Archiv der Kategorie: Draft

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Bad luck. The windmill is burning.

Bad luck. The windmill is burning.

I have taken a break from level design for the last two weeks in order to setup a more advanced sound system. I am using AudioToolkit from the asset store now. It was a little bit harder to setup than I thought but object pooling and managing audio groups like atmo, effects and music is great.

Atmo sounds are new to my project. I felt the scenery really profits from some atmospheric background.

Although AudioToolkit does some heavy lifting I had to write the music manager on my own. I don’t want to just stitch song after song but have the music react a little bit faster to the actions of the player. I am not really sure if this is too much detail so I don’t know if I’ll keep this idea.

Another thing to consider is putting in voice over for the titles between levels. My girlfriend heavily votes in favor of this so I will test this effect. But this would mean that I need a native speaker as a voice actor. Huh! Didn’t I plan to make a quite simple project?

On the release of the next beta: This will take a little bit longer than planned. I’ll have to get the audio system up and running and want the first two chapters of the game first.

Veröffentlicht unter Bild, Draft, Indie Games, Text | Verschlagwortet mit | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar | 27 views

Helper Scripts

The last two weeks I’ve been working very hard on a new alpha that I’ll expect to release somewhat later this month. So much has changed since the last one. But I am very content with the gameplay aspects now so I dove a little bit more into story. Yes, “Draft” will be a story driven platformer with some cliffhangers as well.

Adventures in the black lands

Adventures in the black lands

I am also doing stuff under the hood. I wrote some little helper scripts that I can trigger with shortcuts. Setting up a scene is quite a mess and it is very convenient to just blend the background images out so I can manipulate the platforms. See this little example:

The scene with background graphics.

The complete scene with background graphics

The background graphics moved to the side with a simple shortcut

The background graphics moved aside with a simple shortcut

If you are coding in Javascript as I do you have to put the script into a folder called “Editor” to have it appear in the menu bar. Here is the code:

#pragma strict

@MenuItem ("Window/Toggle Background %&b")
static function MenuToggleBackground()
{
var obj:GameObject = GameObject.Find("Background");
if (obj.transform.position.x >= 6000) obj.transform.position.x -= 6000;
else obj.transform.position.x += 6000;
}

It searches an object called Background (where I put all my background objects into it) and moves it along the x axes out of the way and the next time back. One of the more interesting parts is how to define the shortcut:

@MenuItem ("Window/Toggle Background %&b")

Here you see the menu path where the menu item will appear and the shortcut definition. %&b means Command-Alt-B. You have keywords for other modifier keys, too. Just check this page of the Unity documentation.

  • % (ctrl on Windows, cmd on OS X)
  • # (shift)
  • & (alt)
  • _ (no key modifiers)

Games I played last week:

Veröffentlicht unter Bild, Draft, Indie Games, Text | Verschlagwortet mit | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar | 16 views

Designing a level

This time I will tell you how I design levels. If you only want to hear aboutthe progress of the game in general you can skip to the last paragraph.

While reading the article you can play the progression of the level design here (drag to control platforms): How to create a level

Designing a level

There is the romantic idea that I take pen and paper and scribble new level ideas. That sounds nice but I have to admit that I usually start designing levels right within Unity. But not today.

Step 1: Getting an idea

First of all I decide which game mechanic I want to explore. Last week I introduced keys to open the door of a level. This time I thought: Why not require the player to get more than one? I’ve been doodling on paper. I’ve been randomly drawing boxes. Then I got my first idea. Why not put a key far right and a movable jumping platform far left so the player had to go all the way across the screen to get the key? And this is what it looks like:

You have to move the platform several times to get the key.

Step 2: The first key

After bringing it on paper I switched to my computer and rebuilt it with Unity. This is a process where I move Game Objects around the screen, hit the play button, test and repeat. Until the level is playable:

Position the small platform so after moving right across the screen you can take another jump and get the key.

Weiterlesen

Veröffentlicht unter Bild, Draft, Indie Games, Text | 1 Kommentar | 35 views

Alpha 2

Not many words today. This week I basically used “Draft” as a playground to experiment with different level designs.

At the top of the Screen you see the Timeline which indicates when Draft jumps (black bar), moves to the right (blue bar) or moves to the left (orange bar).

I have to admit I am not really there yet. Most levels are solved through trial and error at the moment. Thinking about the solution helps but you can get the solution by just pushing those blocks randomly.

I am not sure if this is a real problem but some people seem to expect more of a brain teaser. As many of my boardgames my current iteration of “Draft” seems to fall a little bit in between genres.

In this version I introduced moving platforms, portals, darkness and keys and with these elements some more sophisticated puzzles should be possible.

I’m proud to tell you that you can now test a very early alpha build. Please let me know what you think. You need to install Unity Web Player.

Control the blocks with your mouse: Draft Alpha 2

Alternatively: Linux build

Please comment on everything that comes to your mind. Here on the blog or via Twitter.

Cool games in beta from other people I played this week:

  • Life goes on (Great puzzle platformer concept)
  • Still Time (A ridiculously brain twisting and engaging time travel game by Alan Zucconi)
Veröffentlicht unter Bild, Draft, Indie Games, Text | Verschlagwortet mit | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar | 20 views

Struggles

Draft is now pixel perfect on iPad, iPhone 5 and iPhone 4. That was a tough choice because I had to resize all graphics and redo much of the stuff. This is a scene further into the game. I experimented with new elements. Some screens will be played in more or less complete darkness. I hope this screenshot shows the variety of locations Draft will run into.

I’ve not been posting for a couple of weeks now. Is Draft dead? Not at all. But I had a rough time regarding the game. The last three weeks were packed with events I’ve been attending. First the AMaze festival which was really great and one week later Re:publica where I had to do a talk together with Agnes Lison.

Instead of having time to actually work on my game I had the opportunity to gather feedback at least. People at AMaze were really helpful and made me reconsider much of the stuff I put into the game until my last blog entry. Well, I had to cut most of the introduction because it seemed to confuse people. Digging further into feedback I made some other big decisions regarding how the user interface works. The timeline now shows all movements and I put hints into the game when Draft will be jumping. Another decision: The player now can adjust the platforms throughout the complete level. Formerly this was only possible once per level.

At first my goal was to make another demo for this week but I could not finish it. I am still hoping you will be able to play the current version next week.

Veröffentlicht unter Allgemein, Bild, Draft, Indie Games, Text | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar | 14 views

Introduction

This week I’ve been working hard on a playable demo that I’ll be able to show next week at Indie Connect in Berlin.

The game now starts at dawn. Added additional lighting and animated fog.

I’ve put my emphasis on how to teach the game mechanics and introduce character and story at the same time. That’s always tricky. How do the mechanics I invented even fit into a storyline? What happened in this little platformer world that Draft is so disoriented that she jumps into holes and walks against walls so the player has to help her? I did not want her to look stupid or getting the player frustrated over her actions.

So I tossed several ideas around. Should I directly jump into gameplay or having a large cutscene? I always like games that give me the possibility to interact as soon as possible. Especially on iOS where you often play at bus stops or during a lunch break.

My current result is a mixed approach. With their first action the players get sort of responsible for Draft’s fate. They did this to her. And I hope that’s getting them involved.

And another side effect: While teaching the players what to do I am explaining Draft’s weird behavior en passant. I do not know if this is the best possible solution. Feedback will tell and I am always willing to change things.

During Feedback Friday you are able to play the demo via reddit (Unity Web player needed).

P.S. I thought it would be a good idea to share games with you that I am currently playing or am especially fond of:

  • Thomas was alone (Steam) – Sometimes quirky but over all a very likeable approach
  • Badland (iOS) – Multiplayer (on iPad) is as much fun as single player
  • Starseed Pilgrim (Steam) – It’s quite a Zen like experience to dive into this game without any explanation
  • Magnetized (Web) – Cool new idea for a one button game
Veröffentlicht unter Allgemein, Bild, Draft, Indie Games, Text | Verschlagwortet mit | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar | 16 views

Going Indie – but how?

When I decided to finally develop my first own iOS game in the end of last year the hardest thing was to settle onto an appropriate project. I had quite a few ideas in my mind and it took me month to experiment with them and discard one after another. It was not that I thought they could not be turned into great games but it was obvious it would take months or years to realize them. That’s not a good starting point for a first project.

Keep it simple. Everybody told me this. Especially my guts. It was a great relief when the inverse platformer idea came to my mind. This would be a project I could vary in length as much as I please. So I tucked all my other fancy dream ideas into a dusty crate knowing I should focus on something I could handle. They are not lost. They just have to wait.

Here you can see another in game scene with different lighting.
Last week I was working on several stuff. As a feature request I added pause, fast forward and to clarify things I introduced visual hints in the timeline that mark the time stamps the character jumps.
I also worked on how to sort sprites in the z axis but did not come to a good solution. As a player you can move blocks around and that messes up every reasonable approach to z-ordering. My final solution was to split the sprites into front and shadow placing them onto different z-layers.
On a last note I introduced a stupid bug that awkwardly decreased performance: I used the touch input routine to save status. That I did that a couple of times every single frame! So obvious in hindsight.
Click image to enlarge

So here I stand. The basic “Draft“ engine works. I am adding features and levels heavily switching between graphics, framework, sound and level design. I know if I keep working on it in the end there will be a game. What I don’t know yet is how to get people involved.

Some kind of loose secrecy has been part of my job ever since I started inventing board games and writing books. I did not show the whole world what I was working on.

But this time I want opinions and feedback. I have the urge to show this rough and fragile kid to people.

There are some options to do this and I have not decided yet which route to take. I could keep everything to close friends. Showing  them the app over and over again. I could do a closed alpha handing out work in progress builds or I could even go public. What is at stake?

I think the first thing I will do is working on a somehow polished version that shows the basic gameplay. And there is already a deadline: I will attend the A MAZE. Indie Connect 2013 later this month in Berlin. Maybe this will be a good opportunity to talk to people who can give advice. We will see.

If you have comments, questions or advice I encourage you to write a comment or drop me a note at Twitter: @sightwise (English) or @zeitweise (German).

P.S. Every saturday is Screenshot Saturday on Reddit and Twitter.

Veröffentlicht unter Bild, Draft, Indie Games, Text | Verschlagwortet mit | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar | 17 views

Screenshot Saturday – well, Sunday

Dressing up a level with flowers, trees and torches. Especially torches.

Dressing up a level with flowers, trees and torches. Especially torches. Click the image above to see a full screen version.

Veröffentlicht unter Bild, Draft, Indie Games | Verschlagwortet mit | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar | 22 views

Level design: exploring your game

The most fascinating moment in board game design comes with the first prototype. After thinking hard about your concept, after tossing around rules for hours, days and sometimes weeks this is the moment of truth where you can dive into your game world and explore. It’s the excitement of stepping into the blank parts on a map. You are going somewhere nobody has gone before. It’s a rare gift compared to other art forms that you can experience your work almost with the same ingenuous curiosity as the consumer*.

This is not always the case in video game design. It depends on how much your game uses narration and scripted content. “Draft” being a puzzle platformer heavily relies on those scripted levels. But inventing them delivers at least a part of the joy of investigating the the mechanics.

Level design in the editor without all the neat background graphics stuff.

Level design in the editor without most of the fancy graphics stuff. The green box is the tap area which I intentionally made bigger than the actual button. The red box gives visual feedback about the area where players can move the platform to.

At the moment I am designing levels. Usually I am starting with randomly throwing stuff into a scene. I am toying around with platforms and stuff and let “Draft” walk and jump around to get a feeling for the possibilities. Changing things is easily done with the Unity WYSIWYG editor. I really can iterate and I think that is important.  I always listen to my gut feelings.  Does the user interaction feel well? Do I have fun? Even if nobody else will. I have to enjoy my own game.

But there are questions hard to answer if you’re only playing by yourself. How difficult are the solutions to my puzzles? Currently I am investigating it by putting my iPhone into anybody’s hands – willing or not – and let them play. You learn much by watching peoples’ futile attempts to solve your puzzles.

That’s enough for today. I have a level to design.

* If you are interested in thoughts like this maybe you’ll want to watch this talk by Jonathan Blow.

Veröffentlicht unter Bild, Brettspiele, Draft, Indie Games, Text | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar | 14 views

Developing a graphic style

For creating the “Draft” graphics I prepare everything in Illustrator and add a texture in Photoshop. That’s quite flexible because through using vectors I will be able to make quick changes on big chunks of data later on.

I didn’t want to do a pure retro pixel style but a mixture between vintage platformer pixels, some haptic textures like cardboard and an atmospheric color palette that can change over the course of the game. Toolkit 2D is able to tint sprites as well, so I will be able to put some nuances into the game like slightly changing the color of our hero „Draft“ depending on the light situation and mood.

Veröffentlicht unter Bild, Draft, Indie Games, Text | Hinterlasse einen Kommentar | 12 views