Author: Joe Hocking

A new beginning…

Okay so this is a sort of cryptic title. It refers to the fact that I just started a new job! Working at Synapse Games was awesome, but I’d been there a long time and felt like it was time to move on, so last Monday was my first day at InContext Solutions.

Anyway, despite the whole changing-jobs thing keeping me rather busy, I’ve made decent progress on my first-person rpg. I implemented the code foundation for my game, including generating random dungeon mazes:

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 7.55.12 PM

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Planning out future work

So much like last month, this is going to be a very short update. I was still concentrating on the 2nd edition of my book so not a ton of work on the first-person RPG. However, at this point my part of that work is pretty much done, and I can shift back to concentrating on my games! There’s still a lot more work needed before the book is released, but it’s not work that I’m doing; there are months of copy-editing and layout to be done once the actual writing is complete. The first draft was finished last month, so this month I worked with editors and reviewers to make revisions. I do still need to make one pass of revisions, but that’s more of a sanity check to make sure nothing is missing, than actually writing anything.

Anyway, now I’m planning what to work on as I shift back to development. When I first mentioned the first-person RPG I described it as “basically a clone of Shining in the Darkness”. Well, that “basically” implies that it’s not exactly the same, and one of the bigger changes will be procedurally generated dungeons. The mazes probably can’t be quite as intricate as a result, but then it’ll probably be more fun if there’s less emphasis on memorizing the dungeon mazes and more variety each playthrough.

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Finished first draft of 2nd Edition!

Not a ton to blog about this month; I’ve been working on the second edition of Unity in Action mostly. I have hit an important milestone; I’ve finished the entire first draft! That is, all 13 chapters (12 from the first edition, plus the one new one) are updated and sent to my editors. The first 6 chapters have been through one editing pass already actually, and are already available for early access; Manning has a system for readers to get access to unfinished ebooks before the print book is ready.

Besides working on my book, I’ve also been gathering assets for my first-person RPG. Bought a bunch off Unity’s Asset Store, found a bunch of free music, and currently contemplating where to get the rest.

Oops, a new game idea has appeared

So as described in my last post, lately I’ve mostly been working on the second edition of my book. In particular, the one new chapter, about developing a 2D platformer in Unity, is done. Very soon (probably in just two days) it’ll be available through MEAP; my publisher, Manning, does early access while the books are being written.

Besides that though, I’ve been planning to resume developing my own game after the book is finished. Up until a couple weeks ago I had been assuming I would resume working on the strategy game. However, I’ve been gripped by a new idea lately and will probably start developing that instead. I feel bad about abandoning the strategy game because it’s pretty interesting, and will probably pick it up again in the future, but for now the new idea I’ve had has a number of advantages.

In a nutshell, I’m planning to do a very simple first-person dungeon crawler; basically a clone of Shining in the Darkness:

hqdefault1

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2D Platformer for My Book

Doing the 2nd edition of Unity in Action mostly involves updating code listings for the latest version of Unity, but my editors and I also decided to add one new chapter. While the majority of feedback from readers has been (thankfully!) very positive, one thing we’ve frequently seen is people wishing there was more content about 2D games. Thus, we decided to add a chapter about developing 2D platform games.

My process for every chapter has been 1) first build the project, then 2) write about what I implemented. So I implemented the shell of a 2D platformer a couple weekends ago, and am now writing the chapter about it. Here is a WebGL build of that project:

 Unity in Action - 2D platformer

(controls explained on that page; left/right move, Space jump)

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Working on 2nd edition of my book

So this past month I haven’t worked a ton on my strategy game. I wasn’t just being lazy; I’ve started working on the 2nd edition of Unity in Action! That’ll probably take most of the summer to complete, so in the meantime I probably won’t do much on my game. Which is annoying but that’s life; I didn’t know in just a few months my publisher would be asking for a 2nd edition when I started on my game.

That said, I really like working on this game so I can’t stay away from it completely. First off, I’ve done a bit of work figuring out how the UI system will operate. Nothing worth showing off, just creating popups in HTML and writing JavaScript to control them.

Second, I’ve been looking for and playing simple strategy games for research. I know, haha “research”, but seriously I’ve been making a concerted effort to find other games similar to what I have in mind and/or which will give me new ideas. For example, I learned of Crown and Council, which I really wish I could play directly but it’s PC-only so I’ve watched playthroughs on YouTube. Similarly, I’ve been googling terms like “free web strategy game” and “simple html5 strategy game” to find more examples. There are two in particular I want to talk about:

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Dividing the Map into Regions

So in my last post I had a pretty good randomly generated island. My next task was to split it up into selectable regions to make the map for my strategy game. As mentioned last month, I ended up not using voronoi cells after all to generate the island; well, I realized that could still be a good approach to generating the map regions, just layered onto the more organic looking island.

Here are a couple examples of the end result:

split-island1.png

split-island2.png

I may want to make the borders more irregular later, but overall not bad for a prototype! Incidentally, the colors are just random for now in order to test the look: the red and blue regions would be the colors of different empires, while the dotted lines are unexplored regions.

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