The Games

Mark of the Old Ones Concept Art 9 Mark of the Old Ones Concept Art 8 Mark of the Old Ones Concept Art 0

Mark of the Old Ones

Currently in development.

Mark of the Old Ones (MotOO) is a 2.5D Metroidvania physics platformer. Inspired by some of our favorite games such as Metroid and Zelda, as well as by the mythos of HP Lovecraft. We modernize the classics by adding dynamic inverse kinematic animation to the mix; giving you the ability to explore and interact with the game world in ways that you never have before, in ways that will quickly become natural to your fingers, brain, and gamer soul.

Metroidvania game play with truly satisfying ability hardlock obstacles, puzzles and enemies that take full advantage of the physics engine and IK system.

Careful attention to the difficulty curve, giving you time to master your abilities, yet constantly pushing you to new heights.

Game play focused on a few core game mechanics.

The Tech

Squiggle

SquiggleIK

The SquiggleIK Toolkit is a mathematical kernel designed to substantially ease and speed the development of high-quality, application-specific inverse kinematics.

In other words, it's all the hard IK math boiled down into a small source library.

SquiggleIK allows the straightforward specification of articulated structures consisting of rigid links connected by revolute (hinge) and prismatic (piston) joints. All joints may specify limits to their range of motion, and SquiggleIK is optimized for these kinds of constrained structures.

In addition, and in contrast to Cyclic Coordinate Descent techniques, SquiggleIK's Least Squares Inverse Jacobian approximation yields physically satisfying motion even for over-articulated structures like tentacles, segmented limbs, centipedes, snakes, and scorpion tails. Awkward-looking local minima are largely avoided: motion appears smooth and deliberate.

SquiggleIK is fast, with most articulated structures solving a tick in a couple microseconds. At real-world motion speeds, one tick per frame is often all that's necessary for smooth and natural movement. Even at superhuman speeds, two or three ticks are sufficient. With appropriate multithreading, SquiggleIK should allow animation of many characters simultaneously. What's "many"? We don't know yet.

SquiggleIK is also easy to integrate. It's written in modern, portable C++. It has a single, compile-time dependency: the linear algebra library Eigen (http://eigen.tuxfamily.org), which is licensed under the MPL2 (a permissive open source license which does not require disclosure of your proprietary code). SquiggleIK has no runtime dependencies. And since it's distributed as source, linking is usually easy as dropping it next to your own source files in version control.

SquiggleIK is pretty cool. If you're a gamedev on a budget, and you need IK, SquiggleIK is your best bet. But, you should be aware that the SquiggleIK Toolkit is not a complete procedural animation system. Please note the absence of amazing demos showing human characters reacting in natural ways. SquiggleIK is the kernel of a procedural animation system: the impenetrable, intimidating math at the core of real-time IK. But, by itself, SquiggleIK is not an animation system.

Given the definition of an articulated structure, SquiggleIK answers a single kind of question: if I want the character's hand to move in a particular direction at a given speed, how should I bend their shoulder, elbow, and wrist to achieve that hand velocity?

Everything more complex than that, questions like "How fast should I move my hand to get it to the apple?" or "What's the most efficient motion path to get my hand from my pocket to the apple?" fall within the bounds of "motion planning". As such, while SquiggleIK does provide some rudimentary utilities to solve extremely basic motion planning problems, that part is mostly up to you.

For example, the SquiggleIK Toolkit will provide the hip, knee, and ankle angles to keep a player's foot on the ground. But you'll need to define for SquiggleIK what you mean by "keep", "foot", and "ground". And you'll need to update those definitions each frame.

The SquiggleIK Toolkit is in active development alongside our current game title. Its feature set, especially in motion planning and solution stability, will expand rapidly over the coming months. It is also planned to evolve non-intersection constraints, including non-intersection with the environment through user-implemented collision detection callbacks. Licensees will receive all future updates to the SquiggleIK Toolkit at no additional charge.

Oh! And here's the price: $1100. We just out and said it, without you having to ask. Isn't that nice? If you're interested, email info@htssoft.com to see if the SquiggleIK Toolkit is what you need.

Open-source Modules

We've built three useful Java modules, all of which are available on our GitHub under the BSD license, so you may use them in both closed- and open-source projects.

Alamode

Alamode on GitHub

Alamode is a super-lightweight continuous update framework for Java applications. It requires no server-side infrastructure beyond a standard web server. It quickly scans indexed local files at startup and downloads those that differ from the server's version.

We use alamode to push out updates to the Just Tactics match and chat clients.

Simmons

Simmons on GitHub

Simmons is a thin Java wrapper around native exec()/CreateProcess() functionality. The Java version of exec (Runtime#exec) requires that the parent process manually drain the stdout of the child process. If the parent JVM exits, then the child process will eventually stall out when its output buffer fills up. Simmons offers an exec() that truly separates the parent from the child.

We use simmons to chain between the alamode updater and the Just Tactics chat client. (Bonus nerd points if you catch the joke in the name.)

Sploosh

Sploosh on GitHub

Sploosh is a pure Java implementation of game-grade fluid dynamics. It uses a vorticity model to compellingly simulate vortices and swirls in the fluid medium. Since the problem is embarrassingly data-parallel, it makes use of all available processor cores to update fluid state in real time. Seriously, you should get hundreds of frames per second with thousands of vortons.

You can see sploosh-based effects throughout Just Tactics, especially in explosions.

The Company

Hit the Sticks LLC is a talented team of engineers and artists. We are based in Wynnewood (a suburb of Philadelphia), Pennsylvania, USA. We were founded in 2005. Back then we ran online video game tournaments, using other developer's games. Unfortunately, we discovered the pitfall of online gaming: it is easy to cheat. The tournament hosting software that we had created was awesome, but, in-game cheats such as aimbots and wallhacks were ruining everyone's eSports experience. We decided that we wanted to make our own games, extraordinary games, games that you cannot cheat at. We were already making games in our spare time, and had extensive modding and networked gaming experience from our days running tournaments. We knew we could pull it off, and we have. Now we make fun and thought-provoking games.

The Team

Jordan Brock

Jordan Brock
President

Jordan wears 84 different hats. From raising money, to steering the ship, down to making sure the office is stocked with good coffee.

Oleg Danilchenko

Oleg Danilchenko
3D Artist

Oleg is a great all around 3D artist. Oleg is an excellent animator. You can tell if Oleg is in your neighborhood because he blasts dubstep out of his car at 120 decibels.

H. Alex Martin

H. Alex Martin
3D Artist

Alex is a wonderous environment artist. He is a graduate of Full Sail University. If he is not working on games in the office, he is playing any game he can get his hands on.

Dave DeLizza

Dave DeLizza
Audio Maestro

Dave creates all of our sound effects and composes our music. He is willing to smash, drop into a food processor, or drive over anything with his car if it will create a cool sound effect.

Justin Juner

Justin Juner
QA Lead

Justin meticulously tests our code. He tries to find bugs, and tries to break our system altogether. Justin is also pursuing a degree in Neuroscience.

Christian Plummer

Christian Plummer
Engineer

Christian is working on a degree in game design, he will then go for a degree in computer science. Despite still being in school, Christian has built a number of beautiful effects for Just Tactics.

Do you think you could improve our team? Send your resume and cover letter to careers@htssoft.com. Applications for any position are welcome.