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Lessons learned from Marco Polo

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Aug 11 2012

Our first project was a mobile game we called Marco Polo. It was a fun idea but the project itself ran afoul of some issues:

1. Horizontal slices are a bad way to do games. Building out a system completely before building any of the things it attaches/talks to causes you to build on top of wrong assumptions that you don’t realize until its too late to go back and change things.

2. Get your game in the hands of outside people as soon as it is feasible playable. There were some pretty glaring things that were caught after having some friends test Marco Polo, but this way down the line and realistically they could have been caught much earlier if we’d worked on getting something playable first and expanded from there.

Assumptions

Both of these things have at their core the same thing, assumptions. It’s impossible to start a project without some base assumptions, or else you may get stuck in analysis paralysis trying to plan for every eventuality. The idea is to minimize the effect these assumptions will have if they are wrong.

Gamedevs, what ways to you reduce the impact of assumptions in your work?

Gamers, what developer assumptions have ruined or hampered a game experience for you?

Fortunes burndown

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Aug 04 2012

So I haven’t updated you all on fortunes in awhile.

I’d been updating testing, documentation, and refactoring a lot recently. Nothing too exciting for the non-developers out there. Recently I’ve been getting back into some UI though and am trying to implement gestures to play a card by sliding it up instead of just tapping on it. Avoid accidental plays this way hopefully.

Getting some odd glitches happening in some corner cases but its working for the most part. What’s left for me to do? In no particular order:

  1. Tutorial(Not sure how necessary this is given the rule set will not be implementing this before making a web-version available)
  2. Audio Sliders: instead of just sound effects music on/off
  3. Respect the sound settings of the phone: This is a pet peeve of mine. If I have my phone on silent I don’t want your game playing music/sound. I feel other people may feel the same way too.
  4. Save Divination: meeting with the client later this month to discuss exactly how this should play out since this portion of the game is more of her thing and is add on/lore/fluff for the game proper.
  5. Possibly go back and try and fiddle with AI some more.

The Audio sliders and the divination part are the main things I will be working on before something gets released(at least that’s the plan) that you all can play. Well that and getting the glitches out of whats already implemented.

Beware the ides of August

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Jul 12 2012

So as some of you may know I’ve been working on the tarot card-game fortunes. It’s been great fun and I’m pretty happy about how it looks now except for the need to replace our stock art with the art our artist comes with. It is getting very near the phase of opening it up and letting you loyal readers hammer away at a web version of it, get any kinks we missed polished up and getting it worked out for iOS and Android.

Since the fluid design is pretty settled at this point I’m going back and doing something I probably should have done in the beginning; unit tests. Honestly I didn’t because I didn’t know much about unit testing for C#/unity as most of my unit test experience is with java/JUnit. I found the documentation of NUnit very useful and the realization that monodevelop had support for NUnit if i just downloaded it to begin with to be promising.

So looking forward to letting you all play fortunes in the next few months!

Fortunes Update — Taking charge of destiny and file systems

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Jun 16 2012

A big challenge I’ve faced recently has to do with data.

“All i see is blonde, brunette, redhead…”

Getting data from non-technical people.

James created this fancy spreadsheet for Barbara to fill out for the divination part of fortunes and only have to deal with one card at a time. After handing me this huge spreadsheet I had to figure out how to get the game to use this data.

Proprietary data formats and multiple build targets

After a little bit of google research I got Unity3d and excel to play nicely and had a pseudo-database set up running pulling in data from multiple sheets in the excel file for various parts of the game. Now if any of the card values needed to change, not just the divinations but card names we could modify the spreadsheet and not worry about changing any of the code. Sounded brilliant but it only worked on a standalone windows player. A web player or android build got stuck repeatedly trying to pull in the data from a class it couldn’t properly access.

You must take your eyes away from the tree before you can see the forest

This image may or may not be a non-sequiter

I spent awhile butting my head over many days trying to get this excel file reading to work on various formats. I was almost ready to set up a PHP script on our site for the web player, but didn’t like having a separate solution for that and for android. Eventually looking at workflowy I realized i was trying to solve the wrong problem. I shouldn’t be trying to read the excel file on these separate platforms. I just need the relevant data from the excel file. Some poking from that angle revealed the Resources class in unity3d. Between a little bit of work condensing the data I need into one sheet, saving that off to a tab delimited text file, and writing some code to parse that file I’ve got the current version of fortunes working with the data on android, windows, and the web player. I don’t have a mac to test that but I’ll probably get my fiancée to test that sometime soon.

Outlook hazy, please try again.

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Jun 13 2012

I’ve been chugging along polishing fortunes. Had an interesting issue with text windows and scrolling because I somewhere down the line changed the input settings in Unity and got scrolling to go the entire text at once.

Once I’m in an OCD enough mood to get the new NGUI interface all aligned properly I’ll share some screenshots. In the mean time for the few of you who have expressed an intrest keeping up with the project: Fortunes

Thanks Sophie Houlden for informing me about workflowy!

Avatar Strength, Luck, and Player Strength

0 Comments | This entry was posted on May 31 2012

I came across an interesting post about different factors of success on reddit today which was pretty thought provoking. Avatar Strength doesn’t have much to do with any games we’ve made as of yet but there is a balance of luck and player skill to fortunes.

 

Earlier on in the project I was concerned about things potentially being too far on the luck side of things for fortunes but James reminded me that it makes sense thematically to be a bit more on the luck side of things for fortunes then I’d normally be comfortable with doing. So yes there is luck to fortunes, but that just makes your victory all the more exciting when you come from behind with poor luck to win anyway.

 

In other news I am almost done with the NGUI overhaul for fortunes, it is looking much better now and I’m getting excited about the progress. Would any of you readers be interested in trying it out before we release it into the wild for a public alpha?

Fortunes update

0 Comments | This entry was posted on May 17 2012

I’ve Been working on using NGUI to update Fortunes.

 

 

 

 

 

The main benefit is that it will be able to automatically scale with resolution so we won’t get awkward overlapping. But it also has some nice handling of drag scrolling that was frustrating me for the cards in hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up will be the most challenging part of the GUI update, handling Tarot Divination layouts. I have some thoughts from looking at some tarot apps and the better scroll handling should allow more flexibility in that regard.

What has been the most interesting tarot deck art you’ve seen? Let us know in the comments.

Balancing on the edge of Survival

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Apr 27 2012

Last week We submitted an entry for edge online‘s Unity3d competition. We had six weeks and dayjobs in the way so we had to scale our original ideas down quite a bit but I think we did fairly well considering the constraints.

Update: I tried to embed the game in this post recently but do to some wordpress issues there were window sizing issues. you can play the game however here.

#if Fortunes … #endif

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Apr 11 2012

No Just Deserts today, been trying to clean up Fortunes so our client can show off what we have so far at RavenCon and at her talk at the library of congress. She wrote up an impressive amount of copy in this ungodly dark magic excel spreadsheet James designed and I’ve had fun wrangling getting unity to read from that. Apparently even if you get it working in the editor that does not mean the excel file will be moved properly when you go to build so I have to copy it manually after building each time. Future task: automate that process.

I additionally have poked around in conditional compiling since our code for saving a divination doesn’t work in a web player which is something we want to be able to do. Just in case you’re trying to do the same thing this page http://unity3d.com/support/documentation/Manual/Platform%20Dependent%20Compilation.html is helpful but not the first thing to come up when I was searching myself.

Food in the desert & asset store

0 Comments | This entry was posted on Apr 03 2012

Just deserts has sent us to our first paid purchase at the unity asset store. Its worked pretty well for our free asset store items so I guess its time to give back to the asset store community.

As far as just deserts is concerned got food implemented and along with that player health. Went ahead and put in the logic for losing the game at 0 health even though nothing can damage you yet. Enemies were supposed to be next up but that didn’t get done because of frustrations with a free model I had found that was far too detailed and got imported poorly to unity and had orientation issues(I could not get it’s forward aligned properly with the mesh.)

My list of things left for Just Deserts.