Fall 2018 GameDev Challenge: Frogger – Post-mortem

November is coming to an end and that means the fall challenge from GameDev.net is ending. I wanted to start taking part in these challenges as a way to continue flexing my gamedev muscles, but sadly the gamedev muscles aren’t the ones that apparently need flexing.

The challenge that was going on this fall was to recreate Fogger. That is straight forward, but still has enough room to let you be creative. I decided that I was going to go with an old-school style of gameplay, but with bug graphics instead of the traditional frog. I wanted to mix the old and the new.

Since I am not very talented with graphics, I turned to Game Developer Studio, as always for projects like this. I his art style and it gets the graphics done in a hurry for me. Win-win!

I didn’t allocate time for this challenge, but was planning on just working on it when I had time. Big mistake…

The gameplay was a bit interesting to get done. I wanted to have the jumping movement that the retro versions have. This is easy enough since I can just change the position of the game object. The only issue that this brought was with collision detection. A quick raycast, however, takes care of that problem. The next problem was the top half of the level where you wanted to jump onto the moving obstacles instead of missing them. Here, I created a game object “death zone” and had the obstacles be moving safe zones. This is the only part of the gameplay that isn’t done yet.

Lets talk about the “isn’t done yet” part now. Life happens. That is a given and there is nothing you can do about it. I didn’t allocate time for this challenge, but was planning on just working on it when I had time. Big mistake. I honestly thought there was more than enough time to get everything done. I thought that I would be able to finish it up in about 8 hours and since I had a month and half to finish there was no point sweating it. I was wrong.

For the next challenge I think it will suffice to have 2 hours during the week and 2 hours on the weekend. I don’t have a lot of time between my full time job, my family, and my other random activities that I do. 4 hours a week should be possible though. I suppose I will have to put it in my calendar.

The other issue that I had was with the planning. It was a smaller project so I didn’t see the point in laying out a plan. That was also a big mistake. Feature creep is a real thing and it is ugly, especially in a small project. I have a todo list that keeps my entire life in order and on track, and I will definitely use that for the next challenge.

It was a smaller project so I didn’t see the point in laying out a plan. That was also a big mistake…

All in all, it was a great learning experience. I have never done anything like this before and I think it has helped show me what I need to improve upon for next time. There will be a next time!

Until then….enjoy!

Capstone First Draft of the Design Document

Although I’m not going to share it with you here, the first draft of our design document for Cliff Climber is 99% done. A quick spit shine and it will be ready to turn in. Why is this important? Let me tell you.

The design document is the description of the game and mechanics that we have planned for it at this point. It is 40 pages of us describing how this game should look, act, and feel. It is also a living document that grows and matures throughout the development process.

For us, this design document is a way for us to articulate our view of the game that we will make over the coming months. Since we have a hard deadline for finishing each step of the development process we need to have a clear vision and clear milestones. That is what we think we have created and, pending instructor approval, that is what we are going to base our game on.

Next step is production planning and revisions to the document based on instructor feedback. Like I said, this is a living document.

Founding of the Just Us League

This month I have started work on my capstone project for Full Sail University. This is going to take up the vast majority of my time for the next several months, right up until graduation. I am so excited to be this far and can’t wait to see this game come together!

The project started off by being assigned to a group. I was lucky enough to get grouped with a great group of guys who have all hit the ground running. Sadly, the only roadblock that we have hit up to now has been me. I am currently on a vacation with my family that couldn’t be moved, but I am still doing everything I can with the limited amount of internet that I have to get my two cents added in.

The group has decided to call itself the Just Us League. We started off with CLAPP since the first letters of our last names can be used to spell CLAPP. Even though the name changed, however, we are still going with the original logo that we had for CLAPP. Everyone loves a good inside joke!

Aside from that, however, it has been smooth sailings. We are working on a climbing game that is most likely going to be in a 2.5d perspective. You will be able to find parts that can be built into temporary gear upgrades, tokens that can lead to bonus levels, and dangers galore. More on this later though.

Now, however, I have to get back to work on this thing and get back to my vacation. Five more months and this degree will be finished. That means five more months of stress, late nights, and far too much caffeine. The end is near!

Interesting Game Mechanic Homework

This week for my Game Mechanics course at Full Sail University we had a discussion assignment. This means that we had to post to a discussion board and then discuss other peoples submissions. The topic this time was that we had to chose one mechanic each from the five lists that we were given and then create a basic game based on the mechanic and a randomly generated game name. This turned out to be a lot of fun and I wanted to share my creations with you.

Please note that the mechanics listed are from the pre-defined lists that we were working from this week. I might have used others that make more sense with the general concept of the game, but since I wanted to get a good grade I stuck with what the instructor was expecting of us. Also, it was just a discussion post, not a fully fledged design assignment. The main point was to flex a little creative muscle, rather than put all my heart and soul into the MDA framework.

  • Timer
    • The Secret Weapon of the Night Theater
    • Synopsis: The Vampires have been losing their fight against the humans for thousands of years. What makes them think that they can win this time? Their secret weapons is one of such might that they risk open warfare in order to put it in place. Can the human race withstand this latest threat? Will mankind be able to put their differences aside to win? What is this secret weapon that has given the vampires such confidence? Only one way to find out!
    • MDA Breakdown
      • Mechanics
        • Timer
        • Attack
        • Steal
        • Disperse
        • Command
      • Dynamics
        • Turn based strategic placement of units.
        • During combat, player takes control the commander on the field
        • During strategy mode, the player can harvest recourses and build new units.
      • Aesthetics
        • Controlling the commander during battles will have the player be more emotionally involved in the outcome.
        • Seeing the units in action will help the player decide what kind they want to build.
  • Attack
    • Silent Pony in Middle-Earth
    • Synopsis: It is never a good thing being trapped in Middle-Earth. Being trapped there as a pony is even worse. What about as a pony that can’t even talk? It doesn’t get much worse than that. The Hobbits are the only ones that really understand a Pony and his many complicated needs. That is why you are trying to make your way to Hobbiton, home of the best of the Hobbits!
    • MDA Breakdown
      • Mechanics
        • Shuffle/Randomize
        • Attack
        • Defend
        • Resign
        • Win/Lose
      • Dynamics
        • Enemy placement, strength, and frequency is 90% randomized
        • Attack and defense take place in a separate Final Fantasy style combat setting
        • Player can surrender in battle and be taken to an enemy keep
        • If player can’t escape the enemy keep in time they will lose
        • If the player dies in combat they will also lose
      • Aesthetics
        • The option to surrend will add a new option to combat.
        • The time limit to escape the enemy keep will make the player scared of that option, but the chance that escape is possible will still leave it as a viable one.
  • Defend
    • Jamaican Arcade Siege
    • Synopsis: The aliens are back and this time they are attacking Jamaica! Take control of green, yellow, and black tank and sends those aliens to an early grave. In this sequel to Space Invaders you are once again fighting to defend earth from an alien menace, but this time you are on the beach. Watch out for sandcastles and defend your planet!
    • MDA Breakdown
      • Mechanics
        • Destroy/Erase
        • Attack
        • Defend
        • Resign
        • Win / Lose
      • Dynamics
        • Destruction of the aliens is the main objective of the game
        • This is done through directly attacking them
        • If overwhelmed, the player can hide behind the sandcastles
        • If the player surrenders, they lose the game.
      • Aesthetics
        • The reggae music will calm the player while the descending aliens will cause excitement
        • Due to the connection between beach and vacation, the player will have more incentive to save it.
  • Memorize / Recall
    • Scottish Banjo Operation
    • Synopsis: As the lone Scotsman that is capable of playing the Banjo it falls to you to find the treasure hidden in the Ozarks. If you can make it through, the wealth that you will find will allow your entire clan to retire and concentrate on making the best darn Scotch the world has ever seen.
    • MDA Breakdown
      • Mechanics
        • Timer
        • Collect
        • Toggle
        • Memorize / Recall
        • Trade
      • Dynamics
        • Each puzzle that the player encounters has a limited amount of time to solve it
        • The player will collect puzzle pieces to open certain doors
        • Opening some doors may close others.
        • At least half the puzzles will be based on playing back a tune on your banjo
        • The player can trade the moonshine that they find for money.
      • Aesthetics
        • The player will have NPCs with them sometimes playing bagpipes. The contrast will emphasize the comedic nature of the quest
        • The player will get hints about the treasure to keep them interested.
  • Command
    • The Last Battleship of Fury
    • Synopsis: The ancient Fury Dynasty has fallen on hard times. The aggressors from New Zealand have been battering the fleet and harassing the villagers on the coast. With the New Zealand fleet making a massive advance on the archipelago off the coast, it is the perfect chance for the final Battleship that the Fury have to do some damage. Will it be enough?
    • MDA Breakdown
      • Mechanics
        • Destroy
        • Collect
        • Defend
        • Consume
        • Command
      • Dynamics
        • The goal is to destroy as many enemy ships as you can
        • After a ship is destroyed you can collect debris from it
        • If you are defending when you are attacked you will take less damage
        • You can use the debris that was collected to make repairs or upgrade your ship
        • You command the ship without taking direct control of it.
      • Aesthetics
        • The choice between repairs or upgrades seems easy, but the first time the player dies because they have no debris for repairs they will realize the gravity of the decision
        • One against the world puts some pressure on the player to not let everyone down.


Disclaimer: Full Sail University is aware of this post and any attempts to copy it or reuse it as your own will most likely be noticed. Plagiarism is never ok. Flex those creative muscles and have fun doing this for yourself!

The Orc is on the Loose

Peak a BooWell, it was quiet but it still happened. An Orcish Kind of Hero is once again available to purchase on Itch.IO. With this release, I am trying something new.

It is a standard model these days that you can buy a partially completed game and then you get downloadable content to finish it off. This is not a bad thing, but usually DLC costs money. I am going to switch things up a little bit. An Orcish Kind of Hero is being sold for $0.99 and it currently contains 10 fully playable levels. Here is where things get interesting.
All updates for the game, for the entire life of the game, are going to be offered for free. The price of the game, however, is going to change as it grows. There is no set model for how often the price will increase, or by how much, but it will happen from time to time. What this means is that you can buy the game now for $0.99 and watch it grow, or you can wait until it has 100 levels and then get the game for $9.99 (values are examples and not price guarantees). The choice is yours.

End of Level TotemNo matter when you buy it though, I would love to hear what you think of it. Use #OrcishHero on twitter to talk about it or drop a message on the Mordavian’s Games facebook page. If you send me a link to a Let’s Play video on YouTube I might even help spread the word. Who knows what might happen!

This Just in! One Man Team Creates World of Warcraft!

Or maybe not. Remembering your resources, and setting a reasonable scale can be one of the most important things you do when creating a game. If you are working alone, I am going to go out on a limb and say it would be difficult to create a replacement for World of Warcraft in the next 4 weeks.

It is hard telling how many projects I have seen that haven’t been finished. It wasn’t for lack of effort and it wasn’t for lack of passion. It was usually for lack of planning. Most of them were hobby projects that were staffed by volunteers. Then life happened.

building blocksThis is one of the main reasons that I recommend Scrum to most hobby teams that I talk to. This allows, if done properly, for the project to be broken up into bite sized pieces. This has a two fold effect. First off, it makes the project seem more manageable. You don’t have to create and entire world. You only have to take these pieces that are already completed and make a city. You don’t have to make 42 different kinds of buildings while designing an entire metropolis. You only have to create one building. Secondly, if someone has to leave mid project, you can ask them to finish that bite sized chunk that they are working on. Since it is such a small chunk, this seems like a very reasonable request. Once that chunk is done, then they can leave without having too profound an impact on the rest of the project as a whole.

Scrum, like I said, is about bite sized chunks. The idea being that at the end of each “story”, or chunk, should be a self contained chunk. In terms of Unity, this could be creating a Prefab for a building, or for completing a script. The Prefab or the script doesn’t have to be used anywhere, but it should be completed, tested, and ready to be used. If, for whatever reason, you can’t break something down to a bite sized chunk then most likely you don’t really understand what you are attempting to do. Remember, a story shouldn’t be creating a city from the ground up but rather there should be stories for the building prefabs and later another where you are simply using the prefabs that are all created and ready to go to create the city.

Long story short, look at the building blocks, not the model.

Language? Sprache? Idioma? Lingvo?

So you have put some thought into a game engine. Congrats! The next step involves even more decisions. What programming language will be used? C#, Lua, Assembly, Java, Boo, Mindfuck, or something else all together?

There are really two ways to look at this problem. You can either pick a language based on the game engine you want to use, or you can pick an engine based on the language you want to use. This all comes back to the age old question; “What are you trying to accomplish with your game?” If you are trying to show what you can do as a developer then pick the language or tool that you are trying to showcase. If you are a designer, then pick the tool that will allow you to show your craft without focusing on the programming too much. If you are both, then just have some fun!

c#If you only want to learn one language, then I would have to recommend C#. The reason for this is the documentation. This language is pushed heavily by Microsoft and it is used in both game development and business programming. This leads to tutorials about game development, software architecture, design patterns, the language basics, and so much more. There are even tutorials showing up within days of new versions coming out, if not earlier.

c++One of the other big languages in game development would be either C++, although this language is getting a little bit dated, or if you are looking at the online side of game development then PHP. Both of these have a lot of content that can help you start moving on the educational road to mastery. The main downside to C++ is that it is very complicated and it is not being actively advanced as a language. The downside for PHP is that it only really works for online applications. Neither of these are major downsides, but they are still worth noting.

There aren’t really any huge downsides to any language as long as it fits your needs. If you are looking to make a Windows game that should be played completely offline then you should most likely steer clear of using PHP. If you want to Facebook game, then I am not sure that C# is going to be your first choice. It is all about what you want to do and how you want to do it. The world is your playground, but please don’t try skydiving with a scuba tanks!

Choices Screenshot

Orcish Hero - Choices

Here is a quick look at the level “Choices” from “An Orcish Kind of Hero.” Here you can see our hero trying to make his way towards a 1up crystal. This level is going to have a lot of different ways to go, but only one end point. Some will have enemies, others will have near impossible jumps. Will there be dead ends? You will have to check it out when it is done to find out!