Explaining deltaTime

The concept of ‘Delta Time’ took me the longest time to figure out. It’s a concept in computer programming that helps make sure that every user has the same experience regardless of the clockspeed of their machine. This is especially useful in game development, where you don’t want the player on an older machine being inherently worse than the player on a state-of-the-art machine.

I still have to think really hard when I explain it to someone but it’s basically like this:

Take one second of gameplay from your game and imagine it as a white picket fence.

Each fencepost represents a frame, a still image, so in a regular game your fence would have 30 posts. (30 fps)

If your computer is slower, there are less posts in your fence. This makes the space between the posts bigger. That space between the posts is the deltaTime.

So if you want your guy to move from A to B, and it takes 30 frames to get to B, players on 30fps will get there in one second, and players on 15fps get there in two seconds. Obviously unacceptable, especially in a multiplayer game.

So if you multiply the movement speed with the deltaTime (the gap between the frames), you ensure that every player always reaches point B in the same amount of time, regardless of how fast their computer is.

This is because when you run at a lower fps your deltaTime is LARGER, because the GAP between frames is larger, and so each movement gets multiplied with a LARGER number, which means your dude will move FASTER so he can keep up with the intended pace of the game.

Hope that helps.

Week 39

This is a weekly recap of the goings-on in my professional life – to keep track of what I’m doing and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creative.

It’s strange how much you can disappear into a hole when you’re deep in gamedev. I’ve been working on it all week, but it doesn’t feel like work. I’m having fun.

Even butting up against a problem that grinds things to a halt was fun because such a situation promises a mental exercise, pushing my problem-solving skills to the max. Each problem is a puzzle, and in an almost detective-like way, again, you have to put the pieces together.

So that was thursday, when I spent about an hour lying on the carpet here trying to unite the design that I had with the tools that I had. The days before that I worked a lot on setting up the basic infrastructure of the gameplay mechanics. Talking to people is an important aspect of this game, and so that system needs a lot of thought and effort. It’s not all the way there yet but it’s taking shape.

The final thing I did this week was work on some idle animations. It’s cool how a few blinks and a head-turn already do a lot to make a character seem alive. I’m looking a lot at Puzzle Agent, or Grickle’s style in general. I’m pretty good at animation but at some point it just becomes such a timesink that I’d rather do things as efficiently as possible. And this is not a case where I have time for tweaking the bounce in a walkcycle – in three weeks I need to have a solid demo to submit for an event. Let’s see if I can make it!

I realize this post does little to clarify what the actual game is, and I’m keeping it that way for a little while, so in the meantime have a moodboard.

Week 38

This is a weekly recap of the goings-on in my professional life – to keep track of what I’m doing and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creative.

Woops, almost forgot to write a blogpost about last week, that’s how absorbed I’ve been in my work. That must be a good sign, right?

Since I’ve gone indie I’ve been looking for a project that could get me genuinely excited to work on it every day, and I think I finally found it. Not that I disliked what I did inbetween but I had to pass through a Valley Of The Shadows type deal I think where everything felt derivative or lacking zest. Sometimes I still feel a pang of worry about that but then I remind myself I don’t have time for that nonsense because game needs to be made, and I get back to work.

And so far I’m running on schedule very nicely. Instead of planning out the entire project in advance and potentially overwhelming myself I’ve taken to planning out just the month up ahead, setting milestones every friday and generally living from day to day, and it’s working out well. I have a folder with a fuckton of research into style, history, context, culture, mythology and whatnot, a bunch of concept art and an almost entirely fleshed-out story. And even a fancy parallax scrolling prototype. Once I’m done typing this I’m moving on to prototypting the dialogue system.

I’m not ready to share too much info about this project yet, that will happen soon, and I plan to blog more about the development here in the future, but if you run into me in real life feel free to ask and I’ll talk your ear off about it.

Twine

Got into Twine today to write and map out the story for the next game I’m working on and it’s been a delightful experience, very easy to write branching dialogue and test it right away, plus it’s similar to Playmaker, so implementation in Unity will be a breeze.

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Picnic

A quick sketch to wind down after a long day of drawing. I didn’t do any pose sketching for this one, sometimes a figure just comes gliding out of my pen with hardly any effort at all. I cherish those moments; they’re never there when I actually need them ha.

Week 37

This is a weekly recap of the goings-on in my professional life – to keep track of what I’m doing and to give you a peek at what it’s like being an independent creative.

When taking stock of my projects this past week I concluded that everything was trucking along nicely, but nothing was really getting done. It’s nice to have different stuff to turn to when you crave some work diversity, but focusing on one thing is ultimately better for productivity, so I decided to leave fawlty towers and off-stage and whatnot be for now and bear down on my detective game.

Preproduction on a detective story feels a bit like being a detective yourself. You start with a vague conception of the events and then you start to unravel all the clues until you have a sound theory. And much like an investigation, you start at the end and work backwards.

I’ve been writing the past few days, just a straight-up text file, hashing out the game flow from end to end, and I’m excited about what it’s becoming. This week will mostly be about scoping it appropriately and determining the mechanics and features.

I like to always incorporate something from the real world in my games, be it an event or a place or a folklore tale. And so during my research I found myself reading through an official Board of Inquiry report from a real murder investigation at one point. That’s about as close to feeling like a true detective as I think I’ll ever get.