideas there, nothing concrete just yet. I’m hoping I can leverage the third person animation controller I built for Torch Lighter to get the enemies moving. …

“These bloody torches don’t light themselves!”

In which we learn who lights the torches and I learn the pains of building 3D third person platformers.

Get it: here

Well ladies and gentlemen that is prototype number two in the book. If we go to the timekeeper we will see a tweet from yours truly showing Torch Lighter went live on the 28th, bang on schedule. You will note that this blog post did not, but you try writing a lengthy wash-up / announcement after coding for 12 hours on a Saturday!

Torch Lighter is a score attack based third person platformer, in which our as yet unnamed heroine tries to light all the torches present on a map before run-of-the-mill heroes turn up to fight “evil-doers”. …

Lighting Torches is Thirsty Business

Ever wondered who lights the torches in all those dungeons? Now the story can be told…

Since I was young I’ve always wondered who lights all the torches. From bandit caves and goblin hollows to allegedly abandoned ruins deep in the jungles of Borneo. The torches are always lit when the player rolls in ready to explore / vanquish evil doers / mercilessly plunder and no one ever seems to stop and ask who bothers with the hundreds of torches!

In my latest prototype I aim to provide the answer. In truth there is a secret society of pan-dimensional operatives who are called upon by the wondrous painter of portals Al-Zuzu, who paints with threads of woven space time on the canvas of the multiverse. When a painting comes along in goes a Torch Lighter, only minutes ahead of the incoming “heroes”. …

On Mixamo, Unity Animation and giving up and doing it yourself.

Prototype 2 will be a third person 3D game. I won’t go into specifics of that here, that’s a different blog post for another day. After a late deploy of Sunwalker Prime I spent about 4 hours of Saturday evening and all of Sunday working on my new prototype. No rest for the wicked! As with Sunwalker Prime I decided to go with the standard assets third person controller to get development going fast.

That went well, I had a character walking, running and jumping all animating well. I added an extra script to make the camera controllable (with the mouse or the right stick of an Xbox 360 controller) and ended Saturday feeling pretty good about the progress of the prototype. The problems began Sunday morning after a brief coding session with another close friend, Steve, in a Starbucks. The Starbucks Session added some core gameplay elements and a neat objective marker I made using a transparent orbiting sphere. …

Sunwalker Omega

Get the game from tyasdev.com for free!

As the 14th rolls around I come to the end of my time with my first prototype of the year, Sunwalker Omega. Its stars the eponymous Sunwalker, the very same fighter pilot who “starred” in Sunwalker the last game in my prototypes until today. In this prototype she has been shot down and is beginning to explore the allegedly uninhabited planet she has crashed on.

My inspiration here was Metroid Prime, a really quite fantastic first person game that placed a heavy focus on exploration and atmosphere as well as the shooting that first person games remain known for. …

It pains me to say it, but the best game I have ever made took me two weeks and was completed in August of 2013. Mr Bandana was a little project I made to explore making games in canvas using Javascript. I worked four or so hours a day after work and ended up with something I was quite proud of, so much so that I demonstrated it to the entire development team at my former employer.

Mr Bandana / Bandana Man / Captain Bandana (I never did pick a final title)

That rekindled my love of games development and for the next few months I created a number of little games or canvas experiments and posted them to my site. Each was more complicated than the last and I began to experiment with writing an engine in canvas. As my ambitions increased project scope followed. Months were spent on a 2D engine that ran on top of canvas, but none of the games I created from it ever saw the light of day and the complexity of the engine eventually drove me away from the hobby of games development for a few months. …


Matthew Tyas

Senior Ops Engineer for a startup. Believer in quality, innovation and diversity.

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