Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Global Game Jam 2014

Its that time of year again. Time to blog about how things went at the Global Game Jam.  Well if you were looking for a spectacular success story of how me and my team(Raid+) created a short game that was raved about by the everyone who played it, you wont find it here. The jam began with most of  the Raid+ team(minus most of our artists) in our usual class room. Waiting excited for the keynote and the topic to be played by the jam admin. We were "competing" with several other teams. The matc Capstoners + Alumni, Raid+, Second Semester Noobs, and Two teams from UWM (also The admins Mike and Emil made an unofficial game). The time eventually came. The keynote was long and boring. The game jam topic was:  "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."  Raid+ rushed off into brainstorm mode. After a while we decided to make a First person survival horror game where the player could view a number of night vision security feeds by looking at an in game tablet. I loved this idea and I felt like it had a lot of potential to make for some very creepy and unsettling moments. though unfortunately soon after that feature was nailed down, I felt that many of the designers started making really bad decisions about what was going to be in the game. The first of these decisions was to make the player unable to move while holding the tablet. This was a bad decision because it limited the ways that the player could navigate the level. I was thinking that the fun of the game was going to be learning to navigate levels from several different perspectives. Instead the player was to enter a dark room, Open up the tablet, look at the environment, then close the tablet and try to remember how the level looked from a fucked up weird perspective. There are other games that use memorization as a way to progress but the player never knew where the cameras were in relation to the player character, rendering them useless and completely disorienting. Also I just want to point out that at the time I did realize that these were mistakes and I do blame my self for not pointing out these flaws to my team earlier. I just didnt want to hamper the awesome creative juices of the designers at the time. Also I thought it would become obvious later that those changes needed to be made but they never were. Another bad decision was to make the environments completely unseeable. This one I thought was completely ridiculous that nobody else caught earlier. 

 Above: A picture of our game jam game...Yes it was that dark. I don't know why this issue wasn't resolved. What were we thinking! Another issue that seems kind of irrelevant now but was a big deal at the time was that the designers wanted to put in a mechanic where the player can trip over certain items. The game is unplayabley difficult to navigate already, I dont imagine being able to trip over tables would have helped much. When I mentioned that tripping over things was a terrible idea I also mentioned that we should cut out some features and they completely disregarded what I said. When Noah our lead designer, was asked why the game was like this he blamed the games quality on the fact that we went to buffalo wild wings instead of ordering dominos again. That is super dumb. It is clear to me that the reason that our game failed was because Raid+ had once again out scoped a project, and because of a few bad design decisions early in development. Other than that though I had a ton of fun making it.In programming specific news I learned a lot about corountines and how useful WaitForSeconds() is in unity. I had always tried to avoid WaitForSeconds() because you cant exit out of it until the end but it is really useful for delaying things that dont exit out of being delayed. Also learned some about cameras and occlusion. Also I just want to add that I am very proud of the way the tablet turned out especially because programmed it. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Shadow Princess Update Jan 21 2014

Over the past week or so I've done a number of things for (Working Title) Shadow Princess. One thing that I did was I uploaded the current build of Shadow Princess to Kongregate. I primarily did this to have a few people play what I have and then give feed back but I only got one survey response. Im not that surprised since I only posted the link to my facebook feed and didnt post it to any game dev forums but I was hoping for a few more. It was also just to test out how uploading games to Kongregate works. Not to much of a problem there. I uploaded it successfully. Not long after that, Probably the most major thing that I did was that I found the "Fun" as my Professor calls it. Or at least I think I have found the core systems of the prototype that make the game fun to play. As I was playing the game on my browser I realized how unintuitive the controls were. Coupled with the one feedback response telling me that they couldn't get past the tutorial because the controls wouldn't work for them, I decided to strip out alot mechanics and simplify what I had. I took out the dash and upper dash abilitys because having to many move options simply confused the player. Now the game only has the dive kick type ability as well as the jump and double jump. I also removed and randomly spawning platforms. So now there is only the enemy type and the collectable. I also made it so that when the enemy is dive kicked it bounces the player up. The player also bounces when a collectable is obtained. With this and the addition of a combo based point system The game becomes fun. The goal of the game is no longer survive for as long as possible but is to attain the highest amount of points you can by achieving the highest combo you can, all the while surviving.

Also Ive started seriously thinking about what the art style of the game should be. Right now Im thinking like a Tron Rainbow type style. I did a few parallax layers and its looking pretty cool. Il keep my mind open though since my last game MicroDude had a tron like art style.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Shadow Princess and Other things Ive been up to

Alright. First post of 2014 lets hope the coming year will be a good one.  Since the end of the School year I have been doing a number of things. Eating to much and procrastinating come to mind, but now I'm ready to continue developing games. I've Already built out a number of prototypes for my next project but I think I've finally settled on one. The first prototype that I made was an Idea that I had come up with during the school year. The idea was to create a tower defense game where you control a 2d sidescroller character. After I built out the prototype in game maker I realized that not only was the scope of the game going to be way bigger than I could handle but also that 2d sidescroller mechanics dont really blend well with tower defense mechanics. I shelved that one and started work on just a 2d Platformer. The plan for this Idea was to make fast paced colorful platform game. I used the new unity 2d tech demo project as a starting point. I made a few tweaks to the project and added super meatboy style wall jumping. I needed a feature that would differentiate the game from the rest of the 2d platformers out there so I add a Divekick style dive kick ability.
The game played pretty well on controller but suffered on keyboard. This was a major problem because I plan on making most of my revenue through browser based platforms like Kongregate.
 I shelved that project and then moved on to the project I currently plan on finishing which is (Working Title) Shadow Princess. Shadow Princess is a runner 2d sidscroller game. Your character runs in one direction  and you have to jump and dash out of the way of obstacles.  Its a genre that only recently emerged with the popularity of the mobile platform and I think its a genre that hasn't been completely over done yet. I plan to release the game on mobile but I plan to make most of my money from cites that run ads like Kongregate. But I've also been thinking about having some sort of micro transaction model as well. I really hope that this game pans out well. Also other things I've been up to are watching youtube lectures about game development and entrepreneurship. They say I should get a lawyer and an accountant but they also say I should get them when I have something to lose. Hopefully I will have something to lose this year.