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: njew.icnc.com

...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)

So...

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:
https://youtu.be/-27Asn81giA

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:
https://youtu.be/c5UUu5Ya4Gc
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)

BIG GOAL
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.

PLAN OF ACTION
Month
Actions
September:
Finalize concept, begin creating generators for universe and planets
October:
Add player ship and controls while planet terrain is designed and added
November:
Continue work from October
December:
Work on core gameplay
January:
Work on core gameplay
February:
Begin work on music, finalize core gameplay
March:
Continue work on sounds, begin more testing, debugging, and marketing
April:
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.

RESOURCES
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 meantime...be 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

Monday, May 9, 2016

Swipe & Shoot is ON THE APP STORE!!!

Welp, guess this is it. We've completed and uploaded our first app to the App Store! Guess Android users are going to have to wait...though I don't think Google Play is all that hard to work with. Oh well.

Anyways, you can actually download Swipe & Shoot now, with no limitations, no beta testing sign up form. Just look up "Swipe and Shoot" on the App Store and HOPEFULLY it will pop up. If not, then we have made a terrible mistake. Either that or an actual non-SHC person somehow found our app, gave it a review that it probably deserved, and lowered its ratings a ton. And yes, it is 100% free with no ads, no IAPs, just pure Swipe & Shoot goodness. And when I say goodness, I mean the best that we could do. Progress kinda slowed in these last few weeks, in case it wasn't obvious.

But before I finish this off, I'd like to thank all of you beta testers for giving us some ideas and feedback during those middle stages. You've all been a great help to the project, but let's be real: some of you helped more than others.

And speaking of help, we'd like to thank our dads for their help. My dad for his coding support in times of intense stay-up-all-night bug fixes and problem solving, and Jack's dad for his expert UI knowledge and graphical design. If you saw the app now, it looks WAY better overall. Trust me. 

And, of course, we'd like to thank the I2 program, and Mr. Musallam. This app probably wouldn't be where it is today without all you I2 folk.

So I guess that's it. Swipe & Shoot is done, for now. Thanks for reading.



WAIT!!!!
We forgot to celebrate...uh...here's a picture of our app on the App Store!


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Swipe & Shoot Update 25

The showcase is nearly here, and the game is nearly complete!

As usual, these updates are completely useless, though they do act as a sign of "progress". Regardless, here's what's happened so far for those who care.

First of all, the last of the desert levels (which are probably the most intense, challenging, and epic levels of them all) have been complete for a few weeks now, and we've mostly been fixing some minor bugs and glitches that have been around for some time. We realized that some of the bugs will be in the final game, and that's okay, considering the level of quality one would expect from a game made by a couple of high school freshmen over the course of a few months. Some of these glitches include the classic "shooting through walls" (which we have now reduced, but not removed), enemies randomly disappearing, and all sorts of wacky physics glitches that have now become somewhat standard.

We've also done some minor refinements to the core gameplay, including replacing the straight swiping line with a more accurate arced line, which will allow the "hardcore" players to have swiping precision.

Other than that, the game will be up on the App Store (may take a little longer for the Google Play store, but we'll see) before the showcase (assuming that Apple doesn't just troll us and make us wait three weeks), and we'll be doing our best to advertise the game in the meantime.

We greatly appreciate your support, dear dedicated reader, for wasting your time on these pointless updates and helping us by pointing out all the problems with our game. Hopefully, your time will not have been completely wasted in the end.

And since you probably want some pictures, here are a few: