Gravity Gun and Improved Laser Gun

First things first, I’ve added a new gun that allows you to switch round the direction of gravity. When you shoot it at an object, the direction of gravity changes sort of towards that object. That doesn’t mean that stuff will fall directly towards that object, but rather in the opposite direction that the face of the object you hit was facing. It’ll be awesome when I can get together some more puzzles that use it, but lately I’ve had lots of work to do, hence the late update.

spikes-74The gun doesn’t yet have any animations, sounds or particles (and as far as I can remember it probably doesn’t take gravits off you either), but I decided rather than wait another week to update, I may as well put something out for you guys to play. The gun is useful in the new level, World 3 Level 1, in which you need to guide a cube past some destruction fields. This level is also unfinished currently, but it should be enough to show you the function of the Gravity Gun.

Every level and every gun can be accessed from the start now too, so that you don’t have to go back and play every level again each time you boot the game up. When I find a way for players to save the game, then I’ll change this back, but for now I think this will be easier for testing. I’ve revisited old levels and added a bit of scenery and new textures, including new scaffolding-like blocks and an alternative blocky texture which looks a bit like small tiles.

spikes-75The layout to a couple levels has changed too, and some new obstacles and puzzles have been added.

The Laser Gun upgrade that was mentioned in my last post has also been added here – it’s just a new model with new textures and animations. The actual laser beam itself is the same as it always has been, but there has been a useful tweak – the crosshairs will move to the point the beam is hitting while in use to help with aiming the gun properly.

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The hub world has had a couple changes, notably the cube crusher room and the main level selection area. The cube crusher room is actually empty now, as I decided it adds nothing to the game and uses resources that could be better used elsewhere, and the main level select building is now slightly larger, with an additional floor for world 3, and some more decorations. Each level now has a name too, which floats above the level selection cube. The spawning room also has a few experimental textures and new decoration, and a dispenser for a new type of cube, the bouncy cube, which is purple.

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That’s just about it for today’s update, but I do have more plans for the future, in the form of a main storyline and perhaps voice-acting in the form of background dialog. I want to have another protagonist in the game who communicates with you throughout, giving you useful information about what to do next. Also, the facility in which the game is set will probably be made into a space station by next update, and the game as a whole will have a more sci-fi theme around it. Have fun playing!

You can play it using the tab at the top of this page, or here.

New Force Gun! – Project Spikes 02/03

Yup, you read that correctly, there’s now a new model for the Force Gun! Not only that, but I’ve figured out how to properly make animations in Blender (because Unity’s built-in animations are terrible), and figured out how the heck Mechanim works (that’s Unity’s animation controller that blends animations for you), so the gun now comes with a much better animation system. That includes animations for picking up the gun, shooting, holding cubes, trying to pick up/shoot cubes that are out of reach, as well as an idle animation. There’s also a couple more sounds, and later I’ll be adding more particle effects.

spikes-66This is a much better model than the old one in my opinion, as it has a distinctive look and textures that continue the ‘blocky’ theme. Eventually I’ll get round to upgrading the other two guns, but it’ll take quite a bit of work, as I also need to find proper uses for them and integrate them into puzzles more.

Another pretty big feature for this update is an enhanced pause menu, which follows the theme of the newer options menu.

spikes-70For this, I lumped together a few existing scripts into one to make things easier and a bit more efficient. The Start Menu’s also had an overhaul, with a few new things added to the background, but most importantly it has a new GUI to match the new style. It looks approximately 27% more glorious than before.

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In this update are two – yes, you heard right, TWO – new levels, both in World 2 and both with pretty unique puzzles. The first is World 2 Level 4, which features another puzzle with the Force Gun and vapourising fields. It’s pretty fun and I hope you all like it – I’m going to aim for one new level every update, although if another important feature is taking a while, then that might not be possible. There’s some new textures in this level too, which are transparent like windows, but not destructible like the others.

spikes-69The new texture can be seen on the roof here. Then there’s World 2 Level 5, which is a fun but rather difficult level in the later sections. Basically, you’re given some ice cubes, an icy runway, and you have to avoid obstacles that are dotted throughout the whole track.

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Just look at all those obstacles! I stopped short of adding turrets too, as there’s too many hazards here already, including spiked walls (see below screenshot), vapourising fields that’ll destroy the cubes you’re using and holes in the floor, but the main addition to this level is a new type of field that harms the player rather than cubes – I call them harm fields, or hurt fields, basically any synonym for “ouch, looks like I’m dead” followed by “field”. They’re the red fields in the screenshot. There’s many ways you can get across this level, for example you could lay out a series of cubes on the floor over the fields so you don’t touch them, or just make a small runway of cubes so you can take a run then jump over them, but my favourite way to get across is to hop on the cube and shoot at it downwards, so it acts like a sledge. The floors are all icy, so you;ll need to be careful and try to go slowly, but at least I didn’t make the floor at an angle, then it would’ve been extremely difficult… *gets idea for next puzzle*.

I’ve been going back and adding small new things to older levels too, such as gravit spawners for levels that didn’t have any, more hazards and more puzzles. Just have a look at World 2 Level 2, which now has some moving spiky walls, a couple turrets and more scenery, as it was pretty bare before.

spikes-68Those same spiky walls are improved versions of the ones in World 2 Level 1, and they’ll mess you up. I mean look at them, red obviously means they’re dangerous. Back in the Hub World, to provide a better sense of scale and immersion, you’ll find some building-like scenery in the background – these buildings are supposed to be the other worlds, as the whole game is set in some sort of facility, perhaps to test ‘Project Spikes’. That opens up a possible storyline, which may be an interesting direction to take the game in. spikes-67

It’s subtle, but it does add to the general feeling of immersion, it feels a bit more like you’re in a large facility. The small room you start off in is also a tad bigger, so I’ll add some sort of bedroom or living space there later on. The boss level for World 1 looks a little different too, mainly that the exit door’s been moved to the top floor, there are spawners for cubes and gravits dotted around, and the death sequence is a bit different although I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t played it yet. Plus Squoid himself now obliterates cubes when he crashes into them, accompanied by copious amounts of particles.

There’s also many little changes, such as in W1L5 there are more boxes in one of the turret rooms, and in W1L4 the small pathway where the spike balls fall from the ceiling has been removed. All across the board, older models for cubes have been replaced for the newer ones, and I’ve used new textures to make old levels look sexier. All this basically means is you have no excuse to be not playing this update, so give it a try 🙂

The game’s also now on IndieDB to drum up a bit more support, so you may want to have a look at its page for a bit of additional info and news, or you can look at the new Twitter page for the game and help spread the word! You can then play the game at the usual places, and you can leave a comment if you have anything to say. Have fun playing!

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Project Spikes

Spinny Things – Project Spikes 05/10 Update

Finally, I’ve completed the 5th and final level of World 1! This level has a couple of new additions, one being rotating platforms.

spikes-19These platforms are pretty simple; all they do is spin around their centre at a set velocity. And I made this mess with them (have fun!). You’ve probably noticed that they have shadows too, as the latest version of Unity allows free accounts to use realtime shadows with one of their directional lights! This is great, because I could never get lightmapping to work well for me, what with all the moving scenery. It has a profound effect on the scene, making it look better than ever. The feature I most like in this update, however, is the new type of platform, that switches on and off every time you jump.

spikes-20I really like how these have turned out. The red cubes are where a platform will appear once you’ve jumped, and the platforms next to them will disappear. Both of these new platforms make nice puzzle combinations, together with the old platforms. I’ve also added doors, which play an opening animation whenever the player presses “e” while in range. A small GUI label will pop up whenever you’re close, so don’t worry about forgetting which key opens doors. To go with these are the new windows, which you can see in the building in the screenshot below.

spikes-21I’ve also made adjustments to the health bar at the top, with red appearing where life/health has been lost, as well as a few optimisations to moving platforms, allowing them to move along the x, y and z directions, not just tied to one axis. Along with this, the spiky balls of horrible impale-y death from the last update will now respawn when knocked off the end of the level. You can play the game in the same place as always – play it here!

 

 

 

From 2D to 3D! The Unity game engine

Recently, while researching more about the subject of game development, I discovered a wonderful game engine called Unity. The basic version is free (there is a Pro version, which has many more features but isn’t free), and it includes all you need to start making your own game straight away, with its own IDE included and many pre-made features and components ready for use. The game supports three main programming languages- Javascript, C# and Boo- and since I have some experience with Java, I am now learning Javascript (don’t confuse the two, they are not the same, albeit very similar concept-wise). Writing scripts for use with Unity is very simple, and a lot of the legwork is done for you by the game engine itself, and all you need to do is drag and drop scripts into the game engine’s interface to automatically apply a script to a game object. From a design point of view, the interface is a dream, allowing for quick, visual editing of your game world in a virtual 3D space to resemble your finished product. Some tricky aspects of game production, such as cameras and lighting, are handled by the engine itself, allowing for more fluid gameplay and better graphics. I’ve been playing around with it for a couple days, and I dont really have much to show about it, but anyone looking to develop 3D games will definitely love this. I made a very basic scene where you can move the camera around, and whenever you left-click, it places a cube, which then falls to the ground. It’s extremely simple but took no time to make, which shows the ease at which you can play around with this to create whatever you want.Image

Its design-focused basis allows for incredible precision in creating your game environment, which will please perfectionists everywhere. It is also easy to import 3D models and animations from popular modelling packages such as 3ds Max, Cinema 4D and Blender. I chose to use Blender, since it is free and open source, with many of the features of costlier packages. Now I can make my own models of characters, items or scenery, give them animations, import them into Unity and they’re ready to go! Hopefully I can get a good prototype game going with this (I have planned to make a practice platform game based on the old Crash Bandicoot and Spyro games, it should be great!), and I will get back to you with my progress! Oh, and I haven’t given up on my 2D Java game, I’ll still show my progress with that sometime. Oh, and here’s the link to the Unity website: http://unity3d.com/unity/ . Thanks for reading!

-Daniel