ARZ Dev update

Since my net has been down (I'm doing this from work), I have found myself with a lack of entertainment at home. Too Human has completly run its course (way sooner then I had hoped) and now I'm kind of bored. With this in mind, I've been trying to do more around the apartment and have finally jumped back into my side project: Attack of the Robo Zombies. Initally, I went on a campaign to refactor a large chunk of code from Smashout. This included the editor which I got into better shape. Just last night I finally finished getting the basic level data loaded and displaying. Now its time to develop a collision system and get a demo ready for all of you.

My approach to ARZ has been similar to Smashout: get it out and play it. I'll be the first to say my code is not some amazing stroke of software architecture. Instead its a lot more about rapid development - just get it done, stick to KISS, avoid unreadable code (since you will need to r&d the proto later), and get it online.

With that in mind, I'm hoping by the end of this week you will see some a tech demo.

FYI and a STFU to the CCC

For those who have been wondering why I'm not on Xbox Live the past couple of days well I've been in Joisey helpin Laura get moved in (and spending some time in marital bliss) and my internet has gone down and I can't get a repair man till wednesday (which sadly I'll have to ask my boss if I can get out of work early to take care of).

So hopefully I'll be back on by Wednesday night.

For Laura

If you have read Laura's Blog, you will know that we are going through a bit of "tough" part of our lives. Maybe tough is a bit of an over statement. Laura and I made an extra big effort to always talk about the future and how things may go for us career-wise. One thing was for sure, Laura's career was not going to be in Chicago. Her dreams were to get into 3d animation for Film and Television and that just was not the kind of job available in the Windy City. We knew early on that she may have to go to California for a brief stint at a big animation house. What we didn't see coming was an perfect job in New Jersey seek her out. It happened and we both took big breaths and realized that just a meager two weeks after getting married, we were going to have to live apart for an extended period of time. This was an opportunity she could not just pass up. It was worth a shot to go out and give it a whirl. After a whirlwind weekend, she is now in New Jersey (taking temporary residence with her sister in NYC). Today is her first day and I hope its the start of the career she always wanted.

As for me, I thought I could be a lot stronger about this. I regret breaking down a bit in front of Laura and not giving her the extra confidence she needs right now. I am resolved to make my "cushy" position in Chicago a home base that she can call at any time. This is gonna be a tough time for us. We both want whats best for out future, and that often calls for sacrifices. I get Sully to keep me company (or Sully has me to keep him company) and has proven to be extra affectionate after the weekend without us.

I want to make a special super thank you to all our family for stepping up and helping us out in our time of need. I know we got so much help during the wedding but to still have everyone ready to drop what they are doing and help us again is just overwhelming. We are truly blessed to have such good people in our lives.

I love my wife and I want to be back with her as soon as I can but I also love my wife and want whats best for her.

I know you can do this honey. I love you more with more then I thought I ever had in me.

Now go and git em.

More thoughts and notes

I've been sharing my idea was some close associates and getting great responses. They seem very excited to see a working prototype of the game.

Raj and I shot around some more ideas briefly and this is what we came up with:

  • Aggression Mod : Enemies touched by the ball will turn and attack other enemies
  • Slow Down Mod: Touched enemies will slow down. Placing enough mods in will give you the ability to slow down the whole game.
  • Super Ball Combos: When a certain combination of mods is placed into the slots, the ball gains a truly unique ability. One example would be a super nuke ball. The whole idea with the combos is a way to put in unique abilities that don't fit in well as mods.
Grant also threw in the idea of holes in the levels that enemies can be tossed down. He mentioned that this would be a good way to use the Gravity mod effectively. If tech reasons get in the way, I may have to turn these into "electric fields" or something for rendering reasons.

I also started working on an online task spreadsheet ( thank you google docs!) to keep myself...well...on task. Right now I'm going to be retooling the Smashout Editor and getting all the basic level data setup. For now, this is going to be limited to shapes. The first tech demo will have the level in 3d along with the cannon. From there I'll move onto basic projectile-enviroment collision.

Attack of the Robo Zombies!

After much mind-searching, I've decided to scrap my whole previous side project. In the end the entire thing would be a great venture in collision/mathematics but it would end up just being that. I thought back to what made me the happiest while at Full Sail and that was working on the gameplay and feedback features of Smashout. I really want to get back to that and I'm just plain tired of doing advanced collision research. It just isn't as much fun as it used to be.

So I spent sometime figuring out what a good new project would be. I decided to go back to what made Smashout so much fun to work on. I think the key factor was that we were not trying to emulate a game that was much bigger then what we could achieve. It was a simple arcade style game and was very limited in resources / etc. I then thought of an idea that was pitched to me by Mike Arnold: a gun that was modable so its behavior was effected (vs just increasing damage, etc). I decided to cross these. So what came out of it is "Attack of the Robo Zombies."

In ARZ, you will control a turret that can rotate around a level (which is all in complete view like Smashout) and fire a simple cannon ball style projectile. Your objective is defend small power nodes from being destroyed by hordes of Robo Zombies for a set period of time. Your cannon is not very powerful so to help in attacking the hordes, you will need to use Mods. Each mod takes up one slot (which only so many slots are provided) and will effect the behavior of the cannonball. So here are some examples:

  • Gravity Mods : This will attract enemies towards the ball can be used to draw them to a particular area. You can collide enemies with the enviroment or shove them into holes. Multiple mods will increase the amount of enemies drawn to one ball.
  • Combustible Mods: This will cause the ball to blow up when it hits a wall/enemy. More of these will increase the explosion. Hitting two or more balls together will create a bigger explosion.
  • Rebound Mods: Every rebound mod set will deflect the ball off a wall/enemy.
So the idea is that you customize what behavior your ball will do when you fire it. Grant Shonkwiller gave me a good idea by suggesting that as you place more mods of one type in, you will unlock "Abilities" that go with those. For example, placing in X number of Combustble mods will allow you to trigger all the existing projects to explode. Put in enough Gravity Mods and you are given the ability to stop all the balls in place. Enough Rebound Mods will allow you to curve the ball after being fired.

I've always wanted to do a zombie game but since that is getting so cliche, I made them robots.

A Grand Evening for a Reception

On with the show in this final installement!

After taking photos around Waukesha and spending some well deserved time taking in just how beautiful our wedding party looked, we headed to the reception hall. Upon getting in, most of the wedding party flocked to the appetizers that were around the place. I think in general, we were all starving. Eventually we got organized and headed in. We entered to "Lionis and Lucy" from Peanuts. Laura and I came in and more-or-less strutted our stuff over to the cake (what a cake it was) and cut a piece. We then got the table and the mike was passed around for the speeches. My brothers went first. Praveen talked about how we went from enemies to friends and Raj chatted it up about Laura and I. I honestly had to look down at the floor to keep from out-right balling. Kristy and Dorothy took up the mic and provided a large batch of tears from Laura. We then got onto the real deal of the whole wedding: the food. And what a deal it was. I think the only regret from almost everyone at the wedding was being unable to have more space in our bellies for more food. It was all so damn good! But there was much to be getting on with. We eventnually stepped out into the hallway to take some extra photos but then we rushed back in to do a speed-record of visits to all the tables. We dished out hugs and at about 5 a minute. We then took the dance floor for the grand first dance. We got to try out our dance lessons to "Come Away with Me" by Norah Jones. After that we did the Mother/Father dances then it was time to get it rocking. We kicked off with Polka in which I began the tradition of running around the room telling people "I need help" and dragging them up the dance floor. For several songs we kept grabbing more and more people. Laura and I made and effort to dance as much as possible and get everyone in the room to do the same. We eventually moved onto the garder belt event. For this, the DJs asked me to perform dances (alone) in front of Laura and to keep doing so until the Laura granted here approval. I am not sure what happened, but something over took me and I became more crazy until eventually I had to striptease in front of the whole wedding to get her approval. From that point on, the rest of the night was an exhausted, dancing, adrenile filled blur. At the end of the night, we slowly made our way to our hotel room and collapsed in a fit of exhaustion.

And so ends the greatest wedding Naveen will ever be the groom in and Laura will ever be the bride in. Thanks again to all attended and a special thanks to Praveen and Raj Nattam, Kaiden Smith, Nathan Summers, Adam Whitman, Chris Barngrover, Kristy Skowronski, Dorothy Hatchell, Becky Hansen, Julie Townsend, Keth Vasu, Tom and Lynda Skowronski, my Parents and every other person who helped make the wedding what it was.

Oy vey. Now onto married life with a crazy animated wife and a cuddly yet surly cat. Ain't it all grand.

A Grand Day for a Wedding

So now its time for the follow up. It is time for the sequel. Ladies and gentle giants, it is time for the wedding day post. Dun dun duuuuuuuun!

After a raunchy good time with my brothers and several fellows, I ended up waking up at around 8:30 am. I got up out of bed and decided the best thing to do was to order up a pot of coffee. I set up my laptop to start burning our Dinner Music CD (thank god I put the blank disc in the computer). While Raj snored away, I sipped my coffee and did my best to work over a plan that would ensure I didn't mess anything up that day. I wrangled up the groomsmen at each room and notified them that they need to be ready by 11 at at my door. Fortunately, things went well and each guy got ready and started showing up at 10:50. Before that, I spent some time with my mom and grandma in a ceremony in their room. They did a prayer and my mom and I spilled some tears with a hug. She has a way to make people cry. I'm not sure how she does it. I sallied forth back to my room and met up with all the chaps. Everyone was there and looking great. Praveen showed up with the always entertaining Kaiden and we all made sure Raj was up at them. After solving the driving situation by just taking my Parent's van, we all squeezed in. Adam and Chris do what they always do and acted as the skinny ones and squeezed together in a half seat. We made our way to the church and got out. At this point, I was given the codename "Peaches" as my groomsmen formed a Secret Service style team to make sure I did not see Laura. We met up with Mary the photographer and began to get all the crazy shots outside the church. She was fantastic. We ended up being there really a lot earlier then we had to and Praveen asked Laura if there was enough time to grab some food. Him, Raj, and Kaiden (I'm sure he helped somehow) grabbed us up some cousins turkey subs. Nothing ever tasted so good. My parents and the flower girls showed up and I knew that at this point, everyone necessary was here and I no longer had to worry. I was snuck inside to take a funny photo of Laura and I holding hands but being unable to see each other. While Laura was escorted out of the room, no body bothered to tell me she was gone. So a shout out must go to Bridesmaid Julie's husband who kindly came over and told me the cost was clear and I could get out of the corner where I had been sitting Blair-witch style. As people started to fill the lobby, I walked around greeting them all and helping Mary (who in here awesome way) find people to match boutinerres. I know I could of given this to someone else, but alas, only I had the crucial face-name memory that was required. I wento the bathroom and of course this was when Praveen came back out and asked me what the hell I was doing. It was time!

I ran back out and got up with my parents. Father Barbian walked to the altar, turned around, and I saw the whites of his eyes.....

During the ceremony, I told myself to keep a smile up and found I didn't really have to try, it just came out. Laura was an absolute knock-out. I mean damn. She was so gorgeous. I think I shuddered a bit. We worked our way throught the ceremony and I found it a bit hard to lock eyes with either moms. My mom broke down and cried very early while Laura's mom showed some strong courage and restraint to hold it back. If I looked at either, it instantly made be do the look up trick to make the tears go back in. Eventually we wrapped it up (I have trouble remember the details of the ceremony). I remember walking out with Laura and going into the side room where all of our Wedding Party joined us. It was a rush. I finally got to say "my wife..." and looked for every possible combination just to have an excuse to say it.

We eventually ran through the photos and filled into the Limo. It was time to take photos and then head to the reception...and oh what a reception it was but that story will need to be for another time (tommorow). So stay tuned listeners!

On a side note, Sully is adjusting very well to his new home. We finally let him out into the living room and he is slowly getting used to it. At first he cried out for attention but now he is looking for spots to curl up. Damn that cat. I love him so.

Blissful Union and a Cat to boot

Well folks, it finally happened. Laura and I tied the blessed knot on Saturday Sept 6th and our lives are permanetly different from now until forever...and I could not be happier.

Laura made a good point that we should try to get our thoughts out as soon as possible in efforts to remember as much as possible. Apprently its very common to forget to a lot of the individual things that happen at your wedding. I chuck this up to the incredible lack of rest people involved get. I can tell you for certain that Laura and I were running on a collective 2 hours (and I think that was mostly me).

Below you will discover what happened on Wednesday but I'll just say that we made it into Wisconsin extremely late on Thursday night (I think technically it was Friday). We made anchor at a hotel near Greendale, WI which was 45 minutes or so from the actual reception hotel. The next morning I forced Laura to eat breakfast since she would be running around a lot with her mom and sister taking care of last minute things. I hit up the tux shop with Laura's Dad Tom. As we approached the counter, groomsmen extrodinaire Chris Barngrover surprised me by arriving right behind us. I have no idea when he started his trip to Wisconsin from Indiana, but he made great time. While all three of us got fitted into our tuxes, my brothers Raj and Praveen (with his son Kaiden and wife Jenni in tow) arrived. We chatted it up then proceeded to basically have a several mistakes be made by the tux shop. I think almost all the pants were hemmed way higher then they were supposed too. To top it off, groomsmen Nate Summers measurments were said to "never have arrived." This was not the truth and someone at the shop dropped the ball. So suddenly I found myself getting a tiny slice of what Laura and her mom Linda have been experiencing for about a year. A quick plan was put in place and a phone call was made to have Nathan take a detour to Kenosha, WI (he had just left Chicago) and head straight to the tux shop supply center to get fitted and have a tux made special for him. At this point, I was behind schedule and Chris was nice enough to take me to Photographer's Shop so I could discuss some stuff with them involving the large engagment photo and frame. Apparently a misprint had happened but the Photographer went ahead and orderd a new one. So with that all set, Chris and I headed to Waukesha to get ready for the reherasal dinner. It was actually quite an awesome thing that he was my ride cause for those don't know, Chris and I have not really talked to one another in almost a year and a half. A lot had transpired and it was a blast to get back in touch - one on one. Well we made it to the hotel, got changed, and headed to the rehersal. After about 15 looong minutes, my folks arrived and we began the rehersal. It went very well and everyone had a pretty good time but then we headed out to the dinner and that was definetly when I knew this wedding was going to be an incredible time. We had so much fun talknig and chatting with everyone. Everything seemed to flow so well, with people just discussing whatever and not making a point to talk about wedding-only stuff. I even got a world of warcraft discussion in there for a few minutes. I was also pleasently surpised when I was presented with a "Groom's Cake" that was in the shape of a massive deep dish pizza (with white choclate shredded cheese!). After the dinner, we all headed back to the hotel and almost all the guys met up at the bar where Raj covered the bill of many a beer and just a few shots. I believe I ranted a bit but we'll just say it was like a live concert with no bootlegging allowed. After it was over, most of us stumbled to Adam's room and a heroic effort was made to get everyone Dennys. Whether this was a good thing or not, I'm not so sure. And that was day one. What a day it was. Now it is getting kind of late and I will post part 2 : The Wedding tommorow but I have a special annoucment to make here live on the blog that contains a sneak peek of tommorow's post.

During the actual ceremony, the priest (Father Barbian) mentioned that we need to share the love that comes from our union with those who do not have it. When I looked at Laura and she looked at me, we both thought of one special little guy. On Wednesday, Laura had the fortune to be approached by a adorable 8 month old kitty. This cat clung to Laura and she could not resist taking him inside. I got home and met this little guy and was blown away at just how playful and loveable he was. On Thursday, instead of thinking of the massive-life altering event that was about to occur, we became wholly consumed with figuring out how to take care of this little guy. We raced down to a vet and turned him in to get nudered and declawed as well as be taken care of over the weekend. It was storming and we had to put him in a cardboard box. We had to get there fast because they were about to close (thankfully they stayed open later for us). I illegally parked and Laura jumped out of the car with the box. She heroically ran down the sidewalk with this little kitty trying to jump out of the box. I parked several (and I mean several) blocks away and ran back in the rain. We were able to get him in and get the bills covered. Now today (or at least yestered to be technical) we went and picked him up. He is the most adorable cat I have ever met and I can't wait to get to know him more.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the latest Nattam, Sully McGonnacal Nattam.

...and my wife is pretty adorable too. Here is some live action footage,


Aka, our wedding!

Here it comes folks. Here it comes. We will have stories to tell, memories to share, and...well lets just say your in for a real treat.

Just so you know

Yeah. I'll stop talking about Too Human. I'm still liking it, but yeah you one cares what I think.

It Begins!

Due to reasons I don't want to get into too much here, I finally decided to get up off the dang couch and do some work on my side project.

The original plan was figure out how to make a semi-decent collision method between two meshes (arbitrarily created in Maya). The goal was to use this method to develop a game I've dubbed Boulder. The key concept in Boulder is well.... large boulder like pieces of geometry colliding off each other and the player doing what he can to cling to each one and stay in the air.

I've been randomly taking notes attempting to figure how in sam-hell I am going to do this. So rather then get too caught in finding the "perfect" way, I just sketched up a semi-decent plan. So here is what I've got:

For each mesh, I generate a Bounding Volume Hiearchy. With this BVH, I place an id at every node. For each object that needs to use that geometry for collision, they create a linear list of Bounding Volumes that has a "copy" of each one located in the hierarchy. The idea is that the id in each node corresponds to an index in the instanced list. So at the top of each frame, we iterate throught the BVH and update the copied bounding volume in the list. This allows us to "flatten" the hiearchy for that individual instance. At this point we now have a BVH and properly-calculated bounding volumes. At this point, we can do some intersection testing using the BVH and the list. Eventually we will get down to child nodes and then can analyze the triangles to get more exact collision response.

Right now I've got a working model up that uses poorly calculated OBB-based BVH. Right now they are essentially AABBs that maintain orientation with the object. I'm going to come back to properly calculating an OBB around a group of triangles later. For now I'm going to use my initial version to get two of these BVH based objects to intersect and then properly seperate.

From the pic below, you can see the OBB that are detected intersecting the floor. These could be further checked with the triangles stored within (thought I haven't completly figure that whole part out).

Hopefully, when this is all done, I'll be able to have different models bouncing off each other while the player bounces off them.