Monday, June 8, 2015

Taking a Break

So I was stressing out quite a bit about basically finishing the whole game this week and did quite a bit of work in the beginning of the week, but then I decided to take a break.

I was stressing out and I have not had any vacation for a while so I decided to instead relax my deadline trying to hit the Jurassic World release and instead take a step back and be sure I don't run myself into the ground and that I actually create a good game, now that I have put so much time into it.

So since I had just bought a fancy new GeForce 970GTX I played a bunch of games and relaxed with my girlfriend.

So I played a bunch of Batman - Arkham Origins, I played through most of Broken Age, I tried out Assassin's Creed IV - Black Flag and I played some Hearthstone.

And all of it was great. I actually don't play games much for someone trying to be a game developer. I actually have this stupid stigma built into my brain that it's a bit of a time waster - more than movies or books - even through I know that games is an art form in their own right and have loads of other benefits, like improved motor skills and cognitive skills that other entertainment does not have. So I'm glad I spent a bit more time playing and I'll try to keep it up for a while and finish some good games, I have The Witcher 2 and 3 to finish as well.

I'll be back with an update again when I've had a bit more time to relax and maybe reconsidder the scope of the game and a new schedule.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Project Happy - Dev Diary 7

Well better late than never.
Missed two Sundays. Not so good.
Well I ended up getting pretty sick and then I got a bit stuck with the game.
BUT! I have taken the rest of this week off so I will be working on the game a lot this week which is indeed very needed if I still want the game to be finished around the 12th of June.

So my last task was to make the game run well on Android and I have definitely managed that.
I ended up stripping off a lot of the cool effects and scaling back on some of the models and textures. I found out that the terrain was causing a very high poly count and so was the water. The fade out effect of the trees when you go behind them also seemed to cause the fps to drop dramatically.
What remains that is really expensive rendering wise is the drop shadows and the light cookie (the effect of light coming through tree branches. I think I'll end up with no shadows. This is a shame, but the game still looks OK as long as the light cookie is there.

Other than all the optimization stuff I:

  • Implemented the Triceratops.
  • Setup a start menu, pause menu and game over menu.
  • Made some better UI textures.
  • Implemented a point counter.
  • Made sand textures for the terrain.
  • Made a temporary sky box.
And here is how it is looking at the moment:

So I might have scaled back the graphics a bit too much, but I can always put stuff back in if I have the performance headroom.

So for the week I will have to be very productive if I'm going to finish this off soon:

  • Make a velociraptor.
  • Make tourists you can eat.
  • Make eggs you can collect.
  • Make missing animations.
  • Make a real skybox.
  • Decide on a Final name
  • Finish all the UI.
  • Probably way more stuff
So if I manage all this in this week then I'll have next week to polish things off and implement Play Games services and in app billing.

Wish me luck. I'm going to need it :P.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Project Happy - Dev Diary 6

So another week has gone by.

I feel this week ended up being a bit unproductive.

I did not manage to create quite as many new assets as I had hoped.

I started the week out working on textures and had a bunch of problems making as good ground textures as I wanted, so I have added two a rock one and a grass one, I'm not very pleased with either, but I learned a lot, so hopefully I'll be able to make improvements.

I then did the Triceratops and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I haven't yet rigged it or anything, but I have the model in the game and it is looking good.

I then made a texture to use for the bottom of the screen to indicate not to go farther down and I made a new big tree model to block off the top of the map.

I also got rid of the block rocks I've been using and just used the terrain with my new rock texture, this is OK for now and I think will work fine when I get some boulders in there that I can spread around a bit.

I also played a bit around with the light.

And here is how it's looking at the moment.

Goals for next week:

  • Get game to run well on Android
At the moment the game does not run great on my Nexus 5. I don't know if it is due to texture sizes or polygon counts or something completely different, but I believe I have to figure it out before I work on any more assets. Hopefully I'll be able to do a few more things as well.

See you all next week.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Project Happy - Dev Diary 5

So another week has gone by and I've made quite a few improvements.

I got the game back to being playable with a game-over screen and that you get energy from eating. The stegosaurus' are re-spawning after you eat them.
And I've hugely improved the T-rex animation. I redid the walk animation and did a running animation and an attack animation and I have the all set up in a working blend tree.
The stegosaurus now runs away scared when it sees you.
I added some grass and modeled the tree log.
And as you can see I have ugly (but functional) touch controls on it now.

And here you can see it in action:

Goals for next week:

  • Model the triceratops
  • Model the cliffs
  • Model the big trees blocking the top
  • Make different better textures for the terrain
I plan to focus this next week on getting rid of all the blocked in stuff so I really get an idea of hold the game will look and hopefully I'll have time to do a few more things as well.

See you all in another week

Monday, May 4, 2015

Project Happy - Dev Diary 4

Today is my 30th birthday!

And it is going well with the project.
I managed to get quite a few things done this week.
I created a tree and a fern for the game, which has really improved the visuals.
I got some animation working on the stegosaurus.
And I figured out using Unity's navigation system for character control and AI.

The AI is still very simple. At the moment the stegosaurus is just selecting a location and moving towards it and when it get there, choosing a new location. This will of course be improved with other actions the dinosaurs can take and reacting to the player. But I am getting all the nice path finding etc.

Here is a video showing off the stegosaurus sped up and highlighted to show their behavior.

And here you can see it being played. I've sped up the player a bit to be able to cover more gound, but you get the idea.

So another productive week. So for next week I really want to work on the gameplay and logic so:

  • Get game playable again. You loose health and have to eat dinosaurs to survive etc.
  • Make herbivores act better. Run away from player etc.
  • Plan out and implement some simple menus.
See you all in a week.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Project Happy - Dev Diary 3

So everything slipped a bit and I didn't manage to get this blog post written yesterday.

But everything is going well. I have been a bit sick this last week, but I managed to put in some good work anyway I think.

Firstly I modeled the real tyrannosaurus model.

Full resolution:

Low resolution in game:

I then spent a disturbing amount of time figuring out how to properly rig a character. I've never done this properly and it took a very long time. After this I made the following test:

After that I ran around in circles for a while trying to figure out how to best import animations and how to set up root motion.

Finally I sort of figured it out and made a walk animation and an idle animation and got them working with root motion in the game and here is the result:

Additionally after thinking more about the game. I've decided to drop the idea of growing bigger as you eat. You will simple have to eat as much as possible so you don't die and then you earn points of some kind that you can unlock bigger dinosaurs with. This will mean I will have to make more different dinosaurs though.

So everything is going pretty well. This next week I want to really start working on getting the game playable and fun. So I'm going to concentrate on getting enough animation for the T-rex and one herbivore and then work on the player controller and the AI for the herbivores.

  • Make run animation for T-rex.
  • Rig and skin stegosaurus.
  • Make, idle, walk and run animation for the stegosaurus.
  • Make a herbivore controller so stegosaurus can run around the landscape.
  • Make T-rex able to eat them etc.
See you in another week :)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Project Happy - Dev Diary 2

So it's Sunday again (actually early Monday) and where are we with project Happy?

I have been trying to plan out the rules and think about game on a higher level reading through some of The Art of Game Design again. But I haven't really nailed down the design yet, but I did get a bit more of an idea of the game.

I made a drawing of a simple landscape I could start out with:

I then did some research on making terrain in Unity and using some of the standard textures and some primitives build this little map. As you can see I went for no trees thinking it would be a pain with the camera colliding with them etc. But it turned out to be easier than I though to hide part of a tree when the camera collided with it. You can see this in the video test at the end of the post.

I then started doing a bit of modeling of the Triceratops and the Stegosaurus and after a short while I realised how nice it would be to have a three dimensional reference. And then it hit me: Dinosaur toy figurines! I went to a local euro store and for €4:50 I got these three (Yeah I know one is a velociraptor, not a Tyrannosaurus, but that was all they had for some reason).

I then got a bit sidetracked. I just wanted some simple models for the Triceratops and Stegosaurus, but I ended up basically taking the Stegosaurus to final quality because it was so fun to work on.

High resolution model:

And the low resolution model in game with normal map:

And here is how it currently plays. Basically there is no gameplay at the moment, you can just move around, and not very well. Since I'm pushing the player around with the rigid body it feels like you are controlling a rolling ball rather than a character, so I'll have to get that set up correctly. But you can get a bit of an idea and see the nice triceratops in the game and the test trees that are hiding when the camera gets to close.

Tasks for second week:

  • Make the real Tyrannosaurus model.
  • Make idle, walk and run animations for the T-Rex and implement them in game making the character move correctly.  
  • Start looking into AI for the other dinosaurs.
  • Keep working on finalizing the game design.
See you all in a week.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Project Happy - Dev Diary 1

Introducing my new project. Codename "Happy" at the moment. This will be my first game developed in Unity and my first 3D game. I have decided on what direction I'm going in and done some prototyping.

Here is a video showing a prototype with the basic gameplay idea:

So the game is similar to Spore or Hungry Shark. You are a small dinosaur and to grow bigger you have to eat other dinosaurs, but be careful of dinosaurs bigger than yourself. The game will be for android and using a virtual directional pad for controls.

I'm hoping to keep the scope pretty reasonable with only three or four dinosaurs on release and have the landscape you move around be pretty small. I can always expand it later.

I've set up a rather ambitious development schedule:

12/04/2015 - Alpha development
26/05/2015 - Beta. Functionality lock, start serious testing / polish
12/06/2015 - Release date

Hopefully this is doable. I'm planning to try and spend as much as my free time as possible on this for the next two months to make it happen.

Tasks for the first week:

  • Plan out all the game interactions
  • Skim through The Art of Game Design and ensure game has a decent Aesthetics, Mechanics, Technology and Story balance.
  • Plan out the size of the game world and get a simple landscape working in Unity with the prototype dinosaur running around in it..
The plan is to follow up here on the blog every Sunday with the progress on last weeks tasks and a new set of goals.