Considering I’m supposed to be doing these games rough-n-ready, I probably shouldn’t taken advantage of how far along I was and just taken an easy pace… It would be hard to keep this up for a whole year. My worktime is still cobbled together from a beefy weekend day and some late evenings, but some playability and quality elements still bug me.
Click on the pic to see where I’m at —->
Most importantly, I added in an enemy helicopter with some rough AI. This was a necessity not only to bring the threat directly to the player, but also to make antiair units and bunker capture meaningful.
In addition, I revised most of the sound effects with better ones culled from Freesound.org. Before this I was using some other 100% free sounds that I didn’t need to credit, but they were terribly edited and seemed to be 8-bit recordings culled from 1950’s movies. That is, I swear one explosion was what you hear when Wile E. Coyote blows himself up. To use these new sounds I’ll have to add a credits page to my website, but it was worth the somewhat improved quality (although I’m hardly a sound designer).
I also added the concept of repairing your helicopter and replenishing bombs, since they are very powerful weapons in the game.
Just a few days left, and all I’ll do from here on out is add a score tally and some stats displays to the Win and Loss Screen. I’ll probably also revise the title screen to provide directions and a bit of flavor. Then it’s on to next month… Looking forward to it.
Getting close to finishing my work on Battle Row, my first 1GAM submission of the year. I’ve got bunkers that can be captured by soldiers now, a win/lose state with proper game restarts. I also put in the ability to load up soldiers and deploy them elsewhere on the battlefield. There’s radar, limited bomb supplies, and resources are gained from picking up coins in the field (which wasn’t in Rescue Raiders but I wanted some more activities for the player). Most importantly, we have actual sound using the Master Audio plugin I picked up, which had some pretty nice features for the price. Some things I’ve learned lately:
Doing the 1GAM challenge to get faster at this. I spent a pretty solid number of nights and weekends working on Battle Row, so I need to get in a groove so I can keep up the pace. February should be a good test since it’s such a short month. I also need to carefully choose my objectives so that I don’t get overwhelmed.
Also, I found that free sound libraries are terrible. I found one online so that I could have SOME sound effects at least, but generally all the free sounds on various sites are from the same original source, which in the case of weapons is some grainy 1950’s movie. I always respected the work of audio designers, but hearing the game sound like an old Mac Plus title is pretty painful. I’ll see if I can get some new sounds in.
Since I’m more or less ahead of schedule this time, I think I’m going to take a stab at a helicopter AI. It won’t be great, but as long as it challenges the player more it should help somewhat. Finally I’ll need to adjust some of the costs, damages and health levels (as well as put a cooldown on the antiair turrets) in order to make the game somewhat fun to play and win. It has some charm but I am not as engrossed when playing than I should be.
It’s been a pretty busy week getting the first 1GAM game functional, both in feature sets and all the various times where I had to learn more of the quirks of Unity. Since last update I’ve added home bases for both sides and a series of bunkers with anti-aircraft guns mounted on them. I created the bazooka soldier who carries a homing rocket, and created a number of basic VFX and behaviors to support him. There is now a resource system and a way to deploy units, and I’ve dropped in an UI for static screens, in-game tutorial text, and a HUD to show what units can be bought. Finally, I’ve got a death and respawn system, and a camera that keeps things in view and doesn’t show things it shouldn’t.
I’ve posted the work-in-progress here: BATTLE ROW Note that while I have second-to-second activities, I still haven’t provided quite enough structure to give the player an objective… You can’t win or lose yet: That I’ve got to implement this week.
I still have bunkers to implement so they can be captured by soldiers, and given them machineguns that mow down incoming soldiers… Then make it so tanks or helicopters can clear them out, requiring a two-step process to clear a bunker and giving tanks a more tactical role than a straight soldier-killer. I think I’ll also need to implement bombs in addition to machineguns, like the original game had.
I’m glad I took something of a known structure for my first major game experiment in Unity, but as I move forward I am starting to appreciate some of the nuances of the original Rescue Raiders. Given my limited time, I thought I could take parts of the whole and still make an interesting experience… but as I start to assemble everything I realize that the game relies on all these parts to create a compelling whole. For example, while the original game depleted fuel and ammo, I was hoping to avoid limited resources on my helicopters. However, without limits, players can fire constantly and hover around the enemy base. In the original you can pick up and drop soldiers onto the battlefield. Without this there can be some oversimplicity when combat only occurs on a single battle line. Finally, the original pitted an enemy helicopter against your own, and writing a helicopter AI is really something I was trying to avoid because there are only two weeks left. However, that would mean that bazooka soldiers wouldn’t mean much and player tanks wouldn’t have any kind of weakness. The wild-card that the enemy heli presents is one that means that the battlefront isn’t completely predictable.
This is where some creative tweaking is needed… If I don’t have time for an enemy helicopter, I think I’ll create a different type of flying enemy such as floating mines or drones. I may also add some new abilities to tanks such as arced shots and the ability to shell players. A few more units to buy (as upgrades to existing tanks and soldiers) could really make things more compelling.
For my first game I dug up some scraps of code I had laying around and will work to combine them into a cohesive game. Not long ago I was inspired by discussions I’ve had lately about the old game Rescue Raiders, which in a way was a precursor to modern MOBAs. It was quite an achievement on the Apple II, and I’ve always wanted to explore something akin to its unique take on action-strategy.
I may have some logic already set up but I figure in this first month I’ll have my hands full dealing with UI, audio, publishing and other aspects of Unity that I’ve never dealt with before.
During my first weekend I created some rough base art for the player’s helicopter, a tank, engineer van and a human soldier, and got them all working with some basic move and attack logic. I animated the vehicles and even a human character (badly) with Mecanim, which was a first for me. I wish I hadn’t spent as much time with the art as I had since I’ve got a long way to go and only three weekends left… But considering I’ve never created a human skeletal animation before in my life, I can’t complain much.
I’ll work to get something posted that’s playable next weekend if possible.