Thursday, September 19, 2019

Prototype

I was wondering if I could combine Oregon Trail with zombies in an action oriented RPG with some comical storyline. Take Zombie Guard, and place characters on a moving vehicle, on their way to some place during the apocalypse while blasting away. It has multiplayer potential.

Some inspiration for mechanics came from Swamp Attack, zOMGies 2, and theme ideas came from movies like Zombieland and others.

Zombieland (2009)

zOMGies 2

Swamp Attack


But this essentially becomes two games in one - action, and strategic resource management. I would have to please both crowds. Players who want action don't want to conserve ammo, and players who want to manage resources may not be fond of the action.

I created a prototype for this anyways. But I was not really feeling it. These ideas can work, but it does not suit me well.

Prototype

I will at least keep the projectile system, which utilizes many powerful Unity components. I'm having fun extending it with bitwise flags for other behavior like seeking, piercing, bouncing, splitting, etc. So, now I consider just creating an arcade shooter, focusing heavily on projectiles and perhaps some gun crafting system for ridiculous weapons.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Sci-Fi

Some of these interface packs work well with screen effects:

Original


With modified screen effects

It looks even better live because of the animations. Combined with sci-fi audio clips and deep atmospheric sounds, the "mood" of the game has been established quickly. Eventually I could add in a parallax atmospheric background of earth too.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Resources

I try to be resourceful. As a solo developer, it is too expensive to draw and program everything. More of my time needs to be dedicated to design which is the most critical part.

I've had a flood of ideas. Wild and crazy ones, including one where you play as the AI for a robotic voice system like Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa in a family home in the suburbs. It could play as a time management or puzzle game, or just have an interesting story depending if you cooperate with the "humans".

..But the demand for a sequel to Zombie Guard is high. It would still be hard to create this, as it involves many assets and content. But at least I would not have to iterate nonstop on design, never being fully satisfied to give myself the green light.


At first I was playing around with some mobile-friendly low-poly models. The idea was to create an escape room game, perhaps like a tower with 101 floors in a strange Myst like atmosphere. Perhaps after a few hours I just wasn't feeling it. I do not have a passion for escape room games, beyond a few I played recently.


So I attached some of the wonderful screen effects that I have available, just to see possibilities.

I question if a "Zombie Guard 2" could take place in these environments. Or in the least, these environments could be utilized as a replacement for menu screens for options like weapon and character improvements. A safe house could be upgraded, and visually seen in these settings.

Possibly, I may include multiplayer. This was a highly requested feature which despite being a technical challenge, would delight many players and increase the number of downloads through word of mouth.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Gem Heroes

The new game has been titled "Gem Heroes" and is in closed beta. I will release it to the public after a few more tests and adjustments.







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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Gameplay Video

Things are coming together. I'm able to play through the entire game with only a few outstanding issues. I'm fairly satisfied with the difficulty curve of the game, now to just balance individual skills and weapons.

Here is a gameplay video of all four boss fights:


Gems on the board get swapped spontaneously because of special hats worn by the heroes. For example, the pirate's hat changes 1-2 gems to coins each time damage is received.

The fourth and final boss may seem weak, but that scythe attack does random damage so luck plays a role. Plus, only two heroes can be part of this battle, unless the war banner trinket is used for an additional hero. The tortoise is very useful here, because of the ability to temporarily polymorph any enemy into a harmless sheep.

A general strategy is to pick and choose heroes, hats, and weapons that turn gems into a specific type to feed a particular hero for special attacks. To avoid monotony, some stages feature enemies that are immune to certain damage. However, the jagged blade that removes all armor of an enemy will eventually allow any strategy to prevail.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Single-frame Bugs

The past couple weeks have been very busy. There have been many changes and bug fixes. Changing one thing often can break or require a necessary design change with another feature.

For example jagged blade special gems destroy all armor of a random enemy, which nullifies the usefulness of the Tiger's ability to destroy armor of a targeted creature. I opted to keep the jagged blade, and change this Tiger's skill to something else.


The code that evaluates the board for matches was revised a couple times too. There are many ways gems on the board can be manipulated, so I had to insert the proper checks to ensure they can be hijacked and controlled by some other routine. Otherwise, bugs can occur where gems overlap during complex chain reactions, some of which are difficult to test because it all can occur in a single frame where order of execution matters.

There was also a very rare bug where bunnies and enemies in the main screen were not moving correctly. I think I narrowed this down to a single-frame bug, where a certain component for movement being destroyed was attempting to be reused for new behavior. It would get destroyed anyways, causing these creatures to stay put. This is potentially fixed, by checking if the component is being destroyed which I flag manually. Destroying a component at least sets enabled to false immediately, which can be an alternative way to check but can provide false positives of being destroyed.

The rest of the fixes were easy and straight forward, like updating the user interfaces. There are still bugs, but at least I have been able to play through the entire game on fast-forward mode, while adjusting the difficulty curves.

I really admire how references to GameObjects in Unity are set to null automatically. I strongly prefer this over the other approach where objects stay alive until all references are set to null, which can cause annoying memory leaks. However, the GameObjects are not set to null immediately, so a proper check is to check if null, and, use the overridden Equals method. This detail can be very important in some cases.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Tutorial

...Oh yeah, I needed an introductory tutorial too. This was relatively easy. I just had to be careful in preventing the player from tapping the wrong objects or triggering unwanted events. It must work 100% correctly, because these are the first two minutes of the game and first impressions can matter.


The tortoise and tiger can only be unlocked as an in-app purchase, so this tutorial also serves as a demonstration of two of the strongest heroes.

I kept this tutorial brief and included a skip button. Other important features will be shown as tips during the first few battles. For example, double tapping an enemy will make it the primary target, or, tap and holding any creature will reveal important details.

Hard work everyday for August. I'm in crunch mode to finish this. It is a priority, as I bring everything together and create a trailer video to present to potential publishers.

I already have art, music, and content licensed for my 18th game. I'm going to continue using Unity for tech, as there is no justifiable reason to switch.