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Ulrich Seiffert, the brain behind Golder Sash-A, kindly took the time to answer the questions for this month's interview and to create a few game levels for the Gamestudio community members.
Q: Golder Sash-A7 looks like it's going to be a promising Boulder Dash clone; how much time did you spend working at it?
A: It didn't took me too long to create this game. I started with some research about the many Boulder Dash clones gameplay (~1h) then I made up my mind and wrote down my concept (~30min). The animated player model I bought from Blattsalat long ago (I use it for many projects), the other models are simple textured primitives (~2h). The programming part was the biggest (~7-8h) including sound selection, dialogs (~2h), level design for 3 levels (~2h). And last but not least testing / fine-tuning (~4h). So all in all it took me about 20h to create this game with Gamestudio.
Q: What are the differences between your game and other Boulder Dash clones?
A: The focus for this clone was to create an extendable game (and of cause try to win the contest ;)). It should be playable very soon to prove the concept. The levels are stored in external ASCII files to give me and each creative player the possibility to create new tricky levels. Doing that is simple (just boulders and bombs and some green to cover the rest - the fun of the levels is the level design). But I can extend the game by simply writing a new script for an object represented by a new ASCII char (e.g. monsters, doors & keys, traps) when the basic game will have fans. I am also planning to implement level downloads directly from the internet.
Q: The game levels are 3D, and yet have a clean, 2D-like aspect; the player model, the diamonds, etc look sharp - what did you do in order to achieve that?
A: There is a high contrast between the (bright, colorful, toon-style) foreground and the (dark, blurred) background (a sky cube). The goodies (gold & gems) are minimal primitives with hard faces and hard texture edges.
Q: How did you implement the physics for the boulders?
A: The game represents an array[x][z]. If the cell below the boulder is cleared it falls (slightly slower than the player can walk) to the cell below. If the cell to the left is empty and the cell below the left cell is empty, the bolder falls diagonally to the left lower field. The same thing happens on the right side. Every change is stored in the array.
Q: From what I can tell, you are using about one thousand entities in a more complex level, and yet the gameplay is fluid; did you have any problems achieving this result or did it all come naturally? :)
A: It all come almost naturally :) . The engine renders fast if you mind some rules. The objects have no complex scripts, there is [now] no AI, no shaders, no shadows (avoid many entities with complex attached coding!). The models have few faces and small textures (256x256 pixels). There is a maximum of 425 models that are visible at the same time (the most are not animated).
Q: How much time would it take a regular person to create a medium sized level for the game? Why?
A: Just try it! :) Of course the first level will take longer than the next, but for a level sized 40x30 cells it should take ~10-30 minutes, depending of the design complexity.
Why? - You can use a simple editor (e.g. notepad) to create the levels by placing chars. Write a frame of "W"alls, place a "p"layer and an e"x"it. Add some "a"urum(gold) "g"reen gems and "r"ed gems. Some b"O"ulders and some b"o"mbs to play your level (name it "a.lvl" to
start with it). Optimize the design with additional objects on and on... This is a simple level made in 5min:
Q: How did you learn to program in lite-C?
A: I changed from c-script to lite-c. I knew C / C++, therefore lite-c was easy to learn knowing the concept behind C-script / lite-C. Your AUM is always a good source for coding parts, new features, and so on. And I love game design and programming so I spend reams of hours doing it! My hint for all the C-script programmers: learn lite-C! You will be amazed!
Q: I know that this isn't your first game, so what advice would you give to an absolute beginner to game development?
A: It all depends on your ambitions. If you want to create games for fun - just have fun creating games. Start small. Sure enough Gamestudio is the right choice for you. Use every source to learn from, but be sure you will despond - on and on - but hold on - you'll get better and better!
If a project sticks too much - pause it and start a new - more easy one (small steps!). Have fun! Have fun! Have fun! Play games and analyse what is good and what is not that good. Make your mind (or ask someone) how they achieve these features / effects. Find your talent (game development has so many faces [unsorted order]: modeling, animation, story telling, coding, project leading, controlling, sound design, music composing, graphic design, assembling, testing, quality assurance, translating, level design, advertising, publishing, marketing, coffee cooking, pizza delivery, ashtray cleaning, ...). Go on and improve you talent. For the tasks you have difficulties try to find a team or like-minded people or just learn it (the best you can).
If you want to become a PRO find your talent and work hard on it. Create and advertise your best work with showcases and demo reels. You have to be very good in your scope/s. In general: choose the best tools you can afford and learn to work with them. Yes, and did I mention it? "Have fun!" :)
Thank you a lot, Ulrich!