Lasers and Why Gravity is Hard to Change

Just to start with, today won’t have an update, just a sneak peak about upcoming features and stuff I want to add, but will be difficult to implement. First of all, the next update will have a vastly better Laser Gun; much like the previous one improved the Force Gun, with a new animation controller, new model, new everything, I’ve now done the same for the Laser Gun.

spikes-73I’ve also been busy adding lots of scenery to each level. So far all of World 1 is complete, and some of World 2 as well. Basically, I’ve added a roof and some scaffolding-type blocks to make the whole place look more facility-like. Along with that I’ve added some decorative textures that light up and look like they’re moving, but you’ll have to wait and see what they’re like.

Gravity is a constant, and it’s really bugging me *lol puns*

But the main reason why this update’s taking a while is because I want to add a new type of gun, one that switches the direction of gravity. Changing gravity for physics object is literally one line’s code worth of work, but I want to be able to turn the character controller round too, which is proving to be much more difficult. I may just make the gun turn gravity for physics objects around for now, but that’s much less fun than being able to drop down onto a faraway ceiling, which is the feature I’m going for here.

The system doesn’t work

Also I’ve been trying to add a timer and score counter for different types of level and game modes (such as a time trial mode), however I’ve run into trouble with how the system will work. Long story short: it doesn’t. I’m not entirely sure how the score should relate to the time, and how timed levels should be, if I implement them. Also I’m unsure whether any actions you take in the game should give the player points, and if so, which actions. Another problem I had was with the display, as the built-in Unity OnGUI stuff is horrible, but I’m unsure of how to implement my own GUI for this. I’ll have a score system eventually, but if you have any ideas on how to go about it, they’d help a lot.

These are some of the many problems I face when adding new features, such as how to add them, how to make sure everything works, but also how fun it ends up being. Things such as lives, which seemed fun to begin with, ended up detracting from the gameplay a lot, stopping the “one more go” approach to solving puzzles. That’s extremely counter-intuitive, when you think about it. I’m also considering getting rid of gravits, as they also seem to make little sense. Feel free to leave our views on where I should take this below.

Guns, Lasers and Powerups – Project Spikes 24/11/13 Update

I swear the game will have a proper name soon enough, but more importantly there’s a new update, and it has lasers in it!

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The laser gun, shown above, is used to burn obstacles in front of you, such as these cubes. They will then shrink until you’ve burned them into nothingness and they disappear, with loads of particle effects, and of course a vibrant blue laser! There’s also the new Destruction Gun, which is a one-shot device that will instantly kill the cubes and vapourise them. Even better, these two guns can be used against turrets to destroy them. There are icons for each gun to sit at the bottom of the screen when you’ve found them too. To switch between them, you can use the number keys 1-3, and later I will add scroll-wheel support too. The destruction gun costs 2 gravits per hit, the laser gun 1 gravit per half-second, and the force gun still guzzles 1 gravit every hit.

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I’ve also been working on optimisation, taking out as many unnecessary parts of the game as possible so the game should run as fast as it can, even at high graphics settings, which is why I’ve changed the geometry of the levels by switching most of the level from 3D cubes made of 6 sides to 2D squares with only two sides. That still allows me to texture the level in pretty much the same way, but reduces the number of draw calls by about two thirds, so it’s a massive optimisation which will have minimal effect on the actual gameplay.

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There are also new powerups, which will be placed in levels so that the player can use their unique abilities to solve new puzzles. This one, for example, gives the player an ‘antigravity jump’ which causes gravity to be reduced greatly, another speeds up time so the whole level moves quicker. They’re all pretty cool effects, which you can try out in a new level, the Testing Area, which you can access through the Start Menu. Talking of the start menu…

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…it’s also had a bit of a makeover. It looks a damn sight better than the boring old screen, but does pretty much the same thing. All the information signs in the game have been changed so they are unlit, which means they won’t appear too dark, after feedback I received. Additionally, the field of view changes when the player is running, and a set of crosshairs appears under the player when airborne to show where you’ll land, two more features suggested to me. Also, in the options menu, there are a few more graphical options that disable shadows, in case your computer is extremely slow. You can play this new update by clicking this link.

Have fun playing, I hope you all have some good feedback for me 🙂

Oh yeah, and it’s probably best to avoid World 1 Level 5, it’s not been fixed yet. Just a heads-up.

-Daniel

Fun With Physics – Project Spikes 26/10/13 Update

Play it here!

This update is pretty sweet, it improves greatly on some previous levels, particularly World 1 Level 4, which has been redesigned and textured, and now features a new game mechanic: the Force Gun!

spikes-25This gun can apply forces to certain objects, such as the cubes in the background of this picture, or the spiky death balls introduced in Level 4, when the mouse is clicked. If you left click, it’ll blast the object away from you, and if you right-click, it’ll pull it towards you, both accompanied by a particle effect, an animation and a sound. This paves the way for new puzzles which require moving around crates and other objects, and enables you to shoot away incoming hazards.

spikes-26As part of World 1 Level 4’s revamp, I’ve re-textured the entire level to fit the world’s light blue theme, such as the walls and spike balls. The main new addition in this update really comes into play in this level, as you must use the Force Gun to move wooden crates and enable you to jump over a wall. The small yellow thing is a new pickup that fills the force meter, the yellow bar under the health bar which shows how much power the Force Gun has left. They’re called gravits, after the force of gravity, showcasing how bad I am at naming things, part of the reason I can’t think of a name for the game yet. They have pickup sounds too, a bit like a retro coin pickup sound.

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Each world will now have a level that acts as a hub: these levels have a practice area to get to grips with new features, and a cube to transport you to each level in that world. In the future, you will only be able to access the next world after beating all 5 levels, but right now you can simply challenge level 5 in the first world and finish that to advance straight to World 2. The practice area in World 1 gives the player the Force Gun and a few cubes to practice firing them around the place and get used to the gun. In addition, the black cubes at the beginning of each level will return you to the hub, rather than to the previous level.

spikes-28The tutorial screen has been improved too, adding textures, more boards to show you the controls, and a button to take you straight to the newest level in the game (also present on the start screen) – currently, this is World 1 Level 4, and in the future will be used for easier testing of the levels and to simplify getting feedback from people.

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Another noteworthy update is the addition of a model and particles for checkpoints, making their presence a little more obvious.

There are even more features listed below. Here is the link to the game, and as always I hope you have fun playing!

NEW FEATURES:
-Redesigned World 4 Level 1, adding the Force Gun and textures.
-Force Gun, left click to blast away objects, right click to pull them in.
-Force meter to show the remaining Force Gun power.
-'Gravits': new pickups to fill the Force meter.
-Sounds added for pickups, menu selections and the Force Gun.
-Hub levels for each world, World 1 Hub has Force Gun practice room.
-Black cubes return player to hub.
-Much better checkpoints - model and particles.
-Textures and test button added to Tutorial screen.
-Spawners that spawn objects in the level - present in World 1 Hub.