Thursday, 1 May 2014

New Month, Old Problems

The start of a new month so I thought the very least I should (and could) do is write a blog post but, as you can see, ended up also posting a brief video about Unity. I suppose the video proves that I am actually working on something, even if my usual reticence about ongoing projects means that I’m not ready to send it out into the world. I’m also horribly aware that the previous app I wrote still hasn’t emerged. To be honest, I still haven’t decided what to do with it and I haven’t the time to invest in finishing it with the degree of polish I’d expect from any published app.

I just never have enough time. I’m not entirely sure what happened to April. The month went quickly, dominated as it was by trips to various local (and not so local) hospitals where my sister underwent a series of increasingly unpleasant (for her) investigations and then procedures. I’d like to say that she’s feeling better but she isn’t. Nor are we much more advanced in knowing the cause of her long time illness. Things have been found but no real explanations give. We have a few ideas, some theories, but, as ever, we await somebody who might actually understand it and wish to treat it.

As for myself, I’ve just been trying to keep my head down and plough on without stopping to think too much. Reflection breeds misery so I haven’t stopped drawing and coding. You might also have noticed that the month ended with a rarity. I exceeded my bandwidth and this blog disappeared for three whole days as I waited for the new month to bring a bandwidth reset. There might have been some way for me to keep it running but I refuse to plough what little money I don’t have into something that earns me nothing. I don’t honestly know why I keep on with this charade, though it was a little gratifying to learn that my outpourings are now being archived for posterity by the British Library. So, hello people of the future.  [Waves forlornly across time and space]

Speaking of earning nothing through my labours: as the video proves, I’m *still* toiling away on the game. I’m well past the stage where I should have abandoned it for something better. I have better ideas than this and the gameplay mechanic still has a flaw in that I still can’t widen the player’s view to give them better control over events. The only thing I can say positive about the game is that it makes me laugh on a regular basis and that, ultimately, is the only thing I’d intended when I set out to create this monstrosity.

I now feel like I’m in the Unity2D zone. I keep getting better ideas for better games which I think I could build. Last week, I had an idea for a simple game and I built a working prototype in less than two hours. If I had time to devote to it, I might work on that simpler game. I have a Unity mindset and my projects are now mainly constructed in code rather than using the visual editor and nothing in my game exists long than they are needed.

I think I’ve said before that the beauty of Unity is the ability to create and destroy GameObjects: which are containers for graphics, sound, and even game logic. If I were making a tennis game, I could simply create game logic for a single’s match or a different set of logic if you’re playing doubles.

The last couple of weeks have been about small things: getting menus working, unlocking trophies, and victory messages. I have a high score system in place, though it’s not connected to any internet leaderboards which I would eventually like. My one obstacle remaining is really learning about serializing data but that is for another day, week, or even month.

The other stumbling block is music. Sound effects I’ve pretty much solved by going around the house snapping twigs, hitting pans, and making grunts into the microphone. Again, I’m not much of a foley artist but the effects don’t sound too bad.

I wish I could say the same about the music. Ideally, I should find some musician willing to provide a little background jingle but I’ve ended up doing it myself. Not having a proper MIDI keyboard limits what I can do. I’ve borrowed a Apogee JAM from a friend so I can connect my guitar to the PC but I don’t have facilities to really record my battered old acoustic guitar and my (almost as battered) electric sounds too grungy. So far, I’ve had only limited success primarily because the sounds I like to make don’t at all fit the game which requires something more comical, possibly played on the tuba.

But I could waffle on like this all day and I have jobs to do instead of talking to myself and people in the year 2153 studying low-end blogging in the 21st century. I'll blog again, hopefully before this month's bandwidth runs out. Not that I'm complaining that the blog gets visitors but I'm sure it's only people looking for America's hugely successful Spine blogger who talks only about spines. That's clearly where I've been going wrong...

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