Game: Velocity

Asteroi1
Asteroids is an arcade space shooter released in November 1979 by Atari, Inc. and was designed by Lyle Rains and Ed Logg. It will always stand out as a special game during my childhood because it was one of the first to showcase vector graphics, objects driven by early physics engine, freedom of player movement and great sounds. I spent countless hours playing in the arcade and then later at home with the Atari console.
This is why I selected Asteroids as the inspiration for a new type of game I designed using HTML5 and the Impact.js game engine. It’s based on the same controls as the original classic with new added game mechanics.

     

In Velocity: Gold Rush, you play a space prospector who is on a mission to mine gold and other minerals from asteroids. Part of the challenge is the vastness of space compared to the size of your small ship. It takes concentration, quick reflexes, and an instinct for controlling your velocity while also predicting that of the floating gold around you. Use your pilot skills to avoid death, while collecting as much gold as possible.
velocity_helpThis is an early demo, the game is still in development. The whole effort came about as an exercise, an assignment I gave myself to keep up with the latest technologies as a developer. I wanted to create a game using an engine to see if I can take advantage of existing tools the market has to offer. “How hard could it be?” I wondered. I could imagine one day using the actual engines that AAA game titles use, but for now I had to start someplace small.
I started simple with JavaScript and the Browser as I knew both very well. I had to pick an engine, purchase a license (if required) and make a game before the end of the year. To my surprise, I was able to get most of that done –including comparing available engine options– all within three months.
I selected Impact.js for its clean API and fast performance. Taking full advantage of JavaScript’s prototype chain, Impact.js style of package layout and module simplicity keeps the engine out of the way and lets the developer start programming within five minutes after downloading the zip file. Not to mention comes with a brilliantly simple level editor for 2D scrolling games. After spending an hour with the well documented API, I felt right at home. The forums are rich with good questions and solutions. Not to mention the $99 one-time, royalty-free licencing fee seemed like a steal. I highly recommend Impact.js for any HTML5 related game development.

Working with Impact.js has given me the confidence to take the next step and purchase a license and begin development with an actual AAA game engine, specifically Unreal Engine 4. I am glad I did, UE4 is amazing. It is a world class game engine with an impressive toolset and work-flow.

Learning UE4 has an interesting side effect for my personal development. It led me to yet another interesting and still emerging area of development, Virtual Reality. Well it didn’t take long after for me to jump in and purchase an Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 (DK2).

Devices like the DK2, with a low-persistent display, and a frame-rate >75fps, can achieve a user state coined VR “presence”. This happens when a synergy of visuals, high-fidelity head-tracking and quality audio, tricks our senses into believing your body is physically someplace else, and actually enduring whatever conditions that are executing on-screen.

In one example demo, the player is placed on a high ledge. Instantly, all the primal instincts take over including all biological systems. Your hands sweat, stomach drops and you get dizzy, you instinctively recoil for your life. Your body feels you are about to fall on a visceral level unlike any consumer media has before.

My personal plan for 2015 is to explore VR gaming mechanics while developing virtual experiences and games for the DK2.

It’s a great time to be alive 😉

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