Monday, April 10, 2017

A Unity Refresher

This week I decided to take some time off developing Billy Carts to focus on honing my Unity skills and learn more about the Unity editor. I have to admit I'm quite rusty from the time I spent away from Unity focusing on finishing up Ultra Dash, my Swift game.

And, despite having made quite a few games in my time, I'm not too proud to admit that I have a bit to learn still when it comes to Unity!!

So, rather than slogging on with Billy Carts and constantly googling "how do I do this in Unity again?" I've taken on the task of redoing some tutorials and going over some Unity resources.

As well as the excellent tutorials on the Unity site, I've also started redoing the tutorials from Ben Tristem's Learn to Code by Making Games course on Udemy.

Easy to follow video tutorials that will get you up and running in no time.

I'll also be revisiting his Game Physics - Introducing Gravitation & Rotation in Unity course to get the physics parts of my brain back into shape.

A great course to get your head around physics.

Redoing these tutorials is not only giving me a quick refresher in Unity but it's also exposing me to things I missed the first time around - like neat little short cuts and useful  keyboard commands.

My other source of reference for the next few days is the excellent Unity Games by Tutorials by the tutorial team. 
Unity Games by Tutorials book cover
These are great books to make sure you get off on the right foot.
Ray Wenderlich makes some great books that you can either buy as books or as PDFs and the cool thing is they actually update them as things change. The Unity Games book for example, has recently been updated to take into account new stuff in Unity 5.5. 

While I like to have physical books as reference next my computer to leaf through, the knowledge that the PDFs won't be out of date within a few months is a good consolation.

What are your favourite Unity learning resources? 

Any must have books or online courses that make learning Unity a breeze? 

Let me know!


Thursday, April 06, 2017

Back on Track!

So, Ultra Dash is done and dusted. Its approved for the App Store and is waiting for release on the 12th of April. I managed to do a few more minor tweaks in the last week, adding back the watch video functionality that I had removed previously.  I figured that launch time is when I'll get most traffic and it would be stupid of me to not have the option to let players watch videos to earn coins and unlock new characters and levels faster.
I added back the ability to watch video ads to earn coins!

I've also done an update to Snappy Word, adding a new game mode and fixing some crash bugs that I found using the crash reports that users submitted.
Sort mode is a new addition to Snappy Word

Now I'm getting used to programming in C# again after using Swift for the last month or two! I'm sure it won't take long to remember to keep adding semi-colons at the end of every line...

In much the same way that having time away from Ultra Dash helped me look at the game in a new light, having the break from Billy Carts has given me some new thoughts on the game.

The game play right now is very similar to Faily Brakes - you steer your cart as it careens down the hill avoiding stuff and collecting coins. It's a fun formula that has done extremely well for Spunge Games!
Billy Carts is currently a down hill runner
Given the power of Unity and the ability to rapidly prototype stuff and change things like camera angles and lighting it would be remiss of me to not take advantage of this and try out some new ideas.

First thing I'd like to try is changing the procedurally generated hill to a procedurally generated plane, so instead of just rolling down the hill, how would it feel to drive in any direction? This would change the end game parameters which are currently stay on the track and avoid stuff - and might make the game feel too easy - but it's something I'd like to do.

I did a prototype of something similar before Christmas and it scared the bejesus out of Pete and myself. The prototype relied on building an entire world (mocked up by grey cubes) which would have meant lots of unique art assets from Pete.

But in the meantime I've had some ideas on other ways to do it that wouldn't require building an entire unique world - so I'm going to see if this new approach works. It may well suck, but I have to try!

My approach moving forward with Billy Carts will be to take a more organic approach to trying out stuff, seeing what works and following those "fun" paths. I'm painfully aware of feature creep so I will attempt to stick to the core pillars of:

  1. Avoid stuff
  2. Collect coins
  3. Survive as long as you can to rack up the most points

So please join me us as we go on this slightly altered journey to seek out new fun.

Given my experience with beta testing using TestFlight for Ultra Dash and Snappy Word, I definitely want to start testing as soon as I have something playable. So if you're keen, send your Apple ID email to support AT redspritestudios DOT com.

- Johnno