Feb 042015

Tokyo Cityscape is a high quality skybox of the Tokyo skyline for use with Unity3D. The package contains a high resolution version (2048 x 2048 pixel) as well as a standard resolution version (1024 x 1024 pixel). Also included is the layered Photoshop file to give you absolute freedom to customize the skybox as you are able to exchange the clouds layer and make other modifications.

Package Contents:

  • 2048 x 2048 High Resolution Skybox
  • 1024 x 1024 Standard Resolution Skybox
  • Layered Photoshop file (2048 x 2048)

Available at www.assetstore.unity3d.com/#!/content/29081

Jan 232015


Random Chatter for Unity is out now on the Unity Asset Store!

Random Chatter is a C# script that adds random audio chatter to your player character (or to any other game object). You can use it to add instant random player chatter to your game easily to give your game a more personal and lively touch. The script is lightweight and very easy to integrate and provides several options to fine-tune the random chattering.

Give your game’s player character instant Duke Nukem-like quotes or make your Role-playing game’s party members talk randomly! Allows fine-tuning the delay between triggered sounds, random volume and pitch, as well as the controlled repeating of sounds.

Unity Asset Store Link

Random Chatter Web Demo
Random Chatter Documentation


Jan 092015

Three of my Ambient music tracks have been published on the Unity Asset Store for use as game soundtrack. These three suspense and dark pieces have been composed generally always with the thought of being an atmospheric soundtrack in the back of my mind. The three tracks are:

  1. Haunted Tunnels
  2. Sanzu No Kawa
  3. The Serpent Queen

All three tracks can also be previewed on my SoundCloud page. “Sanzu No Kawa” can also be purchased on Bandcamp and “The Serpent Queen” can be purchased on Bandcamp as part of the Ethereal Affairs EP.

Oct 222013

It has been silent here for over a year, unsurprisingly. It has been over a year now since I lost Izumi. This has been a very tough year to get through! When you lose your partner, you’re not only losing her but also countless other things: you lose everything that could have been for you and her together in the future! There have been many moments in the past year when I wished I would die. Honestly I’m still pondering about that. Life has mostly lost its purpose and feels very empty, even one year later.

So it’s not surprising that all of my interests were frozen as they became completely meaningless to me, including the development on my game project(s). Slowly, very slowly I’m regaining some interest in approaching these projects again. But ultimately I’m asking myself what the purpose of games is at all. Games and game development, among other things, have lost a great deal of appeal for me since the profound experience of this loss.

It’s kind of like you have been dreaming all life long and suddenly your eyes have been opened. You start to contemplate seriously about much more profound questions such as why are we even here and why does anything exist at all. So my interest naturally shifted to learn more about the biggest question of all questions. I’ve become far more spiritual, realizing that everything material is only of temporary existence. In my belief the only thing that is eternal is the spirit and the mind itself.

So what is there to do in life that could be ultimately of value for you? Personally I tend to believe in Rebirth (or Reincarnation) as this makes a lot of sense and while it has many implications it also answers many questions. I’m not particularly religious as I tend to see religions as something that has been created over thousands of years as an outcome of mostly naive human existence. I’m not against religions either as they undoubtedly add a lot of diversity and color to life. Anyone who is against Religion is obviously only thinking in black and white! My wife has been Buddhist (although non-practicing like most others). Buddhism has been by far the most tolerant religion that I came across so if there is any religion I would align myself with, it is Buddhism, not at last out of sympathy to my deceased wife.

In any case, thinking about existence with rebirth in mind changes a lot of the perspective toward existence. To sum it up, since we are originally spiritual beings who are reborn over and over again, there seems to be no beginning and no end, otherwise we have to ask: where are the spirits born and who gives birth to them? I’ve contemplated a lot about this and read several books relating to topics like these, some of them very bad ones and other ones trying to get further, but ultimately I came to the point that there was no beginning to time and space. And there will be no end. There is in fact only Infinity. While Infinity is quite impossible to imagine for us, I tend to think that Nothingness is even harder to imagine. String Theory and any other highly theoretical stuff regarded, you will come to the conclusion that the cosmos could not be created out of nothing. Strings and (mem)branes are still something and not nothing. So if you’re so physically-empirically inclined to claim that String Theory explains the beginning of existence I’m sorry to tell you that it won’t cut it for me. Not in the slightest!

Like many others today I first question religious beliefs and theory about the beginning of existence which can’t be proven in any way. String Theory and the Big Bang Theory are after all just theories. And highly hypothetical ones on top of that. It doesn’t prove anything at all when a rock star scientist shows up with his highly complex mathematical formulas to try to prove anything. There is no prove. I’m not impressed! It could all as well just be wrong! I’d hate to be called a Skeptic, though. Some people decorate themselves with this title, even though by now it has so many negative connotations to it. The word Skeptic has been polluted by modern use. A Skeptic is likely to lean to a “no” answer every time. I resist this “skeptic” tag because leaning toward a “no” answer is a prejudice itself. Luckily I have a mind that is open and tolerant enough to take into consideration anything that we don’t know, be it that we don’t know yet or that what we never will know. Here’s a simple question:

You stand in front of a house. Somebody else is standing behind the house. Just because you can’t see him, does it mean for you that he isn’t there?

This brings it to the point! There is no purpose in arguing about the metaphor used here! It’s as simple as that!

So much for the philosophical side of things. As I said most things have lost a lot of appeal for me. Because of this I haven’t so far continued to work on my role-playing game project named Trailed Alliance and this site has been stagnant ever since. That said, I’m slowly regaining interest in continuing to work on it. This has to do with my above question:

What is there to do in life that could be ultimately of value for you?

After you die, after you’re gone, what did you do in life that was of great value for you and what do you want to leave back for anyone to remember you?

Most people will not achieve anything great and will disappear back into oblivion without being remembered for anything (except from their most-closely related family and friends). But that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t try to achieve something greater.

So after I’m gone, what is left from me and will anyone care? Not unless I create something that will have at least a small impact and since I see art as something timeless and games as a form of art and since game development is my expertise I can imagine that developing a great game that isn’t forgotten two days later could be a start. This is where the scope comes in! This is where creating a great story starts to be significant!

Trailed Alliance is quite an enormous effort with a large scope and I’m still working out the main story line which, by the way, has no doubt been influenced by the experience of my loss and the shaping of my belief.

Meanwhile people sometimes tell me that this is far too much to deal with as a game project and that you need to “kill your darlings”. It’s amazing how people can say such things as if they had some right for deciding over your intellectual property. If George Lucas had listened to these people we would never had seen Star Wars. J. K. Rowling would have never put together Harry Potter … <insert long list of other great artistic achievements here!> … So, if I can give you an advice: don’t kill your darlings! Do what you love to do and keep working on that! Don’t focus on being popular! That will come by itself if it’s well earned! After all, you want to be remembered for something great after you are long gone, don’t you?!

Oct 162012

When I started this website I thought there would be no need to write about personal matters. All this site was made for was to write about my game project developments but the recent fatal event in my life made me rethink about this.

About two weeks ago, on Sunday the 30. September 2012 my dear wife Izumi whom I have been married for over eight years passed away after a long battle with cancer. She has left her family, her friends and me behind full of grief and deeply saddened for a very long time. There are no words that can possibly describe the sadness I’m feeling now that she is gone, about that she has left so quickly and unexpected and that she still had half of her lifetime before her.

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Aug 302012

I’ve played a fair amount of space-themed games by now and almost all of them provide a poor idea of the scale of space. Most games that feature space travel let you hop quickly from one world to another in a matter of seconds with a visual presentation that gives the impression that the two worlds must be closely lying together. The first few games involving space travel did this mistake although they are being excused due to the technical restrictions of early hardware. But still recent games like for example the acclaimed Mass Effect gives a laughable and misleading vision about the vastness of space. This always bothered me because the amazing, mind-blowing feel for how gigantic space actually is gets lost completely. The only game I know of which does this quite well is EVE Online. In EVE Online, to travel from one spot in the playable space to another takes quite a couple of turns and twists. Its still easy enough by simply choosing your destination on the map and then the Autopilot will take you there while it still feels like a long journey from one place to the other. And approaching a planet is visually nothing short of awesome.

Diagram of the The Local Group – A good inspiration for the Starmap navigation in Trailed Alliance.

In Trailed Alliance I want to portray space differently than how most other games of the theme did it. The space should appear to be of much greater scale so that the player gets an idea about just how big space is. On the other hand space travel in TA shouldn’t be a chore so a decent enough navigation system will be required. The game is supposed to feature a space map navigation system that provides a far more immersive vision toward intergalactic travel and the vast distances that lie between worlds. Traveling between two worlds that are far apart – say, for example two worlds in two different star systems that lie far apart – isn’t a matter of mouse-clicking on the destination and arrive there after five seconds, it’s a matter of making sure that you have enough fuel, your astrogation charts are up-to-date, you have a capable pilot, and you can wait a minute or two because the game will actually force a time delay on your travel to make the distance appear more realistic and traveling in space more challenging and therefore more considerable. Of course during such travel times you don’t want to be forced to stare at your screen, being unable to do anything. The solution to that is that instead you are able to walk and interact around your ship during such a flight, being able to talk with other party members and do various other things aboard your vessel. When arriving at your destination (or in case your flight was interrupted by pirates or other evildoers) you are notified and can continue what you were doing, free to dock or land whenever ready.

Another difference to many other space RPGs is that you can not only travel to strictly set destinations but to just about any coordinate in space. This gives space travel in Trailed Alliance yet another level of challenge because you have to be careful to where you hyper jump or you could end up being stranded somewhere in the vastness of space. And while getting stranded doesn’t mean the end of the game it’s not a pleasant experience either. Here again finding a good pilot (or learn the Pilot class yourself) is key to successful space travel.

There’s a lot of potential in space-based gameplay but none of the few more recent Sci-Fi RPGs like SWKotoR or Mass Effect make any use of it. For me space travel feels very static in these games, just being able to select the destination and being brought automatically there with a short space jump FMV. No risk of being intercepted by pirates or authorities, no risk of being thrown out of hyperspace because a space region has recently changed due to an asteroid field, no risk that the hyperdrive breaks down, etc., in other words: boring! Trailed Alliance will feature turn-based combat not only on the ground but also in subspace being fought between spaceships. We had something similar in older games of the genre like Starflight and Hard Nova but it was still rather primitive, again, restricted by technical limitations. There is also the chance of traveling around in space without any definitive destination and hitting something unexpected like an undiscovered planet where yet another adventure awaits. Or the PCs are thrown out of hyperspace because they were nearing too close to a back hole (yet another case for having a good pilot or navigator).

There will be a whole lot going on and possible in the vast Trailed Alliance space. At least I want to make sure there’s a lot more than what similar games offered so far.


Aug 142012

The stats system used in Trailed Alliance is a custom hybrid system that uses a mix of character classes and skills that can be combined. It’s not a completely free form skill-based system but instead will introduce professions (classes) from which the player and NPCs can posses one or more. Every profession features a tree of boxes. There’s a novice box, a master box and four tiers where each has four boxes. Each of these boxes can contain a selection of skill mods and/or abilities (and sometimes crafting schematics) that are granted when buying the box with skill points. The skill points are a pool of a set amount of points that every character possesses. So buying tier boxes will draw skill points from this pool and once the pool reaches zero the player will not be able to buy any more levels.

This way the player can invest skill points into one or more professions  but only novice professions are accessible from the beginning. On top of that are the advanced professions and for these it’s required to complete several tiers of a related novice profession and for some specific advanced professions it will even be necessary to complete all tiers of a novice profession (which means that for some very powerful advanced professions you will need to learn all 16 boxes of a related novice profession, of course incl. its novice and master boxes).

If this system sounds familiar, chances are that you have been a player of the earlier versions of Star Wars Galaxies because this is exactly how the excellent hybrid system worked in Star Wars Galaxies before the NGE overhaul dumbed down the game to a very basic class-based system that was based on WoW.

I might be doing some modifications to the system but generally TA will feature a very similar system like explained.

The idea of this system is that the player can learn as many professions and skills as the skill points limitation allows him. Like this the player can for example learn two full tiers of the Marksman novice profession to be able to start the Commando advanced profession while at the same time he can learn the Pilot novice profession to start any of the advanced professions that are based on Pilot, for example Navigator or Gunner.

The player can always dispose any finished tier boxes later to regain back the skill points invested into it. Like this it’s possible to try out different skills and professions. Experience gained for the tier box will not completely be reset but neither will stay at the reached amount, otherwise one could switch around between professions too easily without any challenge.

Some advanced professions will require to have full tier boxes in two novice professions. This is to balance out some advanced professions that can be quite powerful.

With this hybrid system the player can create his own character template consisting of one or more professions. You could for example create a Marksman/Spy/Assassin, a Pilot/Scout/Survivalist or a Psychic/Telepathist/Rogue.

If this all still sounds too confusing check out this diagram of the Artisan novice profession tier structure. While not yet complete it illustrates the structure quite nicely …

Aug 072012

Or how to create a Galaxy that doesn’t fall apart two days later

Trailed Alliance is the title of a Science Fiction / Space Opera-themed Role-playing game I’ve been working on for some time now. The game’s story takes place in a fictional galaxy far away from current time and place where the main character is the leader of a motley crew of mercenaries who are on the run from corrupt, authoritarian forces.

In case this scant premise sounds like a serious and hard-boiled story, it isn’t intended to be such one. The setting and atmosphere of the game will drive the style for an exciting, futuristic realm that is far more fantastic and peculiar than any average Sci-Fi story. The game draws inspirations from some of the more popular works of the genre, like Star Wars, Bladerunner, Alien, even Star Trek and of course from some of my older CRPG favorites like Sentinel Worlds: Future Magic, Hard Nova, Hired Guns, and Star Wars Galaxies. In case of Star Wars there are many Pen & Paper supplements  from the Star Wars D6 and D20 Role-playing games that are a very good source of inspiration since they provide an enormous amount of detail on the Star Wars extended universe. That’s a great treasure trove not only for Star Wars fans but also for game designers like yours.

Indeed there are quite some parallels between Star Wars and Trailed Alliance. To begin with, everything takes place within the confinements of a single galaxy which is completely fictional (and which of course is huge and therefore offers enough room to keep us busy for approx. the next 25 millennia). There are no references to Earth or anything Earth-related. Humans and any other species happen to exist in this universe since an indefinite time, just like in Star Wars. There is intergalactic space travel that can take hours or days for traveling between worlds via some sort of hyperspace. There are androids, ferocious creatures, state-of-the-art spaceships and technology, alien planets, intriguing factions and fantastic adventures. There will be no Force or magic. Instead, Trailed Alliance will feature psychic skills and abilities, something that I personally find far more graspable than hokey magical stuff or The Force in Star Wars. Magic is actually a bit too Deus Ex Machina for my taste. Uncanny, psychic abilities instead sound like being more restricted yet they can be powerful and believable enough to be awesome.

The game’s story will take off in a small part of the galaxy where three sectors lie closely to each other. Two of them, the Telnor and the Marenis sectors (names are tentative) are in a constant state of inter-sectorial cold war. The third one is an independent sector named Kessebour whose authorities have their own agenda regarding the current events. The player takes on the role of a soldier who is on duty in the Telnor sectorial military forces and whose platoon is dispatched to a nearby world that is disputed between Telnor and Marenis. The unfolding events will lead the PC (player character) on a journey through the three sectors and beyond where he/she has to ultimately uncover a conspiracy of superior magnitude. On the way the PC will meet many foes and ally’s (some of whom are going to join the party), discover many exotic places and uncover intricate plots (so far for the theory *cough*!)

Trailed Alliance will be a game for the fan of Space Opera and the connoisseur of oldschool role-playing games that make use of detailed statistics and where combat is turn-based, with a great deal of focus on tactical fighting that involves the whole party. The hybrid class/skill system offers many skills and classes and allows for creating interesting multi-class characters. A vast galaxy offers a huge amount of possibilities and Trailed Alliance is bound to feature a lot of gameplay freedom: Besides the typical RPG mechanics like fighting, healing, dialogue, traveling, etc. the PCs are able to steal ships, hunt or tame wild creatures, fly through subspace, fight or board other ships, land on planets, walk (or drive) around on their surface, discover unknown worlds, camp in the wilderness, mine resources, craft items, eat and drink, check into a hotel on the Manressa Orbital station while their ship is in the dry dock, and watch the three moons of T’ynar rise on the crimson firmament.

By now you will probably realize what I mean when I wrote that Trailed Alliance is a rather ambitious project. It is quite an undertaking, yes, but it is just as much fun to design this world.

Jan 222011

Welcome to hexagonstar.com, a website that focuses on independent game development and game design topics. Here I will cover my adventures while developing some of my game concepts.

While I’m working as a programmer during the day, this site will by all means reflect my hobbyist side toward game development and covers my very own, sometimes quite ambitious game projects. I’m going to cover especially the development of my mammoth game project titled Trailed Alliance which is a Science Fiction/Space-Opera-themed role-playing game with a big scope.

There are oodles of pages that can be filled by this game project alone but occasionally I’m going to write about two other projects that are on the rooster, one is a Cold War-themed turn-based Strategy Game (TBS) for which I’m still trying to find the right title and the other one is a cozy horror-themed online, multiplayer adventure/first-person game with the tentative title Lieges of the Haunted Manor. These two other projects are rather ambitious as well and I might start working on one or the other depending on my mood. I’m going to use this site mainly as a means of documenting my work (and progress) and these projects but it will undoubtedly also be a great vehicle to communicate with other dedicated game developers.

So have a seat and enjoy the tour! And grab a large cup of coffee, this will get very involved!

Nov 192010

Welcome back to the RPG Design series where I try to talk a bit about the work and progress on my game project, the development of the darkish, space -themed computer role-playing game Stellar Conspiracy: Entanglements Of The Marenis Sector Trailed Alliance (working title).

In the last part I’ve introduced the character design template I’m using and mentioned to post a character example next time which I’m doing hereby while introducing you to Eliza Retinienne, a Gessjanian security systems expert from the planet Shielle, a small world bordering on the fringe of the Suulun Sector which in turn stretches over a large area of the southern galaxy.

Eliza is one of the key characters in the game’s story and one of the characters whom the player is supposed to encounter and who eventually joins the player’s party. She is also supposed to receive her own side-quest in which the player can engage to help her out of the threatening situation she is currently in.

Note that this sheet is basically just here to give an example of how the character design template can be used to shape out a character so I suggest not to look too critically into the details. Things can (and will) still change and also the sheet is not filled out completely, for one reason because some details are irrelevant for this character and for another that I haven’t found any other suitable details for her yet. Either way I hope this gives a good example of how to utilize the template!

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