Friday Update #4

Last Friday was Easter weekend – so we decided to no post an update. But for this week’s Friday update (it must still be Friday somewhere! ;)) we have a little freebie for you game developers out there. It’s two tilesets that Simon has pixeled for the purpose of prototyping. They both were designed with two different auto-tiling algorithms in mind.

The first one is for a typical platformer or sidescroller game:

We’ve also included the background layers. You can read up on the technique and how to make use of it in your own games here: A bitwise method for applying tilemaps

The second one is targeting top-down or a typical jrpg perspective:

It uses the following auto-tiling concept: Implementing auto-tiling functionality in a tile map

Of course you can always just load them into tiled or another tile map editor and manually design your maps. Both tilesets are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 (CCA 3.0). Which pretty much means you can do whatever you want with it.

Download them from here: Download

Hope you guys can use this and we’d love to hear about any projects using them!


Friday Update #3

Robotality has now a little base in the UK: I (Stefan) have now officially relocated to London. So this week’s update is just a quick hello from windy & cold London.

It’s always been part of our plan to work de-centralised and with people from all over the world. This is really just another step for us to get going with full-steam. And we’re really hoping to be able to share some concrete stuff on our first project with you guys soon.

Any game developers in and around London wanting to connect, please get in touch!


Friday Update #2

For this week’s update we have a little surprise for you: We’ve been digging through our archives and have found a demo to one of our games from back in 2001. That’s 11 years ago! πŸ˜€ We were really just kids back then, creating games under the name “BlackMoon”.

Looking back it now, I’m still very proud of what we had achieved. I still remember the immense feeling of pride when we got Direct3d working on top of DirectDraw, which meant we could do all these beautiful additive alpha effects:

We called the game “Awaken” (sound familiar?) and it actually still works on a Windows 7 machine! It’s a strategic turn-based RPG of sorts.

Well, it wouldn’t be any fun if we didn’t let you have a go at the game. So download it and experience some “Robotality” history yourself: Awaken download

You can find the exe under “aw_exec/aw_debug/” and we have no idea if you can actually finish the demo. Let us know if you do!

Oh btw, the crash when exiting the app is of course intentional (don’t ask.) Also if you want to have a good laugh you should look at the lua scripts used for the computer AI.

Until next week!
Stefan & Simon


Friday Update #1

Hello everyone!

We’ve been quiet on our blog. And that’s for a good reason… Up until now, The Grey Studios has only been fuelled by our passion for games and what we were able to do in our spare time. Of course this has always been less then satisfying and we’ve always dreamt of going full-time. And here’s the exciting part (cue trumpet fanfare):

At the end of last week this dream became reality and we are working on our games full-time now.

We started the process towards this almost a year ago (crazy!! time’s flying). We were approached by Nia Schmidheiny about potentially helping us out in starting the business. After some deliberation we decided to give it a go and take this step. It was an emotional ride with some mind-blowing highs and some very challenging lows. In the end it all worked out and we are now in an incredible position to get going πŸ™‚
As you can imagine we are over the moon that we’ve been given this opportunity. We’re also fully aware that it’ll take a lot of hard work and time to get our business self-sustainable. We’re definitely up for the challenge and we’ll do whatever it takes to get there.

With this step, we’ve also decided to rebrand ourselves and will soon be operating under our new business name “Robotality”. New website, etc. is coming. Another thing: We’ll be posting an update on our development progress every Friday. Our first game is already in the pipeline and is currently undergoing the prototyping stage. More details next week! Make sure to check back next Friday.

To finish off, here’s a little picture of our new office space in Hameln:

Stefan & Simon


Thank you & some news

When we released Pixel Towers at the beginning of the year we put out 2 versions. Both versions were essentially the same, except one difference: The “Cookies & Beer” version costs $0.99. With this paid version, we wanted to give people an opportunity to support us and the games we make. And many of you did: Almost 100 people have shown their support. A massive, massive thank you!!

We love hearing that you enjoy what we make and want to see more of it. And you definitely will πŸ™‚

Which brings me to the second part of this post. Due to some upcoming legal changes of how we operate we had to take the paid version of Pixel Towers off the market. Unfortunately, we had to make this move to avoid tax problems in the future. We hope you understand. We will make the “Cookies & Beer” version available for download for anyone that still wants to have it on their device.

As mentioned above, there are some massive changes happening at The Grey Studios. We can’t wait to tell you more about it. Stay tuned!


Steam Machines – Dev Diary #2

As you all might know from previous posts we’re currently working on a new project titled “Steam Machines”. It’s a top-down arcade shooter in style of “Hybris” (Amiga) and “Solar Striker” (Game Boy). Something that we’re trying out for the first time with this project is to release a fully functional editor alongside the game itself. Basically we want to see what the community can do with the same tools we use to build the game. We want to provide powerful tools for modders and level designers to build some incredible things around our games.

With that goal in mind we decided to invest a good amount of time into building solid tools. We use the libgdx framework (http://libgdx.badlogicgames.com/) for all our projects. Maybe less well-known is the fact that libgdx has an incredibly powerful UI system built-in. Table layouts, themes and all your default controls are ready out of the box. On top of that you get one huge benefit: Portability. Our Editor will run on Windows, OSX & Linux without any extra effort. Pretty sweet, eh?!

So naturally, we decided to make use of these features and build our tools with libgdx itself. The tools are still being developed but we wanted to give you a sneak peak at what to expect:

For anyone using libgdx to build their games: As you can see from the screenshot, you can build some pretty sophisticated UIs with libgdx! Well worth investing the time into learning it. It’s very, very powerful.

That’s it for today. We’ll release more details about the editor throughout the development of the game. Stay tuned!


Steam Machines – Dev Diary #1

We’ve been wanting to start our dev diaries for a while now.. And since we’ve only just began working on a new project it seems to be the perfect time. Our latest project is tentatively titled “Steam Machines” and it is classic top-down retro shooter. Here we go with our first Dev Diary of Steam Machines.

Graphics (Simon)

Today I wanted to show some progress on my pixel art for “Steam Machines”. As always at the beginning of a project I need some time to settle into the mood of the game. This is sometimes frustrating. One part of me wants to make visual progress and create useful results, but instead of being efficient I work alot on things that will never end up being used in the final game. Sometimes I just have to take long walks because the inspiration is gone and I need to find it again.
But the beginning of the project is also a very creative and fun time where Stefan and I talk alot about the elements we create and exchange ideas.

For example, in this picture you see the progress of the player ship we made during one of our sessions:

I tried several different designs and in the end we decided that for the time-being we’ll stick with #4. Neither of us are 100% satisfied with it, but we decided to leave it and went on with other elements. Maybe I will go back to it and modify it if I find the time. One of the main problems I have with it is that it looks a little bit weak and it is not very well visible over some parts of the background.

Another part I invested some time was in testing out some explosion animations:

Here is the animated .gif 2x the actual pixel size:

The idea was to have an explosion that shows the power of your gun and visualizes the direction of where the shot came from. It gives you the feeling that you are ripping your enemies apart with the gun. So I went through several different explosions until I came up with this one. It gives you a rather satisfying feeling when you blow up small ships with your gun.

Next week I will focus more on level assets an objects and will be able to show you some objects and tiles I’m currently making for one of the levels and also how we are going to build the levels.

Code (Stefan)

Part of our concept with “Steam Machines” is to build a great editor to go along with the game. On the one hand it’s for our own purposes, but on the other we want to enable to community to contribute. So I’ve been putting a lot of time into some of the little details of getting the editor up and running. I’m hoping to show some more on the editor itself very soon, it’s going to be quite neat. It’ll allow you to pretty much mod most of the game!

One of the technical challenges I’ve been battling with is enemy paths and patterns. Top-down shooters very heavily depend on pre-defined paths and complex enemy patterns, so I wanted to get this right. The first implementation used Catmull-Rom splines. While they enable you to produce smooth lines relatively easy they are not perfect for a top down shooter since the curve is defined by 3 points. Try and make an S with that!

I ended up implementing a “point-based” system. Each point is reached by a certain “equation”. The equations I implented are based off Robert Penner’s easing methods (website). It allows me to build curves from any of those equations which ends up being much easier to control and way more flexible than splines are.

Next challenge was to get “constant” movement along the curve. This is tricky because a delta of 0.1 is not the same at the beginning of the curve than it is in the middle (unless it’s just a linear interpolation between 2 points). Solutions can be found all over the web, but most are quite heavy computationally, so not well suited for mobile usage.
The way I solved this is by finding points along the curve in even distances and interpolating linearly in between those. So essentially I am linearly interpolating along any kind of curve. Even though it might not be as accurate as the other way, I can’t tell the difference. If anyone has a better way of solving this problem, I’d love to hear it! (needs to be efficient, and that seems to be the main problem!)

Might do a separate post with some more specific implementation details on this as I haven’t found any good resources on the topic!


What have we been up to?!

It’s been quiet around here. It’s actually been over 3 months since our last update πŸ™‚ This is mainly due to the fact that it’s been an interesting few months with lots of changes in our lives.

But just because it’s been quiet doesn’t mean we have been idle! Quite the opposite. We’ve been busy working on various projects:

Siegfried vs. Skeletons is a small game we made for one of the mini ludum dares. I think it took us only about 8 hours in total. Simple game, not much there. But if you enjoy playing Rock-Paper-Scissors you’ll also enjoy this! Check it out here: HTML5 version

We’ve also been working on some voxel tech. Not the minecraft “voxel” style, but more in the sense of 3d pixelart. Most of our time went into building a voxel editor that allows the creation of complex voxel shapes. Some nice features there including png-brushes, .obj to voxel conversion and more.
As you probably know we love pixelart.. So the thought of bringing pixelart to the third dimension has been fascinating as for a while now. We love the possibilities this opens up, but the tech still needs some work. We’ll eventually make a game with this. Sometime in the future.

Simon has also been very busy doing graphics for Super Daddio 2. It’s a beautiful little platformer by our friend Glenn Bacon (website). The game is currently still under development but this is one to keep an eye out for.. And not only because of the beautiful pixelart πŸ˜‰

Our latest and current project is “Steam Machines” (WIP name). It’s a traditional top-down arcade shooter with focus on predictable and strategic gameplay. Our main inspiration here is a Game Boy title called “Solar Striker”. Instead of just shooting like a maniac you’ll have to apply skill to master this game. More news regarding this project coming very very soon!


Art Post Mortem for “My Little Dungeon”

Hey everyone,

Simon here, with my late post mortem for the LD23 Jam. I was responsible for the graphics for our Ludum Dare Jam game called β€œMy Little Dungeon”. I recommend you play it if you haven’t already… and rate it. πŸ˜‰ Thanks!

Goto “My Little Dungeon”

So this is an overview of the 3 days and what we did from my own perspective. This means it is my perspective and Stefan and Gavin may have different views on things. πŸ™‚
There were two first time things for me with this game:

  • It was my first Ludum Dare game for me.
  • It was the first time I did pixel art animations at all.

The Tileset and the steps it took until I had all of them…

The tools I used:

  • GraphicsGale (All animations and most of the pixel art)
  • Photoshop (Some art/logo and some reworks and cutting/layer-work)
  • PyxelEdit (I used it for previewing the tilesets)
The Tools I used…

So you want to know what went wrong and what went right? Well then, lets start after the break:


“My Little Dungeon” – Our Ludum Dare 23 game

Last weekend we took part once again in Ludum Dare (website). But this time we entered the jam competition as a team. Gavin Harrison (website) also decided to jump on board providing us with awesome tunes & sfx! Needless to say, we had a blast πŸ™‚

The product of our 72 hours of work is called “My Little Dungeon”. It’s a reversed RPG of sorts where instead of controlling a hero you control the dungeon building process and hope that your hero makes it through alive. The ultimate goal is to beat the boss at the end. If you don’t challenge your hero enough you might end up with a weakling unable to beat the final boss.. Push him too much and he’ll certainly die.

We’re proud of it and we think it’s entertaining to play as well. Check it out for yourself over at the Ludum Dare page: My Little Dungeon

Let us know what you think! πŸ™‚