floats_lvl4

floats level 4

Simply put, floats is a game about drag’n’drop in space. You drag a cube around on platforms filled with deadly obstacles and evil enemies. The style and mood is stolen from the famous rymdkapsel by Martin Jonasson and I’m not even ashamed of that. In fact, I want floats to be the game I thought rymdkapsel would be, after seeing it for the first time: A hit-and-run action puzzle platformer with cubes in space :-)

Preparation

I already had the idea the friday before compo start. I was so enthusiastic about it, that I spent half of the day mocking up some graphics and sketching levels, although theme voting was still taking place. There were four to five themes that could have easily made it into the game. So I was pretty sure about my game idea. Even when An Unconventional Weapon won, which wasn’t one of my preferred themes, I kept the idea and thought to myself, that I was going to come up with some kind of weapon, that could fit the theme. In the end I failed on this.

ld32_mockup
initial mockup of floats

Floats is the result of me searching for a game that is based on drag’n’drop action. I wanted to do something like that for quite some time and just before the compo I found myself thinking about it again. Eventually I mixed up a couple of games in my mind, like rymdkapsel, Papers Please!, Metroidvanias and then suddenly floats popped up. Maybe it was magic. Or just me from the future doing Inception stuff with my mind.

Trying out something new

To get to know Unity a little bit, I prototyped something two weeks prior compo. It was a lot of fun working with Unity, since I never used an engine before. I wouldn’t say that I specifically choose to be a low-level guy, but I always enjoyed building toolkits and reusable stuff from scratch. I knew, though, that the architectures of my games were bad and that sooner or later I would have to use an ECS or something like that. After working with Unity on floats for two weeks now, I feel a lot better about the architecture then ever before.

As you might see from the mockup above, floats was sketched as a 2D game and I actually started to implement it in 2D mode. However, for the enemies I wanted to use pathfinding, which is really easy with Unity’s NavMesh. But I didn’t know, that NavMesh only works in the x-z-pane and thus isn’t available in 2D mode. After finding that out, I started fiddling around with 3D mode and it didn’t take long to realize, that 3D was not much more difficult than 2D. So I switched to 3D after more than five hours. That’s actually a big thing for me, since I never built a 3D game. And I was kinda new to Unity. So much for trying out something new.

Why I succeeded

I didn’t really plan what to do when. I just had a set of must-have features and some optional features (which didn’t make it into the game), that I started coding from scratch. As I’m pretty confident in my coding skills and my ability to estimate coding time, I just started hacking and adjusting priorities on the go. Most of my private projects are developed the evolutionary way. Additionally, I fucking love game programming. It’s just the best kind of programming, especially when heavily mixed with creating artwork. Although drawing and creating sounds and music in between coding sessions sometimes slows down development, it really helps me to better understand the game and to generate new ideas. It also brings a welcome variation of tasks.

So why did I succeed then? Because I had fun and I loved what I was doing. Motivation is the best fuel to achieve anything.

What I can improve

I have to admit, I copy-wasted a lot code from StackOverflow and Unity tutorials. Specifically the camera movement, which I didn’t understand at all until after submission, because I needed to fix issues around that. Judging from the comments I got so far, the camera movement still is a big issue. You can drag the camera around by holding the RMB, which doesn’t seem to be intuitive to players.

I didn’t really balance the gameplay. There are platforms containing movement puzzles and simple action platforms with enemies, but the difficulty just comes from an increasing amount and speed of enemies. I find that rather lame now. Maybe it’s ok for a small game like this but it wouldn’t work in a full game. Next time I would put more time into designing puzzles elements.

So yeah. Don’t copy-waste too much code, try to get someone playtesting your stuff and practice game design.

Next

Working on floats was and is a total balst! I’m not making any plans but I also don’t see an end coming to this. If I decide to continue working on it, I will start a devlog.

If you want to make me VERY happy, you can play and rate floats here. Thank you!

If you need a reason to visit YouTube, checkout the development timelapse.

I’m @mknpf on Twitter.

 

Thank you for reading!

Martin


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