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About this blog

Writing about my project for the Fall 2018 Frogger Challenge.

Entries in this blog

Post-Mortem: The Flesh, the Gear, and the Flame (working title: Monster Frogger)

I started this challenge one week after quitting my job. I had calculated that with my frugal lifestyle even my small savings would last me a few months. I feel this is somewhat unfair to the other challengers, but in the state I was before I went AWOL I just couldn't participate. I had kind of a mad hope that what I would accomplish dedicating myself full-time to my hobbies would somehow let me make a job out of them. Well, this doesn't seem to be happening, but the giant boost to confidence should be worth something. I think I only installed Unity after I 'signed up' for the challenge (I had stopped using it a year before to experiment with other engines). I was supposed to be the art guy, but the other person fell through, so I ended up doing everything. I used Blender for models, Krita for art, and eventually LMMS for music. I'd say everything went even smoother than I expected. Issues came up, but nothing that I wasn't able to handle. There's a lot of stuff in this project I promised to myself and at the blog that isn't there, but I didn't feel like starting something major at the last minute. I also toyed around with the idea of making the source code publicly available, but my project looks like a mess of unity packages (which would probably make its educational value rather limited). Sorry. In the end, I think the most important part for me making it through the challenge was the support of a like-minded group on the forums. Hopefully I'll be able to keep up after the challenge and develop more crazy ideas together.

supermikhail

supermikhail

A test build for (formerly) Monster Frogger

I've finally created a project page for this thing, but no video today because I just don't feel like there's been any significant changes. I've uploaded a Windows build. With Unity, of course, anything's possible, so I suppose I could also do Mac and Linux builds, but I have no way to check that they work. Also, after several days of deliberation, I think I've managed to come up with a semi-decent name. Plus, scribbled together a cover image today. Oh, I've redone the player controller. It works better (and feels more responsive, I think), but still is far from perfect. In fact, it's fairly easy to get into an unkillable state, or simply glitch out. The thing is though, this state is good enough for me. I'd rather spend the remaining time on some more art assets than wrack my brain over perfect movement.

supermikhail

supermikhail

Cinematic Insanity

In the middle of last week I found out about Cinemachine. Something like yesterday, I also discovered Timeline. All in all, I'm pretty happy with what I've been able to achieve (even if the project is a criss-crossing maze of conflicting scripts and animations): Well, not so much "coflicting scripts", but I had to call it a day because both Unity and Visual Studio keep breaking. I can't help suspecting the newfangled Unity addons. Otherwise, even though I feel like I'm not going to finish in time, it suddenly seems that I at least have all the gameplay in place, as far as coding... Oh, except for the most basic part, of course, that is the movement. I've looked at it in the orthographic view, and there's really no rhyme or reason to how far the next jump is going to be. It seems I have to completely re-do it, except I have no idea how. 😞

supermikhail

supermikhail

The Final Form

After a bit of motivation trouble earier this week, managed to create a somewhat complicated model in around a day. I've dubbed him "Pulgator", and if people are curious, here's how he looks closer-up in Blender: Yeah, I kind of decided to get fancy with baking from a high-poly sculpture, and we both paid for it. I had to actually paint the face manually (with a mixed result), because baking was messing up. And some problems I didn't fix. Also the diffuse texture... Well, it was a nightmare to paint around the (partially messed up) normals, and... Anyway, it's not going to be seen from close-up nor sit on the screen for a long time. You'll also notice in the video, that I added a moving row. Let's say that the "lava" texture is a work in progress.  I still don't have any idea about making shaders, so I tried my best by stacking together three layers with the same texture, moving at a slightly different speed. Hopefully that'll be passable? Finally, maybe it's time to address one old issue: I'm making the level out of separate, one-sided tile models, and I'm getting all kinds of funny lighting problems. Well, by "address" I mean I've got no idea how to. Maybe I should add a back side to all tiles? But the whole setup seems kind of inefficient. Any ideas are welcome.

supermikhail

supermikhail

Borders and a Goal

I decided to call this entry "Borders and a Goal" just to make it easier to remember than "Progress Report 10-Nov". I feel like I've spent the majority of time downloading and going through free effects packs, mostly fruitlessly. Kind of starting to hate particle systems, to be honest. From the beginning I imagined that I could actually draw at least fire by hand... which is, of course, not necessarily a piece of cake, but I'd feel more productive than this. It also turned out that my worries about glitches in the standalone were unfounded. Well, they only come up at qualities below good, I think. Which is an easy fix. Brainstormed a lot about such aspects of gameplay as how to limit the play area, what to have as pick ups, and especially what to have as the goal, while staying with the theme. Managed to implement some parts in today's video. Speaking of which: Oh, and finally, redid the normals for one tile type properly (baking from a higher-poly mesh), and as expected, any supernatural lighting behavior disappears. Actually comparing the two textures on the Unity preview sphere it's pretty clear that something's wrong. It's like its back side manages to catch light from the front. I'd say it's more of a hypersphere than a simple sphere, which could be interesting if I could produce this result on purpose. First - old; second - new.

supermikhail

supermikhail

Menu, Sound (and other worries)

So, yeah, I've added some sounds and drew a main menu graphic... ...I probably shouldn't have, at least the graphic, because that took quite a bit of time. But I started enjoying drawing, and well... I'm also hoping that even if it's, critically speaking, childish scribbles, maybe it at least counts for something that I can operate a tablet and know what brushes are? I only belatedly realized that it doesn't convey very well the theme and atmosphere of the game, because of the bright colors and lack of any mechanical parts. Maybe I'll go over it another time. As far as sound effects, I just downloaded a bunch of free assets from the Unity store. I tried to build a standalone, and fortunately Unity seems to be pretty good about including only parts that I've actually used, because there's no way I can figure out what I can delete without breaking everything. Speaking of a standalone... Well, that was a disaster. The current video has been recorded from the editor, because in the standalone there's weird stuff going on with sound effects, but worst of all strange input lag. This is a huge part of the reason why I originally wanted to take on only the art section. I've got no idea how to debug or fix those issues.

supermikhail

supermikhail

Introducing... the CyberFlea!

Been finally working on the player character. On the plus side, I like the complexity of its... or maybe his? - shape, if that makes sense, and I enjoyed painting the texture. Sorry, I don't know at the moment how to take a good close-up image in Unity. Here is the model in Blender. On the minus side, once again without clear concept art from the start I've found it hard to fit the character with the rest of the level, especially size- and perspective-wise. When I put the camera at the distance where it would make sense for the gameplay, the character will indeed be like a flea on the screen. Also color-wise. I thought that the original would stand out garishly, so I desaturated it in Unity. Now it gets lost among the background. There's also the movement, and a frustrating aspect to the way I implemented it. Namely, I'm simulating projectile motion: I set the jump distance and duration, plus launch angle in the inspector, then it calculates launch speed. The problem is that... well, apart that this seems maybe like overkill (although at the same time the most natural solution)... There's rounding errors. So I think it drifts by a small amount with each jump, while it should land smack in the middle of each row. Anyway, I've decided for the moment that if I don't make each level too big it shouldn't be a problem. Finally, the animations. As I suspected, that's pretty much my favorite part of the process (although maybe that's just because there's so few of them right now, who knows). In the end I went without a launching and landing animation and just transitioned between idle and in the air. Otherwise I couldn't make the blending work responsively, if that makes sense. But this introduces some jerkiness if you jump in very quick succession, and I'm not sure how to solve that. Of course, here there's also some "cleverness" involved, and maybe I'll be clever enough in the future to avoid it.

supermikhail

supermikhail

See those saws (and despair)

As the title indicates, I've added the sawblades. I've decided to put the example in a video. I don't know if that's a good idea, but the default settings for gif capture clearly weren't working, so. I've removed the fire tiles for now, which kind of negates the bumpiness entirely, that I've fretted over so. On the other hand, it makes it clearer that going without normal maps is quite a feasible option. I hate the textures on the sawblades, and the transport mechanism especially, by the way. I was trying to make them muddy, which I've achieved (although not necessarily in the way I wanted). But I don't think the results of my efforts will be appreciable, no matter which angle and perspective I select. And I also realised too late that some of the details would be better modeled rather than painted, which has to do with the fact that I hadn't actually planned for the trasport mechanism and had no concept image for it... At least that's my excuse. Anyway, making a note of it.

supermikhail

supermikhail

Fire traps and lighting bugs

I'm kind of still in the "can I even do this" mode, and today's experience hasn't been the most promising... Well, it's not a complete show-stopper, but pretty disappointing. Created the fire trap: So, what you should notice is, the floor - and almost the entire picture - seems to warp every time the lights switch. I don't know what exactly is going on, but I believe that's just how normal maps are supposed to react to changing lighting. Oh, I've also changed the lights to fade more gradually since this gif, and the effect is even more uncanny (and slightly nauseating). I mean, it's not the end of the world, and this is supposed to be a rough and ready challenge project, but as I imagine an entire level shifting like that... No. So, the options would be: making fire traps without a changing light, ditching fire traps entirely, or ditching normal maps. I'm in favor of the second option. I've got a whole bunch of traps planned, I can afford this.

supermikhail

supermikhail

The idea

I'm going to make a basically vanilla Frogger, as far as gameplay. I'm completely out of practice in pretty much every aspect of gamedev, but I'd like to focus on my art skills at the moment (because I've been getting the feeling that I may enjoy that the most). That said, a few years since seriously drawing anything, I've sketched (well, it took a few hours) what I'd like the contents of the game to look like. ...if I can. I consider myself way more proficient in producing (low-poly) 3d models, so it's going to be a 3D game, in Unity. Because I also need a refresher on Unity. You'll notice the... perspective of the drawing. I thought I'd make a faithful to the original, isometric game, but after some experimentation in the editor, I think I have to go with a more normal 3rd person view. I can't - and don't want to spend time trying to - figure out how to make an isometric view look good. Oh, yeah, I suppose most people spend valuable mental resources on something other than frivolous concept sketches. Don't worry, I've been prototyping a little, too.   Well, had to start with remembering how to animate in Unity.

supermikhail

supermikhail

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