Dan and I spent the last three sessions modelling all the elements of the game, deciding what shape they’ll be. Here’s an image with the elements in roughly the right places as you’d see in a game. This isn’t a real level, we just put the pieces together, and they need to have colors and artwork attached yet.
Dan spent some time figuring out the words to use in his game today, and looking on a website to find all the smaller words that use the same letters. This is the list of 30 words that will make it into the game. Some of the words are more difficult or easy, and Dan made sure there were some of each in every group.
4 Letter Words: Four, Away, Ship, Them, Belt, King, Stop, Rock, Face, Said
5 Letter Words: Champ, Words, Beast, Seize, Power, Ledge, Gales, Cards, Boots, Ultra
6 Letter Words: Hurled, Barrel, Pirate, Dragon, Aboard, Aiming, Silver, Deadly, Sudden, Wizard.
It was naming and branding time today. And I can reveal that this year’s game is called:
The dangly lines are strings, which Dan wants to hang letters from in the game. We looked at a whole bunch of logos involving speed, and Daniel decided that italic red text with action lines was the way to go (quite similar to last year’s logo).
So, Ultra Word Run, here we come!
Its the first day of the summer holidays today, which means it is the first day of the annual Game Summer project, where Dan and I conspire to build a game based on his designs and creativity.
We had our ‘launch meeting’ today, where we talked about ideas for the game.
Dan was keen to do an “endless runner” game in the style of Temple Run, and lots of other games he loves on his iPod Touch. So we had a good chat about cloning and the way that once one good game comes out there are lots and lots of games that just copy it. Dan decided he didn’t just want to make a direct copy of Temple Run, so we looked for ways the game could be completely different, even if it used some of the same obstacle dodging mechanics.
He came up with the idea of having chunks of running followed by word-puzzles, which unlocked the next section. I suggested he come up with ways to make the running sections be more integrated with the word puzzles, so it wasn’t two different games put together. He suggested that, as you run, you pick up the letters you need, then have to make a word at the end to continue. He suggested that if the word was FOUR, and you missed the F, you could continue, because you can make OUR, but you’d have fewer points. I’m really proud of his design, I think it has a bunch of neat properties.
We then discussed scoring, as he is very math oriented. He wanted to add double-word-score and triple-word-score powerups (he plays scrabble with us, so the connection was obvious), and then suggested we have a ‘minus-word-score’. After I explained negative multiplication to him (which he got pretty much immediately), he figured out that, if you pick up a minus-word-score you’d want to make the smallest word at the end of the level: to lose the least points, an excellent inversion of the strategy. Over dinner he figured out that two minus tiles would take you back into positive territory again. So we have the basis of a scoring system.
We also discussed the aesthetic, but we'll be coming back to that tomorrow, so more details then.
All in all an excellent and long afternoon, culminating in a very geeky meal. Game Summer III is off to an exciting start, and Dan is very pleased with himself.
Sorry things went a bit quiet over the summer. We carried on working on the game, but it was a very busy summer, so there wasn’t much chance for blog updates.
Anyway a couple of weekends ago, Dan finished off the game, and today I finished the little tweaks he asked me to make. So you can now play the game. Click on the image above.
You’ll need the Unity web player, but if you don’t have it, the page should walk you through installing it.
Dan spent today getting more used to the tool, moving things around, creating new objects and playing through to see if the level worked.
This is the result. A first level (though Dan was at pains to point out that it is too hard to be the ‘first’ level).
You need the door gem to get on the ramp. The gem (red) is right on the corner of the platform so you need to be careful. On the ramp is a boost (green), which makes it easy to do the final large jump to the third platform. But you have to not go too fast, because the buffer (pink) is in line with the exit, so you need to go around it. Three coins on the level give you an extra point boost. Dan’s top score is 16 on this level so far, mine is 14.
I’ve been impressed with how easy Dan is finding Unity. Switching between overhead and side view, changing tools, adding new items. Really is fun to watch. And this level is pretty good fun to play.
Next thing we need to get rid of some of these out-of-the-box graphics, particularly the checkerboard platforms, I think.
We worked on the logo for the game today.
Dan typed the name and chose the font. It looks like it is moving, he said.
I said that sometimes designers change a letter to be a drawing, and Dan said “we could change the O into a ball!”.
We’d talked about movement lines to make something look like it is going fast, so those were added. And the shadow was my little trick: “Cool” said Dan! “It looks Japanese.” said Mel.
A short session today.