Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Story So Far

It feels sort of weird starting a new blog now, given how long we've been working already. But I imagine people are probably new to Lemon Scented Games and what we're doing, so I'll start from the beginning.

My name is Jack Sinclair, and I make games. I've been making games for about 20 years now - some of them were even for Proper Reputable Companies You Would Have Heard Of(tm), and sold quite well, but a lot of them were made in my room and sold independently. I was doing this before The Internet became famous, when games got advertised in paper magazines, and when people would post me cheques in exchange for me sending them hand-copied floppy discs by snail-mail. I feel old. Anyway, a lot of that stuff stopped for many years whilst I went out and got a degree and a series of "real jobs", but at some point in 2007, some friends and I thought that it would be good to get back into it. We spent a looooooong time arguing about designs, and trying out ideas, but at the start of this year we settled on the game we want to make, and Lemon Scented Games was born. This blog is about the making of that game.

It doesn't have a name yet; or rather, it has a working title, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to share it yet, because working titles have a tendency to sometimes be a bit misleading. Anyway, it's about a guy who works in a paint factory. "Why, that's an incredibly dull profession for a videogame protagonist", I hear you remark. Well:

a) Mario is a plumber. A plumber. And people still like his games.

b) This paint factory has been designed according to the Willy Wonka school of factory design. Imagine that you're Gordon Freeman, but that Black Mesa isn't a research facility for theoretical physics, but a research facility for outstanding interior design, and maybe you're getting close. Or maybe not.

Anyway, Lemon Scented Games has been really quiet on the Internet for a while, mostly because I've been struggling with paint physics, which is an astonishingly difficult thing to get right. Here's what we had working back in March:

That video was kind of a fake. Well, not quite a fake, but an optimistic rendition of what we had. Paint physics means modelling fluids. There are two approaches to doing fluids, and the one we've chosen is to do it as a particle system, using the impressively-named "smoothed particle hydrodynamics". This can be quite a strain even on a modern PC, and what that video shows is 3,000 particles of fluid at about 20 frames per second, which we sped up a bit to 30FPS in the video as an idea of what we thought the engine might be capable of. After another 4 months of really hard work, we've got that up to 10,000 particles running at 30FPS on a processor, or considerably more than that if we do all of the physics on a graphics card. The fluid physics is also a lot more stable now - you'll notice at points in the video (particularly at the end) the tendency for the paint to 'Asplode everywhere under certain circumstances. We've got that worked out now.

Long story short, we reckon we can have a lot of paint splashing about all over your screen, and we're confident that we can make a kick-ass game out of it. Expect new updates soon showing a bit of what the latest version is capable of, and keep checking in for my random thoughts about game design and programming. I hope that as well as talking about the game, this place can become somewhere to visit for anyone with an interest in indie games, or game development in general.

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