I spent most of the week of its release playing through Genshin Impact, the new open-world anime RPG by Chinese developer Mihoyo that some people have compared to Breath of the Wild. (I will not compare it to Breath of the Wild, and in fact, in my sixty or so hours of playtime, I have not once even considered making this comparison.) Since then, I have also consistently logged on to do daily quests while dabbling in the miscellaneous minor events that pop up every week. …


Making fun with meshes

Lasers are cool. And drawing a laser in a straight line is easy enough: just plop down a sprite, maybe repeat it a few times, maybe stretch it.

But what if you want curved lasers? And what if you want a hundred of them updating at 120 frames per second?

When I first tried to answer this question, I could not find any resources on how to do this in a reasonably noob-friendly way. So I learned how meshes work, and here I am writing the resource myself.

Luckily, this problem is a lot harder to work through than it is to solve. …


How game mechanics shift in significance

(No narrative spoilers.)

Much has been said about the strange mechanic at the heart of Death Stranding — hiking through snowy mountains with a five-hundred pound stack of textbooks half-falling out of your backpack — especially on how fun it is. Some people think it’s not fun; other people say that games don’t have to be fun. I’m not interested in this question. I think there’s something more important to be asked about this mechanic: does the game commit to it?

Normally, games commit hard to their core mechanics, and this question becomes pointless. Some games will add new mechanics partway through the game — for example, The Messenger’s time-travel — and other games will allow less-important mechanics to fade away towards the end — for example, Disgaea 5’s Dark Assembly — but we would expect core mechanics to be core mechanics precisely because they remain important throughout the game. …


Bullet hell patterns can be incredibly complex, but as of today there isn’t really any way to succinctly describe them. The most basic element — the movement of a single object — is just a parametric equation, but everything on top of that is murky. How do you describe firing five bullets at the same time following the same parametric equation but slightly rotated for each successive bullet? How about firing five bullets over time? Or five bullets at the same time, fired five times over time? …


Unity’s Graphics.DrawMeshInstancedIndirect (from here on out, just DMII) is an absolute necessity for making danmaku games in Unity. At the same time, nobody seems to know what it is or how it works. As one of the confused, I'm somewhat hesitant to publish this, but hopefully it can help future me as well as other Unity randos be a little less lost when working with this odd API.

As you can probably guess, this article is maximally technical and maximally Unity-specific.

Strap in: this is a long ride.

Note that while this piece is oriented towards 2D games, the coding pattern isn’t much different for 3D (although your shaders may be a bit more complex). …


A few months ago, I wrote a somewhat disappointed review of Remnant: From the Ashes, in which I suggested that the goal of “Dark Souls with guns” might be best served by 2D games with combat loops based on the danmaku (bullet hell) genre. Given the ever-increasing proliferation of Soulslike games in disparate genres, I expected to eventually find a game doing just that. But I didn’t. So I decided to make it myself.

Progress has been fairly smooth since I started, and I’ve already released two scripts on Bulletforge, one of the sites that host Touhou fangames. This post series will serve as a devlog for some of the cool things that I find on my Game Development Journey (and there are a lot of cool things). Most of them will be somewhat technical. …


Since Dark Souls first stunned the gaming community with its grueling-yet-fair combat centered around swords, axes, and halberds, one question has always lingered: can we make it with guns?

There have been but few attempts at this challenge. Remnant: From the Ashes is the second one I know of (after Immortal: Unchained — but we don’t talk about that). And this lack of treaded ground shows: Remnant, despite looking like Gun Souls and playing like Gun Souls, cannot answer the fundamental design questions that have kept Gun Souls a dream for nearly a decade.

In this article, we’ll go through three of the design questions that characterize Gun Souls, and why Remnant fails at each of them. And, of course, I’ll provide some unsolicited solutions at the end. …


This week, I played through Xenoblade Chronicles X (the 1.5th game in the series). A few hours after putting down the controller for good, I thought back to all the unique encounters and boss fights I had seen in the game — when I realized that I couldn’t remember a single one of them.

I wrote this article to answer this question: why can I remember Souls bosses from two years ago, but not the bosses from the game I completed today? What makes their design so different? Here, I’ll primarily be concerned with the question of enemy design in encounters in a few different game architectures: action RPG, strategy, and JRPG. Of course, encounters also implicate music, story beets, audiovisual design, and an array of other things — which is why the Manon ship is the most memorable part of Xenoblade, all things considered — but the focus here is more strictly on the gameplay aspects. …


This was originally written as a short essay for a seminar I attended earlier this year, so the style may come off a bit starched. I’ve posted it here because I think it’s a meaningful attempt at drawing lines connecting several fields in modern science.

The manifold hypothesis is a critical (yet unproven) basis for deep learning. It claims that, while data in the real world is high-dimensional, it largely lies on low-dimensional manifolds, which means it can be efficiently categorized and reduced into simpler descriptions. The counterpoint to the opacity of deep learning algorithms is that they can efficiently learn the manifolds of real-world data, whereas humans cannot meaningfully describe these manifolds. …


The mainline Disgaea games features stories broken up into several “chapters”. At the end of each chapter is a “Next time on…” segment (much like you see in your favorite anime), but, in the spirit of Disgaea, they’re all twisted in some absurdist manner.

In Disgaea 4, each segment begins normally, before quickly spiraling into Valvatorez ranting about sardines. On its face, this seems to have nothing to do with localization. But, in fact, every one of these nine segments suggests a problem for localization, and there’s… a lot to learn from comparing the original to the English release. …

About

Bagoum

Software engineer, epic gamer, and Touhou developer. All my writing is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 unless stated otherwise.

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