Saving, Loading, Texturing, Awesomeness – Project Spikes 08/04

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Saving and Loading

The big feature for this week’s update is saving and loading. Along with this comes a standalone version of the game, as the Web Player doesn’t allow for files to be saved to disk on the user’s system. The standalone versions for Windows, Mac and Linux can be found on my IndieDB page dedicated to the game, and as always you can play the Web Player version in the usual place, however this won’t be able to save your progress and might be phased out in later updates. It’ll stay here for a while, as it’s a quick and easy way to test the game. Right now, the levels you’ve completed and the secret cubes you’ve collected will be saved, but as I make progress with the game, more stuff will inevitably need to be saved. The .dat file is saved in what Unity calls the ‘persistent data path’ – on Windows, that’s “Users/[user]/AppData/LocalLow/danielthenerdyguy/Project Spikes”. To save, there’s a button on the pause menu, it’s as easy as that. Plus on the standalone version’s start menu, there’s now a quit button that shuts down the game window. I watched a Unity live tutorial for the saving and loading stuff, and if you’re looking for a way to save stuff to disk on your game, I strongly recommend you watch it too.

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New Textures and models

Also, this update I’ve added many new textures, just to make the game feel a bit fresher.

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Not all of them are really in the game fully yet, but they will be added at some point. All except the top-left and top-center are present somewhere in the hub world, so look around for them. I used the two with loads of lines crossed all over it in a section of the hub ship to look like parts of the wall have been torn off, and you can pick up the tiles on the floor next to it in the same way as you’d pick up a cube. Which brings me to another point: you can now rotate stuff you’re holding with the force gun. I struggled to find a nice control scheme for this, but I settled on ijkl in the end, so in a similar fashion to wasd, i/k will rotate the cube up/down, and j/l will rotate it left/right. The particle effect for activating a powerup is much better now too – it’s basically the same thing, but more in-your-face. And there’s now a new triangular type of wall that solves some issues I was having with stairs, which I’ll be rolling out to other levels soon.

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General other stuff

The Hub World is pretty much complete on the whole, albeit without a new skybox, which I’m planning to make by next update to match the new space/sci-fi theme for the hub. There hasn’t been much progress with actual levels recently, but I’ll get back to properly doing them in the near future hopefully. I’ve also experimented with new types of cube – you’ll find a few new red cubes in the level selection corridor, to the right of the door. These cube spin on one axis, so in future puzzles, they can be used for swing bridges that spin when cubes fall on them.

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The future!

I’ve been working on a brand new gun that fires explosive bullets, and it’s working so well right now. The actual concept is in place, and soon I’ll be making the actual model for the gun. Along with this, I’ll implement an animation system for the gravity gun. The new gun will be an enhancement and replacement for the vapourising/destruction gun, as it doesn’t really have many uses.

That’s it for the latest update. On IndieDB I’ve created a forum where you can post your ideas and feedback, as well as report bugs and ask for help. Have fun playing!

New Hub and Help Text – Project Spikes 01/04

Today’s update has a graphical update for the Hub World. As I’m planning on having the first iteration of a story in the game pretty soon, I’ve re-re-re-done the Hub as a spaceship, which will play a small part in the eventual storyline. In the new Hub World, you’ll find everything is a bit more compact, with a room for each world, containing level selection cubes and secret cubes for each level. The small room you start off in (the cockpit of the spaceship) has a few new decorative items, such as lights, flashing blue accenting for the tops of walls and improved models for TVs and laptops, which were present in older versions of the Hub as decoration. There are also new models for chairs which are a lot like the old ones, but look nicer.

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I’ve added a couple new textures, for example the window texture you can see above. There’s also a decorative texture for a solar panel, which are also visible on the spaceship, and for the spaceship I used a particle pack by Unity I found on their Asset Store, a helpful resource for anything from small particle effects to completed projects. The pack I used can be found here. I used the fire particles from this for the boosters on the wings of the spaceship. On the subject of particles, I’ve also improved the activation particle effect for when you walk into a powerup. I will add these into the game properly soon, in later levels. It’s hard to get a screenshot of a fast-moving object, but I had a (poor) try:

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Another helpful addition to the game is text fields, where useful information will pop up on-screen for a few seconds at points where you might need it. You can turn this help off from the options menu if you wish, but in the future this will be replaced by a voiceover system, so at that point the options menu will only disable the subtitles for that person speaking. I’ve not added many hints but I will continue to place them at points where the player might need them, for example at the start of the World 1 boss battle, where it’s probably not obvious immediately what you should do.

I’ve also now finished World 3 Level 1, with a second section of the level at the top of the lift. This second portion introduces a new type of cube – the Alignment Cube –  which never rotates and will stay aligned to the world’s XYZ axes. This makes it very useful for standing on and riding all the way to the top of the level.

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The full level looks pretty nice, and I’ll aim to get some of the older levels upto this graphical level in future updates.

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That’s all for this update. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make the player turn round along with the direction of gravity, or make the world turn round either, because quaternions appear to be the bane of my existence. I came pretty damn close, but it wasn’t smooth at all and felt confusing, so I’ll leave that for a future update. It can be played at the usual place here, and if you have any ideas for features or comments on the game, feel free to leave them below. Thanks for reading and have fun playing, tell your friends/family/dog!

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.

My Actual Plan. More Spontaneous Changes!

As you may have read almost a month ago now (sorry, I have been extremely busy catching up with AS Further Maths and a bit of Chemistry and Physics A2), I’ve been changing my plans a bit. Now to clarify exactly what I’ve decided!

I am about to enter Year 13 (the equivalent of the second year of college), and I am going to study Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry; one more A-level than most people. This is because I found out, towards the end of Year 12, that Geography is useless if you want to study Computer Science at university. Yeah, I guess that’s obvious, but 16-year-old me didn’t know what he was going to do later on. So I switched that with FM, but I decided to do the entire A-level so now I have to catch up on the AS. I hope to get into Cambridge, but the entry requirements are high (A*AA I believe) and I must take FM as one of those. I hope by doing one more A-level than the average person it will help me stand out as a strong candidate, as Computer Science is a subject I really want to study in depth and it will help greatly in what I want to do when I’m older. Anyway, enough about me, what about my games?

I decided to put my 3D Platform game on hold for a while, as it was far too ambitious for my skill level. Now, I am following Brackeys’ tutorial on Unity survival game development, which is extremely helpful with scripting and generally explaining everything you need to know. But in addition to this tutorial series, I have started the development of a small tower defense game, which so far has been very easy to plan and develop.

tower-defense-2This is a screenshot of early development, where I played around with stuff to see what worked and what didn’t. Each small metal tile allows the player to place a turret on it, which will the automatically fire at any nearby enemies. Currently, I’m trying to shake out the bugs with this mechanic, but it’s working well so far. The cube in the top-right corner will be the target the enemies try to reach (except it will have a proper model later, along with many other things in the game), and if it gets destroyed, the player loses.

tower-defense-1In this game, I’m trying to improve my level design skills to make the game as enjoyable as it can be. The first level will have a sci-fi theme, with futuristic textures and enemies. I’m slowly making progress with the level in general.

tower-defense-3This has a similar layout to the pictures shown above, but with small tweaks to the scenery. I hope to make the scene as detailed as I can. I have worked on the enemy AI (he is the red cuboid in the top picture), which is currently very simple, but he follows the path I’ve laid out correctly and attacks the box at the end, although nothing happens to it yet. The turret placement is working, and later on I will have a series of buttons along the bottom allowing the player to select different turrets, but I have to model some first. Different turrets will shoot different bullets (or lasers, or bombs), and some will be stronger than others. I could write more, but when I have a more complete version finished, I’ll make a complete list. This is the summary for now:

NEW FEATURES

  • Turret placement points, allowing the player to place turrets in the level. Cost 100 points each currently.
  • Points system, where the player is rewarded with points for killing enemies. Points are used as currency to buy turrets.
  • Enemy spawner, which will send waves of enemies through the level.
  • Target for the enemies at the end of their path – if this gets destroyed, the player loses the level.
  • One level to begin with, with a sci-fi theme.

WHAT NEEDS DOING

  • More enemies and turret varieties – different enemies will have varying health and movement speed, and different turrets will have different bullets and attack strength.
  • Better points system, with different enemies and turrets giving/requiring different amounts of points.
  • More scenery for the sci-fi level, and eventually more levels.
  • Better wave system, in which higher numbered waves will feature stronger/more enemies.

CURRENT/NEW BUGS

  • Turrets aim straight at the enemy, so when they fire bullets, they often don’t hit the enemy, but the floor just behind the enemy. (potential fixes: turn down the gravity for the bullets or increase their speed? Try to aim in front of the enemy?)