Orbital Advance

My largest, longest project to date, with so much to describe that it needs its own entire page.

 

Quick summary: It’s a 3D endless runner set in space, where you rotate around the ground rather than move from side to side. Obstacles constantly come flying down the ground towards you with increasing difficulty as time progresses. Occasionally, powerups will spawn which the player can use to activate 1 of 5 benefits.

Windows Store Badgeen_badge_web_generic

Now into the meat of it.

Assets

Almost all the assets were made by me: Music, 3D models, animations, textures, scripts, the lot. The only ones I didn’t make are the sun lens flare (came with unity) and the space skybox (used a free tool to make them for me).

3D

There are very few actual 3D meshes in the game, 6 in fact.. The road, ship, pickup and 3 different varieties of obstacle. The obstacles that you encounter in the game are just prefabs made with different combinations of the same base obstacles, some with different behaviours such as the faster, rotating obstacle prefabs found in the harder difficulties late in the level.

Music and Sound effects

There are 3 songs, 2 of which are permutations of the main song which plays during gameplay but with appropriate intensities. The chords are as follows: C minor 7, F minor 7, E♭ Major, ESus2, B♭ Major. The main them which plays during gameplay features the full range of sounds and includes drums, the main menu only has strings and the tutorial features chimes over washed out strings and drums. The pickup sound effect is a 4 note C minor 7th to sound in place with the background music.

I’m by no means a good musician, let alone a musician at all. Music competes closely with Art as my weakest area, but I don’t think I did too badly on this score. While I still think the song from Hexane is my best work, this is a reasonable second

Art and UI

The UI in this one has been arguably my least ugly so far. While the main menu is nothing special, the settings menu looks OK and the in game UI is great compared to some of my earlier offerings. The powerup buttons would probably work better somewhere else but until I figure out exactly where that is, they’ll stay where the are.

The art is admittedly lacking, the textures especially. I used a simple uniform scheme for the textures on the ground and obstacles which doesn’t look entirely terrible, but my lack of ideas for the ship led to it looking uninteresting and plain. The icons for the powerups are mostly OK with the exception of the heart, which didn’t quite hit the mark.

The store logo was a rushed job in order to get it published as fast as possible, the spiral representing the twisting motion the sip makes to move.

New things I learned

  • Android publishing. This was my first game released on Google Play, before now I published exclusively on the Windows Store.
    • Google Play Games API, my prior familiarity with using integrating Gamejolt’s API into games made this one relatively straightforward. Currently features leaderboards and achievements.
  • Unity’s animation system. Until now I hadn’t needed to make good use of it. In Wrongcoming Traffic there was an ultimately unused swerving animation for switching between lanes but was dropped when I switched from a fixed 3 lane system to tilt controls, with a script driving wheel rotation. Not so this time. The ship has an idle animation and state machines for turning to the left and right, most noticeable on keyboard controls but also visible on tilt controls as well.
  • A powerup/inventory system. Porwerups the player gets persist between rounds and sessions. Also the first time I made serious gameplay modifiers, such as slow motion, acceleration, extra lives etc.
  • The value of motivation and the consequences of the lack thereof.

Speaking of motivation…

Where it all went wrong

This was by far the longest  project I’ve worked on. According to the metedata of the project folder, I started working on this game on the 18th of February 2015, and was released 620 days later on the 29th of October 2016.

I even knew 7 months in that something was very wrong with the timeframe of development and wrote about it right here. Little did I know it would take a whole extra year from that point to get it out into the open

This really shouldn’t have taken more than 4 months, there wasn’t all too much work to do and all of the assets were made in less that 2 weeks total.

The game was first started on the back of the sudden jolt of inspiration I had from going to Global Game Jam 2015. It was the first time I had worked in a team with dedicated artists leaving me free to work on the gameplay, and with other programmers I could ask a question and get instant feedback.

So once I got home I was a hotbed of ideas, eventually settling on this one and working away. Once I had the core gameplay working, from then on it was all about tweaks and additional features, and my motivation began to dwindle. Things like menus, powerups and scores became considerations, each taking more time to improve but never get finished.By the time summer rolled around I think I had stopped working on it completely, with something motivating me back into action in September 2015, where I think I did actually manage to complete 90% of the additional features I had set out. Global Game Jam 2016 came and went, with the game I made not being as good as 2015’s and with a smaller team of new people meaning nowhere near the jolt of motivation that time around. So I let it wallow away on my hard drive until this month I decided enough was enough, and that even though the main dissuading factor was all the store assets that I had to make which take so much time.

In the end I was right to be worried, at least with the Windows Store logos. Android’s were simple in comparision.

 

A valuable lesson was learned here. If I feel my motivation slipping like this again, I’ll threaten myself with releasing the game as is unless I work on it.

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