The Future ~ WGD Narrative Game Jam

This term, we’ve had a focus on narrative games. The main outcome has been a slew of Twine games, and I’m not one to swim against the tide, so I tried my hand at one or two. WGD held a game jam in honour of all things that can be classified as a) narrative-driven and b) a game, with a pretty unconventional theme. I chose “every time I go outside, it’s further in the future”.

I used this game as an exercise in descriptive writing mostly. It’s an extremely short adventure, which you can play on my itch.io page. Have fun hurtling through space!

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Slower Than Sound ~ Ludum Dare 34 – Two Button Controls / Growing

I’m not even going to pretend this post is supposed to be on time. Ludum Dare 34 happened on December 11th-14th, which means voting is already well and truly over and I’m just terrible with getting these posts up in time. Oh well, we’re here now, so it’s time to get started!

The theme for this one was *somehow* a tie between Two Button Controls and Growing. Since I wanted to cover both bases (not required as participants were allowed to choose just one theme), my original plan for my game featured both, although I settled for just Two Buttons in the end because of the huge time constraints. My game features two spaceships that shoot at each other (similar to Faster Than Light, hence the horrifyingly bad title), trying to target the other ship’s weapons. Both ships are able to shield each of their weapons temporarily in the hope that they’d be able to block out incoming enemy bullets. The game is turn-based, so one player attacks while the other defends.

The Two-Button part comes in with switching between weapons; on your attacking turn, you press Q to toggle which of your weapons you wish to fire, and E to fire the current weapon. On your defending turn (the enemy’s attack turn), you similarly press Q to toggle the selected weapon, and press E to raise its shield temporarily.

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The game is a bit buggy, but at least it’s pretty.

The original plan had you navigating through space on some world map using Q and E to turn left and right, flying forward automatically and trying to get to the next galaxy while avoiding asteroids. However, I didn’t have enough time to even attempt that part. In that version, you would trigger battles randomly, with enemies getting stronger as you progress. You would also be able to visit shops in order to upgrade your ship and buy more weapons; the annoying thing is that I had the code in place to add more weapons to your ship, but I couldn’t showcase it properly because the game crashes on level 2 (I eventually made the game just a series of 10 ships you have to fight, gaining weapons some levels).

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I also liked the effect of blown-up ships.

What started off as a pretty ambitious project got somewhat out of hand as I spent too long on the art. I’m pleased with how the game looks, but I wish I’d had all the key gameplay features nailed first of all. This Ludum Dare entry was the antithesis of how I usually work; this one sacrificed features for looks, while for example, my Ludum Dare 32 entry, I Will Be Happy, did well due to its simplistic graphical style and focus on gameplay. In the future, it seems I’ll be making sure I shift most of my attention on the gameplay. That said, I’m happy with the graphics – the stars look very nice as they scroll in the background and the ships, despite their minimalist look, are pretty pleasing to look at (if I do say so myself of course, I’m always modest, me).

I also didn’t rate enough other Ludum Dare games for mine to get any rating, although it was good fun making this entry. Here’s to the next Ludum Dare in April, hopefully I’ll do better next time round!

If you’d like to give it a go, you can try it out on the Ludum Dare website – there’s a link on there somewhere. Have fun and don’t get too confused – the game is a bit messy so I’d like to clean it up a little at some point.

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!

Space and Actually Fixed Levels – Project Spikes 01/12/13 Update

I’ve actually fixed stuff this week, and now it’s update time again!

spikes-40The Testing Area level from last update has magically transformed into a space level, complete with loads of particle effects for the thrusters. I’ve made another performance improvement by having differently-sized level geometry and textures. You won’t see any visual change on your end, but it does shift a lot of work from the CPU to the GPU and hence gives a better framerate, at least for me. This level has all the powerups and guns from the old testing level, but is laid out differently and looks better, with a new space skybox and windows, which you can actually smash with the destruction gun or by flinging cubes at them with the force gun.

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I like the texture of these, and the transparentness of them (I’m pretty sure that sentence makes no sense, but that’s why I don’t study English). This level’s gravity is a tiny bit decreased too, so stuff will fall to the ground slower. This level will probably be used in the future to provide access to bonus levels, but currently it’s just there for you to play around with powerups and guns.

spikes-42This is the new-improved-shiny-awesome World 1 Level 5! It’s so much better than the original, but keeps all the basic concepts from the level, such as the switch platforms and radial platforms. It also adds in a small maze part, and some turrets, as well as a high jump powerup. Along with that I’ve improved World 2 Level 1.

spikes-43The new version of this level adds a second floor and is generally better than the original in most ways. I’ve also modified the pause menu so you can access the options straight from there, and when you try to return to the main menu it’ll ask you if you’re sure, just in case you click it by accident. That’s basically it for this update, which you can play here. I hope you have fun playing!

-Daniel