Game Development

Blog 875: Welcome to the Waystation

I think it may have been something of a mistake to design a campaign where the second level — the gateway to the rest of the game — front-loads six or seven brand new, fully-fledged systems. But I am nothing if not stubborn; once I’ve committed to a goal, I will reach it, regardless of how long it takes.

So after months and months and months of work, the Friendly Arm Waystation and its attendant subsystems are almost ready for play. Phew.

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Game Development

Blog 873: A Little Bit of Procgen (All Night Long)

I snuck a little last-minute bonus feature into version 0.05 of Exon: Fragment with no fanfare — the ability to say “Surprise Me!” on the character naming screen. That’s right, I dropped in an exon name generator.

Why did I do this? Partly because it’s hard to think of character names for my test runs and partly… because I have a nefarious plan.

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Game Development

Blog 871: Kicking Ass(et Bundles)

Yes, I’ve been procrastinating by taking on another large restructuring project instead of working on Ultralight or the Rest of the Prologue. I could ship new content for you to play, or I could… yes… rebuild another system…

To be fair, today’s insanity is something that I shouldn’t really need to do, but because Unity refuse to fix the Resources.Load API, my hand has been forced. Oh yes, it’s time to divvy up all of Exon‘s contents into Asset Bundles and do the exact same thing as before, but in a much less convenient and intuitive way.

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Game Development

Blog 867: Fragment v0.05

Sometimes you spend six-ish weeks unwinding a whole universe of poor design decisions, all of which results in a single very subtle visual change for a small number of units. Other times you finally jemmy in a proper Game Over screen which, okay, yes, maybe was a little bit long overdue. Then you’ve got three weeks off over the festive season, and while you were planning to take a break and do some Unreal Tournament modding (or, horror of horrors, actually play it), you end up implementing object pooling and some other bits of random junk.

Finally, you realise that you’ve been working on Exon for so long that even your demo is now a year old. Happy new year! Let’s celebrate with a new version — go and see if you can find your way into the new secret level! (It’s probably not worth it.)

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Game Development

Blog 859: Past Mistakes

Sometimes, you just have to admit that you’ve ended up melding critical gameplay logic with artwork, and maybe that’s not such a great idea.

Yes, as I was working on beefing up my Milkshape model importer to automatically generate entire units, I stumbled into… well, an issue that had been on my mind for a while (as well as realising that making a model wholesale generate a unit is also a bad idea). Time to do a whole universe of rewiring to achieve absolutely no visible impact!

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Game Development

Blog 854: Ultralight

Some of you may remember that I used to go to a meet-up for local Edinburgh game developers called GameDevEd… In fact, I went so regularly that I ended up becoming the organiser (oops). This is a fun role for somebody who doesn’t have a smartphone, seeing as it requires being able to broadcast which table we’re at on social media. To compensate, I take along my little laptop, because the full game dev laptop is too massive to cart around all day (let alone keep open next to my dinner and a drink or two).

Now that the pubs are definitely open again, I’ve finally restarted GameDevEd. Unlike the Before Times, however, I now have a demo — my precious Exon can truly be played live! But my little laptop can’t run Exon smoothly, so no, actually, Exon cannot be played live…

… Unless I can find a way?

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Game Development

Blog 851: Crafting the Waystation

I have a complicated relationship with crafting mechanics. In terms of narrative, I actually tend to hate crafting — it’s very likely to devalue any item you find in the world, because you can always make something better than any pre-existing “legendary artefact”. Skyrim is particularly egregious, as enchanted weapons are no longer exciting to find, instead becoming mere feedstock for your own creations.

But I fucking love forging arms and armour in Skyrim. Even though it ruins half the game for me, and it’s a huge missed opportunity, I looooove hoovering up exotic metal ingots and carting them back to Whiterun to make stuff. I wish there were more different styles of equipment to craft from the same materials. I wish the game was entirely about being a warrior who forged stuff.

What I love more unquivocably, however, is when in Baldur’s Gate you take some ankheg shell to Taerom Fuirim, and he makes ankheg armour for you. That’s our way in.

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Game Development

Blog 848: Fragment v0.04

I’ve done it. I’ve committed to the orthographic camera. There might still be teething issues I’ve missed, but I think it makes the game look a thousand times better so it’s worth the pain. (Feel free to make me eat those words in a year or two if/when I give up and switch back.)

Which means, of course, now is probably a good time to let some real people test the water. I’ve also done a whole heap of other stuff, including rain and bug fixes, so please head on over to itch and give it a go!

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