7 Day FPS

Sun 07 October 2012 in Programming. Tags: Programming, Vlambeer, 7DFPS. By mrwonko.

Just though I'd write a quick post about my 7dfps Challenge experience. One week in June, based on an idea by Indie Jwaaaap of Vlambeer, people were challenged to create a First Person Shooter in 7 days, and I participated. Evidently I didn't make it.

Let's start from the beginning. I started thinking about a possible project beforehand - my first idea was a Razer Hydra motion control based shooter where your hand movement would be mapped to weapon control, allowing you to shoot around corners, over cover, dual wield pistols or do the actual shotgun reloading motion. I decided to use my WIP Jedi Academy recoding project - a lot of the things I'd need for that FPS were things I'd need anyway, like 3D rendering and physics. And I thought if I wanted to have any chance at getting the actual game done within a week I should get some of the systems in a working shape beforehand, like the rendering or the physics.

So naturally I did none of that and spent most of the week coding 3D rendering. But my plans had changed: In the 7dfps IRC channel I had jokingly suggested a turn-based FPS, then thought about it and realized I was talking about Frozen Synapse in first person, which seemed awesome on paper: A shooter where everybody simultaneously records their input for the next 3 or so seconds and then it's all evaluated. I wanted to prototype that for 7dfps.

But alas I still needed 3D rendering and physics. The rendering I got in a working shape within that week once I realized I didn't need animations or such fancy things, but the physics are where I got stuck. I wanted to write a character controller from scratch to get good player physics because restricting a rigid body (e.g. to stay upright) comes with all kinds of problems so it's probably best to write the physics yourself, just using the collision detection part of your physics engine (Bullet, in my case). And that was somewhat scary.

Months later I read the following in an interview with Valve's Erik Wolpaw:

Someone at Valve said recently, “If you’re not doing something that scares you, you may not be doing the right thing.” At some fundamental level, you should be doing something that feels kinda scary. Like, I could fail at this.

That's true. If I want to grow I must not stick to my comfort zone, because it consists of things I already know. So it's disappointing that I haven't done any more work on this since then. My Jedi Academy recoding project has not progressed in months. Which is sad. Especially since I promised Jwaaaap, who was in the IRC channel as well, to finish that prototype since he was eager to play it.

On the other hand writing everything from scratch is a lot of work. Maybe I should prototype my ideas as mods, for example for the Source Engine.


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