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A member registered 248 days ago · View creator page →


Recent community posts

Pretty big week for the project, lots of polish, bug fixing, and play-testing with friends.

I've also spent a fair amount of time optimizing it for lower-end computers - which my 2012 MacBook Air definitely qualifies as. It turns out some of Unity's post-processing effects are quite expensive for older Intel integrated GPUs, so the game now does its best to auto-detect that sort of thing and disable the shadows and ambient occlusion effects to boost the framerate from ~21fps to ~60fps.

On a similar note, it turns out my outline shader had some amusing floating point precision issues between DirectX, OpenGL, and Metal shader languages, compiled from the base Unity shader. Where a multiplier of 0.242 was fine for DirectX, it would cause the outline to be obscenely massive in OpenGL and Metal which both preferred a number closer to 0.007. Math. It goes to show you really do need to test on as many platforms and graphics chips as possible.

The game got a few user experience tweaks too. Each chunk type now gets a different shade of orange so you can more easily pick the placed types out from the whole build,without having to hunt around and figure out what's where. I'm not totally happy with the colors, but it feels good and play-testers liked the change. I tweaked the toolbar to be nicer to use too, and not reset every time you place something.

I also got off my butt and set up a Steam store account, and spent a bunch of time setting up a store page for the game and doing initial Steamworks integration. Expect an announcement for that soon! I plan on releasing the game on both Itch and Steam, with possible distribution via GoG and/or Humble if I can get on them.

You can follow the game on Facebook, if that's your cup of tea, over at https://www.facebook.com/hiddencubes, or sign up for the mailing list at https://nixiecraft.com/hidden-cubes.

I'm currently procrastinating on making the levels for this game, so that means finally starting a devlog post is a great thing to do, right? Right.

What's going on here?

This is Hidden Cubes, a puzzle game that I like to say is a 3D tangram, with cube based shapes reminiscent of Tetris pieces. The shape you have to complete is displayed as a silhouette outline as viewed from the camera's current perspective, forcing you to think in 3D and keep moving the camera around.

A large mechanical inspiration was Quill18's Spacecube tutorial, and in turn, KSP's ship building tool.

How far along is it?

After going through a few iterations around placement, and even having multi-cube shapes, it's feeling really, really close. I still need to finish the tutorial, add music, and a few animations. I've been saying it to myself for ages, but I'm really aiming to get a beta version up within the next week or two.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I'm mostly procrastinating around creating the levels. It currently has about 35 levels, of highly dubious quality. What I really ought to do is offload level design to other people, which in turn means improving the the level editor...

Which platforms will it be available on?

The current focus is a desktop release for the first pass, across Windows, macOS, and Linux. Once it's shipped on desktops I can switch focus to mobile optimizations (as of my last attempt, some custom shaders aren't working properly on Android).

The game feels like it would work great with VR and AR, which I'd like to get to at some stage.

Who's making this?

Oh, hi, I'm Alex. I'm programming and designing this thing. I've been writing code for the past 20 years (mostly web apps, and for the past couple of years building software with WebGL), with a stint of also being a graphic designer for around 8 years.

Aside from some game jam entries and prototypes, Hidden Cubes is my first proper game that I've spent any serious amount of time on.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more updates, and that upcoming beta/early-access launch!

Thanks for trying it out! I'm guessing the fixed 900x900 window size is a bit big for your screen? Sorry about that, I rushed to get a binary out by the jam deadline and forgot to make the window a more sensible size.

I'm planning on getting back to the project soon and making it more of an actual game. I hope you'll take another look when updates come out!

Yep, time got the better of me. I definitely want to keep tinkering with it and make it a more, er, playable experience.

Thanks for setting up the bomb jam!

8/9/17 Update

I've been terrible about updating this thing!

Over the past week, I've fixed the bugs in my A* pathing, an initial implementation of thirst, and being able to build all manner of things. Including ladders, so the poor buggers can climb around; they can also build beds, anvils, and such. There's a GUI system in there too now, and that took a while to implement, but at least you can see what you're doing.

Tonight I also added a day/night cycle. Because monsters come out at night...

#LOWREZJAM 2017 community · Created a new topic Dwarf Dive
(Edited 1 time)

For this jam I decided to totally bite off more than I can chew and have a go at creating a Dwarf Fortress-style dwarf management game, one that feels like it was originally on a C-64 era computer. I'm building it in C++ with the Allegro graphics library.


Quite a successful day of implementing the A* pathfinding algorithm, and instructing the little fellas on the finer points of digging. I should probably teach them how to drink beer next, or at least get them to fend for themselves a little. I got A* working, so how hard could rudimentary AI be...? :/

Going camping tomorrow, so no more updates until Sunday.


Currently have a tile engine working, with sprites, mouse interface, and a simple job system. The dwarves will take a task and execute it, and the only task right now is a request to move somewhere. It's been tricky remembering how to do smooth movement with a strict timestep, and keeping simulation logic cleanly separated from all rendering logic.

Next up is getting them to dig, and I suppose some form of A* or Djikstra path-finding would be good...