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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Voxatron?

Voxatron is an action/adventure game made out of voxels. It is designed to be an open playground for various styles of voxel-based gameplay and currently features a series of Smash-TV / Robotron style rooms. The game comes with a cartridge editor and has a strong emphasis on creating and sharing content with other players.

Do Updates Happen Automatically?

Not yet! Check your My Games page, or if you are a Humble Store customer you can find the latest versions on your Humble games page (search your email for "Your Humble Bundle Order"). To request a new download link, use this key resender.

It looks blocky. What's all this about voxels?

Voxels are like 3d pixels -- they can be thought of as little cubes arranged on a grid in so far as pixels can be though of as little squares. But like pixels, they could be sampled or displayed in some other way and have no geomtric properties beyond their position in the grid. The whole game is rendered in a virtual 3d display with a resolution of 128x128x64 voxels.

The whole world, characters, inventory and even menus are drawn only into the 3D display, which is then itself projected onto your screen in 2D. Hopefully one day a nice physical display will exist and Voxatron will be able to run on it with minimal modification.

Why is it sometimes called Voxatron Alpha?

Alpha means that the game is still in development and will probably change a lot before version 1.0. In Voxatron's case it is not an excuse to be buggy or lack support. I'll endevour to keep all updates as bug-free as possible and maintain compatability with a decent percentage of desktop computers and laptops manufactured in the last 5 years.

Although the engine and editor will grow, Voxatron will remain mostly backwards compatible with cartridges created with earlier versions. They might not play *exactly* the same due to bug fixes and gameplay tweaking. But you'll be able to play a cartridge created by with an early alpha version using v1.0.

What will the finished game be like?

There are two main differences between the alpha versions and the planned 1.0 release: engine features and the game world. Engine features, such as a monster designer and an improved editing tools will be released gradually as they become available. The game world will be developed mostly in private and will completely replace the "Adventure Mode", which is mostly just a demo of the current engine and cartridge editor features.

The main game world consists of an adventure map area populated with unlockable cartridges. Items to unlock new parts of the map can be earned by completing cartridges scattered around the map. Some of the cartridges are score-based and can be replayed as if it were an arcade mini-game. Others are more focused on puzzle solving and exploration.

On the engine side of things, Voxatron will also function like a general game-making program. If technical constraints allow it, a general scripting language, or at the very least a flexible event-based one.

Will there be multiplayer?

Yes! But probably only local multiplayer (on the same machine). The engine is designed to keep the possibility of a networked multi-player mode open, but I can't gaurantee it. There is also great potential in multiplayer collaborative Voxatron-style worlds but that kind of thing is a completely different kettle of fish that might be better approached as a separate game built with those goals in mind.

Have you thought about adding ___ to the game?

Making a game purely out of voxels is a relatively unexplored field in game development, and it's tempting to throw a whole bunch of stuff in. However, the various elements of the game need to work together well and not become a bloated tech demo. I've tried a lot of things out in the Voxatron engine, but I don't yet to finalise what form they will take: Celula automa, voxels with special properties (crumbly, indestructible), liquids, procedurally generated content, objects that are subtracted from the game world (for opening doors etc.), particle emitters, scripting, various base types and weather modes. Also on my wishlist is the ability to synthesize new sounds (or at least choose parameters for templated sounds) and write music.

When will the final game be available? How much will it cost?

Not any time soon, but it will be worth the wait! I hope that instead of waiting for 1.0, you will enjoy the journey of engine/editor updates that appear along the way, and the new possibilities for cartridge design they provide. Especially with the monster designer, things are going to get pretty whack well before v1.0. There is no planned price yet, but all registered alpha users will be able to update for free, and continue to do so.

Will I be able to make an RPG with the v1.0 cartridge designer?

With the monster designer and scripting support, you will be able to make more than an RPG, my friend.

Why are the default controls so weird?

Because Voxatron will encompass a variety of styles of gameplay, I initially settled on a simple control scheme that could be used in general and that the game could be designed around. That is: 4 buttons for moving, one for jump and one for shoot, with directional locking when shoot is held. Anything else feels awkward to me, especially when making precise jumps to grab pickups and avoid projectiles in the heat of battle, or moving around when there are no monsters. It quickly became apparent that this wasn't going to cut the mustard for many players, so from v0.1.4 it is possible to customise arbitrary controls for directional shooting.

Why is the clipping plane so close? And why are the rooms so small

What you're looking at is not a rendering of a 3d world from the point of view of a camera inside the world. Rather, it's a view of the 128x128x64 display cube (mentioned earlier) as if it were sitting on a desk or something. I settled on these dimensions and camera position for a variety of aesthetic and technical reasons, and so that people making cartridges (including myself) have a consistent format to work with.

How does the renderer/ sound synth/ editor work?

I'll post some technical articles on various aspects of the game closer to v1.0, but here's the short version: The renderer is written in software and draws the display cube from back to front, transforming and scan-rendering polygons as it goes. The shadows are made from a tradional shadowmap using filtered sampling per-voxel. The sound synthesizer is a modular synth, and during start-up you can see the modules depicted as pink (oscillator) and blue (filter) squares as the sounds are generated. The editor is a giant hack.

- zep