Startup Weekend

February 3, 2012

Catnip Games will be participating at http://enschede.startupweekend.org/ to present a framework to build games in the fashion of community driven development.

Our current developer experience with FortressCraft and other projects is that really-really good game ideas and feedback often come from the community, and it would be practical to streamline community feedback in a system that benefits developers and community alike.

The basis of this (hopefully open) system is to give people the right to vote with their wallet during the whole lifetime of a game. This means they can choose which parts of the game to fund, and developers can directly see which parts the players would like to see in the game.

As this is still at the level of an idea, everything you see here is what we are going to do _unless_it_is_stupid.

In one sentence:

A System for community driven development and funding of games.

The targets are:

  • for the community to be able to fund a game during and after its development
  • to enable Developers to live off their work
  • a transparent system for people to voice their opinion about a game
  • a way to make games that can evolve continually instead of having to split them into “sequels” or other “addons”
  • having a content management system for games where everybody can contribute and access game elements

Thank you, have a nice weekend, I know I will ūüôā

-Govert Combée aka Hoxolotl

 

Sponsorware build system

Sponsorware community

RPGM still alive (just hybernating)

November 8, 2011

We got some questions from Johannes about the status on RPGM, well the good news is, it’s still being developped, the bad news is, because we have lots of other projects it goes slowly.

But instead of yapping about it I could just give you some screenshots and some explanations, mmm’kay?

Mainscreen:

YOu have logged in RPGM

RPGM

The display engine has been binned for a better one, the tiling has been reworked to look nicer (from hexes to round-ish), some vegetation has been rerendered, roads have been made, cities added (with tavern, keep…), dungeon entrances and ruins added, the city names now show up in nice colored ribbons, oh my!

Party Screen

Party Screen

RPGM

The stats have been implemented, leveling and other shit-fu is working

 Fighting works!

Encounter a giant bunny!

RPGM

And suddenly, rabbits!

Dungeons and taverns and other inside places

Tavern

RPGM

The interior settings now work, walking around a dungeon and the lot. The first quests have been completed.

Of course there are lots of other stuff big and small, just mentioning a few nice things:
– chat between players works (ish).
– we’ve had 1 generated world with only elephants and frogs surviving, thank you emergent behaviour for killing off the other 36 species in the world creation fase.
– the farther you go from civilisation, the bigger the critters get, and the more chance you have of an encounter

 There, that was a nice tour, see you next time! -Govert.

When the shit hits the fan

March 5, 2011

One of the advantages of being an Indie developer is being able to work on what you want to work on, instead of what your boss or publisher tells you to. Unfortunately that also leads to unfinished projects, such as the lack of titles we’ve pushed out. Finishing up a title from a playable pre-alpha to an actual game is the perfect time to get distracted by a new pretty on the horizon.

Ofcourse, sometimes that pretty turns out to actually be very pretty indeed. Lately we’ve been helping Projectorgames with FortressCraft, the first chapter due to be released this month on XBLIG. FortressCraft has also gotten quite some media attention already, despite not being out yet. A lot of it has been hate and flames spewed by Minecraft fans who are outraged that we’re touching their precious game (Even though the standard response to criticism is ‘why don’t you go make your own game then?’ – Funny how that works).

But all that outrage has also brought FC to the attention of people who do have a level mind and are looking forward to its release, and that’s been very refreshing. I never really believed¬†in the phrase ‘Any PR is good PR’, but this experience has proven that it really does hold.

More information on http://www.fortresscraft.com

Tools we use

December 13, 2010

In the coming months we’ll try to give you a small look into the kitchen of Catnip Games. There’s a lot happening behind the scenes:

We’re working on a¬† Zombie Survival game together with Projectorgames. Martijn is coding the game engine, squishing bugs and fixing Govert’s pipeline when needed. And Govert is modelling, animating and rendering away, occasionally reworking his art pipeline to have all those sprites rendered in one go.

Then there’s our “pet summer project” RPGM which from a simmer went to taking a day (up to two) a week, with the volunteers still pitching in regularly, but as it’s mostly code for the world generator there’s not much to see, and thus not much to show either. Move along…

Bullet Crave is frozen until further notice, but it is far from being off our minds, we’ll be probably reworking it with the new game engine around second quarter 2011. I was about to say “February”, but I’m learning to keep the deadline vague enough or else they make that well known “whooshing” sound as they go by.

Lets see what could we use for show and tell right now? a screen shot of our node setup in Blender will do:

Node Setup in Blender

Node Setup in Blender

This is just a small example of a pipeline here’s what it does:

From one render layer it almost directly gets the shadeless diffuse (colour) of the model and makes the diffuse.png.

From the other render layer, in which a special height color material is used it jumbles the orientations so the normals fit our game engine, add the alpha and makes the normal.png.

Then from the same layer it takes the height colour (black=floor to white=ceiling)  rips it out and puts it back in so we can code height into the RGB channels of the height.png, because we need that much precision.

Of course this all would be easy peasy if one sprite was enough, it turns out for the levels we need 4 angles (3×4 sprites), then for the animated stuff we use 8 frames for each sprite under 16 angles (3x8x16 sprites=384), and then all those sprites have to be put into a sprite sheet, then the height has to be set and some magic fairy powder added (that’s Martijn’s job) and you have a game…pfew.

Soo, have a nice week,

Govert. /aka Hoxolotl.

Narritivium

December 4, 2010

The worlds in RPGM are randomly generated – random geography, random people, random histories. Yet we want players to have fun playing adventures in them. The natural line of thought would be to also randomly generate the stories for these adventures. This is easily said, but if you’re a game developer or academic involved with AI, this should raise several red flags.

The current state of the art for¬†random story generation is not glorious. In the academic world, the main focus these days is on story telling, guiding players through game content in an interactive way that keeps the game fun. While ofcourse very interesting, that’s not what we’re talking about here. The few bits of actual random story generation research out there deliver results that read like it was written by a four year old. With ADHD. This did not seem like a good direction for RPGM.

So instead of randomly generated stories, we’ve chosen a different approach: We apply prewritten stories to a generated world. We swap out the main characters for those that exist in the world and make them play out the scenario. While trying to describe this system to others, it hit me: We’ve introduced Narritivium. Narritivium is a concept thought up by Terry Pratchet for the fantasy world of Discworld. It is that which compels stories to happen. Narritivium is what makes the damsel in distress wait in her tower for the eligible bachelor hero, instead of, say, hitting the guard with a frying pan at two in the morning and making a run for it. It is the stories wanting to happen.

In our worlds, we’re making stories happen according to predetermined scripts – the actors change, the settings change, but the stories remain the same. It is how we can fit human-written narative in an otherwise completely randomly generated world.

Now, ofcourse all of this is a gross oversimplification of our actual system – it’s actually growing into an immensely complex beast of a system. But we’ve had our first randomly generated story to go help a farmer in the tavern, and it works!

To quote ‘The science of Discworld, part II’:
“If you understand the power of story, and learn to detect abuses of it, you might actually deserve the appellation Homo sapiens.” I wonder if it also counts when you’re the one doing the abusing yourself?

RPGM update: “it’s aliiiiive!”

November 20, 2010

Guessing a lot of people would like to see how it’s going here’s a screenshot:

First look at RPGM GUI

RPGM Alpha1

We’re working on implementing the combat and dungeon features. Lots of crazy stuff happening under the hood, but we’d rather show you what’s up and running.

Past week we tested our first fed-ex quest and chatting between players in taverns, also the dungeons GUI is now working.

The summer project went well, we had a whole team of people working on it and had great fun discussing and implementing. The project is now continuing on a “if you want and have time for it” basis, the team being busy with work and studying and thus having less time to dedicate to the game. But it’s not rare to have a few people coming to the offices at weekends to polish up code and implement features.

All in all we enjoyed making it, and we’ll be continuing development in our “free time”.

Summer project: RPGM

June 11, 2010

RPGM

A game development project
during this summer holiday

RPGM – an online browsergame. Over the summer period from July up to September, we are forming a project to design and build a browser-game. In a project setting using professional development processes, we will work towards a playable goal at the beginning of September.

Key words:

  • Gameplay design
  • Multli-agent AI development with strategic planning
  • Emergent behaviour
  • Random procedural world generation

We are looking for enthusiastic people who want to help design and build this game over the summer. Programmers, artists and designers are more than welcome!

Interested? Visit the information gathering on Tuesday June 15th, 21:00 in the Drakenkelder, Bastille room 105, University of Twente. Or send us an email!

High quality poster here.

Bullet Crave gameplay teaser

April 13, 2010

We’ve uploaded a gameplay teaser for Bullet Crave on Youtube. The quality is poor, but we’ll get an HD version up later.

check it out:

Catnip Games announces game in development

April 12, 2010

Catnip Games is pleased to announce their game Bullet Crave, planned for release on Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG) in Q3 2010. Bullet Crave is a scrolling, manic shoot ’em up, aimed to bring the intense experience from the niche market ‚Äúbullet hell‚ÄĚ games to the common mortal through novel game mechanics. It will support up to 4-player cooperative gaming, and several scoring systems.

Established since 2007, Catnip Games is an indie developer located in the Netherlands. Besides developing games in-house, they work narrowly with development studio Projectorgames on game entertainment for events.

Mew!

April 12, 2010

Mew Catnip Games website online!

Our old page from 2007 was hopelessly outdated, so here’s our new site!