Programming Blog 01 – Intro to Proceduro

Greetings Junkfish followers. I am Peter, the procedural proprietor. I have a tendency to hide up the back of the workplace, and write code to make things appear in-game.

 

Maize is a procedurally generated game, which means the game environment is randomly set-up each time it is played, and the player shouldn’t experience the same run twice. Making a game like this is pretty complicated, and the powers above tasked me with the quest of conquering this devilish process. As such, most of my blog posts will probably feature something to do with procedural generation.

 

I’ve been working quite a bit with one of our artists – Adam – to bring his assets into the procedural generation process. He provided me with some temporary rooms and corridors to work with, whilst he added detail to other pieces, such as interlocking ceiling pipes in the corridors. They look really pretty and fit perfectly together, so kudos to him!

 

Using the assortment of bits that Adam gave me, I successfully hit a milestone last week where a full level of rooms was created and the rooms joined together by corridors. No bits overlapping, no corridors leading into nothingness, all joints between rooms and corridors rotated correctly; everything was beautiful and functional.

 

This week, I followed up on the first milestone by attempting to implement all the mechanics that the other programmers had crafted as part of our First-Playable-Build series. Things like the player, necessary items to win, the “victory area”, doors, and audio; it is necessary for these to interweave with the procedural system, so I tweaked some bits on them and… Milestone 2 was successfully hit! The procedurally generated levels are now properly playable, and have all the mechanics that the first builds utilised.

 

From here, I’m going to look into tightening up the way levels are formed, and attempt to make rooms appear across multiple levels of the ship. Hopefully we’ll soon have a full ship of rooms and corridors for the player to explore and run around. Hella’ exciting prospects.

 

Next week, I’ll go into more detail about how the generation works so far, and the user tools that help it function.

 

Tatty-bye.

P.

 

Art Blog 01 – Corridors and Rooms

Hey. Adam here!

I am the creative director and lead artist of the Junkfish team. I’ve never really blogged much, apart from at uni, so bear with me.

Maize takes place aboard a series of old, abandoned cargo ships built in the mid 70’s. They once transported expensive goods of all sorts across the Atlantic, but now they lie in disrepair, drifting around the ocean. At first glance, they may seem like ordinary seafaring vessels, however, on further investigation they may have been used for more than just transporting cargo…

An ordinary cargo ship is rather boring so we’ve focused on the 70’s theme throughout the ship. We’ve been taking a lot of visual inspiration from the less colourful side of the 70’s. Police stations, hospitals, offices; the environments we have been looking at have a heavy focus on function over form. Everything on the ship is designed around equipment from that era. We’ve even got some rather awesome looking fake film posters that I wish had been real!

One of our biggest challenges with Project Maize is to create and environment that is not just intimidating, but procedural as well. A lot of games rely on scripted sequences designed to create a tense atmosphere. We rely on the game creating that atmosphere for us, leaving the level before us unknown throughout every play-though (even to ourselves), which builds the tension! As the environment is not linear, we have little control in how the player will move through the ship. We therefore have to design the areas in small segments that fit together seamlessly and create tension on a micro scale, whilst the game puts it together to form a level for us to build tension on a macro scale. For us artists, its difficult to see how the level ends up until they are all put together in the game, but when it does it properly, it feels damn satisfying. :)

 

I’ve been working on procedural corridor sections for the past week and a bit. They now fit together nicely, hiding the bleak emptiness of the default blue unity backdrop and form the very basics of the level. I would like to get some proper physical light bulbs in the scene to replace those magical floating light sources but that is yet to come…
As with the rest of the art team (Andrew Tait & Judy Vernon), they are working on some super secret stuff that’s really exciting… I can’t actually show you… yet ;).

 

Look forward to that!

Adam

Design Blog 01 – Maize Origin Story

Hi, I’m Grant, co-designer and gameplay programmer for the team. Here at Junkfish we are well into production of our first full game, currently known as Project Maize, and I’m going to talk a little about the game. 

So what exactly is Maize?

Maize is a survival horror game with a simple enough premise: You are trapped on an abandoned cargo ship with a deadly beast hunting you. The goal is to find a way to escape while eluding your fellow passenger, if you are caught then it’s game over. You will need to use your wits and plan ahead as you explore as you could run into the hunter at any moment. Maybe it’s worth leaving the light on in the room you just left? Set off an alarm in an area you don’t plan on returning to? Get sloppy and make too much noise, and you might as well be wearing a neon sign. There are multiple escape routes to be found, but each is in some way broken or inaccessible so you will need to search the ship to find tools and items to make them usable. The layout of the ship is procedurally generated, as are the location of the items you’ll need to find, so each time you play you’ll have a different experience. 

Where did the idea come from?

The idea for this game came about from my desire for a replayable horror game. While I’m a huge fan of horror games, I generally find that after one playthrough I know where all the enemies are and what their patrol routes are and it becomes just an exercise in memorisation. I had also been binge-playing procedurally generated games such as The Binding of Isaac, Spelunky and FTL, which force the player to adapt to and plan for various situations in order to progress, as each run will be different. Maize then came into existence as the product of applying this procedural mechanic to a 3D horror game. After fleshing out the game idea a little I pitched it to the team who were very enthusiastic about making it and that as they say was that. Inspirations for the game itself are plentiful, some of the more notable ones being Alien, The Thing, House Of Leaves, Amnesia, Lost, and of course the games mentioned above.

Why make this game?

Well in addition to it being the kind of game I’d like to play I think a procedural horror game is a cool idea not only because of the replay potential, but also because horror games seem to have become something of a spectator sport recently. I know we enjoy gathering around to watch someone play Slender, Amnesia, Outlast, etc. and the popularity of horror based Let’s Plays implies we’re not the only ones. So the idea that it’s different each time means even after watching someone play it you can still have your own unique experience.

I’a Dagon,

Grant

Setting Sail

Hello!

Welcome to Team Junkfish’s website. We’re a games company based in Dundee, Scotland with a focus on PC development, and we’re working on “Project: Maize” (a working title for now), a 1st person, procedurally generated survival horror game.

Think “Alien, on a boat” and you’ll get what we’re going for. Or “Jaws in space, on a boat” if you haven’t seen Alien. If you haven’t seen either then go watch them so you know what I’m on about.

Team Junkfish is made up of 10 people across a few different fields, and you can have a nosy at who they are elsewhere on the site. We’ll be posting development blogs fairly frequently, so do keep up checking back to see what we’re up to, or what sort of stuff influences and interests us. And possibly pugs at some point.

In the meantime, have a look around, add us on the usual channels (Facebook and Twitter) and keep in touch :). We keep the ones that bite away from the windows.

Cheers,
Jaime

Setting Sail

Hello!

Welcome to Team Junkfish’s website. We’re a games company based in Dundee, Scotland with a focus on PC development, and we’re working on “Project: Maize” (a working title for now), a 1st person, procedurally generated survival horror game.

Think “Alien, on a boat” and you’ll get what we’re going for. Or “Jaws in space, on a boat” if you haven’t seen Alien. If you haven’t seen either then go watch them so you know what I’m on about.

Team Junkfish is made up of 10 people across a few different fields, and you can have a nosy at who they are elsewhere on the site. We’ll be posting development blogs fairly frequently, so do keep up checking back to see what we’re up to, or what sort of stuff influences and interests us. And possibly pugs at some point.

In the meantime, have a look around, add us on the usual channels (Facebook and Twitter) and keep in touch :). We keep the ones that bite away from the windows.

Cheers,
Jaime