Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Trapped




Hi, it’s Ellie again, I’ve noticed that my blogs are getting longer and longer so I’m going to try to keep this post short and sweet.


This week I’m talking about our latest game in development called Trapped. I say game but it’s more like a demo. A VR demo. Yes, we’re finally dipping our toes into VR. If you’re a long time reader you’ll remember that a while ago I changed my mind about VR/AR headsets.


Since GDC I’ve purchased an S7 Edge and a Gear VR. I use the S7 daily but I ended up letting the Gear VR gather dust as there aren’t many games for it. So far the experience has been mostly 3D videos and images which is fine but we decided we’d actually like to attempt to make a game for VR.


You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that Trapped is a horror game. The platform lends itself so well to those types of experiences. In the demo, you play as a blind person. You need to navigate around your own house using: 3D sounds, internal monologue and memory cues. In true horror fashion, there’s something chasing you. You’ll have to play the game to find out what it is though. I don’t want to spoil too much.


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We’re trying something different here; we’re trying to create a game a blind person could potentially play. The demo is very heavy on sound design and not much else.


We’ll be releasing it in May as an experiment to see how well it does in the market. If we get positive feedback we’d like to continue to develop it further with actual levels and objectives. For now, I’ll leave you with an early audio clip and a bit of a teaser trailer.



Thanks for reading, you can follow us all over the internet.


Ellie xx

“Le bon Dieu est dans le détail” - Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Where does inspiration come from?

Hey everyone,

So recently I came across someone in the games industry who was struggling to create a new idea for a game due to a lack of inspiration. They found themselves with plenty of time but just couldn’t get any ideas on paper. Others spoke about having the opposite happen with ideas come flooding in and never enough time to create them. Personally I’ve always found myself with plenty of ideas for projects and was puzzled that someone could struggle with creating a concept, but I decided to look objectively and ask: where does inspiration come from?

To answer this how about I use examples from my life, like our 1GAM projects; Qbits, Echoes of Hope and Late Panda.

Qbits was our first game as part of the 1GAM challenge and we wanted to start off easy, this limited us to something more simple. We started by looking into game genres and picking something with simple mechanics and repetitive gameplay, and what is more repetitive that an idle game? This gave us the foundation to create Qbits, but we needed a theme, Ellie brought up 22Cans’ Curiosity - What’s Inside the Cube. This gave us the inspiration to create a cube based idle game where the player must destroy layer after layer of a cube, receiving and spending in game currency to level up their powers to make the cube easier to destroy. This may have been a simple game (and has it’s fair share of bugs and missing features “See 1GAM January - QBits”) but like I said, it was more an introduction to the 1GAM challenge.

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Our next project however, Echoes of Hope, is more narrative focused while still keeping a simple artistic style. It focuses on dealing with sensitive issues that affect millions of people worldwide. The current version of the game (as of writing this blog) contains our first chapter, the story of Robin and how they are dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts alongside their friend Sean who is trying to help them through this difficult time. After reading an article on the Washington Post about Alzheimer's and how brain training games may help. I decided that I wanted to create a project that could help someone through an illness. We have received very positive feedback on the first version of Echoes of Hope and it drives us to continue to update the game with more chapters covering other issues to help people in the future.

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Our March 1GAM project Late Panda is a game we made specifically to promote the company itself and have a playable game available on our website. Our inspiration for this title created the entire theme of the game, we wanted to create a infinite runner game however we also wanted to do something new for the genre. Instead of having obstacles randomly come at the player we decided a pattern of obstacles would be generated at the start, the player would have some time to memorise the pattern, then they would have to rely on their memory in order to get the furthest they can get. We dubbed this simply a “hybrid memory-infinite runner game”.

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So where else can someone get their inspiration? So far I’ve talked about getting my inspiration from; another project, an article online, and the genre itself. Well, the answer to this question is simple really, the phrase “inspiration can come from anywhere” exists from a reason. I have found inspiration for many stories I have written in the past including; religion, music, dreams or even just single words. Inspiration can strike at any time you just have to be open to receiving it, don’t look blankly around your room or office when trying to create something new. Take everything in and try create a story in your mind, if it doesn’t stick with you move on and keep looking.

After thinking about the person's problem objectively I decided I would try to help to the best of my ability. I told them a shortened version of the above rant, then directed them towards the 1GAM site. I hoped that they could use the monthly theme words to help them out of their slump. After some time I received a response thanking me for directing them to the site as it had helped them drastically. This made me want to talk about sources of inspiration and hopefully help other people out there who may be in the same slump.

That’s all I have for now.

You can follow us all over the internet

Thanks for reading,
Stephen.

“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.” - Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Google Play Games Services for Unity Plugin

As promised in last weeks blog Late Panda by Late Panda by Stephen. I (Ellie) shall this week be talking about a couple of issues we had when implementing the Google Play Services into Late Panda (The Game) and what to expect if you’re planning on doing something similar.


Just before I do though, I’d like to remind you all that Late Panda is our third title this year. All Late Panda games so far are available on Android.


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As you may know, Late Panda is doing the 1GAM Challenge. Release a game every month for 12 months, simple. We want to try to do something different for each game. Either something unique or just something we’ve never done ourselves before. Qbits is an infinite idle game, Echoes of Hope is the super depressing mental health awareness “interactive experience” and Late Panda is, as far as we know, the first of it’s kind. A hybrid memory-infinite runner with Google Play Service integration for achievements and a worldwide leaderboard.


Late Panda was initially developed in Unity for Android. We then decided it would be good to release the game in different places like our website latepanda.com (Desktop only) and on the new Facebook Gameroom (Coming soon).




This is the first time we’d be implementing the Google Play Services into a game. Knowing how popular the Unity game engine is, I was pretty confident there’d be an easy to integrate plugin available. Surprise, there is, and it’s recommended by Google themselves.




This plugin only supports Android and iOS builds. Our chosen target platforms however are:


[ ] Android
[ ] WebGL
[ ] Gameroom (Facebook)


Because we’re developing these games quickly the decision was made to use the plugin and simply exclude the Google Play Services on the WebGL and Gameroom platforms even though Google Play Services does offer support for:


[ ] Android
[ ] iOS
[ ] Web
[ ] Chrome
[ ] Other


This is just something to be aware of if you’re thinking about using the plugin.


Now, if you import the plugin, then try to build a non-Android or iOS version of your game you’re going to have a bad time. To get around this we’re using a wonderful little feature in Unity called Platform dependent compilation. They’re essentially IF statements but they’re super useful for building cross-platform games as they avoid compiling unnecessary code depending on your current platform. You can read up on them here  unity3d.com/Manual/PlatformDependentCompilation.


using UnityEngine;
using System.Collections;

public class PlatformDefines : MonoBehaviour {
 void Start () {

   #if UNITY_EDITOR
     Debug.Log("Unity Editor");
   #endif
   
   #if UNITY_IOS
     Debug.Log("Iphone");
   #endif

   #if UNITY_STANDALONE_OSX
   Debug.Log("Stand Alone OSX");
   #endif

   #if UNITY_STANDALONE_WIN
     Debug.Log("Stand Alone Windows");
   #endif

 }          
}


That’s just a couple of things to be aware of that I thought I’d mention. The best playable experience for Late Panda is the Android version as it contains the worldwide leaderboard and 9 unlockable achievements. If we come back to this game when we have more time I might look into integrating the Google Play Services into all the platforms or hopefully by that point the plugin will support more than Android and iOS.


Thanks for reading, I hope you found this useful. Remember you can follow us all over the internet.


Ellie xx


“My face is tired from dealing with… everything” - Foster Addison

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Late Panda by Late Panda

Hey everyone,

How about we talk about our 1GAM for March? It is a hybrid of a memory test game and infinite runner game. You play as the Late Panda who must run through the jungle, as quickly as they can while avoid the dangerous obstacles in order to get home. The player must commit the pattern of obstacles to memory while reaching as far as they possibly can. We titled this game Late Panda as a reference to a personal in-joke between Ellie and I about the music track Bad Company performed by the band Bad Company on their self titled album Bad Company.


After we made the narrative focused game Echoes of Hope we wanted to spend last month creating a more simple project focused on mechanics similar to our goal with QBits. So we started with a theme of a game and arrived on something along the lines of Flappy Bird mixed with the Simon memory colour game.  After some time, we decided the obstacles that the player avoids should be what makes up memory part of the game, giving the player a list of the obstacles they need to memorise before the first obstacle is encountered.


For this project we required art assets that I have never created before, namely - spritesheets. After creating the initial first frame of the panda I had to spend some time creating each subsequent frame. Each of these frames took me some time to get it right and even now I’m not entirely happy with the spritesheet I had to create for the Panda. After I completed the spritesheet for the panda we had decided that the upper obstacle would be a flying bird which required another spritesheet, which after completing the Panda spritesheet and thinking myself finished this hit me hard.


We also decided that we would integrate the Google Play services but we encountered some issues. That said I think I’ll leave that for Ellie to talk about in her blog next week. I’m sure she will go into depth about the issues she had.

So moving on from that, since our plan for the entire 1GAM challenge was to create a feature in each game that would be useful for future projects, I’ll discuss what feature we made for Late Panda. With the know-how on the implementation of Google Play services it will allow us to create titles in the future that can span multiple platforms. We will also be able to create a more social type game via the Facebook Gameroom which we familiarised ourselves with during this project. We also created achievements for Late Panda and familiarised ourselves with this system and what we could do in the future to create better achievements.

The Late Panda game is currently available on Android and will soon be available on our website and Facebook Gameroom.

You can follow us all over the internet

Thanks for reading,
Stephen.

“You do things when the opportunities come along. I’ve had periods in my life when I’ve had a bundle of ideals come along, and I’ve had long dry spells. If I get an ideal next week, I’ll do something. If not, I won’t do a damn thing.” -  Warren Buffett