Ahoy from 2015

Busy busy. Bought a house, and as the days have gotten longer my free time has gotten shorter.

I’ve done some work this year on worldsbelow.com, but not a whole lot. I ported the whole thing to Unity as an experiment, but I probably won’t keep it there. I am also remaking my old puzzle game Blastorama in Unity, starting with a mobile version. I actually have the basics all up and running and I’m working on the menu system now, since the last time around that was the most boring part.

Oh yeah, this website has been down for a few months. Network Solutions got some wires crossed after I let my domain name expire. I finally made a call and things are back in order.

Worlds Below Redux

Well it has been an incredibly busy summer / fall and there are no signs of things letting up quite yet. During all of the chaos I accidentally let my worldsbelow.com website expire. Unfortunately that was the main outlet for my game updates during the early part of 2014 up until about June or so.

The posts have been permanently lost but the game lives on in a slightly new form. I have set up hosting once again and introduced the new direction. Have a look worldsbelow.com

Hello Again

It has been a while. Earlier in the summer I had been posting updates to worldsbelow.com, but I stopped for a while in order to relocate. When I finally got settled I realized I had let the hosting account expire… I still should check if Network Solutions can restore the site – I kind of doubt it.

Anyway, I have been toying around with a couple of projects and I’ll see about getting some updates on here. And… in my absence it looks like spambots have taken over the comments section. I’m off to clean things up.

The Name of the Game

I’m calling the game “Shadows of Worlds Below”. I settled on this name because it evokes the primary motivating feature of the game and because happily, the worldsbelow.com domain was available.

I’m working on setting up a dedicated website. That’s probably very premature, but it’s fun to feel like an indie, even if it only lasts a week : )

I will no longer be referring to the game as a MUD or roguelike – I prefer to develop it in a more organic nature and would like to avoid pinning it down by premature stereotypes or expectations. I would like to see it take on the characteristics that makes sense for it and see what it turns in to.

I spent some time this evening working on a website, but I also felt it was necessary to make a little progress on the game. I put in place a full 256 character ASCII font so I have more tiles to work with. I also decide to switch to square tiles for improved spatial navigation and aesthetic.

I’m experimenting with 80×40 characters which gives more of a terminal feel, but I am also trying out 40×20. If I got that large with the tiles then I might still go small with the text font. Below are some comparison screenshots.

I have some interesting ideas and it’s fun to think about all of the possibilities. I was thinking about permadeath, and how you might take on the life of a random NPC somewhere in the world. Then when you die natural processes dictate what happens with your body and loot that you had. You might find that you engrave a sword, die, and later as another character you find the sword on a grave robber by chance. You might even find that your body has been laid to rest in some town near the place you had fallen – that is assuming the locals discover the remains.

Anyway, that’s very ambitious, but it’s a fun thought. Here are the resolution comparisons.

MUD Idea #1

So I spent the weekend plus President’s Day working on this idea for a MUD / Rogue-like and I’m very happy with how it has turned out.

The concept is to take the styling of the old ASCII RPGs and sprinkle in a few modern amenities like improved color depth and bitmap layering / blending. Then add to that the idea of a “stack” of maps where lower levels are partially visible through the ground.

I envision the game taking place in large part on the world’s surface. As you explore the overworld you see “shadows” of complex dungeons below. Then you set out to find an entrance leading inside and see what is in store for you.

This idea was inspired in part by Flow, and also by my idea for a node graph viewing system where different depths of a graph hierarchy would be visible in the background with seamless navigation.

There’s a video below along with the features so-far.


  • Bitmapped ASCII tile set.
  • Independent ground and object stack.
  • Scrollable map with edge bounds.
  • Flood-filled map (eventually randomized) with place-able dungeon components.
  • Perlin noise tile colorization.
  • Interactive tiles (doors and stairs).
  • Many-depth map (0 – 128 in video).
  • Map layers accumulation algorithm to single layer via manual per-tile alpha blend.
  • 1st layer below player is 66% visible, 2nd layer 33%, all other layers 15%.

My scripting system is still in place so I think next I should add an NPC pacing around in a house that gives you a quest to retrieve some item that is in the dungeon.

MUD Map & Movement

I have non-scrolling map drawing, moveable characters, and obstacle collision. I love how easy this is :P

Here’s a quick screenshot, but it doesn’t show the main feature I’m intending to test yet.

What I find entertaining about this is that it’s using a 3D engine to achieve one of the simplest rendering tasks.

Experimental MUD

I have a couple of unique (or at least uncommon) technical ideas for a MUD or roguelike game. I’m going to spend a little time this weekend experimenting with one of them, and I’ll keep the other under wraps for now.

The first idea is to display the world in the classic manner – as an ASCII grid – but render many depths both above and below the depth of the player. Then make it so that those depths can be traversed seamlessly as long as they are within a “stoppable” threshold.

The average level of a dungeon might still exist primarily on a given XY plane, but would not be restricted to that.

I’m thinking of using white ASCII on black as usual, but applying different levels of alpha or gamma to indicate depth.

One trick will be how to indicate the player’s XY plane if further (deeper) planes need to be more black and nearer planes more white. Maybe the player’s plane gets a unique hue applied.

Alternatively, I could use a combination of alpha and perspective.

I’ll post the results once I have an initial test running.

Particle Physics

I’ve been tweaking the particle physics system a bit and learning the best way to work with it for player movement. I have things feeling roughly the way I want for lateral movement and jumping. I need to fix up collision resolution because I get some surface penetration.

It’s also possible to jump against platforms and effectively ramp the player’s collision sphere up into the air. I might just fix that by changing to a cylinder…

I’ll post another video once I have things wrapped up.

Improved scene workflow

I decided to simplify my blender scene further by removing the custom properties nodes. I found a Blender script online that copies custom properties between objects. I used that to copy the properties from the node directly to the parent object, then deleted all of the custom properties nodes in the scene. And then of course I updated the scene exporter to account for this change.

Here’s a new video to show latest changes, which are almost all data-side.