Archive for the ‘XNA’ Tag

No more teachers, no more books… until next semester!

Wow, I didn’t expect my first semester back at college to be that difficult! It turns out that every project I was doing was put on hold until I could finish my semester. My next semester schedule isn’t any lighter though, although I have cut my hours down from work as to give myself more time to work on my projects. 

So here is where we stand, The map editor is very close to release 1.0, and 1.0 is a basic update. It will do what you need it to do, but it isn’t “polished” .. more “functional.” While on winter vacation I am working with my friend to push out a release, and once that is done we will start opening up the source and add whatever features we may need.

I’ve found that my goal for this project was ambitious, but in line to what we could accomplish. I wanted this editor to work primarily for XNA projects, but not only RPGs. Any game that used a tile engine could take advantage of this project. But what about other platforms? iPhone development? Well it would just take some tweaking to the exporter and you’d have a fully functional XML file.. could that work with iPhone development? Not sure.. but I think it would be fun to tinker with :)

As always, check out my right bar links, there are a lot of awesome projects (Including EvilNando’s Animation editor) that i’ve been keeping tabs on. Lot of great things goin on in the world of XNA, here’s hoping that I can get a final push out and start my actual project here soon.

RPG Editor: Exporter Settings – First Preview

With the first version of the RPG editor just about ready to be tested, I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some of the things we’d like to implement. So lets take a look at some of the custom XML exporting!

From this first screen shot, you will notice that on the left half of the form is all of the fields that can be changed, while each change will be reflected by the XML Output on the right. Using this data, it will be easier to see how your final XML will look, before you export the XML file. 

You can also see that we’re trying to make any map created with our editor be directly “plug and play” with an XNA project. For example, the XnaContent tag is automatically implemented, and so is the Asset Type= but the user will be able to specify their project namespace as well as the map class name that will be housing the data in-game. Obviously every XNA project needs this information unless you are using a custom importer / processor for your XML data, so you can not opt out of having this information exported.

Attempting to make the XML as flexible as possible, you will notice one feature we’ve already put in. You can specify the “Output Type” of your data to take advantage of the various importing techniques of the XNA Content Pipeline. For example, if you wish to import your “MapDimensions” data as a point, the output XML will look something like:

<MapDimensions>X Y</MapDimensions>

while if you wish to import it as a custom data and write your own Content Reader / Writer for that data, you can and it will export something like:

<MapDimensions>
     <Width>
X</Width>
     <Height>
X</Height>
</MapDimensions>

and naturally, all fields are customizable so if you wish to change “Width” to “MapWidth,” you can.

So, for now… this is a small snippet of what we’re working on. Again, we expect this project to be open source once we get further down the road, so anyone can take what we’ve done and expand on it or use it for their own editors.

I hope this project encourages the creation of some great RPGs, because I love me some RPGs :) See you all soon!

Community Games has a date

If you’re working on your own game, or know someone who is.. You should be excited to know that the Community Games has a formal date!

http://creators.xna.com/en-us/xna_goes_live_october30th

“independent game developers will be happy to know that XNA Game Studio 3.0 will be available for download on October 30, 2008 so they can to convert their creations and prepare them to be a part of the launch of Xbox LIVE Community Games on November 19.”

Good news indeed. Looking forward to playing some of your creations :)

XNA RPG Editor: Soon to be Open Sourced

As stated in a previous post, our goals for this project were simple yet ambitious at the same time. We wanted to create a system that could be useable for not only our immediate needs and the RPGs we wish to create, but also any future needs and the games we have yet to think about, and taking it a step further we wanted this project to be usable for any game creator wishing to create levels for THEIR RPGs. 

Step one for my portion of the project is complete. I’ve been working on the XML Exporter class and the front end to that exporter. The goal for me was to get the XML to export all of the needed information in as customizable fassion as posible.. but at the end of the day when you hit “Export to XML,” you can take that file and plug it into your projects content pipeline and expect it to work. You won’t need to mess around with formatting, adding the asset type, change your TileMap class around because of the XML document… it will truly be a document suited for your needs.

We are really only on step one, building the basic framework and systems for the editor. Hell, the editor itself is nothing more than a blank windows form at this point hah. I have started working on the front end of the Exporter system over the next few days and hope to have something to show off then.

Keep in mind, this project is in its first stages, and has some pretty ambitious goals. Our overall goal for this though, is to ensure that people who use our editor will be able to plug the XML into their project and just “have it work” :) Also when the editor gets into a more complete state, we will open up the repository so everyone can take what they like and add it to their own projects or continue to enhance ours for their own use.

Content Creation

With the Dream Build Play project “Complete,” I’ve turned my attention to a few items that will aid in the creation of not only Meir, but any future RPG I write. Content creation is a tricky subject, as the goal is to create something flexable enough to re-use in any RPG project, but dynamic enough and easy enough to use so if I had a few people working on any given project, they would know what to do.

Well me and a buddy from the shacknews chatty decided that he didn’t want to use TileStudio anymore, but wanted something more suited for his game.. so we started colaborating on an editor that would be built specifically for XNA games, but flexable enough to use in any project. Obviously this editor will have to support several major features of basic RPGs, but how in depth are we going to really go with this thing?

Create and edit tile maps? Basic feature, has to be included.
Exporting XML in the same style of the XNA Content Pipeline? Basic feature, has to be included.

but what about features like adding a “tile” to the texture, and having the map build the texture and exporting that to a PNG file? What about creating a system that can export to multi dimensional or single dimensional arrays based on the project needs? How about a dynamic XML system that lets the user edit how their XML should look, then hitting “Export XML” and having their XML formatted correctly? There are many many more ambitious goals we wish to include, and we’re thinking a bit larger scale then just these… but its pretty interesting to see what we could come up with. As always, I’ll keep everyone up to date on whats actually going on. 

So if you had to pick and choose a few “Must Have” features of a game editor, what would you want included?

Meir available for download on Creators Club Beta

The Dream Build Play entry ‘Meir’ is now available on the Creators Club Beta for peer review. Official link to the Creators Club entry is: http://catalog.xna.com/gamedetails.aspx?releaseId=279

I am now on a mission to make substantial improvements to both the engine, technology, and adding the sub-systems that I could not impliment for the Dream Build Play competition. My goal is to have a working framework for my Role Playing Games, and then start working on assets such as quest creation / story / artwork. I figure the engine touchups and technology will take a month or two, but the rest will take longer, so I will probably be looking for either help or outright purchase assets (such as characters, tilesets, etc) from aspiring developers. But… until then, let me know what you guys think!

In order to download titles from the Creators Club Beta, you will need a premium membership. Feel free to leave feedback here or via email at: CraigGiles9@yahoo.com

Meir is an official Dream Build Play project

When I started this project, I couldn’t tell you the difference between a float, int, or double. I didn’t know how to program, and had no clue where to even begin on a project as complex as this… but here I am.

Typical combat screen in Meir

Typical combat screen in Meir

Obviously its not a complete game, nor is it as polished as it could be.. but its good enough to prove a point to myself. Good enough for me to say “I set a goal for myself and reached my deadline with a specific quality in mind, and I hit it.” Next step for me is going to be putting together a story, finishing everything I couldn’t get done for the demo, and working towards the Community Games. Until then, enjoy the promotional video we had to put together for the Dream Build Play competition.

For some reason, the video is currently not showing. Direct link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8n0fBt2t_8

I would like to give a few thanks.. because there were some people along the way that really pushed my goals forward. Most notably from the shack news community (http://www.shacknews.com/) People such as MitchWalker, RomSteady, and Mittense, DHAvatar, and everyone else on that crazy site.

I would also like to point out that the music for the demo was crafted by Delaric, and it is fine music indeed. Several people have contacted me wishing to help on a possible final version of the game and if you’re interested, all you have to do is shoot me an email. I would like to point out, however, that the final version of the game is a LONG… LONG way off. This i would consider, a very basic demo.. and the final version will be a full fledged RPG. You do the math :) But for now.. one milestone is down.. and thank you EVERYONE who helped along the way.

Codename ShackRPG has an official name!

With the nearing of the Dream Build Play deadline, and the completion of a pre-alpha build, I have taken the ShackRPG code name offline and given it an official title…

Meir

There are quite a few things left that still need touchups and some sub-systems that still need to be written, but for now.. the pre-alpha build is up and ready to be polished for the Dream Build Play competition. The only dilemma for me right now is do I add more content to the game? (Temporary storyline, more encounters, items, quests, maps, dungeons, etc) or do I polish what is already in there and give the Dream Build Play judges less content but a more fun experience?

For example;
– The battle engine is in, but only 90% complete (Magic is not implemented)
– The collision system is still “Loose” and I would really like to tighten that up and make it feel great.
– There are no special effects such as particles or explosions
– Dialog system, while crude, is in place. I would like to expand this to create a complete “Cut-Scene” system.

The Pre-Alpha (DBP build) has 3 main areas and a 1 room dungeon (4 maps), 1 major quest line, 8 or so weapons and armor, several music selections, several different monster encounters, and a few random scattered quests. Is this enough? Maybe… maybe not? The deadline is still in a few weeks so I have time to polish a bit and expand the demo a little.

Everything has been a great journey so far, learning how to program through this project was both a blessing and a curse.. but the engine work is almost complete and now the story is being written and content creation is falling into place. Within a week or two, I should have some screenshots and a “promotional video” of actual gameplay that must be submitted to the Dream Build Play site, so I’ll share them with everyone here as well.

So hang in there just a little while longer, and I’ll start leaking some tidbits on the game itself! :) With the demo nearing completion, it is time to set my sights on a full length game for the Community games. My deadline is Christmas, but we’ll see how things work out.

360’s content pipeline gives me a headach!

Oh man, I’ve spent the last week learning the ins and the outs of the Content Pipeline, trying to write readers / importers / writers / data types etc, to the content pipeline… and it was all going well, until i hit F5 :( Damn thing wouldn’t build!

Creators Club msgboard and a few friends who know their way in and out of the 360 helped out a TON with my persuit of knowledge. I don’t know all, or even half, of what goes into the content pipeline programming.. but at least i know “WHY” its doing what it does.

So I’m back on track now, we’ll see if this set me back enough to where I’ll miss the dream build play deadline, but I hope not. And for all of you folks who are looking into the content pipeline for the 360, remember these fun facts that will save you a TON of headach if you don’t already know how to write your own custom readers / writers;

1) The ContentReaders should be placed in the same project as your class you’re reading, preferibly at the bottom of your class.cs file.

2) Content writers need to be in a ContentProcessor project file, and they will be created at build time (not run time) so make sure that any classes you’re referencing, either make a copy and put them into that project (IE: Player.cs from your main game, make a copy, and put it into your Content Extention project file with the name PlayerContent.cs so you don’t confuse the two) or do what I did and have a shared project “Data” stash.

3) HOWEVER, if you DO do what i did, remember that the 360 and windows needs their OWN VERSION since they’re different assemblies. This gave me the most headach :( So my solution now needs 4 projects; 360 game project, 360 data project, windows data project, content pipeline extention project.. Oi, pass the advil!

Thanks go out to Stephen and the whole crew that helped me through, and a BIG thanks to RomSteady and Mittense at shacknews.com … couldn’t do it without you guys :)

Next up, working on releasing a demo!

ShackRPG: Battle System Almost Complete

Battle system didn’t take as long to implement as I had thought, which is great news.. because it means I may just end up getting everything done in time for the Dream Build Play competition!! This battle system is by far one of my most complex systems in the game, for the very reason that makes it fun in the first place. I’ve tweaked it a few times because it was slow and un-interesting, but after playing through a few battles with the new system I think I have things tweaked enough to make battles fun and exciting.

So on to bigger and better things I always say. There are a few systems I’d like to have complete before the Dream Build Play competition, but not 100% necessary, including but not limited to:

Content Readers / Writers: With the current system of XML data, all of the content is being read in via the System.XML namespace. On the PC this doesn’t really give a lot of problems, but on the XBox things are terribly slow when reading new content.

Save System: Right now the game isn’t long enough to support such a system, but its an RPG.. you’ll need to save eventually! I have not even started working on a system to save your progress.

New Assets: While I am just using the assets from the RPG Template right now, I would love to eventually build my own. Not a priority right now, as I’d love to get a tech demo out first.

Cutscene / Scripting system: Cut scenes are possible with the systems I have in place, but I’d love to implement a dynamic scripting system that lets the user really experience the story.

Polish!!: Naturally everything will have to be touched up, working good, bugs squashed, and looking pretty.

So while everything is going along at a fairly quick pace, it is time for me to start putting together something you all can enjoy. I hope to have a few trailers up in the next few weeks and some screenshots of some action, and a demos worth of story hammered out for the Dream Build Play competition.