October Update

So things have been going quite slowly since I finished shield yield.

First and foremost, the 2 colors jam is in the voting stages now, and I’ve judged every single one of the competitors’ games. However, at the time of writing this mine has only been rated twice, whereas others have received 4 ratings. I’m not sure if the voting system is based off highest average ratings or most votes, but time will tell.

As for projects I’ve been working on since then? I’ve had a few ideas, started working on 2 of them but really lost motivation to continue. The prevailing reason for this is that I really aren’t that good at either 3D modelling or Spriting, and it really gets to me because of the fact that I need to do up the art first before I can start working on any of the things that I find plenty of motivation for (the programming, mainly). Following that it’s the realization that I have to do up levels for these games, making them very different from I’m used to making (So far I’ve worked on an endless runner Car game and Shield Yield, Both of which only really needed 1 level that only had to be designed once followed by using random generation to add in the challenge)

But enough about that. What are these projects?

One is a fishing game, plain and simple. Not really action oriented or anything, just plain and simple (guess you could call it a boating simulator)

Map overview Nice lens flare

It’s nothing special, just something I intended to do for a bit of fun. The terrain itself was created (after a 2 day long struggle, using file formats and programs not seen since the 90’s) using NASA’s SRTM data. It’s the sea near my house, and includes the view I see whenever I look out the window. As for the currach (the boat), I’m modelling that without using a reference picture (mainly because they’re so damn hard to find a picture of that I can use).

But there are problems.

Firstly, I had intended creating the landscape using a Unity terrain. However, the SRTM data was so old and uses such an odd file format (Geotiff) that I couldn’t properly convert it into a heightmap. A lot of this stemmed from the fact that GeoTIFF doesn’t necessarily use 8 bits per pixel for black and white images, as using only 8 bits only gives you 255 different levels of height but more to the point, makes it unable to be opened in either Photoshop of GIMP. At this stage, I’d had such a terrible experience using decades old programs that I wasn’t willing to download anything that might open it. In the end I managed to wrangle it open in blender by using an alternate format of the data (.hgt) and someone’s nifty .hgt import plugin. The result was (if I remember correctly) a mesh with well over a million faces as the sea was included entirely. 30 minutes later I had stripped out all the useless bits.

Then after much trying I found out there was no way to export it into an image based on the height.

So I had to try and render it out using some nightmarish node setup that almost made me cry blood that I won’t be getting into here.

Heightmap

Suffice to say that once I did get a crap version rasterized, when I imported it as a heightmap in unity, it was a disaster. The best way to describe it is that it was like a slightly extended Slinky: It went up to the height in one line, then the next was down at sea level, rinse and repeat. And it looked nothing like the heightmap I provided to it, at all

And so that brings us to now. I was aiming to use Unity’s terrain system for these main reasons:

  • You can easily paint textures onto the terrain. As you probably noticed from above, the landscape is entirely green. That’s because Blender’s texture painting system is a hellish nightmare, I’ve never EVER gotten it to work.
  • With the terrains, you can quickly and easily make a change to the height. Without them, you have to open blender, remodel, potentially re-unwrap, save, reimport and adjust to make any change
  • The built in terrain comes with a collider, whereas using a mesh like this one requires a meshcollider, and on a mesh this size, that’s going to cause a big performance hit

So for now, this one is on hiatus until I can find the inspiration to finish it off.

 

On to the current project.

Long story short, it;s about snow. What about snow though I still haven’t decided.

DSCF2918small

So this one was born solely out of my desire to host a Snow-Jam on itch.io (I love it when it snows around here, like the pic here from Nov 2010)

 

The fully assembled version of the spritesheet

The fully assembled version of the spritesheet

The individual parts used to make up the snowman

I started working on a concept spritesheet on the 24th of September, deciding that after shield yield went rather well as my first 2D game, I ought to make a platformer. As I had no graphics tablet (Something that’s very high up on my to-buy list these days) I tried my hand at vector art. While it didn’t turn out anywhere near as terribly as I feared it would, it still didn’t seem to fit the mood quite right, and it just wasn’t the right style for the game.

 

 

At this point I had no idea how to proceed, so I did what I find to be a relaxing part of the game development process: I made a simple song. I sat down and started messing around on my piano with the goal of something wintery, Christmassy almost, but yet not an entirely happy song

Just a fun fact to mention at this point: I have never had either a Piano or Guitar lesson in my life, never studied music theory and until as recently as May 2013, didn’t know about different types of chords (I thought they were all either major or minor). SO how did I manage to pool together enough musical knowledge to make anything other than a cacophonic mess? Rock Band 3. Back in May 2013 I bought a MIDI pro adapter and stole my sisters keyboard after watching a youtube video showing that you could use a proper MIDI piano to play. As for Guitar? Rocksmith. I got it back in March of this year. Previous attempts to learn how to play ended terribly, the books weren’t helpful at all I found. I bought the guitar I have now 7 years ago and never managed to play propely until this year. Now I’m not half bad at it.

So after messing around for about half an hour, I had come up with the following. For the rest of the soundtrack I’ll probably just make variations of this, but in order to be specific enough I need to make the levels themselves

After finishing Snowmanthe song and leaving it for a few weeks I decided to try my hand at making it into a 3D game, and came up with this stylized snowman (Very rough very early draft, be prepared to avert your eyes!).

 

stick armHowever, my lack of any meaningful 3D modelling education has come to hinder me as I have no idea how to rig the arms to an armature so I can make a walking animation using the arms anyways, I doubt I’ll put legs on him as it’s one of the main reasons my 2D fella looked so wrong. I got this far anyways, I made the bone chain and have it in place but I have no idea how to start the skinning process

 

The overwhelming feeling I have these days is that this is too difficult for me to do entirely on my own because of my shortcomings. I’m neither an artist nor a musician, and I can’t help but wonder how much easier working with a dedicated artist and sound engineer would make this hobby, but due to my remote location and lack of a network of contacts getting help is nothing but a fevered dream. I can’t afford to live in Dublin, and have the feeling that unless I do I won’t meet anyone who can help in Ireland.

This is all caused by the fact that unless you’re some kind of multi-talented jack-of-all-trades you’re bound to find this difficult.

And I do. Really difficult to the point where it gets kills my motivation to continue. As an example, I made the 3D snowman 8 whole days after even looking at the sprite one because I couldn’t be bothered with it.

Oh well. Nothing I can do but push on.

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