12.17.2010

Stereoscopic (3D) Split Screen




I'm working on a new project suggested to me by my friend Alex. The idea is to present a split-screen multiplayer experience without having to worry about "screen-watching", when you're friends try to get an advantage by looking at your screen. An added benefit of this is that instead of having your screen crammed in the corner, it fills up the whole TV. To be clear, this technique is not presenting a "3-D" image to a viewer, but it is taking advantage of the same science and technology that 3-D uses. Here are two separate screenshots from Halo 2. Some astute observers may note they are not from the same gameplay session, but they will still serve our purpose.

Screenshot 1 of Halo 2 (courtesy of IGN)
Screenshot 2 of Halo 2 (courtesy of Team Xbox)
Now, we're going to combine the two images into one anaglyph, or red/cyan image you may be familiar with from 3-D movies or images. The red/cyan filters will result in a loss of color quality, but this is just a proof of concept. To appropriately view the image below, you'll need a pair of old-school 3-D glasses (red/cyan). Put them on and look at the picture, first closing the left eye, then the right. You'll be able to see each screenshot isolated.

Screenshots 1 and 2 combined to form the red/cyan anaglyph

In order for this to be implemented in a game, Player A would wear glasses with two red lenses and Player B would wear glasses with two cyan lenses. This way, neither player could see the others screen. Using red/cyan, only 2 players can play at a time, but this technique could also be done using polarized lenses, which you see used in 3-D movies these days. Using polarized lenses, more than 2 players could play at one time.
This technique is not perfect. One problem is the loss of color quality mentioned above. Polarized lenses would solve this, but they require a screen or projector capable of presenting polarized images; red/cyan only requires the user to have special glasses. Players can still cheat using polarized lenses by rotating their head to look at an opponent's screen.

6.24.2009

VR Mod Update

I'm currently working on the 6th level of the stealth missions. My time is split between trying to recreate the levels with Hammer and trying to recreate the mechanics with source code. Cameras have proved to be a tricky part that I'm attacking from both perspectives: is it possible to create a solution that isn't bloated with entities in Hammer, or should I try to create my own simple camera entity? The Hammer approach seems to be working OK for now, with a little source code tweaking, but the problem is that the model is frickin' huge (see below). I'm going to look into 'borrowing' the security gun from Dystopia for now, but I'd love to find a simple security cam model (or if someone made one for me).

The other challenging part that I could use some help with is actually playing the MGS VR Missions. It's rather tedious trying to measure each map and determine its spawn points and movement paths as well. I've been searching for a god mode or invisibility cheat but I haven't found one yet. If someone knows of such a cheat, or would be willing to go throug the VR missions and provide a simple map of each mission (I even have the executable if you need it), it would be awesome! Feel free to contact me or leave your info in the comments if you're interested.

Here are some pictures of the cameras in action in Level 6. I went back to the minimalist geometric texturing for the skybox because some people mentioned that it was difficult to spot enemies before, and in general I feel like it gives the game a cleaner look. I'm toying with the ideas of some sort of wireframe for enemies, and possibly using a short-ranged wall-hack (think Dystopia's TAC Scanner) in place of MGS's standard radar.

6.18.2009

VR Mod

So this new mod project has consumed excessive amounts of my time already, but I'm loving it. Finals are winding down, Summer break is coming up, and I'm about to head home from Korea. I should have lots of free time to work on it. I got some feedback about the color scheme so I changed things up a bit. Here are a bunch of new pictures. So far I've done 3/15 missions.





6.16.2009

New Directions

So the last project fizzled pretty quickly. It's too bad because my partner and I had a lot in common, but I guess common interests don't make a game.

I've already moved onto and past one project about weather control. The premise was that you would use weather to control the outcome of events. It was inspired mechanically by Opera Omania, and thematically by Metal Gear Solid (conspiracy theory story). The biggest problem was that I had trouble figuring out how to make the game's main mechanic fun and challenging.

My next project is something with a tried-and-true mechanic: shooting things. I've been playing with Valve's Source engine and learning the ropes. As I was surfing FPSBanana for skins (I'm not an artist) and I found a few Metal Gear Solid inspired ones. I thought that making some maps based on MGS's VR Missions would be fun, but I quickly discovered that some of the entities would need some tweaking in-order to fit my needs. The two biggest changes I want to make though are:
  • Adding a radar system, akin to MGS, but perhaps without the 'jamming' feature
  • Dumb-down the AI by limiting the visual range of enemy NPC's
Below are some screen shots of what I've got so far (models courtesy of various FPSBanana members). I think the color-scheme could use some work, any and all feedback is appreciated.




4.25.2009

Capital Ship

After failing to obtain an internship with EA (due to poor technical interview performance) I've been searching for a way to polish up my short-comings. My biggest weakness is my lack of experiencing working with a team and/or on a large code base.
In order to remedy this I've been scoping out the 'Help Wanted' forum on Gamedev.net hoping to find a suitable project. I found one that seemed like it would be a good endeavor, but after about a week it was clear that there wasn't much organization or experience in producing anything. I did come in contact with a solid programmer from the team, and after talking it over we decided to try to forge our own game.
The team is small-2 people- and we lack any artistic talent but I think both of us have a very real understanding of what needs to be done in order to make things work. As with all collaboriate creation there's some friction over ideas, but it's something to be expected and maturely dealt with lest it break the team apart.
The game is tentatively called 'Capital Ship' and focuses on a massive space ship. We're still trying to iron out the feel of the game, and what we want to do with it. John is very interested in maintaining a high level of realism; I'm shooting for something a little more 'gamey.' I think a compromise of our visions will do well, at least I hope so!
I wish I had some cool concept art or more details to get people excited, but things are still in the stage of primordial ooze a bit. We're looking at an initial release date of September 1st, with an eye on continuing to polish and enhance after that. Whether or not we hit that date will be interesting to see. I'm really excited for this project, and I'm really excited to be excited about something like this again.

Until next time,
Ben