Games and prototypes by Ciro Continisio

UFHO2 is out on Desura Alphafunding!

After 9 months in development, we finally launched UFHO2 on Desura Alphafunding!
You have the chance to get it now at 40% off while in alpha/beta stage, and of course this purchase will become the full version when it becomes available.
You can get it for PC, Mac and Linux! Nobody’s left out!


What’s this “alpha100”?

This version of the game is called alpha100, and will be the base for the progress that will lead to version 1.0. Future alpha builds will be called alpha101, alpha102, and so on…
Speaking of features, here’s the changelog as it appears in the Desura build:

Added Commander palace stage
Added Void stage
Added a 2 seconds waiting time before starting the turn for the AI
Added a Quit button in the main menu
Added full galaxy map with missions submenu
Added interface animations in the main menu

Changed the banner for the resolution dialog
Changed the black overlay so now it’s shown on the very first turn as well
Changed the maximum player number for the Downed UFHO stage at two players
Changed the menu so it goes back to the last option after a match
Changed the stage selector in Local Match

Fixed the audio bug in the main menu

As you can see, there’s a couple of new stages to try in local multiplayer (both more or less dedicated to Commander Video), some tweaks to make the game more smooth, and a taste of what is to come in the story mode.

The game went live yesterday, and I already patched it once (it sported a nice game-breaking bug in one stage). I hope nobody encountered the bug yet, but anyway the guys at Desura were quick in getting the patch on the system during the night.

Kickstarter backers

If you backed UFHO2 during our Kickstarter campaign to receive the access to the alpha version (which means, 55$ and up) you already have a Desura key waiting in your inbox. Check the email (check the spam folder if you don’t see it!) or log into Desura with the same email you used during the campaign, and you will get the game.

We hope you will enjoy this first version of the game! Stay tuned and check the updates on Desura/IndieDB (or our Facebook page, or my Twitter) for more features coming!

New Alpha and IGF Submission

Submissions to the IGF 2013 are now closed, and we sent UFHO2 as an entry in the closing hours (so much near the end that we didn’t even receive the confirmation email :P).
The build we sent is also the new alpha version that I’m going to send to our backers of the campaign this evening, both on the iOS and desktop platforms.

Additions:– Tutorial!! An interactive and complete tutorial on the basics of the game.
– Voices for all the characters
– All the characters are unlocked
– AI is really though now, uses powerups LIKE A BOSS
– New improved Gem apparition, now 99% fair
– Posters on the walls in the main menu with references to our friend games (i.e. the ones where guest characters come from) – Can you spot them all 6?
– Minor improvements here and there, and also somewhere else

Also, on a side note, this morning the good folks at IndieDB/ModDB/Desura launched SlideDB, a new sister site specifically for touch/mobile games. And guess what, UFHO2 was 2nd in popularity right after his highness the Holy Minecraft! Cool!
(we’re third now, but well…)

So check your inboxes people, because UFHO2 is coming!

2D is not 3D (in case you didn’t know)

Hej hej! (swedish greeting)
I just wanted to tell everybody we’ve been working hard and have not escaped with the Kickstarter money.

No, really, today I want to talk about the switch of UFHO2 from 2D to 3D.
I was convinced that it was an easy change, and in terms of the overall work it is, because UFHO is ultimately made of simple geometries and the characters themselves are not humans with tons of bones, clothes, hair, etc – all things that are hard to render in 3D and that require a lot of work.
Our characters are mostly jellies, the UFHOs themselves are collection of repeated geometries (extruded hexagons :D) and so on.

This doesn’t mean that it’s all a piece of cake though.
One of the biggest issues I had was to port the point of view from 2D to 3D. Consider the old 2D top down view:

As you can see, the aliens were filling the entirety of the room that contained them. This was on purpose: there’s 49 rooms on screen at once, so they can have only a limited dimension. Making the alien as big as possible to keep its appearance interesting and meaningful, meant that he had to fill all the room.

When you port all of this in 3D, it doesn’t make sense. Imagine a room that’s 2,5 meters tall (I made it this tall so it can hold all the characters).
Now one of the first features I thought about when deciding to switch to 3D was the ability to rotate the camera a little bit to better appreciate the characters and the scenery. If you do, that’s how 2,5 meters tall rooms look like:

Additionally, if you see these rooms with the characters in them, it looks like they are in very, very narrow elevators where the walls are 2 cm from their faces. Which doesn’t make sense, because they are supposed to be rooms.

So a friend had a good idea: why not make the walls lower? Well, “lower” wasn’t the right word. But I could literally cut them, as if the player was seeing only a section of the UFHO.
This is a trick used by other games I guess, and it worked. First I cut them in half, getting this:

But it wasn’t enough. So I cut the area walls (the big hexagons) in half, and divided the rooms’ walls by 4:

This way, the UFHO looks like as if it had been sliced horizontally, while the characters, the gem and the powerups stand out beautifully and can be appreciated when the view is skewed. When you play normally, the camera stands almost perpendicularly to the playing area and gives all the clarity of the old 2D representation with a bit of the nice 3D depth:

The 3D is exaggerated with the help of external elements, which sit way above and below the UFHO to give additional depth of field. When you rotate the camera you see them on top of the UFHO, but if you just play they are arranged not to cover the playing area, so they don’t disturb the actual game (if you are a hardcore UFHO player you know you don’t want distractions).

A screen of another level, as you can see the virtual reality spotlights are mounted on structures that sit way above the floor, but you notice only when you rotate the view (as in this screen):

A lot of things in those screens are not final of course (the characters, first of all!). But you can get a hint of the direction where UFHO is headed.
Do you like it? Any suggestions? Voice them in the comments, we are listening!

Until next time.

The Gish in UFHO2

After a long hiatus, here’s the long promised character update that we’ve been delaying for some days now. Latest addition in the cameo rosters is…

(from The Gish)

The Gish is one of Edmund McMillen‘s creations when he was working at Cryptic Sea. This ball of tar will make his appearance in the campaign, and once unlocked, become controllable in multiplayer. We have chose to port Gish’s multiform capabilities in UFHO2 with a twist: you will not be able to control them! Read more in the gameplay section below.

Gishes are a species of dark, black balls of tar. Their bodies are highly unstable by nature, and their composition changes as well in a random fashion. Sometimes they have the body density as tar, then suddenly their molecules ease and they become very liquid. Suddenly, they may become sticky as glue and stick to any material they touch, until they change their status again.
It is known that Gishes cannot control their form and many think that they suffer from these sudden changes. Due to their very proud nature though, it will be very difficult to hear a Gish admit it.

Since the Gishes are highly unstable, they change density every turn.
On the first turn, any Gish character has 6 moves. The next turn he’ll become fluid and fast, getting 7 moves. On the following turn, his body will become sticky and moving will become difficult for him, and he’ll have only 5 moves to spend.

This three-turns phase repeats through the entire match, making the Gish a very unpredictable opponent, and a difficult character to master without careful planning.

So with Commander Video, the Super Crate Box critters, the brain from Cortex Command, the Goo balls, the Tetrobot and the Gish, we have our full roster of guest characters (for now). I cannot promise anything, but look forward for new cameo appearances in the near future.
For now, check out our Kickstarter campaign because only 4 days remain!

The Goo balls in UFHO2

After the big adventure that was the Global Game Jam (I’m going to post about it in a while) where I had the pleasure to work with Arvi Teikari and the Vlambeer guys, here’s the promised update. This time, some familiar faces are going to be unveiled, they are…

(from World of Goo)
From 2D Boy‘s World of Goo come the mythical balls of goo in their most classic grey guise. You will find them in the story mode in an UFHO that is boarded using a bridge made of goo balls. After beating them, they will be selectable in multiplayer as usual.
These harmless grey balls are part of a somehow simple race that more evolved species call “Gooo”. The name suggests that they are ancestors of the Gooys in the evolution tree, but they also share two bright eyes with the Jeevils. In fact, research shows they may be the species that originated both of these aforementioned races, which developed different evolution traits after being exposed to different climates and ecosystems.
It is known in fact that the Gooys developed a bigger and visible brain that gives them increased reasoning capabilities.
The Gooos instead tend to be simple-minded and stay in big packs. They also show a tendency of building high structures when in big numbers, getting one on top of the other, and stay in this position for a long time.
The reason for this behavior is uncertain. Some Gooy scientists affirm they have observed that they tend to do it near pipes, but this theory has no scientific ground and other Gooys would shrug their shoulders at this claim, if only they had any.
The Gooos have 6 moves like many other races.
Their peculiarity though is that they leave a goo trail behind them, each time they move. If the trail is not broken by rotating rooms, they can use their last move during a turn to sling back in the room they started from, using this goo trail as if it was an elastic to quickly go back on their path to save moves on the next turn.
If a goo trail is broken by the rotation of a room or area, the Gooo can only go back as far as the trail is still intact.
Don’t forget the World of Goo is available in the latest Humble Bundle! Don’t let the name fool you, it’s for Android as well as for PC, Mac and Linux.
This is all for now, stay tuned because another guest is coming tomorrow.
Also, we’re into the last week of the campaign. We’re almost at 50%, help us in reaching the goal before the deadline!

The brain from Cortex Command in UFHO2

Day four of our guest characters brings you none other than…

(from Cortex Command)

From DataRealms award-winning game in the making, Cortex Command, comes one of our weirdest guests. As the name implies, this is just a brain in a glass bowl. However, just as in Cortex Command this seemingly harmless body part is hooked to some technology that helps it move, and has the ability to mind-control other living beings.

There was once a great Gooy UFHO commander, who was so able in navigating mazes that he could single-handedly (as if he had hands) outsmart two or three opponents at a time. He was a brave one and always served the Gooy space fleet through all his life.
When he died, the scientists of the fleet developed a very advanced machine to keep his intelligence alive. Their goal was to preserve his navigational experience, to study it and use it from time to time to help the fleet in difficult moments.
The machine seems to have enhanced the brain mental abilities somehow, and scientists have mentioned that they feel like the brain is talking to them at times.

The brain has developed strange ESP powers, so he can control the opponent once per turn. This means that he has 5 moves in total, and as a last move (only the last) he can move another character once. With this possibility, he can move opponents away from the gem, or make space for himself to move (though his turn is now finished).

He can also move a teammate if the game is a 2vs2 match, this way opening new strategic avenues for smart team-players…

I’m thrilled to have the brain from Cortex Command on board, thanks to Dan Tabár. As always with these external characters, they come from games that I deeply love and that influenced me somehow. I got the alpha of Cortex Command years ago and I’m looking forward to see it finished. Maybe we’ll launch UFHO2 in the same period, who knows!

Don’t forget to back UFHO2 on Kickstarter… Time is tight! Over.

The Tetrobot in UFHO2

A new challenger appears from France, this time it’s…

(from Blocks That Matter)

From the minds of William David and Guillaume Martin of Swing Swing Submarine, the Tetrobot is the protagonist of the cute and difficult platform/puzzle game Blocks That Matter, for XBLIG and PC, Mac and Linux.
Redubbed “Hexabot” in UFHO2, as the other guests he’ll be both a race (even though he’s a robot) in the story and a selectable character in multiplayer.

Built by the Renegooys, the Hexabots are utility robots that help in cleaning and keeping tidy the UFHOs. They are not that sophisticated but they contain the basic algorithms to navigate the mazes of rooms and corridors UFHOs are made of, and get to another spot in the least time possible, for efficiency reasons.
When programmed to look for the Gem, they become difficult to overcome thanks to the elaborate calculations they do about the shortest path.
As if this wasn’t enough, Hexabots are equipped with a frontal drill that they can use in case of emergency to pass from one room to the other when there’s no other way.

Hexabots are very good at finding the shortest path to Gems, but not as good at exploiting the characteristics of the different powerups.

Their specialty is that they can use the drill once per turn as if it was a normal move. This grants them the possibility to move from one room to the other even where there’s no connection, at any time during their turn.
They cannot move through different areas this way though, as areas have reinforced walls that cannot be perforated by the Hexabot’s compact drill.

I hope you like this last addition as I do, Blocks That Matter is a game I really appreciated and that kept me playing for a long time.
Until next time!

The Super Crate Box critters in UFHO2

Another day, another new character. This time’s the turn of…

(from Super Crate Box)

The ‘adorable’ skull-shaped critters that swarm in Vlambeer‘s hit Super Crate Box will inhabit abandoned UFHOs (such as the crashed UFHO currently used for 2vs2, if you have played the game) and be selectable for multiplayer.

These creatures are little carnivorous predators that move in small packs, and they can be found in plains on different planets (it is said that they hide in spaceship’s cargos, thus their presence in more than one ecosystem).
They are usually not dangerous for anybody bigger than a cat, as they only prey on very small animals. Nevertheless, these critters developed a love for the Gems and will go after them blindly when they see one.

When met during the story, the critters will be quite peculiar: the player will face two of them at a time. This means that after the player’s turn, each of them will have his own mini-turn.

They are so small that two of them can fit in one room, so they don’t block each other. Being so small though, they have only 3 moves available to them.
Being primitive creatures, they don’t conceive the use of powerups: in fact together with the Tremodillos, they are the only characters in UFHO that will not use powerups at all.

In multiplayer, the player will be able to use them but as for other races he will be limited to one. The critter will have 6 moves as usual, and one special perk: whenever the opponent gets a Gem, he becomes infuriated for one turn and gains two additional moves (only for that turn).

This is all for now, next one will come soon… in the meantime, keep supporting us on Kickstarter! 😀

Commander Video in UFHO2

As teased several times before in other posts, I said that several characters from other known indie games would make their appearance in UFHO2. Finally it’s time to say the names, and the first is:

(from the BIT.TRIP series)

The first guest star, provided by the nice guys at Gaijin Games, is the black alien known as Commander Video, starring in the awesome BIT.TRIP series (I personally love BEAT and RUNNER). He will not be only one character, but an entire race of aliens in the UFHO2 universe.
You’ll meet Commander Video during the later stages of the single-player campaign, and you’ll be able to play as him in multiplayer matches. He’ll be kinda powerful too, not without some downsides though.

The ‘Commanders’ are an ancient race of aliens, which was thought to be extinct long time ago. They were the first form of intelligent jellies, and all the jelly-like races in the universe are thought to descend from them.
There are also legends on how the blue Gems are actually an artifact created by Commanders, to encase and use the power of all the living things in the universe.

In recent times, traces of Commanders have been reported by an UFHO flying too close to a black hole, and getting sucked in. The Gooys on board reported via radio – before disappearing – about the casual encounter with a very dark friendly race, with one white glowing eye. They sad that even if they were black, these wordless creatures left a trail of coloured spots as they moved, as if they were made of the matter of every living jelly being.

When compared to the other races in the UFHO universe, Commanders are very quick and smart.

In fact, they can move 7 times during a turn (vs. the 6 moves of most other races). Unfortunately, being not used to modern mechanisms, rotating an area costs to them 3 moves instead of 2.

When talking about powerups they make very good use of them, and their increased move count allows them to use expensive powerups and still have some moves to spend to complete their strategy. This makes them very complicated opponents to overcome, although trapping them in the wrong area can slow the Commanders down considerably.

Just for the record, some time ago a character (a Jeevil) from UFHO appeared in BIT.TRIP Runner, although he was quite hidden. Here’s the proof!

We hope you enjoyed this small surprise! Keep following these updates because Commander Video is not the only guest character, there’s still 3 more to go! Can you guess from which games?

UFHO2 on Kickstarter

After a couple of months of preparations, UFHO2 has been put on Kickstarter to raise funds for its development. For those who don’t know what Kickstarter is, or similar sites like it, it is a relatively new way of doing fundraising. People discover project they like, they pledge money to make the project a reality, and if the needed amount is met by the deadline, the project creator gets the money.
In return, people who donate get a bunch of rewards for their early help.
For UFHO2, the plan is quite simple: raise the money by february next year, develop the game in 5-6 months, and then reward everybody! (some rewards may come earlier)

As an example of rewards, pledging 10$ (it’s like, less the amount of money you spend on a night out) you will get a digital download of the game for both PC and Mac + a big thanks on the game’s website with your name under “People who made it possible”. For 20$ you get the soundtrack too, and a hand-written postcard to thank you for the effort. From 30$ and up we start with the physical goodies: in random order, a t-shirt, the physical copy of the game and soundtrack, stickers, badges, posters, up to a hand-painted Xbox 360 controller, or some other cool stuff.

So, if you like the game and you feel like helping us, this is the way to go:

Alternatively, speak about the campaign to friends who could like it, and share it into social networks and similar.

Also, stay tuned because we will be releasing updates to the campaign, with surprises to come!

Let’s make this happen!