Dream Build Play – Multiple Levels, Stuck Balls

Earlier today, I did some game development off stream.  I was working on the colors for the background.  In previous games like Note Chomper, I have synchronized the hue with the music volume by calculating the RMS value of the AudioSource on the game object playing the music.  It is a nice effect, but sometime appears flickery.  I tried it for this game, and it just didn’t look great.  I tried modifying my code so that it uses frequency instead using the AudioSource GetSpectrumData method, but it still didn’t look right to me.  I also tried setting the hue to the sound of the cannon being shot, but I didn’t like it because it would be one hue (red) at the beginning while the balls were being shot, but then another value (blue) for the rest of the time.  I ended up settling on tying the hue to the current combo value.  I clamped the range from 0 to 50 combo value, which I converted to a 0f to 1f value.  I passed that value to my script which handles setting the background material color, which then sets a target hue.  The hue can be converted to a color using Color.HSVtoRGB, passing the hue as the first parameter and 1f for the second and third parameters.  I then converted my 0f to 1f value to a value in the range of 0.5f (180 degree hue which is cyan) to 0f (0 degree hue which is red).  So as the combo increases, the target hue value moves backwards from cyan to red on the ROYGBIV scale.  I also have value specified for speed of transitioning, so that it is a smooth change in color and it doesn’t jump directly from one hue to another.

I also updated the cannon model.  It didn’t look right before, because it was too small for the balls that it was shooting.  I added a cylinder at the bottom, for where the balls should come out.  I used the boolean modifier to “drill” another smaller cylinder hole in the middle.  I had to ensure that the hole was big enough to give the appearance that the balls were coming out of it.  I also had to significantly increase the size of the model, so much that the top is no longer visible on the screen, but I think that’s not really a problem.

It still really didn’t look like the balls were coming out of the cannon, so I created a particle effect that looks like a puff of smoke.  when the ball is shot, the smoke particle effect is instantiated.  I made it a separate GameObject prefab, which has  a custom script attached that destroys it after a few seconds.  One neat effect that I added is setting the color of the particle effect to that color of the ball that is being shot.  I just pass in the ball score to the SetScoreColor of the particle effect, and it uses the Ball color constants that I defined last time to set the smoke color.  I was really happy with how the effect turned out.

Finally, I added multiple levels to the game.  To do this, I created text files which contain the layout of the clocks on the levels.  I just used an ‘O’ to represent each clock.  I may end up using other letters for future objects to be added to the game.  I put these text files in the Resources folder under Assets in my project, which allows me to assign them to a TextAsset List that I defined in my LevelManager.  I added new parsing code which loops over each line in the text file (rows) and each character in every line (columns).  Based on the row and column position, the clock is Instantiated in the appropriate location.  It’s always important to subtract the row from total rows in the files, otherwise the level layout will be upside down.

Adding a Next Level button was a trivial change.  I added a new function in my Level Manager to handle incrementing the level number, which loops back to zero if it is equal to or greater than the level List size.  I also added a function which deletes all of the objects that are children of the Room object, which is the parent of all of the objects that are Instantiated for a specific instance of a level (the clocks, the cannon, etc).

Another problem that arose from the new level layouts is that sometimes the balls would get stuck between two clocks.  I added code which compared the velocity of the RigidBody of the ball to Vector3.zero (not moving), and destroyed the ball if those are equal.  That worked at first, but I found that when the level restarted, all of the balls were being destroyed.  Apparently on the first Update, the ball’s velocity was getting returned as zero.  To solve this, I added a countdown, which added Time.deltaTime for every frame that the velocity is zero.  Otherwise, it would set the coutdown back to zero (the ball is moving).  Once the countdown reaches a defined value (I used 1f, which is one second) then the ball is destroyed.  I need to go back and add a puff of smoke (probably the same one that I used for the cannon) when the ball is destroyed, so that it doesn’t look like the ball magically disappears.

Dream Build Play – Graphical Updates

There’s only a little more than two weeks left in the Dream Build Play 2017 competition.  I’ve been really busy between work, the Ludum Dare 40 competition, hosting and editing the Knoxville Game Design podcast, and visiting fellow game developers in Lexington, Kentucky.  However, I did manage to find some time tonight to spend working on my Dream Build Play entry called Turn Back the Clocks 4.

I really didn’t update any of the gameplay tonight, and I solely focused on making the graphical user interface stand out.  The first thing on the laundry list in my head was to display the individual points scored for each clock hit.  This is the ball score (5 points for blue, 10 points for red, and 25 points for yellow) multiplied by the current combo.  I really need to add a screen which explains the points system.  Now whenever a clock is hit, the associated score is displayed below the total score and scrolls downward and fades out.  The score text is also the same color as the ball which hit it, so the player can see the score made from one of the bonus (red or yellow) balls.

One problem that I noticed was that the blue text was too difficult to read.  I ended up picking a lighter shade of blue on the Shades of Blue Wikipedia page called Crayon blue, which is #1F75FE in hex or (31, 117, 254) in RGB.  The Unity color selector for the Text component accepted the hex value, but I had to remember to divide those three values by 255 to set the light color in code in Unity, because the Color object expects the RGB values to be floats in the range of 0f to 1f.  I also updated the blue in the clock texture to match accordingly.  I made constant Color variables in my Ball class to hold the red, blue, and yellow ball colors.  This way if I ever need to change the color again, I’m only need to update the color in the Ball constant.

Another change was making the board color lighter.  This made the balls and activated clocks stand out better, but I also had to darken the color of the inactive clocks which were already light gray.  Since the board used the same material as the title text, I duplicated that material.  I haven’t found a way to duplicate materials in the Unity editor, so I just have to select the material and display in explorer, and then copy and paste the material.  Now the title screen has a copy of the material, which I made a golden color.  I disabled the material normal map for the title text, because it looked too gritty.  I also updated the title mesh in Blender, and lined up the Y coordinates of the front vertices of the mesh.  I could see artifacts of the triangles in the light which looked bad.  Lining up the vertices can be done in Blender by scaling by zero on the Y axis.  It still really didn’t look the way I wanted, so I selected the front faces and turned off smooth shading, which fixed the problem.

Going back to the graphical user interface, I thought that the “PERFECT” display looked really plain.  I ended up writing a simple script which scaled the text in and out on the X axis.  I set variables to track if the scale is expanding or contracting along with the rate, minimum, and maximum scale values.  Once the scale value hits one of those boundaries, I flip the sign of the rate value which is multiplied by Time.deltaTime.  I also made the perfect text green, so it stands out from everything else on the screen.  When all of the clocks are enabled, I also added a 20000 score display in green to the the scrolling score values.  There is a slight problem in that the 20000 score displays at the same time as the score of the last clock hit, so it overlaps it.  However, I think that is fine as long as the 20000 score is on top, which is more significant.

The last interface change I made was to the combo display.  I broke the word “Combo” and the multiplier display into two separate text objects.  That way I could keep the size of the “Combo” text the same and scale the size of the multiplier text.  Using some math, I made it so that when the combo value is displayed or incremented, it is twice the regular size, and scales down to normal size during the combo period.  I thought that this emphasized the point that the combo expired over time.

There are a few more changes that I want to make before the competition is over.  I want to add different configurations of the clocks.  I’m not sure if I’m going to do that programmatically or define the layouts in a data file.  I may just have the player play through each of the levels sequentially, but it would be nice if I had a level select screen, with target scores for each of the levels.  If I did that, then I would need to update my leaderboard PHP code and MySQL database to accept scores for different levels on a game.  It wouldn’t be that difficult of a change to make, and it would definitely be useful for leaderboards in my other games.  Games with just one leaderboard could just set the level number to a default value like 0 and just ignore it.

I would also like to include a few more mini-game bonuses like a slots that are enabled if you meet certain conditions.  I’m not sure if that would be when a ball falls in a certain area (like in pachinko) or if it’s enabled when all of the clocks are activated.  I think the extras would all be based on luck, such as spinning a wheel for a bonus.  It would just be something a little different to break up shooting and watching the bouncing balls.

Dream Build Play – A Change in Plans

This is the last few weeks of the Dream Build Play 2017 competition, and I’ve decided to put my action-RPG game Myriad on hold.  The game just has too far to go in order to make it a completed game and respectable entry.

In it’s place, I’ve decided to make Turn Back the Clocks 4 my Dream Build Play entry.  Honestly, I’ve enjoyed playing it more than any of the other games I’ve created.  I started working on the game in early November, so using it does not break any rules of the Dream Build Play competition.  Plus, there’s a story that goes along with the development game, since it was originally created for the 0hGame jam in an hour.

I’ve spent the past few weeks improving the gameplay and graphics.  I feel like there’s just a little more to do to make it a complete game.  I need to fix the way the balls move in the line as they are shot.  Right now, each ball just targets the position to where it needs to move, but that doesn’t work correctly when the balls are shot rapidly.  I would also like to have the score display for each clock hit, in the color corresponding to the ball which hit it.

The game already has leaderboards implemented, so I’ll just need to remove the screen with text entry to use the XBoxLive services.  I still plan on using my own host to store the leaderboard information, so I’ll just pass the user’s gamertag and score to the leaderboard function.

I also need to do some small changes to graphics.  I want to make the board a little lighter, so that the balls stand out better.  Then I will need to make the inactive clocks darker, so that they stand out against the board.

Modifying the controls to work on XBox One shouldn’t be too big of a problem.  I’ll just need to assign button input events to each of the buttons, like I did with my Kitty’s Adventure game.