Black Hole Game – Spring Break Jam

How did this start?

Over this past spring break of 2017, I set up a small group project for people to do over break. This was part of the club that I am the current Vice President of, RIT Game Development Club. The process started out with a group meeting where we all picked out roles that we would like to fulfill. In the end, most people had preventing circumstances and the project fell on just me and one other person who recorded some audio for the game.

About the game

The basic mechanic of this game is that the player shoots “black holes” at the opposing player. trying to get the other player stuck and lose a life. The black holes merge together when they hit each other, creating large black holes. The larger the hole is, the more attraction force it will have. The orange obstacles are bouncy obstacles that can send players off into unwanted directions, or they might just save them from a couple close calls too.

See this project on GitHub

 

What makes Overwatch so good?

Overwatch logo

Overwatch is an award winning, unbelievably popular Esports title. But why? This is my take on some of the reasons why.

Every game is a different experience

There is a new and interesting challenge posed to the player every game based on the team compositions of both sides. It is a small puzzle of how to beat each character every game.

Beginner Friendly, yet Challenging to Veterans

The game is very easy to learn for beginners, and yet still hard to challenge for veteran players. This allows for a new players to not get frustrated when they first start playing. Blizzard even labels each character based on how hard they are to play to make it easier for newcomers.

Rewarding

There is a constant reward to the player. Even if a player is doing poorly, they are still rewarded by their Ultimate ability charging, or the objective being captured, not to mention experience and loot boxes. This takes down the frustration for players, and gives players a reason to keep coming back.

Meta Game

The meta game. There is a cyclical cycle of which here is “on top” in the current patch. This is very similar to League of Legends that regard, where with very minor patch tweaks, a lot of the community will shift towards one more powerful character. This then leads to people having to find a way to counter said character in new and interesting ways. The perfect unbalance.

Unique Characters

Every character in the game feels as though they have a unique personality and story. This is brought about by Blizzard comics, the community, and small voice lines hidden in each game. This adds a great aspect of people having to piece all the bits of what exactly the Overwatch story was. This doesn’t look like it will be coming to an end any time soon with the consistent updates and new characters.

Sound Design

Last but not least, the sound design in this game is fantastic. Every weapon, character, and action has a very distinctive and fun sound attached to. I really commend Blizzard in this regard, because there have been a lot of FPS games that just totally dropped the ball with sound.

Conclusion

Blizzard did a fantastic job with Overwatch, and they are doing a fantastic job of keeping up with the community, and I really hope that we can all learn something from Overwatch as game developers, I certainly did.

Prototype of “Ergo Witness”

 

What is Ergo Witness?

Ergo Witness is a 3D visualization of network data for a national computing security competition called CCDC. The video above is just one prototype concept that I have made in the past 6 or so weeks.

Who is the intended audience?

The intended audience for this visualization are people who understand what the competition is about, have a basic understanding of network traffic, but cannot necessarily follow all of the in depth updates through the competition.

What is happening?

The spheres represent a device on the network, and their color is determined by if they are on the red or blue team. If they are not on either team, then they are just orange for now. The teams are determined by if they have the same first 3 numbers of their IPv4 address the same. For example “192.168.137.100” would be in the same group as “192.168.137.1”.

The lines and particles that are being drawn in between represent netflow traffic, and their color varies based on the protocol.

The white glow surrounding some spheres represents their different sub net values. This is something that I have been really struggling to represent in a good way, and I am currently searching for a better alternative.

How do I get the data?

I am gathering the network data by running Bro and Packetbeat on a CentOS 7 box, and sending their logs to a Logstash server. I then make HTTP Post requests, which you can learn more about in my post here.

Why is this important?

There is a distinct lack of network data visualizations, especially interactive experiences. By using a game engine to do this there are endless possibilities for VR data visualisations that could be legitimate tools to help professionals do their jobs better. Imagine, one headset, with 360 degrees of viewing space to add as many virtual screens as the user wants. No longer would people need to but 15 different computer monitors, they could just by one headset. And if you developed for something like the Hololens, then the user can still see through to their keyboard and their surroundings. Amazing.