Category Archive: Projects

Skirmish Sangin

 

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SKIRMISH SANGIN is a tabletop skirmish game where players control opposing forces, either modern western military forces (ISAF) or insurgent militias that do battle everyday in the modern war for Afghanistan. Inside this book you will find:

  • Simple, fast combat rules that enable furious tabletop skirmish battles
  • Information and rules for creation of professional and insurgent forces
  • A full array of modern weapons and armour for both sides
  • Rules for off table support ranging from snipers to heavy weapon platoons, fast air and helicopters
  • A game that plays as easily with two people as it does for multi-player games.
  • A set of rules that provides an intense and compelling tabletop game regardless of whether you field four figures per side or forty.

One of my main hobbies outside of the video games industry is that of tabletop wargaming. As I started playing I found that Skirmish Sangin was my preffered ruleset. This was due to its level of detail yet also its speed of play, allowing for complex and exciting scenarios to be played out. As time went on, I started writing several small sets of rules and scenarios before posting them onto the Skirmish Sangin forums. One of these caught the eye of the head honcho at Radio Dishdash and so I have started to contribute by writing more scenarios in my free time.

So far several of the scenarios I have written have been released. These are:

I Am Bread – Mobile

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‘I am Bread’ is the latest quirky adventure from the creators of ‘Surgeon Simulator’, Bossa Studios. This isn’t the best thing since sliced bread . . . it is sliced bread!

Mashable – ‘After years of waiting, we can be Bread’
Touch Arcade – ‘Feels like the pinnacle of all humanity’s accomplishments’
Wired – ‘I am Bread is the strangest game you will play this year’
9/10 – Steam
Metro – ‘Slice of Heaven’
Destructoid – ‘I Am Bread is just delightful’
MTV – ‘Best Carbs’

You are bread! Your mission, become toast! Take on all hazards to deliciousness as you head on an adventure across 8 levels taking bread from its natural confine in the kitchen, throughout the house and then venture outside into the garden and beyond. Look out for the floor and any other unsavoury obstacles that could harm your tastiness as you seek out the means to achieve bread’s ultimate goal.

Using the unique control system, designed from the ground up for iOS, you can bring the slice to life and take it on an incredible adventure. With you in control, this bread will be boldly going where no bread has gone before!

Personal Notes

In this project we worked with the team at Bossa Studios to convert their game from a PC release into a premium iOS application. This work was later used in the release of I Am Bread on Android

As most of the new gameplay development was done internally at Bossa, my primary role was improving the UI performance for mobile by trimming unused elements and temporarily disabling sections depending on what was currently visible on screen. In addition, I also helped to prototype some internal touch controls to assist in development and provided support for the rest of the team by spending time understanding and learning the structure of the project and details of the game itself acting as a knowledge base.

This project was done using Unity 5 and implemented on iOS. In addition, the game also features my smiling face on the credits screen.

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RollerSaurus

 

10313423_10202653129741659_1769408886271832958_nPitched as the world’s first Rotary Dinosaur game, Rollersaurus was a quick prototype made over a month by myself based off a designer‘s idea for a game. I worked to translate a bare-bones GameMaker prototype into a Unity game that could be deployed to mobile. We set a short time limit on it due to other commitments and aimed to have a small game that included the key concepts with room to expand in the future.

The game was designed for play on mobile devices, utilising the tilt sensor to roll the player character back and forth across the level. Players must then shoot down flying enemies while avoiding being hit. The game has been tested on both Android mobile and tablet devices

I look forward to returning to this prototype and extending it into a full game. I especially like the mock theatrical feel of the level, but I did not manage to get it lit properly before I ran out of time.

Development details can be found on my development blog at http://hntdaab.co.uk/devlog/?cat=2

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Source Code

This is avialable online at https://bitbucket.org/michael_charge/rollersaurus

Network Game Development

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As part of the MProf course at Abertay, I selected to take a module that focused on Network Game Development. Through this module, I aimed to translate the skills I learnt at Teesside into a C++ environment as well as adding a dead reckoning implementation required by the brief.

To fulfil this, I created a multi-player top down shooter called “Super Network Shooting Game”. This game combines local and network multi-player, letting up to 8 players take part in simple top down combat. Each terminal support four controllers (thanks to SDL 2.0’s robust controller integration and Microsoft’s wireless controller receiver).

The network model is server-client, with both machines having players. The server is responsible for starting and ending the game. Required information for both machines (such as start and end messages) are sent via a TCP connection formed when the applications start. Standard game events are transferred via UDP. Linear interpolation is used to mitigate packet loss or delay.

In addition to networking, I used C++11’s multi-threading features to move the TCP and UDP listeners to separate threads to improve performance. This was my first major experience of using multi-threading in C++ environment and took a while to learn, however the application performs well and exits cleanly.

To assist in development, I used several third party libraries to assist:

  • SDL 2.0 was used for the basic framework, particularly the rendering and input elements
  • SDL_Net was used for the network framework, providing a feature packed layer to implement TCP and UDP connections.
  • SDL_Image was used to allow the game to render PNG and JPG images used for sprite sheets
  • SDL_TTF was added to allow the outputting of text – this feature was added after handing the module in.

For this project, I received an A20, the highest mark that Abertay awards for its module grades. After development I look forward to improving this demo, adding additionally game-play features while using it as a test bed for improving my C++ skills in a multi-threaded, multi-machine environment.

Source Code

All source code for this project can be found on my bit-bucket at https://bitbucket.org/michael_charge/super-network-shooting-game

Please note that I have branched off at the version I handed into Abertay which is titled “Handin_Branch” – it is missing the text rendering and some structural improvements.

Third Person Shooter Project

The damage zones outlined on the final model. The largest capsule is the model's collision mesh.

As two separate projects at university, I have been creating a series of demos to test out mechanic ideas for a potential third person shooter project. The overall idea was to bring realistic aspects of certain shooter games (such as location based damage and ballistics) into a touchscreen game. To assist in iteration, the demo was created in Unity, utilising its C# scripting as well as features such as Mecanim for character animation and its robust physics system.

Professional Specialisation

The Professional Specialisation aspect of the project was to focus on gameplay programming and the initial aims were split into three core parts:

  1. A basic third person cover sysytem
  2. Realistic ballistics with the aim of letting designers use real world values
  3. A location based damage system that can affect the player’s gameplay when they are injured.

These objectives went through a process – an investigation into how other games implement them, a rough idea on how they should work in code and then implementation. All three were successfully implemented in a prototype fashion.

  1. The cover system will look for a cover marked object, move the player to the cover position and force the player to crouch.
  2. Ballistics takes in values from real world weapons and outputs the correct kinetic energy. Rounds use a combination of raycast and physical collisions to both impart force and cause bullet effects on the health system from any distance.
  3. Each of the characters in the scene has a location sensitivity health system. This takes kinetic energy values, applies it to the hit location and then deals with the after effects such as knocking a character down or killing them.

 

The finished protoype can be played online at https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/6573563/DemoWebBuilder.html or below. Please note the cover mechanic has been disabled for web player

 

Further details of this projects development can be found here

Innovation Project

The Innovation Project module was based around taking an investigation from initial idea to its conclusion. I decided, to tie in with my third person shooter game, to look at a brief delivered by one of my tutors looking into third person controls in a 3D environment. I implemented to control schemes to compare a touch screen focused scheme with the standard soft joystick option used by many porting companies.

To test these scheme, I created a simple map and a timing utility to chart a players progression through the level. In addition to this, I also created an implementation of the shoot scene with touch screen controls.

As you can see in the image below, I got the final demo working and deployed successfully to both my Nexus 7 tablet and my HTC One phone.

2014-05-12 12.21.02

Further details of this project can be found here

Source Code

Source code for this project can be found on Bit Bucket at https://bitbucket.org/michael_charge/overwatch

 

Gnomes!

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Gnomes was a game produced in the final semester of the Abertay MProf project for Sony.  The project was to take a Unity prototype developed in semester two and convert it from Unity and PS Vita to the Playstation 4 while using the PhyreEngine framework. In the game, you play as two gnomes who, after stealing a removal van, are stealing items from an old ladies’s house. Players have to steal as much as they can and escape before the real removal van appears while also trying not to be revealed as Gnomes by the granny. This is made more difficult by the gnomes short stature, forcing them to stand on each others shoulders to maintain the illusion but causing them to be susceptible to over balancing, especially while carrying the loot.

On this project I was part of a 15 person team including artists, designers and other coders. I took the role of Gameplay programmer, focusing on the game implementation of the game’s core mechanics:

  • the player character’s balance
  • the ability to carry (and drop) objects
  • a box to ease the carrying of multiple objects

This required the use of the PhyreEngine’s built in tools (such as a component system) as well as talking with the designer to both gain the direction they wanted and be able to communicate the tools need to modify the created systems (such as a LUA script to control the balance and custom editor components for the steal-able items). In addition, several of my created systems overlapped with other parts of the game, requiring tight co-ordination with the rest of the team

In addition, I also helped in the implementation of the audio system, communicating with other programmers who had moved onto other tasks and projects and the audio designer himself. This utilised the FMOD framework to ease integration of the audio designer’s vision.

The game was demoed at Protoplay between the 7th and 10th of August 2014. During that time, the public seemed pleased with the game citing the art style and the difficult but humorous gameplay. In addition, we spent the following weeks to work on bug fixing and final improvements

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Video:

Images:

Legal Note

Please note all elements of this project, including images and video displayed on this page belong to Abertay University and Sony

 

A Clockwork Disaster

main_menu_background A Clockwork Disaster is a 2D puzzle platformer prototype developed in my second term on the MProf course at Abertay.

The brief was provided by Sony and was designed to target the Playstation Vita, utilising some of its key and unique features. After a short pre-production stage, we settled on a puzzle platformer design while using the hand painted artstyle produced by our artist. The key feature was the main character’s ability to adjust time – by using the front or rear touch screen, players are able to speed up and slow down time.

My responsibilities on the project were originally the creation of the time manipulation gameplay and the objects associated with it, the integration of the character’s animation and working with the audio designer on implementing the music and sound effects.

This project was implemented via Unity with the coding written in C#. We took advantage of Unity’s extensible nature and utilised the Sprites and Bones plugin to make the animation of the character faster and more streamlined than using a frame based system.

The Team

Art: Sam Heisler

Design: Charlie Reily, Gavin Stewart

Programming: Michael Charge, Stuart Martin

Sound: Ronan Quiqley

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Please note: All aspects of this project belongs to Abertay University.

W.A.M.

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W.A.M. (or Whack A Mole) is a simple 2D games prototype developed in my first term on the MProf course at Abertay.

The brief was to produce a simple game demo designed to be played on a mobile device based around three titles (“Impact”, “The Few” and “A New Day”). Our design was based around Impact and we created  a Whack A Mole game featuring multiple different types of mole, a scoring system with music and assets created in house for the game. The control scheme is entirely tap based, designed to be quick to pick up and play.

The project was implemented primarily in Marmalade 6.2 using C++ and the IwGame Engine available here, especially utilising the XML setup functionality in IwGame. The game has been tested on Android phones and tablets and shows the controls to be ideal in their intended environment. Feedback from classmates and tutors has been positive.

In order to continue development, the game is currently being converted to Unity from Marmalade due to licensing.

The Team

Art: Mustafa Cetiner

Design: Sean Winston

Programming: Michael Charge

Sound: Anthony Sheridan

Download

Source code may be available September 2014 pending the conclusion of the MProf program.

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Final Year Project

Final Year Project

As part of the final year of  my BSc Computing degree, I did a personal project to utilise the skills I had learned over the previous years.

My project was entitled “Assessing the suitability of the Google Nexus 7 for games development“.

The project was split into two parts.

  1. Part 1 investigated the Nexus 7 device and the Android Operating system with an eye towards using it as a gameplay platform. This resulted in the creation of the Nexus 7 Workbench application, a simple tool used to showcase some of the technologies and capabilities the device can use such as camera and GPS support.
  2. Part 2 compared and contrasted the differences in developing the same game for the Android platform in two different ways. The methods selected were using the Android SDK and using YoYo Game’s GameMaker Studio application to develop a simple memory game using the same art assets across both development platforms.

Part 1 went in-depth with the hardware of the device. Thanks to the use of various sources such as iFixit and hardware reviews, the individual capabilities of each part of the hardware as well as the reason behind some of the design choices were analysed, experimented with and explained. The final product created for this section was a small app created using Java in the Android SDK that used multiple facets of the hardware such as the camera, the GPS and the suite of sensors available.

Part 2 looked at two different methods of creating games for the Android platform. This was done by using the same basic game (a simple memory game) and creating it using different software packages. Originally the project was going to utilise Unity as one of the two but due to an issue with getting the licenses required to push to Android platforms, GameMaker Studio was used instead. It presents a different challenge to the Android SDK and contrasts its designer/scripting focus against the Android SDK’s programmer focus.

Deliverables

The project delivered three things:

  1. The Android Workbench application
  2. A memory game created for the Android platform using both GameMaker Studio and the Android SDK
  3. A dissertation presenting my findings and showing my methods

My source code and dissertation is available on BitBucket at https://bitbucket.org/michael_charge/final-year-project

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UnderCurrent

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As part of my final year, I took part in the Advanced Games Development Module. This module is designed to introduce the various different disciplines (artists, animators, programmers, designers and sound designers) into working with each other to create a working game prototype within 7 months.

I was part of a team working with the Unreal Development Kit, a free version of the Unreal Engine 3. This was selected early in development by the design team as it was the platform they were most comfortable using. This meant that I had to learn UnrealScript as well as creating new gameplay systems.

For this module, I received a 1st. The game is being continued by elements of the team at Hammerhead Interactive.

Download

An executable of the latest build is available at https://share.oculusvr.com/app/undercurrent

Media

UPDATE: UnderCurrent has been making the rounds of various gaming sites after the release of our alpha gameplay video went up

Joystiq: UnderCurrent aims to bring deep sea exploration to Oculus Rift

Polygon: UnderCurrent uses Oculus Rift for a deep sea exploration simulation

PC Gamer: UnderCurrent bringing deep sea exploration to the Oculus Rift

VG247: Oculus Rift goes deep sea diving in UnderCurrent

NBC News: Explore the ocean floor with virtual reality

Alpha Gameplay Video

My main role was in writing a series of gameplay affecting fish that the player would interact with to change their speed or other properties. These are visible in the proof of concept video below.

Gameplay System Proof of Concept

Initial Proof of Concept

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