and all went out After Battle Report

Posted by
August 27th, 2013 10:05 am

Well, that didn’t go according to plan. In a Somme like way it was two days of carefully preparing my troops, bombardment of pixels followed by one day of complete slaughter with only a few gains here and there.

Captain, your report :

What went right: 

 Initial Set-up – Got my DropBox set-up in advance with a template folder structure. Everything nice,  neat and clearly laid out.

Base Code Set-up – As part of my Unity template I’ve got some character movement scripts based on a Rocket 5 tutorial from yesteryear.  These can quickly and easily be adapted. Drop in a character sprite, drop in the scripts, tweak and you’re done.. Although saying that, they do need a lot of fine tuning.

Reference Code – From the last LudumDare and from everything I’ve been playing around with since I’ve managed to keep all the code in a reference folder. This is a great help even if nothing applies to the current project.

Initial Idea – Got a pretty sound idea in my head straight away. It didn’t actually pan out the way I wanted but the ground work was there and was easily adaptable.

Graphics –  I’m more comfortable with graphics and character design than anything else. Photoshop and I get on pretty well and it didn’t crash once!

Unity and Orthello Pro – It’s a breeze to use and wonderfully quick to get some ideas up and running very quickly.

Unity Support – If there is a stupid, newb code question that I’m asking, someone, somewhere has the answer.

Planning in the initial stages – I had one core idea but also had some fall-backs if that wasn’t achievable.

What went wrong: 

First off the silly mistakes.

Texture Packer – If I save out as .plist one more sodding time!! So yeah, Saving out as .plist and not .xml proved to be an easy miss. Why has nothing updated? Best check that first rather than cycle through C# files trying to find out what you did wrong.

Tiled – Alright it’s super easy to use and super fun as well. However I’ve never used it for a project before. I didn’t have the auto-update for TileSheets turned on and couldn’t work out why my tiles were not updating (cmd+T).

I also found out that updating my tile sheet would result in the entire level design becoming totally fecked!

Tiled + Collision + Unity = ARGGGGHHHH!!! – Every time I updated my tile sheet it would reset all of the collision detection meaning a manual update. This may have something to do with my collision detection being set to a layer but it also reset all the tags for Triggers. This was a bit of a mare.

The BIGGER issues:

 Screen Resolution – Ok there is something I obviously don’t get here. I need to do a lot of reading on this cause my brain obviously can’t compute how to get anything looking decent on different resolutions. Full-screen = funking stretched mess.

GRAPHICS – GRAPHICS – GRAPHICS – I spent soooo long pouring over pixels – most of which you can’t even see in the bloody level!

Environment – Not being at home with a heaving 27″ beast of an iMac. I’ve never missed that screen so much in my life!

Programming – It’s weird cause I can visually see what I’m trying to achieve but my knowledge isn’t there yet. I spent longer trying to get one thing to work that would have taken a semi-decent programmer seconds to implement. I think it’s best summed up by, “I’m playing all the right notes but not in the right order”.

The language isn’t hard, C#, and I know this is just down to experience but it’s incredibly frustrating. There are so many things I don’t know and so many things I’m sure I’m doing poorly.

Play Testing – There was none. I’d literally finished a bug fix with 10 seconds till submit – leaving the other 20billion bugs to roam free.

Over Ambition – Oh boy did I get carried away with the idea and added more things to it than I could ever hope to achieve.

First it was going to be the  wonderful dialogue scenes to introduce the player to the trenches.

I had a cast of characters laid out each with their own dialogue and quirks. Each to bark out orders, make requests etc..

Each Order had a level of importance based on who was making the request. High command , regardless of the order, took priority. The Captain at the front was second making desperate pleas for Ammo and supplies.

The actual battle that rages in the background would be affected by how well you carried out commands. Ammo doesn’t get delivered then the chance of a counter attack is raised a notch. High Command doesn’t have a clue what is going on at the front, they might refuse reinforcements. All of this was to have a hand in how the game played out.

The dugouts were supposed to have a really claustrophobic look and feel to them, dust filtering through the air from blast aftershock. Purely aesthetic addition.

Artillery was supposed to crash out of the sky at set-intevals making the rush over No Mans Land a real life or death situation. Wounded soldiers stuck in the mud would pop-up in dialogue boxes pleading for aid. The graphics of the explosions would light up the background and the surrounding area, mud, debris + body parts would blast out from every hit, there would be a nightmare of obstacles.

Achievements – The Battles would only rage for so long for each level. Depending on how may wounded saved || supplies delivered || messaged delivered checked against bombardment level would result in medals being awarded.

If the front was lost or you were KIA  then Game over.

So that was in my head and on paper. That is not what is on screen. :(

Unity Build – I wanted to build this for web but for some reason it doesn’t like the tile map and I have no idea why!

Notes to self –  I don’t think timing was a major issue on this. I think I could have achieved most of what I wanted if I’d done the following:

Graphics – kept things simple to being with. I spent too long pushing pixels.

Sound Files – grabbed / created these early.

Built basic intro, Won, Lost and Pause screens as a first measure. These would have been incredibly easy to do and would have bookended an actual game – it’s not a game unless you win or lose something!

Code, Code, Code till it works.

PlayTesting and more play testing.

Refine graphics – they’re in a sprite sheet so one update and you’re done… DOH!

Summery :

I really wanted to push myself on this one and get out something that looked good and played well. However, poor planning on my part let me down and I ended up having less time on my weakest link – programming. A reversal of that might have produced something different.

So, this was almost not submitted because it’s not ready for submission by a long shot. However, after all that time spent crouched over a screen is it better to show what you achieved in that time and the general thinking / execution behind it  or keep it hidden in the trash?

Ho-hum till the next one…

Cpt Nick Claypole – 1/5 Essex


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