Gravity Gun

I had some vague idea about shooting bullets out, and having gravity mess with them.

I dunno. Seems like firing bullets in a full physics model is a lot more complicated than it looks. Unlike, say, real life, right kids?

Very unsure about this. In general I’m trying to avoid shooting games. They just seem so.. passe? Obvious? Something.

But, playing with gravity? Now THAT appeals. Of course, if all I have is bullets that flop around like dead fish, that’s not going to be much fun. I’ll keep working on it.

Ok, so after much mucking about, I have the tank trundling along, a foreground, and gravity randomly varying. Oh, and the bullets work too. There’s still not much of a “game” per se though.

Well, this is an “ok” game, but it’s certainly nothing earth shattering. Interesting to play around with, that’s about it.

I’m starting to get quite frustrated with my lack of photoshop/art skills. First, I can easily get sucked down a rabbit hole of spending ten hours learning how to do something quite basic (once you know how) – or something that simply isn’t that core to the game (eg, how to draw a decent looking string on a balloon). Secondly, it’s critical I stay focused on getting the game play etc together. There’s a lot more value in better game play than in better art (I believe). That is, if I absolutely must choose between the two.

Obviously, I’m learning and getting better all the time, but I can see why people spend a decade learning how to do this stuff. It’s painfully obvious to me how much I suck at this.

Still, gotta push forward.

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Relaxing Fishing

I find the sea soothing.

So, I thought I’d do something relaxing.

Turns out there’s quite a lot of subtlety in this game. The animations for the bob when it lands, rocks about, and then a fish bites. Getting the fishing line so it gentle curves to the bob, but also, so when the fish bites, the line moves too. Getting it so you can only click on the sea – not, for example, go fishing in the mountains.

Turns out there’s an absolute ton of subtle potential bugs in here. Way too many timed events (waiting for the fish to bite, player to catch them, etc). Stopping those tripping over each other is HARD. Oh for, I dunno, bloody pointers, or something useful like that. Oh well.

This game has a LOT of scope for potential growth. Different kinds of fishing poles, different scenes. All that good stuff. Right now though, I’m running out of time (spent the whole day setting up this damn blog). So, I’m gonna have to put it to one side. Sadly.

It’s still soothing though.

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Guessing Game

Ok, after working till pretty much 7pm on the previous day’s game (yes, cheating I know – but if it’s any consolation, it was boring as hell), I wanted something simple. Don’t wanna slip a day behind.

My previous two ideas were too much for a single evening’s work. So, I played around with something else, but realised that Stencyl simply didn’t have the power to give me the kind of animations I wanted. It’d prolly work with an installed library, but I tried installing Haxe libraries (flixel, etc) manually before, and it really screwed Stencyl up. So, definitely not a “quick job”. Possible, but messy and a little outside my skill level at present.

So, instead, I thought of this. This is UTTERLY ridiculous, as a game. But it’s funny, and that’s all that matters. Plus, I’m having fun making it.

Now, theoretically this should have been pretty simple. But, I wanted to keep the code pretty simple, which meant some abstraction, which meant writing a bunch more Haxe code. So, I’m learning there – which is good.

On the downside, it turns out that calling an Event in a Behaviour from an Event in another Behaviour is VERY flaky. As in, it works maybe one time in 8. Not good enough to rely on, and just enough to cause you to waste several hours on it. Hypothetically, if you tried to do it.

This game is so silly. But it makes me laugh.

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Hi Lo

So, this was -supposed- to be the simple game from yesterday.

Except I need to load, configure and keep track of all 55 cards (52 + blank + joker).

Now, the funny thing is, Stencyl is coming out with an update sometime over the next week that would make this MUCH easier. But, fuckit. I got to really delight myself and write some tricky code to get around the limitation. So, game done today, which is brilliant.

Oh yes, I got to write actual Haxe code blocks. Which is a first.

However, this is a critical step towards becoming a serious game dev. If I’m ever going to do mass particle effects using haxe + flixel etc, then I’ll need to get my head around Haxe, so, no time like the present to get started – even in a super low key way.

So, I’m pretty happy with that.

At this point the core loop is done, but there’s no actual game play. Hehe. So, time to work on that.

Ok, so this has taken a LOT of subtle and complex code. Fuck, what a lot of effort.

The game is done, but frankly, it’s not very interesting. Or fun. And it’s way too easy to just rack up a high score – and for what? It never really ends. Lame.

I don’t know what people see in gambling. This was boring.

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Bounce Ball Bounce

Ok, so this was a massive clusterfuck.

Initially, I thought I’d make something like Go, or Reversi – you know, have a grid, place black and white pieces on it, try to control the territory. Very simple pieces, a bit of complexity in the game logic, voila, done!

… and then I read the rules of Go. Holy fuckballs. They’re insane.

So, I threw that out. And, frankly, by the time I’d read that even being able to figure out who had WON a finished game of Go was considered a good test of modern AI, I kinda got over the idea of doing Reversi either.

Wow. So, not a good start.

Then I thought I’d try a balancing game. You know, have a platform, balancing sticks, fish, whatever on top of the platform.

Blergh. Maybe I misunderstand the Box 2D physics engine, but I couldn’t get them to balance for the life of me. And when theoretically easily knocked over long wooden sticks started sticking up in the air by themselves? That’s where I went ok, screw that.

Then I spent a BUNCH of time (think, many hours) trying to get fonts loaded reliably into Stencyl.

Some things I learned:

  • Converting Mac fonts to TTF is bullshit. Even when it kinda looks like it’s worked (and I tried several different converters), half the time it hasn’t. They refuse to load.
  • Even existing TTF fonts on the Mac system can’t be loaded into Stencyl without them puking, or leaving traces everywhere
  • I couldn’t figure out if it’s even possible to export Photoshop fonts
  • Downloading free TTF fonts is reasonable, but often you have to try three or four before you find one that works
  • Putting any kind of blur (in Stencyl) on the fonts causes them to screw up. You get black lines left all over the screen.
  • When the fonts puke, closing stencyl, cleaning the project, then re-editing/saving all the fonts helps get them back
  • If it seems to be taking Stencyl forever to save a font? That’s fine. Let it do its thing. Do NOT interrupt it, or you’ll (maybe) corrupt the font

I’m quite happy to admit that I may be missing something critical about a bunch of these points, but holy crap, what a waste of time. I still don’t really have any good solutions (or reliable sites). Wow, tedious.

Anyway, after wasting almost the entire day on this, I put together a crappy little bouncing ball game. Which sucked. And the fonts were still broken.

So, I cheated a little, I spent a bit of time the next day polishing it up. Anyway, now it’s actually kinda fun. I like it! Still not super great, but kinda addictive, some nice pizazz. Feels fun (and challenging). Also, I fixed a bug where you could stay in one place and rack up infinite high scores, as long as you never moved. Ha ha ha. Oh boy.

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Crazy Pong

A simple one really – the old classic pong. Thought I’d spice it up by having multiple balls (and maybe more aggressive scoring), but we’ll see how we go.

Super simple art assets (unlike yesterday, heh), and pretty simple sounds to get.

This is the first time I’ve had an enemy character actually calculating how to beat you though. So, a little bit of smarts in there – that’s the main challenge here.

(having done it now) – frankly, the maths on that wasn’t THAT complicated. But that’s ok, now the fun bit. Multiple balls (and identifying the end game condition)

First time creating background sounds using instruments. Like the background picture (with game name!) and oh, this game gets insane super quickly. Man, it’s way too hard for me. Hopefully there’s some kids out there who can kick its ass. The nutty thing is, how easy it is to come from miles behind (or get your ass kicked) with one mistake. Which, of course, makes you wanna hang in there and kick ass even more. This game is kinda cool.

I still haven’t managed to beat the bloody thing though. Not yet!

Ok, so I loved this enough I went back and added a bit more functionality:
a) the ability to choose how many balls you wanna play with (ie, the play length), so, you can choose to have a nice fast game, or (alternatively) play until your fingers bleed. Up to you :)
b) adaptive NPC skill level. It adjusts how hard it kicks your ass. So, it should give you a good game, but not ALWAYS kick your ass. And if you lose, it’ll be close. So, you’ll feel like you can beat it next time, if you try harder. MUCH more fun (although less amusing than having your ass kicked with a score of 10:1)

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Bye Bye Birdie

When I started this, as discussed yesterday, mostly I wanted to work on my art skills. Well, I got lots of chances to do that.

Initially, I had wanted to do something non violent.

I’m pretty happy with how the graphics look. Kinda cute. A bit goofy, but a definite improvement.

Where it falls down is game play. Massively. There was a theory that you’d be able to shoot at the birds. I’d wanted a net (rather than a bullet) but that’s way outside my skill (or at least – getting it down reasonably quickly). So, try a bullet.

Guess what? It turns out – math is hard. *sigh* it’s not, it’s just a bit fiddly, and I’m knackered. Getting the bullet to appear at the end of the cannon, instead of just flopping out on the floor, hmm, can’t quite figure that.

So, it’s get that working, or go to sleep. Guess which is likely to win?

Shame. I loved the cute clouds, and even the birds (jeeze, trying to draw a bird? wow) don’t look TOO awful.

That said: the wheels are too small on the cannon. The animation (turning 90 degrees at a time) doesn’t look like they rotate – more struts would have made it more obvious. The clouds look cute, the cannon body is fine, but the birds look dopey (the power of outlining/cartoonish assets – it makes even crappy art skills look bearable).

Still. Can only do so much in a day, at this skill level. Key thing is to remember to keep things simple. Even the game play, otherwise I burn through too much time on relatively unimportant tasks (like getting the bullets not look stupid). So, lessons learned here too. Prioritise and focus. Important stuff. Shame about the game, but a good lesson. Today was mostly about practicing my art skills, so I’m less worried that the game itself didn’t turn out so amazing.

There’s also a weird thing where, on the low left hand side, the cannon jerks around like crazy. More weird math. I pulled it all into Excel, but couldn’t for the life of me figure out why things weren’t appearing quite correctly. I obviously need more powerful debugging techniques.

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Bubble Bother

The initial intent here was to do something “under the sea” (a random suggestion I got – hey, I’m up for randomness!).

I spent most of the day thinking about what went on under the sea. Realised eventually that my graphics skills still weren’t up to scratch in terms of complicated animals (or fish) but I could sure draw a bubble! So, I looked up some tutorials and drew a few dozen bubbles. Eventually I got a pretty decent one drawn.

My initial thought had been to make some kind of “eat your enemies” type game, where your bubble would grow, or change colour as you ate other coloured ones.

The thing that stymied me was explosions. Wow, those things are damn hard to make look decent. So, I wasted about four hours trying to figure out how to draw a decent explosion. Painful.

Eventually, I settled it by doing a cartoonish implosion instead. So, now I had little bubbles that would pop when I clicked them (yep, I draw all the animation frames). However, I still really didn’t have any game play.

That stymied me even further, till eventually I was just having fun throwing them around the screen, and I thought – hey, the old classic “two the same colour pop” scenario.

So, that’s what the game became. Click and drag bubbles around, if two the same colour touch, they pop and you get a point each.

New things in this game: a loading screen. Title (so you can see what the damn name of the game is, heh), tracking a high score (not between sessions, but still, it’s something), varied success text depending on your score, a few new behaviours (click and dragging objects, keeping them inside the screen, bouncing off screen edges), reliable random creation (something I struggled with the last few days). Consistent (and self-created) fonts. Plus I did all the graphics and animations myself. So, quite a few new things. Kind neat.

It’s also time limited – score as high as you can in five seconds – which is a new gameplay style (for me; in general it’s old as the hills, obviously).

It’s becoming pretty clear that my speed of game generation is going to be more or less proportional to my ability to generate art assets. The coding side is typically pretty straight forward, it’s wrangling photoshop that’s taking all the time. So, I’ll need to focus on that.

Tell you what though, I’d LOVE to play this on my phone (or a touch device).

Oh, and the audio? Ha ha. I can make “pop” sounds with my mouth with the best of them. Getting that bit right took about two minutes flat!

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Space Rock

Had some real issues getting the assets small enough. 4 Mb mp3s etc.

First the background pic was HUGE (a meg by itself), then the sound.

Then I noticed I had a ton of assets in the resources dir that I wasn’t even using (weird fonts etc). I think playing around with getting stuff off Stencyl Forge may have screwed things up.

Am still trying to get the image size down, without having it appear tiny on screen. Oh, and cut down the size of the 3 minute track playing in the background. Wasted several hours on those two things. Nuts.

Ok, so, cleaning the project makes a HUGE difference to file size. Basically, it gets rid of all the old cruft. Filesize dropped from 7.6M down to 2.2M. Lesson learned.

Now, back to flying around.

So, turns out my idea of moving all the rocks in the opposite direction from flight (while keeping the ship in the middle of the screen) is a dud. Couldn’t get it so it wasn’t jerky and awful. Or, you know, work at all. Not having any kind of “I’m moving” animation didn’t help. Being unable to move the background around didn’t help either.

I think in general the background is too visually noisy. It’s hard to see the smaller rocks. Also, my photoshop skills suck *laugh* oh boy, worst space ship ever. Still, it’s original art, so it’s a step in the right direction.

I’m happy about the rock resizing (all rocks are one rock – but they don’t look like it), and the collision bounds (mostly). Happy with the restart button.

Not super happy that I can’t get the rocks to appear from off the screen though. They kind flash into existence in the middle of the screen.

So, it’s KIND of a game. Basically, you have no control at all, other than spinning (didn’t get time to figure out that rock movement thing). And if you’re lucky, the rocks won’t get you too quickly. So, not a lot of skill involved.

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Man Hole

The theory here is – you ferry a bunch of dudes (remember our armadillo friend from yesterday?) along the platforms.

This’d be great if I could get it to consistently either NOT fall through my platform, or DO fall through the gaps in the tiles.

So, that sucks. Not quite sure what’s going on there.

Unable to really put any kind of scoring system in place until you’re able to interact. At all.

Still, the background is funky, I like the chord progression as you move the platform around, and the wilhelm scream is funny as hell.

I managed to get the platforms moving to the correct places easily (using lists) – so, am learning basic data structures too.

Also, notice how I’ve figured out how to spawn dudes reliably? So yay! Actual learning. Right up front and center.

I also learned a bunch about how the physics works. Groovy.

Any day now, I’m sure, I’ll be spending less time battling the interface, and more working on actual game play. I’m sure. Annnnny moment.

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The mission: Create a Game. Every day.