Developer Diary Jan-Feb 2014


Developer Diary Jan-Feb 2014

This is my dev diary for January & February 2014 where I talk about my current projects and where I am headed on my quest to one day be a successful indie developer.  Shieldheart is one of my upcoming games, and I talk a bit about how the prototyping is going and the road ahead.



This was something I started fiddling with around x-mas 2013, and ended up spending most of January on even though I was supposed to work on my casino card game.  This was of course a million times more fun to do. It’s hard to guesstimate when I will have time to work on this again.  Most likely I will steal some days here and there from my other projects, but full time work on this is not supposed to happen until I have finished Prof. Whackadoodle.  Long term plans.


The basic idea is to make a side scrolling beat’em up melee game.  I’d like to try to make some cool combat action, but it’s gonna be hard to get it right.  I am aiming for 5 levels or something like that.  I want something that’s one man doable in a relatively short time frame.  Since there will be just 5 levels I can’t waste them on easy introductory stuff, I am thinking that I will go old school on this title, meaning no tutorials or hand-holding at all, it will be hard and players will die in horrible agony trying to figure out the basic controls.  Well those are just my initial thoughts at least, might change.


Shieldheart – Hero Controller

The hero animator controller.  Pretty standard stuff, and very easy to do.  The locomotion is a blend tree blending walk and run animations based on the speed parameter, but I am unsure if I will even need a walk animation, it feels a bit too slow to walk around.



Shieldheart – Jump with animation curve

Added a jump animation, just because whenever I play games without jump it feels like a vital part is missing.  Not really sure what the hero character will jump over yet, but I imagine hostile projectiles.  There was one problem with the jump animation however; it was too short for my liking.  I wanted him to jump higher.  This was a good place to test out animation curves.  I added keyframes at the point where the feet left the ground and where they returned to the floor and made a curve called JumpHeight between those points.  This allowed the hero controller to pull out the JumpHeight data and apply it to the jump making smooth and gradually increase and decrease in the jump height.



Shieldheart – Werewolf Controller

The werewolf is supposed to be a fierce adversary.  I have this idea in my head where I want it to run towards the player, leap into the air with claws raised and do a downward double claw attack, after this I want the werewolf to walk towards the player, turn in his direction if the player have moved, and do sideways claw attacks.  A pretty advanced combo attack in other words, but one that I felt was doable with the animations that came out of the box.  It’s just the matter of putting it all together and making it nice and smooth. Underneath is the animation controller I made for this to happen.



Shieldheart – Lightmapping

lightmapsI recently started experimenting with lightmapping, and it produces a kind of visual style that I really like so I will continue experimenting and testing it.  In this project I tried directional and single lightmaps and in my game I can’t really see any difference between them whatsoever, so I am going with single lightmaps as they are one fourth of the size (5-6MB).  If I have five levels that would be 30 MB of lightmaps, which I don’t really see as a problem as I am only concerned about supporting iPads at the moment. A full quality lightmap bake now takes over 9 minutes, and is the only thing that actually uses all my 12 CPU cores, finally getting value for the i7 chip.

Built a windows version and the game was running upside down. Kind of a strange effect. Looks like a bug in Unity where iOS portrait settings influence the windows build. Easily fixed by just making iOS settings landscape. The build is 50 MB, which is not too bad considering it contains full size textures and normal maps. 75% of the data is textures and I can probably turn on higher compression and reduce sizes, so that is encouraging. 


Solitaire & Casino

I was supposed to work a lot more on this app, but it was so much more interesting to work on Shieldheart and Whackadoodle! :-)  I just started with solitaire to learn Unity but it kinda snowballed I guess.  Anyways, the game has gotten a few make overs, it looks pretty ok to me now, but I know the graphics are not exactly great.

I think I will save the tech talk of making solitaire games to a separate blog, this is way too big already.  But here are some amusing pictures of the progress that’s been made;




Solitaire & Wisdom

  • Released:  v1.0

  • In Progress:  v1.1

  • Update Status:  75% done

SnW_slider_buddah_bgAfter releasing S&W I immediately started working on the followup app.  Fire and forget methodology is not good for app quality.  This app already feels very stale.  I’ve made some fixes, reduced footprint size by a lot, added a few features and done minor changes, but haven’t released the 1.1 version yet.

The main reason for sitting on the 1.1 release is wanting to update the bonus star system to a 2D NGUI version and remove the 3D system that’s in place, but that’s gonna take me a couple of days work, and I’d rather focus on my current project.

I feel like I’ve neglected this app, and will try to make up for it once S&C is done.


Solitaire & Casino

  • Released:  –

  • In Progress:  v1.0

  • Release Status:  95% done

tutorialThis is my current project.  I have been working on it since S&W was released this summer, and it’s taken me twice the time I expected. I will release it 2014 February, or so I hope.  Most likely I will cut features instead of pushing this further, as I feel very strongly that I need to stop working on card games for now and shift focus to action games.

This game feels a lot more solid than S&W, but I’m still not where I want to be in regards to production quality.  The graphics feel pretty homemade and I wish I had a budget that allowed for professional artists.  This is also a major reason why I want to move over to working on action games where I can get professional assets that are affordable.  It’s easier to make a good looking fancy 3D action game than a custom card game because there are tons of characters and environments by pro artists on the asset store.



Prof. Whackadoodle

  • Released:  –

  • In Progress:  prototyping

  • Prototype Status:  25% done

featureThis project was started Q4 2013, iirc, and is my next project once S&C is released. I wanted to start on this in February 2014, but March seems more likely now.

The target release is summer 2014.  Currently the game is a prototype, I will tear that down and create a second and more complete prototype that will contain 10 levels with baked light maps, and I want to see how big I can push the levels before it becomes too large.  I’d prefer to keep the release under 100 MB.

Can’t wait to start working on this project full time.




  • Released:  –

  • In Progress:  prototyping

  • Prototype Status:  20% done


The goal is to get this out before x-mas 2014, but I will be very surprised if that time schedule holds.  Also I must note that it feels a tad insane talking out a release date for a game that I haven’t even designed yet.  I have a rough idea of the game of course but not much more than that, and a lesson I have learned with S&C is that I must get absolutely all game features and details written down in a project plan before I start coding on it. S&C was a rough idea and ended up taking twice the time I wanted to use because I had to fill in the details as I went.



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