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Rock Of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder [Dev Blog #6] - Rockin designs: The Medusa Boulder

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Sep 26 2016, 03:26 PM in Development

Rockin designs: The Medusa Boulder
Today we are sharing the design process for Medusa's Boulder.

Where's that face?

In Rock of Ages 2 we have a greater variety of boulders, so we figured we could associate one new boulder to every character you find in Story mode. Every time you defeat a new army leader you win their boulder which you can later use in your next matches.

A scene from 'Clash of the Titans'...

The Medusa boulder is made of unfortunate greek heroes who were sent to kill Medusa; they all of course looked at her and turned into stone. It's funny to imagine how Medusa would arrange for soldiers to petrify in specific poses, each one like a puzzle piece she can use to build a giant boulder.

...And to solve the soldier puzzle ourselves, we used M.C. Escher's repeating patterns as a reference.

Left image: M. C. Escher

By designing a couple of interlocking tiles, you can repeat the pattern as much as you like.

To make these types of repeating patterns, it is helpful to start with just the structure and then complicate the edges. It has to be said that it is easier to make these type of patterns today because you can have your software modify all the rotated copies of a tile simultaneously as you are working on just one. Doing this without a computer would have been way more challenging!

Finally, we used a simpler tile structure because the previous one was not designed to wrap around a sphere... oops!

Here's how the final result looks like:

Dramatic screenshot!!!

Enjoyed this new boulder? The game will feature a wider variety of new boulder designs, some which will have unique special properties (more on this in a future post). We'll keep on covering new boulders and more units in upcoming updates.

Rock Of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder [Dev Blog #5] - Navigating Levels: The Boulder AI Design

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Sep 14 2016, 04:07 PM in Development

Navigating levels: The boulder AI design

So here's a crazy simulation showing off the result of dozens of AI boulder players trying to navigate a level simultaneously.

Cool, isn't it? So if you wish to know how we're getting these results... read on!

One area which ROA1 could have been better was the boulder's AI. As we went into ROA2, we had to find a system that was both efficient and also easy to use for level designers. After trying different approaches we ended up implementing a path system in which a human player navigates a level to record speed and jump values of how to finish an empty level (no obstacles). The resulting information can be seen represented in the following spline:

As you can see this level (which happens to show a nice preview of the Renaissance art period) has a few jumps and turns and can get quite narrow for a boulder attempting to navigate at top speed. This path shows the most obvious and "safe" path to complete the level, where no risky/difficult jumps have been taken during the recording process.

In the spline you can see how the green vectors are representative of the direction and velocity (given by the vector's length).

However we want our AI to sometimes attempt shortcuts, and for this we record play sessions with riskier routes that require better timed jumps and control, as can be seen in the following two examples.

When the game is running, the AI boulder doesn't simply move through the paths we have predefined - these are there as markers which give a hint to the computer of when to jump and what speed to move. With more prerecorded sessions (done by a human player), the AI has more information to help it know how to navigate the level properly. When knocked away, or even when falling off the level, the AI can re-adjust and use this navigation map to properly move through the level, and that result is the animation at the beginning of this post, which I share here again.

The way the boulder evades obstacles is a different system that works in conjunction with this ...but that is a topic we can talk more about in a future blog post. Hope you enjoyed this quick insight into the development of ROA2. Remember this post when you play the game later on and the AI beats you wink.gif

Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder - Unit review: Cows

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Aug 30 2016, 10:12 AM in Development

Unit review: Cows
Cow goes moo
Hello community! In this second developer post where we look at the changes made to defensive units we'll be evaluating the cow to see how it has transitioned to the new game.

The new design
In the first Rock of Ages, the cow was the 'tier 1' walker unit, grouped with the elephants and the mammoth. In Rock of Ages 2 we got rid of tiers so that every unit has its unique behaviors. So now the cow is no longer linked to any other entity/group.

Actually, the cow has a completely new purpose in Rock of Ages 2. When thinking about the upgraded cow we came up with a new concept: "sticky cows"!

Check out the following video to get an idea of how this mechanic works:

I can't shake them!!

Cows are now grazing indifferent to enemy boulders. If a boulder happens to come in contact with a cow, the cow sticks to the boulder like glue difficulting the boulder's movement. The more cows the boulder runs over the more 'lumps' the boulder has to struggle with.

Hoping PETA doesn't see this...

Cows are an excellent way to obstruct boulders, but they are best combined with other units that will push the rock into the herd.

Because cows work best in clusters we decided to deploy them in a 3x3 array in groups of 5. This way players are not forced to individually place every cow when trying to cover larger areas.

Cows are evenly distributed in a 3x3 area.

Note: The sticky mechanic is not persistent. Cows lumps can only resist a limited amount of contacts on the surface before they fall off. Still, getting tagged by a cow will considerably slow down a boulder making it a much easier target for other units.

Hope everyone likes our new approach to cows in this new game. Stay tuned for future posts where we'll be looking at other defensive units and their specifics.

Until the next time!
Do you think cows were an effective unit in Rock of Ages 1? Let us know! Don't forget to visit our latest poll where we're hoping to hear your thoughts on unit effectiveness in the first game (Cows are currently ranking in first place as least effective! Ouch!).

Rock of Ages 2 - Henry crafts!

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Aug 29 2016, 10:18 AM

Henry crafts!

I always wanted to make a puppet of a Rock of Ages character, and behold! Here I am sharing the character sheet I used so you can print and make your own too.

Click for the hi-res image (4634x5958, 5.3 MB)

Enjoy dancing Henry below...

The process:

1) I printed him on 30 X 40 photo paper, which I found rigid enough to work pretty well.
The character sheet is in very good resolution, so you could make a much larger puppet if you wanted to.

2) Then came the most time-consuming step; cutting all the pieces. I included two versions of the head (one with movable eyes and jaw, and one full head) because I knew it might be difficult to cut those tiny eye sockets precisely, so I wanted a backup head in case I messed up.

3) I wasn't sure if I wanted an articulated paper puppet or if I wanted a poseable fridge magnet character, so I ended up making a combination of the two.
For the arms and head I glued flat fridge magnets behind the back pieces, and glued little strips of metal to the front pieces. His head falls off occasionally if I am not careful, but since Henry was pretty fond of beheading I think it is appropriate.

4) For the rest of the joints I could have used brads (you know, those tacks/fasteners with two flexible legs?) which would have made an easier to pose and more resistant puppet...

5) ...But I wanted the joints to be invisible, so I made the holes with a needle and connected the pieces with string that is taped to the back of the front pieces and goes through the hole of the back pieces.

Next day I have an urge to do a crafts project I might make a little stop-motion movie... or sculpting stone to make an actual Rock of Ages!... or maybe I should go back to working on the game :)

Edmundo Bordeu
Art Director

Rock of Ages 2 - First look at the Greek art style in ROA 2

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Aug 26 2016, 10:09 AM in Development

First look at the Greek art style in ROA 2
One of the most unique levels of Rock of Ages were the starting levels that were set in the Greek art period. In ROA2 a few levels will also be set in ancient Greece, but for the sequel we wanted to achieve a more authentic look and feel to the Greek art seen in vases and ornaments of the time.
WIP Greek Level - Rock of Ages 2

The main problem with Greek art is that it is very flat and “2D”, consisting mostly of good use of silhouettes and designs to create an image that is usually monochromatic in color.

In the original Rock of Ages there was a very distinct separation from the foreground and background in our levels, where the “skybox” was using a very illustrated art style, but the main environment was made of more realistic rock textures. The main challenge for us here has been to match the background and main environment using a non-photorealistic rendering style that simulates Greek art.

Greek Level - Rock of Ages 1

A game that excels at doing Greek art is Apotheon (which is awesome and you should check out). But in our case we had to do something similar in 3D. For this we came up with a pretty “old school” technique that used to be implemented in games to try to simulate a cartoon shader.

We basically create geometry with two layers, where the second layer has all the polygons of the base mesh overlapping but inverted (facing inwards) to simulate the stroke effect for the geometry. With a shader we control how much we “push” the reversed polygons based on the distance to the camera so that we can keep the stroke intensity consistent for all the image. The base material is unlit, so basically we have an extremely performance friendly implementation that has the following benefits:
  • Lightmapping is almost irrelevant (can reduce memory because lightmaps aren't really necessary)
  • Very basic textures / materials are needed (the effect is given by geometry rather than textures – no normal-mapping, specular textures, etc).
  • Despite having to double the geometry for the stroke effect, the models themselves are pretty low-poly since you only care about the silhouette of the object.
Here are a few more examples of how the art style is turning out using this technique:

Click to enlarge

So, I hope you guys enjoyed this brief insight about the game development process of Rock of Ages 2. We will have more blog posts like this over time as well as articles about gameplay, mechanics, new features and more. Stay tuned!

Rock of Ages 2 - Unit review: The Catapult

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Aug 25 2016, 09:35 AM in Development

Unit review: The Catapult

Hey Rock of Ages fans! Continuing our development posts, on this occasion we'll be looking at the catapult and inspect what tweaks and changes have been applied to the basic shooter unit.

In the original Rock of Ages, the catapult was perhaps one of the most important defensive units because of its great effectiveness when used in larger clusters and its low cost. We're making sure that these benefits are part of the new design, but we still wanted to do some tinkering.

One of the catapult's limitations was its inability to target boulders outside of its view cone, so we added the possibility for these to rotate left or right so they can still seek for boulders that get past them.

Now those wheels have a purpose!

For best effectiveness players should still try to place catapults facing the boulder path because the rotating action can take a few seconds. Whenever the catapult no longer senses a nearby boulder it will return to its original orientation.

Old vs new

Here's a comparison between the old and the new design. The areas covered with colored cloth will display the player's team color selection.

Original RoA catapult on the left. Bigger and Boulder catapult on the right.


Hope everyone enjoyed this update. We'll continue inspecting many other units in future posts to come, so stay tuned for more updates!

Here are a few more screenshots of the new catapult. Click to enlarge.

Rock of Ages 2 - Personalizing your army

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Aug 24 2016, 10:46 AM in Development

Personalizing your army
Hi everyone. Now that the cat is out of the bag, we want to start sharing and elaborating on the new additions and changes we are working on for the sequel, so we will be posting regular updates that include information on new features, comparisons with the original title, etc.

In this first entry we'd like to talk about one of these new features, which is the ability to personalize your team through colors and banner icons.

After developing the first title, we noticed that customization was something that was cool, but very limited since players could only select boulder skins and avatars. In the sequel, we wanted to expand on this concept by allowing players to customize not only your avatars, but also your defensive units. Therefore, we have enabled the possibility to choose from a list of banners and colors to personalize your army.

Here's an example of different outputs you can obtain in the game:

*Customization allows for an interesting variety of alternatives.

We're making sure that all units feature 'color coded' areas that can display your team colors and banners. Players can select from two color slots to determine their team color and banner color.

Boulders will also display team colors, should the player decide to customize these with different paint patterns (more on this in a future post).

For banner icons we'll offer a variety of possibilities. Here is a small preview of some of the icons that will be selectable to customize your team:

*Preview of our banner 'masks'. We will feature a much larger diversity of icons in the final game.

Finally, we're currently looking at the possibility of including more options than simple flat colors for the color picker. We'd love to have available some extra options like gold and silver paint. This can add a really cool look to some customizations.


Hope everyone enjoyed this first sneak peek of the new features in Rock of Ages II. Stay tuned for the next blog post where we'll be discussing other improvements about this exciting title.

Andres Bordeu

Rock of Ages II : Bigger and Boulder announced!

Posted by Carlos Bordeu, Jun 3 2016, 04:24 PM

Fans were asking for it and ACE Team is proud to present the sequel of one of our most successful franchises.

Go check out the debut trailer, and if you like what you see you can wishlist the title now on Steam. smile.gif

Rock of Ages II Steam Store page

Rock of Ages II is a game that improves on all aspects of the original. Up to 4 players can battle in crazy boulder mayhem. New impressive art periods, more historical characters and the funniest story clips we've ever made. All rendered with highly improved destruction / physics and effects - powered by our first Unreal Engine 4 game.

We will have regular updates about the game's progress posted in the Rock of Ages II community hub, so stay tuned for more as we refine and develop the game further.

Making of - Abyss Odyssey's first concept test

Posted by Andres Bordeu, Sep 9 2015, 04:32 PM in Development

Hi guys. Now that Abyss Odyssey has been out for some time we wanted to share this previously unreleased footage that shows how the game was first envisioned in its conceptual phase.

Some of the final features, like procedural generated environments, hadn't been planned yet, but we had in mind some unique features that were later discarded, such as immortal avatars and mountable exploding horses biggrin.gif .

Check out the video below to see what Abyss Odyssey looked like in the beginning (warning: stiff animations detected tongue.gif ):

Hope everyone enjoys this rare footage!

Oh, and don't forget that we're recruiting fans at the ACE Team Steam group, so if you haven't joined already follow this link:


Join the new ACE Team Steam group and win something!

Posted by Carlos Bordeu, Sep 2 2015, 02:11 PM

Hello everyone!

We are opening up our official Steam group - The new central hub for reaching the community and fans of ACE games! This will be where we will be updating everyone about new developments, surprises, events and everything ACE Team related.

To celebrate this occasion, we will be giving away 10 Steam keys for any of our titles in a random lottery*.

Follow the link below and join to become a part of the ACE Team community!

ACE Team Group

*Winners will be announced on Monday September 7th.

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