Hey again. In case there are readers that are not also Twitter users, I wanted to give some updates as to what has happened lately and what I am doing currently.
So first things first: my wife and I had a baby daughter (our third!) on May, which is nice but I do think that three kids is quite enough! Especially with all girls; sometimes I get tired of all this Disney princess and Hello Kitty -stuff.. Anyways, while the new baby has obviously affected my game development work, I can reveal that I am indeed working on a new game: puzzle game named Oddhop! I'm actually developing it with my friend, he does (most of) the game design and I do the usual coding, graphics and so on. Personally I'm rather excited about this little game, and to the best of our knowledge the gameplay is quite original — which to be honest is sooo refreshing after countless match-3 games! On the right is the very first screenshot of Oddhop (swamp theme pictured). I hid the (temporary) UI and some of the graphics are not final (the rocks, especially), but it's better than nothing, no?
The game started as a prototype back in February 2014 and we've iterated on it ever since. Now we're slowly transforming from a proto to an actual game. The plan is to get the game out by the end of this year, but that depends on various things (including my day job situation). Definitely during 2016 at least. Most of the gameplay elements are in place — we actually thought we had locked the features down but still a couple of more made the list — I think there's two tricks left to try and maybe after that the design is locked.. We are quite likely to have an open beta testing period when the game is at that point, so keep an eye out for beta requests later on. Current plan is to make the game paid on iOS (yes, it's of course coming to iOS devices despite my old rantings! ) and free but ad-supported on Android (with the option of removing the ads with a single purchase). Nothing is set in stone yet, though.
Oh, and here's an image of the new baby!
Another blog post, another website update, right? I grew tired of fighting with WordPress in Google App Engine, but actually the main reason for this change is that the CloudSQL bills were quite hefty! Since WordPress needs the database for pretty much everything — even with extensive caching — the CloudSQL instance has to spin up almost every hour of the day. So it ended up running 24/7 and that costs more than I'd like for a simple site like this.
What I did was ditch WordPress and switch to an entirely static website. I lost some dynamic features like the search, and I didn't bother to implement categories for posts, but I gained speed and simplicity. Also the RSS feed is currently not implemented, ping me if you need it and I can add something. Anyway, I wrote a custom tool that generates the site from a few templates, and App Engine just serves those static HTML files. The generation takes only about 2 seconds, which is nice. You might wonder why I use App Engine for 100% static content? Indeed the site could be served from a CDN (speaking of CDNs, I added one for the images on here, go me! ), but I'll reserve the option to do some dynamic stuff later on, should a need arise. So let's see how this works — personally I'm very eager to see some savings on my hosting bills! I might do an update later if anyone is interested.
Oh wait, actually there's the new theme as well! You did notice it, didn't you? I wanted something simple and responsive, so I took Bootstrap and quickly whipped up something. It's quite basic but shall do, for now.
Hello, world. If you see this, you are reading this from the new server, which is great. Notice anything new? Apart from the comments being powered by Disqus now, the font change (I grew tired of the previous serif fonts) and some minor tweaks, the site should function just like before, but only better. I have migrated everything from the old webhotel that would break down even under little traffic to the Google App Engine, so things should run smoothly even in case there is some heavy traffic going on. Assuming everything works correctly, that is.
Oh, do let me know in the comments if you notice anything broken that used to work before!
Long time no see, right? Just for fun, I wanted to write up some (initial) thoughts on the topic of Unity, the game engine. Not sure if I've mentioned it before, but I've been keeping an eye on Unity for years (since 3.x days I think), on the prospect that I might actually use it someday for my own games.
After spending way too long on making the general engine code for Jewels 2 (remember the engine consisted of 75% of all my code in J2, quite a bit of which I ended up not needing at all!) it occurred to me that maybe it's not the best use of my time if I actually want to make games. I have two kids, a day job and generally a lot less time to tinker with gamedev than I used to, so perhaps it should be spent not making engines, but games. And I don't even want to count how many times I've started building a game (engine first, of course) and actually ended up with an incomplete engine and no game!
With that in mind I decided finally to use Unity. Early this year I got back to my old day job of making learning games for children and conveniently enough we use Unity there too, so it was a great chance to actually use the thing. Before I had only tinkered with it, made a couple of very small prototypes.
Now that we've established why I wanted to use Unity, and I've actually used it for some time, I wanted to list (not necessarily in any particular order) some things I like and don't like about it. Nothing is perfect, after all. This is from an "old school" do-your-own-engines-in-C++ -perspective, so subjective stuff all around. Also goes without saying that I'm no Unity expert; I'm still learning to get into the proper Unity-mindset and finding an Unity-ish way of doing things, which often is vastly different from what I'd normally do as a coder. (Some of you may be wondering why Unity, instead of, say, Unreal Engine? Well I'll get to that in a bit.)
So there. My initial impressions of Unity. I'm sure I forgot some points I wanted to mention, but I will update this later if anything worth adding springs to mind. No doubt using Unity more will reveal new pain points, but I still believe that it is better to use an engine (be it Unity or Unreal or whatever) these days, IF your intention is to make games and not to tinker with lower level mechanisms. And for me, personally, seems that Unity is a great choice.
UPDATE on October 6th: added notes about co-routines, terrain and iOS development being shit.
Just a quick update: I made a (too long) video with some gameplay footage demonstrating the different game types in Jewels 2. It is a not-so-great promotional video, and only about 6 months too late! Take a look nevertheless, if you haven't played the game and the static screenshots just won't cut it!