One Gunman is my third official Ludum Dare entry, and it was my eleventh game developed for this site (including mini-LDs and warm-ups) since I registered in April 2013. I feel like I’ve learned a lot during that time, and these projects have definitely made me a better Unity developer. For this Ludum Dare, I knew I wanted to do something different.
After hearing the theme announced at our local Knoxville Game Design meetup, I knew I wanted to make the number “one” a central part of the game. Going with that approach, I decided to make the number “one” humanoid, since I knew how to quickly make meshes from text in Blender. I added eyes, arms, and legs, but the character was still sort of boring. I thought about some of the characters in my latest XBox Live Indie game TTY GFX ADVNTR, and remembered the character “Needles”, which is a humanoid cactus wearing a cowboy hat. Then I remembered playing the classic game GunSmoke at one of those 20-in-1 arcade machines not too long ago. There really haven’t been too many western themed games lately. Therefore, I gave my humanoid one a cowboy hat, boots, and a gun to shoot. I also went ahead and modeled a cactus in Blender as well as a background prop.
Another classic western game was Wild Gunman. I liked the Gunman name, so I decided to call this game “One Gunman”. The name is also sort of a play on the term “Lone Gunman”, which differs my game’s title name by just the leading “L”.
After creating the models, I got the main character imported into Blender and moving around. I also created some enemy boxes that moved around. Next, I implemented shooting projectiles. However, I quickly found that trying to aim on the X-Z plane with no lock-on could be quite difficult. Therefore, I limited the character to just being able to move left and right, and he is only able to shoot forward. This makes the game similar to other classic arcade shooters, except this game uses a third person view instead of a top-down birds eye view. Shooting enemies was fine, but it still seemed really boring.
One Gunman Time-lapse
Then I had the idea that One Gunman would shoot number sequences as the targets. For each enemy, I assigned a random digit value in the range of 2 through 9. First I decided to use evens and odds as the requirements. Once I got those working, I added a countdown so that the requirement would change periodically. I was really inspired by a game called Pig and Bullet, which makes the player switch between collecting red and blue bullets every few seconds. The problem with that game was that you never knew when the objective would change, so I added a visible countdown in my game. New objectives were added, such as Fibonaccis (2 3 5 8), Squares (4 9), and Perfects (6). I didn’t include 1 in the sequences, because that would mean that One Gunman would be wanted as well causing unneeded confusion. Each sequence also has a set reward associated with it, where the more complex sequences have higher reward values. For the lose condition, I made it so that the player lost a life if they run into a number or shoot an incorrect number. Finally, I rendered 3D numbers in Blender, which replaced the box enemy meshes in my game. I included statistics such as number of shots and accuracy percentage on the game over screen, which was inspired by other classic arcade shooters.
Since I had the core engine finished on the first day, I worked on polishing the game on the second day. A “WANTED” poster was added which displays the current objective in the lower right portion of the screen. The objective change countdown was converted into to a bar which shrinks as it nears zero. Like my previous entries, I used Garage Band on my laptop to make the music for the game. The piano and guitar sounds were primarily used to give the game a more western feel. Bxfr was used again for making the gunshot and other sound effects. Using my computer microphone, I recorded myself saying “Shoot X”, where X is the current objective. Then, the vocal recordings were modified a bit in Audacity to give it a better sound. The voice seems to really enhance gameplay, since it keeps the user’s attention on shooting the numbers, instead of looking at the Wanted poster. Finally, particle effects were added using a star texture that I made in Gimp. I tried changing the particle system color over time, but for some reason it just wasn’t working for me.
I learned a few lessons from this game. The first lesson is that people don’t like shooting at a perspective. I thought the controls were intuitive, but some people definitely found it difficult to shoot. The best I can explain the shooting controls is that it is similar to rolling a bowling ball on a bowling lane. The game could have included some additional visual cues to help line up the shots down range. I could have also used a top-down view, but then the player would not be able to see the details of the model that I had created. Using an orthographic projection may have helped as well, which would have kept the numbers and bullets traveling vertically on the monitor screen. Another option would be to highlight the number that the player is currently targeting, but I thought that may make the game too easy.
There was also some difficulty with getting the model moving correctly. When I assigned the armature, I used the default “with automatic weights” that I always use in Blender. However, since the arms and legs were so skinny, it didn’t properly weight paint all of the vertices. I’ve done manual weight painting before, but this model had some difficult to reach vertices. After some trail and error, I discovered that it is possible to pose the model while weight painting it. This made reaching some of the difficult to reach vertices much easier, and you can see the vertices snap into place while weight painting it.
Overall, I am satisfied with the game that I have created. I would have liked to made the other numbers humanoid as well, and I really needed to add more props to the environment. Things like buildings, dust, and tumbleweed could have really added to the environment. If I get the time to work on this game some more, I definitely think it could be turned into a great game.