Monday, June 29, 2009

Community Games

Hey all, here is some gameplay footage from Left 4 Kodu. A survival game from El Bishi. It's still early in the games development, I believe El Bishi just started developing it yesterday. I enjoy it though. I haven't been able to try out multiplayer yet but I plan to. I would like to see different colored bullets and maybe a powerup that speeds up your fish. The neat thing is, I can easily make these changes myself and send the game back to El Bishi, or anyone else!!

I was checking out the XNA forums and it looks like someone has rejected Kodu, for framerate issues when a high number of objects are on the screen. If someone else fails it the game will be put in "jail" for a week and then it can be placed into review again. :(

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Moving platforms, living the dream

Hey, someone asked about moving platforms in Kodu. I do not think this is going to be possible in Kodu 1.0. I do however think that soon after release the Kodu forum on is going to be flooded with feature requests, and a high number will probably be for moving platforms.

The problem right now is that there just isn't an object that would make a good platform. And that most objects have built in collision code that we dont have any real access to. If you can make out a faint yellow glow in the video, that's the sign of two objects bumping into each other. I expect moving platforms to make it in eventually, everybody loves em!

There needs to be more customization in this game, that is a given. We will just have to give the devs time to implement everything that we want. Do you think people would contribute to an open source package of this nature? Oh, you know that they would. But I digress.

The latest news is that Kodu is expected to go into peer review this Sunday. The devs are really pushing for a Tuesday release it seems, having lined up the press and whatnot. I'll update this post with Kodu's review progress. It's quite possible the game could arrive before Tuesday. Or it could be on the marketplace next month, thats just the way it goes.

Kodu Review Progress: 50%

I passed it, and I can't see review progress anymore, but it probably needs about 6 or 7 more people to pass it.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Hi! I was working on a Pacman game for a bit yesterday and today. A video is posted below, don't mind the horrible audio though. I'm the yellowish saucer near the bottom, and there's an AI saucer bot in the middle who wanders along a path until it hears me. Then it starts the chase, unless I just ate a power dot! In which case it better run lol.

I am having lots of fun with Kodu so far. There are some limitations of course. If you notice at the end of the video you can see the thermometer which is still green :) If I had filled the screen up with those yellow dots, which are actually wisp bots, the thermometer would have been filled. But I think the game is pretty good, its Pacman but done in the Kodu style, there are still a lot more things that could be added to this game, I have barely scratched the surface of this software. I can't even imagine what is going to be created when Kodu goes Live!!

Here is a screenshot of the same kodeman level, I just changed the camera to a first person view, and added the ability to launch an apple when I pressed A.

I'm currently debating on whether or not some of the issues that have been coming up in playtest are worthy of a fail in peer review. There has been some contentious debate about this in the past on the forums. I'm currently leaning towards the thought that this game needs to be released so that people can contribute to its further development. I think it will be available soon.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Bring on the Bots!!

Hi again!

Here are some short videos showcasing some of Kodu's fabulous bots! These are objects that you can place in your world that can also be programmed to do all sorts of things, These videos feature most of the bots in the game that I would generally think of when you are going to use bots for player controlled movement. There are a number of other bots in the game though.

You are able to customize the color of these bots by choosing one of the 11 colors in Kodu's selectable color palette. I was hoping to be able to change the scale of our bots, but that feature is absent. Every time you place you a bot you can press X to access its settings menu. There you can modify its speed, bounciness,friction,how much damage it does with bullets, and a lot of other things.

You can cut and paste bots into your game world, as well as make clones of your bots. I'm not entirely sure what cloning does yet. You can also mark any bot or object as creatable. In Feed the Fishy I placed a creatable apple near each cannon. And then modified the cannon's programming to launch the created apple.

Feed the Fishy Update!

Hi! To make up for the lousy quality of that terrain editing video I uploaded a video I made of Feed the Fishy. The differences between this version and the one I posted yesterday are that the fish is now controlled by the player and the cannons are set to release apples on a random timer between 1 and 3 seconds. It took about twenty seconds to make this change in the game. It looks like this is going to be a two player game, with one person controlling the fish, and the other player the cannons.

Kodu Terrain Generation

Greetings! I took a short video of me building a bare world from scratch. Sorry about the video quality, I'm using a digital camera with video capture capabilities lol. Also, there are a lot of prominent strobe light effects used when generating terrain, be careful.

I start by loading an empty world and then setting some world parameters. One day I'll get around to saving a world with the parameters I like the best. Then I simply pick the ground brush and choose the material that I want. There are over a hundred different materials currently in Kodu. I chose a circular linear brush and painted a whole swath at once. A possible racetrack?

Now we wait for Kodu to do its work. Then I chose the up/down brush to generate some hills. Next is the flatten brush to smooth the terrain out. At my viewing distance it's hard to see whats happening but, you basically just hold the Left trigger down and move the thumbstick over the terrain you want to smooth out, you can also level terrain out with this brush. Then you let Kodu do its work.

Looks ready for a test flight. I add an object, picking a saucer, the fastest of them all I think. I find myself adding 3 (the max) quickness modifiers to every movement command I use, as well as increasing to maximum my bots speed multiplier.

Pretty neat!! I also use the roughen tool and add some water at the end but I'm still experimenting with those. As you can see by the thermometer I don't think we will be creating ocean worlds with this release of Kodu.

Generating worlds sure is fun but you might ask, does Kodu allow for extremely detailed terrain editing? :) This is a picture from feed the fishy, a work in progress. I scaled the brush size down to modify a small cube. It is a little bit smaller than that saucer in the video. It's possible to modify a single one of those dots.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kodu dialog

Hi! I altered some programming in one of the tutorials to show some of the dialog options in Kodu.

These images are from the NPC kodu programming. The first one shows a technique where a score can be used as a variable. You can have a few different colored scores, about ten I think. This is page 1.

This image is page 2 of the NPC kodu's programming. It gets activated after the PC Kodu presses A to increase the black score by one.

And this is page 3. If you notice in the video, the bullets that the PC shoots are orange, but they do not activate this WHEN bump,orange code. But when the orange kodu bumps into the NPC it is activated.

And this is the dialog entry screen, a bit familiar. The thing after each sentence is for line breaks, which are needed since you can only fit so much text into a dialog box on screen. There are a number of other <> options,instead of cr, you can type trike to display a picture of the trike in the dialog box, and probably a number of other things you can do that I'm not aware of.

After you enter your text you are given the option to display your lines either fullscreen, as a sequence like in my video, or choose one randomly. I plan to mess around with the dialog stuff later. As for skine99's questions about map sizes, they can get pretty big and yes the size of the map can have an effect on the thermometer. I'll post some map size stuff soon.

More Kodu Fun!!

Hello! I am having a lot of fun with Kodu. I'm currently working on a game called Feed the Fishy.

The fish wanders around until it sees an apple then it chases it down. After it eats the apple, it spits out a wisp which follows a path. Each cannon shoots out a colored apple when the corresponding colored button is pressed on the gamepad. As you can see there can be a lot of apples and wisps on the screen before the thermometer starts to fill up. Once it gets fully red, you can no longer create any apples by pressing a button, instead you hear an annoying bzzzz! sound.

I chose my favorite music so far, Mood Music lol. There's a number of different music tracks in Kodu, as well as a lot of sound effects. beeps and boops not to mention the blips!

I don't know what inspired me to create this game, I just kind of started with a blank world and started messing around with things. I chose the ground pattern because I thought it might help me place things more symmetrically. There is no snap to grid option in Kodu. I think a lot of the design options for Kodu were probably made with ease of use in mind. That's quite understandable, but I think the developers might be underestimating the determination of their playerbase. At any rate, I hope the dev team continues their fantastic work on Kodu for years to come. Did you know that Kodu was made by a programming team of 4 people!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hello Kodu!

Ah, Kodu has finally hit the creators club playtesting forum. I started using it yesterday. It is a lot different than what I had imagined it to be. It is also far more.

A few people are voicing their concerns that upon loading Kodu, they are overwhelmed with the amount of choices available. The developers have loaded Kodu with quite a few starter worlds for you to mess around with. A few tutorial levels, some racing games, and a number of levels that are basically clones of classic arcade games we all know and love. Games like Space Invaders, Frogger, Pinball, Whack-A-Mole,Break Out, etc..

They aren't exact clones of course, but done in the Kodu style. What is this style you ask? For starters, Most things that you will be directly controlling in this game are called bots. There are a number of different bots. The kodu, two types of fish, a unitrike, a flying saucer and many more.

Each bot has different default settings for speed and friction and various other things.

The first level I tried was tutorial number 3. The terrain is basically a small valley with a river in the middle of it. You take control of a unitrike who at the moment can only be controlled by the left thumbstick. Theres a kodu nearby so I motored up to it. He told me to try and jump across the river to reach the other kodu on the other side. But how do I jump?

Easy! Just press start to go into edit mode, select the trike and press Y to program. Add an instruction for

WHEN Gamepad,A
DO jump

Then just press start to go back into play mode. A now makes the unitrike jump. There are various options you can set to control height, speed, direction, etc.. of the jump as well.


Once my unitrike had jumped across the river a few times I wanted to do more.After about an hour or two I had turned this level into a game where you control a flying saucer and when you approach the first kodu he tells you that his friend across the river is hungry and needs some apples. I had placed a tree and some apples nearby. The saucer could pick up apples and deliver them to the other kodu. Once the other kodu got enough apples he started jumping for joy lol! I also had programmed in a factory with a door that would open when the 2nd kodu got enough apples.

I had planned to have the saucer fly into the factory door, and then have Kodu load another level. I don't think this is possible however. Its certainly possible to teleport within a level though, and to have different bots on the screen when different conditions are met or not met. Each bot can have up to six different pages of instructions, I can tell you right now that it's not going to be enough.

One thing I am interested in is the dialogue system in the game, if you are too, I would suggest investing in a wireless keyboard or a chatpad if you prefer. I found myself using multiple pages of instructions for a very simple dialog tree. Perhaps there is a better way though, to be found with some more experimentation.

Anyway, the Kodu devs released a new build today to playtest and after loading it onto my Xbox I found that both of my worlds had been erased. Oh well. Always more to create!
So today I just messed around a bit.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Beginnings

Tomorrow morning I'm going to gamestop to sell the last of my XBOX 360 games. I don't think I'll ever purchase a disc again. For two reasons, the first being that soon games won't be sold on disc anymore, but the other and more important reason is that there are far more interesting things to play on the community games channel (or indie games channel if you prefer).

Yesterday I gave Darthuvius 1000 MS Points. He spent 200 on Miner Dig Deep. Quite an enjoyable game. It could use some more work, just like every game on the channel, or every game for that matter, but you know how it is. So? You might ask, what are you going to do with those other 800 points?

Take a guess.

Yeah that's right, KODU.

The last game you'll ever play.

I think we only have a few more days to wait for this one, it looks like my ban is going to be lifted before it gets released which is good. I'm still hoping it goes into playtest too. And oh yeah, I am going to try and do everything in my powers to get this game to code4 or in some other way be frustrating and confusing so that I can fail it in review.

I only do this because I care so much :)

Some have said KODU doesn't interest them, and some have said that you can't really use KODU to create worlds. I've mentioned before and I'll mention again that my expectations are at extreme levels. I plan to create many worlds in KODU. I want people to feel attached to characters they meet when they play in my worlds. Only time will tell if this is going to be possible. I hope that it is. Oh yeah, I also think it would be neat If I could sell my worlds to other users, but that will come in time.

Well its almost 1 am, so I think I will go rest for a bit. I do have lots of other thoughts about KODU, maybe I'll add to this post later.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Don't be afraid!! Come towards the light

Prismatic is a wonderfully presented and thought provoking puzzler. Granted those thoughts are always of the "Which way is the light going to flow" variety, but the game is quite enjoyable.

Developed by a
team of 5 over the course of 2 years, Prismatic is now available on the XBOX marketplace for 400 points. You can download a trial to your XBOX, or a trial for your PC. Prismatic on the PC costs 10 dollars for the full version.

The game begins with a humorous introduction to the princess who is living happily ever after. We are also introduced to the villian of this tale. Since I now consider story elements to be a required feature of my puzzle games, I am thankful that Prismatic has some. Or at least one, in the beginning of the game. I'm currently on level 40 of a 100 level game and haven't encountered anymore story sequences. The one I did watch at the beginning was very well done however.

The clearing of a floor seemed like a good place to add to the story, sadly all we get for doing this is a faery telling us through one dialogue box that we have unlocked a bonus round. I expect there to be a good story sequence at the end though.

The sound effects and music fit the game perfectly. You might find yourself easily entranced by them, spending hours with this game. The main theme is a delightful rendition of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker Suite". Whenever an orb is smashed we are treated to a delightful sound of breaking glass, with each successive orb break increasing the pitch of the sound emitted.

If you are a fan of Orbyx or Peggle, you know the kind of auditory delight I'm talking about. Unfortunately in Prismatic, the pitch only increases to a certain amount. At which point every orb smashed emits the same sound. To be fair, this only happens on some of the levels, and when a lot of orbs need to be smashed. We begged and pleaded with the developer to increase the number of pitch changes, but alas, we were told it was not possible. Still, the audio is quite pleasant.

The graphics are quite nice too.

On my television, the game downloaded from the marketplace displays a double border around the main game screen. As shown in the screenshot. The version I like to play (review version downloaded from creators club website) only has a single border, with an increased main game screen. I think someone mentioned during the review process that the game looked squished on their television. And then the second border was added.

The game is broken up into 10 floors, each with ten rooms. Every floor has a different background so there's some visual variety to the game. Each room is darkened by the orbs when you first enter them, and your task is to guide the light from the faeries mirror through each orb, smashing them, and lighting up the room in the process. Great Fun!

I had some "issues" with the difficulty of the puzzles. Some were indeed tough, but that's not what I mean. I could find myself halfway through a floor and come across a room that takes me a good twenty minutes to clear. And then the next few rooms would be solved almost instantly. It's not really a problem, I just found it a bit strange. I suppose a rigorous placement of levels based on difficulty would require a lot more playtesters who were dedicated to filling out level difficulty surveys. Maybe for their next game?

If you do find yourself stuck on a certain level, you have the option of playing a bonus round to get some magic faery dust which you can use to reveal the spot in a room where a mirror is supposed to be placed. This dust can come in very handy. Using it affects your score however.

There is a high score table in Prismatic, but it appears to only keep track of your scores on the bonus rounds. There appear to be some timed bonus rounds, so if you're into that type of thing go for it!

The bonus rounds are randomly generated and I found them to be pretty easy. I haven't tried all of them yet though. The main game levels are hand generated. Most of them are able to be solved in multiple ways as well. Occasionally I found myself completing a level with some mirrors to spare. I was just a little annoyed that I didn't get any bonus points for doing this :}

Very few options in this game, a slider for music volume and a checkbox for guide beam. I am a deep fan of simplicity, so this I like.

The guide beam tells you where the light is going to flow before you actually open the curtain on the faeries mirror. I would recommend playing with the guide beam turned off. I found the game much more stimulating and enjoyable after I did so.

The video below can probably explain the gameplay a bit more, if you are still wondering what type of game Prismatic is.

Relax, its good for your health.


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Gaming in Exile

Hi! well I'm about halfway through my one month ban from the xbox and xna forums. I'm going to really have to control myself if I want to avoid the dreaded permaban. I hope I get unbanned in time for KODU playtesting which should be soon. I was told that there are problems with playtesting and xna 3.0. So we have to wait for xna 3.1 to come out before we can playtest.

I've got extremely high expectations for KODU. I expect to spend a lot of time playing and creating worlds with it. This blog post from one of the devs details a pretty advanced looking instruction set. It's good to know that our creativity won't be limited by the code.

I read somewhere that KODU is for anyone ages 7-70. I think we can shave a couple years off the low end of that. maybe starting at around 4 or 5. The big barrier at that age is the controller. But hey maybe project natal can change that. Can you imagine what would happen if a child's first experience with technology is a virtual version of themselves mimicking their movements and interacting with objects in the virtual environment? And what if they could meet other children in this virtual world?

Ah, but that vision is most likely a long way off :( In the meantime I have a few simple ideas that I can't wait to try out with KODU. Also I plan to do a community games review later today, I'm hoping to get back into doing a few reviews a week, but this banning thing has put a crimp in my plans lol.