Hello. This time I would like to touch on the topic of computer game development, show some ideas and prototypes. Specifically, this article will focus on projects and drafts inspired by the game of Vanger, aka Vangers: One For The Road. Fasten yourself comfortably, the hold is full of interesting things, the spiral is charged, let's go.

    Continued, part two: Nevanger: Road is changed
    Part Three: Spice must flow

    I met the original game 20 years ago, having read that incomparable article in the fifth issue of Game.exe for the 98th year, and having bought a disk with Wangers before buying my first computer. At that time, the Spectrum and eight-bit were still at home, and at school they just started letting the gloomy dos and the 95th windows, as well as Diable, Duke, network Warcraft. The truth sometimes had to consciously sacrifice all of this. Because QBasic was more interesting.

    But back to the Vanger. There is a game, but there’s nowhere to play. It doesn’t matter - I built a table “based on”. So we drove along the cells of the car, transporting goods between the three cities - on curved roads it is calmer and faster, but if you cut it, it’s harder to move around, but you can stumble on hiding places. The PC disk itself was lying on the shelf, like a kind of talisman and in absentia favorite game. The bonus was that it could be played in a PlayStation One purchased a little later, like a music disc.

    Console exclusives, it is worth noting, completely discouraged my desire to play most of the iconic Western games, mostly role-playing, when I still got the first computer (well, I had to leave Sonya for this). But the Vanger fully met my expectations, being launched for the first time. Because even the final product itself is not so important as the images it generated, one way or another.

    If you suddenly do not know, then Vanger is a Russian voxel surreal action game with cars and a top view. In the game, you could ride, shoot, jump, swim, crush, destroy the terrain, blow up mushrooms, find caches, trade, rob, completely get confused in the texts and interface, ride again, notice that the destruction of the landscape is preserved, complete quests, notice that objects can drop out of inventory on the ground with a dashing turn, earn a new car, win the race, visit other worlds, listen to their melodies, lose everything, learn Zen, repeat, repeat in multiplayer.

    To get a better idea, you can get acquainted with video reviews. For example, with this . Or read in text form .

    Not so long ago, the original was reprinted in Steam. And the community has a separate telegram channel .

    Reissue by reissue, but, of course, I was waiting to continue. And, one can say, he received it in the form of the plague first “Perimeter” (which gameplay slightly reminds me of another forgotten pearl - Netstorm), but there were no action projects that followed.

    Mekhosoma has turned into Moonshine, a toy that is pleasant in appearance and conceptual, but somehow too furious inside, and that’s why it’s quite passable. Nevertheless, such experiments are also useful - they improve understanding of what is worth mixing with and what is not.

    Blender and Unity

    During life, developers migrate between different development environments. So I gradually sailed from Spectrum Basic, Qbasic and Delphi, to a bunch of Unity with Blender, passing Flash, as well as Blitz3d in harness with 3ds Max.

    Blender was impressive before - a full-fledged powerful 3d-package that weighed some pathetic tens of megabytes. True, he demanded to get used to it, but it was worth it. At first, I didn’t get deep into its capabilities, basically I liked the ability to paint Vertexes then, and I was used to using max.

    Years passed, I again returned to 3d from role-playing development, and did not consider max at all, aiming at Blender. Since then, he managed to acquire a “honest” ray tracing Cycles render, 3d pencil, sculpture and other useful things. This time the interface did not seem to me something cosmic - maybe that first experience might be useful, maybe the environment really became more intuitive. Meanwhile, version 2.8 promises to be even more interesting - not only a smart "game" render of Eevee, but also a changed interface, a boost of animation capabilities. In principle, this is all there is already, but for now in unstable assemblies - let's say my scene is a bit buggy in 2.8 and the links editor is completely transparent (but on Linux this version works more stable). In general, Blender is a very correct open source.

    Unity Also a great tool. To understand how everything works out, the experience of using Blitz3d and Flash was useful to me, at the last I just collected finished games, and not just prototypes. Thus, in Unity, I found everything that is needed to make scripts using 3D graphics. Although now, in principle, there are many engines, it’s not a problem to do anything. Now the problem is more likely to be optimized, because the development environment has become more user-friendly and the temptation is to fill all the available space with super-heavy super-detailed objects, and write the code as if simulating a real situation on the forehead. Despite the fact that the classical approach consisted in the total use of tables, arrays, matrices, a variety of operations with them, and the formation of all kinds of illusions for the user - the illusion of volume, the illusion of movement, illusions of effects and so on. Which gave good optimization with modest capacities.


    And then I was sitting somehow, modeling all kinds of low-poly elements in Blender, and I remembered the Vanger-mechos. I sketched one such, but since Unity is also at hand, then why not ride. Further, an asset with wheel physics was discovered by chance, and the thought flickered "if not to collect a small piece of the location from Vanger to Unity." By the way, once upon a time, I was assembling a toy on Flash where it was necessary to blow up mushrooms and crush running bugs - also a certain reference to the moments from Vanger.

    Unity-asset, by the way, was called MS Vehicle System (free version), if anyone is interested.
    So the first prototype appeared, according to which I recorded a short video:

    Where to develop it further was not clear and I started another game, about a different idea and with control on more standard mechanisms, not through special assets.

    In parallel, I tried Blender more tightly, especially a sculpture, and plunged into experiments with rendering all kinds of concepts, characters, architecture. During experiments with the next method of creating models in my head, something clicked and I wanted to make such a kind of “organic” machine. That's where it all happened.

    Tantramantra, or Vanger 2

    Indeed, if you imagine a certain continuation of the original game. With new mechos, new issues, new engine.

    Organic heretic


    How could a story of such a continuation look like? It seems that something is looming in the spirit of the original. I see it something like this: The

    continuation of the story covers the events that happened with the Chain of Worlds after the Storm Gate, during which the new Corridors appeared randomly and closed in various places. During the cataclysm, habitual connections between the worlds collapsed, and other forms of life began to actively penetrate new portals there. In pursuit of new weapons and artifacts, four-wheeled heroes rushed into new Corridors to explore other worlds.


    Time passed. The storm has subsided, but random Corridors still arise, and existing ones are not always stable. New problems were outlined - while the Mechos traveled along the transitions, restoring relations with the old dimensions, some were brought into very dangerous distant worlds. There, their bodies decomposed very quickly, but some managed to survive in an alien environment, merge with it and degenerate into something else. Over time, these strangers began to go beyond the limits of measurement, increasingly going out onto the roads of the Chain and encountering its other inhabitants. They carry strange new abilities and orders with them, and also most of the usual weapons have been ineffective against these unusual newcomers. And besides the proliferated fauna and flora, the heroes are threatened by the mysterious Roy Technology - assemblies of small artificial creatures with a single mind.

    Vicious sister

    Rumor has it that the Sisters are dragging parts of the fallen somewhere far away, for their secret experiments. Heretics behave more understandably than everyone else, from a distance they will pass for the usual mehos, take up the usual trade, and advisers greet them. Puppeteers with their guard drones are usually engaged in some kind of research, but the Matrons behave quite aggressively.

    Deeply dependent

    In order not to go to the dustbin of history, the rusting heroes have to turn to the odious inhabitants of exotic worlds for help - somewhere they will share the secret of new technology, somewhere they want to get strangers samples for experiments, somewhere you will be replaced with an iron body kit for a biological one or an organic part implanted , somewhere they will print your backup copy on a scam printer, somewhere they will teach new abilities.

    The daughter of a spiral.

    A story looms roughly like this. Much Mekhosov was thought up, below you can take a look at the remaining:

    Mechos concepts

    Twisted Zero

    Quantum Joker


    Larva Styx



    In addition to the renderings for each machine, I recorded a demo mini-roller where they rotate around their axis. Rendered in Blender 2.79. This, of course, is not fast, but decided to write in 640 by 480 - it seems to be enough. I made a couple of first animations at 60 frames, then doubling each in a video editor. And then he began to make smoother, already at 120 frames.

    The rest of the mechos rotate here:

    Mechos animation

    And modelka can be inserted into the same voxel engine, for all kinds of modding and expansion of basic content. Here's a look at the Heretic, which tractor tractor poured through the converter into the game:

    On the other hand, there is no need to focus on the idea of ​​remastering the existing franchise, after all, this is the business of those people who have rights to the universe. Based on the same concept, you can build a completely new title, with blackjack and bio-mechos.

    In a telegram channel chat, a question was asked about what if mechos has a plant-biological nature, what about their guns. So to say, "is the weapon growing in the garden?" And then I thought, why shouldn’t the arms have paws, and just do be part of the evolutionary chain of Mehos. So an additional concept was invented:

    So, in the beginning we have an embryo that develops into a flying "insect", then turns into a weapon with legs. A weapon is a symbiont that attaches to the cars and allows them to shoot. After a while or after a certain number of owners, it swells and pupates. Then the pupa develops and at the end a machine appears from it.

    In parallel with inventing concepts, I threw models in Unity to take a ride. The main current Unity project was not suitable for this. And then that Neanger prototype again came in handy, in which the wheel equipment is already implied. Here is the result:

    The Unity prototype itself can be downloaded here . Button C switches the cameras (the next one after the main one, free - you can zoom in and out with the wheel), the R button restarts the location (useful, because the cars can easily get stuck and cannot jump yet), the arrows at the top of the screen switch between available mechanics (with interactive objects only the main one interacts fully).

    The demo weighs 65.9 MB, under a 64-bit OS.

    XPL project

    Now for the other prototype. He is also somewhat inspired by the Vanger. I wanted something strange, with a similar core idea, but not a copy. that is, I wanted to do exactly that “not Vanger”, but something of my own. With strange worlds, mysterious places, the search for unusual gizmos, discoveries and just do some gameplay that is not tied to the text. I usually like all kinds of representatives of the "racing" genre, if the process is not overloaded with unnecessary details and realistic surroundings. That is, arcades are attracted, not simulators. At the same time, winding up evenly cut circles is not a pleasant experience. I want to still openly explore a certain world. From this and decided to build on.

    So a certain story was drawn about a cybernetic hero plowing different worlds in search of the meaning of existence. This hero belongs to the race of cars with quantum intelligence, which should look like futuristic bikes with one wheel.
    Inside the car there is a semi-anti-gravity, which allows the bike to be weightless, provided that its wheel is in contact with a body of enormous mass (earth's surface).

    Started with cubes:

    Not really cubes, but you understood.

    After the first pokatushek, there was a certain understanding where all this can be developed. The model became more complicated, some outline of the location appeared:

    Bolid 2.0

    Starting location

    At that time, as a gameplay, a speedy study of the expanses of an abandoned world and the solution of some of its mysteries were supposed. Although I would not call it either racing or a puzzle, but the directions are close. I deliberately excluded the possibility of "post-shootings" - this is the simplest thing that is dragged into any games first and then everything degenerates into guns-shots-cartridges-combat. Not that this is bad, and maybe shooting will be added in the future, but first I wanted to see what comes up in the absence of a fight. Regarding some kind of text plot, some inventory and some other characters - this is all in question. I like the idea of ​​a certain delivery of goods between different points, but I would not want to introduce this in the form of trade in objects.

    Meanwhile, the first iteration of the idea looked something like this:

    A little later, continuing to comprehend Blender, I got to the modeling highpoly and decided to make a more technological bike model for XPL. Just a model for rendering, to be:

    But you understand that you want to immediately add a model to the engine to even see it at least banally, since rendering a simple animation in Cycles is already quite a long time. The problem is only in too many polygons, although modern engines can be fed and not so. However, I want it to be neat, beautiful and productive, which is called "according to the classics." Fortunately, the model was not a sculpture, besides, it was modeled through symmetry, so a full retopology was not required and the mesh optimization was quick:

    In addition to the new model, I thought about the fact that some levels could have a camera fixed over the hero. So there was a separate scene with a top view. True, the controls in it no longer worked as needed, because in the original the turns were controlled by the deviation of the mouse from the center and in another perspective a complete ride did not work. Well, this was a signal that management needs to be changed, at least within the framework of a new scene. As a result, I rewrote the control model and now the car rotates sideways to the side arrows, and up or down it goes forward or backward. Along the way, the constituent elements of the character have changed, due to which he began to ride better and, most importantly, he got the ability to “stick” to the surface without slipping off. I just wanted to achieve this effect, because it is better suited to reflect how the intended semi-anti-graphitic transport should behave. Yes, he has now become a real climber.

    I liked the new form of control more than the old one, despite the fact that the character controller element has its own nuances and does not participate in physics fully, like the previous version with a rigidbody. Therefore, in the scene with the camera behind the car, I also replaced the control. Then he assembled the following prototype, demonstrating new elements:

    Some screenshots

    In principle, the Unity shader system built into Unity allows you to customize the materials quite flexibly, however, I lacked some more colorful glare effects and I looked for different ways to make them easier. The solution turned out to be the matcap concept - in Blender there are sets of these simple textures that store a light map of the environment, which replace the materials of the whole scene, look good and are drawn in real time on the fly. They managed to achieve an even more juicy look modelka.

    Along the way, I took up the location for the top view, redoing it from scratch, drawing paths, mountains and arranging different new elements there:

    Since it’s difficult to navigate the surrounding landscape from above, a mini-map was asked for by itself. But this element in Unity is added relatively easily - in just a few clicks. And here is another thing that came to my mind that required a lot more time to implement, although here, too, as a result of the code, there was not much. I mean the automatic zoom, which moves away the main camera when the car accelerates - as in the first GTA. And now, when all this has already worked, the next, until the last assembly, contains all these new changes. Video cutting:

    The prototype is posted here . Space jump.

    It weighs about 45 MB, a version for a 64-bit OS.


    Well, that's all for now. I hope the trip was pleasant and not tiring.

    Good luck in developing your projects!

    Also popular now: