Sunday, July 09, 2006

Boxing Kicked My Butt

Waaaay back at the inception of this blog I wanted to start working on some proof-of-concept game, mainly to try my hand at physics and collision detection. I didn't even really want to get into art and animation at the time - I was more into the code. My first thought was a quick boxing demo, since I could wrap collision detection, reactive animations and ragdoll physics into it.

Generally when I learn, I like to place what I learned into this huge document that has become the source for the tutorials I post. And since I had to learn how to build meshes to be collided upon, the first chunk of my tutorials was how to build sprite meshes.

So I began mesh building. Once I found out MakeHuman meshes were a bit too detailed, I started to build my own. Nine months later I found out how mesh building wasn't something that could be glossed over; I had to figure out the hard way how crucial concept art and reference images were. I didn't even get to scratch the surface of texture building... just building and animating meshes kicked my butt.

Since I had a newfound respect for concept art and texture building, I figured I'd better learn a thing or two about art concepts. That's what started me down the current track of learning the fundamentals of drawing, so I have concept art to use as reference images for my meshes. And maybe learn a thing or two about colors and textures for my UV maps.

So, for those of you just tuning in, boxing -> coding -> mesh building -> reference photos -> concept art -> drawing classes. Basically I'm having to take grade school art classes in order to figure out how to build meshes, and get me back on track to where I was eighteen months ago.

Even given all the work I've put into building the foundations of my lil' demo, I'm considering ditching it all for a change in focus. It seems there's a budding new game genre that would accomplish my earlier goals much more readily: physics toys. GameTunnel's review of June's independent games had two interesting titles that piqued my curiosity: Soup Toys and Armadillo Run. I haven't played them since they're Windows apps... but both are something of physics sandboxes, not unlike World of Sand. One is more of a "desktop distraction" (like AMOR), the other one is more of a standalone engineering challenge. Both are compelling as something as a logic puzzle, but has the draw of Legos or building blocks. In a high-brow physics sort of way, of course.

Games that can easily be jumped into, run in a standalone window and can soak up just a few minutes of spare time are perfect for the current generation of casual gamers. Mixing that with the appeal of a physics toy is a pretty clever idea. And it would definitely bring me closer to my original goal of a collision detection and physics proof-of-concept demo...

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