Anya Nov 23, 2013 Blog, MagNets 0 Comments

Anya, as usual, here slightly later in the week bring you week 3 of dev. The title on our goal board this week was Gameplay. Like so:

MagNets Goal Board 18-11-13

Our goal was to make one level that you could play through to success (or terrible shaming failure), so that we can make some systems, highlight many issues/questions/fun problems to solve, experiment with workflow and generally just try and make some visible progress so we feel warm inside. Obviously, over the next six and a half months, said level may be completely transformed, reworked or just plain thrown out… in fact, I’d say it’s fairly likely.

Here’s how we did, according to the board:

1. “Basic gameplay elements in 1 level” – done. Because I was careful not to be too specific about how many, or any nonsense like that. Although what we have is: three different spawners that spawn, with activate and deactivate anims, conveyor belts that move things, forcefields, blowy fans that blow things, acid pits, destructible and the Recycletron (although the last three were mostly last week)…. and some currently non-working elements like an electromagnet, robot arms (although they do have an idle animation), nano-assembly machines, and bits to spawn at the end of conveyor belts to go through the nano-assemblers and then die at the other end.
2. “Basic level progression” – Will has been writing a state system for this very purpose.
3. “Game loop” – I do believe that there is much brokenness in the game loop still, but Richard has been cleaning stuff up and generally bug-hunting. We don’t, at the moment, have a “you lose” UI screen. Generally a neglected area since we don’t have to deal with the UI much.
4. “Build and texture a level” – not an ambitious goal on paper but how exactly we’re going to put levels together (and make them look awesome) is still a fairly big question. I have been experimenting, which mostly involves a lot of knocking out lots and lots of things in Blender, sticking them in Unity, wincing, and then fiddling with them until they work better. Which is pretty much my favourite thing to do.
My nemesis at the start of the week was texturing, due to the unique experience of learning my texturing skills whilst simultaneously working on an almost fully-procedural tech demo for Mystery Enterprises (which I do need to blog about at some point, once I have ascertained how vague I am obliged to be – bah!) The conventional texturing techniques weren’t viable options and it was crazy-hard to get anything to look even a little bit nice. But with the straightforward Blender->Unity->Fiddle with in Blender/Photoshop->Unity->Repeat until not-awful workflow, things are less bleak. I have also been playing with shaders as we now have many.
5. “Switch to navmesh”: I think this was a pretty straightforward job swapping out the non-navmesh bot prefabs for the navmesh ones – check.
6. “Richard: Camera” – this was about having a camera we can call the ‘official’ camera so that I can build models and levels and such in a way that co-operates a bit with said camera,… but that also has lots of dev functions. That’s sorted. We also wanted a camera event in the One Level, but I don’t think that’s happening this week.

I think I’m missing some things out that have been done that weren’t on the board, but I’d have to grill the coders to figure it out and it’s getting late! But in summary: our goal for the week is basically met. Things are pretty broken in some places, and things are not hooked up that would have been nice to have done, and nothing is totally beautiful yet, and I really wanted to make a video of the level in action this afternoon… but these things will be done another week!

It’s not too bad at all, though, considering we spent some time on Wednesday discussing Iliara, and have had builders directly under the office all week making lots of machinery noise! Onward, to next week!

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