Plyushkin Syndrome 1.1 is out!

Yes, finally it was announced on Indago contest.

Download Plyushkin Syndrome 1.1 (23MB),
Happy playing!

Minimum system requirements.

* Windows NT/XP/Vista with .NET 2.0 Framework and DirectX 9.0c
* 64 MB video card.
* 512 MB of RAM
* Pentium 4 (2400 MHz) or analogous machine.

Recommended requirements.
* Windows NT/XP/Vista with .NET 2.0 Framework and DirectX 9.0c
* 128 MB video card.
* 1024 MB of RAM
* Pentium Core2Duo.

If you experience performance problems, it is recommended to quit all other memory-hungry applications before running Plyushkin Syndrome and reduce screen resolution to 800x600 (that will automatically reduce mirror resolution and give you extra FPS).

Use default configuration if you experience crashes. We are sorry about that.


Sitting and waiting

That's the current status. Demo has been polished and presented. 9 projects will compete in the finals for the right to challenge best Latvian project.

Meanwhile I have discovered a few post factum crashes in our demo if engine is misconfigured. I feel sorry about that and suggest to use engine configuration utility only if the game doesn't start, otherwise use in-game options dialog to configure video resolution etc.

Also, after demo 1.0 release I've heard complaints about keyboard configuration and carefully thought about it. Still I find it more convenient to bind up/down actions to W and S keys, while keeping Right/Left mouse buttons bound to forward/backward.

I'd like to inform those who are out of context that demo will be available for download anytime soon and you'll be able to vote for your favorite project at www.games.lt .


Week #X: the end draws near

Weeks of silence passed and now we are ready to announce final development phase. We could not present demo 1.1 version in public because INDAGO contest authorities requested to keep it secret until the 1st of November, when voting will start.
Thus we're still allowed to show screenshots. So here we are, probably the very last screenshots presented.
Good luck to other contestants and see you all in next stage!


Britney Spears in Trouble

Ok, actually I do not know much about BS, but our team really has some trouble. Yesterday, after some malfunction in power supply line, our nightly build and svn server went down and now it is on the way to the PC's heaven ... Good news is that our HDD was not damaged and all data is safe. I hope the only damaged part is PSU and we will restore our development sever. In any case I believe we will finish our tasks in time!


Week #17: Every working program has an even count of bugs

This time no major feature updates or anouncements, only a few interesting screenshots from debugging session. Kind of modern art, huh? :)

I know I know - beta version should have been released already according to plan. But missing the deadline by a week or two is not a tragedy I think, we have estimated that risk too.


Week #16: Game Over

Yeah, well "Game over" doesn't mean we've abandoned our project. On the contrary - all major features have been completed and we've entered bug fixing and polishing phase! Just a few moments ago I've committed some AI fixes into repository and now enemy robots are staggering around the map and chasing poor Plyushkin69... Seeing their funny postures brings smile on my face - that's the view worth waiting for :)
Ok, now summary of remaining tasks. First thing is to fix few annoying bugs that would make me blush if anyone else would see them. Then we launch another demo - 1.1 beta and wait for feedback.
Next I plan to announce a contest of making demo maps. Easy to do - simple 2d text files just like ol' good Lode Runner maps. The best ones will make it to the final version and will participate in INDAGO! ;)


Week #14: crazy funny and sexy adventures in space

"So what kind of background music you prefer? Kind of relaxed ambient or what?" - I've been asked by DJ Jonine.
That was the right moment to think again about project goals and art direction...
"Let it be a crazy and sexy adventure in space." - I've said. - "After all our bot has malfunctioned, right? And it also carries number 69".
Can't wait to hear the final version, cause intermediate results are very promising :)

Once again, back to StarWars episode in the sky. This time I've updated screenshots section
with rendering of textured XWing and TieFighter models. Please note that renderings performed in 3D Studio Max, but you can get the idea how it'll look in the game.


Week #13: Summer is over

Yes, sunny days are over and it's time to boot up our bots that have been shut down for maintenance during our vacation. I have a bad feeling about INDAGO as I haven't heard a thing from contest authorities since middle of June. And it's only 3 weeks left till beta version. Pity...
Nevertheless we'll try to finish our project. Good luck to our competitors (btw where are they? :) !
Picture source


Week #10: Plyushkin Syndrome demo 1.0

Just like I've promised, demo 1.0 is here. A few things you may be interested in before downloading:

Minimum system requirements.
  • Windows NT/XP/Vista with .NET 2.0 Framework and DirectX 9.0c
  • 64 MB video card.
  • 512 MB of RAM
  • Pentium 4 (2400 MHz) or analogous machine.
We cannot tell recommended requirements as they are not confirmed yet.

Also check screenshots section for updates.

Disclaimer: at this stage game is not finished and cannot be played. One can start application and have a look around but don't expect any enemies chasing you. Climbing up/down also is not implemented. We promise to remove GUI and sounds re-used from NeoAxis in the final release.


Week #9: may the Force be with you

No, we're not making Star Wars shooter yet, although I believe it would be pretty cool. According to our vision, we planned to launch an epizode from this movie in the background of the game. So last weekend I've spent playing around with XWing Starfighter model and tried to make it orbit around space station in random paths. With all my experience in 3D I still have learned it's quite tricky to program such a behavior using only roll and pitch controls of the ship and in the end I still got no result - either my XWing flew away into space or started orbiting very slowly with sudden turn-arounds. Maybe I should have preprogrammed random Bezier curves or even made it orbit around station in regular rotating circles.

XWing picture source


Week #8: demo 1.0 milestone

So, last sunday we've hit our "Playable demo 1.0" milestone. Actually it's not so "playable" as one may think - there are no enemy bots runing around, nor bricks can be destroyed yet. But we have already dynamic environment, a gigantic space mirror and static maze, where our P69 bot can run around and observe surroundings. Pretty cool! :)

In two weeks I plan to release demo 1.0 public, so stay tuned. Meanwhile we're continuing on our next development stage - demo 2.0, - and mostly concentrated on gameplay issues.


Week #7: Houston, we have a... space station?!

Unusually productive weekend: 11 tasks out of 19 completed. Following feature roadmap we're approaching demo 1.0 milestone. I assume public release of this demo will be available within 2-3 weeks, but some screenshots are already available. Most of them are experimental shots, you will notice Plyushkin wearing old rusty texture that has been rejected.

That thing in the sky is a space station, with a maze in the middle docking station (not presented in the shot). As you may notice, the shape differs a little from initial concept.


Week #6: dunkles weizen

Yeah, spending a few days in Germany becomes very "dunkel" because of all the weizenbier. Nevertheless I insist you should taste german wheat beer even if you're not a beer-lover. Especially the dark one.

No wonder Plyushkin Syndrome progress has frozen - it's the very middle of the summer and everyone is out of town. Similar situation can be observed in other INDAGO projects. We still have around 19 tasks to complete till end of this milestone and I have a strong feeling we will miss the first deadline. This weekend I'll take a decision if we should make first demo release public or only a few screenshots would suffice.

One of the key elements in the game - a side mirror - is nearly completed and I hope to start performance tests soon. Another important feature, a dynamic maze loading, has been "lost in translation" somewhere between SDD and NeoAxis Map Editor, and became a static one.


Week #4: to walk or not to walk?

As you reach a stage of development when something already looks decent, lots of ideas start storming in your head - I can imagine this-and-that would look really cool in our game. But that's the problem - if you want to make it all, you will make nothing and it's time to choose. Especially when time frame gets tight.
One of the most recent dilemmas: should environment map be some techno-style space or warehouse-like place filled with cardboard boxes? We've received a few sketches from an artist, who suggests to make Plyushkin look like an abstract creature made of cardboard boxes - I really like this idea, 'cause it perfectly fits the spirit of our hero. But on the other hand having only few weeks till first demo release is a bad decision to make a 180 degrees turnaround and remake the concept. Most probably we will make intermediate choice and take best parts from both art directions.
Meanwhile I have developed textures and walk animation for "Plyushkin Bot"- the two most difficult tasks for my skills - it's programmers art, you know :)
What do you think If I'd replace this old metal texture with cardboard material?..

Cardboard picture source


Week #2: birth of the Bot 69

Long weekends ain't for working, right? I wonder where I've lost my time, most probably I was looking for fern-blossom...
Ok, back to PS - here I have a few screenshots of our untextured garbage bot model. Follow the Screenshots link on the right menu to see more bot creation pictures in full size.
Not so much of a progress since last week, but I'm still happy that we already have regular builds (Cruise Control). In the upcomming week I will spend only few hours working and most probably there will be no updates.


Week #1: challenging NeoAxis

"A hammer?" he asks. "Nobody really buys hammers anymore. They're kind of old fashioned."

The first few steps may be vital for the project and one must take care when selecting tools and technolgies. Last weekend I've spent fighting with NeoAxis Resource and Map editors, or to be more precise - with the lack of documentation. Followed by countless crying out loud curses and a couple of "Svyturys Draught" an ice brakthrough pleased my heart - by the end of Saturday I had a funny rabbit running around our first test map who managed to take control over our main character Garbage Bot "Плюшкин 69".

The Story
Oh yes, the story now. The idea is pretty much the same, just a few details on what's going on. The rabbit is a character from NeoAxis demo, so - deleted. Our hero, the garbage collecting bot "Плюшкин 69", has malfunctioned and now collects everything it happens to find on the street - cars, lanterns, scouting droids, TV sets, babies etc. Ok ok, I was kiddin' about the babies :)
The bad guys (or as it turns out from the story - the good ones 'cause they're trying to stop a bot that went crazy), are coworkers of Plyushkin, also bots - they are chasing player character around the maze, desperately wishing to shut him down.
Here are a few sketches of our garbage bot on the right.

The Place
At the moment our bot went crazy, he was working on the space station, so that's the first environment for our map. The surroundings and background has only minimal impact on the game play, thus it's more like an eye-candy for the player and a playground for artists. It was also a strategical project decision - we don't have to finish the environment modeling if we're short on time and that won't affect our project much.
Ok, back to the space station (SS) - made a quick sketch how to arrange maze and things. Center disk of SS is a place for our maze and has a floating side mirror. The outer disk rotates slowly around two axes and has attached various fancy-shmancy moving gadgets. A little higher in the orbit let's place a Soviet space station MIR, and maybe some episode from Star Wars - a famous scene of Tie Fighters chasing X-Wing (let's hope they don't do much chaos there, or else player will stop gaming and starts watching this fight :).
Yesterday I've spent a few hours browsing through Hubble Space telescope image gallery on the web and hope they don't mind if I borrow a few star images for background of the game.

This was quite a productive week, most probably because it was driven by fresh enthusiasm. I'm glad we've solved Issue tracking and storage problems (thanks to TeaMan and Borg).
There are a few critical tasks left for this milestone, but still many of normal priority. Most of the tasks are modeling and content creation.


Project Summary: Registration is over

First milestone is completed - registration is over: there are 26 projects competing.

Last week was tough, and by "tough" I mean we didn't have much development time. Major tasks achieved - we have developed System Design, but then again - unexpected problems with repository and issue tracking system. We hope to fix these problems soon.

A few tasks still not finished: final framework setup, nightly builds and unit tests.

We do not publish any art-work or screenshots yet as current phase involved mostly set-up and modeling tasks.

Good luck to other contestants!


Great news everyone!

One of our team mebers has decided to have more fun in his life (huh?), and well... the best we can do is to support his choice. As long as he can raise a bowl of beer together with his friends :)
Best whishes and warm congratulations to TeaMan!


Project Milestones

Major milestones and deadlines:
  1. End of registration (06/10/2007)
  2. Playable demo 1.0 (07/29/2007)
  3. Playable demo 2.0 beta (09/30/2007)
  4. Final release (10/31/2007)

Project Summary: Week before registration ends

Only one week remaining till the end of registration to the contest and I will shortly review our project status.
Main achieved tasks:
  • Selected development technologies. NeoAxis game engine powered by Ogre3D rendering engine will run our project.
  • Selected development tools.
    1. Visual Studio 2005 (C#)
    2. Subversion source control
    3. Trac issue tracking system
    4. Google docs for document management
    5. Magic Draw for UML diagrams
    6. NUnit for unit testing
  • Created System Requirement Specification document - a rough list of use cases we plan to achieve.
What still needs to be done this week:
  • System Design Document containing game architecture.
  • Set up application framework with stub methods.
  • Set up nightly builds.
  • Define unit test framework.
Shortly I also plan to post a few sketches - game characters and environment.


Projekto vizija

Disclaimer: INDAGO authorities issued a requirement to present project vision in lithuanian language, so here it is. Original article can be found here.

Pagrindinė projekto mintis - atgaivinti seną klasikinį žaidimą "Lode Runner", tik vietoj dvimačio vaizdo naudoti trimatį ir išplėsti kai kurias žaidimo taisykles.

Pirmiausia prisiminsime pagrindines šio klasikinio žaidimo taisykles ir idėjas:

  • Žaidimo laukas yra plokščias dvimatis labirintas, primenantis nebaigtas statybų konstrukcijas, kurios susideda iš platformų (pastato aukštai) ir kopėtėlių. Štai pavyzdžiui toks labirintas:

Pav. 1. Lode Runner daugiaaukštis labirintas

Labirintą sudaro platformos ir sienos iš plytų, turėklai kabantys ore(skirti įsikibti rankomis) ir kopėtėlės. Kai kurios sienos ar platformos yra vienalytės ( nesugriaunamos).
  • Pagrindinis veikėjas yra valdomas žaidėjo (t.y. "gerasis vyrukas"). Jo užduotis yra lakstyti po labirintą ir rinkti aukso dėžes, tačiau reikia išvengti "blogiuku". Jis gali lipti kopėtėlėmis aukštyn arba žemyn, pasinaudoti turėklais, kad persikeltu per prarają, ir netgi išmušti duobę grindyse, jei jos yra iš plytų.
  • Blogiukai (robotai). Nerangūs ir lėti veikėjai vejasi gerietį po labirintą. Kai blogiukas įkrenta į duobę grindyse, jis lieka ten kurį laiką kaboti, o po to išsiropščia ir toliau bando pagauti pagrindinį veikėją. Tačiau išmuštos duobės grindyse regeneruoja - vėl tampa plytinės - ir jei robotas nespės iš jos išlipti - žus. Iškart po to nukrenta kitas bolgiukas iš dangaus į labirintą atsitiktinai parinktoje vietoje ir tęsia savo pirmtako darbus.
  • Aukso dėžės. Jos išmėtytos po visą labirintą ir geriečio užduotis - jas surinkti. Kai tik surenkamos visos dėžės, atsiranda kopėtėlės vedančios į dangų. Gerietis turi jomis palipti į patį viršų ir tada laikoma, kad jis laimėjo.
Naujos kartos Lode Runner
Taigi, kadangi turime trečią matavimą iškarto kyla klausimas - kaip išplėsti dvimatį labirintą iki trijų? Tarkime dvimatis labirintas pasidaro vienos plytos storio trimatis objektas:

Pav 2. Trimatis labirintas.

O kad būtų linksmiau, tegul žaidėjas mato visa vaizdą iš savo veikėjo akių (t.y. FPS - First Person View). Bet tada Quake stiliaus dvimatis žaidimas turi viena problemą - kaip matyti priešininkus, kuriuos užstoja sienos ir grindys? Klasikinis žaidimas turėjo vaizdą iš šono, tad žaidėjas galėjo vienu metu matyti visa labirintą ir strategiškai pasirinkti tolimesnius veiksmus. Taigi, pabandysim įvesti dar vieną patobulinimą - veidrodžius. Žaidėjas bet kuriuo momentu gali pasisukti ir matys viso labirinto atspindį šalia stovinčiame veidrodyje.

Pav 3. Veidrodis šalia labirinto

Pav 4. Kaip žaidėjas gali matyti labirinto vaizdą

Kiti patobulinimai
Papildomi patobulinimai bus įgyvendinti jei liks laiko. Planuojamos naujovės:
  • Animuota žaidimo aplinka. Labirintas ir veidrodis patalpinami į teminę aplinką - miestą, gamtos landšaftą, kosminę stotį ir t.t.
  • Žaidimas per Internetą ar vietinį tinklą su kitais žaidėjais.
  • Įdėti tikrą treciąjį matavimą, t.y. kad labirintas turėtu atšakų kuriomis galima vaikščioti ir į gylį
  • Dvimačiai labirintai susukti į cilindrą.
  • Kitokios blogiukų rūšys ir elgsena
  • Kitokie platformų ir sienų tipai (neregenruojančios grindys ir t.t.)
  • Įvairūs daiktai padedantys geriečiui (pvz. pistoletas)

Lode Runner Wikipedijoj: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lode_Runner
Indago svetainė http://indago.puslapiai.lt


Project has a name - "Plyushkin Syndrome"

After long discussions and debates (mostly myself with my reflection in the mirror) we've picked a name for our project - "Plyushkin Syndrome" or as we will refer to it often - PS. Here's a little description for the ones who are curious about origins of this syndrome.
Looks like the name fits our game - our "Good guy" is running around and picking useless stuff (i.e. gold crates). Just like real Plyushkin :)


Project vision

Classics revisited. The idea of the game is to resurrect Lode Runner game in 3D and add new features that new third dimension can offer to us.

First, let’s recall the basic concepts and rules of this classical game.
  • The field of the game is a flat 2D maze, kind of a construction site with platforms and ladders. For example it looked like this:
Image 1. Lode Runner multi-platform maze

Maze consists of brick platforms and walls, ladders and hand-to-hand bars suspended in the air. Some walls or platforms are indestructible.
  • The main character controlled by the player i.e. the “good guy”. His task is to run around the maze avoiding bad guys and collecting gold crates scattered around the level. He can climb ladders up/down, use hand-to-hand bars to slide and even crush a pit in nearby ground if it was made of destructible brick.
  • Bad guys (the robots). Clumsy and slow characters chasing the good guy around the map. Once bad guy falls into the pit, he stays there for some time and then climbs out. But alas - pits regenerate after some period and if robot fails to climb out – he’s dead. Another robot falls from the sky at random place instantly if his comrade has died in the pit.
  • Gold crates. That’s the purpose of the good guy. If he collects all the crates, the ladder appears leading to the sky. His task is to climb up to win.
New generation Lode Runner

Now that we have third dimension, it brings us a challenge – how to extend the maze. We had a pretty nice 2D multi-store map, why not reusing it? So let’s consider our maze will be one brick-block wide 3D maze:
Image 2. Three dimensional maze

To make it even more fun to play, let’s make it a first person view. A quake style 2d game has one problem – how to see opponents if platform floors and walls are blocking them? The old game had side view so player can see the whole field and plan play strategy a few steps ahead. Here’s another trick we’re about to introduce in our fancy Lode Runner version – side mirrors. A player can take a look at any time to one of the side mirrors and observe current situation.

Image 3. Side mirror and the maze

Image 4. Character view from the platform to mirror

Other improvements will be implemented based on available timescale. These include:
  • Animated game environment and surroundings. Maze and the mirrors are placed inside themed environment – city, nature landscape, space stations etc.
  • Multiplayer mode.
  • Adding real 3rd dimension - some platforms may extend along depth axis.
  • Making circular maps i.e. 2D map is curved into cylinder
  • Different enemies and their behavior.
  • Different brick types.
  • Different bonuses and items.

Lode Runner on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lode_Runner
Indago homepage http://indago.puslapiai.lt