Thursday, January 28, 2010

To Post, or not to Post

I find it hard to decide what to blog, when to blog. Not because there is nothing to report. In contrary, I could write twelve boring bibles about it. However, I don't want to end up like those twittering about their whole lives so much, that they forget to live it. I'd better program my game instead of only writing about it right? Besides, who wants to read dozens of meanless posts anyway? You got to know when to shut up. So... I think I'll keep it to one post per week, that's 52 posts in a year at max.

There is another issue though. I bet those who were working on, let's say, Halflife2 (or Duke Nukem forNever) felt a big urge of sharing their enthusiasm. Yet everybody kept their lipps stiff. For a good reason of course. Gamers shouldn't know how Halflife2 ends before its even released, it has to be a surprise. And to protect their ideas and technology from their rival developers.

I'm not making a Halflife (ha, I wish) but yet I believe this project has potential and a couple of ideas never seen before in games. Plus since its a horror game, the "unknown" is an essential key. Girls always ask how a movie ends so they won't be that scared. And Silent Hill wouldn't be that surprising if you already had a look at the boss screenshots before starting the game. You get the point.

The creatures and location are very important in this game. Showing pictures would reveal them though, taking away the big surprise. Then again, you probably visit this blog to SEE progress, not to read my bibliography. When reading mysterious stories on a id Software or Valve blog, you know something good is coming. But here you might be dealing with a 16 year old nerd that *dreams* about making a cool hentai game. So, finally, a few shots (ingame renders that is):

DISCLAIMER: Pictures are test-maps, they have not much to do with the game. And, this is "Programmer Art". That's a chic slang for "Not so beautifull because programmers can't draw and have no fantasy at all.". Well, I actually do have some creatieve skills and a livin fantasy, but nowhere near the pro's. So the maps and
3D models aren't really detailed(rushed), the visual settings aren't "evaluated from an artistic point of view". And some of the cooler textures in the screenshots are borrowed from other games.

One of the goals of this blog is to find people that can push this crap to the next level. Boys and girls that actually do know howto make a high-poly model, create athmospheric environments or draw a seamless texture of a corroded metal wall in high detail, including the normal-, specular- and heightMap.

Enough for this week. I'll promise to post more (test-case) shots. Maybe one each 2 or 3 weeks? Hey, got to spread it out as long as there won't be creative minds that produce content!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tower 22 ?

What's in a name? You might have figured out that this blog is about making a game, or programming a game-engine, but what's up with the towers?

First of all, it's a 'codename'. Although I'm finally quite happy with the game concept/idea, the title is just... because I couldn't think of another name. And yes, the game plays inside a huge soviet style building. For some strange reason I have a small obsession for Eastern Europe / communistic related stuff. Maybe its because my girl is Polish, maybe its because it shows a strange relief with our modern society based on luxery. Maybe it was my fantastic vacation in Prague. Or maybe because a friend showed me pictures like these:
This concrete monster, kind of evil alien citadel / post apocalypse pyramid, was supposed to be North Korea's pride. A symbol of a strong and healthy communistic nation. Too bad the construction was halted somewhere in 1992, and never picked up again ever since.

Since playing Resident Evil (Gamecube remake), I always wanted to create a horror game. Well, you probably understand the relation with the picture above now... I'm not going to make a digital version of the Ryugyong hotel, the game and story have nothing to do with it except that a skyscraper is used. But at least you know where the inspiration came from now.

Just for fun, and to finish this post with some more happy concrete, my friend also showed me this beauty, informally titled for world's most ugly building. Ladies and gentleman, the Genex tower in Belgrado! BTW, if you have more cool pics like these, or even live in one, leave a message! Glad to hear from you.

A little bit about me

You can skip this message, but if you really want to know... I know there is a "about me" section by default on blogs, but I'd rather be careful. Call me suspicious, but gathering personal information is just too easy these days. Before you know it my boss knows about my boxershorts.

Allright, my name is Rick, I live in the Netherlands (Brabant eej kul), born in '84, finished studying, and currently working in a pharmaceutical company and at Ploeger Harvesters. I basically program whatever my bosses need. Databases with grandma-proved-interfaces, barcode scanners, crappy tools, microchips, climate regulators. But probably I'm most proud on the operating systems for these big boys:

Furthermore, I got my own house, a sweet girl that is concerned about the competition of my other girlfriend(the laptop), and a happy little daughter.

All in all, I'm just a regular guy. Not your typical computer geek, neither a very social creature either. This is my first blog actually. No chatting, twitting, shitting, facebooks or other digital hocus pocus for this programmer. Just good old conversations at the bar with close friends. I wasn't planning a blog either, but a friend attended me. And come to think of it... I've been programming on my projects for years and years, but never shared it with anyone. Simply because none of my friends are really into this. It gets a little bit lonely sometimes, so maybe this blog might just help, and who knows, maybe I'll reach people with similiar interests...

Yet another blog

So easy that I almost felt bad about it. Three clicks and there it is, another blog. Well, since there are already five billion other blogs about people's lifes, amazing vacations pics with grandpa or sad stories, I'll try to keep it short.

This blog is all about making a game, so far called "Tower 22". So expect game related stuff, wild geeky programming adventures, and hopefully nice(?) progress pictures once in a while.

I marked making because that is what I do, besides working (as a programmer of course), drinking beer, eating spaghetti and trying to be a funny daddy for my 1 year old daughter. After playing Super Mario and Doom2 I knew my destiny; become a game designer. Unfortunately you can't sign up for Miyamoto, but I got quite some programming experience by now, and luckily still some creativity. So my favourite spare time activity became trying to make games. Instead of playing them.

I hope for those few interested ones to have a good time here... and excuse my English. It's not my native language. Hell I can't even spell in my own language. Anyway, see you later.

Friday, January 1, 2010


You may have read the game is story-driven. Although that might be the wrong word. You explore the story. No one is going to tell you anything.
You wake up Monday, 05:30, in your apartment. First day of work as a caretaker. In a huge Soviet era flat. Instructions await in your little office, or the "boss" calls for further directions once in a while. You mob floors, repaint a wall, fix the elevator or bring packages to one of the many addresses inside the building.

Occasionally you clean up litter. But… who’s littering? Days are passing, but you never ever saw someone in that gigantic flat. No voices, no persons. The boss won’t show up either, and kind of dodges your concerned questions about the inhabitants. Or for example… where the exit door is. Clearly something isn’t natural about this place. At your spare time, when no one is looking, you explore the doors where you shouldn’t be…

Is that all? Yes, I'm afraid every other detail will be a spoiler. I can give a few more clues though:
- No base floor
- No roof
- No exit
- No boss, though he seems to know every step you take
- No inhabitants
- Strange humanoid creatures on the other hand...
- Want to get out, but how?
- What is wrong and what is right?

Story fragments:
Day 7, Sunday 05:01 AM

Didn't forget to turn off the alarm, but I woke up anyway. Normally I would feel relieved and turn around with a little smile. “Just a mistake, it's weekend", that wonderful feeling. But I stood up and left bed. Sleeping here doesn't feel comfortable. There is no light in the bedroom, it's warm, moist, oppressive. Even after a week the whole apartment still feels strange. Not hostile, but certainly not like home either.

Weekend, Sunday, my day off. Maybe some relaxation will break the tension. Not that my new job has been hard on me though. Mopping some floors, painting a wall, replacing a light bulb, locking the hall doors at 23:00. Or delivering post. As a caretaker of this building, I make long days, but there is no pressure. So far I haven't seen a chief or boss anywhere. Only a few instruction letters and a couple of calls from the... boss. Don't know his name really.

Thinking about it, I haven't seen a single soul the entire week at all. No co-workers, no residents. No elevators going up or down. No one looking in his mailbox, no one going to work. Nobody. The apartment at the right from me seems to be uninhabited. And the apartment on the left... well there is none. There is no door where it's supposed to be.

Now maybe my floor just isn't really occupied. I haven't been at the lower floors yet. There should be a few shops and small restaurants there. Yet, strange enough I smell, see and even hear traces of life. No matter how many times I clean up, there is new litter every day. In my own hall, the "old woman" painting has been replaced with a windmill. And even my own mailbox gets filled by... some one. But more than that, I can hear them. Television shows behind locked doors, gramophone music, whistling kettles, creaking pipes, footsteps. Ironically, all the silence makes you hear the smallest details, giving a whole new world of noise.

Yes I could use some distraction before I start seeing things. A walk in the park maybe. If there is one nearby. Didn't have a proper look from my balcony yet, but I can't see the streets. Too dark and too much fog this autumn. To be honest, I have no idea how high I really am. The stairway shows a number '1' at my floor, but two floors lower it's number '12' again. All I can see from here are the upper-floors and rooftops of other apartment blocks. And come to think of it, I haven't seen much of living there either. As I write, I'm looking right now through the kitchen window. The only lights that shine in that building across are the cheap corridor chandeliers...
Then again, it's Sunday 05:12 right now.

Building impression

For some reason, I can't recall how this flat -number '22'- looks from the outside. It feels as I've been working here all my life really... But judging from the interior, my guess is that the building looks pretty much the same as the other gray concrete monsters around here, except that it's a lot taller. Don't know the exact height, neither when this block was built. Probably somewhere in the late fifties. Although some parts here look a lot older already. But that just might be deferred maintenance as well.

Just like other buildings, it has a few elevators, a stairhouse, and endless corridors. Dark, old, corridors with countless doors. Closed, unnumbered anonymous doors, telling nothing about who might live there. The wallpaper and paintwork can be peeled off just by looking at it. Bugs found their way in the little holes and gaps. Some ceilings were left unfinished, revealing the rusty beating pipes and electric wires above them. Not uncommon either, the building has a couple of shared facilities here and there. Such as a laundry, or showers and toilets for the apartments that aren't connected to the water.

The same goes for the apartment interiors. We all share the same collections of furniture, thin mattress beds and kitchen sets. Some bright plastic utilities, flower curtains and small cheap decorations to add a little bit happiness to the otherwise depressing, pre-fabricated rooms. The apartments just do what they have to do: provide shelter and warmth for the cold winters.

Though I must say there are some impressive halls and wall paintings scattered around the building. Ones you would find in a church, or stately building. Who would have made them? I can't imagine they were part of the original design for a building like this.

When thinking about it, I noticed more and more uncommon details. For one thing, many of the windows are barricaded or just not there. It's hard to get a glimpse on the world outside here. Another thing that strikes me is the unusual floor lay-out. You would expect the elevators, central stairs and main corridors to connect all the apartments in a logical manner. But from what I have seen so far, not a single floor looked the same. Elevators aren't working or only bring you at a few locations. Stairs just stop at some point, and the hallways are mangled like a maze. Clearly the architect didn't follow his study here, where simplicity and efficiency are basic construction fundaments.

My work brings me at places where a normal person wouldn't or shouldn't come. Such as maintenance area's or ducts. With such 'privileges', one would think I could dream this building by now. But I feel there is a whole other world behind the locked doors, service ladders and twisted hidden shafts. In fact, in combination with the absence of anything alive except the crawling bugs so far, I'm feeling... claustrophobic. Scared actually.

I asked for a map, a layout of the building. But apparently, there is none. Again the Boss didn't really answer my request. Just a vague reply. Words like "The doors will lead your way, or block your way where you are not supposed to come.". Guess I'll have to make a map and notes myself on a piece of paper. Before I get lost some day.


updated: 1-sept-2014 - Contact info at the bottom

As a "hobby project" so far, we can always use some help. In fact, there won't be a Tower22 if there weren't
* 2D texture artists (drawing rust, bumpmapping the hell out of bricks, popping particles, etc.)
* 2D concept artists (giving input, surprise fans with awesome posters, setting the mood, level design)
* 3D asset modellers (sculpting statues, furnishing furniture, baking pottery, spooky lamps, ...)
* 3D environment modellers (making lay-outs, old (Soviet) styled corridors, bizarre rooms, apartments, impossible architecture)
* 3D animators (making a monster walk without making it look he crapped his pants)
For a more actual list of "what we need", check the official website: Tower22 game - join us. But in general, there can't be enough 2D/3D artists. Animation has a somewhat lower demand, since that usually comes in a later stadium and as we already have a couple of guys. But nevertheless, feel free to drop a mail. As for the programming part, so far I'm only looking for experts on very specific matters, such as Newton physics (and in a later stadium to boost the shaders/graphics).

What's in it for you??
Good question. Sad but true, people don't tend to stay long on hobby projects with far-end goals and little to no compensation in the meanwhile. Tower22 won’t be finished within the next thirteen months, although we try to keep shorter-term milestones, such as releasing demo movies, and going towards a playable demo.

But besides a learn full experience and pics/movies to put on your portfolio, here’s a better deal. You can make a bit extra money with your assets. How?
* When the time is ripe, we launch a Kickstarter campaign
* Not to buy me a more awesome videocard, but to give a little reward for each asset you make
* And if that is not enough, some of your assets can be sold on (3D) web-shops such as Unity. You'll have to manage that yourself, but the income is all yours. I’m just glad you can help me out with your stuff, and it’s a good boost to do your stinking best.

I can’t make you rich, but at least your hard work won’t end in a virtual drawer. Hey, it's a start.

Unless you offer me penis enlargements or cute Bulgarian brides, contact me at
rick + tower22game dot com
+ = @
If you couldn't solve that riddle, better not contact me you darn spambot!


The blog itself is already filled with screenshots, but here is a compilation of what I think the best pics so far.



Movies !

2015 - Subway Test demo

2011 - Radar Station Tech demo

Also on Youtube on 720p.

2010 - Tower22 Introduction demo

Excuse the low quality for this one.

Targets & Battleplan

Nice to dream about making a game, but we all know that a single person or even a small team simply doesn't have the manpower to realize such a large project. There is a reason why building a commercial game is sometimes even more expensive than filming a movie these days.

For a full story about the plans, you can read
Plans and Motivation

Or in short,
1.- Think smaller. Although quality is important, this project won't require a full orchestra, tons of monsters, Morgan Freeman voice actors or very advanced animations. It makes an end-result a little bit more realistic.

2.- For now, we work with demo movies. Why? Because each movie might help expanding the team. After all, it requires the right people on the right places to do the right things. Other than that, movies can be used for your our own portfolio. So even if Tower22 fails, the artists still have a souvenir.

3.- If upcoming demo's are good enough, we'll send it to games-magazines to get more attention when needed. The more people joining the ride, the better the chances.

4.- Making the entire game is impossible right now. Instead, we'll split it up in two parts. First we'll make the (easier) 1/3rd of the game, and try to bring it on the market as an Indy, or even free game. If received well, it should open new doors for the second part.

5.- Once a good amount of the first "episode" has been made, and when I'm able to plan forward (meaning I can estimate how long it takes to finish), we might open the doors for donations (via Kickstarter for example). I don't expect big budgets, but also a small compensation for each asset might be a good trigger for the production team, or to get freelancers on specific, specialized tasks.

In the end, the goal is to make a true horror game with a storyline you haven't heard before and an experience you won't forget anymore. If you feel you should join the boat, please check here:
joining / contact

Blog Index / Lookup

Updated August 2014

2D / 3D / Art:
3D Artist
Importance (or not) of graphics
How many polygons?
Finishing details
Texturing techniques tutor1: General
Texturing techniques tutor2: How lighting works
Texturing techniques tutor3: ormalMapping / bumpMapping
Texturing techniques tutor4: AO/Lightmaps
Subsidy & art noone understands
Playing with ZBrush

AI Programming:
Game AI
state machines
Interactions, custom objects
Pathfinding: Navigation Mesh
Pathfinding: Decission making
Pathfinding: Smoothing the line

Business / Game Companies:
The Boss
Financing T22 or not?
Managing team & assets

Computers misc.:
Slow, slower, slowest
Recording with FRAPS
C++ struggles

Countries / Traveling:
America #1
America #2
Poland / Mushroom tripping
Poland, Auschwitz
Rockwerchter, More Poland
Germany, Berlin

Games / Reviews:
Criticism on Violent games
Game ethics / violence boundaries
Game Reviews & past
Review: Super Metroid
Review: Goldeneye
Review: Zelda
Bugs in games
Click and Play genre
Hypes (Doom, Duke)
Leaked versions
Realism & criticism
Duke Nukem
Growing up / hobbies
Multiplayer gaming

Game programming:
fixed camera's
Portal culling
Why make your own engine?
Making of 2011 Demo 1: Intro
Making of 2011 Demo 2: Map design
Making of 2011 Demo 3: Planning & 3D environments
Making of 2011 Demo 4: Importing maps
Making of 2011 Demo 5: 3D Objects
Making of 2011 Demo 6: Programming last bits
Making of 2011 Demo 7: Finishing
Making of 2011 Demo 8: Morphing animations
Deployment problems
Collada files
Object Editor
Engine Logic / Interfacable objects #1
Engine Logic / Interfacable objects #2
Scripting #1
Cloth physics

Graphics programming:
Deferred particle lighting
GPU Particles, OpenGL Transform Feedback
Volumetric light shafts 3
Global Illumination in T22: 2013
Global Illumination in T22: 2011
Why and Hows book
Compute Shaders tutor1
Compute Shaders tutor2
Compute Shaders tutor3
Reflection techniques
Vertex painting
Unified Buffer Objects (OpenGL UBO)
Performance hints 1
Performance hints 2
Texture compression / DDS #1
Texture compression / DDS #2
Geometry shaders tutor #1
Geometry shaders tutor #2
Early SSAO 2011
Deferred/Inferred rendering tutor #1
Deferred/Inferred rendering tutor #2
Deferred/Inferred rendering tutor #3

Tower22 Horror fundaments
Blood graphics
Waiting room of Death

Personal / About me:
About me 1
About me 2
Pregnant girlfriend
Busy working

Tower22 game
The Player
Story fragment #1
Story fragment #2
Button bashing

Tower22 team / recruiting:
FBX help needed
Concept artist needed
Physics programmer needed
First movie release
Team born 1
Team born 2
Year 2014
Year 2012
plans 2012
progress 2012
From concept to working out

MH17 plane crash

Genre / Gameplay

Trying to make a game, right. But what kind of game?

The primary goal is to make a horror-survival game. Why?
A. There aren't that much games in this specific genre. Trying to compete with the popular genres (Crysis, WoW, Zelda, Starcraft, ...) is likely to fail. I can’t beat anyone with technology. But with ideas… perhaps…
B. Guess I have to ventilate some sick ideas somehow.
C. Why not?

Sure, there are plenty of games with blood, gore and monsters. Usually combined with shotguns, a hero, and of course the experiment that went out of control. Resident Evil, Half life, Doom3, F.E.A.R and Farcry are fine examples.

Which is why this game is NOT going to be a shooter. The focus here will be on the atmosphere and story. The fear won’t come from violent confrontations this time, but rather the knowledge that you could get in problems if you don't watch your step.

The main difference with many other games is that the environment won't be stuffed with monsters to shoot at. Instead a small group of unique characters are doing their "own thing" in that building. And you better not cross their ways. The trick is to search the building without getting yourself into trouble. Remember your escape routes, search for places to hide. Or as a last resort, temporarily slow down the enemy with force.

Like Pac-Man, but then in a huge, strange, Soviet era flat.

What "kind of horror”?
Horror on itself covers a large spectrum. Just look at the movie categories. From Braindead to Scary Movie. From Japanese shockshit to American teenage horror. A psychological thriller or an almost sexual/fetish Hellraiser? Plausible, or very unreal? Ghosts or zombies? Plenty of flavors, that's for sure. My favorite? The Shining.

I can't name much movies that reflect the game atmosphere though. They exist, but I'm bad with names. Silent Hill comes closest maybe, although the type of story and gameplay is very different. The environment must feel dreamish, nightmarish, always uncomfortable. But not with liters of guts and blood or angry demons everywhere. Sure they will be there, but not in Doom2 quantities. No... you are pretty much alone in a huge flat that has no exit. But those footsteps, or hellish chambers... are they real or is the silent loneliness causing them?

* Exploring the environment. A mixture between a "realistic" Soviet era building, and dreamy / nightmarish environments.
* Proceed by solving puzzles / finding new routes (like Metroid, or the earlier Resident Evils)
* There is only 1 big world. Compare it to a Zelda world, but then in a stinky flat.
* While advancing, you'll learn more about the story bit by bit. Although the final clue may not be what you expected.
* A relative small group of unique characters share the building, roaming around freely.
* Avoid the enemy rather than engaging; they are stronger than you.
* Finally defeat the enemy with clever thinking, or maybe with the very scarce weaponry you can find.

So what kind of game would it be? Beats me, I just don't know. Horror-survival I guess, but with some uncommon elements. The major focus is on the environment and your feelings, rather than actual confrontations & action.

Probably the audience for this type of game would be pretty small. Either you love it, or you hate it. But that’s ok. I like an experiment and besides, I don’t have to get rich with this. Ha, first I better assemble a team before even thinking about audience!