Warning: today's update will be a little bit technical, but since I'm hanging out at GDC, hopefully that won't be a problem. 😊 Microsoft announced today that it's creating tools to help developers use a technique called raytracing to produce the graphics in their games. I think this is pretty cool--not just because it will make the games of the future look a lot prettier, but because it's a largely unexplored way of creating game graphics.
Although the graphics we're building in How I Roll are a lot simpler than the kind that Microsoft just announced, we think they're every bit as innovative. It's required much more work to build graphics using our own experimental approach, but we're proud of the results. Cheers to Microsoft for stepping off the beaten path! And of course if you'd like to see the unique graphics of How I Roll, please sign up to beta test.
Whenever Isaac and I demo a prototype version of How I Roll, the most common question we receive, naturally, is, "How do I play?" That's an awkward question for us to answer, however, since part of the goal of playtesting is to figure out whether the game is simple enough to understand without any instructions.
Ideally, the only instructions any player should need are the words "tap to jump." Everything else in the game should be intuitive enough that anyone can figure out what to do through basic trial and error.
You might be wondering, "Since instructions are easy to add, why not throw them in?" And while you're right that they wouldn't take long to implement, the truth is that in practice players rarely read them. The vast majority of people who will play How I Roll will download it off the App Store on a whim and open it when they're in a hurry. When time and attention are already limited, we want to avoid adding anything that prevents players from diving right in and enjoying the game.
If you'd like to help us playtest, you should join the beta and get the game on your phone right now! We'd love to know how intuitive (or counter-intuitive) you're finding everything. 📲👍👎
Isaac and I are happy to announce that we'll be at GDC in San Francisco all week (March 19-23). Are you going too? Let's hang out! 🙌 🎮
Yesterday was Pi Day, and although this post doesn't have much to do with everyone's favorite irrational number specifically, it does have a bit to do with math. Hooray! 🤓
For some time, I've been proclaiming that Isaac and I are building How I Roll using entirely procedural graphics. That sounds technical and probably doesn't mean much to most of you, but I promise it's actually pretty simple to understand. These days almost all games use graphics that are pre-drawn by an artist and saved in files that the game loads and displays directly. Procedural graphics, on the other hand, are graphics that are generated after the game is launched--no artists or image files involved.
So how do we create procedural graphics? The answer, my friends, is with a lot of math. 😅 The purplish image above was generated in our game engine using a type of fractal--that's a design created using a mathematical formula. Specifically, I used a technique called Worley Noise that's handy for creating stone and lava effects, among other things.
To generate all the different fractals and imagery you see in the game, we've been using a relatively new type of computing called shader programming. You can think of a shader program as a program that the computer runs at every single pixel on a screen to figure out what color that pixel should be. There's a lot I could say about shaders and how revolutionary they are for gaming as a whole, but that's material for another day.
To see much more interesting shader effects, you should join the beta for How I Roll and play the game on your iPhone or iPad! We'd love to hear what you think of our procedural graphics so far.
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