Dragon(fruit) Jam by the Game Dev Network

Last week, I joined a 10-day game jam that ended last September 10. I’m proud of the output despite the time and asset constraints (all assets, including sfx and bgm, must be created within the duration of the jam).

As keeping with my personal rules of doing game jams; I worked with people I have not worked with before and I explored a mechanic that I have not done before.

I worked with Brandon Bittner, a multi-talented artist and co-worker at Autodesk Inc, and with Steve Biggs, a programmer and 3D artist working at Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory. Together, we made…

Deckhand

A resource-management boat-skirmish simulator

You are the captain of your boat and you assign your crew to certain stations. There are 3 types of stations: Sails, Wheel, and Cannons. Putting more crew on the Sails make you move forward faster. Putting more people on the Wheel allow you to turn faster. Putting more people on the Cannons, there are 4 of them, makes them aim and reload faster. Destroying enemy boats drop a survivor which you can rescue (by ramming into them).

You can download and play the game here. Feel free to leave your honest feedback and rate the game (I need the ratings to win this game jam so if you would be so kind. Rating ends on Sept 17. Thank you in advance!)

I have 2 technical experiments here:

  • a dynamic and loosely-coupled resource system
  • procedurally-generated sea

Resource System

For this game, the resource are the crew members that you assign. The classes in this system are as follows:

  • ResourceManager which holds the count of available resources
  • ResourceConsumer which take resource from the manager and can return them
  • ResourceManagerUI which links the ResourceManager to UI elements
  • ResourceConsumerUI which links the ResourceConsumer to UI elements and hotkeys

The consumers should be able to send an OnLevelUp or OnLevelDown message to listeners. I’d prefer to use Unity3D C# SendMessage() functionality to prevent any tight-coupling between the resource system and the gameplay.

Sea

I followed the tutorials on procedurally generating a grid here and generating a height map from noise here. For Deckhand, I needed to fulfill the following criteria:

  • Appears to be endless
  • Mimic waves in water

To make it appear endless, I needed the sea to follow the player (which is followed by the camera) but should have the illusion that it’s not moving. Meaning, if there was a lump at (2, 3) of the grid and I moved the grid (1, 1), the lump should now be at (1, 2) of the grid. Unfortunately, simply using Mathf.PerlinNoise(x – pos.x, y – pos.y) didn’t result to what I wanted.

Water Test 1

Water Test 2 – Unscaled

Notice on both Tests above that there’s a certain position in which the sea flattens out. The certain position is when x or y is a whole number.

What I’ve discovered with Mathf.PerlinNoise(x, y) of Unity3D is that it’s periodic. Meaning, (0.5, 0) and (1.5, 0) as parameters return the same value. This actually makes sense because Perlin Noise is naturally periodic. What I didn’t understand was that when x or y approaches 0 or 1, the returned value approaches 0 as well.

I had to play around with the values I supply to the noise generator. The biggest takeaway was that I needed to use the scale of the grid as a factor. See the downloadable example later on.

For the second criteria of mimicking waves, the Red Blob Games tutorial (linked above) demonstrated how to do just that. See the section on Elevation: Frequency and Octaves. Lastly, I added a high-frequency time-based offset to show waves flowing even when the player is stationary. Initially, I didn’t want to put a texture on the sea but it’s very difficult to sea if the player is turning. I created a texture with a few white dots (stars) with clouds, as if reflecting the sky, which gave the player a sense of reference.

Here’s a unity package of the sea:

Procedural Sea
Procedural Sea
procedural_sea.unitypackage
1.9 MiB
23 Downloads
Details

Post-Mortem

I’ve successfully met my objectives for this game jam. I am particularly happy about the sea and the resource management. The graphics look awesome, thanks to Steve. I loved the user interface and icons that Brandon put in.

My last minute sound effects were hilarious. For the wood creaking sound (when speeding up or turning) came from a wooden table at home. I nudged it and it made the perfect wood creaking sound. For the others, I mouthed the sound effects. And yes, that was me doing weeeee! and nooooo!

Boss Fight

I do understand that it’s not perfect. Play testing the game with my coworkers revealed that space + 1234 doesn’t make sense. In fact, it’s better to just hit 0 and reassign the crew rather than unassign them one by one. The biggest frustrations came from where’s my crew? when trying to assign crew. I failed to inform the user of the UI on the upper left indicating the health and available crew. The icons of the stations being at the edge of the screen didn’t help make the user make intelligent decisions since their eyes are normally at the center. The suggestion was to make them smaller and float them above the actual cannons that they represent.

I originally wanted to let go of this project but Brandon suggested making it into a mobile space game. Think of Artemis for mobile. What do you think?