Progress Report on Project Roll-Away!

Although I haven’t done too much since I posted about my project, I have implemented some pretty interesting things.

I added some enemies, one is a repeller that follows the player to continue pushing it until it falls off of the map (or into another enemy), and the other is a magnet which drains your health at 1 point per second until you can break away (which can be done!).

I have a video here demonstrating what I mean!

I plan to add some other enemies, though I’ve yet to figure out what all they’ll be!  I do have an idea for one but I won’t tell you what it is yet!

As you can tell, the geometry of the level is quite unappealing. This is because everything is currently a placeholder, and will be replaced with fully detailed models in the future. I plan to make the repellers have some sort of “force field” around them, which expands as they’re pushing the player away, and the magnets will look like a stack of neodymium magnets.

I’ve also upgraded the central code of the game to rely on a “Game State Manager”, which  means that information such as the score, lives and health are persistent and won’t be wiped when new levels are loaded. There is a save game and a load game function and they both work flawlessly.

That’s really all I have to report for now, stay tuned for more!

Project: Building a Monster Gaming Rig

Despite my love for my iMac that I bought over a year ago, it is in no way, shape or form a gaming machine. It can handle some small things like Minecraft (on light settings), but nothing like the games I want to play, such as Battlefield 4. While it is still a great computer, it just doesn’t have quite the “oomph” I would like for game playing/development. Thus, the solution to my current predicament is quite obvious; I must build a monster gaming machine!

Sadly, it can’t be a “monster” monster gaming rig, I had to limit my budget. I set my MAX budget to $1500, including monitor, mouse and keyboard.

I managed to not only find parts that are pretty inexpensive, but I managed to get everything down to about $1150!

The big way that I did was going with AMD for both the CPU and GPU. For the CPU I chose the Fx-8350, and GPU is the R9 280X (which is basically a GTX 770). That, alone, probably saved me $300, and those parts are more powerful than their Intel/nVidia counterparts.

Anyway, I placed the first half of my order last week, and after my next two paychecks I’ll be able to order the rest! I can’t wait, I’ll finally be able to play some good old PC games that I love, as well as play new ones like Thief, Assassin’s Creed IV, and many, many others!

You can definitely expect a WIP post over the next few weeks as I build it. I also plan to shoot a video of me building the thing! I will also post a parts list as well!

Unity Physics are pretty dang epic!

I have made some pretty good progress with some of the basic game mechanics for “Project: Roll-Away!”, as the project name has been changed.

I have a basic scoring system, as well as collection systems and “death routines” in place. Checkpoints and initial spawnpoints also work flawlessly.

As I sat working yesterday, I realized I wanted a way to make it appear as though things like gems and checkpoint flags were hovering, in order to catch the player’s eye. I initially attempted to “lerp” between two positions, but this didn’t give exactly the effect I was going for. Then I remembered a trick from an old video tutorial, about using triggers and Unity’s physics engine to make objects “hover” by utilizing the “AddForce” function. I tried it, and it gave me EXACTLY what I was looking for!

Here is a video showing what I mean!

I also added a limiter, so that the object wouldn’t gain enough force to bounce out of the bounds of the trigger and fly out of the level, because upon initial tests, exactly that happened!

Here’s a screenshot showing some of the behind-the-scenes magic:
Trigger zones everywhere!

And that, my friends, will enable me to quickly get this game… rolling! I just have to finish off the basics of the “Player Control” script, which includes adding “save points” in the game so that the player can save anywhere it’s allowed, and finish writing the Save Game and Load Game routines, and it should be playable sooner rather than later! I won’t make any promises on a demo release, but it will definitely be within a month or two, at most!

Stay tuned!

Resurrecting “Project: Roll-A-Ball”

I have sort of resurrected the project I had been working on earlier in the year.

By that, I mean I have finally come up with some pretty unique ideas for game mechanics, and I have also learned a fair bit more of Unity’s physics engine!

I just started developing today, and I’m surprised by how much I’ve already been able to get done (only been working for about 1.25 hours total, intermittently throughout the day). I have the basics of player control worked out, I have a checkpoint system, soon I’ll add in a scoring system and such like, as well as collectibles.

I’m not going to worry about the polish anytime soon, in fact I’ve come up with a scheme on how I’ll identify objects in the meantime (since the finished game will have a LOT of detail!).

    1. Any floor objects/platforms will be RED for being a REGULAR FLOOR TYPE
    2. Any different types of floor will be colored BLACK to represent UNSAFE FLOORS, and DARK GREEN for different conditions, such as slippery/icy
    3. Checkpoint objects are GREEN for GO
    4. PlayerStart positions are PURPLE, because it looks cool
    5. Player object is BLUE because that’s what I chose

With that system now explained, here’s a screenshot of what I’ve got so far, it’s nothing fancy!

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 6.03.41 PM

4×4 Unity View

And here’s a better look at the scene populated with a few checkpoints:

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 6.04.27 PM

Better View

My personal goal is to see how far I can get by the end of September – if I can get far enough that I can start work on implementing final textures and detailed world pieces, I’ll shoot for a release for NaGaCreMo ’15, which should be a lot of fun!

Some Random Stuffs

I don’t really have any updates worth sharing on the status of my game I’m making with Unity, because life has gotten in the way and I really haven’t had much time to sit down and develop. I still only have the prototype level built, and barely have the main controller script started. But I’m getting there!

Developing on Mac has proved interesting, to say the least. The graphics chip I have in my system is only a GeForce GTX 660M with 512MB of VRAM – hardly anything, really. In fact, to prove how little power this chip actually has, I went and tried out the Unreal Engine. While that is a great engine and would be my #1 choice to develop games with, it requires a rather monstrous machine to power. Even when I had all of the post-processing effects turned off and everything set to low, I could only get 25-29 fps, and it dipped to 17fps quite frequently. And this was in a world that only had 4 objects and 2 lights!

I tried researching ways to get better performance from Unreal on a Mac, but it is simply too resource-heavy.  Unity is much better, perhaps because it was actually originally developed for Macs anyway. Of course, if you had Unity Pro and turned the graphics settings up to 11 on a Mac, you’d get the same result as with Unreal – it would stutter and display a black screen with “lol wtf m8″ and crash, leaving you with a pile of molten aluminum and a sad frowny face.

With all of that said, I do want a proper, powerful  gaming PC again, and I have found no better deal than the iBuyPower Revolt Gaming PC.. With everything upgraded, I was able to customize a PC to have a GeForce GTX 780 3GB graphics card, 16GB of RAM, a great processor, decent harddrive and a good motherboard for around $1650.00, so all in all if I can get that PC, Unity/Unreal would run pretty well for a long time to come, and I would finally be able to produce some amazing results! Not to mention, all of my PC games would run amazingly well.

Of course, I can make that a lot cheaper by substituting the GTX 780 3GB with a GTX 750/760ti 2GB, and save about $300-$400, so I might end up doing that. It would still be a pretty great machine!

In other news, I also have a newer idea for a game, based on several ideas I’ve had for a long while. Imagine a mix of Oblivion, some elements from the original Harry Potter console games, and humor, and you get the new formula for the game I want to make. It might take years, but it’s certainly an idea I want to pursue, and if I could get it launched on something like the Ouya, that’d be pretty great!

That’s really all I have for now. Just wanted to let people know I’m not dead!

Getting back into Unity

Around a year ago, I was working on a 2D sidescrolling platformer, called “Cuboidz”. You may remember me talking about it, or if not, that’s ok. It really doesn’t matter because it’s changing a lot!

It will no longer be 2D – it will be a mix between 2D/3D, and although it will have many of the same elements, it will feature some pretty unique things that I will share at a later date…

I plan on making a full version for Mac, Windows and Linux, but there will be an online demo on my website featuring the entire first set of levels, so that people can see if they even want to download it. I hope to sell it actually, but we’ll see!

Don’t worry, I am alive.

It has been a long, long time since I last updated this blog.  In fact, it has been exactly 5 months since I posted anything at all.  I’m great at updating things, aren’t I?

Anyway, as I’m sure you are aware, back in the beginning of the year I was working on a game with the Unity engine.  This was all well and good, but I was quickly growing tired of the concept I had come up with, which was a marble you controlled in space.  Awesome idea, indeed!  But while developing it, I realized I had very little knowledge of how Unity’s system worked.  While I could make my ideas work, they were sloppily cobbled together in the code, much in the same way one might fix a leaky faucet with some wood glue and scotch tape.  In other words, they just barely worked.  My motivation was quickly running out.

So, I put the project on hold.

Then I took it off hold again…

Then I silently put it on hold again on January 25th, 2014, and that was that.  I killed it, like one might squash a mosquito flying around one’s face, annoying the ever-living [bleep]* out of them  And I was happy that I had put it on hold, because then I could focus on what I truly wanted to do, which was learn a lot more about video production, in the hopes that I might become a filmmaker.

So, I pretty much gave up programming, at least for those few months.  I’ve decided I definitely don’t want to develop games for my career – programming, while fun, is something I’m not necessarily the best at, and it takes a lot of brain power.  Sometimes, more brain power than I can really muster!

But does that mean I’m going to stop tinkering with code, and computers in general?  Of course not!  I spent the better part of a decade learning as much as I could about computers, programming, web development, and much more, so it would be pretty silly to give it all up.  It will definitely remain a hobby of mine, although since filmmaking takes a lot of focus, it’s definitely possible there will be huge breaks in-between programming projects.  Especially if that project happens to be a game!

Although I love programming, and game-making, filmmaking has definitely been my #1 interest since… well, pretty much since the first time I saw movies like Back to the Future.  There’s just something about the entire process that captures me, and makes me want to contribute in some way.  Whether or not I’ll get famous remains to be seen!

With all of that said, I have recently been studying Python in my free time.  It’s a language that I really never fully explored, and I’m glad I’m studying it because it is a ridiculously awesome language!  I plan to use it in conjunction with Panda3D to make a small game.  I would use Unity, but I would really like to use a barebones engine so that I am forced to code my own level editor of sorts, since I personally think that’s a lot more fun.

But first, like I said, my main focus is to get started with some videos, to see if I can launch a filmmaking career.  One can dream, can’t they?

*I’m quite certain you know what word I was going to put there.