Adventures of an Indie Game Creator Part 2
Staff Writer By: Sergio Rosa (nemirc)
In my previous post, I described the initial steps I took to decide what kind of game I wanted to make, the genre, how it would play, and how to make it. This time I will describe the initial steps to actually make something playable.
As I mentioned before, I'm using a combination of Adventure Creator and Sabre CSG to quickly prototype something. A big mistake I see some people make is to start creating content left and right, aiming for a cool environment, before actually making a game. This is a big mistake because it's like building a set for a movie before you even know what the movie will be about. Most of the time, this results in a lot of scrapped content because you realize you made a lot of 3d models you didn't need. The same applies to 2d art, obviously.
Since this is going to be a "solo project" (there's the possibility I will bring someone else into the project in the future, but I'm not counting on that at the moment due to budget constraints) I'll need to make my job easier. Luckily, Unity has a lot of tools for that and I decided to use Adventure Creator to make this game. After spending hours watching 3 long tutorials by Adventure Creator's developer, and reading some parts of the manual, I began to make a test character and my first level.
I also happen to own Poser Pro 11. I got Poser Pro a few months ago because its license allows you to use the included content for games, and it happens to include some really cool cartoon characters, and I used one of those as a main character for my project. Since this was just a test, I didn't care much about animation, so she moves around in T-pose. The main goal was to have a working custom character in an environment.
There were a few things I needed to test first: moving the character around, picking up items, dialogues and changing levels. For this, I made 2 simple levels using SabreCSG, and then I placed all the different hotspots in my scenes.
My next step was to test camera movement. What this means is making the camera react to the character's movement, so the camera pans and zooms based on my character's location. I am aware camera movement and a character might end up being useless, since I still haven't decided if the game should play in "first person" view or "third person" view. In hidden object/point and click games, the "first person" view is something similar to looking at a painting.
It doesn't really matter, though, since this is still the testing phase, so I can easily change from one mode to the other quickly. I have to decide what type of game it will be as soon as possible, though, since it's easier to change everything now than change it later when I've made more levels.
Hidden object games also feature an inventory and puzzles. The idea is that you collect items that will be useful to solve present or future puzzles. That meant I also had to implement that gameplay feature in my small prototype, so I created a few pickup items and elements where those items would be used. All items I'm using so far are represented by cubes in the viewport, and icons representing items in the inventory are just quick doodles made in Photoshop. This is more than enough right now since I'm the only one playing the game right now.
However, this is one of the biggest limitations of hidden object games. These types of games rely a lot on visual cues, so it is impossible to make external testing without actual visuals. This means many things related to visuals need to be figured out as soon as possible.
That's all for this part. Join me next time as we continue our work on this small game!
Relevant links: Unity: https://unity3d.com/ Adventure Creator https://www.assetstore.unity3d.com/en/#!/content/11896 Poser Pro 11 http://my.smithmicro.com/poser-pro-11.html