Next Mobile Game Finally Started

I've pretty much finished work on my game project template, so I've shifted gears and started working on my next mobile game. After a few prior ideas that failed to meet my expectations after developing playable demos, I came up with something I feel I can put my time and efforts into. I just hope I can keep the feature creep in check. I'll post more about the game soon, but it's time for me to get some rest.

-BWS

Gearing Up For Ludum Dare

It's been a while since I've participated in a Ludum Dare event, so I've been brushing up my programming abilities lately and developing my own game template project in Unity. The template project consists basically all the things that I rather not have to worry about dealing with during the game jam, mainly menus and persistent data managment. It also includes an system that handles achievements, scores, unlockables, powerups. Anything that I can eliminate early on, so I can focus on gameplay, art and animation.

It will be interesting to see how far I've progressed since releasing a game and throwing a few other playable demos together since my last Ludum Dare. I am all self educated when it comes to game development and game jams serve as a touchstone for my abilities. I look forward to finding my current weak points next month and the following months after addressing them.

However, I am pretty happy with my programming abilities and feel very comfortable with some of the more advanced concepts and programming architecture I've been learning.  I know I'm getting better with each day I spend at the helm.

Ok...Forget The 21 Day Blog Challenge

I don't want to blog for the sake of a meeting a challenge. Some days, I just don't have that much to say. So, anyway, what have I been up to besides not blogging? Two things, mainly.

First thing is my basement. After much consideration, I redesigned the layout and gave myself more room for my studio. I have a billard table waiting at my parents for me and I was going to have that in the basement. Now, it will be in the rear room of our home. That room doesn't heat very well and it is not a room for just remaining idle. So, it will be a billard room with a TV and small breakfast nook.  It's a better spot for guest in the warmer months, because of our large covered deck connected to that room.

So, in the basement, I will have my studio space with two large desks, one standing desk, one long desk for my printers & scanner, and I'll be setting up a gaming projector with some seating.

Second thing is project architecture. While Core Influence was managable, it was not generic enough to call it reusable. Before I move further into a new game project, I need a better "project template". Something that I can just open and not have to worry about how persistent data is managed, creating canvases, scene transitioning, achievements & unlockables management, etc. All the things that have little to do with the gameplay itself and are common among all games. Ludum Dare is coming in April and I want to have this done before that happens. That way, I can just focus on gameplay and asset creation. It would be amazing to have my basement studio done, too.

Also, I have done some gaming. I have been playing Diablo 3 with my cousin Rob and I just picked up River City Ransom: Underground. Both games are excellent. 

-BWS

Working on my game dev lab

Last year I halted on finishing my basement into my game dev studio for various reasons. One of those was money. Well, time to get back to it! My layout has changed a bit and the remainder of the space not used for storage, bathroom, or laundry will be transformed into a studio/gaming area.

Where my desks will be. 

Where my desks will be. 

Area where I'll have a 3ft throw gaming projector and seating.

Area where I'll have a 3ft throw gaming projector and seating.

Doesn't look like much now, but it will...soon... 

New Item Acquired!

Got the Novation Launchpad MK2 the other day.  So far, I really like it. I downloaded Melodics to play around with it and just for practice. Fun stuff!

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Spending a lot of time fully conceptualizing the next game idea before putting together a playable demo. Really happy I'm doing this, but still planning on starting the demo this weekend. Might not be totally playable, but I think spending more time on the pen and paper side will produce a better game in the end

-BWS

Tutorials and Conceptualizing

The past two days I've been following along with a few tutorial series for Unity, writing down game ideas and fleshing them out. Doing this has been really great. I have a habit of thinking of a game and jumping as fast as I can into Unity. It can go without saying, that is a bad idea. But it needs to be said and realizing that is not the first step in the design process. So, even if the GDD is merely a text document done in Notepad++, it is a step in the direction of better design. With all that said, I have a new game idea that I will put a working demo together this week and have something playable by the end of the weekend. Again, a mobile game and keeping it kind of simple this time. No multiple game modes. No unlockables. Just achievements. I will already have enough work with animations in Spine (which will be a learning experience).

I also bought a Novation Launchpad today for use in Game Jams. Plus, I've always been interested in digital music. However, for any games I plan on releasing, I much rather have Electric Alley Studio do the BGM & SFX. Ryan is far more skilled in the world of music and sound than I am. What he put together for Core Influence is just awesome.

-BWS

The Meatly's "Bendy and the Ink Machine"

So, I missed 1 blog post yesterday. Today, I will make up for it with two. I spent some time working on my Accolades project for the Unity Asset Store and the other part of the evening hanging out with my wife, Amy.

Started to play The Meatly's game last night, but it was freaking Amy out, so instead I waited till this morning when she was meeting up with her cousin for breakfast. I had a donut...mmmm donut. Anyway, the game currently has one chapter and that is great for me (I'll get into why later in this post). Developed by The Meatly and Mike Mood, it is available on Game Jolt for Windows, Linux and Mac and is played in the first person with a small reticle dot for left click interaction. The run down animation studio gives off a very creepy vibe with background music occurring in most key areas, others just adding to the ambiance. All the visuals blend harmoniously together to fit the 1930's-1940's character style of Bendy, a period of early animation for cartoons like Flix and Bimbo. Without giving too much away for the gameplay, in this chapter you are on an "Easter Egg" hunt to acquire items. It would have been nice to learn a bit more lore of the studio during this chapter, but that will probably happen in future chapters. I would have liked to interact with the dresser drawers and finding items within and picking up some papers with notes and artwork drawn on them. It wouldn't even matter if it was important information for the gameplay, anything extra just adds to the immersion. Maybe rewinding the reels or putting on new reels on the projectors to reveal the studio history or watch a Bendy cartoon. The cartoon wouldn't have to be animated either. It could just be like a silent film with static images/text to tell the story or slight motion graphics with audio. In any case, I was really impressed by how well the game was conceived in a three week development sprint. Really well done guys.

Pardon my ramblings from here on, they are just my loose thoughts. Hopefully some of you can connect with these thoughts and feelings. So, why was the one chapter release great for me? I rather like the idea of an episodic gaming trend. Especially from a developer standpoint. I have a difficult time sitting down and devoting myself to a game that is 60+ hours. However, I can easily keep myself committed to several anime and tv series. That is because I know that I can sit down for 20-30 minutes and have a reliable stopping point that feels good to pick up later. Most games don't have that same feel for me and it is difficult to get that feeling right in open world style games. There is that overwhelming feel of all the things to do in the game and I start thinking about all the other things in my life I need to accomplish. However, in the case of "Bendy and the Ink Machine", with it's tight environment and currently being one chapter, that overwhelming feeling is not present. I am eager to play more, but I know I have to wait. That anticipation for the next chapter will keep me glued to the development. It took them three weeks to produce the first chapter, but now that they have a good development foundation to create the next chapter, I am curious as to how long it will take for them to release the next.

Go download the game and play it for yourself. When you do, Game Jolt has a name your price download for the game, so give the developers some cash. They deserve it for all their hard work.

-BWS

Blog Challenge - Failed...by 46 minutes

Day 3.5:

Failed. Still going to keep at it, though. Laptop is all updated and I was able to work on my Asset Store package during my lunch. So far, so good with the asset. Currently working on a custom editor window and inspector editor. After that is getting a light demo game done to start testing. This weekend, I'll be switching gears and working on my top down shooter game. Tomorrow night, I'll be playing The Meatly's new game "Bendy and The Ink Machine". Good Night.

-BWS

21 Day Blog Challenge - Day 2

So, today I spent my night mostly just relaxing with my wife, Amy. We recently got a subscription to PS Vue and got sucked into the Food Network. We have not had live tv for several years, excluding HBO Now for GOT. It was nice to just chill out and become a coach potato for a bit. So, now it is 11:30 as I am typing this and I barely got any Game Dev work done.

I am working on a mobile game that is a top down shooter and just focusing on the controls for the game, currently. There are some rough ideas in the works for the story of the game involving a mad scientist/engineer conjoined twins, a laboratory bunker, and some new, "off-the-street" lab assitant to test out a new equipment. I am fighting between 2d and 3d, but since I bought Spine2D and have done nothing with it yet...I'm leaning towards 2D.

Also, I am working on an asset for the Unity Asset Store to try and procure some development time funds. As of right now, I am doing some side work to build a fund and schedule longer weekends to get in some very productive development days. 

My laptop is currently updating my Unity installation, so that I can work during my lunch hour. That was one habit that I let slide and it really slowed me down. Time to get back on top of things. 

-BWS

Core Influence - A Pre Postmordeum, 21 Day Blog Challenge

It is been over a month since core influence has been released and I am realizing I never wrote a blog post right after release. That's really bad. Releasing a game right  around the holidays  was not such a great idea. It gives you very little time  to take care of  all the other little things. So, I am going to wrote a postmortem for core influence. This was something that I planned on doing right after release, but never got around to doing it.

I started working on  a few new game ideas, two of them  are mobile games  and the other is PC /  console game. I've also started getting reacquainted with blender, because the PC / console game will need to be done in 3d.

Some of the things that I will be doing  include  streaming on Twitch ,  doing some Unity  YouTube  videos  on  various things  in unity ,  and  going to  game developer meetups . I'll write more later  but now I got to go make  graphics  at my day job . 

-BWS

Waiting for Apple Review

Core Influence is finished and has been submitted for review by Apple. As you can imagine, I am pretty anxious to see if they accept it. Android is all ready to go, I just have to push the Go Live button. I want to wait and "Go Live" with both stores when I get the O.K. from Apple, but I really want to see how many downloads the game can get. It can take anywhere from 4-10 days, I'm thinking 7. If I don't hear anything by Friday night, I'll probably go live with Android first.

I started really developing this game a little over a year ago with the intent to learn the whole process of creating a game. If you are just getting started, begin with a simple game. I can't stress that enough. You'll look at Core Influence and think, that is pretty simple looking. It is and it is not. I used 3 plugins: GPGS (Google Play Games Services - Official from GitHub), Stan's Mobile Social Plugin, and Unbiased Time. Simple put, I don't have Android/iOS native development experience and learning how to create those plugins didn't fit within my time goal. As for GPGS, there is a learning curve. What code samples they give you don't exactly give you everything you need; cloud saving, in particular. Best thing to do here, look at the sample projects in the samples folders. Look at the code and study the structure. You will end up having to develop you own scripts based on all your findings.

Also, I developed my own Powerups/Achievements/Unlockables package I ended up calling Accolades. I realize that Unity has a social api that includes achievements, but what if I didn't want to sign into a social media network and play strictly from my device? Besides, why not have fun complicating things anyway?

I do like Apple products a lot, but get your developer feet wet with Android first. I'm sorry Apple, but testing updates with a Unity developed game happens so much faster with Android. In my experience from build to playing, Android = 10-15mins vs. iOS = 40+ mins. What I did was stick with Android builds for the main part of my development, build major milestones to iOS. Unity's Game view gets the job done when switching between screen ratios and previewing how the UI will appear on different devices. With that said, If you design with a 3:2 ratio in mind, everything else will look better when planning for different aspect ratios. iPad being the most difficult, with it's odd 4:3 ratio for current generation of devices.

One of the best things about working on this project was getting Ryan Looney of Electric Alley Music involved. It was awesome to hang out and work with him again. I am really looking forward to the next game and hearing the tracks/SFXs he creates. So, if you are reading this and are in need of some tailored tracks/SFXs for your game, go visit www.electricalleymusic.com and get in contact with Ryan Looney.

-BWS

GOOGLE PLAY GAMES SERVICES & ALPHA TESTING

So, I've completed everything I need for Google Play Services and for the Play Store listing. I've also uploaded an Alpha Testing APK that I'm just testing myself. It is really cool actually seeing it pop up on the Google Play Store. Just to note: You cannot see Core Influence's listing if you are not part of the Alpha Testing group. Next, I need to figure out how the same testing environment works with iOS. There are a few things that I need to fix in the game, but it is all minor stuff I'll complete tonight. Unity 5.5 has been released, but I will not be upgrading Core Influence to that version. There are some issues with the Google Play Games official plugin, so I'll upgrade when I start my next game. Before I start the next mobile game, I'll be messing around with Google Play Services and Chromecast. Anyway, it's a good chance I will be submitting Core Influence builds to the App Store and Google Play Store next week. Crossing my fingers nothing else pops up that delays this any longer!

-BWS

Still Playtesting

As it is right now, I could release the game and be pretty proud of what I've accomplished. But, I'll be playtesting the game over the holiday and getting all the store assets together for the listings. I missed my goal of releasing for Thanksgiving, so I'm shooting for first week in December...maybe later. I'm not sure what the best time will be. I'll have to do some digging and think a little bit about it.

-BWS

New Item Aquired!

Just got an iPad today. Shout out to macofalltrades.com for providing excellent used apple products! 4:3 aspect Android devices are difficult to come across and I want to offer Core Influence for iPad, as well as any future mobile games I create. So, naturally, I want to test the game out on it. I've bought my apple developers license and pushed the game to my iPhone. Works great. After making a few minor adjustments, I'll build it to my iPad and continue play testing.

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Everything is implimented, time to play test it to death...

While I work on press kit materials, I'll be building Core Influence to iOS and play testing it to death on both iOS (iPhone & iPad) and Android devices (various Phones & Tablets). I could just make the builds and release it, but I want to make sure that everything is in working order. I've never released a game before, so I'm scouring the internet for helpful tips and all the do's and don't(s). I'll be play testing it for about a week, setting a release date and finally releasing Core Influence. I am really quite nervous in doing all this, as the only thing I had/have to rely on is information in books, magazines, and the internet. This weekend will be spent getting the game running on iPhone & iPad, play testing, and working a bit on my website. Hopefully, I can do all this without too many problems. Good Night.

-BWS

Inching My Way To The Finish Line

March 22 was my last update, apparently. Since then, my free time was spent working side jobs for quite some time and development slowed down. Pay this bill, that bill, yatta yatta yatta. About a few weeks ago, I decided I needed to step away from the side work in order to finish this mobile game. Still, finding free time to work on this game has been tough. Fall, Winter and early Spring are easy parts of the year to really grind some dev time. Summer, not so much. Lots going on. Anyhow, so what have I got done since then and what is left to finish the game?

  • Dumped Memory Game Mode for Breakthru Game Mode
  • Game Modes Finalized
  • Achievement/Unlockables System
  • Unity Ads & Rewards

To Do:

  • Adjust Unlockables Progression
  • Changes to UI to fit 4:3 aspect
  • Google Play Services
  • Code Review and Optimization

I honestly don't understand the use of 4:3 aspect in a world of devices that are predominantly 16:9 & 16:10. Heck, even 17:10 and 3:2 are just fine. I'm not going to point at a particular device for reference, but 4:3 makes UI design for mobile devices annoying. It also cripples your creative freedom.

So, I will probably be done very soon.

-BWS

Still hacking away at this mobile game

I have been progressing well with my mobile game development. I have all the backend for unlockables done and begun work on the other game modes.  There will be a total of 4 game modes and two are currently playable. The other two will take some time to get to a playable state.  I should have the third ready by the weekend and hopefully have the fourth complete before the start of next week.

I've decided to cut down on the unlockables quite a bit. I need to scale things back, so I can get this game on the market.  I can always add new things later with game updates.

The game has an awesome music track thanks to Ryan Looney of Electric Alley Music.  Can't wait for all of you to hear it and how well it fits the game.  If you are looking for original tracks to capture the right mood/feel for your players, click the above link or here and contact Ryan.  Nothing beats having a track tailored for your game to make it feel just right during gameplay.

Well, that does it for this post.  I need to finish a few things and get some sleep.

-BWS