In the third beta version of Mister Tins your results are automatically synchronized with the server (unless you're playing in demo or offline mode). It means that you don't have to worry that your progress will be lost, for example when you move to a different computer.
You already completed the 30 levels that come with Mister Tins? You can now download custom level packs created by other players from the Level Packs online directory. You can submit your rating and comments. Also you can now compete with other players for highest score in each level pack.
You created some interesting, funny or challenging levels in the Sandbox mode? Share them with other players! Upload them to the Level Packs directory and watch other players try to beat your best scores.
Version 0.8.3 also improves the rewinding time feature based on your feedback. You can now rewind time up to ten seconds, not five, and when you fall down or drown, you still have some time to activate the rewinding so that you don't have to start all over.
This is the first technical article in the series dedicated to Mister Tins.
One of the most distinctive features of Mister Tins is the top-down perspective view. Although the top-down view (also called overhead view) has been very common in video games since the 1980s, most games of that time used some sort of orthographic or oblique projection to simulate a three-dimensional effect using two-dimensional tiles and sprites. Examples include The Legend of Zelda series, the original SimCity, Bomberman series (also known as Dyna Blaster), racing games such as Badlands and its predecessors, and early real-time strategy games such as Dune II and Warcraft.
One of the first games which featured a top-down view with real perspective projection was Grand Theft Auto, released in 1997, and it's sequel, GTA2. The camera was placed directly above the player (or player's car), but you could see various sides of the buildings at different angles in a real three-dimensional view. Starting with the 2000s, the first person and third person perspective views became dominant in most types of games. Even the modern remakes of classic games, such as Sokoban, typically use some kind of angle view, so a purely top-down perspective view remains fairly uncommon.
There is a tendency to think that a top-down view is only good for representing flat, two-dimensional world, just like the side view is good for traditional, two-dimensional platformers. One of the few examples that break this stereotypes is Fez, in which a three-dimensional world is displayed in an orthographic side view like traditional platformers, opening a whole range of new possibilities. That inspired me to think about a three-dimensional world displayed in a top-down view, in which you can only see what's around you. Everything above is not visible and most of the things below are obscured by higher floors. This way you can explore new parts of the world by climbing up and down. This simple but innovative idea received a lot of positive feedback.
The top-down perspective view in Mister Tins is created by placing the camera directly above the player, looking down along the z axis, and positioning the near clipping plane slightly above the player's head:
Everything above the blue clipping plane is not visible. Obviously you should not be able to see the interior of the walls that are intersected by the clipping plane. To prevent this, additional faces (which I call "caps") are drawn at these intersections. They are marked with thick red lines on the picture above. They could be simply filled with black color, but some shading is added for a better effect, so that they become brighter near the edge and darker inside.
The problem with this approach is that if you jump up the stairs to reach the higher floor, a big part of the screen would suddenly turn black as the clipping plane hits the ceiling, and then would suddenly turn into floor's texture once the clipping plane is above the floor. To make this look better, smooth transitions are necessary when the clipping plane moves up and down. The cap is almost completely transparent when the clipping plane is located just above a non-solid block (i.e. just above the ceiling) and it blends into the floor's texture when the clipping plane is placed just below the floor.
The additional advantage of this solution is that you can see that you can reach the second stair even though its top face is located above the clipping plane, because it's blended with the dark interior. It also means that if the ceiling is only one block high, it's never filled with black color, it just fades smoothly from fully transparent to fully opaque floor texture. This gives a very nice effect when going up and down between various floors.
The second beta version of Mister Tins adds support for a wide range of older graphics cards compatible with DirectX 10. Examples of supported GPUs are listed on the right side of the download page. Also the installer now checks if the operating system is Windows 7 or above, and displays an error message when trying to install the game on an unsupported version of Windows.
The first beta version of Mister Tins has just been released! You can download it for free from mistertins.com and play the first five levels in demo mode. The full version has 30 levels and requires registering an account on mistertins.com and entering a premium code. Codes are not available for sale yet. However, if you want to become a beta tester or if you want to publish an article or video about Mister Tins, please contact me via email and I will be happy to give you a premium code. The game will be officially available for sale around spring 2014.
Here's the latest trailer of Mister Tins:
After over a month of work, the entire preliminary Mister Tins graphics has been replaced with a new set of textures. We decided to change the entire graphics style from clean, science-fiction style to steampunk, with toxic stains, holes in floors and walls, gears, pipes, etc. The game has a darker, more claustrophobic atmosphere and looks really great. Below is a screenshot from the current version of the game:
After the holidays I will create a new trailer presenting the new graphics and some new features that have been created in the meantime. However, that's not the end of surprises. The first demo version of Mister Tins will be publicly available in January! I will not start selling premium codes until the game is tested and a bit more polished, but I will give them for free to beta testers and press, so everyone interested will get a chance to see and test the preview of the game.