Sunday, 22 July 2012

Episode 19: Project Monkey - Weeks Fourteen to Eighteen of Development

        Ahem...... Hi guys! Finally I'm through with exams and I can resume work on my game. I know I said I'd post last week (Sunday the 15th) but I had a paper postponed and couldn't write any posts yet. For over a month now, I haven't done any work on the game at all, so progress is right where I left it in the last blog post. I did do the research I said I would do on using Microsoft's XNA Game Studio to make my game, instead of Atari's 3D game Studio. If I work with XNA, I would be able to make the same game for Windows Phone, Windows PC and the XBox360 all with the same lines of code. Almost the same lines of code, with slight adjustments to adjust to things like the touchscreen on phones which isn't available on PC and XBox360, or the pad vibration features on the XBox360 which isn't on the other two platforms.
     I've decided to stick with 3D Game Studio because while it isn't as powerful as XNA, it is much easier to use (emphasis on the much), and I am trying to make a low budget game after all. The thing is XNA isn't a game engine, it's more like a game engine designer. Using XNA, one can make his own template to base his games on. I don't want to bore you with technical jargon, so let me just explain with one example. In Gamestudio, I can use one of the default camera's already present or I can make my own. You know, like the zoomed out camera in soccer games, the first person camera in most shooting games or the third person camera in most adventure games. In XNA however, I would have to create my own camera. Things like this mean that there is a higher level of customization possible in XNA but it will take much longer for me to make a game with XNA. I'll work with XNA when I'm working with a team, but for this solo project, I'ma stick to Gamestudio.
       So this week, I'll reveal one more character and then from next week, I'll start posting screenshots and videos of the gameplay. My younger brother just got back for his summer holidays. He's still in high school and he's the one that's creating all the 3D models that will be used in the game. By "model", I'm referring to a solid object within the game, such as the characters, doors, vegetation, obstacles, etc. I can do the sprites (flat, 2D objects) by myself because they require much less time. So really, work on the game will resume after the time of this writing. I've lost six weeks of work so I'm really pumped about continuing!

      This week's character is Electrizard. I know the name isn't too clever but what the heck! Nomenclature can be a chore. Imagine a humanoid lizard with some metallic body parts. The Lizard from the Amazing Spiderman movie has nothing on him! He can manipulate electricity and magnetism through his body, and of course, he can stick to walls. The major challenge for me in designing him in the game is mimicking the speed and fluidity with which lizards move in real life. I've actually seen a lizard hop over an obstacle while running on the wall in real life before. Hopping over something while running on the ground is normal, but seriously, while on a wall? And it landed on the same wall again! I want to recreate things like this and make it look awesome, not ridiculous. Electrizard's two attacks will be......actually, they should be pretty obvious. He can shoot lightning bolts and he can create a small explosion of electricity around himself, to stun multiple targets. Here's a concept drawing of the last three characters I revealed in a race to the finish line. See if you recognize any of them from episode 15 of this blog.

Edit: I'm sorry, I can't figure out what's wrong with the formatting of this post, I'm sure anyone not viewing the mobile version would have noticed that the font size and color defers between paragraphs. I'll try to rectify this. :( By the way, I am now uploading to this post every Sunday, a link that will give you access to the notes I take in the church service I attend on that Sunday. Happy reading!

                   Update: Seventeen Weeks into Development
           Hey guys! I know you must be getting bored with all the concept art and screenshots I've been posting so today, I'll post some videos for the first time! But first, let me tell you what I've been able to do over the last three weeks. I didn't actually get too much done since I wrote articles for Nigeria's first and only exclusive mobile and entertainment technology resource site, I went on an excursion to Nigeria's Paradise, which I wrote on on this blog, and I've resumed school. But I did manage to get a few things done.
       First, I tweaked the game's camera to make it a little more zoomed out and centered on the player. I realized that the former camera (close up and a off to one side) was better suited to adventure games rather than racing games. Second, I updated the HUD (Heads Up Display) to make every character's energy gauge unique. Third, I added a mini-map to the bottom left of the screen. Ok, it's really just a top-view screen for now, but I'll improve it later. Finally, I was able to spend a week at home (that was half of my holiday, the excursion being the other half) with my younger brother who's making the models for the game. He still has a few weeks of summer holidays left so the model for Goshawk should be ready soon, and at least one other character. He has already updated the Obilicleon model. The tail animates much better now (compare today's images with the older ones) and the tatoos on his back have been modified (I did that myself), amongst other things.

The robot is only a temporary model for Goshawk since my modeller made it as practice while learning

I'm still hoping to make wild monsters you can interact with that roam about the race tracks

                                            The Dodge Dash
             I came up with a game mechanic I call the dodge dash a few years ago when I was trying to figure out how to make Goshawk fly though the tree tops without always colliding with a tree or tree branch, just like a real Goshawk. If the player used the analog stick or directional buttons to turn away from a tree branch, he might be headed straight for another tree as soon as he turns. A dodge dash allows a player to move sideways, or even beneath or above an obstacle in mid-run, or in the case of flying characters such as Goshawk, in mid flight. In case you're unable to stream the videos, I created some GIF images of the dodge dash as well. I'll let the pictures and videos do the rest of the talking.

Turning versus Dodge-Dashing

A dodge dash by Obilicleon

Dodge dashing mid flight



                      The video of Goshawk dodge dashing only shows the side ways dodge dash because I'm yet to create a level that will require him to dodge over or under obstacles in mid flight. The dodge dash will also be used to dodge attacks by other players while racing. It takes a little out of your energy gauge (which refills automatically anyway), so you can't use it if you just used up all your energy in either a speed dash or an attack. Sound off in the comments section and tell me what you think. The next thing I will be working on is the AI so hopefully, I'll be able to post a video of a two-mon race very soon!

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