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Nikki and the Robots

Here we write about Nikki and the Robots development and other news. Be sure to subscribe! Visit our reddit forum and join IRC for even more info!

Posts Tagged ‘game tech’

Nikki's "Realistic" Movement Physics (Chipmunk)

Friday, May 10th, 2013
Nikki's Chipmunk Bounding Boxes

We were recently asked by James Harriman how we handled movement physics in Nikki and the Robots.

James Harriman:

I wondered how you handled the movement of Nikki in your game. Did you make him/her a kinematic body and allow her to be pushed by certain objects? Or is she a dynamic rigid body with enough constraints to keep her from bouncing around?

Sönke, main programmer of Nikki and the Robots:

Well, I am kind of an autodidact when it comes to physics engines so I am not to sure about the terminology. What's the difference between a kinematic and a dynamic rigid body?

But to give some overview: Nikki is just a normal physics object in the scene and interacts with the other objects much like every other object.

The Nikki object does not change its shape. To ensure that Nikki does not rotate, the rotational mass is set to infinity. Controlling of Nikki works through applying forces (or -- in case of jumping -- a momentum) on the object. We consciously refrained from manipulating the velocity or position directly. We hope that Nikki's movements integrate better with the physics and feel much more natural that way. Also, it helps to prevent weird behavior in the physics scene. The downside of this is that you don't have full control over Nikki's movements, i. e. you cannot work with traditional animations.

Generally, this was one of the more challenging things that we programmed for our game. Working on this also really changed my perception of other platformers. In most other platformers, the movements of the protagonist are animated and don't feel really physically natural. Well, at least if you spent some months trying to do it differently. ;)

Please feel free to let us know about what implementations of movement physics you have worked with and which you prefer!

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International Fix for Windows XP/Vista/7 (core.exe could not load image file panel-standard.png and file not found: core.exe)

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Nikki and the Robots core.exe error: could not load image file: C:\Documents and Settings\Администратор\Application Data\nikki-stroy-mode\data\png\tiles\black-blue\panel-standard.png

We're getting into the habit of releasing Windows-specific fixes! The following critical errors for Nikki and the Robots are now fixed. Windows users just have to update the game or re-download it.

core.exe could not load image file: C:\Documents and Settings\Администратор\Application Data\nikki-stroy-mode\data\png\tiles\black-blue\panel-standard.png
error: file not found: C:\Documents and Settings\Администратор\Desktop\nikki\core.exe

If you spot any bugs, please feel free to contact us or open a ticket on our bug tracker!

Nikki and the Robots Story Episodes are still pay-what-you-want and we'll prolong the campaign by one week (more on that later!).

Nikki and the Robots: Story Episodes
Buy the cute Überpixel™ style platformer now!

outrageously blatant self-promotion

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Open Development Marketing: Three Live Examples (Indie)

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

Open development graph: being open about your development makes noise, grows the community and lets you meet new people which in the end all interact which each other.
Image: Open development graph: being open about your development makes noise, grows the community and lets you meet new people which has potential to interact which each other.

Today, Data Realms (Cortex Command) started sharing their backlog (aka ToDo-list) with the public. This made me want to re-capture some methods of being open about your game development and using this for marketing.

1. "Leak" alphas to pre-orderers

When your early version already has re-play value, allowing people to pre-order your games and to play your alpha versions is one of the best things you can do.

Open Development Marketing Example Wolfire
Image: Wolfire's Overgrowth alpha "leaks" get distributed via their preorder forum, which you can only see if you preordered the game.

2. Show off remaining tasks and bugs

Progress bars are beauty in players' eyes. Simply giving players read (and ideally write) access to your internal bug tracker allows super-fans to stalk you with no additional efforts on your side.

Open Development Marketing Example Unknown Worlds
Image: Natural Selection 2's roadmap progress is being shared by Unknown Worlds live, directly on the game's homepage.

3. Share your design knowledge

When a game strongly depends on its plot, it often becomes hard for the writers and designers to let players read or play the story before the project is finished. Even in these cases there is still a lot available in the designers' heads that can be shared spoiler-free: Instead of letting the player experience an in-game plot-twist prematurely (before the game is released), you can teach them about how plot twists are constructed and examine examples of plot twists in existing games.

Open Development Marketing Example Frictional Games
Image: Frictional Games shares thoughts about game and story design in their "Narrative not a game mechanic?" article.


I myself work at Joyride Labs on a Linux/OSX/Windows game. Our engine code is open source, we sometimes share insights about our code (this is often Haskell-related and we should do this more often), our bug tracker is completely public, our pre-release versions (that exclude the story mode) are available for download for free.

This short article is based on old slides I used at a talk at HTW Berlin. Are there any other noteworthy examples you would like to share? Please do so in the comments.

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Nikki and the Robots 0.5 News and Story Mode Peeks

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Nikki and the Robots 0.5 Announcement

Here is the new Nikki and the Robots 0.5 Beta(!) release (download here).

video: Nikki and the Robots 0.5 Changes and Story Mode Peeks

We're working on a preorder web page, which is open source under AGPL and hosted here.

The changes explained in the video (and some that were left out) are as follows:

  • Game:
    • Info terminals instead of text bubbles in tutorial
    • Falling tiles take a little longer to start falling
    • Batteries have a little less mass
    • Switches are easier to trigger
    • Added laser robots and laser endpieces
    • Cannon-robot sounds
    • Boost sound for jetpack robot
  • GUI/OSD and Controls:
    • Added keyshints in game mode
    • Allow configurable game keys (jump and context) to control the menu
    • Main menu will notify you about the availability of the story mode
    • Mac OS X: default jump key is space
    • In-game OSD shows total number of batteries in level
    • "..."-bubbles when nikki can start npc/computer monolog
    • Added "retry level" menu item to failure menu
    • Added retry-option to pause menu
  • Level editor:
    • Added gray level template
    • Better layer insert and delete control
  • Other:
    • Game art sources added to source code repository
    • Bugfixes on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows that prevented many users from running the game

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Windows bugfix: libstdc++-6.dll was not found

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

core.exe: libstdc++-6.dll not found

If you see above error message when trying to run Nikki and the Robots, please download libstdc++-6.dll here and unzip it to the nikki\ directory or alternatively download the game again - the problem has been fixed in the latest release for Windows.

PS: the updater won't restart the game on Windows! (Also fixed in the new release.)

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Nikki 0.4: cannons, sounds, sharing and downloading levels

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Download and Upload Nikki Levels!

Video: 0.4 changes [Vimeo | YouTube]

We released Nikki and the Robots 0.4.0 ( actually), which you can download here or via in-game updater.

The new features are:

  • New robot: Cannon! It shoots cannon balls that disappear after 10 seconds
  • Players can download and upload levels in the main/editor menus
  • Author name and license agreement added for saving/uploading levels
  • Sounds added for menu, jumping, buttons and batteries
  • Last level switch to be pressed now blinks green
  • Added "transient" switches (won't stay pressed)

Some news not directly related to the release:

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Nikki's Community Level Statistics

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

At the time of writing, there are approximately 64 hours left if you want to submit levels to the level design contest to win one of three T-shirts and pre-orders of Nikki and the Robots.

We received 23 user-made levels so far (get all of them here or here) and I took a look at how many robots, switches, batteries and objects in total are in them.

Contest 1 Level Table 2.5

Contest Levels 2.5 - See as real table here

My feeling was that robots were under-used in the contest. The statistics show that I'm wrong. What surprised me however is the average 530 objects per level (the current average object count in levels shipped with Nikki and the Robots is 170). Makes me feel lazy. :)

We have been tweaking physics and controls lately in preparation for the next release. (check out this horrible recording of horrible jetpack test physics :) ).

I'm curious if the last days of the contest will spawn many awesome levels. I guess I have to hope for bad weather..

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No More Slomo (0.3.1)

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

Nikki and the Matrix 1999

A nasty slow-motion bug has been removed by rewriting a bit of clocked, our Haskell timer library. The bug was noticeable on many Windows systems but Linux and OS X were also affected in some cases.

Just use the "update" main menu option to get the latest release or download it here.

Furthermore, we added a battery counter and made time and battery counters prettier:

Pretty UI Elements for Nikki

Let us know if anything is broken on our bug tracker, forum or via email.

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