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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Gushing About: Hack n' Slash Games

     Ever since I was a kid I've been enamored by games where you get to run around as a guy with a sword and tearing hundreds, if not thousands, of enemies apart. But despite how fun it is,when there's nothing to do but that in a game, it gets really old very quickly. This topic came to mind when I was thinking about Hyrule Warriors and how it could take what I like about Dynasty Warriors and making it refreshing and interesting for more than one level.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Phoenix Wright.exe Screen Size

     One of the big things to worry about in my forensics game is the resolution. What's the point of making the game if the whole thing breaks when screen size is adjusted. What if the teacher shows it in class and makes it full screen? What resolution works best on PCs in general? What about scaling a forced size like I do for my mobile games? Keep in mind the pixelated art style and how bad it looks stretched out.

     The Unity maximized preview didn't stretch properly (squashed with things cut-off on the sides) so I was worried the final game would look that warped. Luckily the built executable didn't do that and looked how I wanted it to. I settled on making it 1024x768 (iPad resolution) and set the scale to Fit Visible so it stretches horizontally and vertically evenly. The result looks pretty good now and that's one problem down.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Finished Level 1 Spell Sprites

     Some may change as I implement them and make adjustments, but they are finally finished up to a point where I can put them in the game. I still have to draw upgraded versions of most of them but these sprites will do for the next milestone. There are too many to show here and I think they will look much better in video form a couple weeks from now.

    Spell descriptions were changed to accommodate new ideas and limitations I ran into. I wanted each spell to feel unique and I feel like I'm succeeding so far. I can't wait to put them in action soon.

    Coding how each spell behaves will take a while, but this part in particular took longer than I estimated. Having this done just feels like weight off my back as this project crests the last hill toward this milestone.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Priority Switch (Balancing UQ and PWAA)

     With deadlines for two things I really want done before May 10th approaching I have to chart out my free time carefully. Unicorn Quest's milestone is more important personally (and in the long term) but the Phoenix Wright project is due for a major school grade where I'm struggling to maintain a B grade.

      With that in mind I've decided to switch what I'm working on day by day until I reach a point where I can see one being possible to finish up faster than the other. At that point I can wrap one up the focus on the other. It may seem completely stupid to tackle these two things at once (even though they're both pretty  small things I could do in a couple weeks) but I work well under pressure and practicing this kind of crunch will leave me better prepared for the real world.

      I have to teach myself how to become a better game developer because school won't do it for me. School gets me a piece of paper that might save my life. Actual practice will build my skills, create a tangible portfolio, make long-term money, and fill in the blanks school won't even acknowledge. I think of this as just another self-imposed assignment.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Status Report #35

     Tough week. Lots of school, but a new opportunity for attention has risen. That capstone presentation on Thursday really rocked my socks off and got me excited about my later few semesters at school. I actually got some Unicorn Quest work done (despite my doubt) too! There's also some surprising news on how Feed The Plant is doing on Samsung apps.

 Check out this week in review under the page break!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Lesson's From Watching Senior Capstone Presentation

This isn't from the presentation, but a room at my school similar to it.
      I'm very excited right now because I just saw an upperclassman's Senior Capstone game project proposal. I got lot's of details for what I'm going to be doing during my own senior year. I'm elated to hear that the next (and last) two "Make a game in-class" courses I have to take are single person projects where students have control over the product. That means I will make the games alone (no uncooperative teammates) and be allowed to profit from them on app stores.

     My big hold-up with profiting a group effort game was the issue of dividing profit if by some miracle things went well. It's a huge mess I don't even want to think about. If I make something for Yotes Games however, things are simple. I can't believe how exciting my senior year is shaping up to be. Too  bad this semester and the next will both be awful class wise. Every semester after will be smooth sailing though.

See more on what I'm planning below.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

This Past Week Was Mostly Idea Time

     The amount of things that actually got done this week is disappointing, but as far as ideas go I had a lot of boredom time to flesh out the concept for the game I'm making after Unicorn Quest. Ideas that made me switch from "This could be really fun to make." to "My career depends on me making this."which makes me much more excited about the next two years of school where I'll be getting my act together.

      I don't want to put the game in any spotlight until a while after Unicorn Quest is on Google Play. It's just a matter of giving my current passion project the attention it deserves. I'm just bringing it up here because that's where my development time went over the weekend. I was typing furiously into Microsoft Word to squeeze all my ideas out as if my brain was a dripping sponge.

     I find keeping things in my head distracting so when I get in one of those "Oh! How about _ does _. What if I make _ do _ instead? Wouldn't it be cool to take _ and mix it with _ but  have it _?!" moods I just open up Word, dump my ideas into the organized GDD and get back to the task at hand.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, The Fire Turnabout

     I finally got started with making the game component of the project. The written version was turned in and my teacher is reviewing it to make sure the information needed is there. With a little tweaking I'll just have to put them into the game in the form of a character driven story.

     I'm focusing on a few main game components to keep this as basic as possible. Once again, this is not a fan project so much as an interesting homework assignment I can't spend too much time on. If it were up to me I wouldn't even be doing this without the world's most amazing and thought out story up my sleeve.

See how I'm starting work on the project below.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Adventures in Equica: Draining the Spell Bar

     I made it so the magic meter regenerates slowly and using a spell takes a certain mount of magic. When all the magic is gone you'll have to dodge enemy attacks until you recharge enough. Balancing this feature will come later but at least the variables are there for me to mess with now.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Adventures in Equica: The 2nd Milestone Due Date

     I need to have a mildly impressive gameplay video of Unicorn Quest by May 10 (the last day of school). Reasons being I want a nice place to start working all summer and I want to get my game in the public eye. Often the hardest part about selling a game is getting people to know it exists. The success of Unicorn Quest could skyrocket if I can get it in front of the target audience of people who like ponies and video games.

     Two extremely popular blogs have captivated and gathered exactly that audience and I want to show my game there. Unicorn Quest was featured on Equestria Gaming and mentioned twice in Equestria Daily's Nightly-Roundup posts which brought a lot of people here. I want to do that again, but this time with a gameplay video where spells work and there's a basic enemy to shoot them at.

     I essentially have 3 weeks to make a Phoenix Wright sub-game, add an enemy to Unicorn Quest, finish all the spells, and do all the finals week related schoolwork...  Yeah, that's a stupid amount of too much.

     I may just focus on getting all the spells to work and make a video featuring an enemy later. I just want to have something to show off when the page views of those two blogs peak. The Friendship is Magic Season 4 finale is May 10 and I want Adventures in Equica out there when thousands of excited people are looking for the finale online and talking about it afterwards.

     Getting attention at the start of summer will be a perfect way to launch myself into crazy rapid and focused development. Having extra eyes on me really keeps me motivated to continue working as hard as I do. You reading this right now is what helps me sleep at night. It makes what I do matter. It's a great feeling when you accomplish a goal, make a new one, and somebody cares.

Thank you. So very much.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Finding a Conversation Text Box System

     I'm trying to find something that will make RPG-style speech text easy to do (for free or within $20). I can use it for my forensics project and in Unicorn Quest. I haven't finished looking into it yet, but so far Dialoguer does a good job of simplifying branching dialogue trees and NPC Shop, Chat, and Dialogue Framework looks like it will wrap my text according to box size just the way I want it to.

     You know how text boxes in RPGs pop up and letters appear quickly one at a time and can sometimes be colored differently and word-wrapped so they don't go off the edges of the box? I want that.

     It's amazing how so many games have that feature but so few tutorials and programs are available for it. Most things I find are expensive RPG kits or engines with the text thing included. I'm ready to program it myself if it comes to that but if there's a cheap tool out there that does it easily why bother reinventing the wheel? I'll keep searching and experimenting today until I find something that works.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Status Report #34

     Making games and all that jazz. School is always a pain towards the end of a semester. There's three games on my development plate right now and there's nothing to do but crackdown and bust 'em out. It's a short status report this this week.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Slow Progress Just Got Slower

     Development time has really reached a standstill this week and I can see that continuing for another couple of weeks. I have to end the school year strong and final exams and projects are rearing up. With summer approaching I can hang in there until I can finally go back to my 9-10 hour schedule vs. my current 1 hour or less one. I still have lots of spells to do, but combining my research for my forensics game with my needs for Adventures in Equica I can sleep well knowing I'm progressing.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Crazy Idea for a School Project (PWAA Forensics Report)

I love the Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney games.
     The final project for my Forensics & Criminalistics class is a report about a crime scene and how evidence was collected and analyzed to reach a conclusion. It's a pretty straightforward project but also a time consuming one. Given how much I hate school I was calculating ways to meet the project's requirements and finish it as quickly as possible until something the teacher said on Tuesday clicked with me. The information in my report could be submitted in any form of my choosing.

     What if I made video game out of it? She said that's fine. I suddenly cared a lot about this project.

     Phoenix Wright has been popping into my head every class throughout the semester because I'm such a nerd that I can't think about law without a mental image of "OBJECTION!" forming. This project could start a trend that will make school much more interesting for me. an even warmer and fuzzier idea is the teacher showing this to future students in my major and getting them excited about game development and ways they can make projects more interesting to do.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gushing About: The Tekken Series

     If there's one thing that sticks out about the Tekken games it's the diverse cast of characters. This is one of those games where you just accept the fact that a panda bear and an old scientist are street fighting with a raptor wearing boxing gloves and a fire breathing ogre with snakes for an arm that in no way resembles Shrek in the slightest. Each character has a unique and interesting fighting style and the game was a fun way for me to learn button mashing in order to beat my brothers.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Looking Forward to Summer (Push Unicorn Quest's Release Date)

     With just one more month until Summer vacation I can't stop thinking about how much more reasonable my schedule will be. It'll be the productivity I had over Spring Break multiplied by 15! Unicorn Quest should be in shape for public testing at the least. Development will be slow at first, but once I get to the point where everything works  it's just a matter of making new cutscenes, enemies, and environments.

     I'm aiming for a holiday release if it's possible but I can't even tell if that's possible until I see how far I get by August. If I miss it, I can do next spring. People will be too busy playing Smash Brothers non-stop to pick up a mobile RPG anyway. If Unicorn Quest isn't out by Christmas the demo version will be. Just something to get the name out there and give a taste of what is to come.

       School is getting on my last nerve as much as any other student and I couldn't be any more excited to get back to real life and make some progress.

Monday, April 14, 2014

BYOC 2014

      Saturday's annual gaming event was just as fun as the last one. Just about every person on campus interested in video games showed up at some point during the 12 hour event. Games were played, new friends were met, and things were learned. Catch it all below the break.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Working on the Shield Spell (BYOC Recovery Day)

     Yesterday was awesome and I'm back to work now. I'll do a write-up of what I learned tomorrow. What you see above is basically all the work that got done yesterday. The shield starts as a bubble then after the second upgrade it becomes a hexagon. I'll be making it transparent and maybe even make it pulse light. I'll also use a different animation for Clover so she shoots the spell upward instead of forward.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Status Report #33

     School goes on, progress is slow but going, and I get more excited for my future each day. There's a BYOC at my school today where everybody brings games and computers to a gymnasium and we play video games so I'll be taking the day off to have some long awaited fun. Last year's was an amazing fun time for me and I want to see what memories this one will bring. Here's the 33rd Status Report.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bug Fixed! ~ Spell Collision (Video)

     I was stuck on this bug for the longest time. I couldn't wrap my mind around why my blast bullets went straight through walls. Silly me forgot to put a rigidbody component on the spell's prefab object. The rigidbody component is the Unity provided code to make physics interaction possible. Now that I'm using it here I have blast spells that hit walls and play an explosion animation before disappearing. I also changed the cooldown rate so you can't let out an endless stream of spells. Now it's just a matter of making the other spells and making something to shoot at.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Yotes Games is Leaving iOS (Temporarily) in One Month

     I got an email telling me the end of my iOS developer status is coming. My license expires a month from now I and won't be renewing it until I can afford a new Mac to develop iOS games on. Those things cost about $2000 and I don't plan to get one until Unicorn Quest is out and selling well. It has to be new because the reason my old one doesn't work is its inability to update the OSX past OSX 10. It's literally one year too old to update and the appstore will not allow apps to go to the store unless uploaded by a more recent computer. It's why DragCore never made it.

     The whole closed hardware/software and shopping cycle of Apple products are why I love Android and PC so much more. I'll be focusing on making the best Android games possible before porting to anything else in the near future.

This will be your last chance to get TriGrid and Fish Feaster on iOS for one or two years so download them now if you're an iPhone user and want to see what they're about.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

What Schooling Could Be Like (Gamification in Education)

     I recently had another one of my "Why is school still like this!?" episodes and got to thinking about what different ways sound ideal and what consequences there are for breaking the traditional approach.

     Suppose schools ease up on the grading system to lean more towards something that rewards excelling instead of punishing those who can't keep up. It'll stop the countless students who give up because they think they can only fail. Why not have it so that one student who is doing well can lift up the entire class' grade slightly, making the students who would normally be bullied more well liked (more of an  MVP instead of a know-it-all). What if school just focused more on fun instead of cramming and temporary memorization.

     Nobody remembers things in school that didn't involve some kind of fun experience. A boring lecture and a frustrating test are a waste while that one science experiment when the teacher brought in animals will stick with you forever. You didn't understand a particular bit of history until your teacher showed the documentary about the lecture you just had and now it's more clear because you saw it instead of heard it.

     I want to live in a world where we embrace the idea of voluntary learning and positive reinforcement in place of the constant threat of failure. A world where classwork and homework is fun. Where students work together and grades count upwards instead of down. Remove the pressures of school and people will stop giving up. Make a game out of it and everyone will improve on their own terms.

This concept is better explained in this short video about gamifying education.
(Update: Look t that. Another video on the topic came out today!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Unicorn Quest: WIP Pause Screens (Video)

     A posted a video of what I have for the pause menu so far. Basically, nothing in it works, but I'll be programming them as those parts of the game become more complete. The wallet menu, for instance, will work when I finish the gem collection mechanic. I also show the spell switch buttons actually doing something in this video.

Watch the video on my YouTube channel.

Monday, April 7, 2014

What's in So Far (Video)

     Today I'm working on the same stuff as before so I just put up a quick video showing what's working in the game so far. And by working I mean almost working. There's a bug with projectile collision boxes I need to work on and I need to set cooldowns for each spell. You can watch the video on YouTube.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Coding & Spellcasting

    Not much to report today. I'm just putting the sprites to work. I have the animation files ready to go and I'm just making it so everything blends nicely with my current system. I'm trying to put something in place that more closely follows Clovers behavior tree. When she's not doing anything, she idles. If she's doing something, she can't do anything else. This way, when she is playing the SpellCast animation she can't do any other animation until SpellCast is done.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Status Report #32

     It's been good getting back  to Unicorn Quest this week. I've been working on sprites all week and I'll be coding spell casting this weekend. I'm itching closer to having working combat and I'm filling in small design document details over time. Admittedly some details for the project coming after this crept up, but I just wrote them down one day and got it out of my system. Now is the time to get Unicorn Quest in a playable state!

See some interesting numbers and graphs below.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Unicorn Quest Progress: Sprites for Spells

     This week has been about chipping away at Unicorn Quest's spell sprites so that I can see them with my eyes instead of my imagination. I want to make a post showing off each one along with descriptions when they get done. The way each spell works has changed a lot (as expected) while making the sprites and the new ideas greatly outdo the old. I'm really excited to see these things in the game so I can play around with how they feel.

     I've gotten many of the sprites done for 4 of the 10 spells done. I can't say for sure how many extras I'll need until I see how each one looks in action and make adjustments. I drew each one and its upgrades on paper to nail down the looks I'm going for.

     I've been at it for a few days in a row so I decided to change things up a bit to keep me sharp. Today I'll be coding the spell switcher and have Clover animate based on which spell is currently selected, after that it's a matter of adding in the projectile and coding how each spell works.

If you haven't been already, you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook where I usually post sprites I finish as soon as their done just because I feel so proud sometimes.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Minimizing The Unity Scene Count

     I want to use as few different scenes as possible. In TriGrid I made the mistake of having each level have it's own scene. Whenever I changed something not involving prefabs, I ended up having to reopen and edit all 60+ of them. I've been reading up on single scene development for RPGs made in Unity while drafting ideas for making it work.

    I considered having the background image behave like sprites and have it's own animation set (to swap the image for a new room) while the wall colliders could be prefabs. But that;s when I considered how much more efficient it would be to just have the background sprite, its colliders, and it's stationary objects be in one big prefab like the pause menu. That way I can have the whole thing quickly pop up after the loading scene closes.

Scenes look like this before loading now.
     Having the game set like this can make adjustments easier to do and room code management easier to make. Doing this is giving me the happy feeling of making the game more feasible and possible. It'll also make level debugging a matter of swapping prefabs and respawning Clover.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Gushing About: Spider-Man 2

     Everybody liked the Spider-Man 2 game right? One of the greatest licensed movie games ever right? But people only remember the most fun parts. The free roaming around New York and stopping crimes. Do you think a game with only that in it, fleshed out of course, would stand on its own?

     With the new Spider-Man movie coming out I got to thinking about how an HD game with just the free roaming of Spider-Man 2 would be. There is something that feels great about that game that I wish was expanded upon. This could work with Superman too even. Maybe I should make a 3D open world super hero game someday. Then of course there's Sony's inFamous which I think handles the idea really well already.

     What are your thoughts on Spider-Man 2 and super hero games in general? Talk with me in the comments below.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lessons Learned From Feed The Plant

     Taking the detour of quickly making my spin on Flappy Bird was a very refreshing and fun experience. It's rewarding having a fun and simple game out there. It's a favorite among the people who normally playtest my games. I've proven to myself that if I were to make another arcade style game, simplification is the way to go. Feed The Plant was my chance to limit myself to a small game with no progression features or plug-in integration I wasn't comfortable with.

      It's pick-up and play nature has given me further insight into the bite-sized nature I have in mind for my future RPGs. Alongside that I learned a thing or two about shrinking my game file sizes, I practiced spriting to the point were I feel like I can draw anything, and I figured out an interesting bit about making app icons.

Have a postmortem-ish breakdown below.