Habib Loew's DigiPen Games

Games I worked on while at DigiPen 

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About the Games

A large part of the focus at DigiPen is on our annual game projects. We produce a solo game project in the first semester, a team game project in the second semester, and then a team game each year for the following three years. These projects have various requirements (text based, 2D, 3D, physics, networking, etc.) and are intended to be miniature versions of the real world game development process. We write game design documents and technical design documents, generate schedules, producer reports and post-mortems. In all the team projects each team member has an official "hat" such as Producer or Technical Director, with the attendent responsibilities. Naturally we all write code as well. The process actually reminds me a lot of working at a startup.

As it turns out there's nothing that brings home the difficulties of making games quite like actually making games on a tight deadline with demanding requirements and very little outside assistance. It has never been easy but I'm proud to say that each of the projects listed on this page was delivered on time and making that happen has been an enormous learning experience.

There's a lot of me in these games, from the design to the code to (in some cases) the art, and I'm proud of all of them. Seeing them all lined up like this, in chronological order, really makes it clear just how much I've progressed over the last few years. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is that I still love making games and there's nothing I'd rather be doing.

I hope you enjoy playing my games, and if you feel so inclined feel free to send me feedback (positive, negative, or whatever else) at habibloew (at) gmail (dot) com.


Bossinabox

  Team project, 2 semesters, 2006-2007

Collaborators: John Jensen, Austin McGee, David Siems

Technologies: C++, Lua, DirectX 

Official Bossinabox Website at DigiPen.edu

     Bossinabox is currently in production as a senior game project at DigiPen.  The engine was built by a team of four students, three of whom stayed on to build the current incarnation of the game.  It will be available for download in April 2007.   For a sneak peek you can check out the official game website at DigiPen's Game Gallery.

     During the first three months of Bossinabox's production it was actually another game called Daredevil Zombie Hunter (you can check out the DDZH prototype here) but when the second semester rolled around one of our team mates got a job and we were forced to re-evaluate where we wanted to take the game.  Realizing that we wouldn't be able to bring the DDZH idea to fruition with our new resource constraints we stripped the code base down to the bare engine and started work on a new, far simpler, game design.  It is a testament to our flexible engine design and thorough unit testing that we were able to make such extensive alterations to the game without ever having a crash or any reason to question the stability of the engine.

     At this point I've done a bit of everything on this project, but my primary responsibilities were in the design and construction of the core engine architecture in the first semester, while in the second semester I have been focused on implementing the boss behaviors, the physics system (we use physically based animation for the boss), and implementing post processing effects in our graphics engine. 

Update (01/14/08): Bossinabox was featured in the "52 Free Games" features of the Feb. 2008 issue of "Games for Windows the official magazine". 

Update (01/15/08): Bossinabox is also linked from 1up.com's 101 Free Games feature. 

Fling 

  Team project, 2 semesters, 2005-2006

Collaborators: Michael FeliceRussell Hochenedel, Austin McGee 

Technologies: C++, Lua, OpenGL, FMOD 

Download Fling from DigiPen.edu (11.2 MB)

     Completed over two semesters with a team of four students, Fling was conceived as a mix between artillery and light RTS style gameplay.  In the end the RTS portion of the gameplay was delegated to the AI running the player's minions.  This frees up the player to focus on flinging giant (sometimes explosive) boulders from their catapult to destroy as much of the enemy infrastructure as possible.  Meanwhile their minions fight for resources, build buildings, and hope a boulder the size of a Buick doesn't land on their heads.  Destruction generates "mayhem" which speeds up the player's minions, who then gather more resources, which allows for bigger, more destructive boulders.  In the endgame it is up to the player to destroy the enemy citadels.

    For Fling I was primarily responsible for implementing AI for the minions and enemy catapults.  The minion behavior was a very interesting problem.  I attempted to use emergent behavior and an ant-trail style pheromone system to drive the minions.  This was an compelling idea that worked well in the beginning, but didn't scale up to eight hundred (or indeed one hundred) minions.  While developing the minion AI I made use of influence maps, spatial partitioning, goal management, and a host of steering and scent based behaviors which were eventually removed due to scale issues.  In the final version the minions rely on good old pathfinding and goal planning to get their jobs done.  While not as much fun as Ivar's Adieu, Fling is still a complete, relatively polished game that I'm proud to have my name on.

    To play Fling simply download and run the installer.

Ivar's Adieu 

 Team project, 2 semesters, 2004-2005

Collaborators: Joshua Beeler, David Siems 

Technologies: C++, DirectX, FMOD 

Download Ivar's Adieu from DigiPen.edu (27.9 MB)  

     Ivar's Adieu is my favorite of all the games I've made at DigiPen.  Set in a whimsical circular world it puts players in the role of the lonely fisherman Ivar.  Ivar runs, jumps, swings and flings his way to a bigger and better place.  This was a two semester team project, and for a team of three with what we knew then it was very, very ambitious.  The entire world is constructed from complex mass-spring systems, which we thought might be easier than writing a rigid body physics engine.  Boy were we wrong about that!

    Ivar's Adieu was submitted to the IGF Student Showcase competition on the advice of our faculty and friends, but the competition was stiff that year and we weren't selected.  Nonetheless I'm very proud of that game, though I do have a lingering desire to remake it with the understanding I have since gained.  Our pervasive use of mass spring systems led us to some interesting numerical issues. We discussed the issues with a visiting University of Washington professor, which led to an invitation to speak to a class of numerical analysis students at UW. That talk was well received, and we were subsequently invited to speak at the Pacific Northwest Numerical Analysis Seminar (PNWNAS).  The folks at PNWNAS were very kind to us and apparently were somewhat shocked that students with no formal training in differential equations or numerical analysis would seek out the math on their own.  We were later invited to speak at Simon Frasier University in Canada, but were unable to attend due to scheduling issues.  Despite all the interest people have expressed in the underlying numerical and modeling issues, the thing that I still love the most about Ivar's Adieu is that it's fun.  I guess there's just not much better than throwing around boxes with a rope.

    To play Ivar's Adieu simply download and run the installer.

Tactical Combat Simulator 

 Team project, 1 semester, 2004

Collaborators: Joshua Beeler, Chad Hinkle, Joe Bilt 

Technologies: C++, ASCII Art 

Download TCS from DigiPen.edu (303 KB)

    Tactical Combat Simulator (TCS) was my second game project at DigiPen.  This was a one semester team project with a very specific requirement:  it had to be a text game.  In the game you lead an army of mixed units into combat on a randomly generated hex map.  TCS was an interesting game to develop, but as it turns out it's not a terribly interesting game to play.  A large part of the problem is certainly the lack of graphics, but the fact that nobody on the team was really into turn based war gaming can't have helped.

    From a technology point of view TCS was a huge learning experience.  The entire game is built on the concept of a state stack with the top most state being the active one, along with any state below it marked "critical".  I don't know that this kind of architecture applies to anything else, but it certainly worked well for us in TCS.  One of the handy upshots of this method is that we got context sensitive help pretty much for free.  Every state defined a collection of help strings so it became trivial to traverse the stack and pull the help text from any active states.  This game was also my first experience with AI.  I implemented A* pathfinding on the hex map and a neural-network "battle-brain" which I trained to make tactical decisions.  Despite the limited utility of neural networks in games this implementation worked out fairly well.  The AI has distinct difficulty levels and can actually present a challenge to the player without being impossible to beat.

    To play TCS just unzip the archive and run the executable.  You'll need to create and then load a profile, and I recommend using the custom game settings as the defaults seem to be broken in my archived build.  The entire game, including the menus, is controlled using the num-pad and the 5 key is enter.

Space Zappo

   Solo project, 1 semester, 2003

Technologies: C++, OpenGL, DirectPlay 

Download Space Zappo from DigiPen.edu (402 KB)

   Space Zappo was my first full game.  Completed in my first semester at DigiPen as a solo project, Space Zappo is an homage to XPilot, a game I used to play on Solaris when I worked the night shift as a system administrator.  My version clearly isn't a good as XPilot, but given that it was my first semester at DigiPen and I had not yet received any serious game development instruction, I'm proud of what I accomplished.  The game is multi-player only (I didn't have time to write any AI), and it can be charitably described as fiendishly difficult.  

    The version which is presented here contains maps made by a few of my fellow DigiPen students.  I didn't originally plan to have other people make maps, but I created a map editor for my own use and the students around me were interested in playing with it.  This version also includes a "repulsor" power-up created by fellow student David Siems as a mod.  The repulsor led immediately to all sorts of new tactics, but my favorite is: Cloak, sneak up behind someone who is refueling, then repulse them into a wall. I really enjoy the replusor mod and user-generated maps because it's awesome that anyone cared enough about the game to want to make content for it.

    To play Space Zappo just unzip the archive, run the console server, and then run the executable. Internet play is supported but lag is a serious issue, so I recommend using the LAN play option.