Archive | July 2013

Day 4: Logo

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.


Days 2 & 3: Sound and Vision


This year I wanted to have the game playable earlier. Last year we spent too much time on the art up front, so Dan got a little bored towards the end of the holidays, not being able to play his game. In the end, we ran out of steam, and didn’t finish until Spring. This year, with the move to 3D, we’re working in Unity, so I could get a playable version of the code working in an evening. That means Dan can actually see and play the changes as he makes them, which is much better.

As a consequence, progress is slow, because Dan has to thoroughly play-test each change!

In the screenshot above (click to see it larger) you can see the bare bones of Dan’s design. The ball is resting on a platform. The red floating sphere is a ‘door gem’ and the white rectangle is the door – if you collect the gem, the door opens. The yellow disk is a coin, the green cube is a boost power-up. The purple thing is a ‘buffer’ which knocks you back. The black rectangle is the exit. We will work on refining the look of these later: at the moment they are just the basic shapes that we could add with one click. The scoring system Dan designed works nicely: with the score counting down and being increased by coins.

Dan spent yesterday refining the sizes of things: learning to use Unity to make the door taller (so it can’t be jumped over) and to add lights to the pickups (you can see the green cube is casting a green glow on the ground). There’s also a second platform not visible in this shot, which he positioned and changed the angle of, so it has a slope. Dan took to Unity like a pro, and quickly understood the idea of adding components to alter an object.

Today, Dan worked on sound effects. Like last year, we used the excellent Cxfr to create brand new sound effects for the three types of pickup, for touching the buffer, for falling, for jumping, and for finishing the level. This year Dan is much more proficient at reading, so was able to play with the sound effects: altering their frequency, their slide and their envelope.


He was also able to read enough to manipulate Unity’s rather complex interface to get the sound effects playing on the correct object. My aim for this summer is to get Dan using Unity quite fluidly. I’ll still be writing the code, but I’m sure he’ll be able to create objects, add components, tweak important settings, lay out the level and test his game.

After play-testing, he decided a couple of the sounds didn’t sound good, so he reworked them. Finally the ‘finish the level’ sound still wasn’t right, so we went online and searched for a more triumphant sound.

Dan is enjoying playing the bare bones of his game, and I’m enjoying the fact that using Unity means the code is basically written already!

We’ll probably work on a logo next, and add that to the screen, and then he wants to work on making a full level with more coins, buffers and platforms in it.

Day 1: A New Game Dawns

Its hard to believe its been a year since we started Cave Saver! It is the first day of the summer holidays for Dan, and we’ve started our game project for 2013.


We’ve been talking through ideas for a while. Dan liked the idea of rolling a ball, which he enjoyed from levels of Super Mario Galaxy and the two Super Monkey Ball games he’s got. Also a big priority for him this year was to do a 3D game.


We had a big conversation about the amount of work it takes to make 3D graphics and the fact that we’d have to pick a simpler game idea to make it work in time. So no cute jumping frogs this year, I’m afraid. Expect more plain geometric shapes! It will be a good excuse to get him using 3D software though.

The idea is based on Super Monkey Ball: you have to roll a ball across platforms to an exit door. There are obstacles in your way such as buffers (pinball style), holes and locked doors. You collect coins for points, and gems to open doors (for some reason – I figure the game is pretty abstract, so let’s roll with it). Power-ups give you extra speed, and you can jump the ball up a little.

We also have a long b-list of features that would be nice to have, if we get time (which I suspect we won’t, but still!)

Dan devised a neat scoring system: you’ll start with some points, but lose a point every couple of seconds. You get extra points by collecting coins, but if you fall off and have to go back to the start, the coins don’t reappear. It is neat because it balances a kind of time limit and score attack in one go. We had a great conversation about whether it would be good to make the level harder if the player was too slow, and how punishing weaker players isn’t a good idea.

So here’s the game design wall. Simpler than last year, but still some neat ideas.