DevLog // #10 Bringing warmth to deep space

By Matt Hammill // May 13th, 2014

Bringing warmth to deep space

When we showed Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime at PAX East last month, we got asked a few times about how we were handling our space backgrounds, so I thought I’d go into a bit of detail. We’re aiming for a rich, 2.5D neon fantasy look, and we wanted our backgrounds to fit this world and feel alive. We ended up combining a few different elements for the effect we wanted.

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DevLog // #9: Pausing Without Pausing

By Adam Winkels // March 26th, 2014

tunnel_unlock

The simplest approach to pausing your game in Unity is to set Time.timeScale = 0. While the time scale is 0, Update methods in your scripts will still called, but Time.deltaTime will always return 0. This works well if you want to pause all on-screen action, but it is severely limiting if you need animated menus or overlays, since Time.timeScale = 0 also pauses animations and particle systems.

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DevLog // #8: Ugly Sketchbooks

By Matt Hammill // March 4th, 2014

matt_books

Whenever I buy a new “Art Of” book, no matter how great the concept paintings are, I often wish I could also see the earlier, rougher, uglier stuff that must exist from when the designers were still batting around ideas and trying to figure out what they were making.

On that note, here are some sketchbook pages from the past year-and-a-half of Lovers development. Working on paper, without an undo, helps to focus on the broad decision-making stuff and avoid getting bogged down in details. My sketchbook drawings have gotten rougher over the years as I’ve moved more mid-stage work to the computer, so with that warning, let’s dive in…

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DevLog // #7: Learning How to Walk

By Adam Winkels // February 20th, 2014

gif_walker_perimeter

We’ve had ground-based enemies, which we call Walkers, in Lovers since way back in the days of the GDC 2013 build. Until recently these enemies have been tethered to spherical (well, circular) planets, so programming their movement was simply a matter of ensuring that their distance from the center of the planet was constant and their velocity was tangential to the vector from the enemy’s position to the planet’s center. However, as we continued to add new scenarios for players to experience we needed Walkers to be able to traverse more exotic terrain. Being the lazy developers that we are, our first attempt to implement a more robust walking algorithm was the simplest and most naive that we could come up with. Luckily for us, it worked out pretty well.

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DevLog // #6: 2.5D Rendering Challenges

By Jamie Tucker // February 4th, 2014

gif_jellymaya

Following up on Matt’s last devlog, I’m going to wrap up our character creation process by discussing how we are rendering the characters in Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. Warning: It’s very Unity-y.
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DevLog // #5: Making Friends

By Matt Hammill // January 23rd, 2014

I recently had a chance to assemble this screen-cap footage from earlier last year showing our modeling/rigging/animation process for Lovers:

Although it’s a 2D game, we’re creating the assets as 3D geometry, using flat planes with transparent textures (more on that here). This might seem like a lot of trouble for one tiny little bunny friend, but the 3D approach lets us re-use the rig for all the humanoids in the game, including the player characters, just by swapping textures. It’s handy.

Software: Photoshop, Maya, Unity.

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DevLog // #4: Two and a half D’s

By Matt Hammill // December 26th, 2012

A couple weeks ago I gave a talk at Toronto SkillSwap on our process for making and animating the 2.5-D characters in Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, and I thought I’d post some of the things I discussed. I’ve always been interested in the mushy space between 2-D and 3-D (when I worked in animation I got to make this secretly-3-D watercolour bank commercial, and had a hand in the early dev of the 2.5-D kids show Justin Time) and for me, finally being able to throw code into the animation mix has been one of the most interesting parts of game dev. (And just a note–”2.5-D” can be used to mean all sorts of things, but here I’m taking it to mean using a 3-D pipeline to create a mainly 2-D game.)

We’re using Unity to build Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, so everything is made of polygons–though most objects are just transparent textures mapped onto simple planes that face the camera. There are no lights, we just crank the ambient light all the way up. We’re handling assets in a few different ways, evolving our process as we get more comfortable with the engine.

Player - rig

THE PLAYER CHARACTERS

The main characters are a bit of a time capsule from our early prototype, before we learned animation scripting in Unity. The characters are first animated in 2-D using After Effects, and then the animation frames get rendered to a sprite atlas texture (a big grid of all the animation frames). In Unity, each character is made of a single plane, to which we assign the sprite atlas texture. The plane only displays a zoomed-in piece of the texture though, and we can show different frames of animation by changing which zoomed-in bit of the sprite atlas texture is displayed.

Player - rig

Player - sprite atlas texture (unfinished)Player - gameplay

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DevLog // #3: Drawing Inspiration

By Matt Hammill // October 20th, 2012

To continue from Jamie’s last dev log with the sketches…

So after we’d decided on our concept for Global Game Jam, we started thinking about visual style. Jamie and I both have an illustration background; this is the fun stuff for us. Because a spaceship with guns is hardly a rare concept in games, we really wanted to avoid a default look, so leading up to GGJ we were gathering references from outside video games–plus I’ve always found this keeps you honest about how much you’re borrowing from any one source. Even though at the time it was “just” a jam game, we wanted to be coming from the right place.

Since the game features a ship’s cross-section, right away we hit on our nostalgia for the sci-fi technical manuals we had as kids.


Battletech Technical Readout


R2-D2 by Kevin Tong

This started leading us further back in time to older sci-fi and space illustration…
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DevLog // #2: Great Kid, Don’t Get Cocky!

By Jamie Tucker // October 17th, 2012

Rough thumbnails
A little over a month after the Global Game Jam (where we started Lovers) we, and the rest of the world awoke to FTL. In an email chain titled “RE: uhhhhhhh oh shit” we discussed mainly how cool FTL looked and “Holy shit they raised over $200,000!” Actually we we’re freaking out when they raised $40,000, but they quickly quintupled that figure. Unfortunately for us, from then on we knew that anytime we would show our game, people would make the connection to FTL and be in it’s shadow.
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DevLog // #1: In a Galaxy Far Far Away

By Jamie Tucker // October 17th, 2012

Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime Screenshot
Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime started off at the Toronto Global Game Jam early in 2012. Being veteran jammers, we were invited by Troy Morrissey, who organized the GGJ Toronto space, to take part in the jam and get interviewed for the documentary he and his crew were filming, Game Jam the Documentary. We had a great experience that was filled with ups and downs and a lot of silent typing.
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