Experilous

A tile-based planet with a mix of randomly distributed tiles of varying sizes.

The next incremental version of Worldbuilder is now out. No huge changes to planet generation itself, but the user interface has received some significant improvements in terms of usability. Some of this stuff is really standard, and sort of feel bad that it wasn’t already in early versions, so I apologize that it took this long to become available. But the program continues to get polished up, a little here, a little there, so I hope your experience will keep getting better.

As always, a demo is available for download, and the full product can be purchased from the store page. (Once purchased, you’ll continue to have free access to future updates.) If you have already purchased Worldbuilder, the downloads can be found here. (more…)

The crescent appearance of a planet from space, being lit from the lower left.

Today brings a new version of Worldbuilder! The primary focus has been on the presentation of the planets. Much work has gone into getting away from being limited by a low-resolution triangle mesh during rendering, and instead doing far more on a per-pixel level. It has also made it significantly easier to add lighting and to handle a wider variety of map projections.

A demo is available for download, and the full product can be purchased from the store page. (Once purchased, you’ll continue to have free access to future updates.) If you have already purchased Worldbuilder, the downloads can be found here. (more…)

Quick and boring legal update, huzzah! I have just posted a Terms and Conditions user agreement, and naturally it necessitates that I provide some notice on my website of its becoming into existence. I have no doubt that it will quickly rise to be the most visited page on my site in no time, its only real rival being the six week old privacy policy.

So as to not leave you with only the dryest of dry content, I shall also whimsically include a distance field that was produced from a randomly generated tectonic plate. Black indicates regions that are outside of the tectonic plate, and the grays of increasing intensity specify the distance of each pixel to the nearest edge of the tectonic plate. The closer to white a pixel gets, the further it is from the nearest border. There’s a lot I’ll be able to do with this information!

You can see a couple more pictures related to distance fields and planet rendering in my recent tweet.

The first follow-up version of Worldbuilder is released, Version 0.1.1! This is admittedly a minor version, but comes with some very nice usability improvements, a few new features, and better error detection and messaging, as well as some miscellaneous bug fixes. (Click here to purchase. There is also a demo available. If you have already purchased it, you may proceed to the download page.) (more…)

I apologize for being quiet for so long. I’ve been working hard on my Worldbuilder random planet generator, as well as preparing my website for Worldbuilder’s eventual release. Today that release has finally arrived, and Worldbuilder is now available for purchase from the Experilous Store!

It’s a long ways off from what I envision it could become, but it’s already got a lot of potential value. If you are an author of speculative fiction, a map enthusiast, or a programmer interested in procedural generation, read on to find out what Worldbuilder is already capable of, and where I hope to go with it in the future. Or grab the free demo here and try it out yourself. (more…)

As I mentioned earlier this month, I’ve been encouraged by the interest in my planet generator experiment. In particular, I was surprised and excited by the wide diversity of interest outside of strict gaming and game development circles. This interest led a friend to suggest the possibility of developing a fully functional professional tool based on the experiment that had been predominantly intended for use in a strategy game.

After recovering from this month’s Ludum Dare game jam, followed by research, planning, and some early development, it appears that I’m definitely proceeding with this project. In terms of determining core features and priorities, I’m taking fantasy/sci-fi authors as my primary target audience, to aid them in their worldbuilding efforts. But the intention is that the software will be quite engaging for worldbuilders and map aficionados in general, as well as for those interested in procedural generation. (more…)

U+2603:  Snowman Symbol

U+2603: The theme for LD31?

Only three hours remaining until the theme for Ludum Dare 31 is announced. I’m gonna have a go at it again, preferably with far more success than Ludum Dare 30. I’ve been in a rather good mental state this past week, and am well rested, so I’m optimistic. And the possibility that the Unicode Snowman will be the chosen theme doesn’t scare me. Not that I have any idea for what I’d make for that theme or any other. I’m fully in the just-wing-it mode of thinking for this one. We’ll see how that goes.

I’m assisted this time by Jeremy Breau of Antithesis Design. The media assets he’ll be creating will no doubt be far better than any weak vector art I would throw together, and having a partner with whom to share the design efforts is always rad.

Meanwhile, the very encouraging interest from Hacker News and reddit this past week, along with a very insightful business suggestion from a friend, has me reconsidering my plans regarding my planet generator. (more…)

Jesse Schell recently requested brief videos from anyone who likes his book The Art of Game Design.  As is obvious from other content on my site, I’m a big fan of the book, so I took the time to begin learning a new skill and recorded a two minute video.  It summarizes two key features of the book that have helped me overcome periods of demotivation:  guidance on where a designer’s focus should be (helping me to get past a misplaced focus), and fresh perspectives to take advantage of the mental space freed up by stepping away from a ill-chosen focus.  Without completely repeating the short video in text, here it is (or view it on YouTube): (more…)

I think it is time to say goodbye to my first major prototype.  It’s hard.  I want to keep pushing through the hurdles, extending it to the point where it is a fully playable game, even if highly simplistic.  I’ve been told that forcing myself to complete projects is important for gaining valuable experience, and I definitely still believe that.  But perhaps I was applying that advice incorrectly.  For a project that is meant to be shippable, it’s probably great advice.  For a project that is meant to be a prototype, it’s important to be able to drop it when the time is right.

Up until now I’ve been ambiguous with myself about what I’ve been working on for the past two months.  Was it the beginnings of a shippable game, or was it an early prototype that would inform a future project?  I wanted it to be both, but I think now it is valuable to make a clear distinction:  I’ve been working on a prototype, and it has now served its purpose and is beginning to outlive its usefulness. (more…)

Last week I was able to finish my preliminary work in porting my Lua scripts to JavaScript, and get a bonus by integrating them with jqPlot to get nice line graphs just like I had in Excel.  The syntax and features are ever-evolving, but take a look at what I’ve got so far. (more…)

A couple months ago I had a crazy idea:  Dump my Excel spreadsheets and just stick all my financial data in script form.  Languages like Lua or JavaScript (through JSON) are naturally designed for representing data, but then they’re complete programming languages too, which readily allows me to implement any amount of custom reporting I want.  So upon starting my game development business, I began tracking my finances using some evolving Lua scripts.  Now that my move to a new place is complete and I’ve finally recorded all the frightening purchases I made over the last two weeks, I’ve been updating the scripts, and chose to port them to JavaScript to gain some advantages from HTML/browser integration and existing high quality JavaScript libraries.  Let me describe the budget scripting experience so far. (more…)

The Artist has been added to the About page, as an additional role for which our games will be designed.  Roles already listed were the engineer, the executive, and the scientist.  Here is the blurb for artists:

Just as the construction of functionality can be fun, the creation of beauty can be immensely rewarding. We want to give our players the tools to realize their imaginations in dynamic virtual worlds, and the opportunities to share those creations with others. We know that our audience has a deep well of potential for creativity, and we hope to inspire such diverse artifacts as impressive cities, colonies, and civilizations, and empires, compelling player-generated narratives, quality in-game content, and fan art.

I was tempted to include a fifth role, The Storyteller, but that’s getting a little excessive.  I chose to integrate that in with artistry.  After all, the creation and presentation of a compelling narrative is indeed a form of art.  (As a side note, this focus on narrative is different from that of most games which treat the player as audience, not as author as I wish to do.)

Tonight marks my moment of officially kicking off a significant new phase in my career, moving from enterprise software engineering to independent game development.  The label for this latest adventure of mine:  Experilous.  Here is my tale of how I chose this name. (more…)