Posted by on July 15th, 2014

A message from Ino:

Hey guys,

We are getting pretty close to being able to call this thing an actual game, so this update is kinda a big deal. Lots of new systems have been put into the engine, which means more stuff to do in Survival, but more importantly, more stuff to mod. Unfortunately with this update we also had to put the kibosh on the Proving Grounds; it would have held everything up so we decided to put it under construction for now. But fret not, we will get it back and running as soon as we’ve had a chance to kick it and scream at it to get it working (as is typical of effective problem solving).

We still have a lot of stuff to do and another big update coming in very soon, so keep up to date with what’s going on and maybe subscribe to our YouTube channel for WIP videos each week. Please also do keep in mind that bugs and performance issues should be expected and we really need you guys to let us know as it comes up. It’s a huge help to us and we really rely on you guys to inform us of what to improve on.

If you like what we have been doing so far, please consider sharing our project with your friends on the interwebs. Any support we get goes right back into development and helps keep us indie.

As usual, if you guys have any questions comments or concerns, feel free to yell at me @inoritewtf or our official twitter @nerdkingdom.

Xoxo.
Peter – ino – Salinas

 

Art

  • New resources added: Raw Beef, Cooked Beef, Animal Hide, Animal Intestines

  • The goat has been added as a prey Critter

  • Leaf Sack added as a decor item

  • Crude Bed added to the game

  • Crude Workbench added to the game

  • Growing trees and vines added to the game

  • Updated Grass textures

  • Added Tilled Dirt texture

  • Added Chopped Wood object

  • Added Stacked Wood & Wood Plank objects

  • Added Cobblestone & Gravel objects

  • Added Cobblestone, Carved Stone, Chopped Wood, Clay Blocks, Thatch & Wood Log textures

  • Crude Shovel, Crude Hoe, Crude Knife objects added to the game

  • Vine Fence added to game

  • Texture adjustments made to Rocks, Crude Axe, Crude Hammer

  • Texture adjustments made to Crude Shovel, Crude Hoe

  • Reoriented and rendered several weapon and tool icons for better recognition

  • Fixed alpha channel bleeding that caused some trees to render with large seams

  • Added UI icon to distinguish game objects that can be placed as voxels

  • Fixed misaligned alphas on bamboo trees

 

Design

  • Variations in recipes have been simplified to one type per recipe to fix some crafting issues

  • Resource drops have also been adjusted to match the recipe variation change

  • Farming added to the game.  Certain fruit produce seeds when harvested that allow the growing of trees and vines

  • Growable objects set to obey rules of distance to other objects and amount of sunlight in an area

  • New tools added to the recipe list, Crude Knife, Crude Hoe, Crude Shovel

  • Prey AI added to the game; the goat

  • Hunting added to the game

  • New tables & table specific recipes added to the game; Fire Pit & Crude Workbench

  • Spears are now throwable in Survival Mode; T key toggles between melee and throwing modes

  • Stacking added to object inventory amounts in the player’s backpack

  • Cooking added to the game

  • Recipes cleaned up after resource variation changes and new recipes added for all new items as well as resource conversion and item recovery recipes

  • Vine Fence object placement refined so where the cursor is pointing, next object will be placed out from cursor and in the direction of the player

  • Crude Bed mechanic added to game; using the bed (with a right click) saves the player’s spawn position and causes time to pass in the world

  • Hunger levels adjusted to work with renewable food system

 

Code

  • In Survival Mode, the “Z” key enters placement mode which allows for full rotation of objects when placing them.

  • Rudimentary pathing added for Critters

  • Hunger system added for Critters; system used to control and adjust AI behavior

  • Critter spawn system added to game

  • Critter death and loot drop system added to game

  • Critter alert/graze AI

  • Controllable Growth system added to game; trees & plants can use the grower script to grow over script controlled times as well as produce fruit and decay

  • Throwing system added for specific objects

  • Some objects can now pierce other objects when thrown

  • New animation pipeline in place to accommodate for looping animations

  • Fixed alpha channel shadow bug causing some objects to not render proper shadows

  • Model Viewer added(Currently 64-bit only)

  • Fixed numerous stablility issues

  • More functionality added to Modding API (See scripts in content folder for examples)

  • Cleaner Main Menu UI/UX

  • Numerous logic bugs fixed

  • Fixed sound not playing on breaking objects

  • Fixed sound not playing on breaking terrain

  • Fixed sounds not playing correctly on foot steps

  • Improved sound buffer logic

  • Improvements to the save system to account for objects having child objects

 

Known Issues

  • Current saves will no longer be valid

  • Proving Grounds has been temporarily disabled

  • Creative Mode server (and multiplayer) have known instabilities while we investigate improvements to networking

  • Some objects when placed inside of (or clipping into) the terrain can cause them to fall through the ground

  • Placing a torch pressed right up against a wall will an error pop up (which is recoverable), and the torch will be lost

  • Tools do not take durability damage from terrain interaction

  • Tool resource drops overlap

  • Tools overlap in functionality

  • Spears will stick if any portion of it hits

  • Mouse button 3-4 can’t be bound to actions

  • Fire Pit will light whenever a saved game is reloaded or if a player leaves a biome and returns

  • Using stacked objects in recipes can sometimes not allow the recipe to be crafted

  • Placing very large objects close to yourself can cause you to fall through the world

  • If you die in Survival Mode, the item in your hand does not drop

  • In Survival, Hunger, health, and stamina levels restore to full between game sessions

  • The shovel can only be picked up at the stone tip/head portion

  • Mushrooms and Crystals are displaying the wrong texture

  • Sometimes changes to a world do not load properly. Reloading the map should load the changes.

  • Stacked objects that are dropped using “Q” do not have a visual representation of the number of stacked items in the stack

  • Placing the Vine Fence using the right mouse button can sometimes cause the object to get stuck inside the player

  • Sprint cannot be currently remapped

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Posted by on July 3rd, 2014

What’s up everyone? It’s Edward aka Noesis again with this week’s blog on some more behind the scenes of Nerd Kingdom! Some of you may know that the Kingdom spreads far and wide. From CA to NY…Seriously. I spent the past few months in the lovely land of the Lone Star state and I’m now back in sunny Southern California. But Ed, how does Nerd Kingdom function with you guys being so spread out? Well, the simple answer is… THE INTERWEBNETZ! The more complicated interesting answer is through lots of planning, emailing, video chats, text chats, mobile, social media, and well, when we can, face to face. Oh yeah, coffee.

There are only a few of us here in California and we generally will work from home, coffee shops, and wherever else we can so kindly borrow *cough* steal *cough* a Wi-Fi connection. Every once in a while, we meet at the Starbucks in Downtown Disney. But as fun as it may sound to be able to work where ever you want, there is a lot involved. Side note: For those who do work remotely, please take time today and thank your baristas. Without them, you’d be a zombie.

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For one, scheduling is crucial. Our team in LA/OC is pretty spread out and trying to get everyone together actually requires a lot of planning. Figuring out a place that can handle all of our bandwidth needs is important. And at this point, standard protocol is now to run a speedtest before beginning the work day; we have our favorite spots figured out for the most part. Scheduling is also super important because of elements such as time zones, start times and end of day. An example would be usually at the beginning of the month when there are planning meetings, we usually login a little earlier to “sit in” on those meetings.

Another very important element to working remotely is lots and lots of communication. Have you ever had a situation where you got a text message and you interpreted it one way, but the sender meant it another way? Yeah, we run into that situation here and there. We communicate constantly through email, voice calls, video calls, and sometime we need to go old school and we send morse code. Not really but it might be a cool idea. Wait. No. No it’s not. Sorry. One of the cool things that happens is that when we work on documents we are able to collaborate live through Google Drive. Whoa. Google Hangout has been a very important tool…when it comes to bothering the art director for stuff.

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All in all, the Nerd Kingdom team works hard to make sure we are working together towards putting out a quality game. Teamwork is important and we all have each other’s backs. Through lots of communication, hard work, with a sprinkling of fun, we’re able to stay connected even though we are far apart. Ok I’m stopping it here before I go into some super sappy “I love these people” motivational/inspirational blog post. Till next time!

Edward (@n0es1s)

BTW: Another tool we use to keep in touch and on track is Trello, so go check out our Dev Board. And we like talking with you all so hit us up on Twitter @TheUntitledGame and @NerdKingdom

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Posted by on June 26th, 2014

Hello there! It’s-a me Auti0, Programming Lead at Nerd Kingdom, again. Last time I discussed a brief overview of our modding systems and how they will play a role in TUG in the future. I’d like to talk about something a bit different this time. Leading a programming team in game development or Programming Programmers.

At Nerd Kingdom, we are still a small indie studio with less than 30 people. 7 of which are programmers(including myself). Although the programming team is “small”, it isn’t without its challenges. It is a constant juggling act of many responsibilities, including but not limited to…

  • scheduling and keeping track of everyone’s tasks

  • ensuring code quality

  • frequent meeting with other teams

  • commenting on forums

  • understanding and meeting requirements for features and tools

  • creating shippable builds

  • explaining the why’s and why not’s of the tech to other teams

  • planning infrastructure for future features and tech

  • balancing the desire to perfect tech and working on fun features

  • understanding and utilizing each individual programmer’s talents

  • testing features

  • vetting, hiring, and training new programmers

And among all this, trying to find time for myself to actually code. These are just some of the responsibilities that I have to deal with on a daily basis.

One of the critical points in any project, which games are not exempt from, is timelines. Being able to accurately create timelines is an invaluable tool. In the real world though, this is one of the hardest things to do. When building an engine and game simultaneously, there are just a ridiculous amount of variables that come into play. Although I could make excuses all day, the truth is it still falls on the lead programmer to make sure our timelines are as accurate as possible and we do everything we can to make sure they are met. A simple rule I learned from one of my old programming leads is to take your original estimate, multiply it by two, then add 3. It isn’t perfect, but it adds a good amount of padding for prototyping, feedback, refinement, testing, and cleanup.

A major strength/flaw of programmers is an unnatural desire to make everything perfect. At first glance, this seems like a good thing. We all want perfect, right? The issue is that is it easy to go down a rabbit hole of finding the cleanest, most efficient, most robust solution for even the simplest problem. We want to architect a beautiful system for the simplest of features. So part of the lead programmers job is to know where to draw the line and when to intervene to create a balance. It is important to find time for both building infrastructure and implementing actual gameplay features. Often you simply have to say something is “good enough” and move on. This doesn’t always sit well with some programmers, but it’s all part of the big picture of making a kick-ass game. After all a perfect engine with no game is no fun at all (unless you are into that kind of thing)!

Every programmer is unique. Some are very talented in a specific field, like rendering, while others are competent at most systems and can bounce around as needed. Learning each of your programmer’s skill sets is crucial in developing the project as efficiently as possible. This takes time and it isn’t always immediately apparent what an individual programmer’s true skill set is even if you have a general idea from the interview process. Besides their actual expertises it’s  important to know the two things about the programmer we discussed in the previous sections, estimating tasks and time management. Both of these are usually things that improve with experience.

One more thing you will have to deal with as a lead is interacting with other teams. This can mean interacting with them on a daily basis to make sure content is in line with tech development to managing expectations of features and tools that are coming online. You never know what your art director might throw at you that day so you always need to stay sharp and be ready to roll with the punches!

Leading a programming team is a ton of work. Some days can be a huge stress ball and all I want to do is go to a corner and code away, but overall I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Thanks for reading again! I hope you got a better understanding about our programming team from this. I’m always down to answer questions so just shoot me a PM on the forums or twitter and I’d be happy to answer any further questions regarding being a lead, TUG, Nerd Kingdom, or the Games Industry all together.

@Auti0

Andrew Davis

Lead Programmer at Nerd Kingdom

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Posted by on June 19th, 2014

Imagine the world frozen in a great crystalline winter. Every animal stilled midmovement, every leaf perfectly preserved, even the wind has been captured by this eerie stillness.

This is the world presented to a visual effects (VFX or simply, FX) artist with the vague mandate “fix it”. But where do you start?

FX should usually be one of two things:

  • obviously out of place

  • subtly blended with the world

Obvious FX are things like fire, spells, scifi beams, explosions; effects that are big, flashy, and “cool”. They are extremely fun to make and very easy to get feedback on because they either work or they don’t. End of story.

Subtle FX are ones that fit within the environment around the player & are most noticeable by their absence. For me, environmental FX are the most satisfying- even if they usually go unremarked. There’s a moment when the scene clicks and suddenly you know it’s time to move on to the next biome.

Since TUG is procedurally generated, the FX I make have to work anywhere. In past games, I might be able to set up an FX for specific angles, or distances. A far off waterfall could be done cheaply PC performance-wise in a game that limits the player’s movable area. In TUG that same effect needs to look as good up close as it does from far away while, but also be able to allow for a randomly generated number of them to appear in the same scene. Usually this works. Sometimes you get synchronized leaf drifting.

Oops.

For the most part, FX in TUG are tied to objects – they come from a fixed source. Glowing spore softly drift from little mushrooms, will’o’wisps dance around the the deadly trap lures, leaves drop from their respective trees. But what about the more extreme biomes that can’t support lush plantlife?

We rely upon the wind. By creating small dummy objects with a transparent texture to attach the FX to, we can populate a biome with a cohesive effect that appears to come from everywhere and nowhere as once – just like a gusting wind blowing sand across the desert, snow eddies striking up suddenly in the mountains, or hazy fog drifting in the swamplands.

Nerd Kingdom is building our own engine and this brings with it some unique challenges. Every effect made so far is temporary. As our tech improves or is changed then so are the FX. I’ve already lost count of the number of times I’ve redone the wisp or fires as updates have come down the pipeline. Our engine is still very young compared to other games out there, which means there’s a lot of room for us to grow- especially in the FX department.

It’s exciting to think about what we can add next to improve how our game looks and feels. As more content gets added and new player mechanics come online, the variety & need for more effects ramps up too- turning TUG into an increasingly vibrant and living world for you to explore.

Jessica Nida (aka geekthumb) is the Senior Artist & FX Lead for Nerd Kingdom. She likes art, games, and making things explode in a ridiculous manner. When she’s not practicing aeromancy in TUG, she’s designing boardgames in her spare time or cooking enough food to feed a small army. She’s recently started kayaking in the hope of spotting the Lake Dallas Leviathan, which she did not totally just make up.

 

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Posted by on June 12th, 2014

Hi there! I’m Edith aka Pandamonium, and I’m one of the Community Managers over here at Nerd Kingdom. As you all know, this week was an exciting one for the gaming industry with E3 going on. Ino (Peter), Noesis (Edward), and I had a chance to check out E3 and it. Was. Awesome. So what, you ask, were our favorite games to come out of E3? GLAD YOU ASKED!  

Pandamonium
1. Splatoon – It’s been a while since I’ve been this excited about a Nintendo product but I had a lot of fun with this game when I got to test it out. If you don’t know much about it yet, it’s pretty much these cute little squid-like characters with guns but instead of killing anyone or accumulating points, your goal is to paint as much of the arena as possible. Cute characters painting? Does it get any better? No, but seriously, it’s tons of fun. Check it out.

2. Batman Arkham Knight – Why does it seem like all of the games announced at E3 this year are being released in 2015? It sounds so far away. This game I may actually pre-order because I’m dying to play as Harley Quinn. I’ve bought,played, and loved every single game in the series and this seems to be no exception. Also, check out the batmobile. Brilliant.

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3. Disney Infinity 2.0 – I haven’t yet caved into Infinity or Skylanders, but now with Marvel characters for Disney Infinity coming out, I don’t think I can avoid it anymore. It’s awesome that they announced two sets, although I’m more excited about the Avengers series. The game looks like a bigger and better version of 1.0 with the added bonus of skill trees. I’m also pumped because I know the storylines for Disney Infinity 2.0 are written by Brian Michael Bendis and if you’re a comic book fan you’ll know the name well and he hasn’t disappointed me yet.

Noesis
1. Super Smash Bros. – I’ve personally never caught on to the SSB series probably because I constantly got beat so badly when I was growing up but this new one REALLY…REALLY looks good and I may just end up dropping some cash to get the system and game.

2. Forza – I’m a big car nut and racing fan. I grew up with Gran Turismo, but I have recently began playing the latest Forza on Xbox One and well when you incorporate Top Gear and some solid racing simulation you have my attention. I did see the preview for Forza at E3 and I’m not OVERLY impressed because there technically isn’t much “new” stuff you can do with a race simulator but nonetheless, I am excited to get my hands on it and race.

3. EA Sports – I AM SO EXCITED FOR EA SPORTS GAMES THAT I AM WILLING TO STAND IN LINE AT E3 FOR HOURS UPON HOURS TO GET MY TURN PLAYING MLB!… This was intended to be a sarcastic post for @inoritewtf, but honestly I do enjoy a good match of FIFA. (GO BAYERN!)

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Ino
1. OMG NINTENDO. EVERYTHING NINTENDO. NINTENDO BLEW EVERYTHING OUT OF THE WATER.

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DID I MENTION NINTENDO, YET?

Oh, and No Mans Land looks pretty awesome.

What about you? What game at E3 are you looking most forward to? Share with us here, Twitter, or Facebook with #TellNerdKingdom.

Pandamonium (@Tweedith)

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Posted by on June 5th, 2014

Hello newcomers, veterans & everyone in-between. This is John aka Nekochu and I’m here to talk about TUG: Survival Mode!  This update is our first example of the Survival Mode that everyone has been waiting for.  In this mode you will explore, craft and thrive in the world while also enjoying the design of discovery!

Now wait a minute, let’s slow this down a little bit.  I would like to dig down a little further into that last statement.  Let’s start with the word, design.  What is the design of survival?  Well we’ve thrown around this idea in other post and on the forums but have we ever really broken down what it means for a survival game, especially in the game of TUG.

One of the foundations for our design is that of the phased approach.  This means that we like to get out early phases of the game or the mechanics and then grow and iterate on prototypes.  When talking about Survival Mode, this philosophy actually permeates into the game mechanics you find while playing the game.

At the beginning of the game, players find that they really don’t have a lot of tools or items at their disposal.  This is survival after all and in order to survive at all, you’ll want to find something, really anything, to use.  For this phase, we’ve explored the mechanic of rock knapping to allow players to experiment with their environment.  What this means is that you’ll need to find small rocks to use as your early, scavenged tools in order to find more resources that further advance you into later phases of the game.

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The art of rock knapping was a crucial lesson primitive humans learned in order to make tools and advance in their weapons and reusable tools.  Knapping can produce different shapes of rocks from other rocks that can be used to cut things or dig into the earth and find more resources.

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This leads us into another design philosophy of TUG and that is the idea of layered complexity.  So in keeping with the rock knapping element, we want to make sure that the level of complexity and the logic behind that complexity remains consistent.  With those same rocks that the player encounters to break other rocks or to cut down plants, they are also used to create the first set of reusable tools that follow in the same use.  The rock used to break larger rocks becomes the head of the hammer, the rock used to cut down small vines turns into the axe head that is used to chop wood.

In further keeping with the layered complexity design, in this early stage of development, crafting recipes also remain consistent.  Scavenged items and crude tools are crafted on the ground, not requiring the complexity of a table. These crude devices also follow a singular repeatable pattern: Handle + Bindings + Head = Item.  This sort of complexity allows us to offer countless numbers of recipes and variations while still keeping the complexity of the recipe relatively low in the early stages.

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This layered complexity allows us to grow the depth of higher level builds by adding on small elements to a recipe such as the use of a table, then the use of a particular tool at a table and then finally the more advanced recipes of multi-staged crafting and multiple table use.

This all leads us to our biggest design mantra, the one we always come back to and the one that guides us in all design decisions – discovery!  Each one of the precious design philosophies grow off of this main element.  Finding out which rocks to knap to produce a new resource?  Discovery!  Trying new combinations of resources to produce a new crafted item?  Discovery!  

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Survival at its heart is about a person finding themselves in a situation where they need to try thinking of new solutions to problems, discovering what will work and what won’t.  Logic is an often silent partner to discovery.  When looking for a solution to a problem or the recipe to a new craft, using good logic for what would be necessary to solve the problem is also a strategic approach.

So with that, good luck TUGventurers!  Explore!  Craft!  Thrive! SURVIVE!


John (@x_nekochu_x)

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