Entry #2: Let There Be Light

Hello everyone,

At this point I think I’ve reached around 40 hours of work put into this project if not more. And I have to say, everything is coming along beautifully. I’ve got around to adding a lot of functions to the prototype since the 1st Developer’s Journal entry and it’s starting to look more like a game than a clunky pixelated garbage fire.

One thing I’m not strong with is doing the art assets, but it’s on my list to get better. So, while I smear colors on a page like an unsophisticated baby made of spaghetti, you all can see the iterative process of my skill level improving. How exciting!

First (temporary) version of the title menu screen.

Animating our little fox friend

To start, I wanted the player character’s movement fleshed out with corresponding animations. I fine tuned the movement functions that I had already applied to Albert to make it feel more impactful when he ran and jumped. I changed the gravity on his jump so he would fall more rapidly at the height of his jump rather than have an equal amount of gravity applied the whole arc of the jump. Doing this does technically go against how gravity functions; However, when playing a game, it feels more responsive. In fact, I learned a lot about physics these last couple weeks. Who needs university when you can just make games, am I right? *Cough* Right, anyway. After I was happy with how the running and jumping felt, I opened Photoshop and got to work on those pixel animations.

Basic animations for Albert the Foxraven

With these new animations, Albert looks a lot livelier and more playful than he did as a static pixel image “no clipping” across the screen. His run looks like he’s running and jumping looks like he’s taking off into the sky and gliding down. I have to say drawing these took a significant amount of time for me to get right, but I’m glad I did it instead of just relying on less detailed placeholders.

Others have mentioned to me already how “adorable,” and “cute,” Albert is. Oh, just you wait until we get to the narrative. Opinions may change when you see him violently beheading a grundlewort. Or- maybe you’re into that sort-of thing. Weirdo. This won’t be the final design for the character, rather a strong starting point for the art style and feel.

Turning on the lights

I’m a huge fan of relaying story through environment and implicit means, so I decided that lighting will play a huge role in how the game tells its story. I spent a couple hours learning how the lights function in Unity I came up with a simple outdoor setting with streetlights. During this process, I created the first enemy of the game: The Pemplekin.

Albert facing off against his first enemy, the Pemplekin.

I wanted to create something that would logically grow in a vineyard or farm as the first level would be on a farmstead. Thus, the Pemplekin was born. Treated like a violent weed, Pemplekins will retaliate when provoked. I wrote the first bit of code for AI that I’ve ever written, with some hilarious consequences (the Pemplekin span around like a saw blade quickly eviscerating poor Albert with his hitbox). I experimented with some settings, and the Pemplekin now works properly and tracks the player’s movement and creates its own path to follow.

After I got it working, I took a breather and silently congratulated myself for giving one of my creations a simple but functioning brain. Now if only I could give myself one. Someday.

To compliment the functioning lights and Pemplekin, I created a pixel lantern that has a bit of a Victorian aesthetic. With the scene set up as it is, it gives a spooky, dark street vibe. I then created a quick circle sprite and attached a light to it to make the moon in this Lovecraftian-esque horror street.

After figuring out how lighting works, I added a moon in the sky.

After figuring out how lighting works, I added a moon in the sky.

What’s a fox without a fireball?

While creating a physical attack in the code for Albert (which still isn’t functioning properly) I decided that giving him a ranged attack would be cool and allow him to be more versatile as a predator. Foxraven’s are bred for warding off creatures that would harm crops or people after all. So, I did what any benevolent programmer would do and gave him the ability to shoot an orb of searing flame out of his mouth.

I ran into some complications at the start with the fireball’s physics, but after watching a few of Brackeys videos on ranged shooting attacks, I got back on track. If you’re reading this, thanks Brackeys!

Fireball’s just moving left to right across the screen and disappearing on impact were just a little too stale, so I beefed them up a bit. I added a particle effect to the fireball and Albert’s mouth so that little sparks fly out when it’s shot. I also gave them some basic lighting, so they were clearer on the screen at night.

Albert shooting his first fireball.

Next steps

There’s still a lot of work to do to get this working like a proper prototype, but now I’m feeling like it looks 100 times better than what I started with. Next up, I want to fine tune the attacks and create more objects for the environment. Let me know what you guys think I should add next in the comments!