Story based infinite runner and Doodle Jump with tap/slide controls.

baron_test
Concept character art for story based infinite runner.

Over that last few months I have been busy alternating  working on two mobile games. One is a game with a simple system, but quite a lot of artwork required to make it interesting. The other uses public domain art only, so that I can concentrate on creating fun gameplay mechanics. Alternating between technical work and creating art and story has kept me motivated and sane.

The first game idea came about over coffee with my sister, where we discussed to make a small game together. The idea was to make a story based game using existing mechanics, but introduce our own unique storyline which can be unlocked as in-game missions are completed. The game mechanics we decided on was an infinite runner, because of the manageable scope of creating the system,  which meant we can focus more on creating an interesting setting and story. In a steampunk universe you play as young girl looking for her eccentric father who has gone on Quixotic adventure.  As you trace your fathers whereabouts, you are told stories about him, and meet interesting characters along the way.  We thought this game might be interesting to people as it could be played in small chunks, and the player rewarded with a developing story and interesting characters.  For the storyline elements we have been prototyping a basic motion comic style in the vein of The Thrill Electric and the Axe Cop series.

The infinite runner portion of the game is similar to jetpack joyride, with a scrolling background setting that changes as the player progresses.  For the first time we opted to use an existing infinite runner system from the Unity Asset store and modify it to suit our needs.  This method is working quite well,  the time spent modifying the system is much less than it would have been to create one from scratch. Also learning code created by a much more skilled programmer than me has taught things I wouldn’t have found out otherwise.

The biggest challenge of this game so far has been the amount of artwork required to create all the obstacles, scrolling background layers and also the character development and storyline. We are getting though the list of items to be created, and learning a lot about making good consistent characters with professional looking outlining and shading. Check out the one of the created so far at the top of the page to see the style we have adopted.

The other game is one I have been working on is based on Doodle Jump (DJ). The difference being that the character jumps and moves via a tap and swipe system because I am not a fan of the tilt control system used in DJ . After a few failed prototypes I have found a system that most people can learn within a few plays, that gives fine control over the characters jump.

Because all of the art used for this game so far has been from the public domain, I have been able to focus on creating prototypes of the level generation. character control and the main game loop. It is at a stage where I can begin fine tuning the level design and creating player incentive.

So that has been my last few months in games development, look out for the release of the above games in the coming months!

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Brisbane International Game Developers Assocation 2015 Conference

Having just attended BRIGDA forum held over the weekend, I found a vibrant scene of local independent developers both rising and established. This was a great relief to me as I plug away at my computer with little contact with other developers other than online (and even then, not nearly enough as I should), I think I needed to see and hear other developers who have found a space for themselves to do what they are passionate about, making games.

With a theme of “What if…?” the program of panelists tackled questions about where games were going into the future and how stories from developers who have struck out on there own. Also refreshingly there was discussion about the health (both physical and mental) of gamers and devs, which is an issue that effects almost everyone, whether directly or someone they know.

The afternoon industry discussion from industry veterans Matt Hall (Hipster Whale), and Luke Muscat, Phil Larsen, Hugh Walkers (Pretty Great Studios) offering an insight into the industry, how they operate when making games, and striking out on there own. It was heartening to see and hear local successes such as this, and to realise that although still a dream, making games for a living may actually be possible.

With plenty of breaks to meet with other devs and students attending, it was invaluable experience, one that I could not get by watching online IGDA talks. Now I can’t wait for Pax 2015…

IndiesVsGamers Game Jam – Stray Cat Survival

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http://www.kongregate.com/games/johnfelixgarrad/stray-cat-survival

Having come back from a mid year holiday I was keen to try a game jam to get some ideas flowing. Luckily I stumbled upon the GameJolt website which was hosting an online 72 hr game jam the very next day. Having prepared myself with lots of coffee, and an update of Unity, the theme was announced: Arcade.

Having been given such an open ended theme, I was happy because arcade type games are perhaps the simplest to make (which is why I keep making them.)

My brainstorming took a few hours to come up with the general gameplay mechanics of a cat in a room, with vacuum cleaners to avoid, food to collect, and increasing difficulty, with the goal of gaining the highest score and level.

I created some placeholder artwork and made a simple movement system to get a feel for the game, before creating final character art and applying it to animations and improving the movement system. I used the inbuilt physics system of Unity and found some cheap and nasty ways of restricting speed, and to rotate towards the direction of travel. It’s not pretty, but functionality was the key if I was going to come close to the deadline. When I was happy as I could be with the player movement and animation speed ( I finally got a variable animation speed based on velocity, not too shabby!) I then moved onto the vacuum cleaner AI. I didn’t want the vacuum to target the player initialy so I made an AI with a simple movement system, (when it hits walls it stops, reverses, rotates, continues…) and kept developing it and tweaking was happy, after thinking about it, and I also added another enemy AI which follows the player relentlessly, and made them different colours.

Finally I was onto the main game loop, which at the start of evey level sets up the arcade machines, fruit and enemies in random locations. For enemy numbers I used A logarithmic function to ramp up the numbers in relation to the current level, as was used in the unity rogue like tutorial, and had been thinking about since. I used a variety of methods to spawn objects, from if statements, to using loops and lists, and simple random placement of food within the room bounds. Using lists was by far the fastest to code, and I guess doing a jam like this forces you to find more efficient processes.

One of the contest rules was that the game had to integrate the GameLoft API in order to qualify (so that gamers could then compete against each other for highscores during the contest).  Unfortunately as I had never uploaded and tested uploading a game on GameLoft (which I should have spent more time if I had of known about the contest earlier), with 10 minutes to go I got my game uploaded, only to find it doesn’t work due to an issue with WebGL.

Overall though I am happy to have entered, I learnt a lot, and got to spend much more time on the creating art, which I’m starting to really love. I can’t wait for the next Jam, hopefully with a team next time!

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A little about me

RedKelly

I am a  one man video game developer, working from the spare room, where terrestrial distractions from working on games a kept to minimum.

Since I was old enough to realise that I probably wasn’t going to achieve my first dream: become a Hollywood action movie star ( I had decided I would be part Arnold Schwarzenegger, part Crocodile Dundee). I set my sights on my second dream of creating video games. But back then, creating  games beyond the text adventures graphical games seemed well out of us mere mortal reach.

Fast forward over 10 years, now with a civil engineering background, I’ve decided to go back and have another crack at creating games. The clinchers was software available today  make  it more feasible now than ever to create great games.