Development Diaries

Tango and Cash


You fallen for the oldest trick in the book: bad cop, worse cop



this year, I finished a short film for college. it's called Catábase (Katabasis), is almost 10 minutes long and in a way does feel like some of the stuff I was making back in the day. here it is: (english subtitles are available)

this project has meant a lot to me, as it was a very fruitful and loose creative experience, and i just let out everything i wanted to let out for this film. it was the kind of thing that i needed to make as a reminder that i can just do whatever i want and that's really all that matters. after this one, i plan on working on another short film in my own free time and on other projects as well.

i'm not really active on social media outside of instagram ( and discord (also 10000ratazana). idk where y'all glorious trainwrecks people are nowadays, and i'm interested in going back to talk with the people i spoke with back in the day

lmk your thoughts on catábase if you've seen it, and please share it with people if you liked it! it's been out for a couple of weeks now, but I only remembered to post about it here today. my bad!

edit made shortly after posting !!!

one of my key influences in certain parts of catábase is something called "gamecore", which i heard for the first time when harmony korine started promoting his latest film, 'aggro dr1ft'. since i'm not in a city that holds film festivals --especially the ones that would show something like that film-- i didn't watch that, but i let my imagination go wild. many of the scenes from the 3 minute mark onward are my own spin on "gamecore". i kinda want to make this a thing in my following film projects. it's a fascinating concept to work around with, and one that i think marries perfectly with other ideas i had floating in my mind (i want to incorporate more and more "slow cinema" influences in my films, too, and i think a "gamecore" and "slow cinema" combo could be interesting)

wibi's picture


every day imgur is not dead is another little miracle.

so those in that game would be gems. but what's up with that?

firstly this is all about an upcoming (not anymore, it has already released) version of jumper 4 real.
secondly i should talk about how saves work.

for the most part everything about a save slot is stored in a file named slotN.txt where N is the slot number. it is a pretty human-readable format. here's an example:

gems, however, are stored in a different file, slotN.j4g, in a condensed format. (j4g is a format i came up with short for "jumper 4 gems".) this is partly so collecting a bunch of gems doesn't take up a bunch of disk space, and partly so that it's much quicker for the menu to just read off how many gems each slot has. in future i may put other info the menu wants to read quickly here as well, like how many different rooms the user has triggered the "you win" screen from.
here's the j4g specifications. you'll note there's no header.



up to four versions of this file exist per levelset: slot 1, slot 2, slot 3, and combined (union)

"the x position" and "the y position" refer to the x and y position of the room the gem is in.
(what you would call "levels", jumper 4 real would call "rooms", and every room is somewhere on a grid spanning from -32768 to 32767.)
(if there's multiple gems of the same type in the same room, there is a mechanic where all of them turn out to be holograms except the last one you try to collect.)

"combined (union)" is this:

named "union" because it is the "union" of all gems you have across all savefiles (as well as deleted savefiles). it's like a permanent progress indicator.
whenever you collect some new gems and go back to the menu, when the game writes what new gems you've collected in save slot N, it also tries to update the "union" file. it cross references with all the gems you have in slot N and ticks off whatever gems are already present in the union file, and the remainder gets appended.
well not actually "appended" since the structure of j4g files means new blue gems have to be inserted into the middle of the file, and also i implemented it really weirdly such that the "union" table of gems effectively gets replaced with the "slot N" table of gems and then has the gems that aren't in slot N appended to it, but that part doesn't really matter since lua's pairs function has no defined order and that's how i iterate through all the gem tables anyway (the key is a room position and the value is true).

but now you may be wondering about that number to the right of the /. you may be wondering how the menu knows what the total amount of each type of gem is, without manually scanning every single level for gems.

the answer is... it doesn't! it just checks two variables you set from the editor. (if either of them are 0 or left empty, then it doesn't show the gem total at all. also, there is nothing stopping you from lying about the total amount of gems your levelset contains.)

however, the editor does have a "recount gems" button that automatically totals up the amount of gems every room has.
how are rooms stored? well hey i have another freaking pastebin link woah.


map data itself is two bytes per tile - the first byte being a "bank" (though this, like many other decisions, is entirely arbitrary and not really enforced) - with the additional restraint (for the time being) that every byte has to be printable ASCII. also there's some hacky compression for rows that are all the same tile or adjacent rows that are identical.
you'll notice there's no separator between each tile. this might lead you to believe "oh, ok, so you used some string buffer thing, and you check an initial byte to see if it's | and if so you know it's map data, and from there on you consume 2 bytes at a time" but no!!! i wrote a stupid custom string split function that specifically only splits across multiples of n (2 in this case). that was back when i didn't even know string buffers existed. where were we? oh, right.
so right away there's a problem: we can't just use string.find for the 2 bytes that comprise a blue or red gem, because what if i got really pressed for space for some reason (95 tlies/objects per bank isn't infinite!!) and started using using { or | as a bank? then if it were right next to a tile that ended in O, it falsely finds O{ or O| and thinks it's got a gem. but it don't! and it's not possible to tell what parity a tile is on except relative to the last newline (not to the start of file).
so i COULD just write another hacky mess that's like string.find but only for specific parities and also considers the last line break to be parity 0. but i had a better idea that was way faster.
up to this point i had three agreed-upon "starting characters" for this pseudo-format i saved as .txt:

  1. ===. indicates a header, kinda like puzzlescript. and yes it has to be exactly three =s because uhh it looks nice. also there has to be a === at the end too. the main bulk of the header is expected to be ONLY UPPERCASE LETTERS, but it can have a : to denote a "phase", which can be UPPERCASE LETTERS INCLUDING NUMB3RS.
  2. |. indicates data of any sort. can rarely have lowercase letters before it, usually to indicate what type the following data is (number, string, bool).
  3. >. indicates a "command", like duplicating rows of map data, or switching how data is interpreted (like a sub-header). i think a long time ago i had an internal rule that commands should all be 3 letters long but that doesn't matter anymore, and anything that can follow a | can follow a >.

is there some central parser that knows what to do with all these characters? no! no there isn't. in fact, i've probably written roughly the same parsing code about 4-5 times, with the difference mainly being where data goes and what commands do.
so to store what gems are in a level at the very start of the file more easily, i introduced a fourth character:
  1. !. indicates arbitrary-ish bytes follow. all bytes must have the top bit set so none of them will be ascii, and the byte sequence is terminated with a zero-byte. (and then a line break.)

so now every room has a header starting with !, 0x80 (np++ assigns this to €), and a zero-byte..
whenever a room is saved, the process that jots down each tile also checks if that tile corresponds to a blue gem or a red gem. if it's a blue gem, it flips the last of the 2nd byte of the header. if it's a red gem, it flips the penultimate bit of the 2nd byte of the header. i.e. blue gem only is 1, red gem only is 2, blue gem and red gem is 3.
and the "recount gems" button just nips the first 2 bytes of every room in the levelset.
it checks the first byte. if the first byte isn't !, then it notes that the room is using an old version of the level format with no header, and it will print how many such rooms it encountered once it's done counting.
then it checks the second byte. if the last bit is set, it knows the room contains a blue gem. if the penultimate bit is set, it knows the room contains a red gem. so it just sums all that up and then fills the textboxes above it with the results it got.

in retrospect, having introduced a header into my level format, i probably should have had the first byte (well, last 7 bits of the first byte) be a version number instead of gem information, so if i make any more silly changes then i can know definitively what version of the room "format" each room was saved with.
indeed i should. but so far, i haven't.

Making my first good game


I don't know if anyone still uses these forums, scrolling the recent posts tab there's some posts at the bottom that are almost older than I am, I mean by the looks of things this site was most active before the breakup of Yugoslavia into serperate states... but, if you're reading this, hiii! I'm working on a game for the open world jam, and I guess I'll drop my thoughts, comments, questions, concerns, grievances, and mediations here semi-regularly (about once every 4-6 years) while I try and beat this game into a semi playable state.

My plan for the game:
I like David Lynch films, max payne, the US state of Florida, and landscape painting, and I'm not a big fan of neo-nazis. My plan is to combine all of this into something of an open world game, have the player gunning around the sticks shooting krauts in a third person shooter kind of game. So far I've at least got the third person shooting part done and dusted. Aside from that... well it needs some work to be honest, and in terms of playability I'd rather stab myself in the balls with a fork than play the 'game' at this stage, although that's been a bit of a running theme in all of my games up to this point.

My mid term goal is to try and make a somewhat playable demo to showcase the game and get people's thoughts on it up to that point (assuming I can find peoples to play it). The demo would probably be something small, an old plantation manor where you're tasked with assasinating the fictional florida governor to put and end to his kraut collaberation. It gives me an oppurtunity to work in all of the most major systems the game needs to work, and experiment with a mini open world (that being the plantation estate and its sprawling gardens) before moving onto the real deal.

Today I've been working on cats, a cooking system, animating and fixing the cataracts I seem to have given all of my enemies' AI when I unkowingly deleted/added some code somewhere.

Cool website!


I really like the idea of this website. Happy to finally be able to register.
Here's a little something I've been working on lately.


figured i should give everyone who cares an update since i'm Still Alive

most of my focus has been toward animation and comics these days, but i still want to make another game someday (which is something i constantly tell myself for a few years now). i have a couple ideas floating around, just need to open RPG Maker up and start throwing them together.

i also feel the need to contextualize some stuff, as a lot of the stuff i made and said over here were when i was still a middle schooler (i'm 20 right now, btw) and uhh yeah looking back at those things i can't help but feel a bit embarrassed lol. i'll try not to be super harsh on myself about this stuff but yeah Lol i apologize for any dumbassery of my part from back then, and my most sincere Thank You to all who have supported my vidya making endeavors. the games i made back then were pretty defining for the overall direction i wanted to take my art in, and joining this community definitely helped as well :)

thanks for reading, and please let me know if you're interested in checking out some of my New Stuff in comics + animation !!

(btw i don't plan on keeping the nuuup username bc it honestly doesn't represent me anymore, but i'll probably keep it for the time being)

gisbrecht's picture


"As Miss Miep awoke one morning from uncertain dreams, she found herself in her bed an absolutely tiny mouse, transformed!"

Meet Miep, the protagonist of my next major game: Magnificent Mouse Misadventures! She has one goal in mind: become an adorable mouse!

It will be released when it is ready. Please be patient.

( Ignore that the font sucks right now >n< )

forg's picture

about the award system

goodgame award.png

what is the award system?
the award system is where people will get awards based on if the game i played was pretty good
thank you goodbye

Kate B's picture

we forgot to do the dang sekret santa

we forgot to do it oops

Doom 3 Analysis


so I'm working on my big game and decided to play some of the older FPS games for research
to see if I missed anything now that I'm old and everything

and I feel Doom3 is a good fit for this site - despite having the best graphics of it's time
the games combat is a complete trainwreck

I feel it's important to see what makes a game a total trainwreck
so we can learn from the mistakes when make our own games
and make entirely different mistakes..
which possibly other people can learn from
and make pointless blogposts about

anyway this is not a review -- just some notes I wrote:

strangely enough in BFG edition they decided to give more ambient
to the game -- which kind of ruined the one aspect
many people loved (just fixing the flashlight would have been enough)
anyway I decided to play through the original instead with a source port (dhewm3)

you can get pickups from little password protected vaults
and you supposed to get the passwords by listening to audio logs
and reading emails of PDAs you collect

of course on a second playthrough you probably don't remember these
and don't feel like listening to them again
not to mention some codes were tied to - now defunct - websites
so nearly everyone just ended up using the codes from walkthroughs
which is kind of a reminder to times when people had to look up
copy protection from manuals

PDAs seem to be like an amusing idea - but they replaced the colored keys
probably to be more realistic
they are realistically put on the floor so they are hard to see
now this is confusing so they made up for it by you only
need to get close to them to pick them up
and there is usually only a single locked door

the shotgun spreads bullets all around the corridor - to fill them
with one of the ugliest decals I ever seen

the lost souls (including the improved ones in resurrection of evil)
disappear in the most unceremonious way possible
(in a smoke poof so small you can hardly see it)

they found the most annoying pistol sound one possibly can
(you feel truly in hell after every reload )

many enemies don't react to hitting you at all
zombies do a little animation - without losing any momentum
possessed soldiers just keep shooting at you
and they dissolve into atoms with one shotgun shot
and every time they brain appears intact and falls on the floor

technical note: they still used the quake1 map format for the bsp levels
it's built into the game exe but it's pretty much just a radiant editor
this game is a technical marvel in more ways than one - I mean
for this clunky editor even making a single empty room is a challenge
people who make levels for id engine games are truly a hardcore bunch

the enemy design is the least of the problems with this game
yet the sequels seem to have this idea that the problem
was that they didn't look enough like their original counterparts from 1 and 2

in the end even with the plastic look the game still looks really good today

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