Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Unicorn Training Bosses: Shield & Bounce


     A metric butt-ton of things got in the way of me making progress with Unicorn Training. Exams are relentless and comic-con weekend ensures low-productivity. Tonight is different because I had a full hour to myself and I spent it finishing up the first bosses for the game!

Wildcat Comic-Con 2014


     Wildcat Comic-Con 2014 happened and it was just about as good as last years (minus one friend who couldn't attend this year). there were a lot of game design related events this year and many contacts were acquired for the school (points to PCT GameDevs). One game audio panel in particular made attending the event worthwhile.

     I dressed up in a Doctor Who outfit to be an accessory for my cosplay loving girlfriend Karissa (We did Derpy & Doctor Hooves) and we set out with a bunch of friends to enjoy a weekend of fun and relaxation to celebrate the end of our first quarterly exams. Silly me forgot to take any pictures in the heat of the moment so once again I have nothing to show I was there (Oops).

     To make up for that, check out a bunch of text below the break!


Monday, September 29, 2014

Changing The Gaming Major At Penn College


     Scary stuff is on the horizon as far as school goes for me. It looks like I'll be climbing a mountain very soon. The heart of it is: My school is missing aspects of game development that are extremely important. If you remember my drama with the deans that went nowhere last summer, you'll know that I was basically told I picked the wrong school. The Gaming & Simulation degree is IT programming focused, and does that really well.

     What it doesn't do is live up to the name that lured in so many students. We see the word game and the pictures of shooters and students holding Xbox controllers then assume this is the place where you can go to learn how to make video games. We pick Penn College because we can't afford to go to California or Full Sail. It's like saying only the wealthy deserve a chance to make video games. We see this degree as a flicker of hope that we can get that dream job at company X or start our own studios. The school does not currently have a program that achieves that, so some members of the PCT GameDevs have agreed to help me design one.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Unicorn Training Enemies: Cruncher & Cyclops


     This time I'm finishing up the last of Unicorn Training's enemies. I made the last two recently but didn't post about them yet! Cyclops and Cruncher are the final two enemies to script and  both were easier than I anticipated. All the enemies became simpler once I got rid of the roaming script and stuck with horizontal / vertical switch movement.

     Cyclops walk around with their bad attitudes shooting out laser balls every 3 seconds. They always switch from horizontal to vertical (or reverse) after firing. Each time they fire they aim at clover based on their horizontal status and choose to shoot left/right or up/down. Cruncher is the last enemy I did and it behaves much like the Cyclops but spits splashes of water instead of firing lasers.

     It's nice to have this part of the game out of the way. Just 9 bosses to go and I start the sprint toward the finish! If this is the hardest stuff I have to code I'll be done in no time.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Status Report #57 (Fish Feaster's Retirement, Finished Enemy Scripts, & Unicorn Quest Brainstorm)


     This week was hectic! School is going nuts with the workload as we approach midterms and PCT GameDevs is really on the school's radar now. In-between all the madness I've been trying to get as much Unicorn Training work done as I can. I also managed to fix the problems I've been having with Unity Web Player builds of my games so people can play my stuff online. Hopefully things can calm down next week so I can get more game development done. But right now there's stuff to do!

     My school's Comic-Con started at 8:30 this morning so I'm very late with posting duty today! Expect a write-up like last year's sometime in the coming week. In the meantime, you can enjoy a status report!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Unicorn Training Enemies: Sentry, SurgeOrb, Troll, Ogre


     Sentry is the common dungeon dweller. It's the only enemy that appears when you step on a booby trap and serves as the default bad guy in Swirllock's obstacle courses. It has two orbiting diamonds that take turns shooting at you and will also fire if you manage to hit it in the face. The easy part is, they don't have the ability to move, so they can be dodged easily.

     SurgeOrb is basically an aggressive Blockwork. When its electric shield goes down it shoots out wattballs like crazy before going back into hiding. You're going to need some healing cupcakes to deal with these guys. At least they don't move. They don't attack while guarding either, so that's your chance to set up a turret in their faces.

     Trolls and Ogres are cool because they just walk around boasting their testosterone levels. They're based off of a gag character from My Little Pony and just walk back n' forth shouting every few steps. Ogres are green, smelly, and slightly slower than trolls. They shoot fast fireballs that put Burstie's to shame. Trolls are the easy little brother with no bonuses aside from a tiny bit of speed. Both are tanks with twice the health of normal enemies, but are total pushovers once you level up your strongest moves.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

RIP Fish Feaster...


     My iOS Developer's license has expired and Fish Feaster, along with Fish Feaster Free and TriGrid, have been removed from the app store. Fish Feaster was my first game to reach over 500 downloads, a number only surpassed by Feed The Plant. Most of my games only have around 200 downloads to date. Thanks to anyone who has downloaded my first video game ever. It holds a special place in my heart as the game that got me on the right track of just finishing something for once.

     It may return once I get a new dev license, but that won't be until I make enough money to buy a Mac computer. This is also why Unicorn Training will only be available on Android for a while. My heart goes out to any iOS players following me, and I hope to have my games available for you all to play someday soon.

It died at around 725 total downloads over about 15 months.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Unicorn Training Enemies: Flapwick & Psybat


     Flapwicks are big ol' Zubat looking monsters that fly around and pause to screech every couple seconds. Every third screech has a slightly bigger hitbox than normal but all screeches do the same damage. Hitting a Flapwick makes it alternate between moving horizontally or vertically. Like spinners, these were meant to wander freely but I'm having trouble with the code for that but this Drillor style wall bumping works perfectly.

     As for the Psybats, they took most of the code from Goorbs and basically flap in place until you hit them. When hit, they throw one of their four levitating rocks at you which do more damage than Goorb balls but don't bounce everywhere. Once all the rocks are gone, the bat resorts to feeble screeching like it's Flapwick cousin until you can take it out. The rocks will block everything but the Cut and Surge spells so you'll have to time your shots or switch over to a spell that can kill them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New (Fleshed Out) Unicorn Quest Ideas


     A bunch of ideas for Unicorn Quest came to me last night as I was trying to fall asleep and I couldn't help but keep waking up to make note of them all. These all happen to be either little details I said "I'll figure out later" or mistakes I'm noticing with Unicorn Training's design. Having all these details down has me more pumped than ever to just start that project already!

     I really want to prove what current me is capable of rather than me from a year ago. Sadly I won't be touching it until I start my senior capstone class so it's pretty far off. I have other fun projects to occupy me until then though, so I can wait. Catch all the new brain blasts below the break!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Lifespan of Downloadable Games


     My girlfriend bought a Sega Genesis at a retro games shop to replay games from her childhood and we've been playing it all weekend. It reminded me of how good it feels to be able to play something so impactful a decade later and see it in a new light with an older /wiser mind. It got me thinking about how good it would feel to have people going back to play games I've made decades later and remembering how I made their childhood. That's when another thought about permanence came to me.

     With Fish Feaster going away I can easily see Apple or Google just dumping their appstores some time in the distant future for a clean slate, or even closing it off as the appstore of decades X through Y. Do downloadable games have the same literal lifespan of physical console games? I know those can decay slowly over time, but since downloadable games can be stored anywhere and played on anything with the right emulator, do they have more longevity? I wonder if games I make 10 years from now will be remembered 30 years from now...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Web Versions of My Unity Games


     I made a couple of my games playable on the web as html games. My teacher wanted to play my Phoenix Wright game and told me that the exe file I linked on my Games tab wasn't working. She suggesting making a web version so I made a new build in Unity and tried it out. I also did Feed The Plant that way like I intended a while back. I ran into problems with making it playable on the site before so I made a ZIP file this time so people can download and run it that way. The only downside to running these on the web is the little Unity icon in the corner that slides in when the game starts. It's not too annoying, but something to keep in mind.

     You can try them out yourself here: Feed The Plant and Phoenix Wright

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Status Report #56 (Enemies, PCT GameDevs, & Surviving the Common Cold)


     Bidding farewell to Fish Feaster, my very first game. I don't think I ever learned so much about game development at once. I made mistake after mistake and put all the skills I got from my pet projects to work. I went from a dropped Dragon Ball Z RPG, to a joke pony app, to an unfinished DragCore prototype (which was lost in my first Macbook breakdown). I made a bunch of posts a while back chronicling the Making of Fish Feaster along with a bunch of other related things.

    The more I think about it, the more the game means to me. Every project means a lot to me. Each one taught me so many new things and are helping me grow into the developer I still dream of being. As for anyone following me from the beginning, I hope you can remember these milestones along with me into the future.

Friday, September 19, 2014

First PCT GameDevs Meeting


     Our first club meeting was today and it went really well. Plenty of people came (others were held up with a tutoring event) and I finally got an idea of what running a club is like. When you're presenting stuff up there it really helps to have a bulleted agenda to go by and keep things focused. This first meeting was really an introductory one where I asked what people wanted to learn and showed the topics I planned to cover in the coming weeks.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Disappearing iOS Apps Reminder!


     On September 24th my iOS games will be pulled from the appstore! If you're curious about my first completed game project, Fish Feaster, this will be your last chance to get it! I know I'll be treasuring my app data for it as a reminder of how far I've come and how much I was able to accomplish even back then. I'll never forget the feeling of seeing my first game ever listed next to all the other official games that I once considered impossible for a novice like me to make.

    I've been Mac-less for what feels like a year now and it looks like Apple has changed a lot of things on the developer's side. Hopefully they make things easier/approachable the way Google does by the time I get another Mac so I can publish games for iOS faster next year. It's a shame I can't really show the PCT GameDevs how all the iTunes Connect stuff works from the inside. I guess I'll just save it for another time. It may even be easier to explain if the process gets more straightforward anytime soon.

My Candy Catch test app vanished when I moved data to my new iPod.
It no longer exists on iOS in a playable form.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Unicorn Training Enemies: Burstie, Spinner, & Blockwork


     After a couple days of miserable sickness I'm back at it! I got a handful of enemies done and I'll be describing the latest 3 today. Bursties are the brown dudes spiting fireballs. They rotate clockwise on the spot and shoot each time they turn. They do this no matter where Clover is so they can make the entire map dangerous. They pop after just one hit, but on death they will explode and cause damage if Clover is near them. To make up the challenge they are guaranteed heart droppers like Jelwads. Taking these guys out first is a very wise decision.

      Spinners are the ruby eyed orbs floating above little tornadoes. They simply roam within a small space around their spawn position. Every few seconds they'll shoot at Clover if she's nearby. The trickiest thing about them is hitting the small fast-moving collision box around the head orb. Landing a hit while dodging the rapid fire energy balls can be pretty tough in the heat of things.

     Blockwork is the name given to the ruby orb with a surrounding diamond. It can only be harmed when its diamond shield turns off. All the while it fires energy balls every couple seconds if you're within range. An interesting thing I noticed with this enemy is how it can always be harmed by the piercing Cut spell. If you don't want to wait for the shield to go down, switch to Cut and slash away. It gives players a reason to use that spell rather than sticking to a single favorite. I'll keep that idea in mind for future baddies.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sick Day Recovery (One More Rest Day)


     Still in a bit of pain, to prevent it from getting worse I'll keep resting today. I really want to get back to full health so I can finish a couple enemy scripts I started Saturday. I'm not even going to classes until I feel better. I need to be ready for the first PCT GameDevs Meeting on Thursday. I don't have it in me to delay it again.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sick Day (No Enemy Scripting)


     I've been coughing up my lungs for two days now so nothing is getting done today. If I rest up now I might be at full productivity again tomorrow. Sickness is the worst. I should consider how sick days affect a game's release. An entire team being off can delay a game by a week!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Unicorn Training Enemies: Jelwad


     You'll never see their names in-game, but behind the scenes each baddie has a name to go by. This one is Jelwad. It's a jiggly blob of green good that exists to be shot at. They start out huge but shrink as you take off HP. The best thing about these guys is how they have guaranteed hearts inside them to reward your efforts.

     These guys don't move around at all and are one of the simplest enemies in the game. It's a good warm up for all the coding that is to come with the complex enemies later this week. It feels good adding another baddie to the family.

     I'll be trying to finish at least one monster a day so there's a post describing each one (or couple) over the week. My obligation to pot should be a helpful motivator to get stuff done.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Status Report #55 (World Map, Masters Degree Offer, & Delayed Club)


     Lot's of good feels this week as Unicorn Training continues to take shape. I've shown it to some new people now and confidence is through the roof with how excited people are when they see things in action. It might not be perfect to me but it's still impressive among my school's students based on what teachers prepared us to do (not much).

     I also had a lot of school related thoughts this week. Some things about going to Full Sail in an alternate universe and getting a full-ride offer for Bloomsburg on Thursday. You can get all the details below the break for this week's status report!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Unicorn Training Item Shops


     Both the item shops are open for business! They work like a charm, allowing you to buy helpful things in exchange for gems. It's as simple as walking in from of what you want and pressing the action button. The price of your selected item hovers over the shop keep's head. I'm currently debating on whether to have item descriptions somewhere or let that be a surprise. At this point I realize items are not a necessity but are more like a bonus to make things easier. Especially the potions. Items and currency kind of just exist for the sake of existing. I'll definitely overhaul it all when making Unicorn Quest.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Doing Unicorn Map Before Scripting Enemies


     I'd get a much nicer morale boost if I do this one little thing before scripting enemies. My map page in the pause menu has been blank for too long. I want to put in the map sprites I made yesterday and the whole thing can be done in one night. I want Clover's flashing face sprite to be over the square region she currently resides in. It will give players a general feel for where they are and show where certain gems are in the overworld.

     In dungeons it will show how close you are to the boss room. I don't want players to feel completely lost and I also don't want them to feel like dungeons are deeper or shorter than they actually are. 9 dungeon rooms each and 16 overworld rooms. This map shows where you are in those.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Finished Remaining Enemy Prefabs For Unicorn Training

All the baddies exist! Too bad they can't move yet.
     I finished up the last of the enemy and boss prefabs a couple days back and now I'm working on each one's script so I can tell everyone how the finalized versions will work. I have basic ideas written down in the design document but I've noticed my enemy designs changing to fit constraints on the fly so nothing is certain until it's set in code. Hopefully I'll have a basic enemy or two up soon so I can talk about them.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Organizing Enemy Code (Unicorn Training vs Future)

I should keep a comment list of all methods before the first one starts.
I can find them easier that way.
     One of the things I need to keep in mind for future projects is the way I write AI code. I need to organize things into very specific methods to minimize copy/paste lines of logic and everything needs to be placed in a way that makes looking for a particular method easy. I think I did pretty well with Unicorn Training, especially compared to how I started with TriGrid.

     All the enemies have similar behavior methods organized in the same way. The AimAtPlayer() method is always after the NearPlayer() method and before the Knockback() method. Over time I'm getting better at writing clean code because I'm learning what my needs as a designer are. It'll be interesting to see how my way of thinking changes when I switch to turn-based AI code next year.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Unicorn Training: Things Left to Do

     I'm expecting this to be Unicorn Training's last couple months of development. If everything goes well and I don't get handed much homework I'll be able to reach final playtesting by late October! I thought it would be interesting to see my development task list the way I glance at it daily. I copy/pasted my checklist from my iPod notes below the break.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

PCT GameDevs Will Meet Thursdays at 3:30!!


     Planning for the first club meeting I've ever organized is set. We'll be going over introductions and asking what people want to learn about first before getting into a regular rhythm in the weeks after. I know I want to cover topics that come up in conversation all the time like making a game quickly in Unity, sprite making, publishing on appstores, 3D rigging & animation, interacting with industry professionals, starting a development blog, and tracking download statistics.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Status Report #54 (GameDev Club Approved & Animated Bad Guys)


     Finally did it. I got the signatures and had the PCT GameDevs club approved by the Gamer's Guild. I also found a room that should fit us all and picked the perfect time and weekly date where the school shuts classes down so clubs can run for an hour.

     PowerPoint presentation templates are ready and I'm waiting on confirmation for my room reservations for the year. Next I have advertising and email reminders to worry about. I never thought I'd be the one making this happen. I kind of just did it on a whim last Wednesday and never looked back. Check out this week's downloads and accomplishments below!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Unicorn Training: Making Enemy Prefabs (Copy/Paste Monster Objects)


     I finished up the animations and crafted game objects out of some enemy sprites. This allows me to drag & drop them into any levels I want them to appear in. I can also summon them at will in battle this way. I'll be doing this for the rest of them today. Next I have to code each one's unique behavior to have them all complete. Right now they all have empty scripts so they just stand in place when spawned.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

PCT GameDevs Committee Constitution


     I wrote a description for the GameDev club I'm starting so I have something to show people who will help me get this thing off the ground. Nothing too fancy, just a description of what this club is going for. If I need a more detailed official document I have the template for a student organization's constitution so I can easily write up the rest. See what I have written below the break!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

PCT GameDevs Is On It's Way


     All I need to start the game developer's committee at my school is at least 10 signatures and a solid description of what we plan to accomplish. Now the club is basically certain to happen because both of those objectives are met and the number of people interested is higher than I expected. We're currently settled on the name PCT GameDevs (PCT is the Pennsylvania College of Technology) and it is sure to be a very popular school club. I collected 28 signatures yesterday and there are still a bunch of game classes I haven't asked yet. I'll need to find a room big enough to hold 30-40 people! This is great to see!

    A group of Japanese game development students visited my college yesterday and I watched them play all the games we made freshman year. It was nostalgic and interesting to see an international take on our novice works. Watching the visitors learn our games through play was particularly interesting. During this event I got the chance to speak with a few Gaming majors I hadn't gotten to know before and I'm more pumped than ever to experience that tenfold when this club starts up!

I prepared some new logos and printed a constitution to deliver on Friday.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

New Approach To Starting A Game Development Club


     After asking around all week, trying to meet with the Student Organizations head, and attending game-related clubs around school I've decided to approach it differently. I got the official paperwork and was going around getting signatures from the right people, answering questions, hyping up students, designing text logos, making a Facebook page, and writing a constitution when I found out that the biggest gaming club on campus was capable of supporting my idea as a committee.

    I originally thought that being a small part of a bigger club would put me into a tiny time slot in a given room but actually I would be allowed to choose a room and meeting time independent of the parent club if I was able to show enough interest. All I really need is a big room, a projector, and permission to post flyers around campus and piggybacking off my school's Gamer's Guild (the biggest tabletop/video gaming club) allows me to do just that without all the fundraising and paperwork Student Organizations is demanding.

     All I have to do is get as many signatures of interested students as possible and I can run my own legitimate club meetings. This week I'll be popping into gaming classes asking for names and emails so I can hand them to the Gamer's Guild president and have an email list to get the word out.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Unicorn Training: Sprites Imported, Animations Ready!


     It's finally done! All the enemies and bosses have fully animated in-game forms! I just have to code them one-by-one and my game will be in near-beta completeness. Once I've finished the enemies I'll just need a few menu interface sprites before being left to balance and polish up the game. Getting these enemy sprites done once and for all is a huge relief because it took so much longer than I was expecting. Still, the game is roughly on schedule and should be in final playtesting by late September for an early October release.

The organization is pretty messy. I'll sort this stuff better next game.
Folders are your friends.