Thursday, September 14, 2017

Q1 I2 Project Benchmark (2017-2018)


As many of you don't know, Jack and I have recently been working a lot more on our project Flickship as we help test the new Student Launch Initiative (SLI) program. We've learned a lot about how to manage a project and actually consider an audience, and one of the big things we're trying this year is actually releasing regular versions for testing. And the first version is already here!

But first, it might help if I actually explained what our game is.

Basically, it's a two-player turn-based strategy game where you command a fleet of spaceships to try and wipe out the enemy team. For every ship you have, you can either try to shoot an enemy ship or pull it back launch it forward, which reveals more of the map. If you still don't get it here's a video demo:

[still have to film the video lol it will be up later this week]

It's obviously a little unpolished, but at this point we've learned it's important to get a really basic version out there just to get some initial feedback. That way, we can change stuff easily if people don't like it.

Which means we need your help!

If you're interested, you can sign up here:, but note that it only works on iPhones. It would also probably be best if you got the app with a friend, so the two of you can actually play the game together.

Remember, we're looking for as much feedback as possible, so if there's anything you want us to change or fix let us know! The more responses we get the better, because at this stage anything can be changed. You can submit feedback here

But wait, there's more!

Sawyer kind of gave up on his i2 blog, so now I'm posting his updates! And maybe Steven's too since he's working on the same project.

Anyways, for those of you who don't know (which is all of you), Sawyer has actually gathered a bunch of new people to work on his project over the past few months. We now have two new coders from other high schools, and one new artist who kinda just left (nice going Sawyer), so that's exciting.

Here's what Imperium looks like right now:

Yeah...we still aren't done with design yet.

So with all that being said, here's a general sense of what I have planned for this year:
 - Continue working on Flickship with Jack
       - Add a tutorial
       - Add more ships
       - Write a song for background music
       - Work on marketing with help from SLI
 - Finish up design work on Imperium
       - Complete the items list (shown above)
       - Solidify the game mechanics
       - Run through a simulated version of the game to see what problems remain
       - Set up the overall framework for the code
 - Help code the client side of Imperium (basically the stuff that's on your device)

I don't really have a set timeframe for any of this just because my schedule has been so packed, but just note that those tasks vary in length quite a bit. Some of them might take a week, others might take a couple months.

Also if you want to see my reflection on last year's project, you can check some of my previous posts.

Alright that's it for now.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Last Summer

So I think I was supposed to post last week but this summer has been...busy. I got a pretty sweet internship this summer where I got to develop new features for an actual iPhone game, which was awesome (technically it's still going which is why this post is at like 1am). And, during the first two months of summer, I took a summer biology class, which was...slightly less awesome.

I guess what I'm saying is that I haven't really had any time this summer to make progress on anything.

So why post? Well besides the fact that this seems to be one of the last few surviving i2 blogs and we need some representation, it would probably also be helpful to give a general outline for what we hope to accomplish over the next year, and what's happening to all of our old projects. Again, since we haven't actually had a chance to make anything new, there won't be any screenshots.

Spation/Project 17:
As we've said before, we had to cancel this project for a number of reasons. For one, it wasn't a concept that we felt we could go very far with, and even though the universe generation was incredible, it still wasn't enough to make a very fun game. I might post a demo of the game if I ever fix up some of the more game-breaking bugs, but I wouldn't expect anything from this going forwards. For now, like last time, here's a link to the song I wrote for the game, which is one of my personal favorites:

Fish Tank:
I do plan to continue working on my big solo project from last year, even though it wasn't super exciting at the time. I'll be honest, this one is probably going to be the slowest of the projects listed here just due to the kind of work it requires, since the core focus of this game (besides being a solo project) is the story, music, and art. Basically, I'm trying to do all the stuff I normally don't put a lot of effort into, even though I've always wanted to. Here are a couple demos of some of the songs I wrote for the game:
Fish Tank Songs

This one isn't really my project, but since no one really seems to know much about it I figured that it would be worth mentioning here anyways. I'll be helping Sawyer work on his impossibly massive project, even though we all know that we're not going to finish. And yeah I probably shouldn't be saying that, but the important thing is that this is a game we've spent a lot of time designing. It's a nice learning experience for everyone, even if we are destined for failure.

Jack is at it again with a new game idea! Once I find him I'll make him add a couple demonstration videos here, but for now just know that we still have some original content coming soon. Hopefully. Although knowing Jack we might not get to see this one either...

Remastered Games:
Something else that I've always wanted to do is remaster/finish some of my older games. While Swipe & Shoot might be a bit extreme to fix up, website classics like Multiplayer Madness, Block Bomb Survival, and Asteroid Escape are all definitely easy enough to polish. Block Bomb Survival may even get an App Store release, but we'll just have to see how much time I have.

Anyways that's about all I can think of right now, and while we may also come up with new game ideas, I kinda doubt we'll actually get to implementing any of them considering that we'll have so little time and so many unfinished projects.

In terms of 3D games, since it is a little hard to tell from what I outlined above, we'll probably stay away from those unless we have a really solid game idea. Jack has nearly perfected his 3D artwork skills, but he and I both know that making a fully 3D game requires a lot of extra effort that might not be worth it depending on the concept.

Welp that's about it for now. I'm really looking forward to this year, but I also know that I won't have nearly as much free time as I did last year so again I doubt that we'll make that much progress.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Video Updates!

Well this is unexpected.

In case it wasn't already obvious (considering that the majority of you reading this probably know this already), this blog is now featured on the i2 homepage! So that means that I've got a lot of explaining to do.

First of all, I should probably mention that my i2 project is my gaming website, which I made over winter break as a central location for all of my Unity games from the past few years. You can find it here:

...although due to some server issues we had from a power outage, it isn't quite what it used to be.

And, as requested, here are some of the highlights from the making of this project:

I should also point out that the game I mentioned in my previous post (if you read it) is making steady progress. I haven't said much about it here, but I actually posted a video of the demo I presented at the showcase, which you can watch here:

But there's something extra special about those videos. Notice the music playing in the background? Yep, those are original songs.

And while they aren't anything exceptional, I'd say that they are some of my best songs, along with UrVolumeIsOn from our old Space Exploration game, which is definitely worth checking out. The song, that is, not the game. That game is dead.

You may not know this, but it takes a lot of work to write songs, as fellow i2 composer Steven Tom will probably agree. Especially when you're limited to lame instruments and you're trying to recreate multiple genres of music (but that's a story for another day).

But wait, there's more! You might notice that this blog features two people on it (even if only one of us is actually writing these posts), and while Jack and I aren't still working on the same project, we still work pretty closely on our personal projects.

In fact, Jack's latest project is coming along quite nicely. He's re-making one of his old games called "Poly", a massive online multiplayer game where you gather parts and segments to evolve your polygon creature. It's pretty hard to explain, but I think this screenshot might help:

So Jack is working hard on that, but due to finals it will probably be a while before we see any new progress. 

Anywho I think I've just about covered everything I needed to, so...

Good night!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Q3 I2 Project Benchmark (2016-2017)


Why haven't there been any more blog posts? Well there are several reasons. First of all, I haven't been as updated with all of the progress because it was all done by Jack Southard, as I spent literally all of my winter break working on CS50. The project became a lot cooler in that time, with better planet terrain, cool missions, all that good stuff.

But then Sawyer came along, with his super ambitious "Imperium" game that you probably haven't heard about because he hasn't even done his Q2 Benchmark post yet. But if he did post about it, he'd probably talk about how it's a 3-year project, and how's it's basically a multiplayer empire building real-time strategy game, blah blah blah. He's not really advertising it yet because he hasn't done a whole lot of work on it yet. But you know who has done a lot of work on it?

Jack Southard.

So now we're both working on Sawyer's project, which means our little unnamed space exploration game has been cancelled for who knows how long. And yeah, Sawyer's game is cool and all, but I'm not going to end this school year without finishing a single game.

So, in addition to Sawyer's project, I'm working on a project of my own, which I will present along with my gaming website that I made for CS50. The game is really just one big inside joke, but notice the key word there: big. It won't be Swipe & Shoot or Imperium levels of big, but it's going to take all month. Here's my plan:
- Work on the game
- Finish the game
- Present the game

I'd go into more detail but it would probably just sound like a bunch of coding jargon that no one wants to hear. Plus, my plan is really just to do what makes the most sense to tackle next, but just for the heck of it here's a quick to-do list I have:
- Make a cross-platform input manager (i.e. make it so controls work on mobile and PC) [done]
- Make a map generator that creates a tile-based terrain based on a pixel drawing
- Make enemies that can navigate said tile-based terrain
- Make a weapon management system that can handle multiple weapons at once
- Make a saving system that can save the current state of the map and the player

And yeah, that's most of it in a nutshell. My priority on this project is really making some semi-decent clean code for once, instead of lazily slapping together a couple sprites and calling it a "quality game" (although I guess that's what happened with Asteroid Escape...). It's going to require me to learn a couple new things as well, but for the most part it probably won't be exceptionally great.

So to give you a sneak preview of what it's going to be like...

Actually I don't have any pictures that will mean anything. Except for code.

But basically the game will actually have a story (though not necessarily a GOOD story), with all those things I mentioned above in a top down shooter-style game. There will be tons of weapons and even a couple boss fights (if I have enough time). It's going to be simple in terms of art, and the gameplay won't be very revolutionary, but hopefully if will offer a decent gaming experience and include some nice code for once.

So that's that. New game, new plan. Here's to a deadly last month of hardcore coding.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Q2 I2 Project Benchmark (2016-2017)

Welcome back!

So right off the bat here's a summary of what we've done so far from our plan:

 - Made a random universe generator with planet systems
 - Made a random planet generator with planet types and terrain
 - Made a player ship controlled using a virtual joystick that can navigate between planets (on a plane) and around planets (on a sphere) with somewhat consistent physics
 - Made some basic customizable missions with UI

Here's what it looks like so far:

Or you can just check out a video of it right here:

And yes, for any of you who dared turn on their volume, we do in fact have an original soundtrack. It's not that good, but it's a start.

Looks simple enough, right? But just to give a sneak peak, since last time we were unclear as to how complex the process was, here's a fraction of the code that makes it all happen:

Not so easy, right?

And don't be fooled: a lot of this code looks simpler than it actually is. Most of those blue words (but not all of them) are classes that Unity has already created (not to mention highlighted) for us, so any coders out there know that for each line of code there's a lot more going on, like rendering 3D objects and detecting collisions, etc.

But enough coding nonsense. This probably means nothing to you anyways.

So is there anything else to do? Well yes, there is. A lot, actually. In case you didn't know, our game concept hasn't been finalized, and we still don't have a name for it yet, even after three months (thanks a lot, Southard). What we do know though is that this will be a story-driven game, but with a new universe each play-through to shake things up.

Otherwise our big plan hasn't really changed, as we still plan to release the game some time in April. In fact, the game is already available for testing, but we probably won't be making that information public until the gameplay gets a bit more exciting.

A breakdown of what we still have to do:
 - Finalize the concept and story (hopefully by December)
 - Program the enemy AI (hopefully by January)
 - Implement the story in conjunction with the AI (hopefully by February)
 - Open beta testing to get user input (probably in March)
 - Publish the game

So what do we need to learn to do this? Not a whole lot, actually. We'll probably have to learn a little bit more about AI and procedural generation here and there, and at some point we'll need to figure out how to save a game, but it's not hard to find out how to do these things online. In fact, we've already used AI in games like Swipe & Shoot, and we've already learned how to save games in Replay (what's that?), so we already have a little experience in those aspects.

I guess that's all. We don't have anything new to buy (we make all our own models, artwork, and music), and we've got a pretty solid plan so far. All we need to do is do it.

And sorry about all those run-on sentences.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Space Exploration Game Update 1

Normally I don't make these updates this early...but we have actually made a lot of progress that's worth noting over the past few weeks so I figured that now would be as good a time as any to show what we've got.

Now, we can't show EVERYTHING...but here's a sneak peak of the awesomeness to come. At this rate, we might even be done by December, but hopefully we'll have a lot more to do.

Here are a couple screenshots:

And of course, since these don't give much context:
Here's a quick demo on mobile!

I know the lighting is all screwed up, but fear not, it's a work in progress. We have only been working on this for a week, after all. Well, the concept was created 2 weeks ago...but that's not important.

Anyways, since you're probably wondering what you do in this game...


well let's just say that we are still wondering what you do in this game too. We know it will be resource gathering, but that's about it. No endgame, no challenge, no nothing. For all we know this could just be a test game since we do have like 6 more months to work. So if you actually care...that's too bad.

Welp that's all for now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Q1 I2 Project Benchmark (2016-2017)

So as a couple people may remember, our project last year was making an original app (called Swipe & Shoot) that we successfully put up on the App Store. You can see all the previous updates for any information. I mean, the character is used for like all my profile pictures at this point, so you've probably seen SOMETHING from it at some point.

Anyways, this year we have a similar plan, though we don't plan on continuing with Swipe & Shoot. Instead, we've got a brand new idea for a completely new game. And whereas Swipe & Shoot didn't involve a lot of new skills to learn (other than dealing with Apple review system), this new game will have all kinds of new stuff to learn, mainly focusing on procedural generation for making a universe filled with planets to explore, though we haven't settled on an actual reward or end game yet.

The game will be known as SPATION*, and will feature a fully 3D low-poly universe with unique planets to explore. Players will control a ship and navigate the cosmos on a 2D plane, and can enter a planet's atmosphere to gather resources. We can't tell you everything yet, but trust us, there's a lot to come.

Finalize concept, begin creating generators for universe and planets
Add player ship and controls while planet terrain is designed and added
Continue work from October
Work on core gameplay
Work on core gameplay
Begin work on music, finalize core gameplay
Continue work on sounds, begin more testing, debugging, and marketing
Upload and share!

As you can see, our plan of action is pretty simple, though it's somewhat unevenly spaced out. Changes will probably have to be made throughout the process, especially with any projects (inside and outside of school) that may come up. For example, I'm currently working on two other projects (which will not be mentioned), and I'm taking a random extra computer science course that ends in December. Meanwhile, Jack is still working on his own multiplayer game, so who knows where that will take him. Fortunately, the second half of the year has a lot less stuff to do than the first half, so things can be pushed back with little to no consequences.

So my projects tend to be pretty independent, with the outside help usually only going as far as my dad and maybe a friend who knows a little more in a certain field than I do (like databases or something). And with Swipe & Shoot, that was still the case. We basically made the project on our own without any outside help, and we're not exactly sure what we'll need this year. We've got all the resources, and we've got our own ways of learning the necessary skills for the project, so all that's left is time. Last year, we usually worked over FaceTime whenever we found time, whether at robotics, at home, or even at school. This year though, we're thinking of working at Coding Club meetings (since why not) instead of robotics meetings, which conveniently happen to be at the same time anyways.

Long story short, we don't really need much yet. The project doesn't take a lot of "materials", and the only department we'll probably need help in is beta testing. But that comes later. In the patient. Updates on what the game is actually like and what it will look like are coming soon.

Prepare for awesomeness guys. Trust me, this game has potential.

*note, game will not be known as SPATION