Giga Guy

Giga Guy

Version 3 (September 2015)

This version is being developed for the Mini LD #62.  It currently includes three boss battles with Air Guy, Metal Guy, and Wood Guy.  I am currently making development videos as I finish developing each of the boss battles.

 

Version 2 (August 2014)

This updated version was a 2D platformer, where you tried to make it as far as you could in the Air Guy stage.  Giga Guy was remodeled and animated in Blender.  This was a test project when I was learning Playmaker.

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Updated side scrolling version.

Version 1 (May 2013)

Giga Guy started out as a 3D adventure game that I developed as I was starting to learn Unity.

Just a test project from when I started learning Unity3D.

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One Gunman

One Gunman

One Gunman Overview

You play as One Gunman, who must gather the rewards for shooting the bandits (Evens, Odds, Fibonaccis, Squares). Each bandit has a numerical value associated to it, which determines if it is one that can be shot for a reward. The reward will change periodically to a new set of bandits. Shooting an incorrect bandit will result in One Gunman losing a life. When all of his lives are gone, the game is over.

 

One Gunman Post Mortem

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.

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One Gunman gameplay

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.

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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.

One Gunman

 

Trailer Video

MetroPulse Article

The MetroPluse entertainment paper interviewed me and other members of the Knoxville Game Design group during Ludum Dare 28. The article features my One Gunman entry.

 

Archaeology

Archaeology

Time-Lapse Video

 

Overview

Welcome to Archaeology!
Here are the details of playing the game.
First select a surveyor to find good locations for treasure. If treasure is found nearby, the ground will be highlighted with a certain color:
White – no treasure near
Blue – little treasure
Green – moderate treasure
Yellow/Red – lots of treasure
Once you find a good location for treasure, assign an excavator to that area. If the excavator successfully digs up treasure, it will be shown in the world. Then assign an appraiser, who will determine the value of the treasure and add it to your total money.
Repeat until you’ve found all of the treasure, but you have only until 7pm before the game is over.

Resources
Surveyor (Tripod Icon) – Finds the best spots to dig
Excavator (Shovel Icon) – Digs for treasure
Appraiser (Magnifying Glass Icon) – Determines how much discovered treasure is worth

Controls
Left Mouse Click – Press buttons / Place objects
Right Mouse Drag – Move camera view
Mouse Wheel – Zoom In/Out

Tools
Unity (4.2.1f4), Garage Band ’11 (6.0.5), Gimp (2.8.4), Bfxr (1.3.3), Audacity (2.0.3)

Ludum Dare Entry

 

Post Mortem

With the weather being so nice outside last weekend, it was really hard to get psyched about sitting in front of the computer all weekend to make a game. However, I’ve participated in every Ludum Dare and mini-Ludum Dare since #26, so I felt compelled to make something even if it was really simple. I really didn’t have any good ideas for “Beneath the Surface”, so I decided to create a treasure hunting game. For my LD29 warmup, I made a simple MineSweeper game, so I thought it would be neat to expand on the basic concepts of that game. Instead of avoiding mines, you are trying to find buried treasure in a three dimensional world.

At first I just got the hidden treasure pieces to randomly populate on the game world, which are the items you must find. The digging unit was the first that I created, which I renamed “excavator” since it sounds fancier. He just uncovers whatever is hidden at his location. However, randomly adding excavators to the map really didn’t seem challenging.

Then I got the idea to allow the player to “ping” the map to get a general idea of the treasure location. This reminded me of the news stories about crews using scanning devices to find the missing Malaysian airplane off the coast of Australia. I originally wanted to have a heat map showing the pinged locations and the amount of treasure in the area. However, I had to settle for just colored circle areas on the ground representing the amount of treasure in the area. It was fitting that this is very similar to the job that an archaeological surveyor does, so I created a “surveyor” unit specifically for this job.

Finally, an excavator only knows about digging, and only a true expert would know the value of a lost treasure. Therefore, I created the “appraiser” unit to determine the value of each discovered treasure. The inspiration of this unit came from shows like Pawn Stars and American Pickers, where they will call in an expert to determine the value of a given “piece”.

I had plenty of more ideas which had to be cut. There was going to be rocks on the game world and an explosives expert unit which would destroy the rocks so that the excavator could dig. I also did a little research on some of the most famous lost archaeological artifacts from around the world, which I wanted to include in my game. However, I just had enough time to include one treasure piece which looks like a golden chalice. I also got suggestions to add adversaries like spiders, floods, and diseases which could eliminate units, but I didn’t have time to include any of those.

For this game, I wasn’t too worried about creating the best looking game ever. In my previous Ludum Dare entries, I spent much more time polishing, but it never seemed to have much of an impact on my ratings. I’m much less concerned about ratings this time, and more focused on learning new things. For example, this time I got fully functional map controls working with the mouse, including zoom in/out with the mouse wheel. I figured out how to create a unit on the game world at the position where the player clicks. When implementing that feature, I got stuck when trying to cast a ray from the camera to the plane on the ground. For some reason, none of the camera API calls were working. I thought my Unity libraries may have gotten hosed or there was some issue with the compiler. After taking a break and coming back to it, I realized that on the title screen I had created a script called “Camera” for moving the title camera. All calls to camera were referring to that script, which explained why I could not access any of the Camera API methods. Changing the name of my title camera script resolved that problem.

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Post-Compo Version

Another issue was with the appraisers. Since the player could add an appraiser at any location in the world, the appraiser would need to walk to the nearest treasure. I did learn that I can access all of the Treasure objects by tagging them with “treasure” and then calling the GameObject.GetObjectsWithTag method. This also resolves a Unity problem that I was never able to figure out, which is referencing game world objects (in the Hierarchy) from a Prefab.

I will admit that there are some things that I’ve done so many times when creating a Unity game, that it just isn’t fun anymore. One of those things is creating human models. Unfortunately, in the 48 hour compo pre-existing assets are not allowed, so I had to create a human model from scratch again. I guess it’s good for the Blender practice. I used one model for the three different units, but used a different texture and animation for each unit. I originally started by creating the excavator with a shovel, but I found that it was going to be way too difficult to animate the character with the object, so the shovel was removed.

In the end, I got most of the basics working but it really didn’t look like a completed game. There was a bug which sometimes prevented the appraisers from collecting treasures. After looking into it some more, I found that this was because I thought that code execution stopped when Destroy was called on a gameObject. Actually, the script attached to a gameObject will continue until the Update method finishes. In my code, the appraiser was targeting the next treasure after Destroy was called, so that no other appraisers could target the treasure and appraise it. That was a simple one line fix to solve.

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Continuing my theme of educational games

The biggest mistake that I think I made in this Ludum Dare was spending to much time basically re-inventing the wheel. I really don’t like the default Unity GUI buttons, so I decided to make my own. However, the process of making custom buttons is not a trivial one and is time consuming. Before the next Ludum Dare, I would like to have my own personal Unity library for things like graphical toggle buttons, menus, camera controls, font outlines, and dialog boxes. That way I could spend more time making the game, rather than trying to get a button to illuminate.

I liked the concept of this game, because I haven’t seen it done before. Therefore, I spent a little time this weekend making some changes for the Post-Compo version. I looked into how to modify the Unity terrain at run-time, so now when the excavators dig, it actually makes a dip in the terrain which is what I had originally envisioned. The biggest problem I ran into is that the terrain map starts at 0 height, so there was no way to make the terrain go any lower. Setting the base terrain level to 300 fixed this problem, and I just subtract 0.005 from the terrain height where the excavator digs. It took me a little while to figure out that the height array is from 0 to 1, not actual world units.

Overall, I’m happy with the results of this game. It definitely isn’t as visually impressive as my previous Ludum Dare entries, but I think the gameplay is much deeper. Adding adversaries to the game would probably make it much more exciting. If there is enough interest, I would be willing to port it to other platforms, since I think it would make a great mobile game. Online features such as leaderboards would also be nice to have. If I ever felt really ambitious, I could have an online server containing treasure data for everyone playing the game, so everyone is excavating from the same online world.