“Flux8” is a puzzle-platformer based around the polarity of magnets and how they react to opposite and similar forces. The game is due to be released on Steam this August.
We’re looking for Computer Games Design and Programming students within the University of Huddersfield to provide us with feedback and help us find bugs. Play-testers will have access to both single player and co-op campaigns, as well as the built in level editor.
Play-testers who play “Flux8” for 3 hours or more throughout the course of the week will earn themselves a Steam key to download “Flux8” for free once it releases.
All in-game footage will be recorded using screen-capture software, so that our developers can go back and replicate bugs and issues later.
If you wish to take part in the play-test, please come to Canalside Studios (CW4/19) any time between 10am-4pm, Monday 24th – Friday 28th July.
In the meantime, why not check out the latest devblog to see what we’ve been working on?
We look forward to seeing you all next week!
Over the last two weeks, I have been working on developing the background creation tools. The main part I have been working on is a tool to place background prefabs and spacers. As a part of this, I created a new snapping system to allow rooms to attach despite being different sizes. In addition, I have also made a new system to place scenery, such as wall mounted assets and clutter. Again, for each of these, I have added a feature to save and load.
This week I have been working on the Steam Workshop integration with the game. I have made a UI that allows you to upload your level with a screen shot, and apply updates to levels you have already uploaded. This will allow other users to download your level and play them from the main menu.
Over the last couple of weeks I have been trying to polish several parts of the game. This includes updating parts of the menu to be usable with controllers. I have also added the majority of achievements required for the game and set this up to work with Steam when we release.
During the past couple of weeks of working at Canalside Studios, I have been continuing with fixing and decorating levels at an increased rate in order to meet our deadline for testing. I have also been delegating tasks to the other designers, evenly splitting the remaining tasks so that we can release the game on time.
The past few weeks I have been working on polishing some of the levels ready for testing. The aim is to complete the levels for next Friday so there is plenty of time for testing before release on July 31st. I have also helped by working on the Steam page and plan to improve it further next week.
Lately I have been working on the levels in Flux8. I made a couple of red and a couple of co-op levels. Then I put all of them in scenes inside the editor, set up all the cameras in the scenes and started decorating them. I am close to finishing the red magnet campaign, which means that we only have the co-op campaign to finish now and all of the levels will be completed.
I’ve begun recording and processing the final batch of sound effects. Once I’ve got all of the sounds we need, I’ll be going through each level and making sure the balance between the different sounds is correct. I’ve also finished mixing and mastering a couple more pieces of music. I still have one or two more to do, but I’m hoping to have these finished by the end of next week. Here’s another one you might recognize if you played the free demo on Gamejolt.
Starting with this “alternative” menu from a very early version of the game, before it even got it’s name!
Then there was the time Tess learned to fly!
And finally, my personal favourite: Reuben’s amazing growth ray! Not quite the intended effect of the lasers…
I’ve been continuing making levels over the past two weeks.
Over the last two weeks, I have been working on expanding the background system to make it easier to create backgrounds and environments for the game. One of the features I have made is a scaffolding tool which can be used to create scaffolding around the level itself. The new system allows you to draw out the initial struts and add cross bars and supports to scaffolds. I have also worked on another tool to manually place the background tiles, mainly for the designers to quickly generate the backgrounds for their levels. Both of these systems can then save and load their setup into other scenes.
This week I have been working on implementing the back and front end of Steam Workshop integration. This involves using the Steam API to get currently uploaded levels, as well as a way for users to easily upload their own levels, which they have made in the level editor.
I have spent the last couple of weeks doing tweaks to add extra polish to the game such as a few minor additions to the menu, adding sounds to the characters and also making extra features for some levels such as blocks looking like they are being destroyed on a level where the player is being chased by a machine.
For the past couple of weeks I have been fixing and decorating several levels, in order to reach our level target for release. I have also been helping set up the the Steam store page, so that it has all the information and images it needs ready for when it goes live.
I’ve been mixing and mastering (or at least, attempting to) some of the music I’ve composed for the game. I’ve got a few that are finished and ready to go into the game now. Over the next few weeks I’m going to be recording and processing the rest of the sound effects we need, as well as hopefully finishing off the rest of the music. If you played the free Flux8 demo, you may recognize the track below – it’s the menu music! Except now it sounds all shiny and finished.
As ever, watch the video below to see some of our work in action!
I’ve been continuing development on the levels within the game. The levels I’ve created focus mainly on more advanced mechanics, such as the polarity switch gate and lasers.
Over the last few weeks, I have been working on creating a background generator for the level editor to speed up the level building process and give players a background for their levels. The generator uses pre-built sections which are assembled in a grid to fit the level. I made this so it could also take in a seed to get the same background generated multiple times. I also made new magnet pads which can stretch in the middle, whilst keeping the ends the correct size, using a series of models which Sam made. Following this, I created a tool to swap out the old magnet pads with the new ones I had added in. In addition, I added a new method to draw out the rails which the moving platforms run on, using a similar method to the magnet pads.
This week I have been working on improving the jumping system. Before, it only checked directly under the player but now it checks in an area, making it easier to complete accurate jumps.
I also started work on the workshop UI for downloading player-made levels.
Over the last few weeks, I have been working on a number of different parts of the game. Firstly I worked on adding a few things to the level editor such as adding UI to make configuring the movable blocks more intuitive.
Another addition to the level editor was the new spinner obstacles which the player has to avoid being hit by. Finally, I worked some more on the main menu to add a “mail system”, to give background story information, and also a screen to show the player’s progress finding collectibles.
For the past few weeks I have been working on decorating the levels previously made by Liam. I have also tried to incorporate other mechanics into the levels which were made after the levels were built. My aim for the next few weeks is to continue decorating and testing the levels in preparation for the game release on July 31st.
In the past week I worked on mainly creating even more background prefabs for our level editor and fixing/ adjusting some previous levels.
I’ve been composing music for the Co-Op levels. I decided these levels needed to have more upbeat, energetic music than in single player. I’m hoping to mix and master some of the other tracks I’ve been working on over the next couple of weeks and get them into the game.
As usual, you can view our work in the video below!
At Canalside Studios, Wednesday afternoon is our “Research Afternoon”. Each week, we put Flux8 to one side for a few hours to work on our own personal projects. Here’s a look at what we all get up to when we’re not building levels, writing code or recording sound effects!
For my personal project, I have been working on creating a space-based dogfighter game. The game is currently very basic, containing only a few mechanics. However, I have worked on implementing player controls, a weapon and health system with shields, as well as a camera system to both follow the player and lock onto the target. I have also put in an indicator which tracks where the target is on the screen and will lock to the edges of the screen, showing the distance to the current target. On top of this, I have made a start learning Unreal Engine 4, making use of C++ and following some tutorials to become proficient with the language and the engine.
For my personal project, I have been improving my skills in Unreal Engine. I haven’t used Unreal a lot, so I started with the FPS project and started making changes to it. It’s rather simple at the moment, with just toggle fire modes, but I am expanding on it as i go.
Y’arrgh, this is a mobile game I have been working on in my spare time and project days. It’s currently only a prototype to show off a couple of things like the wheel interface for controlling the boat. However, I do have some more plans to work on it in future, including adding enemies and gameplay objectives.
The most recent part of the game I have been working on is the map generation which I am now going to use when generating paths for enemies to take around the map. This will involve using an implementation of A* to find the quickest path to the player.
For the past couple of research days we have had, I have been working on a modular sci-fi corridor, which I hope to put into my portfolio once it is done. The segment that is in the image is the first of several modular pieces I will be making, along with pipes, panels and other sci-fi elements.
For my research day I have been working on two projects, a MP4-12C Mclaren and a modern living room. I created the Mclaren in my first year of university but never finished it, I went back to it and began retopologising it so I could take a render/wireframe for my portfolio. I have also started a modern living room which is inspired from multiple pictures. My aim is to create a scene that will show multiple skills and techniques across different pieces of software.
In my personal project time I’m trying to refine my skills in animation. I looked at a multitude of videos teaching boxing techniques, from performing a well executed hit to the subtle movement of the body between hits. I am animating the upper bodies of the two characters first to get a sense of how far can they reach and if they are capable of dodging hits. When I do this, I will concentrate on the leg movements as they are slightly more complicated and depend on the upper body movement (for example: when a fighter prepares and executes a hit, his legs react to give him balance and flexibility so that he can move back or react quickly).
I also started modelling a mech. As the project is in an early state I am blocking out the different pieces of the machine using a couple of concept pictures.
I’ve started recreating an old Drum & Bass track I wrote a few years ago. I always liked the composition, but I didn’t mix or master it very well. It sounds over-compressed and the bass is way too loud. Now that a few years have passed and I’m better at mixing, I thought I’d give it another go. You can listen to the original version below.
Watch the video below for a glimpse at everyone’s work!
Hello, I’m 23 years old and have been studying game design for 5 years now, I absolutely love playing Nintendo games, anything from Pokémon to Super Mario, NES to Nintendo Switch, I’m there.
I started my own Games Studio with 3 other students from The University Of Huddersfield, we are currently working on our first title ‘Tetra – Elemental Awakening’ which is an RPG Tower Defence Wave Clearing Game where you control several characters, which all have their own individual abilities and skills to defeat waves of enemies at certain locations across the world map, for more information on our game visit www.playtetra.com and send us an email for a free 10 minute demo over at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m always trying to push myself to learn new and exciting things within game development to really get the best out of what projects I’m working on, especially in Unreal Engine 4 and Zbrush!
I started at Leeds City College after finding out they started a Games Design course, thankfully I found this course because I had no idea anything like this existed, prior to this I was planning on studying Business, that would have been a completely different career path!
I’d always been interested in how games worked from a young age, ever since I picked up a NES and played Super Mario Bros I was hooked on figuring out how games functioned, and more importantly, how they were made. This course really gave me an idea of where I wanted to go with games, and set me up to be able to study further at university.
Before choosing where I wanted to go, I toured around various universities, and none of them really stood out for me. Until I came to Huddersfield, what really intrigued me was the way the modules for the courses were set out, Team Project was the one that drew the most attention for me, being able to work with programmers and fellow artists to create a game for the year really appealed to me, because it gives you a little insight into what working in the games industry is really about, and you can learn how to get your points across and work with others who can help you with this.
Also, the connections Huddersfield had with companies such as Rockstar/Red Kite/Team 17 made me think this could be somewhere that I may gain useful contacts from, and maybe even work for in the future.
Massive, wide open environments is something I really enjoy designing, it almost feels like a jigsaw puzzle, making every 3D asset to fit into place to create an astatically pleasing scene, tweaking every last detail, adding countless number of lights and effects until you’re sick of looking at it. It’s great because sometimes you’ll just be out walking somewhere, and see something that makes you want to create a whole scene around it, for example something like a statue, or a fountain, all of a sudden ideas just keep popping into your head, it really gives you inspiration to create more and more worlds.
I use quite a few day to day while working at Ocean Spark, but for me it has to be Substance Painter, it is such a powerful piece of software (and its now free!) It really brings your assets, or characters to life, being able to paint your 3D models in real time along with normal and ambient occlusion maps (and tons more) is such a massive time saver, plus you can also create your own materials in Substance Designer, which you can then share with others on their community pages, or download other artists materials and tweak them to your liking, I really don’t know what I’d do without it now, and more and more companies in the gaming industry are turning towards it as standard, which is great!
Fallen Idol Games are a small independent games company currently based in Huddersfield who comprise four designers, all taking BA Games Design at the University of Huddersfield. We decided to create our own company and give it a go in the Enterprise Placement Year (EPY). This is a year out in the university’s business incubator. Luckily the course provides business support in the form of training and mentoring plus we get games-development support from the Games staff. We are basically starting up our own company from scratch. This was a great opportunity for us as it supported us with location and business support which were the things we were lacking in our original plan.
We are currently working on in-house projects as well as improving our own individual goals for the year. These include greatly improving our asset production skills. We are planning our games around the idea of revitalising retro-game game philosophy, because of this it will suit a more average type of player who doesn’t seek demanding challenges.
However our overall goal is to experiment for the year to get experience of what it’s like running an independent business within a small team. We will be able to test workflows and increase our experience in using different software. This is great preparation for us for our final year of study, after which we can decide what we wish to continue with once we graduate.
Our team currently comprises four designers, each having their own role in the team and their own inspirations and aspirations .
“I originally started drawing as a hobby which soon I wanted to continue as a job as I enjoyed it and soon wanted to think about making a living out of it. As being a keen gamer also I wanted to pursue a job in that sector to repay the hours of enjoyment I had when I was younger. Being at University studying Game Design, they offered an enterprise year during our third year to expand and experience first-hand how it is to be an independent studio.
“I started playing games at a very young age, borrowing my sister’s Gameboy and PlayStation until I finally had my own system. Since then, games have been a constant hobby in my life. When it came to making my career choices, pursuing a job in the games industry felt natural to me. Considering my love for art, I decided I wanted to pursue a career in 3D Art, and after finding Unreal Engine and the power of Blueprints I discovered my love for technical art. I chose EPY as I was unsure whether I wanted to pursue a career as an indie developer or attempt to work for bigger studios. The EPY gives me the option of trying indie development out, with the added bonus of a safety net.
“Having played games with both my brother and father from a young age, I have always wanted to work in games. I have taught myself parts of game design as a hobby and decided to study this at university after being unsure what to do as a career. Having a love for indie companies and the games they produce, it became my dream job. EPY allows me to do this whilst being safe to do so and learn so much all at once before launching in to it as a career after graduation.
“Enjoying playing games ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to make games for my career. I had no experience in the field until I studied ‘Computer Games Development’ at Doncaster College, and advanced on to the University of Huddersfield’s BA Computer Games Design course. I quickly learned that to make the games that I want, I’d have to pursue a career as an Indie games designer and the EPY program was the perfect, most secure way to get started. It also puts me in good stead for pursuing my career after graduation.
We are currently working on a small in house title named Typerdrive. This is a wave-clearing game where the player has to eliminate asteroids by typing in words corresponding to the asteroid. By doing this they are increasing their speed to warp drive, hence the name “typerdrive”. Success takes players to the next level which will increase the word’s difficulty. If they collide with the asteroid they will lose their speed. If player speed reduces to zero, they lose.
We are basing this on an older game Typer Shark which uses a similar mechanic found in most typing games. But we figured making this small educational-based game would be good fun – the four of us as well as our friends in the office like the competitive feel of being able just to type better than each other. It’s also fun for those who are confident in their typing skills and wish to have a challenge.
We are going to the next Gamayo event in April, we awaiting confirmation from their organiser as we have applied to get a screen for a time slot so we can show our game TYPERDRIVE. It’s really important to get feedback from the games industry. We attended the previous Gamayo last September for the first time and found it a lovely atmosphere and were determined for the next one to be able to show something as a company.
If you’re not caught up yet, why not go back and read The Sound of Magnets: Music first?
The factory is noisy and there’s music in the background… but there’s something missing. How does a factory staffed by sentient magnets function properly if none of them can communicate with each other? We decided it was time to get Tess and Newt talking, so we gave them voices!
For obvious reasons I couldn’t just record a magnet talking, so we had to decide how our magnets should speak. Would they talk like you and I? Do they speak in a strange, made up language? Maybe they scream?
We settled on a wide variety of high-pitched mumbles which could be used to express certain emotions depending on the situation. All I needed now was two volunteers, who were willing to lend me their voices and spend their afternoon making weird sounds in a recording studio.
I headed over to the recording studio with Dimitar and Reuben – my two “willing” volunteers. I set up an AKG C414 Condenser microphone and we got to work. We recorded sounds for a wide variety of situations and emotions, from death sounds to the magnets expressing excitement.
While we were there, Dimitar also recorded a voice-over for the Steam Greenlight trailer, so that we could send it to a voice actor as an example of what we wanted.
Once I had plenty of expressions for both Newt and Tess, it was time to start processing them. I removed any unwanted frequencies and background noise from the recordings with EQ and Noise Gates. Then, I cut out the parts I wanted and used a DeEsser to remove some of the “hiss” created by sibilant consonants (mostly “s” sounds). I applied a bit of compression, played around with the pitch and ensured everything played back at the same volume level. Finally, I sent the files over to Matt so we could give our magnetic friends their new voices!
Watch the short clip below, taken from our Steam Greenlight Trailer, to hear Tess and Newt’s first words!
From the 30th March until the 1st April, Matt and I were at EGX Rezzed at the Tobacco Dock in London. There, we represented the University of Huddersfield and mainly its games-related courses. Our booth was situated in the GamesIndustry.biz Career fair section of the event, alongside games companies and other universities from all around the country. There, we were approached by a great number of people interested in the University.
From college kids to parents and even college teachers, everyone was asking a multitude of questions about the courses. We were happy to tell them all about what our courses offer and how it would prepare them for employment. We explained what each year entails and the amazing placement opportunities that the university provides – from our on-site studio “Canalside Studios” to our many successful EPY teams and even placements in the games industry.
The amount of talented people that came to our booth was astonishing. There were many people who were already very experienced with drawing, modelling and programming. There was even a 15 year old boy already programming games and testing them on his phone!
EGX Rezzed also had an amazing indie section featuring innovative and stunningly fun games, with a lot of hidden gems that were ready to be discovered by the public on one side and AAA games from massive companies on the other. There were also a lot of unreleased games for the new Nintendo Switch. EGX Rezzed was a unique opportunity to experience all types of games development in one place.
If you haven’t read my previous post, The Sound of Magnets: Processing, then you might want to go back and have a quick read!
Now that our factory is starting to sound like… well, a factory, It’s time to add some music.
I’m a student on the Popular Music Production BA course – I’m still learning. So you can imagine the look on my face when I was asked to compose a series of tracks for a retro, puzzle-platformer set inside a factory full of sentient magnets which, at the time, had no definite story or art style.
I spent a lot of time on Youtube looking at other retro games, or even games such as Playdead’s “Inside” which mostly takes place within a factory. My research gave me a good indication of the kind of atmosphere I needed to create but I still didn’t know how to go about composing such a piece. I decided the best approach was to open up Logic Pro X, play around with some synthesizers and see what I could come up with. When I eventually came up with something worth developing further, I took it to the rest of the team for feedback. We decided the soundtrack needed to have lots of “moving” low-frequency sounds. We also needed a combination of energetic and relaxing tracks. I returned to my desk at the back of the room, and spent the next few months composing piece after piece.
Once a piece felt “finished” and the team agreed it worked with the game, it was time to start mixing.
I always start with a quick twenty minute, mono mix, balancing the levels of each instrument without adding any processing to them. Once I have a rough idea where each instrument should be in terms of volume, I start processing using plugins such as EQ and Compression. I try to keep the processing as minimal as possible to avoid over-compressing the mix or removing too many frequencies from the instruments. Once I’m done tweaking the sounds, I switch back to a stereo mix to assign “panning” positions to instruments. Have you ever been listening to a piece of music and noticed that something sounds louder in one side of your headphones than the other? That’s panning!
Once I’m happy with my mix, I have to listen to it on multiple sound systems and a wide range of headphones to ensure consistency. If the music sounds drastically different across multiple systems, then I know I need to go back and change something. I keep mixing and testing until I’m satisfied, then move onto the final step.
Mastering is hard. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I also don’t have the budget to get the music professionally mastered, meaning it’s up to me. If I’ve mixed the music poorly, I’m simply not going to be able to master it well.
I start by adding a bit of gain to the track, increasing the overall volume. Next I add a bit of EQ to make some slight adjustments and an Exciter to add some extra “sparkle”. I then use a Multiband Compressor to compress different frequency bands individually, e.g. 20-500hz. I insert a Stereo Spread plugin to add a bit of width to the high frequencies, and finish off with a Limiter. The limiter allows me to increase the overall volume of the track, but also ensure that it doesn’t go over a certain threshold and start clipping. Finally, it’s over to Matt to add the music into the game!
Below, you can check out a finished track. Listen out for it in Flux8!
Torchbearer Interactive; a software house at heart with a strong focus on the games sector is but one of the latest round of businesses in this year’s Enterprise Placement Year (EPY) cohort at Huddersfield. As a team comprising exclusively programmers, we came into our first year of business with a desire not only to pass the year but to build a strong business that we could take forward into the future. Since starting with this simple vision in mind, Torchbearer Interactive has gone from strength to strength.
What began with us scrambling for web and app contracts quickly shifted up a gear when we took an opportunity to work alongside Ocean Spark Studios on their first game Tetra: Elemental Awakening – a game which we’re happy to say is making excellent progress. In addition to our work on games themselves, we’ve also created tools for developers to use in their game projects; more specifically Unity packages. So far we have released two tools: Magnet Roads and Terrain Heatmaps, both available through the Unity Asset Store.
Little did we know, this wasn’t the end of the story. As 2017 dawned, we’d submitted a proposal for our own in-house title Cloud Cover to Creative England’s Games Lab: Leeds in the hopes that we might be able to secure funding to pursue the development of a fully-fledged alpha build.
As February came, it seemed we couldn’t be busier. The business was going strong and the idea of winning any kind of funding had become a far-flung hope. Then it came though. We’d won a generous £15,000 Government grant to develop Cloud Cover.
Now, just a week away from demoing Tetra live at several events around the country, it seems like the work will never end; even university researchers are now looking to us to help them commercialise programmatical implementations of their own projects. Something tells me we may never have free time again, but it’s not exactly a bad problem to have. And to top it all off, we were recently honoured to receive the Huddersfield Town FC’s Shooting Star start-up business award back in December.
The team here at Torchbearer comprise three individuals:
Myself and Edward first met back in high school in a very early attempt to make a game with friends. Fruitless as it was then, we never lost our shared passion for games development – working on several projects together in the intervening years. It wasn’t until our first year of university that we first met Peter. Through the course of our first two years, we discovered that our skills overlapped in many areas, frequently working together at Game Jams and for team projects as part of our course.
Here at Torchbearer we’re current focusing our energies into two main projects; Cloud Cover and Tetra: Elemental Awakening. Cloud Cover is an apocalyptic strategy weather game, our first major in-house title as an independent studio. We’re not yet ready to talk about this game at great length, but, considering that we received the £15k grant from Games Lab: Leeds, we’re pressing ahead with development to make the best use out of the funds. Tetra is a nostalgically styled RPG game, lending elements from games like World of Warcraft, League of Legends and tower defence games. Wrapped in a story of four Guardians – one from each of the elementally aligned player races – they are pitted against the forces of evil. At this stage we’re currently developing this title for desktop release, with a view to looking into other platforms like the Nintendo Switch – funding dependant.
If you want to come see and Tetra live then come see us at any of the following events:
Get our blockup physics-stacking game on the Google App Store
Tetra: Elemental Awakening