Thursday, 17 October 2013

Hexel Fun

So, I mentioned in my first post I'm making an input manager for Unity3D. I want to release this as an open-beta but I wanted a good platform to do it with. Nothing major just something presented nicely. So I made this blog, but I needed a logo (you gotta have a logo).

I wanted the logo to be hexagonal in nature, since my first planned game (6x Mass Production) is based on a hex grid (plus, I just like hexagons). So hexagonal, clean, and since I'm not really an artist at all, not too complicated so I might actually do a good job of it.

I first tried to use Inkscape to do this, since it was SVG and I could get the clean precision I wanted and it was able to have triangular grids to snap to! First hurdle was that the triangle grids could not be rotated 90 degrees (which I wanted).

Left: Point is up (Inkscape), Right: Point is to the side (what I wanted)

So I tried to pain sideways and although I got something, it wasn't really what I wanted, was plain, and very cumbersome to paint sideways using outline.

Creating hex art with Inkscape, really not what this was designed for... or I was just doing it wrong

I next tried photoshop which was alright, I could get a hex grid as a backdrop and work from there, but unlike Inkscape, it just didn't have the precision I needed, you can set up a snap to grid but only a square setup. It was going alright, but was far too much work to make sure it as precise as I needed it to be.

Enter Hexels!

Hexels Logo
So hex drawing in software not designed for hex drawing is just a simple mission. So I thought I could write a simple hex drawer that would do the job. Seemed like a lot of work, but fortunately someone has done it already! And they've done it pretty damn well! Hexels by HexRay Studios made basically the app I was looking for. It really easy to use if you have basic photoshop/similar experience and their glow aftereffect feature may seem like a gimmick but it really adds a level of vibrance to the images that non-artists, like me, appreciate (since it make us look better than we actually are). After a bit of trail and error, my logo was made. I kn0w the text is a bit wonky so I might revisit it as some stage, but I'm quite happy with it.
This is just the same as the title logo

With this very significant and noteworthy success (lol). I moved on with my real project, making that gamepad input manager. I'm almost done but I needed to write the documentation. But there was a major and all-encompasing, huge, blocky-like problem... ok there wasn't I just need to write up the docs but I wanted some sort of logo or graphic to represent the system! Pictures often speak very well in conjunction with documentation that people will probably mostly ignore anyway (until there's a problem, of course). So I thought I could copy paste a bunch of controllers into photoshop, draw some lines, show whats up, but I though the pictures might be crap, it'll most likely look cheap if I do it... sooooo

HEXELS... yeah so instead of doing important stuff I drew these. Hexels has a nice feature in which you can backdrop an existing image and paint over it. Here are the results of my efforts (with the pics they were based on - I don't own the real pictures, I found them on Google):




So I must disclaim, I am not a trained artist, nor even a practicing one. I think these are OK at least, not fantastic though, but any criticism or advice will help me tremendously if you have. Otherwise I just have to say that Hexels is super easy and fun to jump into! Go to their site and try out the demo!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Welcome to raxterworks

Greetings all,

So this, I am hoping, will be the home of my company to be. I say company, it's really just me making games and things that I like and hope you like too. If it gets big enough I'll make it an official company and such, but even that thought is getting too far ahead of myself. In short, I make games, or tools for people who make games, raxterworks is the housing in which I shall do this in.

My primary skill is programming though I'm slowly picking up the atheistic and design side of things. Although I've spend (way too much) time learning how to code as well as I can in all sorts of languages and environments, I've settled on the Unity3D engine to do most of my work. It's just the easiest way to get idea to actual thing: efficient and minimal frustration!

For now I have two projects I'm working on.

1) A do it all, minimal hassle Gamepad Controller Input Manager Plugin that'll set up all your Unity axes and detect what controller you are using and automatically route the right axes to the right commands. Hoping to release this as an open beta very soon.

2) 6x Mass Production, a puzzle game whereby you must build machinery out of smaller parts using ingenious arrangements of moving hydraulic grabbers, welding rigs and other construction mechanisms! It's based on a mix of SpaceChem and The Codex of Alchemical Engineering both by Zacatronics Industries and I'm hoping for it to be a good first 'official' game.

You can play it using the Unity webplayer:
WebPlayer (18MB): Unity3D Webplayer

Or download it:
Windows  MacOS  Linux (Ubuntu 11.04)

Here are some screenshots from very early development
As you can see, the artwork is very basic... 

Despite it not looking so great, the core gameplay seemed fun, and people likes the idea

Got lots of great feedback, and the next iteration will see improvements to the UI flow and gameplay mechanics. The 'grabbers' were a little complicated to introduce, so I'm planning on introducing sub-versions of these to make the learning curve easier

My initial discussions were on the MakeGamesSA forums, it has far more details than here. But future iterations I'll be posting on this blog as well as on the forums. If you have any feedback, post on the forum or comment here (can I do that here? I'm new to blogging I think the comments bit is public...). Always appreciate criticism. 

I rely a lot on my local game dev community Make Games South Africa for help and guidance. If you are a South African and interested in making games in any capacity (hobbiest, professional, artist, writer, programmer, whatever), definitely check them out! The community is very welcoming to all in my experience.

Thanks for reading!