Working title: The Clarion Project



  • edited March 2011
  • edited March 2011
    A screenshot *and* a video, we're spoiled!

    It's coming alone nicely. Can't wait to see more. :)
  • edited March 2011
    March 17
    Started work on modeling a replacement for the opening/closing door.

    March 18
    In one of my character artist recruitment forum posts, someone mentioned that a 3d render of character sprites so small may not look so good. I ended up downloading a free rigged male character, posed him over a sprite and toon rendered it.

    Finally, I scaled it down using all three target resolutions. It looked ok, pretty happy with that. I run the recruitment drive for another month maybe, and then I guess I'll end up doing the graphics myself (groan).

    March 20
    Got a rough working collision system going and can now do flying kicks to a guard to knock them over. Very satisfying indeed.

    March 21
    Finished an HD version of the door. Added to the config and built into the game. Interestingly, I had an openGL error because my opening door animation bitmap was 2560 x 192. So I had to split the frames onto two lines. I forgot you need to carefully take into account bitmap sizes that become textured objects. Just a tip that I'd forgotten.

    Worked a little on the collision, fixing a bug that would only allow guards on the first level to be attacked.

    March 22
    Put the get up animation in place. Built a delay system so that actions set for a character do not have to fire straight away. This is good for when the character is punched out and lying on the ground. He can have a delay of 5 seconds and flagged to get up, so he won't try and get up for 5 seconds.

    March 23
    Tightened up all the animations that were outstanding. Noticed that the walking and running animations were no longer rock solid. Not sure why that happened, but I adjust all the pixel figures, and our guy plants his feet nice and firmly on the floor again.

    March 24
    Started on enemy AI. Created a guarding "mood" so that all guards turn to face you if you enter their screen space.

    March 25
    Zoned out on youtube doing refresher courses on character modeling :)

    March 26
    Created a "curious" guard mood. The guards will start to follow if you behave strangely nearby them. Guards are now able to "see" you at a certain range. Though the moods and general AI is going to be a little complicated so I'll have to make a small handler for it all to keep everything organised and clean.

    Image showing the new door & elevator graphics, and new carpet. Also the collision and ability to slide tackle opponents to the ground!

    That's it for this month. It has been very productive. Next month I hope to fully complete all the AI, sound, and graphical interface.
  • edited April 2011
    April 2011 Diary

    April 01 - 18
    This month I have put the coding aside to focus on the character animation. Finding an artist turned out to be a little more difficult than I anticipated and by the time I worked out what I wanted, it was going to be easier to work on it myself.

    Parts developed over the month, head design, main body and vest, belt, hair, boots. This is the character in progress:


    Trying not to put too much detail in as most will be lost when turning on toon shading, switching to 2D and scaling down. But it's an ok base. Needs a bit more work.

    I also put out a video showing where things were left off at the end of March, demonstrating collision detection, the new door tile, and simple AI:

  • edited May 2011
    April 19 - 30
    Base character design finished. Second version that has been scaled to be proportionally incorrect to fit the shape of the original sprites.

    Posing the character is almost ready to start. Replacement sprites should be ready shortly and then development can continue.
  • edited May 2011
    May 2011 Diary

    May 04
    Posing has started. Posing over the top of the original character sprites as a way of rotoscoping and keeping things nice and accurate.

    May 06
    Created first HD versions of the walking sprites and placed them into the game. He walks like he has wet himself or has a limp. And the overall look of them, while at first was great to see something new, didn't look right. Not true replacements.

    May 07
    Adjusted the model, fattening the head and limbs a little. Fixing the hair and head. Tighened up the toon shading a little. Created first HD versions of the running sprites and placed them into the game. Running is also not sufficient. Something is quite out.

    May 08
    Spent the evening reworking the source walk and run animation actions in Blender. They are animating much better there now. Packed the walk animations up and brought into orx. Better, but he still appears to limp. Overall, the look of the character itself has much improved, closer to the original.

    May 09
    Working on guard moods. Specifically working on guards becoming curious and starting to follow the player.

    May 10
    Curious guards now following the player, and stopping at a distance when the player stops. Basically keeping their distance to observe the player.

    May 11
    Added sun glasses to the player's character in Blender.

    May 12
    Guard "curious" mood logic is complete. Follows nicely if you stop nearby and will give chase if falling too far behind the player.

    Took another close look at the walk animation in Blender. There is a slight limp there when looking closely. More obvious in the game. Will fix. Noticed needed improvements for the running as well. Seems like I am obsessing over these two animations a lot but they do need to be perfect. They're the ones seen 98% of the time. Other animations don't need to be as strictly controlled.
  • edited May 2011
    -- Project paused --

    Something was going to happen eventually. Project has to be temporarily paused while I search for a new job. Hopefully resuming soon.
  • edited May 2011

    Best of luck for your job search!
  • edited June 2011
    Situation resolved! Work will resume soon.

  • edited June 2011
    Congrats! =)
  • edited August 2011
    May 18
    Lot of reworking on the walk animation. Very close.

    May 19
    Developed a Gimp Script to help with the laborious task of spite cut up positions and sizes from image to config file. Took a lot longer than I thought. Script-Fu can do a lot of things, sure, but it's a language for savages.

    May 20
    Finished work on the walk animation. Very pleased with it. Time to move to the running animation and then get all the rest in.

    May 21
    Started mapping enemy AI when aggressive.

    May 22
    Aggressive AI continues.
  • edited August 2011
    June 2011 Diary

    Lost job
    Got job

    July 2011 Diary

    July 01 - 19
    Needed time to settle in and got side tracked on my e-commerce website that needed urgent migration.

    July 20 - 27
    Resumed mapping of aggressive AI

    July 28
    Flow diagram of the entire AI is complete. Next step is to get acquainted with the code again and build the smarts back in.

    July 29
    Spent an evening dining with my old code, doing some cleanup and planning the best way to build in some sophisticated AI. Started a new class for processing enemy behaviour.


    Above is a flow for the behaviour of the guards when they become aggressive. While not the most thrilling thing to show as part of the diary, but it does represent a lot of time spent. I have numerous drawings and sketches of the flow on scraps of paper and napkins.

    Now to get on with the actual code...
  • edited August 2011
    Nice to see that it's progressing steadily!

    Isn't there a typo in your diag as both the green and red nodes at depth 1 have the same condition?

    That reminds me that orx had a FSM module at some point but I removed it as I didn't write it and couldn't find the time to debug/maintain it. Maybe it'd be interesting to bring it back and see if I can have it data driven via config?
  • edited August 2011
    Yes there is bug there. I only noticed it just after I posted it. I'll have to correct that as it needs an extra condition. But work is progressing nicely and it's very nice to be back on the project.

    I ended up deciding that I am really unhappy with the newer high res / high framerate walk and run animations. My fault was basing them off the old ones which I thought was a good idea at the time. But in reality, it brings out flaws which are hidden at low frame rates.

    My wife bought a treadmill three weeks ago and that will come in very handy for this project (oddly). Details in the next diary.
  • edited August 2011
    August 2011 Diary

    August 01
    Built a small complex command system where a character can be issued a series of instructions based on particular situations.

    August 02
    Fixing Rolling attack

    August 03
    Fixing Rolling attack

    August 06
    Continuing with complex commands. Guards can roll towards the player and flying kick when in attack range. Also, they can choose to run towards the player and kick when in range.

    August 08
    Guards can now creep towards the player to try and get close enough for an attack.

    August 09
    Tried some walk and run tests on the treadmill. Ran some electrical tape strips on the running platform to mark 1 metre distances. Pretty rough result using a webcam at 10FPS. :P I really need to get my 3CCD Panasonic camera repaired. Maybe I'll do that and try again.

    August 10
    Continued on the logic for the attacking guards. They can now pause for a random amount of time to consider their next move.

    August 13
    Guards can now perform additional types of attacks after they miss at close combat range.

    Well, interestingly enough, I have arrived at my initial deadline, my birthday. I was supposed to have finished the project by today. Clearly however, that hasn't happened due to losing a couple of months. The two authors of the original wrote their game in seven months. Unfortunately I haven't made it in a casual (and broken) 11 months. We're talking apples and oranges I know but it would have been good to be done by now. It'll be nice to eventually get a game out, but the exercise is to really get disciplined in c++ via orx.

    August 16
    Re-factored code for Flying Kicks and Barrel Rolls to remove unnecessary duplicated routines for left and right. Makes the code base less clouded and more simple going forward.

    August 17
    Re-factored code for Standing Flips, Leaps, Falling Over & Getting Back Up. Also prepped reference animations for forward and backward flips.

    August 18
    Put in animations and actions for forward and back flipping in both directions.

    August 19
    Added in the keyboard action for forward and rear flipping. Noticed that due to this particular pair of moves, a special delay needed to be added in order to allow secondary key presses so that diagonal actions could be selected. Works pretty well and made many extra improvements to the keyboard controls.

    August 20
    Fixed various bugs in the player control and guard logic. Added the ability for the guard to reconsider his move when in attack range, then run back to rethink an attack.

    August 21
    Fixed more minor guard logic as a result of old controller code.

    August 22
    Guard attacks can now knock down the player via collisions. Punching animation & action has been added. The player can punch out the guards.

    August 23
    Guards can now punch out the player. Aggressive mode also working in both directions. Continued work on posing animations.

    August 24
    Reworked the character model in Blender and set the project up for multiple rotoscope animations. Rotoscoped the flying kick and generated HD frames for it. Got a new flying kick loaded into the game. Needs tweaking but I was pretty tired tonight so, that was enough for the night.

    August 29
    Got my video camera back from the repairers today (YAY!) and it's working perfectly. So I set it up and recorded another run on the treadmill. A better job this time and made sure I didn't run like a chicken like last time.

    Extracted frames out for later rotoscoping. Rotoscoped the barrel roll animation, scaled and loaded into the game. Pretty swish.

    August 30
    Big effort on graphics this evening. Rotoscoped and placed in the game HD versions of the leap, falling over, and the slide. Started on the HD version of the background tiles (apart from animated ones like the elevator & doors).

    Resulting texture file is too large for orx, so that needs re-arranging. It didn't make it into the game files this month.

    August 31
    Rotoscoped the new run animation from the treadmill footage. You can see the process in the screenshot below. You can also see me in my stripey pajamas. Eh... whatever works. I put chalk marks on the treadmill to help with distance and height. By utilising the wonderful Orx guides plugin (shameless plug), I managed to get this into the game effortlessly and doesn't look too bad. Certainly the best running animation so far.

    That's it for this month.

  • edited August 2011
    Screenshot showing new sprites.
  • edited August 2011
    Rotoscope in progress for the treadmill footage.
  • edited September 2011
    Looking forward to seeing it in movement! Also, happy birthday, a few weeks late! :)

    You should consider adding an unlockable striped pajama outfit as bonus. :D
  • edited October 2011
    September 2011 Diary

    September 01
    Found a bug in the elevator routine. The flying kick control was firing accidently which meant the player was trapped forever in the elevator. Fixed. Continued work on the HD background tiles. They are going to be reconstructed as to allow multi-layer tiles so that elevators, doors and other features can overlay different coloured walls. Which means I no longer require one tile per colour. That would be crazy.

    September 04
    Started work on the LCD panel used by Nexus members and guards to communicate with the player or for reading instructions.

    September 05
    Built LCD class and orx objects.

    September 06
    Happy birthday to The Clarion Project! This time last year I downloaded orx to play around with, and also starting doing screen grabs and mockups. There won't be a second birthday. :)

    Built message scrolling into the LCD. Any number of messages can be added, scrolled from any source. Just needs a nice graphic skin and this module is complete.

    September 08
    Made the HD version of the player pressing an elevator button. But I can't update its position via a custom event like all the other animations. Weird. I'll look into it tomorrow.

    September 11
    Still stuck trying to fix the custom event problem. It has me baffled.

    September 12
    Fixed the custom event problem. I think it was a naming thing but I fixed numerous bugs along the way. Put remaining HD player graphics in.

    September 14
    Worked on the player pulling out a stun rifle. Converted the animation frames and imported in. The Orx config is fussing when the animation completes. It is supposed to go into a different idle loop, but freaks out instead. Dunno. Too tired. Sort it out tomorrow.

    September 15
    As usual, my code was causing the problem. Player kept putting his gun away and taking it out again. Got that sorted and then got the player to put his gun away before he can start walking again (time penalty) and started work on getting the gun to fire. The player now keeps firing over and over. Why? Too tired. Later.

    September 16
    Nice. The player can take our his rifle, fire, and put the rifle away. He can also crouch down while holding the rifle. Couldn't sleep... and as a result the player can now fire multiple bullets left or right while standing or crouching. Still up, and so our player can now shoot down the guards with the stun gun. I think I should probably quit while I'm ahead.

    September 18
    Some work on the new rooftop background graphics tiles.

    September 19
    Worked a lot on the new rooftop tiles. Added the security colour card to the lcd messenger. Still need to make it work with the level colours.

    September 20
    Lots of work this evening on the rooftop tiles and also made a good start on the underground cave background tiles.

    September 21
    Another busy day. Worked through lunch and then put in around 3 hours this evening. A lot of progress of the cave backgrounds. Also fixed a nagging bug where the player would freeze the movement of a guard during an attack. It was driving me nuts. Turned out that I was watching a variable that could be affected externally and isn't meant to be relied upon. Switched to watching the exact animname from the custom events and now everything is perfect. Been a busy day with this, trying to get a lot of effort in to prepare a decent video of the latest work over the last few weeks.

    September 22
    Got the lcd fixed so that you can change the security card colour. Guards can now tell if you have a card that is not right for the current level and will inform you of a warning to leave the area.

    September 24
    Working on the background tiles.

    September 25
    Working on the background tiles.

    September 26
    Re-implemented a part of the level drawing routines to allow multiple layers of tiles in order to use the new system of background tiles I've devised. All working very well and ended up being a lot less hassle than I anticipated. Some graphics need tweaking, but essentially, a lot of new high def backgrounds are in place, and an elevator can be placed on top of any tile now. This means an elevator can be in the cave, be in a wall, or on the roof, and walls can be set any colour (still to be done), independent of the elevator itself.

    The next big news is that I added sound for the first time with the project. Yep, this game has been silent for a year. Just a basic footstep whenever a running character plants a foot down, but it's a start. A busy busy night. Looks like I will have a video to show before the end of the month.

    September 27
    Added more of the new tiles to the game. Also created a couple more new ones and added those as well.

    September 28
    Created the final tiles needed for the end of month video, namely an inside room panel and the rumour editing terminal. Started fixing a bug where your legs stick out in the elevator

    September 29
    Fixed the legs in the elevator bug.

    September 30
    Added some test sounds and fixed a few issues. That's it for the month, I'm knackered. Covered a lot of ground. Hope you guys enjoy the shots. Video should follow in a day or two. Had some issues capturing the sound. Night all.

  • edited October 2011
    Firing your stun gun on an attacking guard. nexus_clarion_september02.png
  • edited October 2011
    Rooftop shot 1
  • edited October 2011
    Rooftop shot 2, inside the elevator
    , nexus_clarion_september04.png
  • edited October 2011
    Inside a room. Rumour solving computer and search-able mainframe
  • edited October 2011
    Standard corridor, new doors, elevators, and some unfriendly chaps up ahead.
  • edited October 2011
    Here is the video as promised after much mucking about with codecs and audio settings. This is just to show off the graphics in progress and the general game play. There are numerous problems and stuff to fix.

    The preview below is only 400x300. To get a better view, right click on the video below and choose "Watch on Vimeo"

  • edited October 2011
    Thanks for the video. It's always nice to see the game evolve.

    Oh, and happy birthday to the Clarion Project, of course. :)
  • edited October 2011
    I've put a progress website together.

    The blog/diary will continue here, but you can get an overall view of the project over at:
  • edited October 2011
    Nice site! Would you mind if I were to post a link to it on the news page?
  • edited October 2011
    Yes of course. I'm confident enough that I'll finish this thing to start putting it out there.
  • edited October 2011
    Great, I'll do that tonight then. I have to admit that the December release date sounds ambitious, at least if I were the one working on it! ;)
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