- Punch it
- Make it so
Whatever you call it, travelling large distances in sci fi requires some sort of faster than light travel, and since the beginnings of cinema folks have been trying to find interesting ways of portraying the mechanics of those voyages.
Here I attempt to juice a hyperspace entry. I take inspiration from Star Wars, Star Trek (2009), and Battlestar Galactica (2003).
There are three beats I hope to hit:
- A gradual crescendo increase in speed and warpness until some sort of threshold, where the ship seems almost ready to break through some barrier but can’t quite just.
- The “Punch It” moment where you enter hyperspace and feel like OMFG
- Dropping out of hyperspace. This should feel like reality folds back into existence around you and evoke a sense of vertigo.
As all good stories are, this one is set in space.
This (vaguely) Marble Madness inspired sketch explores physics and motion in 3 dimensions. The objective of the game is to roll around and hop between small, close planets in search of missing parts for your broken spaceship.
At the core of the sketch is a gravity system that works based on the well known F=G(M1.M2/r^2) equation. The force applied to the player’s rigidbody is the sum of G(Mn)/rn^2 where:
- G = some constant that has been tweaked for the size of the world
- n = each planet (this function is an iterator)
- M = an adjustable ‘mass’ for each planet
- r = the Vector3 distance between the player and each planet
Since gravity works on an inverse square law (the result of dividing by r^2), being closer to a planet means that its influence is quadratically higher. When you’re near a planet you are ‘captured’ by that planet’s gravity, but when you’re in space the forces are weaker and relatively more competitive.
In the land of cubes the sphere is king
The story here isn’t as fully developed as it could be, rather this is an exploration of vaguely related themes and references. There’s blue things and red things and (hopefully) surprises and throwbacks. The non-deterministic physics of Unity threw off my plans of a predictably machine, so rather I tried to create the opportunity for little moments of delight, such as if you happen to see the red ball again, or you notice that your blue light is “winning”.
I started out hoping to make a zero-G Rube Goldberg, but as I was playing around with the rocket mechanics I discovered that it could be a lot more fun/interesting to have the rocket fly around haplessly in a gravitied environment, then crash and become part of the scene itself.
The zero-G plan turned into an anti-G plan, in which the ball activates a giant red button because of course there’s a giant red button. The giant red button flips the gravity of the world and all the falling pieces begin falling up.
I played around with how to handle the anti-G section for a while, and settled on a smooth camera flip a brief pause after the gravity flips. It seems to nicely accentuate the vertigo of switching the direction of ‘up’, and it’s a neat little mindf— that what were the bottoms of things are now the tops.
Finally, once one has in place a button for switching gravity on a whim, it is almost impossible for one to not put another button ‘above’ it. With no official end, this machine will keep on going until the physics breaks or the iewer gives up. It is a slow march from the joyfulness of bouncing balls and blinking lights into the endless despair of hoping something will change but knowing that it won’t.
I enjoy stories. Many years ago I stumbled upon the realisation that, since I enjoy stories, perhaps I would enjoy making them too. I did.
I enjoy games. I am now at a point where I am considering that, since I enjoy games, perhaps I will enjoy making them too.
Stories are for many things. For me they are sometimes about discovery or escape or explosive emotional payoffs. The best stories are for people mostly.
Games are for many things. For me they are sometimes about discovery or escape or challenge. The best games are for people mostly.Continue reading “The Joy of Making Things”
A 2 player ruleset in service of aesthetic output.Continue reading “Line ’em Up”