One Game A Month: Tough Choices.

Hello, well I felt its about time to post a little update on the progress of my 1GAM project.

Things have come along quite nicely all in all, you can check out the evolution of it via this youtube playlist:

I’d recommend recording videos like this to anyone who is working on a project like this. Its a great way to re-motivate when you find yourself at an impasse.
Speaking of which, I find myself sat in a fairly large one right now!

What I have right now is less of a game and more of a toy. Its a tank that drives around and shoots and is fun to interact with. The problem is that its nothing beyond that.
I hadn’t really thought out the full concept for the game beforehand but knew I wanted to play with physics and a tank. So right now, almost half way through the project I am fighting with the direction I want the game to take.

(fyi here is a playable version of the “toy” part of the game I have so far. It may take some time to load its a little bloated WSAD to move Left mouse button to “shoot” right mouse button to inexplicably go into slow motion)

On one hand, I really think it could be great fun to have the tanks battle it out in a multiplayer arena. The rig has quite a lot of quirky controls that its possible to master (i.e. being able to pull a 180 turn by shooting at just the right angle when cresting a hill) And the thought of being able to see other tanks glide across a battlefield is very appealing. Overall multiplayer just instinctively feels like it would be fun. On the downside, its multiplayer. Its something I have never attempted before and have heard lots about its difficulty. It would be a gamble and one that would require a relatively fair amount of work at the front end before I can even find out if it works or not.

The second option is to do something single player, a safer bet technically, but one in which I don’t have any really strong thoughts on how it would be handled and what the objectives would be.

I think I will probably end up going for the multiplayer option. My concern is that I won’t be able to finish it in time and that it will be tricky to implement… but nothing ventured nothing gained.. right? :)

I’m also having a problem uploading to my webspace at the moment, so I am currently unable to upload any webplayers. Very odd but I’ll try and get that fixed.

One Game A Month Update

Latest Video!

So, only a few days into January and I’m pretty pleased with the progress so far!

My initial concept was to make a little tank physics “toy” that I’ve been thinking about for a while. I started out trying to set things up with a fully custom system using raycasts. I got a little way in and started running into problems, mainly due to my ineptitude when it comes to programing and vector maths.

Combined with being generally very rusty with my coding led me to investigate other options. I looked a little at controlling everything using transforms instead of using the built in physics, taking the surface normal and using that to drive the tank across the terrain. It actually worked pretty well but the whole setup felt a little too stiff.

The system I ended up settling on was using the Wheel Collider component in Unity. It was pretty easy to setup and after shaking off some of rust from the coding parts of my brain, I had the controls and tank tracks conforming to the terrain pretty well.

I had a trip to the dentist yesterday and went to see the Hobbit (very cool in 3d and with HFR) So didn’t get much done. Today tho, I worked on getting some actual 3d graphics in. Which was good to finally test things out with the skinned mesh and vertex weighting on the tracks.

Next on the to do list is getting the tank tracks UV’s animated and working out how I am going to have the turret rotate.

One Game A Month

***UPDATE JAN 3rd 2012***

I’ve been posting updates to the setup etc, here is the latest:


Wow, so long since I posted here… I am certainly not the most prolific when it comes to blogging it seems. The same goes for the amount of time I am spending making games these days too.

My work these days sees me traveling a huge amount, spending lots of my time preparing talks, demos and presentations of Unity (the company for whom I work). As such the time I spend actually making games with it seems to have dropped off. As such I’ve decided to join in with the awesome One Game A Month project created by @McFunkyPants

My main goal is to not only find the time to work on games, but to also finish them. Its pretty much a running joke at the office that I have tonnes of game ideas and projects that I NEVER get round to completing. Seeing as its the new year I should roll it into a new years resolution too I suppose!.

I’ve begun my first little game for January today as I’ve got a decent chunk of spare time until I have to be back at work.

Its a super simple game about tanks. Will be 2 player (possibly networked if I am lucky) And really started out as me wanting to work on some little tanks with skinned mesh tank tracks and “realistic” suspension for the wheels etc. I’ve made an early start and ended up settling on using the Wheel Collider component in Unity.

Here is a little  early YouTube video to show the state of things now that I have set up the wheels:

Day Z awesome mod is awesome

**I’ll try to add some screenshots when I get the chance**

So by now you may be aware of an ArmA 2 mod floating around called “Day Z”. Its a survival horror zombie apocalypse game set in a huge open world with persistent characters and permadeath. Phew, quite a mouthful of a description but yes, its very awesome.

“What makes it awesome?” I hear you cry and that would be a valid question. So I will attempt to break the game mod down into its key components in order to establish just what works, and why.

Brief intro to the game itself

So you may already be aware of the game, you may have even put a few hours into a character or two and likely already have some great stories to tell of your exploits. If not, this section will serve as a an overview to what to expect from DayZ, Feel free to skip to the next section if you are already aware.

Day Z is a mod built on the military simulation game from Bohemia Interactive, Arma2. It puts you in the desperate shoes of a survivor of a zombie apocalypse in the 225 km squared fictional post-soviet region known as Chernarus. Modeled on real world geographic data, Chernarus is a large open landscape with sea bordering the south an eastern sides of the map. Your task as a survivor is, primarily, to survive. The game takes place online with multiple other survivors all of whom have a persistent character that can freely switch between different servers. Along for the ride are hoards of zombies that spawn in and around most areas of civilization which, coincidentally, is primarily where the majority of the resources you require are located. There are no “teams” per se, so any groups or teams of survivors you encounter are either ad-hoc groupings that emerge through gameplay and dialog, or friends who have joined the server to work together. “Friendly fire” is active so at any moment another player is able to end your life, resetting all of your characters acquired “loot” and spawning you back at one of the initial spawn areas, located on the south and eastern shorelines of the map. In order to attempt to separate players who kill others from more friendly survivors, players have a “humanity” meter that drops when a player kills another. If that humanity value drops too low, the players skin changes to that of a Bandit. A visual warning that this survivor may not be trusted. Along with the threat of death from zombies and death from other survivors you also have to ensure your character is well fed and watered as well as monitoring a relatively complex health system that allows for bleeding, shock, broken bones and more.

So that is a basic overview, if you are interested in seeing the game playing, I’d recommend CHKilroy’s youtube channel who has some fantastic DayZ, and other Arma2 gameplay footage. Now to move onto my analysis of the mod itself! starting with…

Hostility Of The Environment

The world of DayZ is an overtly hostile one, In three primary ways. First and maybe the most obviously apparent is the Zombies, these spawn as mentioned before, in most built up areas. Initially the zombies would appear to be the greatest threat to you, although with experience you soon realize that they are the least of your worries. Although dangerous, if careful you can normally avoid alerting them and they primarily serve as a way in which to force players to be slow and methodical when searching for supplies.

The second hostile threat is that of other players, which in my experience, are far more deadly. The way in which the game presents other players with no obvious faction or team serves to make all interactions with others risky and dynamic. There have been many times when I have encountered others and had extreemly tense interactions. Most of which have ended in the death of one of the players involved.

The third threat, although seemingly minor, is the threat of starvation and dehydration. A relatively minor concern on the face of it, but ensuring that you have adequate supplies for your journeys is a key concern. You can survive, in theory, with no ammunition but you won’t last long if you run out of sustenance. Worth noting is that if you acquire a hunting knife and a box of matches, you are able to kill, gut and cook wild animals in the interior of the island instead of relying on searching for tinned food, scavenged from civilization.

Simulation And Emergence

DayZ is built on an engine that’s primary focus is to simulate warfare. It’s built to handle ballistics, line of sight and covers infantry, armour and air warfare. Its actually used by various military establishments in training (always a scary thought) The main point of this is that the game was built from the ground up to handle dynamic and potentially infinite scenarios. Which inherently means that a game built upon emergent gameplay will shine in this setup. As opposed to setting up a game modeled around a single purpose, the inter-linking systems of the game make for a way more dynamic and adaptive experience. As the engine is also set up to handle huge open worlds with extensive LODing the sense of scale and grandeur of the world is both humbling and awe inspiring, all of which can suddenly change when night falls and your awareness of the local surroundings becomes paramount. In terms of emergence, DayZ simply sets the stage and allows the players to act out their parts, a trait which is a common thread across all games that generally have been tagged with the term emergent. So the general rule is, in order to create emergent gameplay, create interlinking systems and let them roam free :)

Its worth noting at this point that the possibility for emergence has been present in the Bohemia interactive engines for quite some time. While at University I played a fair amount of Operation Flashpoint, one of my fondest memories of that game was while playing with my flatmate Tom. We had set up a mission that involved blowing up a radio tower, moving to a bridge and taking on a chopper. All very simple to set up in the editor but as we moved away from the radio tower we commandeered a car in order to expedite our trip to the bridge. Tom took the wheel and I sat in the passenger seat. As we set off it became apparent that Tom didn’t actually know the way to go. I opened up my map and in a moment of insight we realized that we suddenly had a rally game, me acting as navigator, Tom as the driver. Needless to say we laughed all the way to the bridge, while I shouted directions “Hard left through village”…

Player Interaction

DayZ does something very clever, and, as with most clever ideas, its very simple. Where most games have clear distinctions between the two or more teams involved in the gameplay, DayZ simply throws that out of the window and groups players as survivors and no more. They do add the element of bandit skins for players with low humanity, but in my experience dying to the hands of a bandit is just as common as dying to the hands of a survivor, I also hear that they are planning on changing how that system works.

The only other game that comes to mind that plays with how players interact in a new and interesting way like this is Journey. Granted the two games are vastly different, but by tweaking such a simple element as how players are grouped together, player interaction changes dramatically.

Due to these simple rule changes very interesting and fresh new situations occur, funnily enough, these situations are often situations that you would predict to occur in such an environment if it were to exist in reality. Players form groups for protection, hierarchies are formed and reformed, group rules are established for how “loot” is distributed and how encounters with other individuals and groups pan out is handled naturally. Its all very organic and does a great job of using the players internal processors :)


Interestingly enough the concept of loot is very much current at the moment due to the recent release of Diablo 3. Although loot in DayZ has an entirely different aspect that has a curious effect on player interactions. Most loot in the mod is found in areas of civilization which in turn focuses the action to specific points on the map. The loot serves to sustain your existence in the world for longer, I’ll not go into the details of all of the different items but one key aspect I will note is the balance between the slow increase in the quality of the gear and the more desirable a target you appear to other players. This interplay creates a great conflict between your desire to advance and your desire to appear as a weaker target. There are naturally no character classes but your choice of weapons and items can very much determine the play style you intend to use. You could for example focus on getting hold of a stock of water canteens to refill at various places, and a hunting knife/box of matches in order to be totally self sufficient in the wilderness.. You could alternatively focus purely on killing other survivors and scavenging what you can from their dead bodies or maybe spend your time crawling through cities at night picking up the items that others don’t dare to.   

Story And Ownership

I also want to talk a little on this, the very nature of the game enables players to create riveting stories of their own experiences within the game world, which I feel is one if not the key component to the proliferation and viral popularity of the game. Human nature is hardwired to share experiences with others we are rewarded for telling and hearing stories, I believe this was a key element in the growth of minecraft too. As such for this section I’d like to share a story of my own :)

Starting to the south east corner of Chernarus with basic supplies and a simple pistol for protection I headed inland. I knew that the starting areas were often ripe for bandits and opportunistic headhunters so instead I opted to move north and find supplies at the many small villages and farms along the way.

My overall goal was to reach the large military air base at the top of the map and to find some loot there. But first I had to grab some supplies for the journey. I happened across a small village next to a dense forest and decided to cautiously approach using the trees for cover. As I scanned the various buildings looking for potential buildings to loot I hear gunfire.

The shots are measured and well timed to start with, it sounded like a pistol, but soon the gunfire becomes erratic and careless. After a short time the gunfire completely ceases and I decide to cautiously investigate. As I near the first building by the treeline I spot a dead survivor, face down on the ground with a sizable rucksack on his back.

I surmise that what likely happened was that they were overwhelmed by zombies and this was their last stand. Having a quick look around I decide to dash over and loot what I can, I’d have to move fast as other players were likely thinking the same thing as me. I set my own backpack down by the body and pick theirs up, lots of space still left inside. I quickly grab the rifle the survivor was holding, its a Lee Enfield, an old but reliable rifle..  I throw all the food and two full canteens of water into the backpack, the survivor was also holding a map, a very useful item indeed.

I’m taking too long, I fumble with the last few items and get ready to move quickly back into the treeline to better assess my newly acquired kit. I turn to face the forest and there, in the doorway of a building not 10 feet away, is another survivor. His pistol aimed directly at me. I freeze momentarily and snap back to reality deciding that flight is the best course of action. I dart out past the fence and out of the survivors line of fire, behind the building he occupied and up into the treeline.

Zig zagging in order to avoid his shots if he had decided to pursue, I run and run deeper into the trees until my flight response calms down and I reach the other side of the woodland. I stop, taking a breath to steady my aim and scan behind me. Did he follow? no. I’m safe, for now.

I open up my backpack and check out my haul. I have sufficient food and water for my trek north, not a huge amount of ammo for my rifle but enough for a cautious traveler. I open up the map and scan for the familiar treeline and structures for a route to take north. I fold away the map and look up, the stars are out and dusk is fading. One piece of knowledge I have always had hanging around and never had a use for suddenly becomes incredibly valuable. I look to the sky and find the “big dipper” drawing a line between the two end stars, I follow up to Polaris, the north star. Traveling by night suddenly became the best option for a man with no compass…






Back from the void?

So I realise I haven’t written anything on this blog for quite a significant amount of time. Maybe I should start with a little update on what on earth I have been doing. 90% of my time these days is spent “on the road” or perhaps more accurately, in the sky. I’m traveling all over the world to speak about Unity at various events, its pretty wild and a few years I’d never have anticipated visiting some of the many locations that in such a short amount of time. Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, America, Canada, Norway, Holland, France, England, Jordan… the list keeps growing. Next week I am traveling to FMX in Stuttgart, Germany. A couple of weeks later I’ll be in Sweden for the Nordic Game Conference and closely followed by the Gotland Game Awards. Then I’ll be spending some time in Utrecht and maybe heading over to Amsterdam for some pre Unite 12 preparations.

So yes, lots of my time is spent traveling these days and although my game development/game jams have become much fewer and further between, I find that meeting new people and experiencing different cultures etc is a great way of finding inspiration for various projects.

I recently had some down time where I was back in my apartment in Copenhagen (which is certainly rare these days) and over the Easter holidays spent a couple of days working on a simple prototype for a game that is a mere embryo as we speak but its certainly starting to form into something interesting.

The other thing I am finding with my constant traveling, is that I have a much greater amount of time to reflect and contemplate life in general. Which, luckily, I find pretty calming and often leads to some interesting game ideas and is a great way to unwind after a busy conference/event. Finding the time to actually work on these ideas is another matter entirely, but simply having this enforced time to meditate and bake ideas, means that when I finally find some time to create something, it often materializes very rapidly due to the intense thought it has been given.

Speaking of which, there is an excellent talk by John Cleese on Creativity that has been doing the rounds of late. I would highly recommend taking the time to watch it.

This one is also interesting.

Well, I should get some sleep. I’ll try my best to keep this thing updated more regularly. (no promises!)




Travel log

So I decided that seeing as I am going to be on the road (or more specifically in the sky) quite a bit for the foreseeable future that I will start writing up a few notes on my travels. Actually I can’t claim any credit for the idea, for it was not me who thought of it… :)

So yeah, here it is. I’ve recently been to Unite11 in San Francisco. The conference was totally insane, by far the best one I have been too so far and I had a tonne of fun presenting the Unite Awards on stage with Tricia. It was mainly improvised and we got constant positive feedback from everyone at the party afterwards. So yeah, that was one of the work highlights: On the none work related side, I had a totally insanely good meal at the Slow Club. Its kinda hidden away on an unassuming street but the corn soup and pan fried chicken I had was divine. I also headed out to The Fillmore for a concert, Broken Social Scene were playing and it too was super awesome.

So, maybe some pictures eh?

"The coffee is ready" ... Ole is not.

This was at a nice little coffee shop post Unite. We were all totally exhausted. We went for some Sushi afterwards at a place I forget the name of? but it was so nice to unwind.

No idea what night this was now, pretty early on I think

So this was in an elevator to this cool place at the top of a hotel. Great views!

I swear I saw a parrot in the clouds. This was at a super relaxing beach.

You might need to turn your head upside-down?

Ok, I need to get going… but I just thought I’d try to get something out there while on my travels. good idea Ole!
I’m currently in Las Vegas being bewildered by the strangeness of it all.
So I’ll be sure to report back soon with news on how things are going here.

Siggraph Talk

Hello all,

I’m at Siggraph this week and did a talk yesterday about using Unity as a real-time portfolio, as promised I said I was going to upload a copy of the project files to my site. Naturally the project is very much work in progress so feel free to provide some feedback or suggestions on additional things that should be added to the setup!

download here


Pixel times

So recently I’ve found myself doing a good amount of pixel art for a couple of projects at work, I’m also starting something up outside of work with pixels too.. Its lots of fun. I really like the medium and recently worked on a character for a test project here at Unity. He’s a Ninja that fits into 16×16 pixels and looks quite a bit like this guy:

Little Red

He’s for a little multiplayer platformer game we worked on during a “ninja camp” week here at the office recently. When animated it looks much more fun and the game itself turned out to be pretty cool considering the time constraints.

I’d like to point out that I would in no way consider myself a pixel artist and I am sure that many of the cool people over at or would be able to offer some sound advice on improving what I have here. But I’m happy with the results.

I’m also currently adapting my pixel commandos project for some branding/graphics type stuff here at Unity too. Finally I am also beginning some work on a little side project that I plan to work on during a much needed holiday, which I hope to fit in sometime during July despite a flurry of deadlines.

In other news, last week was cool and Tricia from the US office came over and I did the whole host thing, converting my living room into a place for her to live for the week. All in all it was a super cool week and it was nice to have someone in the house for a while. Oh and as an added bonus I got to hang out with Tricia’s friend Erich Schaefer, of Diablo/Torchlight fame. Good times!

Anyways, just a quick update on life, hopefully I’ll have some more of my side project to show soon and some much needed time off to decompress.


I am still here

Hello to all/few/nobody?

I decided that I should write another quick blog post with updates of recent events. Its been quite a busy time, hence my lack of posting anything here. I’ve moved house, been crazy busy at work and (prehaps most importantly) ressurected my PC gamer status. So yeah, its been a crazy couple of weeks since I picked up the parts and built a gaming rig but I am extremely happy that I did.

I suppose it was inevitable this year anyway. Battlefield 3, Skyrim, Deus Ex: Human Revolution all of which are of interest. There was no way I was going to play Deus Ex on a PS3 when I have the option to use my Keypad again to open doors (so glad they kept that insanely satisfying feature)

I’ve also re-visited the final game that ended my PC gaming last time, Supreme Commander and its pretty impressive how well its held up against the test of time. I never got into Starcraft back in the day, but Total Anihilation did manage to get its hooks into me and “SupCom” is the sequal in everything but name. I have no idea how it holds up to Starcraft but there is a real arms race involved which begins at small scale robots that are about half the size of a tree, then scales all the way up to insanely big stompy robots the size of mountains and also nuclear war.

I also picked up the Witcher 2 which has been a great amount of fun, also eye achingly good looking. Definately one of those games where one play through is not enough at all.


So this evening I had a core mechanic idea that will fit nicely into my “epic project of endlessness”.

As a high level overview, the game could probably be best described as a turn based, simultaneous execution game. The idea being that each player decides on actions which then play out concurrently. I toyed around with the idea of having some kind of initiative roll type affair, but I think in the context of what I am aiming for, the chaos of not being able to see your opponents move until it happens will be much more fun and reward careful planning, anticipation and luck.

I’ve begun by closing down Unity(!) and I’m prototyping with “action cards” that show the various verbs the players can perform, and will use dice for combat rolls and maybe steal some miniatures and tiles from Space Hulk to represent the various characters. The idea being, that once I get some core mechanics down and its “playable” I can test it out either at a D&D session or at one of the Unity board game nights and see what the unsuspecting people think. :)

Its still early days but I am pretty pleased with the core idea that popped up. My only concern, is that after starting with a draft of the first set of cards I suddenly felt convinced that my idea had already been done before and my “genius” concept was simply something based on a memory of a game I had heard about in the past. I’ve done a few Google searches and gone to a couple of suspected game developers sites/blogs, but I seem to be in the clear. If I end up being incorrect and the concept/theme has already been done, let it be known that in these early days of development I was pretty sure it is an original idea.

Hmm I feel like this post needs a picture to make it more interesting so here is an interesting graph :D