Robert Hornbek

Game Development & Exploration

Posts Tagged ‘Flash’

Arc Fantasy: Skill VS Luck Shot

Posted by rHornbek on November 5, 2011

In the wake off everything else that is going on I have been thinking about another exciting project code named Arc Fantasy (AF).  So not to waist the creative juices, I have been keeping notes and mulling over some of the gameplay specifics for the concept.  Recently I have been trying to decide if the combat system should be based on primarily on Skill or Luck. Arc Fantasy’s combat system is based on the familiar trajectory mechanics of games like Angry Birds, Worms and the original Tank Wars, with of course our own twist which I will disclose at a later time.

An example of a Skill and Luck based mechanic for Arc Fantasy.

In both examples above it is Blue’s turn and he wants to throw a rock at Orange.  Like other trajectory based games, Blue must set the angle (purple arrow) at which the projectile (the rock) will be thrown and set the velocity to determine how much force is applied.  The velocity will also have an effect on how far or near the rock could travel, but to simplify things we are going to assume the velocity never changes in either of these examples, because it is the method of aiming that is really in question.

In the Skill Shot example, the user would only have a very general idea where the projectile will travel based on the angle of the arrow.  The same angle however would always send the projectile in the same direction, creating consistency.  That consistency combined with experience would generate a Skill for Users to choose the best angle for each target they confront.  Despite the limited information given by the arrow, Users would get better at predicting where the projectile will land.  This is the most popular method used by most of the games described above.

In the Luck Shot example Blue is given the full range of information, except the projectile’s movement is NOT consistent.  In the example above (right) Blue knows the shortest distance the projectile could land (lower purple line) and the furthest distance the projectile could land (upper purple line).  The user has no control over where the projectile will land, only a matter of where it could land making it a matter of Luck.


The primary reason these mechanics are in question is because of their effect on another mechanic I am implementing into the game; action specific accuracy.  Users would be given the opportunity to choose between less powerful but more accurate attacks or very powerful less accurate attacks.  In the Skill Shot case, the arrow would get much longer, giving the User a much better idea where they are sending the projectile.  In the Luck Shot case the cone would become much more narrow reducing the possible places the projectile could deviate to increasing the chance of success.

To be clear I intend to take a little from each of these mechanics, but what I am really interested in is what other people think about these two concepts, and which one they would be more compelled by.  I should have more information about the project and its other systems and features soon.


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Kernips: Not Dead!

Posted by rHornbek on February 1, 2011

Alas it is February and Kernips has not been released to the general public, and here is why:

Near the end of our production (some time in December) key contributors to the project fell on hard time and had to allocate their time to more life saving activities, such as making enough money to eat!  This drastically reduces our ability to complete the game at the level of quality we would have liked.

So we had to make a decision, to ultimately end development of the game, even in its underdeveloped state (play sad music here).

A month or so later I had my birthday and for my birthday I was given an updated version of the game!

New Art Oh My!

There are a few outstanding issues that should get addressed, but we are all still dedicated to completing the game… at some point.

On one hand we can view the development of Kernips as a failure, not meeting our final deadline and not making any sort of return.  This is not uncommon to indie project, most of which never get played or completed at all!

On the other hand, we started this project as an experiment with no intention of creating anything great.  But when we discovered the potential that we and the game had we pushed ourselves a little further.

In the end we are happy to have come this far and glad we experienced the pitfalls that we did.

I plan to post more about the state of Kernips as time progresses, but don’t hold your breath.

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Kernips: Gameplay Demo

Posted by rHornbek on September 15, 2010

Take a look at this rough gameplay demo I put together today.  I plan on making a much more thorough demo sooner than later, but this should be a quick fix.  Keep in mind you are basically looking at the skeleton of the game.  Nearly all of our resources are going into adding skin to this monster so that it will be much more presentable.  I hope you enjoy it!

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Kernips: FaceBook Page

Posted by rHornbek on September 2, 2010

In case you have not seen the official Kernips logo, here it is!!!

By Uncharted Interactive. Kernips is a puzzle game where users cultivate and grow precocious plants called Kernips. As they mature the Kernips may be plucked from the ground revealing precious gems for points. Points can then be spent to purchase additional Kernip seeds and utilities to further the development of the garden.

However, this post is intended to announce the grand opening of the official Kernips Fan Page on FaceBook!  This is our first attempt outside of my blog to present Kernips to a wider range of the community.  The goal is to develop awareness of the game and hopefully interest.  Later on when we decide to raise some money to bring the project to completion we will have venues to do so… oops spoiler!  Keep you eyes open and spread the word.  Cheers!

Click here to check it out!

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Kernips: Growing

Posted by rHornbek on June 23, 2010

Kernips' art progression... will you be a part of the next step?


If you are interested in working on the Kernips project you are in luck!  We are currently looking for individuals who can collaborate in the following roles…


We are currently seeking an additional artist who can help catch many of the art tasks up with the rest of the team.  The individual with the following traits would be most valuable…

  • Experience Animating
  • Knowledge of Color Theory
  • Familiarity with Adobe Flash would be a great benefit, but not a must.

The individual’s responsibilities would include collaborating with the other artist to add additional art assets and update much of the art that currently exists in the game.


We are currently seeing an additional programmer to help improve some of the existing code and help with the work load when we begin adding necessary features for the FaceBook application.  An individual with the following traits would be most valuable…

  • Experience with any scripting language, preferably Action Script, Java or C++.

All Roles

In either case, individuals are desired to have the following traits…

  • Willingness to work on and complete an unpaid project.
  • Willingness to learn what ever may be necessary to complete your tasks.
  • Consistent communication skills.
  • Familiarity or passion for casual games.
  • Eagerness to make the project their own and have fun doing it!

If you are interested in participating in the development of Kernips, please contact me asap!

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Game Experience: Update

Posted by rHornbek on June 23, 2010

Recently I added 2 new titles to my Game Experience page.  I found them both fascinating an inspirational for their designs, I’m sure you will be rather familiar with at least one of them!

I am lucky not to have been beaten senseless for taking so long to eventually play Portal, but honestly besides the hype I did not feel an urgency to play it.  However I really had no reason not to once Steam made it available to play for free.  And it should come as so surprise that I loved it and am glad I finally played it!

I must add that while most people praise the game for its creative gameplay, what I found most fascinating was the Aperture Laboratory setting and GLaDOS’ dialog.  Now I am looking forward to its sequel teased in the video below!

At first glance the browser game Transfermice does not seem all that interesting.  After playing it for even a few minutes you quickly learn the nature of the game and the nature of humans operating in a large unorganized group.  The object of the game is simple, get a piece of the cheese and return it to the mouse hole.  Of course in the flurry to achieve this everyone ends up killing one another or themselves.  This video should give you an idea what I am talking about…

Of course you really cannot understand Transfermice without playing it yourself, which I highly recommend.  I might add that in addition to dozens of player controlled mice there is always one Shaman during each challenge.  The Shaman has the power to conjure objects that are meant to aid in the objective.  However most Shamans abuse this power and typically use it to destroy the other mice and take the cheese for themselves.

While the game has many fascinating gameplay elements it was ultimately executed pretty poorly.  I had a concept for a game that played off of human nature and now feel I should revisit the idea after seeing how it was done in Transfermice.  I look forward to reporting on that in the future.

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Kernips: Going Beta!

Posted by rHornbek on June 3, 2010

Starting (June 2nd) many of our friends and family will begin to play Kernips for the first time in our first ever Kernips Beta!  Each of our 15 or so tester got an email from me containing a game guide and the game itself.  I am hoping by the time we are done the game will be self explanatory enough that I will only have to send out the game.

This will be a great opportunity for our team to hear what others think about the game and hopefully the feedback will help make Kernips a lot better.

Latest Look of Kernips!

Some of the major changes we made for this version is art.  This includes new images for each of the Kernips, their full life cycle, bench items, fire and water effect.

For the most part gameplay is right on target.  Based on the feedback we get from our testers we will make minor changes, but we cannot see any major changes occurring to the game at this time.  We did however change how points were earned.  Before I could earn as much as 100 million points in a few moves, which is utterly too much.  We simplified the amount of points you earn so that the numbers are not as ridiculous while still maintaining motivation to pluck more at a time.

This is regrettably a short short post, but I hope that the following will be much greater.  At that time I should have a lot of solid feedback that I can share here as a precursor to Kernips’ future!

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Cursed Treasure

Posted by rHornbek on May 20, 2010

While looking for interesting tower defense games I came across a website dedicated to the genre itself.  On the home page of (with a “C”), I was immediately drawn to a game called Cursed Treasure.  In this game you are charged with protecting 5 cursed treasures that lay together in a cave.

A pretty standard tower defense setting, however notice the different terrain elements...

I was excited to learn that when an enemy reaches the cursed treasures they will attempt to run back with it.  This is exactly the mechanic I wanted to analyse among others.  In addition, if you managed to kill that enemy he would drop the gem and others would try and pick it up.

You might also notice the different terrain; Grass, Snow and Stone.  There are three tower types and each can only be placed on its respective terrain tile.  Orce Dens go on Grass, Undead Crypts go on Snow and Demon Temples go on Stone.  At first I was not so sure about this mechanic, but it really grew on me and it made the game far more interesting and strategic.

Each tower as it deals damage will gains experience and eventually level up.  With each level you can upgrade the tower to have greater stats of even change how it functions.  Each of the three basic tower types has two paths that it can take at level 4 creating a whole other level of strategy

In this image you can see the large boss character called a Champion!

In addition to earning money for kills you will generate mana that can be used to case any of three spells.  Cut Trees allows you to do just that, clear a forest allowing you to place a tower in that tile.  Meteors drops a shower of fire and stone onto enemies dealing great damage.  And lastly Frenzy which increases the attack speed of all your towers for a short time.

All these tools are equally exciting to manage through the game’s 15 stages with dozens of waves and enemy times.

Each section of the skill tree is based on one of the three tower types.

As you complete stages you generate experience points and eventually level up.  Each time you level you earn 3 skill points that can be spent in a skill tree.  At first I was a little unsure, but there was quite a variety of skill to choose from that really allows you to change the way the game is played!  One of my favorite skills returned any dropped cursed treasures to the cave after a short time.

My aim is to continue playing tower defense games and learn about the trends and failures.  So far Cursed Treasure has impressed me greatly and taught me a lot about where my concept is headed.  I highly recommend this game and if anyone has any tower defense games they would like to recommend to me please do so!

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Kernips: pre-Beta

Posted by rHornbek on May 1, 2010

If you haven’t already heard Kernips is nearing beta, which is extremely exciting for me!  In the next week or so we will be putting the final touches on the core gameplay so that while testing we should only have to make minor variable changes.

Some of the things changed in the latest build can be seen in the image below…

I cannot wait for updated art!

Updated in this version of Kernips includes…

  • New Item icons in the bench.
  • Implemented Water and Fire Storm Items (not seen here).
  • Implementation of the Hopper system (right side of the image).
  • The user now earns additional items when they pluck 4 or more Kernips.
  • Skewed the placement of Plots in the Garden so it is clear which Kernips are connected.

And while these changes are grand there are a few key elements we are trying to work out.  For our next build we need to do the following things…

  • Remove random Seed drops in the garden.
  • Make all Dead Kernips permanent.
  • Implement Seed Storm Item (to make up for removing random Seed drops).
  • Implement Item Drop Modifiers (IDM) to control what appears in the Bench.

Once these features have been added we will test them internally.  If these changes solidify the gameplay and don’t cause additional challenged we will be good to go into beta.

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Kernips: Budding

Posted by rHornbek on April 15, 2010

So we just started our third week of development on Kernips and the game has come a long way.  We have the 8 x 8 Garden, we have 6 different colored Kernips with a full life-cycle, you can water them to help them grow or prevent them from getting dry, the bench now produces random items including seeds, water and fire, fire will burn and spread and you even earn points for plucking groups of Kernips.

Splash Screen

Above you can see we added a splash screen to test the game using different variables which is a huge help.  With this we were able to determine which phases needed to speed up or slow down.

In Game

In the image above you can see many of the features I have already mentioned, even the glove we created for the cursor.  The row of items at the top are not going to be there, but it gives anyone testing the game a chance to use any item at any time.  The row of items at the bottom (the Bench) can be used in the Garden and a new item will replace it.

I am really excited and proud of how far Kernips has come!  However, like any growing game it has much work ahead of it.  Some of the changes and improvements we plan on making for the next set of builds are…

  • Earning points for burning dead Kernips.
  • Implementing Water, Fire and Seed Storm items.
  • Updating the item system so there are limited items that can only be replenished by the user’s actions.
  • Adding sounds placeholder effects and music!

I look forward to the updates and putting the game in front of additional testers.

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