Web developer from Derbyshire, UK.

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So I’ve been working on a new(ish) project which for now I’ve been calling “The Solburn Cluster”, and right now it’s a collection of unconnected modules and assets that I’ve created in Unity, ready at some point to be formed into a game – or many games. But right now I’m sort of working without and end goal, creating things that I think I’ll need.

Solburn spaceship industrial factory

So for example I know it’ll include spaceships, but instead of the vast nothingness of space, I’ve decided that the levels need constraints, so will set it underground, in a network of tunnels inside an asteroid.

Solburn cluster tunnel train

I’ve created some assets for the landscape, and as usual for me, spent far too long on how it looks rather than actual gameplay.

Solburn cluster portal opening

But I wanted to get this just right, it’s like I can’t even concentrate on decent gameplay if it doesn’t look how I want to. And so much time can be spent tweaking the smallest of things, like scale, especially if things need refactoring at a larger pixel size (as I’ve done a few times).

Solburn cluster jetbike

My original idea was to create a rich world you could explore, fly and drive different types of vehicles, and perform simple missions. Similar to Lego Dimensions’ open worlds which I love exploring. Right now I’m not sure if that’s the direction I’ll go. I’ll be making this for mobile (Android first), and I know that’s a very different platform which has it’s own special nuances. So I’ll experiment first.

I’ve been experimenting with getting in and out of different vehicles for a while, and have tried a few ways of controlling a flying vehicle in 2D. I’m still fond of the simple touch controls used in my Starbug Thruster game, but I know lots of people were dead confused by it. Although that did provide quite a fun time crashing and getting snide comments from the robot instructor

Swinging block hits man

I’ve been experimenting with more ragdoll physics things too, continuing where I left off with the Astro Potatoes game.

Something that’s been an unexpected surprise has been how popular videos like the one above have been when posted to Twitter & Instagram. I’ve been using hashtags for game development, especially indiegames, and I’ve been getting a fair few likes and retweets. Many by bots set up to popularise indie games, which is nice.

Videos where things go wrong, or astronauts falling over (even as simple as the video above) seem to find an audience. So it’s encouraged me to post more. Including several that have been created just for the purpose of fun like the video below – although this does push me to work harder, so it’s not completely superfluous.

I just hope that this will at some point translate into converting people to play my game – whatever the final product will be!

I’ve been posting more like this on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Today I took a break from working on the code for Escape the sector, and took a step back to do something artistic. I was getting a bit dismayed, working on modular sections, which for a long time I've only been seeing in isolation, and when I put it all together to create the levels... it didn't look quite as cool as I wanted.

So dismayed about the look and feel about the entire look & feel, I started to worry that it's something that just won't work. So just for an experiment tonight, I started to work on something to give me confidence that it actually *will* work.

Full asteroid

Also, I love how nice MagicaVoxel makes it look with very little effort. If only it was as easy to replicate this look in Unity (something I’ve been trying with Escape Vector and Escape the Sector).

Purple voxel spaceship approaches landing pad

I always struggle with colours, creating a new palette doesn’t come naturally to me, so I used the one from my BotSumo game.

Spaceship lurking at the bottom

I’ve uploaded this model to Sketchfab, you can see it below. Although it’s unfortunate that I can’t seem to replicate the nice soft shadows, ambient occlusion and emission textures that makes MagicaVoxel models look so good.

Busy voxel asteroid spaceport
by daviddickball
on Sketchfab

terrain magicavoxel

I’ve abandoned the Escape Velocity game where you control a spaceship on rails, in favour of one where you’ve got more control, and it’s a race against time to finish the track. It’s a simplistic idea, but I’m hoping to make it exciting with explosions. Yes. Explosions are cool.

I’ve written a bit more about this here.

So yep, I'm still making cities in space. Which is quite fun actually!


salmon island yellow

city 3

I haven't finished with BotSumo, which I'm planning to make a new update with 2 new player characters, but I've been in the mood for doing art recently, having flu which makes me prefer doing artwork than coding. Here's some screenshots of the world I'm working on:

city 3

I'm not decided on the background colour yet, but likely there'll be multiple levels with different colours.


I'm going to add some of these buildings to Sketchfab, starting with this simple one:


Btw I've also added some of the BotSumo character robots to SketchFab here:

Skfb.ly and Skfb.ly

BotSumo is live!

drball Blog

Since I last blogged here, I've released my Android game "BotSumo" on the Google Play store, you can get it here: Play.google.com

Screenshot 2015 12 17 00 33 23

I didn't really plan to be spending so long on this game tbh, as it was intended to be a quick project to learn a few new things. But I've had some good feedback that it's a fun little game (below is a photo of some friends of mine playing the game over coffee), so I'm expanding it to add different playable characters.

IMG 20151219 163721

This means I'll be coding a player selection screen, which looks quite challenging (I'm not all that great at coding), but I need to learn how to do that sort of thing anyway so it's all part of the experience!

I've also been writing about BotSumo on my personal blog, so check that out too!

New voxel robots

drball Blog

So I've really been getting into making graphics with Voxels using MagicaVoxel. I made this robot today for my "RoboSumo" game.

I've always liked pixel art style, but get annoyed you have to redraw the same graphics from ever angle if it rotates. So this suits me fine.


I also uploaded this to SketchFab which is a cool community of people sharing models. It's useful because I can share the link with anyone to show I've actually been doing something with my time!

Here's the link: Sketchfab.com

New game graphics

drball Blog

So I've had this visual style idea in my head for a while, but it's been difficult to actually create. I've found some software called MagicaVoxel which is great for doing what I want to do.


I love the angles of voxel graphics! However I've changed the style a bit since this first screenshot. I wanted a simpler style that showed fewer, larger blocks:

cliff 1

Then I created some assets to go on the land.

cliff 2

So I've progressed things a tiny bit. First I decided the game should be about pushing the other player out of a circle, then had the idea of making it a raised platform. Pushing the player off would cause them to tumble into oblivion.

Screenshot 2015 11 29 00 23 50

The circular platform on a square screen seemed like a bit of a waste of space, so I've changed it to a raised square platform.

Screenshot 2015 12 07 00 04 13

I need to to more testing of this, as I've found some bugs.

This game was initially created just for fun, but I might put it on the Google Play store, depending on how much good feedback I get!

Inspired by microbattles, this will be a really small, simple game. Here's the first screenshot with rough, placeholder objects.

Capture 1