Robotology: Conceptology

20 Oct / by: M&R / 13 comments /

Now that the simulator is more or less solidified, we’ve moved on to much less familiar territory: graphics. Of course, before we could actually start building the graphics system, we needed a rough idea of the sort of things we’d want to be able to do. Thus we set about creating concept art to define the style we’re aiming for; concept art such as this teaser image. This is a small security-drone robot which would be found hovering through passageways in any given level.

As you can see, we’re going for a clean silhouetted vector style more complex than N’s, but still fairly minimal; possibly there will be support for different palettes/skins. Smooth anti-aliased edges are super-important to making this look good — it’s going to be a challenge to match the quality of Flash’s software renderer, but we have a few promising OpenGL-based leads.

Since this is our first graphics system, the specifics of how to best represent and process the graphics geometry are new to us — there are all sorts of behind-the-scenes details, such as triangulating concave polygons, that we’re used to having Flash handle automatically. Curse you, delicious Flash! Keeping things as simple as possible has so far prevented us from being overwhelmed, and we’re trying to avoid complex problems by introducing constraints which limit or prevent the problem from needing to be solved, rather than making a super-powerful, super-complicated system. Otherwise known as “the easy way” 😉

The other types of in-game graphics, such as background and HUD-type elements, are on the back-burner until we get the object and level graphics working. We’ve got several ideas we are looking forward to expanding on.


There’s still plenty of time to enter our third Contesque, celebrating the release of N+ XBLA level pack number 3. You could win a copy of whichever version of N+ you’d like, and as a bonus you get to show off your creative skills.

The contesque closes November 2, 2008. That means there are about 2 weeks left to show us what you’ve got — keep those contesque entries coming!

comments ( 13 )

  • Did I miss the simulator being posted, or is that still classified?

  • Neat robot design! I’ve been wondering though what platform are you planning to release this game on?

  • you guys should consider making a type of n+ for the ipod touch and iphone. It would be awsome.

  • Yeah I’ve been wondering about that as well. I just hope its computer, because then you can dl other people’s levels with ease. My main hopes haven’t changed much: I hope there’s no lag, that there are collosal bosses, and that the physics make the game addictive e.g, you grin with delight when you see a tower of bouncy blocks on the edge of a cliff.

    Graphics look pretty good. I like columns 2 and 3, row 2. Just, for your own sake, do NOT change the colour of an enemy and label it as a new enemy. I think every enemy has to have a different shape, and a minor to total behaivour change.

    Just wondering, what sort of style are you aiming for with roboT? As in, modern, futuristic, or a deserted wasting away city (like in pod, (an old racing game))?

  • @Sean: Nope! Still classified 😉

    @ipodtouchfan: we thought about that a lot; we don’t see how it would work well.

    @Joseph&John: we’re planning to release Robotology for PC/Mac. hooray!

  • That looks way cool.

    Also, I asked this before, but it was in an old post… is this game going to be freeware? Or are you going to sell it? Or something else entirely?
    You may have talked about this before, but I haven’t been reading your blog for long enough to know.

  • Hey guys,
    It’s funny you mention an OpenGL vector rendering engine, because that’s *exactly* what I wrote a couple of months ago.

    It’s definitely not a trivial task, especially if you want to render concave shapes. Is doing the art in Flash, exporting, and rendering as quads not an option?

    If not, you guys may find some value in nosing around my blog, as I wrote a good deal about my implementation strategies. What’s especially neat is that my renderer is completely fixed-pipeline. If you’re interested:
    Also, feel free to e-mail me if you’d like.


  • We don’t know yet what we’re going to do with Robotology sales-wise, we’re not going to worry about it until the game part is done 😉

    @Mo: cool! There are definitely a lot of things to talk about, for some reason this isn’t a very well documented topic. The problem with quads/sprites is that rotating and especially scaling really doesn’t look so nice; you can’t tell from the pic but the robots will be articulated figures made up of chunks. Also we’re planning on making the silhouettes quite “dynamic”/animated, so we can’t be baking the geometry into textures. The original plan was to support non-rigid geometry (which would make quads even less of an option), but this has been postponed until the NEXT next game since we don’t have time to figure out how to triangulate on-the-fly.

  • As for sales and stuff you should find like a producer type guy to help you out with that! Maybe you can get it on Steam or something?

  • Please make Robotology free, because it sounds like a really fun game!
    Are there any chance that you are going to make it 3D? Because 3D Studio Max is quite easy to use one you know where the buttons are (I dont know if you know how to use them).
    Maybe make a downloadable version that has all the fun and NOT time limited (like those 2 hours trials, those suck), maybe less levels? or something, and then slowly release other levels as the buyers get new levels as well. This is probably a little too early according to this stage, but they are just ideas.
    Keep up the great work!

  • i really like that teaser image you posted for the security drone..

    i have to admit i have no idea what to expect from this game, but i do know that i will own it as soon as its available. :p

  • not sure if this is helpfull, but as I was reading this post I recalled seeing it,. so here is a link to some opensource rasterizing code,.

    also, I did not get my IGF sht together for this year,. maybe next one,. however, here is a link to some of what i was working on for it,.

  • the ipodtouch/iphone would be an amazing platform to build on. just tip the ipod/iphone back and forth for running and flick forward to jump. you could also do onscreen controls. and how about not showing the whole level on the screen so that it can be zoomed in closer, just scrolling over when you get near the edge. i think the ipod/iphone would be a huge n success

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