Saturday, January 17, 2015

First Post of 2015: Battle High and Character Pipeline

So it's 2015.  To summarize, 2014 had high highs and low lows; instead of writing a long retrospective of the year, I'm deciding to just look forward.

Battle High 2 & GumTrix

The first thing to look forward to is more Battle High work.  Last year I struggled to finish porting the game to Unity3D, but upon changing my method to just copy the code from XNA to Unity3D, it's now "done".  I use quotes because fighting games are rarely ever done.  In fact, members of the OUYA team did a stream of Battle High 2, which was both fun to watch and a little stressful -- please don't crash on stream -- but as they played, I noticed like 3 or 4 things I could and want to fix.  During the rest of January, however, as I get back into the swing of working, I'm taking a break from it.  I'll probably resume working on it, fixing those bugs, investigating what I can do to make it better, upgrading to Unity 4.6, and maybe even online multiplayer.
At the same time as well, I've started to try and treat my projects more professionally such as making a press page for my various projects use presskit().  At the same time, I should probably be upgrading my website as well.

My new logo!  I'm not sure if I posted it here or not; my sister designed it.

Also, at Schell Games, I finally was able to finish and publish a mobile game called GumTrix.  It's a project that, despite it being rather simple, I've been wanting to finish for a long time.  The original prototype was made before Candy Crush Saga was even released!  Though I doubt it'll get the same amount of exposure or popularity, I'm just proud and happy to have finished and hope that I'll get to work on it again sometime this year to make it even better!

Juicy, bouncy fun for everyone!

3D Fighter & Character Pipeline

In the meantime, I'm starting a 3D fighting game.  This is a super ambitious project, one I don't see myself completing this year, but it's been something I've wanted to do for a long time.  Right now I'm in an early prototyping phase to see if it's even possible and to figure out my minimum viable product  or MVP -- a term I've been hearing way too often at work lately.  I'm using Unity and trying to use mecanim to figure out how I'd make this work.  I want to try and remedy things with this game that I didn't with Battle High, for example, start writing the networking layer early.
Below is an early prototype:  very basic models, pre-basic animation, but the tests were to better understand Mecanim, using root motion so I can animation movement in 3ds Max, etc.

The biggest challenge with this game -- so far, I'll give it time as online will trump this -- has been a devising a character pipeline that is fast and cheap.  So far, I've found this in MakeHuman.  It's not perfect and there are close contenders such as Autodesk's Character Generator (ACG).  For now though, the MakeHuman model and rig is nice and allows me to rig and put a character in engine quickly.  The final models, especially if I aim for OUYA, might need some simplification, but for now, they are a good fit.  Also, MakeHuman is a free application that is actively being worked on as opposed to a web-based subscription that could eventually disappear like Mixamo or ACG.

Jam & Convention Season

Part of this year's Global Game Jam logo.

The Global Game Jam is coming up; I'll be participating in that again.  I only did one Ludum Dare last year as well as the Global Game Jam, so starting off "Jam Season" I guess, I could call it, will be nice; it'll be interesting to see if I do more than two in 2015 though.  At the same time, however, GDC is coming up in March, and I will be attending.  GDC last year, to put it lightly, sucked.  Most of this was my own fault as I picked bad talks that made more depressed about the industry than I already way and the excitement and joy I get from the conference just didn't happen.  I'm going to go out on a limb though and try again, so we'll see.  I think my plan is that if GDC is awful to go to another conference like Unite, but I'm going to try and be optimistic and enjoy myself -- and not pick garbage talks / panels.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to 2015.  It'll definitely be different but hopefully productive and full of growth and improvements.

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