This Is Water

On “This Is Water” I created all of the visual elements in the game. I decided to use a low poly art style since the game jam was only 48 hours. The character in the game is rigged and animated with 18 different animations, and tons of customization combinations for fun. The character reacted to player input by leaning left and right as well as how well you were currently doing in game. I also created the particle effects.

The goal of the game was to leave Earth and find asteroids in space that contained H2O, mine the asteroid by playing the drilling mini-game, and return to earth with the water. The video does not demonstrate but the game was fully networked, so 100’s of players could join in and help replenish resources.

Creating this game was a great experience and working with this team was very enjoyable. We overcame a few challenges during the jam; authoring a networked game in 48 hours, creating the amount of assets in game, and creating a game within a game with such a unique drilling mechanic.

Team members: David Hazlett, Mitch Cooley, Ben Bricker.

Revol.VR

Revol.VR was built at the Reality Virtually Hackathon 2016 at MIT. We placed 1st in Entertainment and Gaming. I created a majority of the 3D content and curated some models, FX, and materials within the game. The game design was a joint effort between the five participants involved. The key mechanic in the game involves the user jogging in place to generate forward motion in game. The game design and mechanics proved to be a huge success.

Special thanks to John Mikhail, Noor Amer, Elise Young, and Gabe Fields.

Hackathon Devpost: http://devpost.com/software/schwifty-8ib1jy

Try it out [HTC Vive required]: Download

_subterfuge

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Prototyping phase

_subterfuge is a game of mystery and beguile. Originally the idea was part of the Global Game Jam with the theme “What do we do now?”. Ambitious as our team was, we decided to make a game with a PHP scripted companion app, where players would compete against others by drawing cards from a central deck and completing the task given to them. We actually completed a nearly fully working demo by the end of the jam, but ended up dropping out of the jam with intent to continue development.

subterfuge characters
Ominous shot of the characters

Over the next few weeks we made the game 4 player local, made the full featured companion app, and some very unique gameplay. Security cameras would follow the player around and the game would dynamically split the screen depending who was in view. If you were Player 1, you could expect to be in the top left corner of the screen, or the top. Where this became tricky was if Player 1 and player 4 were the only two in a screen. We ended up solving the issue and the result was quite fun, and after mastering the map, the game began to reminisce the old “Spy vs. Spy” games. Hiding in a locker would confuse the security cameras and they would lose sight of you.

companion app
Shot of the companion app

The companion app was also quite interesting to use, as soon as you drew a card from in game, a new card would flip over on your mobile device. You were also able to equip items for use in game from the companion app as well, this allowed for a great deal of secrecy from those around you. Hiding in a locker mixed with equipping an item was a great way to solve not standing out in the open while fidgeting with the companion app.

The game is on a development hiatus, and all developers involved plan on resuming in the future.

Chemistry FX Classroom

 

Beakers and Burners

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Burner on!

This was work that I completed for a client. The project was a huge success and exceeded delivery expectations. The modeling was completed in Maya, textures in Photoshop, and built and lit with in Unity 5. The project made great use of the baked lighting engine in Unity; lighting was done purely from baking the emission from ceiling lights into the scene.

CubeZ

The story of CubeZ

Early CubeZ menu screen

CubeZ began as a prototype in 2013 to see if a game mechanic had that fun factor. The idea was formed around the zombie genre in video games not exploiting true zombie lore; ‘destroy the brain to kill’. The original prototype consisted of cubes that were shattered in Maya and exported with no clean up. The result was a fun little mini game where low poly zombies were spawned and tried to eat you, where you could shoot away pieces of them, revealing the brain, where you could get a kill. It was highly satisfying because it took a little bit of work and a little bit of skill to off each zombie.

Alpha 3 damage model

After getting the prototype together, I began sending it around to friends to gain feedback. “Quirky”, “odd”, “strangely satisfying”, were a few comments made. While working on a different zombie game, strangely enough was called Zday(actually conceived prior to the creation of the DayZ mod), a fellow developer decided to take up arms and help push CubeZ out of prototype stage. I originally created CubeZ using Unity 4 and all scripting was done in PlayMaker and also used the UFPS plugin. You can still play an early version of the game on Kongrate, I suggest turning your sound volume down or off.

Alpha 2 multiplayer

CubeZ transformed very quickly into a multiplayer FPS. Players were able to see the damage done to them through two iterations of the GUI. First we started with a simple 2D version, then realized we could replicate the 3D character at a very low cost. All animations, facial expressions, and damage were displayed in the GUI now and the result was fantastic.

Alpha 3 Character Customization

To start growing a multiplayer community I put the game on Kongregate again, very soon our game was hacked / stolen / hijacked by another gaming site, I believe was in Poland. On Kongregate, we consistently had about 40 players always online, peak hours around 80; but the Polish gaming site was raking in a monthly player count of 40,000 unique players! Although we weren’t benefiting in certain aspects from this, we were overjoyed that people were playing so much. We later then put the game on GameJolt and managed to sit as the #2 Action game on the site for a couple months.

CubeZ Alpha 3

After moderate success from an Indie-GoGo campaign, Unreal Engine 4 launched, and after a little debate, I caved and we switched engines. Started from scratch. This was good and bad. Good because we were able to do new things, create much more customized systems, the visual fidelity of the game was increased, and physics reliability went up. A few drawbacks from doing so was that we lost players that fell in love with the way it was in Unity, the style of the game completely changed and went from that “quirky” feel to somewhat menacing and some said “creepy”, learning a fancy new engine slowed development but only for a short while.

Things get creepy.

After gaining an entry into Steam Greenlight and into Early Access, we pushed development as hard as we could. Sometimes working 14 hour days, creating and refining models, character rigs, animations, maps, and mechanics every single day. The idea was to replicate what we had done in Unity but in Unreal, somewhat ditching the pixelated look and utilizing the PBR shading power we had now, among other things. With the proportions looking like babies and also bulging eyes and smug look, the result was nothing short of creepy.

Duel wielding the sport pistol.
Duel wielding the sport pistol.

We pushed through another alpha with that style and then I had to make a decision; adopt and refine this current proportion style or attempt to go with another style. I couldn’t stand to work with that character anymore, so I created a new rig and new character model, adding in extra bones for the hands, and feet, and also rigging the jaw appropriately. This created a little more work in terms of creating gear for the models, but overall the decision was a huge success. Hands actually grabbing weapons, gear fitting the character’s body more naturally, animations were much easier and more fun to create. The game overall now had a better feel.

Technologic map
Technologic map

Development progressed over the next year, I offically formed “imaekgames” into a company called Imaek Limited. We went through ups and downs like all good indie developers do; it can be discouraging to work on something so hard and so intensely and to not be met with instant success. Racing through your mind are so many excuses and faults to find for the WHYs, but at the end of yet another development cycle you’re left with something. Experience.

Warehouse rooftop firing the rocket launcher
Warehouse rooftop firing the rocket launcher

Most every day for the past 4 years has been met with some sort of challenge to overcome, a constant barrage of challenges in fact. It’s daunting, frustrating, and outright difficult most of the time but the overall value is nothing short of intrinsic. I have a degree in Computer Animation; something that was merely a nudge in the right direction; the hands on experience that I’ve gained through the struggle of developing a game from prototype to release has pushed my thinking and developmental skills further than I thought possible. Briefly touching the Unreal Editor in college, I had no idea that I would come to know two game engines inside and out. While CubeZ may not appear to be a success by any measure of economical metrics, I can definitely magnet this one up on the refrigerator and be proud of what I’ve accomplished.

Cardboard sneaking suit.
Cardboard sneaking suit.

I hope one day to dive back into the development of CubeZ. Since the Unreal Engine has updated ten-fold from our last beta release, the source is, to my best knowledge, somewhat unrecoverable. The game is currently in a very broken state and our SVN backup has seen better days, the team decided to pursue alternate career paths, but the hope has not completely diminished. One last reboot anyone?