Forest: Beta 7

Introducing beta 7 of Forest, with better graphics, a more dynamic game world, and many behind the scenes tweaks. This project is released under an MIT License.

Click Here to Play Forest

Updates

Forest Gods. Nearly all aspects of the board can now be influenced by randomly-generated, free-floating roamers. Some are dramatic (like lightning gods) others practically invisible (like soil porosity gods). They’re intended to make the forest more varied, and perhaps even less lonely and more mysterious.

Improved Fire. Fire has been an aspect of the game world for several versions, but is completely rewritten in beta 7 to be much more graphical, dramatic, realistic in its effect on the forest, and unpredictable.

Better Graphics. The band of the sun now moves throughout the year more accurately, and the stars now properly blur into rings as well. Fog is a custom shader, the minimum of height fog and linear distance fog. Lighting for the ground and water now comes from an array of lights aligned with the sun ring. (Trees are still sprites, however, and don’t yet respond to lighting.) The randomly generated forest’s average temperature is used as a stand-in for latitude.

Smaller Board. Moved from a 200×200 tile grid down to 128×128. This seems to tax the CPU a little less without noticeably changing the scale of the game.

Erosion. Soil is now washed along by water. Stream system formation is still rare, but it does happen.

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I miss productivity, I hate the unskippable logos, I’m not a big fan of Steam, and it runs my laptop red hot, but wow is this game something.

Forest: Beta 6

Introducing beta 6 of Forest. This release should bring a much higher framerate in all browsers, and a number of small fixes.

Click Here to Play Forest

Architecture – A Quick Outline

I’ve tried to organize Forest into a series of big JavaScript Objects that group related activities, and Classes to cleanly manage everything I need more than one of. Please take a look at the game loop and WebWorker code if you’re interested in how any of it works. This project is released under an MIT License.

  • Control Objects
    • World: Manages weather, climate cycles & fps
    • Ground: Manages ground conditions, GridTiles, RenderGroups
    • Roamers: Everything that needs to be updated each frame, including the camera, the camera’s (invisible) target, lightning bolts, etc.
    • Mats: Materials and texture maps, including the ground’s dynamic texture
    • Sprites: Lifecycle and behavior management of trees, energy balls, etc.
    • PostProcessing: Manages GPU special effects for the scene, like bloom
    • Shaders: Overwrites some of Babylon.js‘s shaders with custom versions
    • Actors: Container for the Actor classes
  • Classes
    • GridTile: Manages one point on the map grid, and holds the Actors currently active on it
    • TileAlias: GridTiles in the first row and column use these to keep track of the geometry they must also update to smoothly wrap the map
    • RenderGroup: A block of GridTiles, which can be prioritized for drawing depending on the camera’s current position
    • Fire: An Actor which consumes other actors, then temporarily blackens the GridTile
    • Tree: A large, slow-growing Actor
    • FallenTree: An Actor which slowly loses mass, producing new soil
    • Grass: A small, fast-growing Actor, which greens the GridTile
    • DeadGrass: An Actor which slowly loses mass, producing new soil, while it browns the GridTile
    • ProtoRoamer: Class containing data fields and actions for things that roam around on the board
    • Camera: Subclass of ProtoRoamer, which moves the camera
    • Target: Subclass of ProtoRoamer, at which the camera is aimed
    • Energy: Subclass of ProtoRoamer, short-lived, produced where you click, which feeds energy to the Actors there
    • LightningBolt: Subclass of ProtoRoamer, very short-lived, obliterates all Actors on its GridTile and starts Fires on surrounding tiles

Updates

Better performance in all browsers. Beta 6 moves the process of updating water flow and ground conditions into a WebWorker, a second processor thread. Beta 5 was a major rewrite to accomodate this, moving most of the data of each GridTile object into a single, large Float32Array, and adding Getters/Setters to the GridTile class to make the array data behave like normal properties. Parts of the array can then be rapidly copied, to update the vertex data or to be sent to the worker thread, via the .subarray() function. Data returned from the worker thread can then be copied back into the main array via a .set() operation. Currently, any changes made to the board by Actors or Roamers during thread execution will be overwritten

Better performance in Firefox and Chrome. The GridTile prototype uses Getters/Setters to manipulate the data in the master Float32Array. This was originally done in Beta 5 to allow moving some updating to a WebWorker, but for whatever reason the major speedup of moving the data into the Float32Array alone ended up being worth the change. The index lookups in the Getters/Setters (e.g. ground.data[ground.indices.watertable+this.index]) bring virtually no overhead in Safari, but Chrome and Firefox struggled with them. Beta 6 caches the lookup indices in each object, which speeds up Firefox and Chrome considerably even absent the WebWorker thread.

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Forest: Beta 5

Screenshot from Safari 13.1 Mac

“Forest” is a peaceful, meditative god game. It is free, runs in any modern browser, and is played with one button (or finger). Each time the page is loaded, a forest with a random climate is created. You may interact, observe, or any combination of the two. There is no objective.

Click Here to Play Forest

The game is written in JavaScript, using WebGL via the Babylon.js framework. Beta 5 is a preview release for which I’m grateful for feedback– a major rewrite, much faster and more memory-efficient than previous betas, with most of the major systems in place for the game as I’d originally conceived it. If you’re interested, please take a look at the source code.

MIT License

Copyright (c) 2020 Matt Rasmussen

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the “Software”), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED “AS IS”, WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.

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Forest Fire: A Game for Kids v2

Forest Fire is a simple Pandemic-like (or Pandemic-lite) game for 2-4 kids, age 5 and up. The players work together to put out the fires in a forest. Encourage them to talk over their moves, and strategize as a team.

Make a 6×6 grid. Number the rows and columns 1-6. These are the Forest Squares. Place a player piece for each kid around the outer edge of the grid, next to any square they choose.

Get 2 dice. These are the Fire Dice, which you will roll to add Fires (counters) to the board–one roll of the dice per player per round. Announce the rolls to the players as down then across (e.g. “1 down, 4 across.”) Have the players add a Fire counter to the square you call out. Squares can have more than one Fire counter at a time. Now explain that when there’s a non-burning (empty) square between a new Fire and an existing Fire, the Fire spreads to the square inbetween–horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. (This is like Go, only Fire can only “flip” a single empty square.) Roll once for each player, then begin.

If at the end of a round anyone is still on a square with a Fire, they’re out of the game. Disaster! If all forest squares are burning, it’s game over. When the kids put out all the Fires, they win!

Difficulty: A Firebreak is a clearing (natural or artificial) in the forest that fire can’t easily cross. With a second type of counter, you may at the beginning of the game roll to add Firebreaks to the board. Players can move onto Firebreak squares, but if a Fire is rolled on a Firebreak square, nothing happens. For an easier game, roll up to one Firebreak per player. Roll fewer or none for a challenge game. (Remember, the players still lose if every non-Firebreak square is ablaze at the same time!)

Introduce the types of player characters one game at a time:

Hotshot

Have the kids mime holding a firehose. Explain that a Hotshot Team is the firefighters on the ground with hoses and shovels who work to put out forest fires.  (This is where the term comes from!)

A Hotshot gets 2 moves per round. Each move can be either: 1) Putting out the Fires (removing all Fire counters) from their own or an adjacent square (N, S, E, W or diagonally), or 2) Moving 1 square N, S, E or W. Moving one square off the board, like at the beginning, is allowed.

To begin the game, explain that it takes time to get Hotshot Teams to a forest fire. Because of this, the fire has time to spread. Add 2 rounds’ worth of fires to the board (one roll for each player x2) then have the players begin.

Smoke Jumpers

Have the kids mime holding onto the straps of a parachute. Explain that a Fire Jumper parachutes into the forest near a fire. Because of this, they can’t carry as much equipment, but once they hike out they can jump in again anywhere they’re needed.

A Smoke Jumper gets 2 moves per round. Similar to the Hotshot, each move can be either: 1) Putting out 1 fire (removing only 1 counter) from their own or an adjacent square (N, S, E, W or diagonally), or 2) Moving 1 square N, S, E or W. They also have a special ability: Upon moving off the board, they can “jump” to any square on the board. (Moving off the board and jumping count as a single action.)

Add 2 rounds’ worth of Fires to the board, then have the players begin.

Pilots

Have the kids make an airplane with they hand (palm flat, index and ring finger together underneath the middle finger, pinky and thumb straight out to the sides). (If this is too hard, just pretend to be holding the flying yoke.) Explain that Pilots fly seaplanes which land on a body of water, fill a large tank, and then dump the water directly onto a fire.

Movement-wise, the pilot works a little differently. Every other turn, they must leave the board to refill their water tanks. Thus, every second turn, the players pick up their piece and hold it in their hand. The next turn, however, they can put out all the fire on any 3 squares in a row (N, S, E, W or diagonally).

Add 2 rounds’ worth of fires to the board. When the kids begin, remind them that they must first leave the board to fill up–so there will actually be 3 rounds of Fires added before they can begin putting them out!

Mixed Game

Now we put the pieces together. Let the kids decide (and encourage them to discuss strategically) what each would like to be: a Hotshot, a Smoke Jumper, or a Pilot. Explain how fighting forest fires is a team effort, with people in different specialties doing different jobs. (Now we understand the pantomiming; it’s to keep everyone’s role straight!)

Add 2 rounds’ worth of fires to the board, and have the kids begin!

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Builds For “The Leaves”

I love making stuff. The films I get involved with always seem to result in fun builds. It’s possible I’m getting my priorities backwards.

Old Book

Start with a real old book.
Raid Bart Howard Chandler Christy’s jaw-dropping “Lady of the Lake” illustrations for artwork. (You know him from his WWI propaganda posters.) Put together a pre-1960’s-looking dust jacket, pre-yellowed and sun faded.
Thin, distress and tear the edges. Rub salt on it to dull the finish. Just generally give it a hard, long life.
And… old book.

Board Game

Can’t imagine why no one snapped this sh*t up at Goodwill…
But it’s perfect, except for a few things.
Staples does color printing rather cheaply.
Measure once…
Cut twice. Spray adhesive is way too fun. (Not an endorsement of huffing.)
Every box of a certain age seems to get crushed. Wish I’d thought of a way to age the masking tape. (It tends to yellow, curl, turn brittle, and separate.)
“Distress”
Similar procedure for the board itself: Nonsense artwork, spray-adhesed to a couple pieces of chip board from good old Artist & Craftsman. (Say hi to Disme.)
Maybe not “hero” props, but good enough for 2K!

Rain & Sun Shirts

Can’t pay your actors? Create a thematic element/easter egg they can wear home. (Also, feed them well!)
Laura’s shirt was a new one for me: Permanent fabric paint. Other than that, just a standard sticky-back-plastic stencil. (Thanks again, Disme!)
Iron for permanence when dry.
Rob’s was a more standard sprayed bleach stencil shirt, although I’ve never tried to do lettering before.
Tape off the overspray areas, mist with bleach until light enough, let dry, rip everything off and stuff it in the dryer.
Nukulur poweird!
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A Netflix “Dark” Soundtrack for Purchase on iTunes

Here’s an (unofficial) soundtrack album for the 2017 Netflix series “Dark,” for iTunes downloading:

  1. “Industry” – Mire Kay [iTunes $1.29]
  2. “Anthricite Fields: IV. Flowers” – Julia Wolf, Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Bang on a Can All-Stars & Julian Wachner [iTunes $0.99]
  3. “The Look of Love, Pt. 1” – ABC [iTunes $1.29]
  4. “Familiar” – Agnes Obel [iTunes $1.29]
  5. “Keep the Streets Empty For Me” – Fever Ray [iTunes $1.29]
  6. “Me and the Devil” – Soap&Skin [iTunes $1.29]
  7. “Enter One” – Sol Seppy [iTunes $0.99]
  8. “Es wird ja alles wieder gut” – Detlev Lais [iTunes $0.99]
  9. “When I Was Done Dying” – Dan Deacon [iTunes $1.29]
  10. “I Ran (So Far Away)” – A Flock of Seagulls [iTunes $1.29]
  11. “Wishing Well” – Stomper feat. Lucy Topps [iTunes $1.29]
  12. “Cow Song” – Merideth Monk & Collin Walcott [iTunes $1.29]
  13. “A Quiet Life” – Teho Teardo & Blixa Bargeld [iTunes $0.99]
  14. “Goodbye” – Apparat & Soap&Skin [iTunes $1.29]

The above is based substantially on Cinema Lumina’s streaming Apple Music playlist, with Marcin Tomaszewski’s Spotify playlist, and the sleuths on Tunefind.

Play time is a satisfying 1 hour 2 minutes, and the total cost a less-so $16.86. If you’d like to save a few bucks, I’d recommend omitting the just-barely-a-song “Cow Song,” the unintentionally creepy postwar German hit “Es wird ja alles wieder gut,” and ’80s crap “The Look of Love” and “I Ran.” (Nostalgia? I was there, Gandalf! In the 1980s. I was there when the strength of men failed…)

Besides the (unavailable) score itself, there are some omissions. On the out-of-place counterpoint song front, I prefer the Flock of Seagulls song to “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” by Dead of Alive [iTunes $1.29] simply because it’s less annoying (and lacks even the freaky faux-sincerity of ABC). It also appears only briefly as music heard by characters, in continuity. Likewise “Irgendwie, Irgendwo, Irgendwann” by Nena [iTunes $1.29], old standby “Shout” by Tears for Fears [iTunes $1.29] and the two barely-heard generic metal tracks, “Rücklauf” by Marathonmann [iTunes $1.29] and “Pleasure to Kill” by Kreator [iTunes $1.29]. Roomful of Teeth’s odd experimental vocal track tends to fade into the general noise ambiance of the show’s sound mix, but the track is “Partita: III. Courante” [iTunes $0.99]. Likewise Ben Frost’s pleasant but forgettable “Snow” [iTunes $1.29]. Finally, there’s a Mimi Page track supposedly called “Nightfall,” but I haven’t been able to locate it.

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House of Time v03

The House of Time, a scale model of earth history, public beta v0.3 is now live. While it’s still pretty empty, this is the first release where I feel the important pieces are all in place (if only as stubs).

Dreadnaughtus schematic for modeling
(Be kind, I’m no Mark Witton!)

New This Release:

  • ADDED: Your Friend & Mine, DREADNAUGHTUS!
  • ADDED: Stars
  • ADDED: Pro/Arch Bridge
  • ADDED: All Remaining Location Plates
  • IMPROVED: Bloom & SSAO
  • IMPROVED: River
  • MOVED: Custom Shaders, Shared Materials & Client-side Textures (currently unused) into larger, cleaner scenicEffects Object

To Do:

  • ADD: Membership/Info Card
  • ADD: Titanosaur & Other Models
  • ADD: The Moon
  • IMPROVE: Stonier Beach
  • ADD: Stars
  • IMPROVE: Framerate-Independant Movement Speed
  • ADD: Lazy Shader Compiler
  • ADD: “Crawler” Mesh
  • ADD: Touch Controls
  • IMPROVE: Frame Rate
  • FIX: Ocean Vertex Displacement Not Following Waves
  • FIX: Ripples Only Visible When Looking East
  • IMPROVE: Safari Support
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House of Time 0.2 Updates

The House of Time, a scale model of earth history, is now in public beta v0.2.

New This Release:

  • IMPROVED: Terrain
  • ADDED: Proterozoic-Archean River
  • ADDED: Cambrian Trilobites
  • IMPROVED: Tree Ferns
  • ADDED: Hadean Fill Lighting
  • ADDED: Low-res Ionic Columns
  • IMPROVED: More Natural Colors Overall
  • FIXED: Better Distribution of Sprites
  • ADDED: Camera Follower Tag
  • IMPROVED: Better Terrain LOD
  • FIXED: Sprites Not Working Correctly
  • FIXED: Shadow Dupes
  • FIXED: Sun Angle, Sky Consistency & Sunset

To Do:

  • ADD: Membership/Info Card
  • ADD: Titanosaur & Other Models
  • ADD: The Moon
  • IMPROVE: Stonier Beach
  • ADD: Stars
  • IMPROVE: Framerate-Independant Movement Speed
  • ADD: Lazy Shader Compiler
  • ADD: “Crawler” Mesh
  • ADD: Touch Controls
  • IMPROVE: Frame Rate
  • FIX: Ocean Vertex Displacement Not Following Waves
  • FIX: Ripples Only Visible When Looking East
  • IMPROVE: Safari Support
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