Monday, June 16, 2014

Data Helix is now on Twitter!

This is a touch late, but as of this past Thursday, Data Helix is on Twitter! In case you simply can't get enough about our game, or you want to show your support and be updated with the goings-on from the team, you can follow us at @DataHelix. We appreciate all the support we can get, and thanks to everyone who stopped by to check out the game at both Denver Comic Con and E3.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Post E3 Update

So we've gotten back from our time at E3, and a lot of people really like the game, so that's a win for us even if we didn't take first in the competition.

Currently we are showing the game at the Denver Comic Con!

The download links for the game are now located on the Downloads page of this website.  You can also download the game from the official game website at where you can watch the trailer and learn more about the game.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Newest Version

Good news everyone!  We've got the Mac build working and have fixed a few other pressing bugs with our game.  You can find the versions here:
Windows: DataHelix V1.0
Mac: DataHelix V1.0

Please report any bugs you find so we can fix them!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Teaser

You can watch the teaser trailer I recently made here!

We are also scrambling to get an official website for the game up and running before the E3 announcement goes out to the public.

Friday, May 9, 2014

We are the Champions!

Well, kind of.  Our game Data Helix was selected as one of the top five games submitted to the E3 collegiate competition for 2014!  Which means we will be given space at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, CA to present our game.

As you can guess this is very exciting news and an incredible opportunity for us but we couldn't have gotten here without your support so thank you again to everyone who tested and commented on our game.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The wait for E3

So we've sent the game off to be judged in the E3 collegiate games competition.  We won't be hearing back until the 9th or 10th of May, but when we figure out what the results were we'll be posting it on here so stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

We're on youtube!

Albeit, not a particularly well known youtube channel but I consider it a victory nonetheless.

You can find the "Let's play" here:

Even after we've shipped the game off to be judged and hopefully make it into E3, it's still very useful to us to be able to watch people play our game and to have people test it and give us feedback.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

We're back!


This, ladies and gentlemen, is what months of hard work has culminated into.

We are on the precipice.  The E3 competition submission deadline is tomorrow so we ask you for your help.  You can download the game from this link! Download it, play it and if you can, please give us feedback, report any bugs you find or if there was anything that stood out to you.

Sorry for you Mac users out there, the build is coming tomorrow as soon as I can recover my laptop charger cord.

Thank you to everyone who supported us, especially our instructor Nathan Sturtevant and our fellow capstone team Bumbershoot.

Feel free to post any comments about the game below, we will read them all.  Every bit of feedback in invaluable to us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Current Build (Alpha Demo) of Data Helix

Here is the executable for Windows and Mac of the most recent build of our game Data Helix.

There is a known issue on Mac versions where the mouse position is cached while it is inactive resulting in some strange movements while in first person mode.  We are currently working to fix this.

Download the Mac Version here!
Download the Windows Version here!

This is the most current version of the game.

Pause menu should now correctly display mouse cursor.
Visual confirmation added to all security keys.

Thanks for trying out our game!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On Level Design and Permutations

So, today's post is going to be all about level design for our game thus far. Not really so much our process of coming up with different level ideas, how things are going to be staged in the game to make a coherent experience or really any of that, though stay tuned as that's probably a post we'll be making in the future. No, this post is going to be about the evolution of our level concept process, which has come a considerable way since the initial level drafts. Some of this information is old compared even to our playtest post, but nonetheless it should show some of the design difficulties full room rotation can bring up.

When we first sat down and seriously started designing levels, we did so in 2D. We were tasked to create one room puzzles as a means of simplifying the mechanics of our game and really focus on creating a game that teaches and reinforces skills as you go, but to really make the first levels simple for new players, we decided to take this one step further and only allow one axis of rotation, instead of all three. What we thought would be relatively simple for level design quickly turned into a journey of discovery about 2D representations of map permutations. Here is a draft of the second of our two playtesting levels:

On the left, you see what a 1-axis rotation's set of 2D permutations looks like. Basically, all that means is that ,from an overhead view, you can view a level in 4 possible ways (facing forward, rotated 90 degrees in each direction, and rotated 180 degrees). The practical application is on the right; a full level is drawn top down, keeping all hallways static and rotating all doors and room geometry into the correct orientation to simulate what will be happening in the game. Then, we gave everything a height number, directions, and such, to determine which ramps led and bridges were on which floor, how doors connected to the rest of the room, and so on, until we finally had something we could trace through, going from permutation to permutation as necessary, and actually solve. Overall, this process is a little messy, but still completely doable for a 1-axis rotation, 1 room puzzle.

...and then we decided to draw out how many of these 2D permutations we'd need for 2-axis and 3-axis rooms. Let's start with 2-axis:

With 2-axis rotation, we arrive at 16 2D permutations for every room. Not only does our work increase by a factor of four, but we also need to still keep track of door locations (which are now changing levels, ending up on ceilings and what have you instead of simply rotating around the room) and constantly redraw whatever is in the room from multiple angles. This alone makes 2-axis rotation relatively unfeasible to continuously draft new and interesting levels in 2D, but just for kicks, we also did the permutations for a 3-axis room: yeah, 24 possible room combinations when you factor in that you can view each face independently in 4 possible orientations. Clearly, if we ever want to make rooms which have multi-axis rotation, or really, even just rotation around a non-y axis, 2D drawings would never really cut it for anything other than static hallways. Which leads us to these:

To really help get a visual of multi-axis rotation, we made a 3D representation of all of our game rooms out of lidded, clear plastic boxes, which then had grid lines affixed via transparency slides and two-sided tape. The grid on the outside is 15x15, perfect for the 3 level room structure we currently have (15x15 breaks cleanly into a 3x3 grid of 5x5 grids, which allows us to punch 3x3 doors out of any resulting 5x5 grid to acquire any door configuration we might need), and as the transparencies are dry-erase friendly (for the most part), we can easily draw door configurations on the side walls and have them rotate with the box. Next, we needed a way to model the insides of the room in such a way that, even while in various upside-down configurations, all of our room geometry would stay in the same place. Enter plastina, a fantastic clay-like substance that doesn't dry out and is sticky and malleable enough to make any geometry we might need and have it be able to adhere to the inside walls of our modeling cubes. Here are a few examples featuring the levels from our first playtest:

Now, these boxes aren't perfect, but they're a step in the right direction. Because hallways are static geometry while the room geometry and doors are dynamic, we currently don't have a graceful way to model the "outside" geometry. Currently, we've stuck to doing the hallways on paper, but there are plans in the works to make a 3D structure that can sit around the boxes to represent the hallways while still letting the boxes represent all of their possible configurations in a neat, easy to modify and clear to see fashion. Not bad for an initial prototype, though!