Procedural race track generation

January 30th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 11.49.08 AMHaving gotten our hovering mechanics to a pretty good state, we’ve made the switch to working on procedural track generation. Dana has created a sizable handful of different terrain pieces and different player interactions. We’re going for a good variety of play experiences including:

  • accelerate while turning around wide corners
  • high intensity strafing
  • hairpin turns – cut acceleration while drifting and reorient craft
  • long chill straight stretches
  • precarious bridges
  • hazardous tunnels
  • ramps and jumps

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 12.11.10 PMEach terrain piece has a start and end opening that is one of four sizes. A small marker tells unity where these opening are so that they can be lined up. The generator cycles through pieces and chooses randomly from a subset of pieces that have the correct opening size. The generator also needs to keep track of things like pieces already used (so we don’t have repeats in a given track) and kinds of pieces used.

There are also some challenges with the track running into itself, which we may be able to tackle by turning the loading and needed. We’ll also need to get the connections between tracks as seamless as possible which  may take some tweaking in blender as well as adjusting how the connections are made.

There’s certainly more to do, but we’re excited to have a version of our procedural tracks working.

Smuggling and hovercrafts? This could be a thing

November 9th, 2014

ZLG8R1YRIKUCAbout a month ago, we began working on a prototype of a hovercraft racing game. Our idea was to do something totally different with the racing genre — we love all the intensity and excitement of high-speed driving, but we wanted a more compelling reason to do it. Driving around on circular tracks for the sole purpose of becoming the race-car champion just isn’t that interesting to us anymore.

We decided early on that we wanted to use procedurally generated tracks made up of modular track pieces, the idea being that we can design micro player experiences that will be stitched together randomly for a completely unique set of tracks for every player.

The first battle we had to face, however, was not track generation, but basic hovercraft physics. Hovercrafts are hard to program! While we were looking for inspiration and reference, we also discovered that good examples of hovercrafts in games are relatively few and far between. We’ve been lucky enough to have a small group of game dev friends willing to play our early prototypes and give us feedback to help us get it right. We’ve gone through several iterations of the craft physics, and we’re finally getting it to where we want it.

VF0LGTFFJR96Hovering mechanics are complicated because there’s a lot to account for; hovercrafts are not real things (unfortunately), so we have to make up a lot of physics that isn’t actually real. We have to closely balance things like momentum and drag, turning force, and velocity, all while monitoring the craft’s relationship with the ground. Check out this unity editor image of the ship – you can see we’re using several raycasts and colliders so that we can appropriately react to terrain and environment.


The feel isn’t perfect yet, but we’re getting there. We’re excited to get some solid controls in and start working on our procedural generator.

Working with the quirks of GameSalad – Part 1

November 5th, 2014

 Positioning and scaling actors based on device width in GameSalad

We don’t use GameSalad for everything, but we do use it for prototyping and making quick, simple games. Despite being really easy to use, GameSalad is not without frustrations.

You may have tried to set an actors width to screen width, only to find that it scales incorrectly and ends up either too big or to small depending on the device (assuming you’re using resolution independence).

This was driving me CRAZY. My project was set to iPad portrait and it looked fine on ipad, but on my iphone 5 the actor would be WIDER than the screen width. ARRRG. I even tried hardcoding the actor width to 640 knowing that was the correct number. Still too wide.

screen size diagram

So what’s going on here? Well the project is set to ipad which means it starts at 1024×768. Now, the iphone 5 has a width of 640, but a height of 1136. That means if you laid it pixel for pixel on top the ipad resolution you would be leaving off 56 pixels on the top and the bottom.

In order to fill the iphone 5 screen completely, the phone screen has to be scaled down so that its height matches the device height. This means that even though the real device height is 1136, in GameSalad it will be the scene height, 1024. Since 1024 x 640 wouldn’t be the right aspect ratio, we know that the height is now different too.

We can do a little bit of math to determine how much the scene was scaled, and extrapolate the width. This is the formula I use:

screen size diagram2

(1024 / (game.Screen.Size.Height*2) ) * game.Screen.Size.Width

It’s pretty simple. We start by dividing the scene height (1024) by the device height (because of the way GS strangely handles retina, we have to first multiply height by 2 to get 1136). This gives us a ratio of scaling. In this case the whole phone screen is scaled to .9x of the scene. We can then apply that to the device width (640) to get the adjusted width of 576.

I usually store this as a game variable SCREENWIDTH so I can access it anywhere. Another nice trick since you now know the real screen width, is using this to position items relative to screenwidth.

Hats as game controllers – or, ‘why our game jam involved hot glue and zipties’.

October 20th, 2014

Physical Controller - Flap Hat Accessory

“Flap Hat” Accessory

During our last game jam ( our team began with little clue as to what to make, but we all agreed on one thing up front – it was going to be controlled by a hat.

I love game jams for the constraints they put on the design process. Limited time, limited resources, and adherence to theme. I also like the idea of adding in your own constraints to further hone the frenzied design beam. We liked the idea of creating some kind of physical controller because none of us had ever done that. It also seemed really silly.

BzHIni0IIAECX7bWe figured a hat controller should definitely have some kind of motion tracking, so we stuck an accelerometer on it. As the game began to take shape, we programmed it to control the player’s left and right movement by  nodding your head left or right.

The game became ‘Gouda Chompin’, a strange amalgamate of weirdness born out of a theme, a controller, and our team’s propensity for “Yes, and…”. Players control a chomping set of teeth in a field of cheese. In this endless runner, you must consume cheese, dodge bacon fences, and collect grapes to summon the magical spring that transports you to the next level of cheese.

In addition to an accelerometer, we also had a spring loaded potentiometer (similar to that used in ROFLPILLAR) that we wanted to play with.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 1.03.01 PM

We thought about a chin strap, forcing the player to chomp constantly to move forward. That proved to be annoying, and also technically difficult to detect. Instead we decided that the teeth should fly, but only if the player flapped their wings in real life! This led to a strap extending from that hat attached to the players wrist, measuring the amount of flap. The result is a game that’s as fun to watch as it is to play, and also made for a great conversation piece as we wore the hat controller to the game jam demo.

photo-5The experience of designing around a physical controller was interesting and enlightening, but maybe even more so to play. We’re so used to conventional joysticks and buttons that the learning curve is simply learning where they are and what they control. With a physical controller, the learning curve has a lot more to do with your own body, figuring out how to refine your own movements for ultimate precision when the movement itself is anything but precise.

Game: Gouda Chompin’
Controller: FlapHat™


  • Unity Pro / Blender
  • Mac
  • PC
  • Mobile (coming soon)


  • 2 Hats (glued together)
  • Arduino and breadboard
  • Accelerometer
  • Spring-loaded Potentiometer (ripped from GameTrak golf game)
  • Zip-Ties
  • Hot-Glue


Fake Gouda Chompin' Box Art

Fake Gouda Chompin’ Box Art

Gouda Level

Gouda Level

Gouda Chompin' titlescreen

Gouda Chompin’ titlescreen


Cosmic Kitty Pop is available now!

July 31st, 2014

The latest game from Happy Badger Studio, Cosmic Kitty Pop, is available now for iOS, Android, and Kindle fire!

In the not-too-distant future, kitties have begun exploring space, but something horrible has happened. You can save them in “Cosmic Kitty Pop,” an adorable whack-a-mole style game for mobile devices.

cosmic kitty pop

The kitties’ space suits are malfunctioning, and are causing them to expand and pop! As each kitty inflates, you must tap it to keep it from popping. If you tap kitties that aren’t inflating, though, you’ll crack their helmets and they… won’t make it home to Earth to share their scientific findings.

Test your reflexes as you save the kitties from an unsightly demise. You have 9 lives to beat your high score and challenge your friends!

Download it now for iPhone and iPad, Android phones and tablets, and Kindle Fire!

IGDA STL Microtalk Series

July 28th, 2014

Last week, Ben and Carol both had the opportunity to speak among several other talented creatives at the IGDA STL Microtalk Series event at Riot Games in St. Louis. Thanks to a member of IGDA, we have video of the event!

View the whole event below to see Ben’s talk on Rapid Development and Carol’s talk on Typography in Video Games.

Strange Donuts vs. The World Release Party!

May 23rd, 2014


Photo by Adrian O. Walker @AoctaviusW

Release day came and went and we couldn’t be happier with the response we had from the players. Strange Donuts was awesome enough to throw a release party that was unbelievably fun and was the perfect way to celebrate the release of Strange Donuts vs. The World! Highlights from the party include playing Strange Donuts vs. The World on the party bus with a Nintendo controller while everyone cheered and hollered in unison, consuming a massive amount of amazing pizza and beer, and riding around like maniacs in go-karts. Thanks to everyone for your support during the release of Strange Donuts vs. The World!

Photo May 22, 8 23 54 PM

Photo May 22, 8 53 35 PM (1)

Strange Donuts vs. The World Releasing 5/22/14

May 15th, 2014

We have a release date! Strange Donuts vs. The World, a game by Happy Badger Studio in conjunction with Strange Donuts, will launch worldwide for iOS and Android on May 22, 2014!

Strange Donuts will be throwing an exclusive launch party on the evening of the 22nd, where you and three friends can party with us and Gus Gus the Fun Bus in celebration of the game’s release. Just use the hashtag #strangevideogame on Twitter or Instagram between now and May 20th for a chance to win!

#strangevideogame release party

AnimeSTL and Hero Chomp for iOS

April 7th, 2014

Come check us out at the Anime St. Louis convention this year from April 11 – April 13, 2014! We will have our Happy Badger Game Lounge set up at booths 501 and 502, and we’ll be hosting a panel called “How To Get Started in Game Development” on Saturday at 6pm in the Marquette room. Come hang out with us for a chance to win our Badger Bundle raffle, play the latest games, and maybe even take home some free swag. You might even get a few StreetPasses out of us if you have your 3DS handy.

BONUS! We have confirmed with Apple that our latest game, “Hero Chomp,” will release for iOS on Friday, April 11 — the very first day of the AnimeSTL convention!

If you would be so kind to download, rate, and review Hero Chomp for us on Friday, it would mean the world to have your support.

Thanks, all! We’ll see you this weekend!

Happy Badger Studio at Anime St. Louis 2014


Our Games

Rampant Deck Builder


Cosmic Kitty Pop!

Strange Donuts Vs. The World

Hero Chomp

The Flip

Something Fragile