Well, I’m officially home for the semester, so you know what that means! Time to reflect and let you in on what I’ve been up to! Cause it’s a lot!
Game Design Analysis Blog
The first thing I want to show is my most recent blog post from my design analysis blog. The post is about my favorite bits of game design brilliance from 2017. I talk about a variety of games, but I go decently in-depth on some of the games. It’s my first thing I’ve spent a lot of time on, writing-wise, for a while, and I’m super proud of it. In fact, I tweeted it out to the developers of the games I talked about, and Team Cherry, creators of Hollow Knight, as well as Jerome Braune, senior systems dsigner on Dishonored 2 and Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, retweeted it, which brought a ton of new readers to my site. You can find the blog post here.
Principles of Game Design
As a designer, this class finally helped me grasp the best ways step-by-step to making a game, and I was able to not only build and prototype 5 games in 5 weeks, but I also went through the whole process of making a game from conception to execution.
My final game is this: Sixteen Second Smoothies! The game is a designed-for-mobile but currently only available on PC game where the player takes on the role of an employee at a smoothie shop that uses trash in their smoothies to save money. You can find a bit more in-depth info about the game on it’s page here.
The timetables involved in the creation of the game include:
- 1 week to design the game and create a physical prototype of it
- ~2 weeks to refine the game, create initial documentation, and create a more professional physical prototype
- 5-6 weeks to create a finished digital prototype/final game and to fully document it
The process was rigorous because the entire workload for the game was put onto me, in addition to work for my other classes, but my good time management meant that my last week of development was purely spent making quality of life changes and fixing bugs. Most of the class remained in half-finished prototype form, so I was very proud of the work I put into the game.
Game Tech I
For a class meant to teach me Unity, this course let me down because of our teacher not seeming to have a clue on the fact most students didn’t know what they were doing. The only reason I did well in that class, for sure, is because of my prior work with Unity. We spent the first ten weeks developing five projects alongside lessons, and then we had about 4 weeks to work on a rough prototype of whatever we wanted to make, in order to show off what we had learned.
Because I was so swamped with work from my other classes, mainly my work on Sixteen Second Smoothies, I didn’t put as much time into this project as I would have liked. My final game was Dogpile, a 2D platformer where you play as two dogs that are stuck taped back-to-back and must maneuver through levels using each other’s abilities to reach the scissors that will free them. The dogs have different abilities depending on which dog is on top and which is on the bottom, and they can be flipped at any time. The levels mainly consist of platforming challenges that utilize the abilities in a puzzle-lite way.
It isn’t anything particularly special or innovative of a game, but I tried to make it fun to control the dogs. Something I wanted to include from the beginning was the ability for the dogs not only to bark objects away from them, but to bark against walls in order to propel the dogs across gaps. It was a bit finicky to get to work, but it was easily the feature that people who played enjoyed the most. I really tried to utilize it in fun ways later in the levels. I basically used this prototype as a way to determine where I am at scripting, and while I still have a lot to learn, I definitely have a really solid foundation.
The end of the semester wrapped up my general programming knowledge, as next semester I jump head-first into graphics programming and game architecture, but I definitely feel like I have a great base in C++ which will hopefully develop as I keep programming. I got a 95 on the final test, and a 100 on my final project.
My project was to create anything we wanted, as long as it utilized certain things we had learned from the semester, like polymorphic hierarchies and pointers, and created an output log file of some form. My project ended up as a game library where games could be entered by either file or text entry, and the library would store its name, genre, platform of initial release, and a cool fact about the game depending on its genre. All data about a game could be displayed, and games could be outputted to a text file in groupings of platform or genre. It wasn’t too difficult to create, but it certainly took a lot of time and it helped me make sure that I understood the semester’s lessons (pointers are pretty hard to fully understand at first.)
So what’s next? Well for the winter break, I plan to make a few changes to Sixteen Second Smoothies to make it a bit more engaging of a game, write a bit more for my side blog, and catch up on shows and games I didn’t get a chance to experience this year while I was busy.
As for next semester, I have 2 design courses and 2 programming courses, including level design, modern graphics programming, game architecture, and a production class that lets me get back together with the artists, programmers, and producers to make games. I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made this semester, but I’m very excited for next semester and to finally get back into a team environment. Until next time!