Harrison Short

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So, about the past month...

So, July turned out to be a far busier month than expected on various fronts, but also wholly unproductive in terms of Plunder Pups progress. Looking back at it, I'm not sure I've experienced a month in my life that has just vanished so quickly like that. I already knew that the first two or so weeks were going to be chock full of non-Plunder Pups-related work, but I wasn't expecting to be knocked on my ass with a sickness from Splendour (though really... how could I not have?). I'm still battling the remnants of a cold, but for the most part I've recovered and shouldn't have any problems getting back to work on my game.

So, here I am, a month from the release of ver. 0.2.0 and... Not much progress has been made toward the final release. In fact, I didn't touch the project for almost exactly a month. Which makes my situation a little dire! I would've preferred having a bit more time to polish the game, but as it stands, I still want to avoid falling into a situation where I'm working on Plunder Pups forever. Therefore, I'm imposing the final deadline on myself: Sunday 3rd of September, version 1.0.0. will be released, and besides tweaks later on, I'll be done with Plunder Pups. 

This gives me four full weeks to work on the game, and should be more than enough time to bang out all the priority issues that I've collated. This includes a number of things that I both want to do/fix and also think are worth doing/fixing in the grand scheme of things. As time whittles away, I'll likely have to scrutinize each member of the list to ensure I'm actually doing what's best for the final product. Currently, I've been working on sound, which I've neglected for the longest time now (which is very odd... considering I'm a sound designer...). That's been going less than successful due to my inexperience with FMOD and the complete lack of documentation, but I'll find a way.

 Pictured: The current bane of my existence.

Pictured: The current bane of my existence.

There's a lot more I want to write about, like moving forward after Plunder Pups and what I hope to achieve in the next half a year, but truthfully that can wait until later on. Right now it's time to work! (And actually pack some stuff because I'm going to Melbourne for a night... Oops...)

Until next time!

- Harrison Short

Plunder Pups ver. 0.2.0 release!

Today I released the second version of Plunder Pups! If you've been reading these devlogs, you'll probably know what's made it into this version, however here's a quick rundown of what's been added in the last month:

Overview

  • Split-screen local multiplayer has been implemented
  • Controller support has been implemented
  • Setting game settings such as player dogs and game length has been implemented
  • Began FMOD integration, though no sound has been implemented
  • Upgraded the game's overall environment
  • Fixed numerous bugs

You can download the new version at the game's GameJolt page.

As before, there's still a ton of bugs that are being logged and fixed everyday, and I'd love any testers to let me know if there's anything that should be fixed/changed! If you're reading this, you definitely have the necessary channels to contact me!

Moving Forward

As I've stated in the past, I'm planning for the next release of Plunder Pups to stand as ver. 1.0.0 and be the final major update to the game. While there is a chance that I may add to the game after it's "final" release, this will be mostly in the form of work taking place in an effort for learning. I've always found it hard to learn new skills when there's no base, so Plunder Pups (and any future project) could serve as just that, where I add things based on what I'm trying to learn (for example, online multiplayer). Additionally, I want to set a final release as I don't want to allow myself the "comfort" of leaving projects incomplete.

Previously I said that the game would see a final release at the end of July/start of August. However, as I've got a ton of prior commitments this month, I've decided to push the release date back two weeks into mid-August. This I feel is justified, as I've been given a huge amount of shifts this month at my day-job (which will go a long way to saving for various things). In addition however, I'm going to be working with the QUTGDC for a week on a mobile game, which should serve to keep me in a game development mindset during that mid-year game jam. On top of that, I'll also be away from my computer for six days at Splendour in the Grass! So that basically automatically eliminates two working weeks (for the most part).

As this next release will be near final, prioritization of features and bugs is absolutely key here. Sound is at the absolute top of my list when it comes to what I'll be working on next, and I'm also going to look into UI design (graphically, that is) sooner rather than later. I've been compiling a list of bugs as well, so those will likely be worked on in tandem with the major features yet to be added. 

That's about it for now! Thank you for reading!

- Harrison Short

Plunder Pups ver. 0.2.0. preparation

In the past couple of weeks, work has slightly stalled on Plunder Pups. This was due to getting more shifts at my day-job as well as a bit more time spent socializing... But one of those times was with the QUTGDC, so I guess it counts as game development time, right? According to GitKraken, the following has been done since my last devlog/blog post:

Overview

  • The game now knows how many human players are playing and will set up the HUD, players and necessary cameras
  • Organized and added a number of prefabs for different elements of the game
  • Began working on make a better looking scene with AxeyWork's Free Low Poly Pack (downloaded from the Unity Asset Store)

Prep For Next Release

Unfortunately, due to the smaller amount of work done in the last couple of weeks, a few things may need to be cut from this release. In particular is the game's sound, which I was hoping to make it in at a basic level. In this project I'm hoping to utilize FMOD as it's an industry standard, so the sound is unlikely to be a quick job (which it could be if I implemented it as I did last year in Bees Won't Exist). I had also wanted the menu system to be polished and robust but unfortunately this is proving to be more difficult as I lack both the knowledge and artistic skill for User Interfaces. 

However, on the other hand, with some hard work in the next few days, I should have a new version of the game released, which will include local multiplayer, Xbox controller support and (hopefully) a better environment. For the most part, this is what I wanted to be in this release, so I'm actually somewhat content with putting this out as v.0.2.0. Currently, this is due out this Sunday (02/07/2017).

I am also planning to push back the date of the "final" release of the game, due to a number of reasons, but actually I think it's quite justified! I'll post more about that after the next version of the game is released.

Until next time!

- Harrison Short

Progress during my time off...

It's been a productive week as I've had a ton of spare time to work on Plunder Pups! Here's a general overview of what's been done:

Overview

  • Finally found my controllers, which allowed me to continue controller implementation.
  • Set-up all controllers to work with the Unity Input Manager.
  • Fixed a bug where the player could start the running animation while the game was counting down.
  • Fixed a bug that did not allow the player to unpause whilst using a mouse and keyboard configuration.
  • Implemented controller support to a satisfying degree. Assigning a control scheme to each player is yet to be implemented.
  • Fixed various issues where menu items were not becoming highlighted.
  • Began FMOD implementation for when sounds are added.
  • Began adding functionality to allow picking the number of human players and setting up the game from there.

I'm pretty happy with the amount of work that was done while I had a bit of time off from my day job, and I learned a few things along the way! I would say the biggest lesson I learned this past week or so was that once a game has gotten past the prototype stage, controller functionality should be high on the list of priorities. The game now feels all round better to play with the inclusion of controller support, which would have helped with internal testing.

Reevaluating goals and milestones for releases

This past week has given me a good idea of how much I'll realistically be able to work on the game until the end-of-June deadline. Realistically, I'm going to have to push back a few things and prioritize other features. I don't believe that the AI states will be complete in 15 days, which is a bummer, but it's one of the less notable things in the game thus far. There are still obviously a lot of bugs happening with the AI, so those will need to be cleaned up before additional states are considered whatsoever.

On the topic of notable things, the game world is looking a little dull. I want to look into free models or possibly asking peers about small modelling jobs, in particular for the fences and "nests" (which I want to restyle into dog kennels). Additionally, the game is still completely devoid of sound, and while I could probably get away with releasing a new, "stable" build of the game at the end of the month without music, I don't think sound can be omitted.

These are just a few of the things that I'm currently contending with, so it's going to be a hard race to the finish to complete things to a satisfactory degree by the end of the month. It's likely that I may end up having to cut various features, unfortunately, but that's game development!

Thanks for reading!

Harrison Short

Game jam session and subsequent progress

Over the past week I've actually made some decent progress on Plunder Pups! That mostly started on Saturday at the aforementioned game jamming session. This turned out to be a lot more casual than first expected, which I liked more than being in a mode of "must work," to be completely honest. As such, while a couple of my friends decided to start a new project (that didn't see too much progress made on anyway, ahahaha), I continued work on my project. 

Over the past week, since releasing v. 0.1.0 of Plunder Pups, I've done the following:

  • Made the game's RuleSystem a Singleton
  • Added the ability to change the game's time limit
  • Started work on a split-screen system and adapted various systems to work in multiplayer and single-player modes
  • Began adding controller support

At the moment I have about 7 days off, just as a way to reward myself around my birthday! So I plan to be working on the game in my spare time, as well as trying to finish Zelda and giving myself some time to play Playunknown's Battlegrounds, which I've just bought! I plan to try to finish controller support and begin work on AI behavioural states this week (if I can find my damn wired Xbox 360 controllers...).

Thanks for reading!

Harrison Short

Unnamed project has a name, v.0.1.0 is out now, and more...

So, last night I quietly released the first "version" of my unnamed solo project. If you're on the GameJolt page for the game, then obviously you know how to find it! If you're reading this on my personal website however, you can check the project out here!

Finally naming the game

In the process of uploading the game to GameJolt, I decided I needed to finally attach a name to the project. An earlier poll asking what word people liked placed after "Puppy" found an overwhelming number vote for "Plunder." However, I thought "Puppy Plunder" was a strange name as the player isn't stealing puppies, they're a puppy who steals from other puppies. So, the game has now been named "Plunder Pups!"

Plunder Pups, ver. 0.1.0

This release features the following:

  • Basic menu with credits screen and basic quitting functionality
  • Standard Human vs AI vs AI vs AI game
  • Time limit of 2 minutes (will eventually be customizable)
  • Basic AI
  • Majority of game mechanics implemented

The current state of Plunder Pups is obviously quite basic. There have been a few things I've noticed that need to be changed, ranging from the UI being clearly placeholder, to AI still being somewhat glitchy. On top of this, I've noticed a few things from playing an actual build of the game, rather than the game in Unity. For example, the UI hasn't been scaled to the screen resolution correctly, which is something I've completely overlooked, but which isn't really an issue at the moment. Some smaller issues will be fixed in the near future, and it's likely I'll upload a patch for the game.

Progress on game jamming

Tomorrow is going to be my first session of 12 hour game jamming! I'm unsure of whether I'll be working on my own new project, someone else's brand new vision, or an on-going game, but I'm excited to finally be doing some collaborative work this year! Expect a devlog/blog post of some sort soon after!

Until next time...

- Harrison Short

Work, deadlines and possible promises to myself...

Hello everyone who may be reading this!

So we're almost at June and this blog has remained mostly neglected this entire time unfortunately! Work (as in, paid work) has mostly been the cause of this, as my job is somewhat physical, leading me to be tired as I come home with little motivation to write blog posts and work on game dev related things. On top of this, I've been trying to actively avoid becoming a hermit, so social activities have stifled creative time as well.

On a positive note, this year I wanted to mainly do two things: save money for my trip to America next year, and learn more game development-related skills. While the second goal hasn't been overly successful thus far, the increased time working at my casual job has me well on my way to accomplishing that goal, so that keeps me in a good head-space. Not all is lost on learning new skills and developing games however! A few new developments as of late should propel me back into spending time building a portfolio and advancing my career.

Game Jams

While development of a fully fledged version of Bees Won't Exist broke down earlier this year, most of the folks I worked with on that game were keen to work together again in some format. What we've come up with is a way to cycle through various ideas and work in a fun, collaborative workspace. This will come in the form of 12 hour game jams. Essentially, we'll come together every couple of weeks to nut out some prototype for a game, building our portfolios and our skills in the process. Perhaps if the idea is good enough, we might pursue it further, but at this point in time, the main point is to, above all else, have fun, and learn new things.

Project Deadlines

Throughout this year, I've been working on a small personal project (which I've actually only just realized I haven't talked about ONCE on this blog). The currently unnamed project started at the end of February according the initial commit timestamp, but due to the aforementioned increased casual work, as well as my own programming inexperience, the project has gone on a lot longer than initially anticipated. For fear of this project becoming my own personal Alchemy Punch (ask @WraithDrof and me about that one on Twitter), I've decided to place some more concrete deadlines in place. Currently the game is in an "alpha" state (though if I were to be strict, it's probably a bit more primitive than alpha).

End of May: An "Alpha" version of the game will be released on GameJolt (keep an eye out), with the "Conservative" AI state completed, mostly placeholder models and layout, a basic menu system, credits (note to self: work out copyright bullshit!!!)

End of June: "Beta," including local multiplayer, the other AI states, improved models and layout of the level and a completed menu system

End of July: The final game, with hopefully all polish and features complete

Failing this, I will probably end up making periodic updates to the game until I'm satisfied with it, but it won't remain my primary project past July. If you're reading this just after I've posted it, I've put up a poll regarding the naming of this game, as before I can put it on GameJolt I figure I should confirm a name for the game. You can check that out here.

Branding

I've been tossing up the idea of properly branding my "studio." While this isn't at the forefront of my current issues, it will probably play a part when I create GameJolt pages, so I'm thinking about it more and more, and it has kept me thinking about my creative pursuits.

That's really all for now! If you'd like to see gifs of the game, you can take a look at my Twitter media, as it has all been posted there. Thank you for reading!

- Harrison Short