Teaching Spaz to Walk

Like I mentioned before, the upside of switching all animation in the game to be procedural (simulated) instead of keyframe-animated is that you get fun stuff like jiggling and whiplashing for free.. the downside is that you’re now essentially dealing with a robot in a simulated physical world, so you have to teach it to move itself around the same as you would with a robot in the real world: using joints and motors and this and that…which is fun but challenging.  Here you can see poor Spaz with his new motorized legs not doing a very good job at walking just yet.

First Official Character: Spaz

..So the last big-ticket item on my BombSquad todo list is to remake all the characters.  I have an existing set of them, but half of them are celebrities I put in there jokingly for playing with my friends and the other half are a bit old and simplistic.  Either way, I need to replace them all, and I’m proud to say I’ve got my first shiny new one pretty much done:  Spaz the space marine.

One down, like 6 or so to go…

Epic Controller Stress Test

I needed to run some tests to make sure BombSquad was behaving itself with lots of controllers connected, so I decided to make a video while I was at it. If the game is ultra-successful I might make back the money I’ve spent on all these controllers 🙂

Wheee; Ragdoll Physics!

Awww; my first ever youtube upload… this is one of my old characters blowing himself up a few times to test my newly re-written character physics in BombSquad.  I wrote the game back in the day with characters represented by two simple spheres within the physics simulation, but last week I reworked them be much more complex; simulated as more or less a full ragdoll skeleton consisting of about 12 different pieces.  This will make it easy to do fun stuff like bouncing and flailing arms and whiplashing heads, but the downside is that it’s gonna take a lot of balancing to get the play-control feeling right again… so back to work…


The Final Stretch…

Ever since I moved to California as an 18 year old in ’99, I’ve been trying to make a video game. I remember spending my first Friday night in the Academy of Art dorm on Van Ness teaching myself C++ and trying to code up a little Scorched-Earth-ish projectile physics game, thinking ‘surely I can finish this up in a weekend or two, right?’. That, of course, didn’t happen. I got partway through before I learned enough to see that my design was completely brain-dead and needed to be rewritten. So I’d start over and get partway through. Then I’d learn more and start over again. And again.

So here I am, 12 years later. I’ve long since finished school and have a job I love, but there’s still this nagging little itch to for once in my life finish one of these little game projects. And that’s where BombSquad comes in. BombSquad is a game I started writing in 2004, right after graduating from the Academy, as a way to pass the time while applying for vfx jobs. It started out as somewhat of a bomberman kinda game but has since morphed into something very different: a sort of smash-brothers-meets-myth-2-meets-wwf-royal-rumble party game. Anyway, it’s been sitting incomplete on the shelf collecting dust for years, unseen by anyone save some friends and relatives at the occasional family gathering back in Illinois, where its been a hit with my young cousins.

Then, about 6 months ago, I bought an iPhone and started doing some coding for it.  I started writing a game from scratch; yet again reinventing that old wheel.  I got a fair way in to it before I came to the simple realization that I already had a game 75% completed just sitting forgotten in the corner.   So I had one of those poignant movie moments with the piano music and the long thoughtful gazing into space.. and then slowly I put down my shiny new iPhone and began brushing off the creaky old remenants of BombSquad. And now here I am, nearing the end of a montage sequence of late nights and coffee-shop-coding-weekends, almost ready to actually release a game.  Admittedly BombSquad’s been painful to work with; I coded most of it 6 or 7 years ago and I often want to travel back in time and slap myself around a bit given what I’ve learned since, But I’m forcing myself to stay the course; no starting over this time. If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s the truth in the phrase “artwork is never completed; only abandoned”. So while I know I’ll never see it as ‘done’, it’s finally nearing time to let my baby go. Stay tuned…


The stuff of Eric Froemling