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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Battle Gem Ponies DevLog #70 (PCT Game Jam Spring 2016)

     I made a Game Jam title this weekend about a mermaid with a monster mouth that eats smaller fish. And yes, the text in the logo is a mashup of Hungry Howie's, The Little Mermaid, and Viral Hunger. The theme was Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

     I woke up that morning with the vision of some kind of game involving mermaids and Fish Feaster with Shantae style graphics. I managed to make that random dream fit with the theme by adding elements of escalating difficulty and humor.

Get some more #GameJam goodness below!

Been looking forward to it for a couple months now.
Had big plans for this little mermaid game. Found out my work pace was too slow. If it were a 48 hour jam, I could do it.
Heck, I might just hold onto the assets and finish it later. At least I can share it here for free.
I also figured out how to do that fancy word highlighting stuff seen in Undertale.
I plan on putting the Unicorn Training APKs on next Tuesday, so keep an eye out!

  • Fixed Menu Navigation Controls (GamePad & Keyboard)
  • Scrapped Custom Controller Configuration (more trouble than it's worth, default is fine)
  • Tested Bilinear and Trilinear Sprite Filters
  • Word Highlighting in Unity
  • Experimented With Gradient Text (not a good fit for BGP)
  • Typing Out Text (printing letters one at a time)
  • Thought About What I Wish My Degree Was Like
  • Researched Houses in Florida
  • Studied Lots of Tax Law
  • Studied Payroll & Microeconomics (nearly finished with the courses)
  • Experimented With Google Maps & Facebook APIs (programming class)
  • PCT Game Jam Spring 2016
  • Practiced Using Colliders (much better understanding of them now)
  • Practiced Editing Sprites in Gimp
  • Observed Good Teamwork Up Close
  • Learned Flaws of My Debugging Method
  • Uploaded The Hungry Mermaid
     Lessons Learned:
  • The BGP soundtrack is shaping up well. Listening to the works in progress from musicians blucario & E^2 gets me pumped to see the final game running. Just about every song has at least one draft now and once they're all done, it's a matter of revision over the remaining year.
  • Scanned through Zillow/Google Maps and found a bunch of houses ranging from good to extravagant, which fits my dream pay ceiling perfectly. I don't ever have to worry about growing out of Florida or losing touch with the industry if I pick a nice home less than approximately 12 minutes away from Full Sail University (Florida's cluster for the creative industries). I could happily spend the rest of my days in that area.
  • Spent a lot of time on Thursday looking at houses and imagining where I want to be in 10 years. Preferably sooner. It puts a clearer image in my head to chase after.
     The initial goal: Sing to fish and Lure them to you. Eat them and gain points. Seems like a simple straightforward game until you accidentally eat a pufferfish that harms you, then suddenly a healthbar appears and it's on. Slowly, threats keep being introduced. At first you think Murphy’s Law applies to the fish you’re eating, but you slowly realize the mermaid is the one suffering as the entire ocean seems to turn on you. Sea mines would descend from the ocean surface, Sharks come zooming by ready to eat everything, jellyfish start to materialize around you, fish skeletons would leap from the seafloor, and even the rocks below would grow mouths and become deadly predators. Based on the jam time remaining, I could have kept adding hazards and polish. But I didn't even get past making a basic gameplay loop.

     Wanna talk about Murphy’s Law? Random bugs and spending WAY longer than planned just dividing sprite sheets into individual images fit “things going wrong" pretty well. Basically, the jam showed me what I was doing wrong rather than flexing my dev muscle. I had to find solutions to some collider problems and control schemes that would've made Unicorn Training feel like a much smoother experience. I got as far as eating fish to make the victims count go up, having the fish and shark reset themselves, and having the game reset if the shark's mouth is touched. You can download The Hungry Mermaid on MediaFire if you really want to, but I don't think there's much to see.

The game was going to have tons of smooth animations
and most of the cast of Fish Feaster involved.
       Completing the game jam game is more of a matter of pride for me. I know I can do it and I came this far, so I might as well get it done. Just not now. Battle Gem Ponies still needs to be done on time, so maybe as soon as it's finished I can take a break by doing this small project and just adding another teeny thing to my portfolio.

     On the other hand, I could just drop it and move on. The big lesson to learn here was that I work too slow and need to find faster ways to do things. Part of it has to do with my passion lying more in adding polish, and writing out ideas while the actual work of importing assets and coding the systems is super tedious. Maybe I should try finishing this game after BGP, but do it with Game Maker to see if I can work more efficiently. If anything, I can at least make that my game engine of choice for simple game jam projects.


     Still keeping steady on that $30 a month from this. It's reassuring to know that somehow a steady trickle of people manage to come across my stuff. I'd be interested to see how they find it all in the vast sea of apps out there. I have to imagine they've seen me online somewhere and looked these games up after following me on something. If BGP can boost Unicorn Training to $300 a month, that'd be a nice bonus to cover a bill or two.

   Additionally, I've earned $43.70 from ads on this blog since starting it back in late August of 2016. Can't claim any of it until I reach a $100 threshold minimum though, which sucks because I'd be more useful now than later (wishing it could just blend with my Google Play payouts). So maybe 3 years from now I'll receive a random $100 deposit. I can use it to cover food for a week.


James Temoshenko presenting his group's game. Essentially a GameStop Black Friday simulator.
Pretty sure that group won hands down. The grand prize was 4 Steam Gift Cards and eternal glory.
     This week was all about the jam. Unfortunately we had to get out of the building at a certain time, so I didn't get to present what I had made to everyone. But it's okay, since the project didn't really come together anyway. That makes 2 disappointing game jams in a row for me. Maybe I just don't do well with short timespans. My multi-week class projects always turn out well, so maybe I just suck at crunch. Is that good? Am I built to space things out more?

Found this on Google Images and it helped me figure out that
I can do word highlighting with 2D Toolkit!
     With new resolve I'll be attacking Battle Gem Ponies more fiercely than ever. It's never going to get done if my slow implementation pace keeps up. It's like how I run too now that I think about it. I'm much better at distance than short sprints, so I need to practice getting short term things done faster to improve those muscles for when I need them.

     I'll also be voting in a presidential election for the first time today, so that should be interesting. Means I'll have to skip an afternoon class though, but I think the teacher will understand.

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