Working on a new game

It has been a rather long time since I’ve last posted. Let me tell you why!

First, I accidentally managed to delete my Dropbox folder which contained all of my Unity projects. A stupid, stupid mistake, it demotivated me and made me realize, once again, that the rolling-ball-project just didn’t keep me interested. While the physics engine in Unity is really, really fun, I just couldn’t think of any ways to make the game exciting, and I silently halted development.

I then spent my free time working on building my gaming PC, which is quite the little beast! I’ve been playing games like Mechwarrior, Goat Simulator, Skyrim, Empire: Total War, and many, many others. While the GPU certainly isn’t the best, I’ve had no problems with any game I have thrown at it!

I played with the Unreal Engine for quite a bit, too. I love using Blueprint, however I felt that it over-complicates a lot of things, such as creating a vector and setting the values of other types of variables. Brilliant engine, still needs a lot of work. But what can you expect from an all-visual development environment?

So finally, I came back to Unity, because I decided to start development on a game idea I’ve had for a little while now. Basically, without giving away too much information, the player is a type of spy agent in a set of VERY unusual circumstances. The style of the game will be very reminiscent of games like Conker’s Bad Fur Day, in that it will be rather cartoony. I might even use toon shading, should it fit the feel of the game.

So even though I shelved the rolling-ball-project-thing, I was able to use a LOT of the same coding techniques as a basis for the main mechanics of the game. For example, I have a fully-functional GameStateManager class, which will keep all persistent data flowing and allow me to control the game from a single source.

I did have to create a new class which allows me to save multiple types of data types using the built-in PlayerPrefs class. I needed a way to save boolean values and so I did a bit of Googling and found many solutions. I based my new file management class off of one of them and also decided to add the ability to save 3D vectors, something that will come in handy a LOT for this game.

I already have a good chunk of the basics programmed for this game, and I can’t wait to get started on more. I’m going to be creating a custom camera controller script that will allow me to do a bunch of different things with the camera. I picture having one mode that allows the player to “automate” the camera and kind of “show” them where they need to go next, but otherwise it will function very much like most cameras in games do these days.

I really don’t know how to describe the genre of this game. Imagine a mix of games like Uncharted, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, a typical FPS, and top-down shooter, and that might give you an idea of some of the design choices I’ve made. As for the story of the game, that’s still being fleshed out, but rest assured that it will be over-the-top silly, and very much full of puns. Anybody that knows me in real life knows that I just can’t seem to resist making puns!

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!