Made some good progress on the game this week including showing it to a few people at the Studio Time meetup here in NYC. Some of the notes I got there from other devs helped me to turn a bit of a corner design wise, the main one being to change the way the enemies are concentrated in the levels and have fewer, more dangerous clusters. This has solved a bunch of the problems I had earlier. The moral of the story: show people your game in person and listen! I’ve also signed up for a local demo night event where I’ll be able to get some players to play the game, more about that when it’s announced. The reasons for this are two fold: first to get me to finish a build that’s reasonably tight and playable and second to get feedback. I’m pretty excited about it.
I’ve also added three new weapons in the game for the player to get: big non-homing missiles that can explode the sky coral bricks (producing a very satisfying shower of flying debris), clusters of smaller short range rockets and falling mines that the player can drop on groups of enemies. All came together quite quickly last night which was fun and satisfying. Working on mechanics is so much more fun than trying to optimize frame rate or any of the other non-design ‘making working software’ aspects of development.
Here are some pictures of the new Twilight Ruins level:
Work on Pollen continues as we wait for spring here in NYC. I’ve added a few new level designs and a bunch of tweaks to the mechanics. It’s getting closer! I’m looking to schedule some time to show it at a playtest event here in NYC which will give me a nice deadline to shoot for. I made some new music bits as well which I’ll put up on Soundcloud too. Some people have suggested I do another video, I’m thinking about trying to make something trailer-ish. More on that as it comes. For now, some pictures:
Here’s another level environment with a different feel. I’ve been experimenting with randomly placing large low poly objects to give the levels more visual interest. In this case it’s this funky looking cube tree. Like in the Blue Sky City level I’d like to go a little deeper with procedural generation and give these some more variation at runtime but for now they’re just randomly placed and scaled. I think it actually works pretty well. I also added some square snow particles for you to fly around in.
It’s been quite a bit of time without an update, I’ve been pretty busy with a bunch of other stuff but I’ve continued to work on Pollen, including adding some different level designs and looks. I’m starting to work in more color and other geometric forms so we’re not just constantly in that grey foggy space I’ve been using so far. I’ve also made some pretty big changes to the design which seem to be working better. I’ve created a level transition condition which is based on collecting a set number of pollen objects. These come from shooting the glowing green plant spheres that you can see in the screenshots. When you collect enough, a gate spawns and that takes you to the next level. I’m going to be showing the game here at the New York Unity Study Group in about three weeks so I’ve been pushing hard to get it into some kind of showable shape. Any NYC area peeps come out! I’d love to meet up and get some food or drinks afterward with some local dev folks. There’s a good ramen spot near Microsoft where the event is.
Here are the new screenies, click for larger size:
In this video devblog I show five minutes of game play including procedural level generation, randomized powerups, some new sound effects, new lighting and the current state of game play. I’m getting a decent feel for the major systems in the game. Some of the roguelike elements are getting more fully realized including level geometry randomization and randomized powerup progression. Still a ton of content, weapons, items, powerups to add but most of the core mechanics are more or less in place. Having added in a few more sound effects, some better lighting and music I’m also much more happy with the way things look and feel at the moment. Slowly but surely making progress.
I’ve been working on some music for the game, trying to find and set the right mood. At the moment I’m going for a more spacious and soundtrack-like vibe which I think is working. I’ve experimented with some more beat driven stuff in the past but right now I think this is a good fit. Music has such a huge impact on the feel of the game!
I just learned how to screen capture animated GIFs on PC which is way easier than recording a whole screen cap video and uploading to YouTube, so yeah. That’s awesome. I did it using a free app called GifCam for Windows, which you can get here for free. Thanks to the guy over at Bahraini Apps. His other thing Paper Toy Factory actually looks totally radical and amazing too, looking forward to that coming. My kids will LOVE that.
Anyway, here’s the GIF:
I had to take some time off on the game but I’ve been back on it working pretty hard and made some good progress. I’m learning to optimize things a bit and so have been managing to avoid turning the game into a slideshow running at 1FPS all the time. I’ve also scaled back a bit on my original design.
Here’s a basic update of where I’m at and going:
Pollen is a 3rd person flying shooter with six degrees of freedom and rogue-like-like elements including procedural levels and permadeath.
Style: I’m going for a low poly, playstation one graphical feel. Lots of primitives, few textures. This is a combination of necessity and aiming for a post-pixel ‘retro’ feel.
Stuff in the game:
Randomized procedural level geometry
Player flight controls
one enemy type
basic enemy AI
basic enemy pursuit / wandering movement
4 basic environments: foggy water, dark desert, bamboo, underwater ice.
two music tracks
Stuff that’s coming:
Randomized player powerups
more enemy types
larger boss-like enemies
lots more music tracks
lots of control tuning
I’ve got a working title for my game in progress that is better than the very literal Butterfly I’ve been using. It’s:
Here are some stills from the latest. I’ve been messing with this wacky procedural slab tree flower generation thing where it makes these crazy organic looking floating rock pile things at runtime and you watch them grow in fascinating and slightly disturbing ways. It’s leading to a result that feels really organic and wild to me and I really like it. A big improvement over my floating rectangles, although those might get mixed in too.
This is definitely taking the whole procedural level generation thing in a very chaotic but also very cool feeling direction for me. The whole thing feels kind of mysterious and a little scary, which I like. I’m happy because I feel like now I’ve shaken up my design a ton and am off in the woods discovering again. Things were feeling a little linear before and I was getting bored.
Right now my frame rates are cratering and I just learned there’s something called Object Pooling that I now need to learn how to do. Yay! Actually all the geometry on screen is fine and it runs at 60fps once it’s done. It’s just something about instantiating all those objects procedurally while the game is running that Unity doesn’t like at all. Somehow though I think not knowing what I’m doing here is kind of an asset because it looks crazy and unlike much I’ve seen anyone else do, so I like that. But lag spike city, you’ll see some of the still showing a frame rate of 3.0 fps… Anyway, check out the pics.
We exist. And by ‘we’ I mean the royal we, since it’s just me over here. I’m Matt Mirrorfish.
This is my blog for my media company, dare I say, MEDIA EMPIRE: Mirror Fish Media. No seriously.
I make music, and recently strange video games.
My current project is an aerial-combat rpg rogue-like mmo/fps/rts/sfh/sjk/dfh/ksd/fjksdasd hybrid. Working title: Butterfly. It’s going to be epic, amazing, revolutionary. It will get up in the morning for you. It will make coffee and do the dishes. It’s going to be so next gen that it’s parents aren’t even born yet. And it’s going to travel back in time and kill them first. Here’s a picture:
That was actually a screenshot of the game breaking in a cool way, but we’ll take what we can get at the moment. Notice the magnificent 6.94 fps the game was running at at the time.
At the moment it’s just me working on it. What I lack in practical game development knowledge I make up in wild, potentially un-true claims about how awesome my game is going to be.