Something new?

Here's a thing I've been doing... I wonder what it is?


The future of UI authoring!

Yes, it's been a long time since my last post! No, I haven't finished CITS yet. Instead of a long post filled with excuses (home ownership, engagement, new job etc) let's just skip all that, pretend I've been posting more, and get on to a screenshot shall we?

Inspecting menu UI

Here we go! I've replaced Awesomium with the Chromium Embedded Framework, for a variety of reasons. One swish thing I just discovered as a side-effect of the change is that I get full access to the usual Chrome dev tools!

This should help speed UI development along nicely!

Also, I really am trying to get CITS out the door now. Expect more screenshots and an actual release, in some timeframe measured in months, not years.

New Year's resolutions are silly

Oh look, it's 2013! Cool.

Clearly I failed to follow up on last year's resolution to get a release out for CITS and Banditos. I did try, mind you. It's just that stuff kept getting in the way, like leaving Rare to start a new job at Creative Assembly, and moving to Guildford, and a whole lot of Team Fortress 2.

With that in mind, then... My resolution for 2013 remains to release something by the end of the year! Hopefully the work I put in in 2012 will make it a bit easier to keep, though you're definitely forgiven for not believing me. It's getting close now, honest.

Awesome UI

The observant amongst you will have noticed that the last couple of screenshots of CITS have had their UI missing. That's because I got rid of it, as it turns out I really don't like Hikari, and the project kind of died anyway.

We've added UI to Banditos using Awesomium, which is HTML-based (in fact, it's an embedded web browser) rather than Flash-based, which makes content far easier to author. I figured I'd do the same with CITS, so I've added in some UI here and there. I had to learn a wee bit of JavaScript to get values from the game into the UI, but it's not really that bad.

Here's what the frontend looks like now. Not totally awful, right? It's also not totally functional since only "play" and "quit" work, and both via keypresses rather than selecting the menu item... details. I'll get to that later.

Menu UI

Keep on modelling

I've been at it again - this time I've made a keep model. Actually I've called the file 'Tower' but that's harder to make puns with so for the purposes of this blog post I'm calling it a keep.

Here it is, along with the windmill that apparently I made almost a year ago, and a little guy that has gone upside-down.


I did some more art!

This time I thought I'd try to do a cartoony bandito guy for Banditos. Not awful, considering it's by a programmer, right? The texture is temporary of course, it's just flat colours and mouse-drawn eyes and poncho detail. I need to figure out how to texture things nicely. I'll get him animating next; rigging him is a bit tricky since he's so fat.

Bandito model


I'll get the traditional excuses out of the way first. This time it's a good one; Rare had a bit of a drive to sort out employee 'moonlighting' projects, requiring us to get them authorised properly. Sadly there was a bit of miscommunication which delayed things by a few months (!), so I've not been able to talk about personal projects since February!

On to what I've actually been doing then. I've been a busy little bee, working on a new project, called Banditos. I've just fleshed out the Banditos website with some sketchy details, screenshots and a video, so go and have a peek. It's a 4 player local multiplayer stealth game that I'm working on with a couple of chums from Rare - Dave Hill and Rich Watson.

We started work on it intending it to be a decent game to play in our lunch breaks, since we love same-screen multiplayer games, and have finally gotten bored of Smash Bros. and Markio Kart. Here's a little video of a 2 player game I took the other day. All art is placeholder and done by me - the final thing will look much ...

Late resolutions

It's still January, so there's still time for me to make new year's resolutions, right? Good.

My new year's resolution is to release both Cities in the Sky and Banditos by the end of the year. They probably won't be final releases, but for each of them there will be something you can download and play and enjoy, at the very least!

I've just realised I've not really written anything about Banditos yet; I'll make a note to do that soon too!

Gone with the windmill

Really Ben, you couldn't think of a better windmill pun?

So I fancied doing a bit of 3D modelling recently, and got cracking on a new type of building for CITS - a windmill. In the process I've learned about all sorts of arty things - modelling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging, and animation (the blades rotate, you see). Ignoring the pretty naff texturing (which is basically an AO bake with some tints applied in Photoshop), I don't think it's that bad!


Oh yeah, and I got myself a new skybox too, as the old one is stupidly bright and has massive black gaps in it. And I fiddled with the grass material a bit. I'll get onto some more gameplay soon, I promise!

Real live footage of Cities in the Sky!

I've been busy getting Cities in the Sky back up to where it was before I decided to replace the physics engine, and it's now at a point where it's actually better than it was before. Movement of the island is more fluid, the game performs better with more buildings and people in the world, and it's much more predictable than it was before - previously it loved to explode in interesting but stupid ways.

So to celebrate this, and to make the 'videos' section of the new CITS website look a bit less sorry for itself, I've uploaded to YouTube a tasty tasty video of CITS gameplay!

It looks like Google Videos is being decommissioned in favour of YouTube, so I thought I'd best get with the times. Unfortunately someone has already taken (and subsequently either abandoned or deleted) the names "hymerman", "BenHymers", "BHymers", and just about every other nickname I've gone by, ever. So I've had to go with one of their suggestions; the terribly self-important-sounding "TheBenHymers". Brilliant.