So…. hello out there? Ya I know I haven’t updated in a really long time but I was getting overwhelmed with things. Truth be told it was kind of a crazy idea to post a game design idea per day. It would’ve been awesome definitely but I’m not very good at time management all of the time. But hey here’s the first post in a long time. I’m not making any promises but I will try to update this a little bit more. I’m hoping at least a weekly basis.
So whats new? Well first I want to congratulate my good friends at the University of New Mexico IFDM program who were all part of the Alloy Team working on their capstone game project Alloy. Alloy is an interesting take on the Real Time Strategy Genre and its free to get over at their website. Also if you want to donate any money it all goes to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. You can check it out here Alloy Video Game. This is a really exciting game and I hope all of you download it coming April 21st.
Now on to whats important (other then helping the fight for the good of sick children through the power of play of course) me! Well currently I’m working on 3 projects all of which are either in preproduction or early production. Unfortunately I can’t or more appropriately don’t want to tell you about two of them because I would like to make those a nice surprise for down the road. But what I can tell you about is the game I am working on with the University of New Mexico’s Game Developers Club of which I am president.
The Game Developers Club was chartered late last year in October. We were originally going to work on a game that was based off of Shandiin and I’s New Mexico Game Jam project called Dark through the game engine Unity 3D. Unfortunately we were still getting our legs as an organization and because we didn’t have many programmers that project fell through. Personally though I wasn’t too sad to see it fall. It was a feature creep game that we had to get out of the way either by spending too much time on it and failing or realizing it wasn’t a good project to start out with. Maybe later on down the road we may pick it up again since it did have a very interesting premise to it. You could check out the original here for PC. Funny thing about Dark is that the original was made on a sidewalk in Santa Fe.
Well because of the fall of Dark that almost meant the death of the Game Developer’s Club at UNM. I didn’t really want it to go because it felt somewhat like a child to me that just had to be nurtured and it had the potential to do amazing things. There were only two of us at the first meeting of 2012. It consisted of a girl that I met named Deanna, who likes to go by Kagome, and myself. This meeting was crucial, we had to essentially reform, restructure and reevaluate our goals. After about 2 hours of discussion about our plans we were ready to make our first step. We would do a One Hour Game Jam right there in the conference room.
Now one may be wondering what a One Hour Game Jam is, and its not to anyones lack of intellect, its because it’s very seldom done. In fact I would say there have probably been less then 15 done, but none to my knowledge. 15 being an extremely arbitrary number of course since I do not want to claim that we (Deanna and I) were the first ones to ever attempt such a feat but I would say most people would find it rather a waste of time since you can do so little in an hour for a game. Well we did it anyways. I looked Deanna in the eye and said “Lets make a game”, not the most motivational words in the world but they were something. We spent the first ten minutes trying to come up with something that we could feasibly do within the hour. Many ideas were thrown. We thought we could make a marathon game where you control the legs of your racer and you can go up against your friends (I later found out there was a game like that.), a simple dart throwing game, one where you press a button in time to a bouncing ball. The time we were allowing ourselves to brainstorm was running out and we finally decided on something. It was to be a simple top down twin stick shooter like I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1
So let me ask you this first before I go on. Have you made a video game or attempted to make a video game? Or do you at least know the general process of making one? Well you should know that it’s really fucking hard, especially to do anything in an hour! Well now on with the story.
So since I was the one of the few people who could program in the Game Dev Club in the first place I took the reigns on getting down to the dirty dirty code writing and Deanna to work on the art. We had a few problems, 1. We only had 50 minutes to get as far as we could with this game and 2. Deanna didn’t have her computer. For her to get her art into the game we would have to use my phone to take pictures and send them to my email so I could then add them into the game. I decided to work with XNA because I was slightly mad at Unity at the time (I’m now back in love with it, check out this vid of something I made in about an hour :D) and I was used to looking at pure code. Luckily I did have some premade classes for 2D games such as Sprites, Animation System, and a 2DCamera so I didn’t have to spend 10 to 20 minutes writing those. It still took time though for everything. Creating enemies with basic , the hero, bullets and some basic game states. Five minutes before our time was out we realized we didn’t have enough time to get everything in that we wanted (shooting mostly). So at the end of the hour it was a run and don’t get hit by enemies game.
I wish I had a picture of the original game because the next day I spent 2 extra hours turning it into this.
The graphics are different and I actually got the shooting mechanic to work. Also I was able to get the enemies to face the character and the Camera wasn’t working fully so I fixed that as well. For a few hours work I think it is fine. It’s a game and it’s kinda fun, nothing to write home about… yet.
So lets move a little further in time. Not much, about a two weeks. Few members came back to the Game Dev Club. That’s alright I’ll take what I could. Good news is that we even gathered a new member to come help us out. We needed a game to get us all working again. Something smaller than Dark (stupid feature creep) and something we could finish in about 8 weeks. We went through a ton of ideas like we did with the One Hour Game Jam, the only difference is that Deanna wasn’t there. Unfortunately she had to stop coming to the Game Dev Club. We had so many ideas though! We were looking into doing some kind of RealTime RPG, something with a Canabalistic Helicopter (I’ll let you sink that one in), something to do with Princess Dianna (I really don’t want to say what it was but it had an interesting gameplay mechanic), and a Girlfriend Pet Sim(something kinda like Nintendogs but with a girl I guess). Funny thing is we wound up loving the core gameplay of the top down shooter Deanna and I made. There did have to be some changes though. The first was we didn’t want to make another I MAED A GAM3 W1TH Z0MB1ES!!!1, so we decided it would be a top down stealth game with our heroic cat in space going up against evil platypuses, much like Metal Gear Solid.
It was great because we already had the base gameplay done and we set our goals for Version 0.1 to be realistic. We would only have one enemy type, 3 game objectives, and 4 powerups. The powerups were simple because they included ammo and healthpacks. The thing that would set us apart from Metal Gear is that we did it our gameplay in self contained levels, so it would be more about solving a room with the supplies given instead of getting a whole game world. Also we allowed our character to move in two ways, the default is now moving in straight quick lines (much like sprinting in Pokemon) and our more precision way with the aiming mechanic.
I immediately began working on the level editor. I based mine off of a design that I read in a great beginner book for XNA called XNA Games by Example Beginner’s Guide which I highly recommend to anybody who wants to learn XNA programming. I’ve been working on this for almost 2 or 3 weeks now and I’m getting so many things into the game. The level editor is not yet complete but it’s so extremely close that I could almost taste it. I used the book up to a point where it put the XNA game screen into a Windows Form that you would be able to choose tiles from and add to the level. After that it was pretty much all of my own code. Since I wanted to save the map files into an XML format I had to let go of some coding conventions I wanted. Mostly the ability to use these things called multidimensional arrays. For all of you geeky programmers out there the way I had to do it was create a List that was initialized to the width multiplied by height (in tiles) and then access each one by doing Level[(y * width) + x] . This is a great work around if you find you cannot use multidimensional arrays.It’s coming along nicely and since it’s going to alleviate content creation early I will only have to worry about the actual components of the game for a while.
The latest thing I have added is the ability to see pathfinding. This is going to go into the ability to create pathways for the enemies to follow when they do not detect your presence within the ship. In this screen shot is shows the path from our hero (The Orange Cat) to the evil Platypus enemy. All of these graphics are place holders since they are going to be in a space ship.
So this is one of the things I’ve been working on. It is currently code named Space Cat (no affiliation with Sky Cat) but will be going under a name change soon because of a game of the same name on Android which you should check out. I am excited though. This game is going to be over the top campy 1960s Star Trek Sci-Fi that will take itself way too seriously so it’s absolutely hilarious. We still have a long way to go but we have been gaining members who want to work on it. In fact we were in a meeting this past Saturday and right before we left a girl came bursting (yes bursting) into the room very excited who wanted to join us on this high flying fur fighting espionage adventure. And so very very very frankly we need the help. Here’s a screenshot of the production scale so far and I still need to add more to it from last meeting.
Exciting times are ahead, along with many restless nights like this, and headaches, and hair ripping out and many other things. I still can’t wait to tell you all more about this game though. I’ll be putting the level editor out soon so people could make their own levels and send them to us to have a chance to have them in the game.
So it is now 3:05am and I have class at 9:30am so I better go off to bed. I may be sleepy but you’re not (well depending when you’re reading this) so you should leave a comment in the box below.