Project Spikes Update #5 – Fields and Laser Improvements

Time for another update! To kick this one off, I’ll introduce a new feature: fields!

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My laser arrays are much purpler than yours.

The red laser fields harm the player, while the purple ones destroy physics objects such as cubes and turrets. When the player goes through a red field, you die instantly too, so it’s probably best not to let that happen. These new fields are ripped from the old project mostly, but with a new appearance and a bit of new functionality, both of which slot nicely into the other game features (it’s lasers all around here). There’s also another tweak to lasers – I refer you to an image from last update:

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Entanglement. I ain’t having no quantum physics going on here!

As you can see, the laser beams don’t line up correctly and look like something MC Escher would draw. But I’ve changed the lasers to use a different shader, so they’re less solid-looking than before, and render correctly, giving a more subtle look. Talking about tweaks, the Force Gun provides force in a different way than before, in that it doesn’t really apply a force, it provides an impulsive… well, force I guess. Physics nerds will probably understand the difference, but for the average Joe, that just means the movement of objects is a bit more instant.

To accommodate the fields, I’ve split Tutorial 2 into two, and tweaked both halves a bit, so there’s basically a new tutorial level to stop the tutorials feeling like an avalanche of features and instructions.

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Things are starting to look a lot more colourful!

In the background are the red fields that kill you. You’ll also see part of a TV screen at the top of the tower – remember back in the real early version of the new project, when screenshots were added? You could press F5 to take a screenshot, and it would render the image to a screen in the level. That’s been added back, but this time the screens have a simple model. Every tutorial level has at least one screen, so you can see your last screenshot whenever you want.

I’m also partway done with the turret texturing job, which is taking much longer than anticipated. I’ve tweaked the angry turret face, and made one for destroyed angry turrets.

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No, Steve, noooo! I’ll get revenge for you!

Next update is going to be a big texturing/modelling update, because I’ve been putting off replacing placeholders for a long time (the Force Gun springs to mind, however hilarious it is). You can find the update over at IndieDB once it’s uploaded/authorised, so have fun playing! Don’t forget, this update contains all the features I mentioned back in the Update #4 post, including better turret collision and different textures on cubes based on how damaged they are.

-Daniel

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.

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

Suddenly, Pressure Plates and Vapourising Fields! Project Spikes 15/02

The first thing for this week: pressure plates! Well, kinds, they’re more like cube detectors. They’ll sense if anything cubical’s on them, and if there is, it’ll cause doors to open, platforms to move and various other events. I’ve worked them into World 1 Level 1 if you want to see them in action, as there’s a nice little puzzle you’ll need to use them for.

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I have loads of ideas for puzzles I can work these into, especially when combined with the new vapourising fields (I really need to get better at naming things, needs more pizzazz). When you try to pass a physics object such as a cube or even a gravit or health pack through them, they’ll get vapourised instantly. These will be super-useful for puzzles later on, as you’ll have to guide cubes around these fields, then place them onto the cube detector plates in order to proceed.

spikes-61The blue cube-y texture for the fields animates too. I tried making a particle  system to deal with the look of the fields, but for some reason the framerate plummeted when up close to them, so I ditched that idea. It’s probably for the best, as this looks pretty awesome when it’s animated. They also slot together pretty well, so tiling them won’t be a problem. You might also notice another feature in the screenshot above – zooming the screen in. That’s right, if you scroll upwards on the scroll wheel, your view will zoom in, allowing you to see more detail and removing the GUI from the screen at the same time. It’s the reverse of what happens when you run, essentially. Which reminds me that I forgot to mention I changed the mechanics for sprinting; just double-tap the w key or up arrow, and continue to hold it in, and you’ll run. That means you can also crouch by holding in shift now. Running will also zoom out if you’re currently zooming in, changing to the field of view for running, or you can just scroll back on the scroll wheel to return to normal view.

I’ve also added an experimental new feature that I may continue work on: screenshots. Right now, you can’t take a screenshot to save to disk, but if you press the ‘y’ key, it’ll take a screenshot of the current view and shove the image on a TV I’ve put in the hub world. The feature only works in the hub, but I’ll see what I can do about saving screenshots to disk and allowing them in all levels. It slows the game down massively if you hold the button in, just to warn you.

spikes-63The TV’s in the central corridor room bit, to the left. I did other experiments with it, such as big TVs that showed exactly what you’re seeing realtime, but it drained the framerate too much so it’s unlikely to be added anytime soon.

So anyway, that’s the update. The next thing I’ll probably do is improve the whole weapon system, including animations, sound, models and particles. If you have any ideas or feedback, don’t be shy, the comments section’s there for a reason!

You can play the game in the usual place: just click on the Project Spikes tab at the top of the page, or click this link.

Have fun playing, as always!

 

 

The Massive “Yes-I’ve-Been-Gone-For-Ages-But-Now-I’m-Back” Update!

Why I’m a bad person

Okay. So, firstly, it’s been 38 days since the last post on here, and 53 days since the last actual update, which all makes me a terrible person. However, first there was Christmas and all the stuff that comes with that, like getting presents for people and seeing relatives, then new year, then suddenly I had every piece of work ever in the history of the universe to do for school. BUT, and this is a huge but, I’ve been working on the game through all of that and the main reason for not updating until now hasn’t been all these massive drains on my time (though they helped), but rather I wanted to do something huge for this update, so prepare yourselves for the Yes-I’ve-Been-Gone-For-Ages-But-Now-I’m-Back Update!

Development Hell

I’m a bit like a goldfish sometimes, in that I’ll look at something, think it’s amazing, then see something else and ditch the first thing. That’s exactly me while developing this update; I kept putting in all of my half-baked ideas and nothing got done fully. I meant well, I swear, but it delayed the update quite a bit. But, I’ve put in a new texturing system which should make the whole texturing process a lot easier and quicker for me, AND save on performance, I’ve expanded and improved a couple levels, and the biggest thing is, I’ve added a boss battle! And we all know everyone loves boss battles! So read on and be amaaaaazed *dramatic voice*!!!

Updated, improved and removed levels

spikes-51This, as you might recognise, is the hub level. However, it’s had a facelift, and a big one at that. It now serves as the hub for the entire game, rather than having separate hubs for each world. The blue building from before is for World 1, and upstairs is World 2, then as more worlds are added, you’ll be able to access more areas to find new levels. Also, due to loads of changes I’ve made to the level geometry and the texturing (I made a script that handles all of the texture sizes for me), everything should run smoother and I’ll be able to put more decoration in the levels. In short: it’s better, more shiny things.

In the hub now, you’ll find the levels 1-5 near your spawn area, a practice room (ie, the large room that was there before), and upstairs you’ll find the cube to go to the boss battle; however, that’ll only appear after you’ve beaten levels 1-5. Also, you won’t have all three guns unlocked straight away, but you’ll find them scattered in certain levels. The laser gun is needed to access World 2, which is way above the rest of the level, so it’s found after you beat the boss. There’s also a trophy room to view all the gold cubes you’ve found, as well as an incinerator which is there for decoration and because destroying thing is really cool.

spikes-49I’ve re-modeled the vapour gun too, so it’s not exactly the same as the other two. I tried getting all the animations and sounds to go with it too, but for some reason Unity’s animation thingy hates me and keeps giving me really horrific results, so no animations. Sad face. The force gun has had improvements too; right-clicking now holds an object in front of you, and then left-clicking will shoot it as normal, but you can only hold things for 5 seconds, and it’ll drain your gravit meter, and the object will then disappear 5 seconds later, although I want to tweak this system a bit, such as only certain objects obliterating themselves when they’re dropped.

No more lives!

Another thing to note: no more lives. I decided that they don’t really add anything to the game, and it’s much more fun to try a really hard part indefinitely rather than being limited to 5 tries. Because infinite fail is funny. I’ve added a load of stuff to the tutorial level too (well, I’ve completely redone it, the old one was pretty bad, this it less bad), and it covers stuff the old one didn’t.

spikes-52In addition to the texturing stuff mentioned earlier, I’ve added some sort of moving textures, like neon signs, kinda. They’re dotted around the place as decoration, and to provide directions and other information. They’re used as decoration in the super-sexy new start menu, which is vastly improved on the old one, and you can see an image at the top of this post.

And finally, the boss battle!

Yes, it’s the part you’ve all been waiting for: a boss battle! He’s called Squoid (because it sounded nice, no other deep meaning), and he’s basically a big blue cube thing that launches himself at you and fires spiky balls of death at you in a fight to the death in his lair.

spikes-50He might not look like much, but he’ll wreck you. The idea is to use the force gun in some way to bring him down, but I’ll let you figure out the details, because I don’t want to spoil the fun of finding out for yourself how the battle works. His lair is absolutely magnificent though, and you should have fun having a look around it.

spikes-54There’s so many other little additions that I can’t list them all here, I can’t remember them all. Little things such as the gun icons in the corner being animated and zooming in when you run along with everything else, a range of new billboards, and small changes to the positioning of items in some levels to make it more convenient. However, through all of this, I haven’t been able to update all the levels, such as the Testing Area, and the promised World 2 Level 2, which I started to develop after the last update, but before updating the texturing system, hence these levels will appear as a blur of pinkness and glitches.

Also something I just noticed, the WebPlayer build for my game has only just broke a megabyte in size! It’s massively compressed, evidently. That’s technology for you. And if you don’t like external links or if you just think my Dropbox public folder is icky, there’s a new Project Spikes page at the top of this very website! Now you don’t even have to leave! Although, to be honest, it’s better playing through the link at the bottom of the page (same as always, why haven’t you bookmarked it yet?), as the page on this site is a bit broken. WordPress hates Unity, obviously. But, have fun heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere!