What’s Old Is New Again

I started working on an adventure game earlier this week. It’s coming full circle for me, since my start as a professional game developer in the 90’s was working nights and weekends on an adventure game. The tools were different then (Strata 3D, Macromedia/Adobe Director) but much of the process is still the same. Now, like then, it feels like starting a journey. Then it was a journey to figure out how to make a game at all–I’d played around with coding for years but had never actually built anything meant for others to play and experience. This time, it’s a journey to give myself permission to learn, prototype, and explore. In a previous blog post, I wrote about the shift I made over the years that in many ways restricted my sense of freedom and exploration. It’s sometimes a struggle to get that back, but I believe it will happen over time.

I’m starting with the core concept behind the Ludum Dare project: a maze that shifts its state based on the time of day. In Ludum Dare, I had 48 hours to try to accomplish a fairly complex system, and I could only use art and audio created during the challenge. I was also using tools I’d never used before, like Allegorithmic’s Substance Database. Now I have more freedom to use products that give me a head start, even if they provide some starter art (which I can keep or change as I see fit). The products and tools I’m using include:

  • Unity
  • Playmaker (FSM support for Unity)
  • NGUI (UI scripting aid)
  • SimpleSQL (SQLite support for Unity, which I use to save player data)
  • Ultimate FPS Camera (head start toward a smarter set of FPS controls than the Unity prefab)
  • Allegorithmic’s Substance Painter, Bitmap2Material, Substance Designer (will hopefully give me better texture control)
  • Unistorm (day/night cycle plus weather and other features)

I’ve spent the weekend roughing out the prototype area, moving between creating cubes in Unity, adding behaviors, and testing. I have a look-and-feel in mind for this part of the game, and it’s an internal struggle not to stop my concept exploration to start modeling and texturing. There’s a part of me that knows the layout I’m working on now is not final–the process of creating art and seeing it in the build will refine and in some parts completely change my plans. Letting go of the urge to try to predict the outcome is a key part of this process for me.

Tonight, I’m going to do a quick paper map to plan out the first area to get a little more focused before I continue building in Unity. I’ll follow up with screen shots soon!

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