Friday, November 15, 2013

The Week of Lull

Since activating the demo version of ArkanPong on Monday, I have put the game aside for the week and focused on updating my website.  Like this blog, it's been two years since a decent update to it.  The primary focus was the resume page and downloadable versions.  These are all up-to-date now.  I have the same issue with the resume page text that I do with Unity itself, though:  Flash screws it up.  If the user's screen resolution is set to the parameters I say during the site load, everything looks great.  However, on a different resolution (1152x864, for example) the font size gets really big and makes rows really wonky.  I am going to have to look into a possible other means to run the website other than Flash so that this does not happen.  I'm sure it's probably possible inside of Flash as well (actually I'm certain it is and it's just a matter of the screen resolutions but this sounds good, too) but the system is getting pretty big.  I could just create more work scenes but if there's a better way I might do that, too.  We will have to see.

I've also been looking into the latest version of Unity - 4.3.  Not only does it work in Flash sites (if I choose to keep mine that way) but it has a 2D developer in it as well - thanks, Randall, for showing me that!  I need to investigate more the pros and cons of a possible upgrade.  All of my systems are set up already and working properly in the 3D space so I think for this game I'd be fine.  However, since ArkanPong is more a training exercise for my next game, it would be beneficial to upgrade. 

Next week I am going to dive back into development, only I will be doing the multiplayer aspect now.  All of the game components and 90% of the script will be from the single-player side so it should hopefully be functional in a week or two.  Then I can start making some demo levels for that side as well.  I'm aiming to have the final demo version out by Christmas or New Year's at the latest.  That's all for now - I'll post again once the multiplayer scripting is complete.

Monday, November 11, 2013

ArkanPong Demo is Live

Wow, it’s been two years since my last post.  Zeit-Meisters has been put on hold for the time-being for two reasons.  First, the concept for it is pretty ambitious for a first game.  I had tried sitting down and learning Unity as I made it to pretty poor results.  Also, while I had a texture artist in addition to my programmer, I still did not have a modeler.  As such, the game went dormant. 

I have started from scratch on Unity and gone through a beginner’s book called Unity 3.x Game Development by Example by Ryan Henson Creighton.  It gave me a good foundation to start from.  I also decided to implement a new system that should help not only with Zeit-Meisters but also with future games as well.  I have several ideas for games that would start small and expand throughout the production cycle.  These games would lead into development of a larger game by providing a prototyping/research phase while still staying productive.   

The new game is currently under the code-name of ArkanPong.  As the title suggests, it’s a blend of the enhanced Breakout game Arkanoid and the classic game Pong.  I have a final name chosen which will expand the premise even more but that will have to wait until those concepts can be implemented as well as a few other factors figured out. 

There is a five-level demo out today (actually six - the last has a prerequisite to play making it a bonus level).  The intent is to allow the player to get used to the different controls possible as well as introduce a sample of the basic gameplay.  The concepts should be familiar to anyone who has played Breakout or Arkanoid but should also give a glimpse of what lies in store.  Pretty much all the main gameplay elements are in place.  There are some level-specific items that I have left out that I hope you will look forward to down the road.  A 360 controller is required to play.  I initially had the interface on the keyboard but it became too much to control.  Gamepad configurations may still change but it’s in a much better format now. 

This demo, as well as the final version of the game, will be in Alpha phase only.  Alpha in game development means feature complete – or that the game is playable and all major features are complete but the models and textures are not finalized.  I will be tweaking values of different items based on feedback but no actual models or textures will be implemented.  All programming is being done by myself which is taking considerable time (20-25 hours a week for the past 1 1/2 months or so) and working on those aspects as well would take up even more time that could be spent elsewhere.  For how the game is currently, the Unity Game Objects more than suffice – it’s the added content which would need the artist’s touch.  If enough people like the game, I will outsource the modeling and texturing to other people.   

I had initially intended for the demo to be played on my website but forgot that I had Unity 3.4.  Web Play for Flash websites was introduced in version 3.5 (of course).  Rather than hoping everything will transfer okay in an upgrade or spending more time researching I decided to make the game a downloadable version instead.  By going to my portfolio website and clicking Portfolio -> Levels -> ArkanPong -> Download you will be given a copy of the demo.  Before starting the demo, please ensure that your screen resolution is set to 1280x800 and your 360 controller is plugged in.  There are two items in the game that I am aware of that need to be tweaked.  Firstly, in levels that have the black Diamond Posts, if the paddle enlarges it will cross over these posts.  Secondly, analog control for the revolving paddle is not 100% smooth.  It's perfectly functional - just not optimal.  I am looking into how to best address these two issues.  If you notice anything else while playing please let me know and I will make note of it. 

I hope you enjoy the demo and look forward to more updates!!