Dev Log 11 – Spooky Springs Is Born

By February 27, 2017, I had a new character to add to the game. The following video shows the first look at Sheriff Hare in-engine:

He is the first character for the games first major level “Spooky Springs.”

By March 23, 2017, I had the theme music for the level, and the aesthetic started to come together thanks to a spooky new skybox, a new cactus character, and a new speech system.

By March 25, 2017 a saloon, a few ghost vegetables, and some eerie graves fleshed out the level with some silly puns.

Unfortunately, progress is overall pretty much at a standstill as I continue to search for an animator.

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Dev Log 10 – Messing Around

Hello again!

This time we’ll be discussing the little progress made throughout the rest of 2016 (October – December).

By October 5th: 

I began implementing some very basic UI functions.

On October 8th: 

I just decided to have some fun! I also wanted to see how my character really felt by placing him in some familiar environments and seeing how he played.

I visited The Models Resource to find some levels from some of my favorite N64 games. I picked some levels from Super Mario 64 (Bob-omb Battlefield and Peach’s Castle), a level from Mario Kart 64 (Koopa Troopa Beach), a level from Banjo Kazooie (Click Clock Wood), and a level from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (The Kokiri Forest). I threw the 3D models into Unity and tried to get them simulated as accurately as possible without wasting too much precious development time.

This gave me a much better idea of the things I need to fine tune in terms of our hero’s movement.

By November 16th: 

I implemented the first stages of a dive mechanic (with much work left to do.)

My wife and I were spending a lot of time house searching, moving, and on holiday throughout most of October 2016 through January of 2017. As such, I didn’t get very much work on the actual game. However, during this time I did get a lot of valuable administrative and design work done. I found a composer, started getting legal stuff situated, commissioned a few tracks, laid out the design for the rest of the game, and many other things. I’m very anxious to show off our Composer’s incredible talent, but that will have its own blog post.

Until next time,

Cheers!

Dev Log 9 – Wake Me Up When September Ends

Hello again!

Life has been getting in the way (in a good way), so I’ve had very little time to spend working on my game, and even less time to keep up with this blog.

It’s been a few months since I’ve updated the Dev Log, so I’ll be doing a lot of catch up. For that reason, this blog will cover the entirety of September 2016 and I will be trying to put out blog posts much more frequently in order to catch up. But that’s enough excuses, let’s get on to what you’re here for!

By September 15th:

Every hero needs a villain. That’s I made our hero’s arch nemesis… STRANGE BLUE CYLINDER THING! This test enemy was whipped up using standard shapes in Unity and some quick catscratch code.

You may remember me telling you about a field of vision script I wrote earlier… this little guy uses that script as a means to see the player. Whenever he can see the player, he follows the player until he dies, or he can no longer see our hero. If our hero stomps on his head, STRANGE BLUE CYLINDER THING              will die a quick, poorly animated death.

By September 17th:

That retro CRT filter is pretty cool (if I do say so myself), but something about it just didn’t quit feel nostalgic enough. That’s why I implemented a 4:3 aspect ratio for pure, retro, tube TV goodness.

At this time, I also implemented a camera mode that positions the camera directly behind the player when the ‘R’ trigger is pressed. If it is held, the camera stays behind the player. Eventually, I will evolve this into some sort of “lock-on” targeting system.

I also messed around a bit with some shaders to get some cool looking lava by using the same texture I made for grass.

By September 25th:

I want the characters to start feeling more real. They need to have some weight to them. That’s why I added a function in the player script that makes our hero lean in the direction he is running.

In any platformer, it’s important to be able to see where you’re going and to be able to assess any situation. So…. I started tooling around with ways to give the player more control over the camera. It may be wonky at the moment, but the player can rotate the camera around our hero via the right control stick, and by clicking the right control stick, the player can select between camera follow distances.

3D platformers can be tricky and unforgiving. That’s why many 3D platformers started implementing the infamous “double jump.” Now our hero can do that too!

Slight adjustments were made to the moving platforms as well. I’m constantly trying to make these things less jerky.

By September 30th:

At this point, I needed a break from scripting and started messing around with level design. I wanted to practice using non-default 3D models for designing levels within Unity.

I also threw in a cute little cartoony skybox. 😊

All in all, September was definitely one of my more productive months. Here’s to hoping September 2017 is like that too!

Until next time,

Cheers!

Dev Log 8 – How Long Does It Take?

In this dev log, I will be discussing progress as of September 11th, 2016.

On September 6th

  • I borrowed a song from an all-time favorite game, Banjo Kazooie, in order to make testing my game more fun for the time being
  • I thought of a simple way to implement a neat tall grass effect
  • And did some more testing with moving platforms. At this point, the platforms were working much better.

By September 11th,

  • I had made a CRT filter to give the illusion of playing on an old-school CRT TV
  • Implemented water and swimming (with animation)
  • Programmed an actual difference between walking and running (as well as an animation for each)
  • And one of my biggest struggles to date: writing a “Character Field of View” script and having the player notice certain objects as they come into his view. This involved projecting a series of raycasts from the player, then indexing all objects in the field of view, determining the best target, and rotating the players head to look at that target

Also, there’s something else I’d like to go ahead and touch on. I’ve had people approach me with two different mindsets. I’ve heard some people say: “It seems like you’re putting in a lot of hours to this. I don’t think I would have the time to actually get into this.” Or “Wow, this progress seems to be coming really fast, you must be putting in way more hours than I thought.” So, I’d like to address the issue of time spent on this hobby.

Obviously, the amount of time I am able to spend on this varies from week to week. And some days I do feel a little burnt out, but other days I can sit in front of my computer all day and grind away at it. On average, (during weeks where life doesn’t get in the way) I’d say I probably put about 10 hrs into it. Which may sound like a lot, but it really isn’t. This generally means ~1hr every week night and ~2.5 hours on Saturday and Sunday. I am fortunate enough to have a 9/80 work schedule that gives me every other Friday off, so I do try to use that to my advantage. Some weeks I’ll only work on Friday, but I’ll treat development like it’s my full-time job that day.

Regardless, the great thing about this hobby is the convenience. I can work on it just about any time, just about anywhere. Going home to visit family? Take your laptop and work on it for 30 minutes to an hour after everyone goes to bed. There’s no crucial time-sensitivity. And most importantly, it’s easy to put down and pick back up at a later date.

I think you’ll find that the more you practice, the better you’ll get (duh); and when you get better, it becomes drastically more fun. When you start out, you do most things by mulling over it for 20 minutes scouring the web for 30, implementing it for 15, debugging for 50, and celebrating for 5. Once you get to the point that those standard things take you about 20 minutes from beginning to end, you start seeing results much faster, and it becomes much more rewarding. And believe me, it doesn’t take long to get to that point. Keep at it for a few months, set the Unity Scripting Reference to your home page, and research EVERY unfamiliar term you come across. You’ll get there in no time.

Until next time,

Cheers!

Dev Log 7 – Finally Starting to Look Like a Real Game!

In this dev log, I will be discussing progress as of September 5th, 2016.

In this week, I made quite a bit of progress.

  • I made a (very temporary) test level in which to try everything out.
  • I threw in some (temporary) royalty free music to breathe a little more life into game.
  • I made some better animations for walking, running, and jumping, as well as a new falling animation.
  • I programmed some moving platforms and found that the physics start to get real wonky when the player is interacting with moving platforms due to the physics causing a collision every time it bumps the player.
  • I did a little fine-tuning on the camera.
  • I made a custom shader for the player to make his colors pop, and so that he would have a little bit more of a N64 look. Here’s a great video that discusses writing your own shaders: link

And of course, a video of everything in action:

Until next time,

Cheers!

Dev Log 6 – Progress as of 30 August, 2016

On August 26 I sat down to do some brainstorming and concept art. I eventually came up with this piece of MSPaint concept art for my main character. He would be a Lion with a sweet Hawaiian shirt.

Leo Mouth 3 Hawaiian Shirt.png

After I locked down the design of my character, I set out to find a talented 3D artist who could make a character model in the style I wanted.

I eventually stumbled across a few pieces of art done by Littlenorwegians (AKA Fredrik Strøm) on Deviant Art. These pieces of art (1 and 2) showed me that he was perfect for the job.

I got in contact with Fredrik, we negotiated pricing, and a few days later he had turned my crappy MSPaint drawing into this stellar character model.

Lion (Commission) by Littlenorwegians

So, I made a few rudimentary animations, threw the model into Unity, made a few minor tweaks to movement and physics and that’s what gets us to the point of this video:

Until next time,

Cheers!

Dev Log 5 – I’m Back!

Development on my game has largely been on pause for the last couple months. My wife and I bought a house, Holidays of course got in the way, and what little work I have done has mostly been administrative. But now that we’ve moved, things have settled down, and I got my new office set up, I’m ready to hit the ground running again!

Throughout most of December and January, I was doing a lot of the groundwork to have things in place for when we are ready to file in order to be an official company. That date is probably far away, but almost everything is in place for that process to be simple.

When I wasn’t working on that, I was conducting a talent search. I posted a classified ad on reddit’s /r/gamedevclassifieds looking for a composer. I received an overwhelming response. I think I had something in the neighborhood of 40 composers submit their portfolios. I spent many hours listening to and comparing tracks. I eventually narrowed it down to about 12 composers who had the relevant skills I was looking for and came at a reasonable price.

At this point, I came up with a challenge. I asked these 12 composers to whip up a sample track inspired by Grant Kirkhope and David Wise to demonstrate that they could capture the sound I was looking for. Most of the submissions were fantastic. But there were ~4 that stood out above the rest. One far exceeded the budget, but the other 3 were roughly the same price. After hundreds of repeated listens to each track, I narrowed it down to two people. When I couldn’t entirely decide, I ultimately selected one person as my primary composer and asked the other to do a few tracks down the road.

I am very excited to be working with this composer, and I can’t wait until such time that I can reveal who it is and show off their work.

Anyhow, I’ll discuss this selection process in greater detail in a later post (when the dev logs catch up to that point in the process). For now, let’s get back into the early stages of development.


In this dev log, I will be covering progress as of 25 August 2016.

In first the Dev Log covering the actual development (Dev Log 4) I was merely experimenting to learn about how I might implement some of the things my game would require. Almost everything you see in that previous video was scrapped as I started from scratch on what would eventually become my game.

I created a new test world with floating platforms to jump on and items to pick up. I created a placeholder character, and then eventually animated him. I reused a few of the physics scripts from the previous build, and started over with the camera scripts. At this point, the physics and camera have become much more stable and I spent hours fine-tuning the movement to look more smooth.

This process also helped me to learn how to create dynamic animations within Unity and control said animations through scripts.

As always, feel free to shoot me anyway questions you may have. I’ll be glad to answer them and perhaps edit this dev log to cover your inquiry.

Until next time,

Cheers!