I just accepted a Game Prototyping Programmer role at PreviewLabs in Belgium!
This company is specialised in rapid prototyping, leading to a lot of interesting and varied projects – exactly my jam!
I made the move from Scotland yesterday, and am excited to get started prototyping!
My own take on Bossa Studios’ Surgeon Simulator, a medieval surgery demo using a Leap Motion Controller. Made in 48 hours for a casual jam.
Started testing out the new Unity multiplayer system today.
I made a little physics sandbox with player interaction inspired by Citizen Burger Disorder, namely that the player has two hands which can independently raycast forward and pickup physics objects.
The new UNet networking system is much improved from the old implementation which I tried out a couple of years ago, as it is now integrated more closely with the scene object and component system rather than purely code based.
I got a comment from Aitem who rightly pointed out that there was no way to exit the game. There is now!
I also took this opportunity to add the actual credits menu, which contains the details for the music and fonts used.
On another note; There are 4 days left of the jam!
I feel like I should be more worried about that than I am, normally at this point I am just starting or certainly have a long way to go. This year I started at a normal time and kept working on it, and I’m really happy with what I have as a result.
Target Practice changes, bug fixes
Mostly bug fixes today, but I finally created breakage models for the target (shown above) which are looking much better now.
I also submitted the first build! Hopefully I’ll get some early feedback & be able to fix things before the deadline.
Recorded instructions, new minigame; Buzz Wire
I’ve been working on using the built in record/playback functionality of the Leap HandController, which has allowed me to record gestures to be played at the start of each unique minigame. This will make the game much more playable, no longer requiring me to be present to explain each section. This was something I kept encountering while play testing with other members of Abertay Game Development Society, if I left them without instruction some of the minigames would confuse players.
I also found after play testing feedback that the game was still much to hard (after all it started off as an effort to beat Dziek at his own game), which makes the experience a lot less fun. The minigames now start off very easy, to introduce the mechanics. These are later built upon to create more challenging sections.
I also added a new ‘Buzz Wire’ minigame, based on the common guide-a-loop-along-a-wire-without-touching-it games (pictured above, real-world example below).
Finally I started polishing up the menu; now it has a theme better fitting the rest of the game.
Win conditions, particle effects, other minor changes
After showing the game off at the Abertay Game Development Society again a few nights ago, I got some more valuable feedback about how I could improve the game. The main comments were;
- Hotseat multiplayer needed a longer switch over time, it was too chaotic for everyone to try to get into position, and the game would often start without them. To solve this I made the game wait for the previous hands to disappear and new hands to be found in the scene.
- People were still having trouble with some of the minigame instructions, as a result I removed the Scream and Bomb Defusal games (which lacked polish anyway). I also changed the phrasing of the target practice to mention shooting, so that the gestures would be more obvious.
- On watching people try the Target Practice minigame I noticed almost everyone first tried to fire by imitating a gun’s hammer using their thumb, so I added this as the main gesture. This feels a lot better and is a lot easier to aim than the previous recoil gesture.
Most of the game foundation is functional now, leaving me to;
- Improve the main menu
- Generally polish the game
- Add more minigames
Implemented the first iteration on hot-seat multiplayer today.
The main menu now allows the users to select how many players there are (up to four), who are each represented differently when they play. There are currently four characters; Weird Business, Bling Bling, Ruby Slippers, Unknown.
I also experimented a little with using a gesture to return to the main menu, which would be easy to carry out but not accidentally be performed during gameplay. I went for a ‘timeout’ style one-hand-perpendicular-to-the-other gesture, which should be unambiguous.
Today I worked on adding a couple more minigames and polishing up the game aesthetic.
One of the new minigames is the Target Practice mode shown above. Players shape their hands as guns and imitate the recoil on a gun in order to fire.
I decided to go with an art style similar to the one I used last year with Breakfast Simulator, a flat coloured cel-shaded aesthetic. I also replaced the default Arial font with something with a carnival style to better fit the theme.
After showing the game off to a few friends at the Abertay Game Development Society and watching their fumblings, I realised that many of the gestures for the minigames needed to be clearer. Initially I had the gun recoil as a gesture straight backwards away from the scene, whereas many people expected to fire either by imitating the hammer with their thumb press or by recoiling at an angle. Overall the feedback was very positive & I hope to have made the experience more accessible before presenting it to them again next week.
I also set up the Github repository today;
I’ve decided to enter the Leap Motion 3D Jam again this year; the jam lasts 6 weeks and is only 2 weeks through, so I still have plenty of time to work on my submission. Last year I spent a few days working on a Oculus Rift DK2/Leap Motion Controller experience and created Breakfast Simulator. Overall I’m happy with what I accomplished; it was my first experience with developing/using any virtual reality technology, so I spent most of my time playing around in the sandbox kitchen I created. This year however, I’ve decided to forgo VR and have a larger focus on actual gameplay.
With this in mind, I have developed a simple prototype for a WarioWare style game (i.e. a multiplayer collection of quick minigames) which I can expand and polish easily. Due to the limitations of the Leap, I plan to implement a hot-seat style multiplayer mode (i.e. players take turns to complete each minigame). Players will have infinite retries on each game until one of the players completes it, at which point the remaining users will have one last chance to succeed at it before moving on.
Here is a video of my day one prototype progress;
With this being my final year of studying Computer Games Technology I’ll be working on a games programming related honours project, and later writing a dissertation about it. I will be posting updates here as I progress with the project.
The main outcome I want for this year is to have a quality game prototype to add to my portfolio. The project must have a technical focus to allow me to research & document my findings, and so my first goal is to decide what this focus will be. Here are my current thoughts;
- Procedural dungeon generation;
- This would allow me to write about the technicalities of the generation, while giving me the perfect foundation to create the rogue-lite game I want to prototype.
- Analytics to support game design
- To create a tool for a current game engine (Unity 5, Unreal 4) allowing developers to gain a better perspective of how people are interacting with their game & present this in a useful way.
- Analytics to create dynamic difficulty
- A game system which would use the analytical data collected from the current player’s session and compare it against previous sessions in order to alter the difficulty of the game through level design, resource spawn rates, and AI complexity scaling.
My main focus this week was on making the particles look more like real fire.
After the issues last week, my first task was to fix the particles not rising out of the plane at all. After some experimentation I realised that the particles would have to be initialized on the first frame of the animation, even if they didn’t start emitting at that point – just to ensure the dynamics were properly setup for playback.
Next I added an object called ‘FEP_Controller’ (Fire Emission Plane), which controls the wind direction and strength of the fire spreading, allowing the user to key frame these to have more control over the effect.
I then made the wind description looked up from the controller influence the particles in the 3D scene by applying it to the simulation’s nucleus.
I thought I would have a chance to go back to working on the wood blackening effect, and to add the metal glowing interaction, however at this point I am running out of time and want to focus more on making the simulation work properly. With this in mind, my final task will be to have the fire spreading through multiple objects.