March 25, 2011

Something Impulsive This Way Comes

Hey everyone, I'm Greg. The man behind the curtain on the Thoth Interactive game, Impulse. I'll save further introductions for later.

Last night was our first public presentation for Impulse at our local IGDA monthly meeting. We plan to take that just a few steps further now with this. Some news that I think everyone will really enjoy to hear....

We'll be posting a public demo of the latest build for Impulse around April 15th.

It's time to reward the enthusiasm that people have had with the videos and art we've shown. It's time for you to get your hands dirty with a copy of the demo of Impulse.

Any questions can be directed to:
or feel free to leave a comment below.


I'll apologize now for this news in regards to the date of the demo. Long story short the past week I've been combating a bout of the flu, which has caused a delay in completion of some of the necessary features we want in for the demo. These extra few days we'll be taking to make sure that the demo is of a standard that we are comfortable with for public release. Again I apologize for the slight delay from this.

March 20, 2011

Warm Breeze

Our character, and his ability animations have been a lot of fun to build and animate. We feel that he has really come to life, in a sense, since we began this project. Although one thing we want to avoid is having an animated character and a really static environment. To avoid this, we've been working on ways to bring the environment to life as well. One of the ways is by having some small wildlife such as insects and birds moving about, but a more dynamic solution is that we're also going to fake a sort of "wind" behavior in some of the world's objects. Here is a screenshot of an early test environment to give some frame of reference:

The grass, leaves, and anything that is light enough within the environment will be affected by this "wind" effect that moves through the environment. It is essentially an invisible wall that passes across the player's immediate area, and has a push affect on the objects that are flagged to be affected by it. This will cause them to sway in a wave as though the wind is moving them.

While this system is very simple, it allows us some other fun options as well. We can have invisible physics effects come off the player as well, so that when you run through tall grass, your projected effects mix with the overall wind effect to make the grass not only come alive, but also to unify the player character with the environment through a sort of indirect interaction.

This wind system is still in it's early stages, so a video of the effect in action might be a little ways off. I'll end this blog post with another few screenshots:

Any questions can be directed to:
or feel free to leave a comment below.

March 18, 2011

Impulsive Abilities

While we get closer to having a playable release, I think I might detail some of the unlockable abilities in the game, mostly because I'm mentally exhausted and can't seem to sleep. Each of the following abilities is unlocked by collecting the 5 letters that make up each of their names, the letters are re-imagined in a sort of cryptic script that creates the shape of the powerup once all the letters have been found. Here are some of the primary ones required for navigating the game's world:


Vault allows the player to rebound off of walls and control the direction of their leap from said wall. It also has the ability to take the distance you've traveled through the air and inject that into a more powerful jump once you cling to something. It makes for some pretty fun launches once you get yourself going.

Performed by pressing action+(up, down, or neutral) once you have clung to a wall.


Token allows the player to mark their location anywhere they can get solid footing, so as long as you're sitting still and crouching, you are able to place a token. Once placed, you can then recall to that location under similar circumstances.

Peformed by pressing down+action while standing still to save or up+action to recall.


Spike is an ability that allows the player to spend all energy to quickly dash through the air. Once done so, they cannot perform any other abilities for a while. This is primarily used to destroy breakable environment pieces or get that last bit of oomph needed to land a jump. The ability can also be used while clinging to some movable walls to either push them in or pull them out.

Performed by double-tapping left or right while in mid air or clung to a wall.


Focus will allow the player to plant an anchor point anywhere in midair to swing around that point and shift direction. If used properly, it can also increase airtime substantially, although there is a cooldown on it.

Performed by pressing the action button while in mid-air.

Any questions can be directed to:

March 13, 2011

Noob Indie Dev Journal, part 1

I haven't yet earned any sort of credibility as a game developer yet. I'm hoping that changes someday. That being the case, I have learned some lessons that I would like to pass on to other aspiring independent game developers out there. This journal series is intended to serve as a sort of guide to getting started. Here are 5 basic tips to get this journal started:

This may seem obvious to a lot of people, but you would be surprised how many people expect this sort of thing to work out. If you are just starting out the chances of a studio seeing your game design concept and buying it are almost zero. The chances of a studio hiring you as director of your own game design concept are just as good. Don't worry about that sort of stuff and just get developing! Hard work and dedication to your craft will get you far more success than a few dusty game docs.

Get involved in game development communities, local IGDA chapters are a great way to get to know local devs. You can also join popular game developer forums like TIG Source. Creating a network of talent and friends in the industry is very handy to have if you ever come up with questions, or need something outsourced. There are many communities like the ones I mention, it just requires some hunting.

Not all indie devs will agree with me on this, but I think it's a very important step to getting started. Having an engine allows you to simply start making a game rather than worry about a render engine, character controllers, and collision models (given your engine of choice actually provides these things). I would suggest using an engine like Unity 3D, Unreal Development Kit, or Source Engine. The three are available for free and having strong communities and wiki pages ready to help new developers learn the ropes.

Don't try to make the next greatest RPG or FPS. Take what you know how to do and come up with a game idea that you can really get behind. If done properly, you won't have to worry about massive technical hurdles, and you can instead worry about polishing those skills and learning little new tricks here and there to really show your talents. Also by doing this, it increases your chances of following up on my next point:

Anything, just finish a project. It doesn't need to be salable, or even particularly original. Getting the experience of actually making a game from start to finish is very enlightening, and will teach you volumes about what it takes to finish a project. Also, if you're looking to get hired, having finished projects looks much better than having half-assed concepts or unfinished pieces of a project.

I've learned a lot over the past couple of years, and have a ton more to learn in the years to come. I've made some mistakes that have slowed me down, and I would hate to see someone who is interested in getting involved in the game development field become deflated by these common mistakes.

I'll end this post with a short animation test video from our YouTube page:

We're awfully close to our deadline for presenting Impulse to our local chapter of the IGDA, and soon after that, we'll be releasing a public playable test demo. Here's hoping everything goes smoothly! :)

Any questions can be directed to:

March 6, 2011

Simplicity and Magic

When conceptualizing Impulse, we decided it was important that our game's camera renders with a zero field of view (FOV). We also decided later on that the game would, at any given time, only have three tones of color and no shading. The tones of color smoothly transition based on the current night/day cycle in game, and also based on the world you're currently in.

What we didn't realize early in concept, was that a zero FOV and three tone color scheme would allow us to do some really cool effects. One example is our character's Token ability. During gameplay, the player will be able to place save tokens, and at any time be able to recall themselves back to them. The recall animation looks a little something like this:

This sort of effect would normally be a bit difficult to pull off in normal real time render situations. What we've done is that when the character finishes their movement animation, the 3d model is swapped out with a completely flattened 2d mimic. This 2d mimic contains many smaller models that are cut apart and fit together. We then animate the new replacement 2d model to disintegrate. This would not be possible without a zero FOV render camera, and would certainly be very challenging if we had anything more than three tones of color to create 'tell marks' when doing our model swap.

Another example is found in one of our game's hazards, something we've been calling the 'slow plate'. The purpose of this hazard is upon contact, the player loses all built up speed and is slowed to a crawl, removing much needed mobility. It looks like this:

To get this sort of effect, we are simply rotating a set of corkscrew shaped models, and to get that nice separation, we just placed a larger white model behind the black. This white model is invisible because of how it lays on the white background, resulting in a nice separation between the two models we wanted to have show up clearly. This is what the models look like when viewed from the side:

Our decision to use a simpler presentation of our visual assets has given us a lot of freedom to do some pretty cool things. Anytime a new effect is fleshed out, we try to take advantage of our game's newly found capabilities, which we hope will deliver a unique visual experience to our players.

Any questions can be directed to: