I made a new game in the past month days called MagnetDroid- in case you didn't know I quit filmmaking and am now a game developer.
You can get MagnetDroid here at the site for the game jam contest I made it for
Voting starts July 1st- if you like it please give it a vote ^_^
I still can't consider this a real "game" as the initial motivation wasn't to make a game it was to practice game mechanics then it was to have something for a contest- I hope people have fun with it but deep in my heart I know its a fraud! haha
After making this game the proper workflow is becoming clearer to me- the level maps you draw up are like your storyboards in film production- and if you start work without storyboards you're asking for trouble!
Before I starting drawing out the levels- I scoured the web looking for pertinent articles-printed them out- went to a cafe- read it all and took notes then started drawing my levels right then keeping all the info in mind as I did so....
I compiled the articles into a pdf you can get here all credit go to the article creators-
I also downloaded and printed this graph paper image to draw up my levels-click to load the full size img
I drew up about 25 pages of level maps for this game- it took several hours to draw up the level maps and it was tough at times BUT it was totally worth it- There was a lot of personal resistance to drawing these up- I kept wanting to just jump into 3d and start laying things out BUT I'm glad I didn't...
Just like with storyboards once you do the hard work on paper actually laying it out in 3d is easy because all the difficult decisions have already been made- just like with film production you have to fight the urge to just start laying things out in 3d without storyboarding- I learned in cg film production to draw up and storyboard everything- if you can't do it on paper you're not going to be able to do it in 3d well OR in a timely manner-
I had already built/prototyped all of the game assets before I started drawing up the levels so I knew what I had to work with-
Player/Player Control: I had the player "MagnetDroid" which was controlled using a simple third person controller I made. The model is as simple as it gets made up of a bunch of cubes in a hierarchy animated using fk- I screwed up and didn't create the UV's for the model when I exported the fbx out of c4d and got too far along/ran out of time in the process so I didn't have much control of the texture I used on MagnetDroid- So I learned that if you are using the final geometry for a model in a prototype phase you don't have to texture it BUT do generate the UV's
Camera: I used the "free look camera"rig thats in the free beta sample assets that you can get from the unity asset store- its as easy as it gets and is a really good camera rig
Enemies: I built all the 3d assets in Cinema 4d trying to keep them as simple as possible using just cubes and other primitives- no rigging was involved- I animated them all using simple hierarchies and fk- so when I brought them into Unity there were treated as "generic" rigs. I created their very simple ai using Playmaker. I have used the excellent Rain Ai in the past but for this game I didn't need any complex behaviors and I wanted to try to make my own SUPER simple ai.
The eyeball enemies or "Evil Eyes"and the little guys with horns that charge at you "Bad Blocks" check the distance the player is from themselves- if the player is a certain distance they look at the player- then they use a raycast to check and see if there any obstacles between themselves and the player if there isn't they attack the player-
The "Evil Eyes" explode if they hit anything, killing the player if they hit the player-
The "Bad Blocks" charge toward the player and if they get within a certain distance- they trigger an animation and a timer of 3 seconds- then they explode and kill the player if within a certain distance
The moving magnet guys I call "magnetbiters" use a simple way point system wherein they look at and move to point 001 then 002 etc- they have a magnetic force on them so that if the player is in + polarity they will be drawn towards the magnetbiters mouth which kills the player on contact-
I made an advanced MagnetBiter type that used Rain Ai that followed a path, chased the player if they got near him and it would kidnap the Babyboxes taking them back to a hideout BUT I didn't get to use these in the game- they were planned for use on level 4 but I only got to complete up to level 3-
I also made an attack drone which you can see through a window on level 1 and in the image at the top of this post- and its the white robot that's marching in the game's intro cinematic- This guy was built, my wife and I did all the animations for him BUT I was careless with the axis placement when I made him so by the time I got to setting up his ai in Unity he was pointing in all the wrong directions so I didn't get to use him in the game either- If I had more time I would have as he was going to patrol and chase the player firing lasers at them and if the player was hiding it would fire bombs from the canon on his back- but I didn't have time to set him up and use him in the game-
The game jam deadline is July 30th and I only started working on level 3 on the 26th- So I had to make a choice between only having two levels with two more enemy types or 3 levels with the enemies I already had- so I chose the latter option as I wasn't sure how long it would take to work all the bugs out of the two other enemy types but I knew I could build a level in 2 days...
Levels: I kept the levels as simple as possible building them out using mostly cubes and planes- as its super early in my game dev career I don't want to even bring in complicated assets I need to keep that simple as I know I can build that stuff from my film experience- its the game mechanics/gameplay that's going to be my weak point so I need to focus on that- there's a few moving spiked barriers and some simple spiked traps but its all pretty simple stuff- I made a catapult that launched the player across the level at the end of level 2 that took a little time to figure out but outside of that its mostly cubes-
Learning factor over 9000
It would take forever to write down all the new stuff I learned while doing this small project but I learned A TON of new things that I can add to my game dev repertoire, improve on and use in future games- a few examples- I did my first in game cinematics, my first points system with ratings system, built my own autotargeting system using array lists(Thanks to John for pointing me in that direction), built my own magnetics system which worked correctly on the third rebuilding etc....
Just like with making films or making anything else- the best way to learn is by doing it- I've read a lot about making games and have done tons of research on the subject which helped but the best way to learn is by doing the thing-
While developing this game I attended two different game dev meetups here in San Jose this one and this one I took the game asked people if they wanted to play it- the feedback I got and the observations I made in person really helped me improve the playability of the game- its still flawed as I'm new to this but it really helped improve it- I only wish I could have gone to a meetup everyday and gotten more feedback ^_^
I also had two friends online test the game and provide feedback and that really helped as well so thanks to everyone for that! I plan to do a lot more of this with my future games-
Speaking of future games- on to new projects! I have several to choose from and I need to learn how to create new mechanics for all of them so on to learning! After about 6 more months of these learning projects I should be able to make a real game ^_^
But for now check out MagnetDroid- and if you like it please vote for it-Thanks!