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Fidelum Games Development Journal

## Version Control Commit Comments (Aug 29th to Nov 22nd), Paralysis by Analysis

Originally posted on FidelumGames.WordPress.com

In my last post, I said that I hoped my blog posts would start getting more frequent. That was over a month ago  😐

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on things, I just don’t have anything new that’s super interesting and warrants a blog post.

However, I really want to make these posts frequent and keep everyone who’s interested up to date on what’s going on with the game’s development. Because of this, I’ve decided that between meaty, interesting posts, I’ll simply post each of my version control commit comments as I make them.

I figure this will keep the posts coming, give you all a sense of what I’m working on and what I’ll be working on next, and provide some insights into the minutia that come along with game development.

I set the current repository up fairly recently, so there aren’t a ton of commits as of yet, but here is a dump of  all of the currently existing comments:

8/29/2017 4:06 PM – Initial Wayfarer project commit

10/23/2017 5:08 PM – Milestone #1 Commit – Stable, first feature set complete.

11/4/2017 9:29 PM – Updated GDD with Overview and Implementation algo for player combat (attacking and spellcasting).

11/9/2017 11:24 PM – Added basic player attacking functionality, as well as initial defense and dodge calculations. Player’s EndTurn, when striking an enemy, is now called by the enemy being hit after its animation is done playing. The next step is to do the same for when the enemy strikes the player. Noticed two bugs: Player gets his turn back too often, and the enemy calls TakeDamage on itself when casting a spell on itself which inflicts damage (Blood Magick). Need to figure out why the player is able to act so frequently, and change how self-injuring spells subtract health from the caster (another function, or maybe a flag to the existing function). These two issues are probably related.

11/11/2017 11:38 PM – Fixed bug where player could attack too frequently. Also modified Stats.TakeDamage to have an optional paramter shouldPlayTakeDamageAnimation (or something like that) in order to prevent self-damaging spells (blood magick) from triggering the take damage animation.

11/14/2017 1:29 PM – Basic functionality for both player attacking and spellcasting is complete. Still have to add some tweaks for reactive animations and turn ending when an actor is hit by a spell.

11/15/2017 12:13 AM – Added target effects for spells which have an immediate effect. Added additional EndTurn triggers to handle these. From what I’ve tested so far, all cases where the player attacks or casts a spell on an enemy work as expected.
Next thing that needs to happen is enemy death. The dissolve assets have been brought back into the project, and just need to be called when the enemy dies.
After that, adding reactive animations for the player when a spell is cast on him, or when he is attacked (dodge, get hit, etc.), and ensuring those reactive animations trigger EndTurn in the correct Enemy. This will probably be in TakeDamage(since it has a reference to the Stats of the attacker anyway).

11/16/2017 11:20 PM – Death animation now triggers dissolving. Found a bug where an enemy gets an extra turn when taking damage. Dying doesn’t occur as expected. Fix this.

11/20/2017 10:08 PM – Fixed some problems with turns ending at the incorrect times/too many times caused by some poor logic in SpellManager. How spells work and the exact point at when they have their effects applied, as well as when turns are ended has been more tightly defined. All callbacks from animation events triggered by spells or attacks targetting the enemy are working as expected, with the exception of Healing spells. This is because of the current AnyState->AnyState transitions used in the animation controllers and the close proximity of the Heal Casting animation and the Get Healed animations being triggered. The state instead transitions right from Heal Casting back to Idle. Because of this, the animation state machine will have to be more properly arranged.

Once this is done, callbacks for when the player is the target of spells need to be added (none are done). Also, these animations will have to be set up for the player (mostly utilizing iTween).

Even though all of the spell stuff is mostly working well, it just doesn’t feel right, and is a likely candidate for redesign later.

11/21/2017 10:15 PM – It seems that all callbacks for both the enemy and player are complete for all permutations of both self inflicted and opponent inflicted effects (Damage, healing, status effects, etc). This also takes into account and plays the appropriate animation for affinity to magick types (having greater than 100% fire defense will heal instead of hurt the attackee when a fire spell is cast against them). Of course, all graphics, vfx, and animations are currently placeholder, but it seems that the code is solid and complete.

In order to accomplish this, the enemy animator has been totally revamped.

Still have to test more thoroughly (with multiple enemies, additional spells, active combat mode, etc.)

Have to perform clean up on some unused animation boolean sets in code.

11/22/2017 10:01 PM – Milestone#2 complete! Player actions are working perfectly and complete combat cycles are able to be completed with either the player or enemy being defeated. Player is able to attack and cast all spells, although no mechanism to change equipped spells or weapons currently exists (except for through the editor [weapons cannot be changed at all]). One small bug still exists where the Enemy is able to cast some ranged spells when not in line of sight of the player. It seems only range is being taken into account. This should be an easy fix, and not something I’m currently worried about. One small fix was made to a bug where the player would become misaligned with the grid if attempting to move while a player animation was being played (dodge, damage, taunt).

Tests with multiple enemies were successful as well.

Need to decide what Milestone#3 will be: UI Design seems like the most reasonable candidate, as this will lay the style and determine the framework for most of the systems to come (inventory and player management, including weapon/equipment management and equipping, spell selection, and levelling up as well as all other core gameplay areas including dialog, quests and pretty much everything else to come).

## Paralysis by Analysis

Things have been moving slowly lately.

The game is at the point in its development where things really can’t progress until some UI has been put into place.

The player is able to both attack and use spells, but there is no in-game mechanism by which to switch spells or weapons (the spell system, as I’ve mentioned before is done, but the placeholder weapon is purely superficial; it doesn’t affect stats or combat at all.).

Because the AI and base player combat mechanics are complete, it seems the best thing to start next is looting and inventory management. This will range everywhere from the player looting enemy bodies (or bags dropped–not sure how I’ll handle it yet), to changing equipment, spells, etc.

I could write the back-end for this stuff, and just switch things out in the editor for testing, but it seems the best way to progress is to at least have some idea of what my UI will look like and how it will function so that I can best design the code.

This is where I’ve been having difficulty.

The only other game I’ve completed to date was a single screen 2D shooter called ‘Pixel Zombie Shooter’ (you can play it on Newgrounds), and it had a pretty minimal/simple UI.

Needless to say, I have little experience when it comes to UI design, and I’ve been struggling to figure out what would best suit The Wayfarer.

So far, I’ve completed a ‘mock up’ of the main game’s UI (the one the player sees during combat and exploration). Have a look:

Before I get into my major complaints and problems with this mock up, I’ll explain what you’re looking at first.

The items along the bottom (red and blue orb, bottom-most panel buttons and two circular buttons to the right) are always present.

The panel containing the potions slides up from the bottom when the red portion of the orb is clicked and held, or when it’s right clicked. It’s intended to be a quick access menu showing only items that will heal the player.

A similar panel would appear containing mana-restoring items, equippable weapons, and spells when the blue portion of the orb, the sword or the fireball looking button are clicked and held or right-clicked, respectively.

Basically, I wanted to give the player automatically filled quick-access buttons for commonly used items (health and mana items in particular), as well as a quick way to change spells and weapons.

I think this is a pretty good design functionally, and would help alleviate some of the pain of navigating through tons of menus that is so commonly associated with RPGs, but I’m not sure if I’ll stick with it or not–simply because I think it’s a bit of an unconventional and nontraditional design that might not be intuitive enough for players. (Psst: I’d love to hear some feedback.)

On top of having the ability to display these quick-access menus, left-clicking on the red orb would automatically use the healing item best suited to the player’s current health (healing as much as possible without wasting the item’s healing potential). The same thing would occur with the blue orb, but for mana.

The sword and spell icon would simply attack with the current weapon, or cast the most recent spell, accordingly.

The icons along the bottom, from left to right, would allow the player to:

• Access their inventory
• Access their character Screen
• Access the map
• Access spells
• Access quests
• Rest

Of course, each of these functionalities will also be able to be performed with shortcut keys (‘I’ for Inventory, ‘R’ for Rest, etc.). In the end, nine of these eleven buttons (all but the health and mana buttons) are ultimately redundant because their functionality will be duplicated with key presses. However, I think the benefit of intuitively letting the player know the functionality exists by showing it up front and center probably warrants their presence. Again–we’ll see.

Now for the problems I have with this so-called ‘mock-up’ (perhaps a mockery of a mock-up is a better description).

First of all–just look at it. While it’s not perfect in its appearance, it looks pretty damn close to a polished UI. The problem with that is that it’s a mock up. It’s not supposed to look polished.

While I did do some pencil and paper experiments first, I think I spent too much time making it look good, and I think that’s a bad thing–at least for this stage of development.

I should be focusing on layout and functionality, not final appearance (although that’s probably a good thing to keep in mind while designing).

While the mock up you see above only took me a couple of hours total to put together, it caused complete paralysis when it came time to design my next UI (specifically my character equipment screen).

I started drawing stuff on paper, then went on to photoshopping, but ultimately wound up with nothing.

My mind was too all over the place.

Something like this went through my mind:

Quote

Do I want a diablo-esque equipment screen? No. That’s a top-down game–does that really fit for me? What about a more abstract equipped item scheme using ‘isEquipped’ markers like in ‘The Quest’?

Should the equipment screen always have the inventory screen attached? Or should it always have the character stats screen attached? Or both? Or none?

Should my menus be tabbed, allowing the player to click through the menus, or should they be independent floating windows? Do I want a full-screen menu system, or windows?

Jeez, I don’t know. It really depends on how the game plays and X, Y or Z. I don’t know X, Y or Z yet.

Although I have a pretty solid overall vision for the game’s theme, look and feel, there are still a ton of unknowns. It was at this point that I fully realized that really, I’m still prototyping.

Rather than trying to make all of these decisions during design, I need to be doing some bare bones experimentation to see what works and what doesn’t in order to make my decision making part of the design process.

So, rather than developing further semi-polished mock ups like the one I’ve already made, I need to have some super basic black and white boxes with text instead of images for buttons, etc.

I need to be rapidly prototyping, testing, scrapping and refining these UI menus directly in the game (maybe some quick pencil and paper first). I think I need to make a UI for each of the questions I’ve been asking myself and actually trying it out, instead of just trying to imagine the pros and cons of each. I need to test each one (and hopefully, get some others to test them too).

Ultimately, even if I’m not able to make some final UI decisions right now, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I just need to get something relatively close to what will work best so I can move forward with developing future mechanics.

There will be lots of time to revamp the UI later if I need to.

That’s it for now, and please, if you have any feedback or critiques, share them!

## NEW MUSIC (OBSCURITY)

Originally posted on FidelumGames.WordPress.com on October 1st, 2017

Here comes Obscurity!

This was the first song I made for The Wayfarer. I actually did intend to do something a bit (a lot) brighter, but at times you really can’t really control what comes out.  And since I liked how it sounded and felt, I kept doing it until it was ready. And I’m glad I did.

If all goes as planned, during the next week I should be getting a new pair of stands for my Behringer Truth B2030A monitors. After that I can direct these studio monitors correcly, which should have a positive impact to mix quality.
For now they have been positioned strongly asymmentrically, so they are next to useless during mixing, and 99% of the work has been done with headphones. That 1% is the last rouch check if there are any frequencies that come through in piercingly strong way.

Can’t wait to have them.

BR

Mika Pilke

## HURRAH! MILESTONE #1 REACHED

Originally posted on FidelumGames.WordPress.com on October 13th, 2017

First off:

# YAY!

I’ve reached my first major milestone in the development of The Wayfarer. My enemies (as far as behavior goes) are complete! They still need to be replaced with proper models and given the ability to die (along with dropping loot, etc.), but all of the AI and related systems are complete and, as far as I can tell, mostly bug free.

I think that, in order to stay motivated, it’s important to celebrate these small successes, so last night I had a few drinks, and today I’m writing this post and giving myself a pat on the back (good job, me).

So why did I decide that this was my first major milestone?

In my development experience thus far, one of the hardest and most frustrating things I’ve found is the difficult and delicate act of creating and maintaining complex interconnected systems.

All of the individual items I’ve completed so far for my enemies (attacking, spellcasting, navigation, stats, decision making, editor tools, etc.) have not been overly difficult to implement individually. Sure, there were some challenges, but nothing too major. The real challenge is making all of these things fit together in a way that they all still work, and doing so in a way that makes sense and doesn’t cause terror when thinking about having to change something.

The reason I’m considering this to be my first major milestone is because all of the features mentioned above, even though they’re all individual systems, are now combined into a larger closed system. This means that I know each individual system works, and I know they all work together, and the stress of having to make that a reality is gone! Moving forward, I can start working on smaller systems again (like player actions, looting, inventory management, levelling, etc.), which is a quicker, simpler and more carefree process than integrating said systems.

Of course, once those individual systems are done, I’ll have to integrate them into another closed system, thus reaching another milestone. But, to keep myself realistic, and to prepare myself for the difficulties to come, I do realize that once ‘closed’ system number two is complete, I’ll have to connect it to closed system number one.

I have no experience working with systems on this scale, so this is a huge learning experience for me, and I don’t know what to expect. Part of me is expecting the worst, another part is optimistic and hopeful that I’ve paid my dues in terms of keeping the code clean and sensible, and should reap the benefits when the time to integrate comes.

Anyhow, I’m super pleased and happy at the moment, and can’t wait to start working on new features again. Hopefully things go smoothly for the next little while and these posts will start getting a little more frequent.

This was a huge hill to climb, and I’m glad to be at the top of it (even though I can see the top of the much larger hill in the distance).

## SQUISHING MAGICAL BUGS

During most of my last five or so development sessions, I felt I was making very little progress.

I had my spell system pretty much complete, but the process for creating new spells had become too in depth and complicated, so I had to redesign some things and make some pretty major changes.

Originally, I had been using ScriptableObjects for my spells, and while it was cool, and made me feel like a ‘real game developer’ to be able to create a spell by clicking Asset>Create>New Spell in the Unity editor, it just wasn’t practical for my purposes.

I wound up sticking with trusty ol’ prefabs in the end. While the new system isn’t as generic as the old one (visual effects are now part of the actual spell prefab), it’s much more friendly and maintainable, and I’m able to create new spells in a matter of just a minute or two (not counting VFX creating time).

Reworking this system was fairly straightforward. What really sapped my motivation and frustrated me was a bug that I just couldn’t squash.

Many of the spells in the game will apply buffs to the caster, or to the caster’s enemy. These buffs have the ability to fortify or weaken any stat that exists in the game, and, when being used by an enemy, who the buff is being cast on (self or enemy), is important.

I’ve designed my AI in such a way that, after it has decided to cast a spell, it chooses one at random, filtering out any spells that aren’t available to be cast. I’ve defined a spell that’s unavailable as one which:

1. Has a range less than the distance between the caster and the target
2. Costs more mana than the caster has available
3. Added a buff to the caster which is still active

The most important item on this list, in terms of the bug I’m about to describe, is number 3. I don’t want my enemies ‘wasting’ a turn by casting a buff on themselves which they’re already benefitting from. However, enemies are fully ably to cast the same buff on the player multiple times.

The caveat with this, however, is that I don’t want multiple buff casts on the player from the enemy to stack. Instead, I want a re-casted buff to reset the remaining turn duration of the buff on the player.

The exact opposite was happening–the buff was stacking leading to a spell which should cause a -2 to strength to be able to cause a -10 (or whatever other number) instead. Additionally, this was causing the player’s stat to increase when the buff wore off.

This was a relatively small bug, but it drove me absolutely bonkers. Like I said, I spent somewhere around five sessions trying to fix it, getting little else done.

Here’s the original method which caused the problem:

    public void AddActiveBuff(Spell spell) {
foreach (StatusEffect buff in spell.StatusEffects) {
if (!IsBuffActive(buff)) {
} else {
activeBuffs[buff] = spell.Duration;
}
}
}

Can you spot the error?

I’ll give you a hint: I use a Dictionary to store my activeBuffs, where they key is a StatusEffect object (the contents are unimportant), and the value is an integer representing the number of turns remaining for the buff.

I fiddled with this friggin’ thing forever. I changed how I stored my activeBuffs, considered adding some polymorphism to my Spell class, creating multiple arrays to store the data–all kinds of things. In the end, I commented out a single line on a whim, and found the problem:

    public void AddActiveBuff(Spell spell) {
foreach (StatusEffect buff in spell.StatusEffects) {
if (!IsBuffActive(buff)) {
} else {
//activeBuffs[buff] = spell.Duration;
}
}
}

Yep. One line of code. Seems to always be the cause of these tricky bugs.

Because my spells are prefabs, the StatusEffect objects attached to them are instances belonging to the instance of the Spell when cast. Therefore, because the key in my activeBuffs Dictionary is an instance of a StatusEffect (something I overlooked, foolishly thinking that two separate but identical StatusEffect instances would be equal), I was adding a new entry to the activeBuffs Dictionary with the above commented line, rather than just resetting the duration of the existing entry.

Of course, when I discovered this, I shook my head, and solved the problem in about thirty seconds by comparing buff names rather than objects:

public void AddActiveBuff(Spell spell) {
foreach (StatusEffect buff in spell.StatusEffects) {
if (!IsBuffActive(buff)) {
} else {
foreach (StatusEffect activeBuff in activeBuffs.Keys) {
if (activeBuff.name == buff.name) {
activeBuffs[activeBuff] = spell.Duration;
}
}
}
}
}

Once that was done, I was able to move on to fixing another small bug with my custom Stat inspectors, decide not to make another change regarding how buffs decay (a concern caused by the bug) and add a small piece of code that ignores the turn system when the player is not in combat (allowing for quicker exploration).

Once those items were done, I suddenly realized that I had actually reached my first milestone and the frustration and lack of motivation I had been experiencing transformed into excitement and vigor.

One more time:

# YAY!

## WHAT’S NEXT

With that cumbersome set of tasks out of the way, what’s next?

Well here’s what my task list has to say:

 1.3.    Milestone 1 Wrap Up – Complete Basic Turn Based System In Progress 1.3.1. Refactor and clean-up existing code 1.3.2. Document all existing features – UML, GDD, Code Comments 1.3.3. Celebrate! In progress 1.3.3.1.              Have a few drinks (YAY!) Complete 1.3.3.2.              Celebratory blog post In Progress

Yes, this is actually on my task list. These things are important!

But, more technically, here’s what the rest of my task list looks like at the moment.

 1.4.    Player Combat Actions 1.4.1. Attacking 1.4.1.1.              Melee 1.4.1.1.1.                    Create Placeholder Weapon 1.4.1.1.1.1.   Attack Animations 1.4.1.1.1.2.   Damage Enemy 1.4.1.1.1.3.   Ranged (Spear, etc.) 1.4.1.2.         Ranged 1.1.1.2.1.                    Create Placeholder Weapon 1.4.1.2.1.1.   Define how moving projectiles affect turns On Hold/Tentative 1.4.1.2.1.2.   Projectile Animation 1.4.1.2.1.3.   Magic 1.4.1.2.2.                    Casting Animation 1.4.1.2.2.1.   Implement 1.4.1.2.2.2.   Dual Wield? On Hold/Tentative 1.4.1.2.3.                    Define how the player will use dual wield (Attack both at once, choose which hand, etc.) On Hold/Tentative 1.5.    Define item types (Consumable, Weapon, Armor, Quest, etc.) 1.5.1.Define item script heirarchy 1.5.2.Determine item commonalities and differences 1.5.2.1.              Create item hierarchy 1.5.2.2.              Weapons 1.5.2.3.              Create Weapon Scriptable Object 1.5.2.3.1.                    Make Weapons equippable (through editor) 1.5.2.3.2.                    Share common animation based on type 1.5.2.3.2.1.   Practice with Infinity Weapons 1.5.2.3.3.                    Practice with Mesh Effects 1.5.2.3.4.                    Integrate Infinity Weapons and Mesh Effects 1.5.2.3.5.                    Procedural Weapons 1.5.2.3.5.1.   Experiment with Infinity Weapons texture generation and Blend Shapes at Runtime

I made these items quite a while ago now, so the list will change before I actually start working, but this will give you a general idea of what I’ll be working on.

The On Hold/Tentative items are ones that might not be needed, or that I have yet to fully decide to include in the game.

## POSSIBLE NAME CHANGE

The last thing I’ll mention is that I’m considering changing the name of the game. I really like the title The Wayfarer; I think it sums up what the experience is essentially about. However, performing a search for the title, it seems too common a name.

The first page of Google alone is filled with restaurant pages, and there are even a couple of games already existing with names similar to The Wayfarer.

On the other hand, performing a search for my last game Pixel Zombie Shooter brings it back as the top result, and The Wayfarer has a much larger online presence than Pixel Zombie Shooter as far as all of the blog posts, Youtube videos, etc.

So, I think that if I’m going to change it, I should do it sooner rather than later. What are your thoughts? Anyone with marketing experience want to chime in?

## Task List, Upcoming Milestone, New Music and a Temporary Setback

Originally posted by Jake Jollimore on FidelumGames.WordPress.com on September 11, 2017

I’ve been pretty busy over the last week with life stuff, so not a whole lot to report on at the moment.

However, I watched an Extra Credits video last night that talked about some tips for making your first game. This isn’t my first, but there were still some good tips in there.

The biggest takeaway from this video for me was to make sure that, even if you don’t have the time to work on your game, spend at least 30 minutes a week looking at and reviewing it. The point of this is to keep it all fresh in your mind, and not to let the mental model you’ve created of it to atrophy too far. If you’re a game developer, or even just an avid gamer, I really recommend you check out Extra Credits on YouTube. The videos are always entertaining and educational.

Anyway–this video got me thinking about the task list I mentioned in an earlier post, and I thought it might be kind of cool for some of you to see it.

Note that this list is not static by any means. Items get added, removed and shuffled around all the time.

I’ll start with a high-level task (like Spells), and then break that down into smaller tasks. Often time, I’ll get part way through and realize that, in order to finish the current task, I have to add another to the list and shift my focus to that (eg. I needed a base Stats implementation to implement spells), and then resume with the original task.

I’m really glad I have this list. Juggling all of the interconnected systems and moving back forth between them would be a major headache without it. This lets me keep my mental RAM free for more important tasks.

It’s not formatted as nicely as the Word version, but you should still be able to get an idea of what I’ve finished, what I’m doing, and what I’ll be doing next.

 Task Status 1.       Define and Implement Core Gameplay Mechanics (Alpha) In Progress 1.1.    Movement (Base Mechanics Only—Polish to come later) Complete 1.1.1.Define Movement Scheme Complete 1.1.1.1.              Moving (Translation) Complete 1.1.1.1.1.                    Define Restrictions Complete 1.1.1.1.1.1.   Non-Walkable Areas Complete 1.1.1.1.1.1.1.         Walls Complete 1.1.1.1.1.1.2.         Holes Complete 1.1.1.1.1.1.3.         Non-Passable Terrain (Water, Marsh, etc.) Complete 1.1.1.1.1.1.4.         Max Climbing Angle Complete 1.1.1.1.1.1.5.         Max Drop Amount Complete 1.1.1.2.              Turning and Looking (Rotation) Complete 1.1.1.2.1.                    Fixed rotation (Key presses) Complete 1.1.1.2.2.                    Free Look (mouse) Complete 1.1.2.Implement Movement Scheme Complete 1.1.2.1.              Player Movement Complete 1.1.2.1.1.                    Develop test level with walls, holes, stairs, drops Complete 1.1.2.1.2.                    Develop test level with terrain Complete 1.1.2.1.3.                    Turning and Looking (Rotation) Complete 1.1.2.1.4.                    Moving (Translation) Complete 1.2.    Turn-based Play In Progress 1.2.1.Wait for player action (Mode 1) Complete 1.2.1.1.              Define how the Speed stat affects turns Complete 1.2.1.2.              Define TurnManager (Passive vs. Active Mode) Complete 1.2.1.3.              Define Enemy AI Complete 1.2.1.3.1.                    Determining Actions Complete 1.2.1.3.1.1.   Movement Complete 1.2.1.3.1.2.   Attacking Complete 1.2.1.3.1.2.1.         Melee Complete 1.2.1.3.1.2.2.         Ranged Complete 1.2.1.3.1.2.3.         Magic Complete 1.2.1.3.1.3.   Retreating Complete 1.2.1.3.1.4.   Pursuit Complete 1.2.1.3.1.5.   Patrolling Complete 1.2.1.4.              Implement Enemy AI Complete 1.2.1.4.1.1.   Movement Complete 1.2.1.4.1.1.1.         Avoiding Other NPCs Complete 1.2.1.4.1.1.2.         Pursuit Complete 1.2.1.4.1.1.3.         Patrolling Complete 1.2.1.4.1.2.   Attacking Complete 1.2.1.4.1.2.1.         Melee Complete 1.2.1.4.1.2.2.         Ranged Complete 1.2.1.4.1.2.2.1.               Ranged Melee (Spears, etc.) Complete 1.2.1.4.1.2.2.2.               Projectiles Complete 1.2.1.4.1.2.3.         Magic In Progress 1.2.1.4.1.2.3.1.               Define Spell System Complete 1.2.1.4.1.2.3.1.1.                      Define Stats and Prepare for implementation (equations, helper functions) Complete 1.2.1.4.1.2.3.1.2.                      Implement Stats Complete 1.2.1.4.1.2.3.1.3.                      Custom Stats Inspectors Complete 1.2.1.4.1.2.3.2.               Implement Spell System (Enemy) In Progress 1.2.1.4.1.2.3.2.1.                      Linked Spells In Progress 1.2.1.4.1.2.3.2.2.                      Document Spellcasting In progress 1.2.1.4.1.2.3.2.3.                      Revamp Spell System In Progress 1.2.1.4.1.2.3.2.4.                      A couple of finished sample spells In Progress 1.2.1.4.1.2.3.2.5.                      Define potential status effects. Not Started 1.2.1.4.1.2.3.2.6.                      Implement base status effects Not Started 1.2.1.4.1.3.   Retreating Complete 1.3.    Combat (Base) Not Started 1.3.1. Attacking (Player) Not Started 1.3.2.Melee Not Started 1.3.2.1.              Create Placeholder Weapon Not Started 1.3.2.1.1.                    Attack Animations Not Started 1.3.2.1.2.                    Damage Enemy Not Started 1.3.2.1.3.                    Ranged Not Started 1.3.3.Ranged Not Started 1.3.3.1.              Create Placeholder Weapon Not Started 1.3.3.1.1.                    Define how moving projectiles affect turns Not Started 1.3.3.1.2.                    Projectile Animation Not Started 1.3.3.1.3.                    Magic Not Started 1.3.3.2.              Casting Animation Not Started 1.3.3.2.1.                    Implement Not Started 1.3.3.2.2.                    Dual Wield? On Hold 1.3.3.3.              Define how the player will use dual wield (Attack both at once, choose which hand, etc.) On Hold 1.3.3.3.1.                    Items Not Started 1.4.    Define item types (Consumable, Weapon, Armor, Quest, etc.) Not Started 1.4.1.Define item script heirarchy Not Started 1.4.2.Determine item commonalites and differences Not Started 1.4.2.1.              Create item heirarchy Not Started 1.4.2.2.              Weapons Not Started 1.4.2.3.              Create Weapon Scriptable Object Not Started 1.4.2.3.1.                    Make Weapons equippable (through editor) Not Started 1.4.2.3.2.                    Share common animation based on type Not Started 1.4.2.3.2.1.   Practice with Infinity Weapons Not Started 1.4.2.3.3.                    Practice with Mesh Effects Not Started 1.4.2.3.4.                    Integrate Infinity Weapons and Mesh Effects Not Started 1.4.2.3.5.                    Procedural Weapons Not Started 1.4.2.3.5.1.   Experiment with Infinity Weapons texture generation and Blend Shapes at Runtime Not Started

Side note: looking at this list now, it’s starting to get pretty long. I might need to make some separate sublists.

As you can see, I’m currently working on implementing the spell system for the enemies.

I’ve been at this task for a while. It was nearly done, but I realized it was needlessly convoluted when I had to keep re-learning how to use it to create new spells. So now I’m reworking it a bit, and so far so good.

Once the spell system task is complete, I’ll be able to move on to what I consider to be a major milestone: making the player do stuff.

Currently, all he can do is move and take damage. After the spells, I’ll work on making him be able to attack back.

Speaking of milestones: I really need to define some formally.

Anyhow, I’m excited to get over this spell-casting hump and to start turning all of this functionality I’ve created into an actual game.

As soon as the player is able to start attacking back, the need for new systems is going to skyrocket. We’re talking weapons, armor, items, inventory and all of the little pieces that make them all up.

I’m realizing now that this next task is going to be a huge one, but I’m suddenly super excited to get to that point. As soon as I finish spellcasting, and before I start working on the player, I’m going to make sure all of my code is painstakingly commented. This will be a turning point in the project, and I have to execute it well.

Cheers!

-Jake

# NEW MUSIC AND A TEMPORARY SETBACK

Originally posted by Mika Pilke on FidelumGames.WordPress.com on September 19, 2017

Here is another piece that was done for The Wayfarer!

Last week was a chaotic one. My PC crashed so badly there was really no other option but to reinstall operating system and everything else again. That was a small disaster. Basicly I spent all of my spare time for 8 days to revive my setup.

“Luckily” I did this same operation about an year ago, so I got most of the bigger installing files already there. Still there was quite a lot to do. Not only that you install all the programs, but then you update everything, upload the registeration managers, look for the serials, registerate, find out (again) that you have multiple accounts (at the same site) which cannot be merged (and that there are email addresses that don’t even exist anymore) ect. It takes time to relocate all the passwords for those over 10 different accounts. There was probably over 60-70 different products. Luckily only that much. It could be a lot worse.

After you’ve installed and updated everything, you still need to find folders of all the dll-files so VST instruments and effects start showing and working in you DAW. Then open up the DAW, open up the instruments one at the time and look for the libraries so that instrument have something to play ect. ect. It’s quite a mess.

To be honest I really, really would not care to do this again. It’s really time and nerve consuming. But now it’s done and I’m back in business and nothing crucial is missing. That’s life. Things happen. Then you clean up the mess and move forward.

PS. The cause of this was actually drivers of my audio interface (it could be concluded from the file name showing at the blue screen). Fast Track Pro does not support Windows 10, but since it did work after the update from Win7->Win10, I did not quit using it. Now that interface does and will not touch my PC. It is a good interface and I have been using it for years, but I really don’t recommend using it if you use Windows 10.

BR

Mika Pilke

# GREETINGS FROM THE COMPOSER!

Originally posted on FidelumGames.wordpress.com

A few months back I was looking for projects that would be in need of a composer. Jake did contact me via GameDev.net and asked if I’d be interested doing musics to his game and since I’ve always been a huge fan of fantasy RPGs decision wasn’t really that hard to make, even though there was quite a lot going on at that time (I was offered six game music projects at that time, I had quite recently started in a new job ect.). Style of the game and the musics just seemed right for my style.

### Okay. Then who actually I am?

My name is Mika Pilke. A Finnish hobbyist musician who has been playing around with music for about 20 years now. I’ve been writing music for years, but just lately I’ve felt that my material and quality of the mix have archieved the level where it is possible to actually consider accepting composing projects. I don’t really know how many songs I’ve written totally, but total number is probably somewhere between 150-200. I have also played in several bands too (mostly as a lead guitarist and/or as a singer), but I guess I never truly found comfort in playing live which is a chaotic moment where your senses are dampened and you can barely hear anything, let alone the small details (which I do find important). I’ve always felt that making music all alone, at night, in a dark room is what I actually love the most. It’s intensity, 100% focus and the flow.

### Tools

Nowadays (and at this level) the magic happens mostly by using virtual instruments. I use Reaper as a DAW, a midi-keyboard (Axiom61) and various VST/VSTi/VST3/VST3i instruments from various companies (like Native Instruments, Steinberg and Spitfire Audio).
But sometimes it also might add some extra punch to actually record something from the real world too, so I also have Shure Beta 58A, Rode NT1-A and Zoom H1 for recording sound. M-Audio Fast Track Pro serves mostly as an audio interface (and Behringer U-Phoria UM2 as for backup, or for recording sessions that are located elsewhere and you’re too lazy to unconnect M-Audio from the computer). In the end it’s quite a simple, but somewhat capable setup. And still somewhat cost effective too, even though software is not cheap.

### What is the meaning of music?

Music and soundscapes are easily undervalued and even forgotten elements, yet they have (mostly passively) a strong impact to viewers/gamers emotions. I believe music is actually one of the key elements that will define the game’s identity and it has a strong purpose in creating memorable moments and atmospheres. I would even go as far to say that all the visual content is the body but music makes the very soul of the game.
When these two elements are combined, sometimes there is a change to create something truly unforgettable. And of course sometimes a good storyline helps too ect. 🙂
But after all, how many games that have become a legend, has a bad soundtrack (if there are any, that is)?

So there are quite a lot reasons to take music writing seriously. It’s a job that comes with a great responsibility and it’s a matter I wish to handle with a proper care and passion.

One of my creations for The Wayfarer:

BR

Mika Pilke

PS. Check out Mika's YouTube channel!

## A Clean Slate, I've Created a Monster, Working my Magic, Preparing for the Future

Originally posted on fidelumgames.wordpress.com

Strap yourselves in. This is going to be a big one. And hang in there. There’s some good media part way through.

### A CLEAN SLATE

Since my last post, I let myself get a bit out of hand as far as staying disciplined goes.

I had made some decent progress, and had some cool things to show off, but most of what I was showing was only superficial progress. The things I’m talking about are environments, enemies (actual animated models, not just cubes) and some UI stuff.

The problem with these things is that they were all parts of incomplete systems.

In one of my earlier posts, I wrote:

Quote

“…I decided that, although the game is still in a super early state, I owed it to myself to add a bit of polish and replace my cubes with one of the assets I acquired.”

This was a mistake, and led to me falling back into my old habits of sitting down to a development session and asking myself, “what do I want to work on today? What would be cool?”

The result of this workflow was getting a given feature ‘good enough’, making it look cool, and then moving on to something else with the intention of returning to the feature I had just ‘completed’ in order to finalize and polish it.

The problem with this was that I would often go too long before returning to that feature (if I did at all), and forget the mental model required to finish the system properly. I basically wound up with a bunch of fragments that didn’t fit together.

This quickly became overwhelming and really sucked my motivation away.

What I really owe myself is to not add any polish until the game is ready for it.

Luckily, things have been slow at work lately (until today), and so I’ve been left mostly to my own devices. Without any project work to complete, they let me work on pretty much whatever (as long as it’s somewhat related to what we do there), and since Unity is part of the skill set I use on a regular basis at work, I was able to justify working on my own game in order to increase my proficiency with Unity.

God how I wish that was the norm. Working all day long on something I love really makes the time fly.

Some day.

Anyhow, with all of this time to work on The Wayfarer, I decided it was the perfect time to throw away everything I’d done so far and start over, with a new mentality. This might seem like a bit of a waste, but I’ll be able to reuse some of what I’ve done, and consider the original work as a prototype.

The most important thing I’ve been doing is forcing myself to plan everything (except for the smallest tasks) before I even open Unity.

This prevents me from sitting down and asking that awful question “what do I want to work on today? What would be cool?”. Instead, I ask myself, “where did I leave off? What needs to be done today?”

My new workflow goes something like this:

Look at my task list (something I never had before, but to which I adhere strictly to now) and see where I left off. If a task is in progress, pick up where I left of. If not, move on to the next item, adding to the task list as required.

These tasks break down essentially into two categories: planning/design and implementation/development, and both groups take up about the same amount of time.

Before I write a single line of code, I establish my algorithms in my GDD in plain English (which feels strangely similar to coding).

Then, I draw an activity diagram based on the algorithm, identifying any logic flaws along the way and revising the algorithm as required.

Finally, after all of that is done, I move on to actual coding–simply translating the algorithm and diagram to code.

All of this might seem like overkill (and it does feel like a pain in the ass sometimes), but it’s all worth it in the end, and makes writing the code so much easier. Not only that, but my code is cleaner, more robust and more easily expanded upon.

For those of you interested, here’s one of the plain English pseudo-code examples taken right from my GDD, and the corresponding activity diagram (these are for enemy AI):

Quote

Enemies will have the ability to make the following decisions:

• Patrol
• Wander
• Pursue
• Retreat
• Engage
• Melee
• Ranged
• Magic

There are 3 base states which an enemy can be in, which will determine available decisions:

• Injured

If an enemy has not seen or been attacked by the player, it will be in an unalerted state and will always either Patrol or Wander, unless it has seen or been attacked by the player within x turns.
Patrolling will always occur if patrol points exist for the enemy, otherwise it will wander.

If the enemy has seen or been attacked by the player within x turns, it will be in an alerted state.

In the alerted state, regardless of whether the enemy can currently see the player, it will always ‘know’ the player’s position, unless x turns pass without it seeing the player, in which case it will return to an unalerted state and continue to either patrol or wander.

While in the alerted state, the enemy will first check if its health has dropped below the injury threshold. If it has, it will randomly decide whether to heal (if available), continue engaging, or transition to the injured state.

If the enemy is still engaging, it will check if it is within a certain range of the player (a range it will consider to be dangerously close to the player). If it is and it has any available defensive buff spells whose effects are not currently active, it will perform a random check as to whether it should cast the buff or perform another action.

If it decides to perform another action, it will check if it is facing the player and if it has a clear line of sight within a range of y, where y is the longest attack range of any of its usable (has enough mana) attacks or abilities.

If this case is met, but the distance between the player and enemy is less than y, the enemy will make a random decision to either move backward to increase distance (up to, but not beyond y), or to attack.

If the distance between the player and enemy is equal to y, the enemy will always attack.

If the distance between the player and enemy is greater than y, but the enemy has seen or been attacked by the player within x turns, the enemy will attempt to move closer to the player.

While moving along the calculated path to the player, the enemy will always favor movement over turning, if available. It will do this by first favoring forward movement.

To favor forward movement, the enemy will calculate a new path from the cell in front of it to the player. If this path is shorter, it will move forward. If this path is longer, or the same distance, it will follow the original path.

Enemies may have an option for sidestepping. They will always favor this strafing over turning if it has been enabled for a given enemy.

This process will continue until either x turns have passed without it being attacked or seeing the player, in which case it will return to an unalerted state, or until it is within range of the player again and can attack.

While in the injured state, the enemy will check if it is dangerously close to the player. If so, it will make a random decision to flee, or heal (if available). The enemy will remain in the injured state for at least x turns (unless it has healed itself beyond the injury threshold), but not more than y turns.

If it is not within a dangerously close range, the enemy will always heal if available. Otherwise, it will move away from the player.

I have to say that with all of the practice I’ve gotten in lately, and my new workflows, I feel like I’ve just come out of a learning plateau, and am reaching a new skill level with programming and game development.

### I’VE CREATED A MONSTER

I’ve been spending nearly all of my recent development time working on my enemies.

This and the following two sections will deal with the details of that.

The first thing I did was rework my enemy AI, again with my cubes.

I feel like my new system is much more robust, as I’m able to get a wide variety of behaviors just by modifying a few values in Unity’s inspector.

I’m able to make my enemies favor ranged combat or close quarters (or any combination of the two), physical or magical attacks, determine how often they’ll heal themselves, and how likely they are to cast buffs on themselves during or in preparation for battle. I’m also able to dictate how aggressive they are by setting the chance that they’ll become injured and retreat during battle, and for how long they’ll pursue the player. I’m also able to dictate how well they can see. All of this without ever (hopefully) having to touch the AI code again (except for bug fixes).

This system relies on a simple state machine in which the enemy can be Alerted, Unalerted or Injured. In each of these states, the AI will choose how to behave based on their preference for a particular behavior.

You can see more about this system in the pseudo-code and UML shown in the above section.

I’ll show a short video of the AI in action in the next section, but for now, have a look at the variables exposed to the inspector which determine an AI’s behavior:

### WORKING MY MAGIC

My goal with my magic system is to allow myself to make everything as generic as possible so that I can easily create new spells without writing additional code, by easily adding status effects to spells, being able to reuse the same visual effects for different spells, setting whether the spell is a projectile or has an immediate effect, or combining/linking any number of spells or visual effects.

The system itself is pretty difficult to explain. Suffice to say I use ScriptableObjects, prefabs and Animation Events, and can just work within the Unity Editor to make new spells. Also, I can just drag spells into an enemy’s spell list to give them the ability to cast them.

The system itself is pretty much done (with the exception of making status effects actually dosomething), but I’ve yet to put any legitimate visual effects in. Just differently colored spheres for now.

Here’s a short video showing how customizable I’ve made spells (I have hopes of letting the player create spells while playing as well):

One thing I would like to point out that I think is kind of cool is the ‘Blood’ Magick type. This type of spell costs health instead of (or in addition to) mana to be able to cast. I see these spells being used heavily by warrior type players who have a lot of health to spare, but maybe don’t have enough mana to be proficient spellcasters

And, here’s a video of my enemy displaying how it behaves, and how changes in its values modify its behavior.

Note that the different balls are placeholder for different spells, and the green thing is a placeholder for a physical projectile, like an arrow.

Don’t mind the bugs.

### PREPARING FOR THE FUTURE

Along with all of this planning and trying to ‘do things right’ (if there is such a thing), I’ve been working on getting all of my stats set up, and having them actually be meaningful.

The need for this came out of creating the status effect portion of my spell system, which needed stats to be defined (or at least a shell of them) in order to work.

I’ve broken my stats down into three categories:

• Primary/Governing stats: These determine all secondary base stats, and base proficiencies with tertiary stats. Very D&D-ish.
• Secondary stats: Anything directly tied to primary stats. Health, Mana, Carrying Capacity, etc.
• Tertiary/Skill Stats
• Weapons & Armor (Dual wield, Ranged Weapons, Heavy Armor, etc.)
• Magick (Proficiency in different types of Magick)
• Other (Things like lockpicking, etc. If I decide to put them in the game)

The Player, enemies and NPCs all have a common set of stats, and then, of course, some that only apply to a certain character type exist only where necessary.

Nothing overly exciting here, except that I created my first custom inspector in order to make modifying stats easier.

Here’s a before and after:

This inspector lets me modify governing stats and see how it affects everything else. It also allows me to easily modify all stats and quickly restore a character’s health or mana at run time. Hopefully this saves me some time in the future.

That’s it for me. Stay tuned for more!

PS: We’ve got a new team member, but I’ll wait for him to introduce himself!

## The Wayfarer (Tentative Title) - Branching Out, World Building

Waaaay too long since my last update.

Since then, I've been working (not nearly as much as I should be) on outdoor environments and a skill tree.

I want this game to follow the classic RPG class formula of Mage, Fighter and Thief, but I didn't want to constrain my players to a single class. Instead, I decided to go with a classless/multiclass concept where players are able to traverse a large skilltree which is implicitly divided into the three aforementioned classes.

Take a look at the prototype:

So this is still an early proof of concept, and all of the visual elements will probably change, but it's going to function in pretty much the same way as shown here. You'll also get a (very) small taste of the kind of skills you might see in the game. One more note: the three skill branches never merge in this example, but I think they will in the final version. Also, all parent nodes of a skill must currently be unlocked before unlocking a given child node. I'm not sure if this will persists, or if I'll remove that constraint to give me freedom of traversal.

Other than that, I've been spending a bit of time building some outdoor environments to try to nail down what my worlds will look like.

This first screenshot is, quite honestly, pretty bland and generic, but it will at least give a sense of how villages will be laid out in the world:

After I made this scene, I procured a license for Gaia--a really powerful and full featured terrain generation tool for Unity.

Here's what 15 minutes of work with Gaia looks like:

Pretty amazing huh?

So in the end, I think I'll be using Gaia to build my world, and then I'll refine the terrain manually and tweak the positioning of settlements and other points of interest to best suit the game's story and gameplay.

That's it for me.

Stay tuned for an update on NPCs and monsters!

## LD38 - World In Progress

This is going to be a super short post (and a bit late coming, too), because I simply don't have a lot of time, but I completed my first Ludum Dare entry last weekend.

Here's a link to THE GAME'S LUDUM DARE PAGE, where you can read further about the game, and find links to play it.

I strongly recommend downloading the exe to play as the WebGL build is rather clunky. I also recommend using the mouse for control.

In a nutshell, you play a small planet who must collide with smaller planets to grow bigger, and avoid larger planets or break them apart with your guns.

The game isn't as full featured as I would've liked, but I plan on adding more functionality and bug fixes in the future.

I'll make a proper post in the days to come.

## Menacing Cubes Metamorphosize

In my LAST POST, I talked mostly about some of the pathfinding options that I came up with. One of these solutions involved relying on raycasting to determine a path to my player, which was a fun exercise and yielded some really entertaining gifs. However, I decided to scrap that system in favor of using Unity's built-in pathfinding system via the NavMesh and NavMeshAgent components.

However, because my game uses grid-based movement, I wasn't going to be able to use said system out of the box.

My first solution to making Unity's pathfinding play nicely with my game was to have the NavMeshAgent generate a path, and then overwrite that path by normalizing each of its points to align with my grid (whose cells are 3x3x4).

This would have been fine, but I soon realized that would have had to account for inserting points along lengthy straight paths, as the NavMeshAgent only calculates the corners, or turning points, along the path.

I could have done this, but after a bit more thought, I realized this would require unnecessarily complex logic, and that I could accomplish the exact same end result with a simpler, but similar solution.

Basically, I just decided that, each time my enemies move, I would have the NavMeshAgent generate a new path. Then, instead of normalizing the entire path, I would just look at the first point in the path and normalize that. Why bother normalizing the whole path if I'm only ever going to be moving to the first point in the path anyway?

After I did this and added a bit of extra logic to account for the locations and movements of other enemies, I was able to successfully have relatively large mobs moving in ways that (more or less) seem to make sense.

Check out this video of some menacing cubes following my player around:

After I got all of that mostly working, I decided that, although the game is still in a super early state, I owed it to myself to add a bit of polish and replace my cubes with one of the assets I acquired.

Check out the difference a couple of textures, 2 models and some animation configuration can make:

So there's a lot going on in this video, so let me explain.

Firstly, here's a list of the key features that you can see in the video:

1. Grid based player movement and turning (thanks to the awesome iTween library for all of my grid movement and rotation animations)
2. Mouse Look with rotational snapping (this was actually kind of fun to do)
3. Dissolving enemies (I'm still experimenting with different effects as you can see. Let me know which one you like).

Secondly, here's an explanation of what you're seeing in the video:

The game view is on the left. This is what the player sees.

On the right we have a bird's eye view courtesy of Unity's Scene View.

Note that the game uses a true turn-based system. Enemies won't perform an action until the player does. In the video it appears that the enemies sometimes take multiple turns, but I'm actually skipping my turn via keypresses in those cases. I guess I should also mention that if an enemy turns to face a new direction, it ends their turn, but the player can turn as many times as they want for free. I might change this in the future, depending on whether or not this becomes an 'unfair' thing to be able to do and tilts the odds too much in the player's favor.

The blue overlay you see is the walkable area of Unity's NavMesh. You'll notice that when an enemy enters an attack state, it will carve out the square that it occupies, making it non-walkable so that other enemies avoid that cell appropriately. I had to do it this way because, although Unity's NavMeshAgents will avoid one another if they're in control of movement, they don't actually take into account other NavMeshAgents when they calculate the path, and since I'm manually moving my enemies, I needed a bit more customization.

You'll also probably notice that some of the skeleton's animations are a bit off--the attack in particular. Unfortunately, I couldn't allow the animations to apply root motion as it interfered with my grid based movement, and as a result, some of the animations are a bit wonky. This was a purchased asset, which I'm still happy with, but if everything goes according to plan, hopefully I'll be able to spend some money to have the animations updated to align with my grid.

Anyhow--that's pretty much it for now.

I think my next focus will be on starting my inventory system. Looting, buying and selling are going to be a core gameplay component, so I'm going to have to get it right.

# All Over The Place

In my last post I discussed an Action/RPG/Platformer/Diabloesque/JRPG game that I had started working on, and showed a short prototype video. As if the genre of this game wasn't already all over the place enough, I've since dropped the project (for now at least), and started work on something else.

The main reason for this was simply the lack of assets available to me for the game I wanted to make. I wanted to have fully modular armor for my character, but I simply couldn't find the assets that I needed, even paid assets, and I can't afford to hire an artist to create the level of sophistication for the armor that I wanted. This aspect of the game was really important to me, and without it, it just wouldn't have felt complete. However, I happened upon a large number of highly reusable, customizable, affordable and high quality assets during my search which inspired me to go a slightly different route. Thanks to the prepaid Visa cards I got for Christmas, I was even able to buy a decent number of them ;).

Ever since I was a kid, I've been a huge fan of First Person Dungeon Crawlers. The first that comes to mind is SSI's 1991 game Eye of The Beholder which was awesome (somehow I thought that flipping through a book to find the copyright protection phrase actually added to the fun). Even writing this I get nostalgic thinking about similar games like Catacomb 3D, Arcana, Ultima Underworld, and of course, Daggerfall. This is a genre I'm always returning to. Even with AAA titles like Skyrim and Far Cry sitting on my computer, I'll find myself putting them down in favor of playing old Dungeon Crawlers that I'd never heard of (like Anvil of Dawn).

In the last few years, I've been delighted whenever I've found a new title in the same vein as these classics, and to see how well they've been received.

Legend Of Grimrock did an amazing job of remaining true to these old classics while providing the added bonus of beautiful modern graphics, and has done incredibly well in terms of reception and sales.

Star Crawlers (even though it's still in Early Access) manages to hang on to the meat of the genre while spicing it up with Sci-Fi flavors and innovative new features.

The Quest HD , a lesser known 2016 re-release of an older game is a full fledged first person dungeon crawler in beautiful 2D with open world environments and a great story. I might even argue that it outclasses many of the above titles in many ways. Really worth a look if you're into this kind of thing.

I digress.

The point is: I really love these kinds of games. I don't know if it's something about the atmosphere, the storytelling, looting and killing or just the nostalgia of it all, but I think they stand out as my favorite genre.

So I've decided to make one!

# Nailing Things Down

Like all of the games I come up with and want to make (very few of which even see as much as a keystroke of development), I've been thinking about this game pretty much non-stop for a couple of weeks. I've got a ton of ideas for the game--some to do with how to 'stay true' to the genre, some to do with how to deviate to add something original and worthwhile.

A few things I know for sure:

1. I'm doing this one right. No half-assed hacking just to get shit done. I'm going to need a proper outline and game design doc, and I'm going to have to establish a normal routine so the project doesn't rust and atrophy. Regular refactoring as well. I can't have the tangled messes I've let happen in other projects.
2. Grid-Based movement with some kind of turn-based play (this could be either semi-turn-based or full-out 'wait for player action').
3. Nice 3D graphics. I really want to take full advantage of Unity's new PBR and Lighting to make something that really looks great, and as I've said, I just got my hands on some really top-notch assets.

I'm tempted to add more in the above list, but, to stay on the safe side, I'll make a second list of potential features currently under consideration:

1. Multiple Levels/Areas--I think it would be more fun to have the player have the opportunity to spelunk in a cave system, bushwhack in a jungle, pillage in a crypt as well as crawl in the good ol' dungeon.
2. Open-world--I know what you're thinking. How is this possible in a Dungeon Crawler? Seriously, have a look at The Quest. It integrates dungeon crawling and open-worldedness perfectly. A part of this is having towns that can be visited where quests can be undertaken and loot can be bought and sold (a feature missing from many dungeon crawlers).
3. Complex character development--If any of you have read my earlier journals and are familiar with the last game I completed, Pixel Zombie Shooter, then you'll know I'm keen on upgrades. I'd like to have a nice multi-branched skill tree for my players to fill up as they adventure.
4. Questing--I briefly touched on this in number 2, but I'd really like to have some non-linear questing in this one as well. I think it would offer a lot of opportunity to develop lore and give me a chance to do some good storytelling.
5. Procedural Generation--Yeah, I know. Buzz word. But seriously, I really want to get into this. I've already got some ideas for randomized weapon implementations like those found in Diablo, as well as for infinite guild quests and random dungeon areas. On that note, I'm not sure if I'd be interested in all hostile areas (dungeons, forests, etc.) being procedural, or just special 'grinding/looting' areas.

# Finding My Way

Ok. You've listened to me rant about this new game idea I'm obsessed about, but talk is cheap. Here come a few things to look at as a reward for sticking through this post so far.

I've only had two development sessions on this game so far, and I think they both went well. In both cases, I spent a full day prior to my night-time dev session thinking on and off about how best to implement a feature, and in each session, I've been able to successfully implement at least a basically functional version of said feature in only a small amount of time.

The first of these is a simple movement controller.

The Code:

CharacterMovementController.cs:using UnityEngine;using System.Collections;public class CharacterMovementController : MonoBehaviour { [SerializeField] //How long it should take to rotate or move the camera private float animationTime = 0.35f; [SerializeField] //The amount to move the player by. Should be equal to the size of each level 'tile' private float unitSize = 3f; [SerializeField] //How much to rotate on each rotation (1 == 360?). This shouldn't change unless allowing diagonal movement private float rotationAmount = 0.25f; [SerializeField] //How high off the ground the player sits. private float playerHeight = 1.75f; [SerializeField] //The easeType to use for the iTween animation. private iTween.EaseType easeType = iTween.EaseType.linear; [SerializeField] //This is used to determine appropriate positioning when climbing/descending uneven terrain. private HeightProbe heightProbePrefab; private Hashtable iTweenArgs; private bool canMove = true; //Initialize itween args void Start() { iTweenArgs = new Hashtable(); iTweenArgs["time"] = animationTime; iTweenArgs["oncompletetarget"] = this.gameObject; iTweenArgs["oncompleteparams"] = true; iTweenArgs["oncomplete"] = "ToggleMovement"; iTweenArgs["easetype"] = easeType; } void Update() { /* Uncomment to allow these values to be manipulated via the inspector at runtime for testing iTweenArgs["time"] = animationTime; iTweenArgs["easetype"] = easeType; */ //Move or rotate the player based on input. if (canMove) { if (Input.GetKey(KeyCode.W)) { Move(transform.forward); } else if (Input.GetKey(KeyCode.S)) { Move(-transform.forward); } else if (Input.GetKey(KeyCode.D)) { Move(transform.right); } else if (Input.GetKey(KeyCode.A)) { Move(-transform.right); } else if (Input.GetKey(KeyCode.E)) { Rotate(Vector3.up); } else if (Input.GetKey(KeyCode.Q)) { Rotate(Vector3.down); } } } /* Move the player in the appropriate direction. First initialize newPosition based on direction, then create a HeightProbe to determine the appropriate y value for newPosition. This allows easy vertical movement along both even and uneven terrain. HeightProbe destroys itself after FindFloorHeight() is called. */ private void Move(Vector3 directionVector) { Vector3 newPosition = transform.position + directionVector * unitSize; HeightProbe heightProbe = Instantiate(heightProbePrefab, newPosition, Quaternion.identity) as HeightProbe; newPosition.y = heightProbe.FindFloorHeight() + playerHeight; iTweenArgs["position"] = newPosition; ToggleMovement(false); iTween.MoveTo(this.gameObject, iTweenArgs); } private void Rotate(Vector3 rotationVector) { iTweenArgs["amount"] = rotationVector * rotationAmount; ToggleMovement(false); iTween.RotateBy(this.gameObject, iTweenArgs); } private void ToggleMovement(bool allowMovement) { canMove = allowMovement; }}
HeightProbe.cs:using UnityEngine;using System.Collections;public class HeightProbe : MonoBehaviour { [SerializeField] private float destructionDelay = 0.25f; [SerializeField] // This should be set to only detect the floor in the future private LayerMask layerMask; public float FindFloorHeight() { StartCoroutine(SelfDestruct()); RaycastHit hit; Physics.Raycast(transform.position, -transform.up, out hit, Mathf.Infinity, layerMask); if (hit.transform) { return hit.point.y; } else { return Mathf.NegativeInfinity; } } private IEnumerator SelfDestruct() { yield return new WaitForSeconds(destructionDelay); Destroy(gameObject); }}
Both of these scripts are super simple and will need some updating, but they give a nice final effect:

Basically, when the user gives input, I spawn a HeightProbe in the appropriate neighboring space, which simply finds the height of the floor/ground in that location. The PlayerMovementController will then add playerHeight to this value and use that as the y position to move to. The reason I did it this way, rather than having a set step height was because I wanted the potential to have my player move on uneven terrain while maintaining the grid-based movement. This will be particularly useful for outdoor areas and will give me greater freedom in my level design.

Right now there are no checks to see if the player is trying to move through a wall, and I rely on iTween to do all of the heavy lifting in animating my player's rotation and translations (who wants to manually code that stuff? Not me). Obviously I'll have to do some checking for movement through walls. Also, based on what I've read, iTween is pretty inefficient (I do love working with it though), so I think I'll have to rework the code to use DoTween instead (also free, but apparently performs way better).

Also, I might get rid of the HeightProbe class altogether and put the logic right inside the PlayerMovementController.

Lastly, I don't like having my input hardcoded, so that'll have to change. I'll also want a bit of a mouselook functionality so the player can observe the environment more fully.

And yes, that was a baby dragon :wink:.

What I did in my next development session was implement a bit of pathfinding. Like I said, I thought about this all day, and I came up with my own algorithm. I have no idea what you would call it technically, but in demonstrations I've seen, it performs similarly to a concurrent Dijkstra implementation. e is an enemy, p is the player:

I've never done any pathfinding before (aside from using Unity's built in AI stuff), so this is a first for me. And I think I did pretty good coming up with a solution completely by myself. I won't need a ton of pathfinding in the game (since most enemies will probably only move toward the player if they can see him, or move to a last known location), but I thought this would be fun, and it was.

Not to mention I really like watching my code solve a maze :P. There's something hypnotizing about these gifs.

The Code:

Pathfinder.cs:using UnityEngine;using System.Collections;using System.Collections.Generic;public class Pathfinder : MonoBehaviour { [SerializeField] private Color color = Color.red; [SerializeField] PathProbe pathProbePrefab; [SerializeField] private float unitSize = 3f; public float UnitSize { get { return unitSize; } } [SerializeField] private LayerMask layerMask; [SerializeField] private Vector3[] directions; public Vector3[] Directions { get { return directions; } } private List probedCells = new List(); public List ProbedCells { get { return probedCells; } } private List pathToTarget = new List(); public List PathToTarget { get { return pathToTarget; } set { pathToTarget = value; foreach (PathProbe pathProbe in GameObject.FindObjectsOfType()) { if (pathProbe.Master == this) { Destroy(pathProbe.gameObject); } } } } void Start() { InitiatePathFinding(); } private void InitiatePathFinding() { probedCells.Clear(); pathToTarget.Clear(); probedCells.Add(transform.position); foreach (Vector3 direction in directions) { CreateProbeAtNeighboringCell(transform.position, direction); } } void Update() { if (Input.GetKeyDown(KeyCode.F)) { InitiatePathFinding(); } } public PathProbe CreateProbeAtNeighboringCell(Vector3 position, Vector3 direction) { Vector3 cellPosition = position + (direction * unitSize); if (!probedCells.Contains(cellPosition)) { RaycastHit hit; Physics.Raycast(position, direction, out hit, unitSize/*, layerMask*/); Debug.DrawRay(position, direction * unitSize, color); if (!hit.transform) { PathProbe newPathProbe = Instantiate(pathProbePrefab, cellPosition, Quaternion.identity) as PathProbe; newPathProbe.Master = this; newPathProbe.Color = color; probedCells.Add(cellPosition); return newPathProbe; } } return null; }}
PathProbe.cs:using UnityEngine;using System.Collections;using System.Collections.Generic;public class PathProbe : MonoBehaviour { private Pathfinder master; public Pathfinder Master { get { return master; } set { master = value; StartCoroutine(PathFind()); } } private Color color = Color.red; public Color Color { set { color = value; } } private List pathPoints = new List(); public List PathPoints { set { pathPoints = value; pathPoints.Add(transform.position); } } private List myProbes = new List(); private IEnumerator PathFind() { if (master) { yield return new WaitForFixedUpdate(); if(master.PathToTarget.Count <= 0) { foreach (Vector3 direction in master.Directions) { PathProbe newPathProbe = master.CreateProbeAtNeighboringCell(transform.position, direction); myProbes.Add(newPathProbe); if (newPathProbe) { newPathProbe.PathPoints = this.pathPoints; } else { RaycastHit hit; Physics.Raycast(transform.position, direction, out hit, master.UnitSize); //Debug.DrawRay(transform.position, direction * master.UnitSize, Color.green); if (hit.transform && hit.transform.tag == "Player") { master.PathToTarget = pathPoints; Debug.Log("Path to player found in " + Time.time + " seconds!"); foreach (PathProbe probe in GameObject.FindObjectsOfType()) { Destroy(probe.gameObject); } } } } } Destroy(this.gameObject); } }}
Basically, I raycast in all four directions from the enemy's position, at a distance equal to my grid size. If my rays don't hit anything at those locations, I spawn a PathProbe at the appropriate place and repeat, adding each cell from which rays were cast to a probedCells list, and omitting those cells from future checks. Because each probe performs iterations at the same time as all of the others, the first path to reach the player is always the shortest, so I didn't even need to take that into consideration, and as soon as any path is found, I can stop the search.

Currently, my coroutine's yield is no good and it makes the whole process take a relatively long time (waiting for a new frame before performing another iteration). Essentially, only a single set of cells for each probe can be checked per frame, which can become a problem, particularly in long narrow paths. I need to allow a greater number of checks before yielding to speed up the whole process, but I also have to be careful not to overload it or things tend to crash.

Currently, both of the searches you see above take about 0.75 seconds each. Again, this has nothing to do with complexity, and more to do with how my coroutine operates. In fact, having multiple paths calculated at the same time has had zero impact on frame rate or calculation time so far (though I've only tested 3 concurrent paths to date).

However, I really need to rework this as .75 seconds is not acceptable. Presumably, to be safe, I'll have to recalculate the path each time the enemy moves to a new cell, just in case something has blocked the path or the player has moved. But like I said, I don't think I'll need a lot of pathfinding. I think most of it will be linear movement along a line of sight.

Again, I might remove my logic from PathProbe and put it right in Pathfinder to avoid Instantiate calls.

I was also considering using Unity's NavMeshAgent to calculate a path, and then writing some code to normalize that path to align with my grid (I assume Unity's pathfinding would be more efficient than anything I'll write). Another approach I'm considering is generating an array based on my level when it loads, and then traversing the array based on whether the given index is walkable or not. This would save on raycasting at least.

Anyhow, that's it for now!

Stay tuned for more, including the launch of an official website for Fidelum Games!

So I've yet to do a proper post-mortem for Pixel Zombie Shooter. I will do one soon, but for now I'm very excited about the other project I've started working on, and I wanted to share it with everyone.

I've been thinking about this game for quite some time; since long before I completed Pixel Zombie Shooter (which was only about a week ago). So far, I don't have a name, but refer to it affectionately as 'Knight Proto'.

I have a ton of ideas that I'll list below (combing through emails to myself as I do so). But before I do, check out this quick video. Bear in mind that I've only put about 20 hours or so of work into this so far, and it's strictly at a prototype phase. Graphics are all placeholder free assets I've found on the Unity Asset Store (though I think what you see in the below video is more or less representative of the kind of style I'm going for), Turbosquid and Freesound. However, I plan on staying away from art creation for this project, so I'll either have to pay an artist, or rely on paid asset packs. On the flipside, all of the code is mine (except for some orbital camera stuff, and the lightning spell). But, Everything is hardcoded at this point; I really just wanted to visualize my ideas.

Here's the video. See below for a bit of explanation:

The first screen is the overworld map. This functions the same as it did in games like Zelda II for NES, or any Final Fantasy game up to X. Basically, you use it to navigate between different towns, dungeons, continents, etc. I've really missed these, and can't think of any modern-era 'free-roam' overworld maps. The closest thing I can think of to a world map nowadays is the level select screen in Shovel Knight. It seems like overworlds have disappeared completely in favor of linear based gameplay (in recent JRPGs like the newer Final Fantasies), or sandbox worlds like Skyrim, Fallout or Farcry.

This game is going to be very much a nostalgia trip (I was a Windows 95/SNES kid), so of course, I needed an airship :). Interestingly, the script for the airship, the overworld player controller, and the in-dungeon player controller are all the same (with a few inspector parameter tweaks). Talk about versatility!

I guess I should also mention that the time of day system is highly accelerated compared to what I expect it will be in any final version of the game. Also, the game is currently quite dark (not as bad as the recording, but still).

Here I'll also mention some ideas for the world map:

• Digging for treasure
• Fishing
• Zelda II style encounters (where collision with an on-screen enemy object triggers the launching of a 'level' scene).
• Hunting (using a mechanic similar to how the cherub in Actraiser fought enemies)

The second screen we see is one of a few ways that I'll present 'levels'. It starts out in a bit of an isometric view (though I couldn't use an orthographic camera because deferred rendering doesn't support it, and I needed deferred for soft particles), and then goes on to show how the game camera can be manipulated to provide top-down, third-person, or side-scrolling gameplay. This diversity of play is really important to me, as I'm drawing inspiration from a ton of different games/genres, and perspective really matters when getting that across.

I suspect that some levels or areas will be locked in a certain perspective (boulder-chasing-the-character-scene anybody?).

The third screen shows more of a diablo-esque style of play. I'll certainly be drawing a lot of inspiration from that franchise, along with the many clones that spawned from it. I have a lot more to say still, so... Stay awhile, and listen ;).

I guess that pretty much addresses what you saw in the video. So now I'll talk about some more of the general ideas I had.

I'm not set in the art style. I'm definitely not aiming for high-realism (I suspect there will be a lot of [somewhat hidden] humor and nerd-references in the game), but I'm still not sure if I want to go true low poly (see Darwinia), or more of a handpainted style. I'm leaning toward the latter (I've found some really nice affordable assets I can use). No matter which route I take, I suspect I'll need to play with lighting quite a bit.

Darwinia

Based on what I've read, mixing dynamic lighting with hand-painted textures is usually a bad idea. But I really want cool torchlight shadows and emissive particle effects, dammit! It'll take some experimentation.

Lastly, as far as visual styles go: I thought it would be really neat to have pure medieval style armor in the game. The kind of things worn by actual knights (or at least as I imagine it) back in the day:

As far as gameplay goes.... Well. That's a whole blog post in and of itself. But, here we go... point form:

• Metroidvania: Oh, I can't open this door in this dungeon. What's that strange marking? Guess I'll have to remember this for later.
• Modular armor sets. I'm talking old school--Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall. Leather left gauntlet with a right Dwarven gauntlet? Wizard robe with chainmail? No problem!
• Fully customizable character classes via armor/weapons/skill tree. At least three main skill branches which can be invested in at any time: Rogue-type, Warrior-type, Mage-type.
• Dual-wield. I've got some significant thoughts on this, but.... In a nutshell: Magic/single handed weapons/shields can be equipped to either hand. However, bows are single handed until you are holding an arrow, so bows (though typically two handed), can dual wield with spells (but nothing else). LMB = left hand, RMB = right hand. If a shield is equipped, you must USE the corresponding hand (LMB or RMB) to block (see Apothen below, but think in 3D). Holding the block button and clicking the other mouse button causes a shield bash.

That's pretty much it for now.

I have a ton of ideas, and this will definitely be more challenging than my last project, but I'm really excited to see where this goes!

Let me know what you think!

# [font=arial]Tying Up Loose Ends[/font]

## [font=arial]I was able to keep the child Collider, and rather than attach a custom Head script to it and look for that reference in my Projectile's OnCollisionEnter2D function, I started digging more into Unity's Collision2D class. It turns out that this class is good for a lot more than just things like[/font]

void OnCollisionEnter2D(Collision2D col){ if(col.tag == "Enemy"){ col.getComponent().TakeDamage(damage); }}

# Handling UI Updates; Lessons Learned

[/font]
[font=arial]In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned that I may have made a bad design choice when handling my UI updates. Originally, I had references to my Stats script (which holds properties for ammo, health, XP, Cash, etc.) inside of each of my UI classes. Then, these UI classes would just update their corresponding elements with whatever values they were interested in on every frame. It seemed to me that doing this every frame was bad practice and had the potential to be more processing intensive than necessary (not much, mind you, but still). So I decided to take an approach where the UI would only be updated when a stat value actually changed. This meant removing the references to Stats from my UI classes, and instead giving references to all of my UI classes to my Stats class, basically just inverting the relationship. Then, rather than call the UI update methods in the Update function, I would call them inside the methods that actually caused stats to change (TakeDamage, Fire, AddCash, etc.) This wound up being so disgusting that I decided to add another layer and bring in a UIManager class. This just wound up making everything more disgusting, and in the long run, my UIManager just wound up updating stats every frame anyway. What a disgusting waste of time. The end result is, from the outside, identical. Internally, however, it's probably worse in all ways imaginable.[/font]

[font=arial]In hindsight, I should've just left it.[/font]

[font=arial]I shudder at the thought of what the UML or something for my project might look like. Okay, you twisted my arm, here you go (those of you who are easily offended or prone to seizures, look away now):[/font]

[font=arial][/font]

As you can see, I pretty much threw design out the window at some point on this project. This is completely unreadable and really makes me want to barf. There's circular dependency pretty much everywhere. It's just gross.

For those of you who are interested, here is the diagram for just the UI and Upgrade related stuff, which is still pretty nasty:

[font=arial]Of course, as it always goes, now that I have finished the game, I figured out the perfect way to only update when required, and to do so cleanly and maintainably: Events and Delegates.[/font]

[font=arial]Rather than store references to everything all over the place, polluting my code and making for poor structure, I could have many of my classes completely agnostic to one another. [/font]

[font=arial]I could use events a delegates all over the place in my project (or any for that matter). They seem like a really great way to keep things clean and avoid storing a jillion references, especially when they're only needed once. However, the implementation I would need for my UI updates would be something simple like this:[/font]

[font=arial]Stats.cs:[/font]//Create the delegate with the method signature which each UI class will implementpublic delegate void StatEventHandler(float currentStatValue, maxStatValue);//Create events which each UI class will subscribe to, and make them static to avoid the need of storing references to Statspublic static event StatEventHandler OnAmmoChange;public static event StatEventHandler OnHealthChange;public static event StatEventHandler OnXPChange;//Etc., etcprivate void Fire(){... ammoCount--; OnAmmoChange(ammoCount, maxAmmo);...}public void IncreaseAmmo(int amount){... ammoCount += amount; OnAmmoChange(ammoCount, maxAmmo);...}public void GainXP(float amount){... currentXP += amount; OnXPChange(currentXP, xpToNextLevel);...}public void TakeDamage(float amount){... health -= amount; OnHealthChange(health, maxHealth);...}public void Heal(float amount){... health = Mathf.Clamp(health + amount, 0, healthMax); OnHealthChange(health, maxHealth);...}//Etc., etc.
[font=arial]Then in each UI class, I just subscribe to the event so that my UI class's UpdateUI function is called when these events occur.[/font]

[font=arial]HealthUI.cs (or any UI class, slightly modified):[/font]Stats.OnHealthChange += UpdateUI;private void UpdateUI(float currentStatValue, maxStatValue){ healthText.text = statValue + " / " + maxStatValue; healthSlider.value = currentStatValue / maxStatValue;}
[font=arial]Now stats doesn't have a reference to UI classes, or vice-versa, which makes things a lot cleaner. Also, UI elements are only updated when a change actually occurs. I think this is the perfect solution for this case. [/font]

[font=arial]In fact, events and delegates seem like one of the most useful tools I've found thus far. I could envision a game where you can pretty much avoid storing references altogether (unless absolutely necessary), and rely on a custom event system to drive the game. I could even see this going a step further and having an EventManager class (potentially with subclasses) which acts as an intermediary. It would subscribe to events fired by other classes, but the only events that other classes would subscribe to are ones fired by EventManagers in response to the events that IT has subscribed to. [/font]

[font=arial]Basically, EventManager would listen to all GameObjects which were firing events, and GameObjects would ONLY listen to EventManager. It seems that this would provide a nice centralized solution. Granted, this would introduce a different kind of circular dependency, but one that I think would be acceptable. I might try something like this on my next projects. Has anyone tried something like this, or know of some design pattern that functions like this? Please share your thoughts.[/font]

[font=arial]That's really all I have time to write at the moment, but stay tuned for a proper post-mortem and some news on what I'll be working on next.[/font]

[font=arial]And please, if you have the time, check out the game and leave a rating![/font]

## Oh Frabjous Day!

Callooh Callay! The time has come!

I've taken a day off from work, so I'm going to be pounding away at this for the next 5 or 6 hours (I've already been at it for a couple) in order to meet the deadline I've set for myself (tomorrow night).

Don't want to waste time saying too much right now. However, I've managed to shave off most of my list, and I'm 99% per cent confident I'll meet the goal I had set for tomorrow night (barring an act of god).

I'll either update this journal when I've uploaded the test build, or I'll create a new entry.

PS. I'm starting streaming for the rest of the day RIGHT NOW!!!

Unfortunately my mic was broken recently, so you'll only be able to hear the awesome music I play while developing and my game audio. But you'll also be able to watch a genius at work! :P

# Simple Brilliance

The thing I was working on tonight was getting all of my enemy variants into the game. I've got the color variants done, with the red versions being more difficult to kill, and I'm working on getting the limb variants in.

This took a little bit of thinking as to how would be best to handle it.

I knew I would need an animation state for each permutation of limb loss (no head, no head no left arm, no head no right arm, etc.), so I set up each animation from the sprite sheets that I already made. Then I had to figure out how to determine which animation state to play based on what limbs were missing from the enemy (and think about how to lose limbs in the future).

My first thought was just to use bools and a relatively complicated if/else structure, something like:[code=:0]if(headLost){ if(leftArmLost){ if(rightArmLost){ animator.SetBool("NoLimbs", true); } else { animator.SetBool("NoHeadNoLeftArm", true); } //etc., ... }}
This would work, but it would just be really ugly.

My next thought was to still use bools, but in combinations--one for each possible state (of which there are 8 in total). I would use a specific combination of them to set any given animation state, one bool for each limb lost to form the specific combination. This solution seemed finicky, and potentially confusing to set up, so I thought maybe I could set up some kind of string concatenation when a limb was lost to use as the trigger name value. Again, this seemed finicky, and would really be a hacky version of the second bool solution.

The solution that I've settled on, though have yet to fully implement, I think is fairly clever, reduces the amount of code I have to write, and will make it easier to remove limbs during play while also easily managing the animation state.

First off, I decided that all of my zombies would be instantiated will their full set of limbs. In their Start function, I will randomly determine how many, and which limbs to remove, if any, to create an enemy variant. Since they always start with all limbs, and because they can never gain limbs, I set my animation states up in a one-directional manner, under the assumption that only one limb could be lost at a time. It wound up being a bit of a thing of beauty:

At first glance, it might not be perfectly clear, but here is the progression if you trace the far right track (notice that the transition from "SkinbieNoLeftArm" to "SkinbieNoArms" runs BEHIND "SkinbieRightArmOnly").

So yeah, the progression tracing the right track:

[font='courier new']-----------------------------------------------------------------------[/font]
[font='courier new']|SkinbieWalk -> SkinbieNoLeftArm -> SkinbieNoArms -> SkinbieNoLimbs | [/font]
[font='courier new']-----------------------------------------------------------------------[/font]
[font='courier new']| All Limbs -> Lose Left Arm ->Lose Right Arm -> Lose Head |[/font]
[font='courier new']-----------------------------------------------------------------------[/font]

It functions similarly for all other tracks as well.

Then, I needed to figure out how to explain to the animator what state the enemies' limbs were in to determine the correct animation.

I figured, I would assign a unique integer value to each limb, and the sum of the existing limbs would be used as an integer parameter in the Animator to set the state. The only caveat with this solution, is that all permutations of the possible sums of the integers must be unique as well.

I started by assigning the integers 1, 2 and 3 to the right arm, head and left arm, respectively:

Then I quickly figured out all possible sums:

Here, we have 7 values, one for each state (and 0, for the 8th state of no limbs)
those of the limbs themselves: 1, 2 and 3
the sums of each couple: 3, 5 and 4
and the total sum: 7

However, all values/sums aren't unique as 3 is present twice.

So I realized that using values of 1, 2 and 4 would give all unique values, from 1 - 7:

This is a pretty simple solution, but I think it's a pretty clever one. Luckily I only have 3 limbs that can be lost, so figuring out all unique values was super easy, but this method could be used on a much greater set of items than just 3 in a similar situation (where removing a single item from a set is required, especially where the removal is order independent).

So I went from that ugly if/else structure:if(headLost){ if(leftArmLost){ if(rightArmLost){ animator.SetBool("NoLimbs", true); } else { animator.SetBool("NoHeadNoLeftArm", true); }//etc.,... }}
To something much simpler:[code=:0]private int limbSum = 7;enum Limb{ Left, Right, Head};public void RemoveLimb(Limb limb){ switch(limb){ case Limb.Left: limbSum -= 1; //Instantiate left limb here when implementing dismemberable limbs. break; case Limb.Right: limbSum -= 4; break; case Limb.Head: limbSum -= 2; break; } animator.SetInteger("LimbSum", limbSum);}
Again, not super complicated, but I think it's a pretty elegant solution.

# Crunch Time

Alright. I'm down to the home stretch. I've got just over a week until the deadline I've set for myself, and of course, life has gotten in the way.

A new project suddenly became a huge priority at work, so I've been devoting extra time to getting that done. The good news is that I'm developing my portion of the project in Unity (which I don't normally get to do), so at least I'm having fun at work. Also, I've been a bit sick. Blah blah blah. Excuses excuses.

However, I am not deviating from my deadline of midnight, Saturday, July 16th to have all of the core functionality implemented and have the game mostly play-tuned (beta tester feedback will help determine the final play-tuning) for release to those individuals who will be play testing.

I still have quite a bit I want to do before the initial beta-testing, and little time to do it in, so I'm making it a point to put in at least some time every single night. I'm also going to try to take a vacation day next Friday to work ALL DAY on the project (obligations permitting).

Looking over the list of things I want to do, I'm actually closer to having the core functionality complete than I thought. Here is the list of what I NEED done by the 16th (and this only contains items that will directly affect game play):

2. More enemy variants
3. Having my 'Blood Bird' (a crow variant) affect the player's move speed and jump height.
4. Fixing an accuracy bug
5. Game Ending (The player riding away on the bike when it's repaired).
6. Playtuning:

• Rate of currency accumulation
• Cost of weapons, ammo, upgrades and medkits,
• Upgrade values (weapon damage, accuracy, capacity, fire rate, etc.)
• Rate of experience accumulation and leveling curve
• Ability values (how much damage does the Iron Skin ability negate, how fast should the Fast Feet ability make the player move?, etc.)
• Enemy Health and Damage
• Wave Tuning (Number of enemies in each wave, types of enemies in each wave, number of predefined waves, infinite wave generator)
• Bike repair speed

This really isn't that bad of a list, so I shouldn't have a problem getting this all done by next week.

Then there are the nice-to-have's which will all be implemented by the time of actual release, and as many as I can get by the 16th:

• Blood Particles
• Exploding/dismemberable enemies
• Enemy Variants V2 (Spawning with limbs missing)
• Have crows fall from the sky and hit the ground when they die
• Intro
• Achievements (Including icons)
• Wave Counter
• Add a level up animation.
• Mute Button
• Shellcasings
• Trailer
• Optimization Refactor

Again, even this list isn't that bad. Hopefully late July/early August I'll be done everything? So I'm getting excited to have my first game complete!

Also, if you are at all interested in play testing, let me know. I have a decent number of people willing to test, but I can always use more. I won't be sharing the link to this publicly, so if you want to test, you HAVE to let me know.

Anyway, that's it for now. I'll probably be silent for the next week. Maybe an update some time on Friday (and I suspect I'll STREAM ON TWITCH all day that day as well)

Wish me luck!

## Enemy Variants, Palette Swap in Photoshop for Pixel Art

Hey everyone,

This weekend I managed to finish off my Weapon Upgrade UI, and it is FULLY functional and VERY easy to expand if needed. But more on that another time. Tonight I wanted to focus on some graphic updates.

If you've been following along, you've all seen my 'Skinbie'. He's been in the game from the very start, without any real significant changes:

Since then, I've made plans to make him some friends, and to blow him up (sorry, dude).
This simple concept of blowing up my enemies, or being able to shoot off their limbs has turned out to create a fair bit of work, but I think it will be worth it in the end. The initial tests seem promising, and I think it will add a lot to the visual style of the game.

This simply animated character has gone from a total of 9 sprites up to 77 sprites, all because of the new dismemberment mechanic.

Whenever a limb is removed, the main sprite sheet will have to be switched to the appropriate variant showing the enemy missing that limb. This meant that, unless I wanted to switch my sprite sheet animation to bone-based animation, I had to create a new sprite sheet for every possible permutation of dismemberment to the enemy, and a sprite sheet containing the zombie's individual body parts (so I can send them flying).

Anyway, I've made those sprite sheets, as well as one color variant for both my Skinbie and Crow enemies. Here they are:

# Enemy Variants

I created these originally just so limbs could be shot off, but I think I'll randomly select from them while spawning just to add some variation as well.

Because my large zombie monster (Slenderbie I call him) uses bone based animation, I won't have to create all of these variants for him. I'll just be able to do a straight color swap on his sprite sheet.

Speaking of color swapping:

# Palette Swap in Photoshop for Pixel Art

The GameDev.net community has given me quite a bit in terms of ideas and motivation in the form of comments on these blog posts. I think it's only fair that I try to give a little something back by sharing some tips/knowledge when I can. As such, I'll be providing a brief tutorial (targeted at complete Photoshop beginners, but, hopefully, useful to many) on swapping a color palette for pixel art in Photoshop (with more complex tutorials/explanations to come in the future :)).

The first thing you need to do (after opening the graphic you're going to be editing in PS) is to merge all of your layers.
This is done by simply highlighting all of the layers you wish to merge, right-clicking and then selecting "Merge Layers":

Next, select the Paint Bucket Tool by pressing 'G' by default:

This next part is very important for minimizing the amount of work, and the number of clicks you have to make.
As per the above image, make sure that Tolerance is set to 0 and that Contiguous and Anti Alias are both unchecked.

• Setting the Tolerance to 0 will ensure that you only switch out EXACT colors.
• Un-checking Contiguous makes it that ALL instances of the color that you're changing will change with a single click (regardless of whether they're touching or not).
• And, generally, any time you're doing pixel art, Anti Aliasing is bad. You want full control of your pixels, so you don't want the extra semi-transparent and off-color pixels that Photoshop will generate when anti aliasing.

Now, select one of the new colors you want to use from PS's Color pane, and click on any pixel of the color you wish to replace:

Voila! With only a single click, you've replaced every occurrence of a given color in your image.

Continue picking new colors and replacing old ones in this fashion until you've changed all the desired colors:

If you've only got a single graphic which uses the colors you've just replaced, then save out your graphic and you're done!

However, if you've got a series of graphics which all use the same palette, you can set up a pixel palette layer to make switching colors (slightly) less painless.

Create a new layer, select it, and select the Eyedropper tool ("I" by default):

Use the eyedropper tool to sample any color in your new image, then select your pencil tool ("B" by default):

Ensure that the pencil's size is 1 and it's hardness is 100% (I've found this is the easiest way to set up a pixel brush for pixel art in Photoshop):

Then, place a single pixel of the color you selected in the new layer. Repeat this for each and every new color in your image, creating a single line or a square in an empty space out of the pixels:

This line or square (5 pixels in my case), is your new palette. Now, for each graphic that uses the same palette, open the file, duplicate your palette layer into it to use for easy color switching via the Eyedropper tool, and use the Paint Bucket Tool to switch the relevant colors.

This was the quick and dirty approach to swapping my colors, and it didn't take me that long. However, if an action could be set up to replace the colors and run through Batch->Automate to update all graphics using the same palette, it might be worthwhile depending on the number of graphics to be updated. I spent a short amount of time trying to set up this kind of thing, but it was a bit problematic. Maybe a future tutorial: Pixel art Palette Replacement through Batching in Photoshop?

That's it for now. I hope this (somewhat basic) tutorial helps someone.

# Next Time

• UI Update
• Tutorial on both automatic and manual setting up of UI grids in Unity.

# P.S.

[color=#ff0000]

# I still need beta testers! The more the merrier!

[/color]
Beta testing will begin NO LATER than Saturday July 16th at 11:59 PM ADT.
Beta testing will grant you the following perks:

• Your name in the credits
• Input on the development of the game
• Me thinking you're awesome
• You being awesome
• Knowing you helped make my game more awesome
• AWESOME!

The 16th is only 26 days away! I'm aiming to have beta ready BEFORE this date, and would love to have a list of testers ready to go should I meet my goal of finishing early.

If you're interested, PM me with your preferred contact info.

Cheers!

## Playtester Signup

Very quick update tonight.

Aside from some polish and some additions to help me get a sponsorship on the game, the core functionality is almost done.

The bare minimum left to do to make the game fully functional is to make the Abilities and Achievements UI, tune some variables and define my waves.The UI tasks I figure will take about 1.5 nights each, roughly defining the waves and tweaking values will probably also take about a night and a half each (for the first iteration at least). I also want to add a few enemy variations. Hopefully only one or two night's work at the most.

After those tasks are done, it's a matter of fine play-tuning, adding some polish and effects (sounds, particle effects, an Extra Cash UI linking to a tentative sponsor Facebook/Twitter page, as well as my own pages, and an intro.)

Because I'm so close, and because I've said I've been close in the past, I'm setting a firm deadline for playtesting to begin.

One month from today at the very latest, on July 16th, I will issue links to anyone who is interested to play test the game. This means that I need ALL functionality present by this date (no sense beta testing a partial product right?).

Anyway, I'm beginning to ramble.

All I want to say is: if you want to playtest, either leave a comment or shoot me a message and I'll add you to the list.

Cheers!

## stats.UpdateUI, Pixel Imperfect, UI Stuff, Gore

Things are coming nicely, and it's finally starting to look like a game, instead of just a bunch of pieces.

Since my last update, I've done quite a bit, including some major refactoring, UI Design, setting up a pixel perfect camera, modifying graphics and experimenting with exploding enemies and blood effects.

# Stats.UpdateUI()

First off: when I'm coding, I'm very much in a trance, and I have a bad habit of thinking that I'll, "Just make it work first, then make the code pretty later". All too often, I'll get carried away and don't take the time to do the second part. As a result, I actually had lines in my code like stats.UpdateUI(). I think that one method call speaks volumes.

I set up probably half a dozen new classes (including UI, Audio and Shop Managers), and the project is, once again, pretty maintainable.

While I was refactoring, I was curious how other programmers work. Do you guys actually spend a lot of time on design before actually beginning implementation? This was pounded into my head in college, and I definitely see value in it, but I often find myself thinking that it's just too hard to plan for everything up front.

It seems to me that, for a smaller game like this, just having a small design doc roughly outlining things and kind of winging it during development is okay. But for a bigger project, much more time should be spent considering code structure, etc. What are your thoughts on this?

# Pixel Imperfect

After I refactored, I played the game for a bit, microanalyzing every detail, and it occurred to me that the pixel art in-game looked like shit. Some pixels looked okay, while others were more like rectangles than squares. I think this was a lot more noticeable because I put a 1 px black outline around all of my enemies.

I did a lot of googling, researched some pixel perfect camera assets, and scared myself shitless that I didn't plan for this and wouldn't be able to make it work. After fiddling with settings and third-party stuff for a couple of hours, the art that I had spent so much time making look crisp and clean still looked like garbage. Considering the fact that I'm hoping for sponsorship for this game, I almost felt like throwing it out.

But I persevered, and managed to get everything looking sharp.

For any who are interested, here are the settings I had to tweak to make sure everything rendered properly.

In my sprite's import settings, I set the Pixels Per Unit (PPU) to 100 (this becomes important later), set the Filter Mode to Point, and the compression to True Color.

These definitely play an important part, but they're pretty easy to figure out. The next part took some tinkering.

The key to sharp, squarely rendered pixel art in Unity, is to ensure that the vertical resolution of the game, the camera's orthographic size and the sprite's PPU and scale are compatible.

Basically, you have to make this equation true: R/P = O (where R is vertical Resolution, P is PPU, and O is orthographic size).

In my case, I have a vertical resolution of 600, my sprites have a PPU of 100, and so, I set my Orthographic size to 6 (600/100 = 6).

This got things looking better, but, I had one more thing to sort out (and this was my most important lesson).

Stupidly, when I was creating my art, I didn't scale each piece relative to each other, I figured I would just scale the gameobjects as needed. Nope. Big mistake. My zombies had a scale of 1.73..., my bike had a scale of 3, my player 1.5... Needless to say, this resulted in crap graphics.

I've found that, generally, any power of 2 scale will work fine, but in some strange (and by fluke) cases, scales like 1.5 also work. So, I had to rescale all of my sprites and tweak my physics and variables to account for the new scale. A lot of work because I didn't have the best foresight.

Here are some before and after shots of the motorbike:

Huge difference, right?

So, the moral of the story is: Create your art to scale if you're using pixel art.

# Gore

Also, the other day, because some of you said it would be cool, I started experimenting with enemies whose limbs could be shot off.

I'm on a different machine right now, so I can't share examples of the experiments, but I think they'll turn out nicely.

Each limb of certain enemies can be shot off, and, if killing enemies with shotguns, they'll explode (into all separate limbs) upon death.

Each limb will have a particle system attached which spews red pixels from it in a very excessive anime/kill bill style. The particles will also collide with other game objects, which gives a nice effect. There will be lots of blood.

As an aside, I was lucky that 2d particle collision was JUST added to Unity in the 5.3.5 release in May (though the physics around the collisions still seem a little buggy).

# UI Stuff

Lastly, tonight, I've been doing some more UI design, and if anyone would be so kind as to share some constructive criticism, I would appreciate it.

Tonight I mocked up the weapon purchase/upgrade screen. Here is the progression:

Player presses a key to open the menu:

Player clicks the AA-12 weapon:

Player clicks on the Damage upgrade:

What do you guys think?

## Nearly There

I'm still working away on this. I think I've managed to improve my work ethic quite a bit, and as a result... I'm seeing results. :P

Check out this short gameplay video to see some new features, including the starts of a UI, some background graphics (from openGameArt.org), and some new enemy graphics.

I still have a few placeholders in there as you can see, but I have the graphics for them. Once I add the UI functionality and define the waves, the game will pretty much be done.

However, I've decided to add achievements as well. I figure the value they will add to the game will far outweigh the level of effort. Really, it will be as simple as adding another UI menu and tracking player stats.

A friend also pointed out that my crow has a black outline on the graphic, while my others don't. I'll have to either remove it from the crow, or add it to the other characters. What do you guys think?

Also, what do you think about the tall running guy? This animation was a bit of an experiment. Everything else uses plain spritesheets, while the new guy uses a combination of sprite sheets and bone-based animation. I might tweak his animation a bit, but I might just be nit-picking. I'd really appreciate some feedback from you guys on this one thing in particular.

That's pretty much it for now. Stay tuned to these journals, I'll be looking for playtesters pretty soon!

## Has it really been a month?

Wow... It's been over a month since my last post... Craziness.

Anyway, just wanted to drop a line to say I'm still alive, and making pretty good progress (though, of course, I still wish I'd made more).

I've been working strictly on graphics this last little while, and I had a pretty good streak going. That's been broken about this past week, however. Overtime at work and just the every day grind of life has gotten in the way a bit.

Anyway, time for some good stuff.

I've got all of my weapon graphics done:

Oh, shit. Nevermind. As I was making this collage I realized I missed one :angry:

Ah well... They're all almost done. They probably took me longer than they should have, but towards the last graphics, they were only taking twenty or thirty minutes, down from about an hour a piece at the start. A couple could use some additional shading, but not bad considering this is my first pixel art experience. I think I'm learning quickly.

I figure I'll stay on the graphics for the time being. I've got all my UI icons complete as well (I might post those another time).

Now I need to do a 9mm, Motorbike, two more animated enemies (more if you count color variations), and I need to use shrunken versions of the above weapons for my character to hold (I'm hopeful, but I doubt that simply resizing will work...), and then I can get back to my bread and butter... coding.

Stay tuned.

## Live streaming tonight

Just a heads up to anyone who might be interested: I'll be streaming my development live tonight on twitch in just over an hour, at 10 ADT (Atlantic Daylight Time).

I'll be working on some pixel art, tweaking an enemy animation, and possibly building my game's Store/Upgrade UI.

Go to my CHANNEL to watch, and maybe even influence the direction of the game!

## [font=arial]But, I just tell myself that I've only been at it for a couple of years, only been out of college for one year, and that my current work is a lot better than it was when I started. That helps, but the idea that I suck, or am naive in believing I can actually be a game developer is always gnawing at me. I almost feel delusional at times for pursuing the dream of making money from my games, or that anyone will want to play them, or think that they're good[/font]

[font=arial]. [/font][font=arial]Does anyone else struggle with this?[/font]

## Been a while - Lots of progress.

It's been a while since I've done an update. I had a bit a of no-development period (about a week maybe). I was just too busy.

But in the last 3 or 4 days, I've gotten a lot done.

I fixed a bug where bullets were bouncing off enemies when they should just be destroying themselves (apparently the easiest fix was applying a full-friction physics material to my enemies), added two new enemies (functionally at least, they're still placeholder graphics), fixed some issues with item drops, and got the framework for the enemy waves (which was probably the largest amount of work).

Here's a screen shot of my SpawnerManager inspector, which I'll be using to define each wave:

This might not be the prettiest thing, and its designed pretty specifically for this game, but it will do the trick. With it, I can easily enable or disable a spawner for a given wave, as well as set the number of total enemies to spawn for the wave, the idle time after each wave, and the random delay ranges for each spawner.

This way, I can easily introduce new enemies and/or crank up the difficulty on a given wave. It should make play tuning fairly painless.

Basically, my spawner manager will pass the values from each wave to each corresponding spawner at the end of each wave.

Right now, my last wave just has a ridiculously large number of enemies to spawn (like 9 billion), so the game will run forever. My final solution, however will most likely be to create all of the 'play-tuned' waves that should be needed for the average player to complete the game using the inspector, then dynamically add to the list when the last wave is reached, randomly tweaking values to make them more difficult as the waves progress.

As I mentioned, I've also added two new enemies: A 'Slenderbie', inspired by Slender Man, and a Crow.

The Slenderbie is really tall, and can't be jumped over or walked through (unlike the regular zombies). If the player touches him, he is knocked back. This significantly increases the difficulty of the game, as the player can no longer easily get away from zombies (at least until they unlock double or triple jump).

The crow flies in from either side of the screen, basically just patrolling back and forth. When it is within a certain range of the player, it will dive on a parabola. If it touches the player, it will attack him, flying continuously around his head until it is killed. The player can jump over the crow to avoid this, again, adding to the difficulty and tension of the game.

These guys are particularly hard to hit with single-projectile weapons (like a rifle or pistol), especially while they're attacking, and the weapon of choice for dealing with them is a shotgun.

I think I'll add another version of this guy who comes in with a different color. While he's attacking the player, the player can't jump, and has reduced movement speed.

Here's a shot of the crow mid-dive, and flying around the player:

Now I've got to get my upgrade/levelling UI designed and implemented. I've been kind of dreading that, but hopefully it's bark is worse than it's bite. After that's done, I can playtune, ensuring the player has enough money/XP to buy new weapons and abilities as the waves get harder, and that the waves get harder at the right rate.

After that's done, I'll add some achievements and stat tracking. Lastly, as far as coding goes, I've got two main bugs I've got to squash. The first is an issue where, when the cursor is close the player, shots are VERY inaccurate. If the cursor is over the player, projectiles fire in completely random directions. To fix this, I'll have to completely revamp how weapon inaccuracy is determined, which will be a bit of a trick.

Right now I add a random value to the cursor's x and y position to determine the direction of a projectile's velocity. I can keep this method, if I add a modifier to the random value that's equal to the percentage of the cursor's maximum distance from the player (I think this will be the easiest, but maybe not the most practical).

Secondly, I use a trailrenderer on my projectiles. They move very quickly, and I really like the effect the trail renderer gives. Alas, apparently there's a bug in the version of unity I'm using (5.3.2f1) (https://issuetracker.unity3d.com/issues/trailrenderer-flickers-and-does-not-render-at-all-times) where trail renderers that share a material will sometimes flicker, or fail to render at all. I've tried dynamically creating materials at runtime, but that slows things down like crazy, so it won't work.

The page says it's fixed in the newest version, so I'll try updating and keep my fingers crossed. If not, I'll have to come up with another solution (firing a steady stream of particles from the rear of the projectile to achieve a similar effect?)

Let me know if you have any ideas.

Then, last but not least, I need to do a graphics overhaul. The player is the only complete graphic. I need to add 1 or two frames to my zombie, make my slenderbie and crows, weapons and all UI icons. I'll probably find something on OpenGameArt for the background and road.

After that, I'm done!

Once I get the Upgrades and Bugs done, I guess I can get some playtesters. Anyone interested?

## Spawning, Item Drops, First Preview, Unexpected Fps Killer

Spent quite a bit of time tonight. Cleaned up a few things and got my enemy spawners and item drops working as well as a 'coin magnet'. Also, See below for a video of some gameplay.

For my item drops, I wanted to be able to assign a list of prefabs that the enemy could potentially drop in the inspector, as well as the % chance that the item would be dropped, and I wanted to do this so that the prefab name was right next to the % chance in the inspector.

The way I wound up doing this was created a DropItem class with the Serializable attribute, and simply gave it one each of public GameObject and float properties:using UnityEngine;[System.Serializable]public class DropItem { public GameObject dropItem; public float chance; }
That's the whole class.

Then, in my Enemy class, I created an array of DropItems and now my inspector looks pretty much how I wanted:

I realize that I could have customized the editor, but this works pretty well.

I've been thinking about what my different enemy types might drop, and it really seems like it will all be pretty much the same stuff I have already. I don't think I'm really going to implement any special items. I might throw a couple of larger money drops, but that's about it.

Also, you might notice there's only 1 pickup each for Ammo and Health. I'm going to make it so that the ammo pickup either adds to the ammo type for the currently equipped weapon (at time of drop), or to a random selection from the currently unlocked weapons. I haven't decided yet.

The health will be semi randomized between two values.

So that's great. Drops are working perfectly, except that Ammo and Health are just empty GameObjects with a Sprite on them at the moment. Won't be hard to finish them up though.

The other thing I managed tonight was to get my Spawner objects created. Each spawner takes a reference to a prefab that it will spawn, and has a min and max spawn time. After each enemy is spawned, the time until next spawn is set somewhere between those two points. These guys were easy, and are done as far as I'm concerned.

However, the whole wave-based play isn't done yet, and I'm going to ask for some thoughts on this. I've never implemented wave-based play before, so I'm not sure how to best approach it. The best idea I have so far is this:

I will create a SpawnerManager class which will have a reference to each spawner in the scene (I think that I can get away with a spawner on each side of the screen for each enemy type and just configure their random delays for play tuning) which will control the spawn speeds of each spawner, whether or not they're disabled (to enable/disable different enemy types for a given wave), and the number of enemies that should be spawned for the given wave.
.
For the first X waves, I will hard code the number of enemies in each wave as well as the time between waves (when the player will shop and upgrade). Also, I will manually enable or disable different spawners of different enemies on the first X waves, adding a progressive feel to the game. This will let me ensure a somewhat consistent experience for each user playing the 'main' part of the game. During these 'hard-coded' waves, I may also manually reduce spawn delays and time between waves as well, but more likely, I'll come up with some equation for a decent curve.

Because the game will have a number of weapons that can be bought and upgraded, as well as a number of skills and achievements, I want to give the player the opportunity to play potentially forever so that completionists can have their cake and eat it too. Not to mention that the game isn't beaten until the motorbike is repaired, which is a manual action by the player so they can choose to wait forever to repair it anyway.

In order to do this, after the first X waves, I'll use curves to automate the spawn numbers, delays and time between waves.

Does this seem like a decent approach?

Also, while I was testing my spawners my frames per second went from a steady 60 way down to 7. I knew something wasn't right, but I wasn't all that surprised with hundreds of enemies and projectiles on the screen.

I started commenting out some code, deleting game objects while the game was running, etc. to try and solve the problem. Turns out the problem wasn't with my spawners or enemies, but with my coin pickups. See if you can find the offending code: void Update() { rotateTemp.y += Time.deltaTime * spinSpeed; transform.eulerAngles = rotateTemp; AttractToMagnet(); } void AttractToMagnet() { float xDiff = Mathf.Abs(transform.position.x - stats.transform.position.x); float yDiff = Mathf.Abs(transform.position.y -stats.transform.position.y); if (xDiff <= stats.magnetStrength && yDiff <= stats.magnetStrength) { transform.position = Vector3.MoveTowards(transform.position, stats.transform.position, moveSpeed * Time.deltaTime); } print("hey"); }
**SPOILER SPACING**
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*
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*

At first glance, I thought, "Mathf.Abs() can't be that complicated... Maybe MoveTowards()?" Nope... it was print("hey"), which was just a test that the method was executing that I forgot to take out. Apparently, any more than 5 objects printing out every frame, and the framerate starts dropping like crazy, about 2 fps per object. Had a good laugh about this one.

Anyway, that's what I got done tonight. Check out this VIDEO with some descriptions of what's going on.

Last time I made an entry I said that my next task would be to have enemies drop items, and to create enemy spawners. When I opened my project, I started looking through my code and wound up refactoring quite a bit of it.

By the end I had 3 or 4 new classes, making all of my classes quite a bit leaner and more maintainable. However, one of the solutions I came up with to better handle UI updates still doesn't feel quite right.

My UI basically has 4 main elements: Health, Experience, Weapons and Money. The first three utilize a slider to visualize % of health remaining, % XP to next level and % of weapon capacity currently loaded, respectively. The fourth simply shows the user's current amount of cash (Placeholder icons):

I had two main ideas for a solution. The first was to create a class for each group of UI elements (one for health, one for XP, etc) and to simply have them update the sliders and text each and very frame using a reference to either my Stats (of which there is only one of in the game, as an instance) or WeaponController (of which there is one for each different weapon) objects. Stats holds player variables like health and XP, while WeaponController (which maybe should be split into Weapon and WeaponController classes) contains weapon variables like capacity, roundsLoaded and roundsOwned.

This, to me, seemed like the optimal design choice. It had the least amount of complexity and seemed like it could cause the fewest number of problems. Essentially, the UI elements would stand alone, and even if they were removed from the game, nothing would break. Also, it would be the easiest to write this way.

My second option, the one I chose, was a little more complex, but, I think, more efficient. However, as I'm writing this, I'm beginning to think I made the wrong choice. The reason I even came up with this option was because I was thinking about efficiency. Having the UI elements just update 'magically' on every frame is easy and clean, but maybe a little wasteful. I decided that it would be more efficient to have the UI elements only update when needed, i.e. when stats change.

At the time, it seemed to me that good design is just fine, but it should be tossed out if a more efficient solution exists. Now, I realize that the complexity of simply updating UI elements isn't going to be very CPU intensive, but I figured every little bit of CPU savings helps, so this is the solution I went with. I still have a class for each UI group, as in my first solution, but these classes do not have references to my instance(s) of Stats or WeaponController. Instead, Stats has a reference to HealthUI, CashUI and XPUI, and WeaponController has a reference to WeaponUI.

Any time a player takes damage, gains cash or gains experience, the related code winds up leading to methods in Stats, which complete all the appropriate actions, including making calls to the UpdateUI() method in the relevent UI Manager object (HealthUI, CashUI, etc), passing itself as an argument. So, for example, Stats' TakeDamage() method looks something like this:public void TakeDamage(){ //do some stuff ... healthUI.UpdateUI(this);}
The same goes for the calls to the other UI Manager objects. They all take a reference to Stats as an argument (except for WeaponUI).

WeaponController functions similarly, passing itself as an argument in its calls to WeaponUI's UpdateUI() method.

Thinking about this now, it seems like I've chosen an overly complicated solution with little to gain from it (only slight efficiency benefits), and it seems like the cons far outweight the pros (for example, removing the UI elements will now break the game). Also, it stinks of circular dependency.

I think I've answered my own question, but what do you think? Which option would you have chosen, and do you have any better solutions I didn't think of?

I was going to post some questions about the design of my game's enemy spawning mechanic as well (yet to be implemented), but this post has gone on long enough, so I guess I'll make a second entry for that this evening.

## Been Sick - Win Condition

**NOTE: This post was a little longer than I intended. If you don't want to read everything, there're some interesting things about enemy types and game titles near the end. Cheers!

I've been really sick all weekend. I'll spare the gory details. Suffice to say I was unable to do dick all until tonight.

Got some decent work done tonight though (I spent a little over an hour I think):

I've got the motorbike in place and functional (the graphic is placeholder). The bike triggers a win condition when fully repaired (which is indicated by the gray bar above the bike), and I think I've taken into account and implemented every different possible scenario as far as interaction with the bike goes.

Basically, I want the player to only be able to interact with the bike if he's doing ABSOLUTELY nothing else, and is standing in range. If he's firing, or being attacked, or moving at all, he cannot repair the bike, and he is forced to stop repairing if he was doing so when the new action occurred.

Also, repairing the bike spawns the yellow text you see, which indicates how much the bike has been repaired.

I also set up the required code so that the bike is repaired at the appropriate rate (taking into account any repair bonuses or modifiers the player currently has), so I think that all I have to do for the bike is make the graphic and have the win condition actually trigger an animation of the player driving away or something.

In my last post, I mentioned that I would put some code up here. I've been thinking about the structure of some of the code, and I already know I need to change a few classes (I've got some ugly static stuff going on that seemed like a good idea, but doesn't really make sense, etc.), so I'll probably do that first.

Additionally, I've gotten some comments that posting my code in bulk might not yield the best results as far as feedback goes, and I think I have to agree. So, I'll probably pick out a few interesting/troublesome/complex pieces to see if anyone has any ideas about how to better/more efficiently/more elegantly solve the problems. If for no other reason than for fun and to learn a bit more.

You might also have noticed the Facebook and Twitter text in the corner.

I just stuck those in as reminders to add incentive buttons into the game. Essentially, if they like (or at least visit) my Facebook or Twitter pages (yet to be made), they'll get a bonus of X coins for each. I hate social media, but I guess I can't complain about free advertising.

I guess since I've touched on business a little bit with the social media thing, I'll mention that I've yet to decide on a name under which to publish my games. I guess technically, since I'll be selling/marketing/hopefully earning income on these games, even if only on free-to-play online markets, it's technically my development company's name that I have to decide on.

Maybe I'll post some candidates for the name and see how the community reacts. Can you create polls in these journals?

Additionally, I'm going to have to settle on a title for the game.

Originally I was thinking 'Night of the 8-Bit Dead' or 'Twenty 8-Bits Later', to speak to the pixel style graphics, but they're not quite 8-bit, so I don't think it fits.

I had a couple of other titles in mind that I forgot, so they must not have been that good. The only one I have floating around at the moment (which occurred to me today) is 'Dead Pixels'. Kind of a play on words. What do you think? Let me know.

I might stray away from the whole 'Zombie' theme though. That's essentially what the game is, but I might introduce different enemies that don't really fit that 'Romero' description.

Two enemies I've been thinking about are a flying enemy (I think it will be a crow), which will fly in quickly and attack on a parabola (making it a real pain in the ass to hit), and another is a Slender-man inspired enemy that will be tall, tough, and impossible to jump over unless you've unlocked double or triple jump. The Slender Man type enemy will really introduce some challenge, as a key way for the player to avoid the large groups of zombies (which spawn on either side of the screen) is to jump over them. The 'Slender Men' will function as sheep dogs, essentially restricting the players movement, making it much easier for the zombies to overwhelm him.

But I digress. My point was: If the game isn't strictly a zombie game, a zombie type name doesn't make sense any more. So that might open some new possibilities.

My next task will be creating the enemy spawners and having the enemies actually drop cash. That shouldn't take too long, so I might create the health and ammo pickups as well, and implement their random drops by the enemies as well.

Wish me luck.

P.S. If any of you ever have any suggestions, or see anything that looks like particular shit, do me a favor: tell me!

## Small Update - Health UI

Just a small update today. Got in ~30 minutes last night. Health UI is working.

Motorbike tonight.

Also, I might regret this, but I was thinking about posting all of the code for this game and letting everyone pick it apart. See what you all think is terrible and could be improved.

Maybe I'll do that tonight before I start development again.