Archive | March 2014

Green Eggs and Plan

(So, I meant to post a proper plan about my new game a few days ago. I actually thought I had, but when I came back to check on my blog, I couldn’t find it anywhere. I figure it must’ve been lost in the awful internet void somewhere along the way. Because I’m fantastically lazy, I’m not going to re-write what I’d done, but I’ll upload a rough design doc I’d written for myself to stay on track, which pretty much covers the same content. This also covers an assignment for another Unit, which is why it mentions a hypothesis and how I’ll go about proving it, but you can safely ignore that. Also, I think I gave myself an extra week for GAM101, which I don’t actually have. Enjoy!)

 

Brief:
The game will be a 3D third-person game, with an over-the-shoulder camera.

The game must feature multiple levels;

The game needs at least one trace-hit weapon, one projectile and one timed weapon;

The game must show a score multiplier or combo somewhere;

The game must have a persistent system, such as a high score or save system in place.

The project will be converted from my last 2D project, which already covers the rest of the brief. For the sake my testing my hypothesis for MDU103, I’m having people test the older version of my game, as well as the new one. People will be given a (digital) sheet to rate the differences between the games, as shown below. These will be tallied and the final result will determine which version of the game was more ‘successful’.

Design Plan:
By the end of week 7 (the break week), the above brief must be met. This allows 2 weeks for polish for GAM101 and 3 weeks for MDU103, though the extra week is best spent testing for MDU103.

This means that, by the end of week 7, the game must be in 3D, have multiple levels, have a trace hit, projectile and timed weapon, have a score multiplier or combo and implement a persistent system. Doing so will leave me 2 weeks for polish and level design and then a final week for testing my hypothesis.

Priority:
Make the game 3D – Since the original 2D game was built in a 3D engine, this is a simple task and should only take a matter of minutes. Don’t forget to disable the current camera script, or the camera will stay in a bird’s eye view. It’s also important that, at some point (probably in the second level), the player must traverse the Z axis or the game is technically still 2D. I’ll also need to add a skybox and decorate the existing area quite a lot more, since the game was built for 2D.

Include the trace-hit and timed weapon – The game already includes a projectile weapon, maybe make it explode after a timer? This may be less functional in terms of gameplay, but it provides me more time to polish the game and it meets the brief. Implementing a trace-hit weapon is probably the biggest task of the lot, since the current combat system is based on a targeting system I’ll also have to remove. This means a complete overhaul of combat, at least as far as the player goes. It may be possible to recycle a lot of the current code in order to meet the new brief.

Score multiplier or combo system – Will be easier to include a score system, since I can work this into a high score to meet the persistent system brief. Points can be awarded for killing enemies quickly, with the bonus being lost if the player takes too much time between kills.

Multiple Levels – This will be mostly about polish and level design. No scripting should be required short of loading the new level. This means I can quickly add existing prefabs into a new (probably smaller) level. This new level will include the final boss and will function similarly to the graveyard in my current game. One important feature to note is that in this second level, the player should traverse the Z axis at least once, in order to properly meet the 3D brief.

Polish – Polish the crap out of the game. This is where a bit over half of my development time will go, adding things like sound, feedback, tweaking the systems and graphics, etc. Polish is totally fundamental to a solid and fun game and is something I typically haven’t given enough time for in previous work. Some key things I want to fix are the GUI (since it’s ugly as hell and currently provides no player feedback), audio (needs a lot of work, most enemies don’t make noise when they attack or are attacked, for example) and player feedback.

When I say feedback, I mean systems that react to the player’s actions. These are things like the health bar shaking when you’re injured, enemies reacting to being attacked, the screen flashing red when you’re attacked, a particle effect or noise when you collect an item, etc. Currently, feedback and GUI are my two highest priorities when it comes to polish time.

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Game Plan

So, now that I’ve finished my last project, I’ve begun work on my next one. To meet the brief, I need to create a 3D version of the game I’ve just finished. This can be a direct conversion (which I plan to do), which should also save me some time. 

It’s kind of late and I’m distracted with other assignments at the moment, so this and my next post in a couple of days are going to be fairly short. Then, they should resume at a normal pace when my project’s well underway. I plan to include more info on development this time, but so far it’s been more about cleaning the project up, deleting assets I’m not using and cleaning out the code, which isn’t very interesting to read about. 

So this post is basically just a quick one to remind you that yes, more posts are coming over the next couple of weeks, and they’ll have a lot more information on my next game. It’s just there’s not a whole lot to report on, and other assignments have me swamped.

So stay tuned!

Game Finished!

Hi again,

Sorry for the hiatus, but I’ve been pretty flat out with uni work. My game is finished as of about a week ago, but because of my terrible handling of assets, it’s too big for me to upload at the moment. I’ll possibly cut it back some and upload it anyway later on, but I’d say I’m just going to focus more on my next project. 

So, the game turned out ‘okay’. There are some things I’m quite happy about and other things I’m not. I’ll upload the post-mortem, so if you’re really interested feel free to give it a read. It basically covers what went wrong, what went right and what I learned from doing it, which is probably a largely uninteresting read for most people. 

To give it a quick summary, I wish I’d put more time into polishing the game and making it feel more fun. I spent too much time getting it to work properly – largely due to my novice programming skills – and not enough time making it fun and ‘neat’. For my next project, I plan to spend a lot less time making it functional and a lot more time polishing the game and making it more interesting. Obviously, I still plan for it to function properly and to meet the brief, but I’m realising more and more that each tiny addition to the mechanics of a game really sucks up your time.

I’ll update the blog later on about my next project in more detail, but it’s basically a 3D version of the one I just finished. I’m pretty excited to do this for a couple of reasons – Firstly, it won’t take as much time to code as a game from scratch would. Secondly, I think this game could be really cool in 3D and lastly, I’m kind of glad I get to go back and address some of the issues I had with the game initially – such as the crappy combat. 

As promised, I’ll upload the post-mortem on the blog, but I’ll do it in a separate page. It’s about 6 pages long, so I don’t really feel like it has any place on the main page. Please give it a read if you’re interested and as always, feel free to ask me any questions relating to my games or the blog.

PS. Sorry I couldn’t upload a copy of the game to play! If somebody really wants it feel free to send me an email. I plan to cut back on the file size in my next project, so I should be able to upload a completed version of that when I’m done. My next post will be all about that project, so look forward to it.

 

Thanks for reading!

Second Post!

Hey everyone,

Back for my first (second?) update! The game I’ve been working on is due this Friday (it’s Sunday night at the time of writing), so I’ve got to get the last of the features nailed in. The game is actually pretty much functional at this point – I’ve only got the little things to do, but they end up being what sucks up all your time. 

I’ve just finished work on my ‘boss’ character. I hadn’t planned ahead on this guy, so I had a quick hunt around the asset store to find a suitable model. Most were either too expensive (not free) or had pretty crappy or non-existent animations, which led to the unfortunate near-decision of using this guy as the player’s ultimate hurdle:Image

Pictured: Desparation

Luckily, I came across a ‘cave worm’, which is clearly much more menacing than ‘humpback whale’. He’s not in a cave and looks nothing like a worm, but he’s definitely final boss material;

Image

More tentacles means more power

 

Unfortunately, because of my time constraints, this guy is just a bigger meaner version of regular enemies, despite his different appearance. The time constraints are getting to me a bit, and I think I’m “pulling a Molyneux” – A lot of the features I’d planned on adding just aren’t going to make it in time.

I’d like to add a small narrative, but I think the world itself kind of tells a decent enough story – it’s no stretch to imagine that the player can put the events together without any guidance from me. This gives me a tricky problem about finishing the game, though. What do I do when the player beats the final boss? At this point I’m just thinking that I’ll have a “You win!” screen, but I’m not sure how to work it in. It’s kind of low-priority at the moment, though.

 I also want to add a levelling system, but that’s surprisingly quick and easy. I might even name the game if we’re really lucky. 

It’s actually going pretty smoothly so far and I think I’d be able to do a lot more if it weren’t for my other assignments – They’re not a small time drain either. I’m looking forward to finishing this game, but I’m not feeling as if I’ll revisit it at this point. I’m enjoying working on it, but it doesn’t really offer anything new or exciting and I feel it’d take more time than it’s worth to turn it into something great. 

Having said that, I think it’s technically and functionally fine and it certainly meets the brief I’ve been given, so despite the fact that I don’t find it ‘great’, I’m still proud of the work I’ve done. Building a game from scratch is no small feat – not that I’m done yet – so it’s always very satisfying to get something to work. 

These are almost definitely my famous last words before I miss the submission date, but contrary to what I said at the beginning of this post, I don’t think anything I have left to do will take too much time. I have to fix the targeting system and fix the GUI (general user interface) in places, as well as put the finishing touches on the world and add a ‘game over’ and ‘winning’ screen (plus a levelling system). Maybe I won’t make it after all.