Category Archive: Master’s

Projects and posts relating to my Master's year spent at Abertay

Network Game Development

SuperNetworkGame

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!

pic0

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

Media

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

Media

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

W.A.M.

StartScreen

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.

Media