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Jumping into the Deep End - Plus Lasers!

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About Me

This section might be boring to you, but I need to say it just to get it off my chest and proclaim to the world my intentions. Feel free to skip down to cool lasers in unity. smile.png

So, I've been wanting to be a game developer for [s]a long time now[/s] at least 20 years now. Holy crap! I'm almost 40. Time to get off my ass and make this happen before its too late. I've been a professional C++/C# developer since college and game development has been a hobby of mine off and on during that time.

Over the years, I've set myself up financially to quit my dayjob and make a serious attempt. I was going to do this a couple of years ago when my corporate job screwed over my team, but a friend of mine needed some help with his startup, so game dev stayed a hobby. But now it looks like I'll be moving on. I'll be jumping in with both feet towards the end of the month. I have true buy-in and support from the wife which is HUGE. "Encouraging you to follow your dream" is far different from "permitting you to follow your dream". Make sure you have the first one! Now there are no obstacles in my way... Wish me luck!

I haven't written a journal entry since the end of the Week of Awesome II last year. If not for one judge whose scores were all over the board, I would have placed 2nd or 3rd. I messed around with game dev for a bit after that, but to be honest the wind got taken out of my sails and I lost my motivation. But I'm back on the horse now and have my motivation back in full force. /crybaby off

Any indie gamedev that happens to read this, feel free to comment with good advice on jumping into the indie game dev world!

Anyway... LAZORS!

Unity is now my engine of choice. I was working on my own engine in XNA for about 1.5 years and it had some neat features, but after seeing the Unity entries for the Week of Awesome II, I was floored with what they accomplished. I'm happy for the experience I gained from my efforts, but there's a big difference in what you can crank out. In XNA, I spent a month or two on a GUI Controls and GUI Layout library. Whereas I spent a few days last week getting a cool laser to shoot at a target with dynamic lighting effects.

This is just using a LineRenderer with a PointLight attached to the start and end of the beam. I ray cast from the barrel to the target and collide with anything that's in the way. I love how the laser follows the contour of the spheres that interrupt the beam. I wanted some audio feedback so I found an old Star Trek Phaser sound and play it when the left beam hits.

Right now everything is "hard coded" in the red laser texture, and values chosen by the unity objects at run time. But I love data driving things so eventually I'll come up with some generic laser textures that I can apply a color to. Maybe let you select Beam vs. Bolt, rate of fire, etc.

This week I wanted to just work on a pretty visual effect. Next week, I'll be looking into some turn based combat to put these pretty effects to good use. I'll also tell you a little bit about the game I'm working on.

A Tip from your uncle Eck

In game development. Close is usually good enough!

Sometimes I have trouble letting this one go. I like for things to be 100% correct, but really its not necessary. For example, a few months ago I was struggling with some physics to figure out how to make a space ship stop on the point of its destination. I didn't have a formula handy, and it has been a long time since I had a physics or calculus class. My plan was to make this perfect, but I decided to put it on the back burner to tackle more serious issues.

Recently I was playing Star Drive II a Master of Orion II clone with real-time space combat and physics based ship movement. After several combats, I noticed that my ships weren't stopping anywhere NEAR where I was clicking. They were shooting right past where I clicked and coasting to a halt. It would have been nice if they were stopping right where I clicked, but did this ruin the game for me? Nope. I didn't even notice it at first since a lot was already going on. I just learned to click in a different spot to get my ships close to the right position.

If it's good enough for real game companies. It's good enough for a solo indie dev. smile.png

- Eck
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