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February Game – Loops

February 2, 2014 Leave a comment

I awaited this month’s #1GAM theme with baited breath, hoping it would fit with my plans for my long term game projects, however the theme of ‘Loops’ just didn’t seem to fit at all. Brainstorming with my kids, we came up with ideas such as a ‘Tempest’ style shooter, a rollercoaster game and finally an aerobatics game.

Concept sketch of flying game

Concept sketch of flying game

Grabbing my sketchbook I scribbled down a quick idea Рa side scrolling flying game where you fly through hoops to gain points, perform loop-the-loops for bonus points, whilst avoiding crashing into buildings and flocks of birds.

Next I had a quick search for existing similar games, coming across the fantastic Stunt Pilot on Miniclip. While this looked like a fun and playable game, it had a different control system from what I intended and also different challenges for the player.

Next I started a simple proof-of-concept prototype in Adobe Flash, with some block graphics. After that was working successfully I added a scrolling background and a nice clipart image of a biplane before making a screen recording of the work in progress. There’s still a lot of work to do to make this a playable game, but I’m pleased with what I’ve accomplished in such a short amount of time. Having participated in #1GAM for over a year I’ve found that the practice has made me much quicker at coding and resolving bugs – even anticipating problem areas well before coding begins. If anything, #1GAM has been an amazing workout for the mental muscles!

Here’s the result so far after only an hour of work.

January Game

January 14, 2014 Leave a comment

My plan is to do fewer games this year for One Game A Month, but these games will be bigger and better than anything made last year. At present I’m planning two games – the first is a top-down shooter and the second is a point and click adventure. My plans may change, and I may do some small games each month depending on the optional themes at #1GAM.

The top-down shooter is a project I’m working on with my Game Development students. They’re making maze games and some are adding features such as roaming baddies, shooting, combat and object collection. The game I submitted for January’s #1GAM grew out of the college project, as some students wanted to learn how to make a top-down shooter game. The working title is ‘Spawn of the Dead’, and the object of the game is to survive as long as you can against endlessly respawning zombies. My plan for the game is to add more levels, features, better graphics, sounds and a storyline, completing the game around May or June. You can play the current game (Flash required).

Spawn of the Dead game

The player movement was simple to implement, with the rotational movement and shooting the trickiest part so far. This is all working adequately, so my next task is to work on the zombie AI. At present the zombies simply run towards the player. This presents a small problem as sometimes the zombies overlap each other and get stuck behind walls. I’m trying to figure out a way to get them to behave more intelligently, perhaps moving in different directions if they collide, and trying to find ways around obstacles if they become stuck. I’m not sure how to implement this – perhaps they will have different ‘states’ – seeking the player, avoiding other zombies and seeking a new route. AI is not something I’ve used much, so this will be a bit of a learning process for me. I’m planning to do a few test games to try out different methods of implementing the AI.

Sketch of game

Original game concept sketch

Addendum: testing of the game has identified a fundamental flaw, in that the player can stand in a spot where the zombies cannot get them. This means that the timer can keep counting continuously and astronomical scores can be achieved! This will be fixed by changing the timer to a ‘number of kills’ score.

Reflection

December 29, 2013 1 comment

The original purpose of this blog was to reflect on my Game Design classes and provide information and help to others teaching game design. However for the past year I’ve been distracted by One Game A Month – a challenge to create one new video game each month of 2013.

I am pleased to say that I completed the challenge and hope to be in the top 10 of participants when the year ends. At time of writing I’ve slipped to position 3 in the top 100 high scores after keeping the top position for over three weeks.

no1

My original aims were to begin creating games with Adobe Flash and by the end of the year have learned enough HTML5 and Javascript to start creating games with those tools. This hasn’t happened unfortunately as the learning curve has been too steep for the short time I’ve had. Still, I managed to create 12 decent, playable games during 2013 and the practice has made me a much quicker programmer, with my last two games taking me only a few hours to create rather than days. Despite that, the games I’m most proud of are actually the ones I created at the start of the year. I had clear plans for these as they were intended to be used as educational games on the King Robert the Bruce website.

One Game A Month will continue in 2014, but at this time I’m not sure how much I will participate. Apparently the focus will be more on creating and updating games rather than making discrete games each month. This may fit in with my own personal plans, as during the next year I aim to create a game for the Android platform and have it available for purchase on Google Play.

For those of you who are interested in my computer games class (I’m teaching NPA Computer Games Development, Level 5), all of my students passed the Game Design unit and are making good progress in the Media Assets unit. Most of the students are working on creating maze-based games in Adobe Flash and one student is working on a 3D game using Blender. Top-down shooter games are the most popular genre this year, with bank heists, prison breaks and zombie survival being the most common themes. My students have been keeping a close eye on my progress in One Game A Month, and at the end of term they gave me a round of applause when they found I’d made it to the number 1 spot in the high scores. It was one of my most treasured moments of 2013, and I hope I can continue inspiring my students throughout their time at college.

The final stretch

December 2, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s December and the final #1GAM challenge has been issued. Three optional themes – FROZEN, SECRET, KITTY.

11 months of limbering up has paid off and my creative juices are already flowing, coming up with ideas to fit the themes.

Here’s my pixel kitty who will star in my final game of 2013.

pixel graphic cat

Categories: OneGameAMonth

A busy year…

October 24, 2013 Leave a comment

top5One game a month? Impossible!

It certainly seemed that way back in January, however here I am in October with 10 games under my belt. Few of them are ‘complete’ games. Most are just demo’s or have a single level, but each month I’ve tried to do something different, and this has stretched my game programming abilities and forced me to rethink old practices.

With over 6000 participants and over 4000 games posted to the site, One Game A Month has proven to be both a successful and educational adventure. I even managed to creep into the top 10 high scorers a couple of times, with my best position, number 4, being reached just this month.

Please try my games. They can be found at my One Game a Month profile page.

Categories: OneGameAMonth

#1GAM April – latest game development

April 12, 2013 3 comments

After a break of a few weeks I’m back into development of my next game for OneGameAMonth.com.

April’s game is about escaping from a dungeon. Continuing the theme of my previous games, this new game is about a medieval Scottish knight trying to escape from an English dungeon. Knights and nobles were often taken prisoner by invading armies so that their wealthy families would pay a ransom for their release. In the game you are such a knight, captured and imprisoned awaiting ransom. However your character has some vital information for King Robert the Bruce, so must try to escape to warn him of impending danger. Whilst trying to escape you also have side tasks of gathering information about King Edward II’s plans to invade Scotland.

Here’s a short clip showing the basic gameplay and mechanics. The player character and enemy characters will be different in the final game.

Castle Invaders released

Castle Invaders has finally been released for March’s One Game a Month.

This is my most complex game so far for One Game a Month. There are more objects in the game and levels than my previous games and it was certainly more complex to code. I had intended it to be my February game, but chose to release Knight Skills: Joust instead and spend more time working on Castle Invaders.

The big question is ‘What will be my game for April?’. I have a few prototypes worked up including Dungeoneer, an unfinished game I began in 2011. I also have some ideas for more games for the King Robert The Bruce website, including a platformer and a maze game. For the time being I may just have a little rest from developing games and get back into it in April when I have some time off work.

As for Castle Invaders, the game features 3 increasingly difficult levels as you defend your castle against invading enemy soldiers. The enemy invaders attempt to scale the castle walls, but you can knock them off by dropping rocks on them. You need to defend the castle until reinforcements arrive. In the second level you need to take out enemy cavalry who have been dispatched to intercept the reinforcements. In the final level you must avoid enemy archers who have been sent to shoot you down.

Castle Invaders can be played at the King Robert the Bruce website.

screenshot1