Devlog 10

More level design

Continuing with level design, here are some shots at the recently made rooms.

Some more shaders to display the player health status have been made (poison and fire), but most importantly, I started working on magic spells.

Using rocks from my in-development Low Poly Rocks asset (more on this below), I made an earth hammering spell, spawning multiple spikes to push back and damage small and medium enemies, followed by 4 huge pillars to insta-kill small and medium enemies and push back and damage big enemies.

Code rework

It will soon be 2 years since the development of Defense of Humanity has started, and it also means that most of the code is starting to be quite old and that since the start of the project I’ve gained a ton of experience in programming.

That said I decided to rework almost the entire code, to improve readability (trust me you don’t want to see that mess) and optimization. I already spent an entire week on it and it feels so great to be back working on a clean project.

Some mechanics have also been reworked, for example you can now choose to buy a specific gun instead of random gun boxes (random gun pickable still available), and I made pickable guns and health items to replace the boxes. Looks great, feels great, no regrets.

Player animations are still in rework and will be finished as soon as the code rework is done.

Almost 3 months after the initial release on Android, the next huge update of Ahead is almost ready, it will add the most asked features :

  • Quests : Time and Move Count objectives for each level will bring a new challenge beside just finishing all levels. Finishing a quest will reward you with credits, a new currency.
  • Cosmetics : Player models, player colors, trail models, trail colors, track line colors. All of these will be unlockable in exchange of credits earned by finishing quests.
  • Touch controls : Move the camera around the player using touch controls to get a better view of the surroundings.
  • Optional ads only : No more unwanted ads between levels! You’ll be able to watch ads to get more credits at the end of a level if you finished at least 1 quest, but no more annoying random popping ads when finishing a level.
  • Cancel last move button : To restrict the use of this feature, it will require watching an ad. Using this feature remains optional as it comes from a mistake.

I’m also actively thinking about reworking the main menu once again. I’m satisfied with the level selection panel but everything else would benefit a rework.

The game ASO will be entirely reworked so the game can be accessible from a simple search. The name of the game might need to be lightly modified.

No name project

I would not call this one a new project as it’s using the tile building system I’ve made a while ago, albeit reworked, but this is definitely a project I’ve been working more on recently.

The project name is still pending, it really depends of what will be the theme of the game, but I already have some ideas.

It is basically a sim-based management game where you can build shops customers goes to buy items according to a procedurally generated shopping list. The basics are done (Camera controls, Building controls, Customer behaviors) and the project is ready to enter a more serious development phase (Let’s make a game out of it!).

Assets Making

I’ve been running out of funding recently, meaning that any unexpected expense for a project can’t be afforded. So what am I going to do ?

I can’t run a kickstarter for any of my projects as I don’t think these are polished enough to be worth a fully pledged campaign yet.

Then I thought about Patreon but I don’t feel like having enough time to create regular content for patrons, and as far as I know that’s how Patreon works.

So the solution I’m going for is creating assets (Unity focused for the moment), I feel like selling ressources I could even use myself would be a great way to still be working on my current projects and at the same time bring in some fundings to cover any unexpected expense on my projects.

The current asset packs I’m working on are :

  • Realistic Voxel Planets and Pixel Art

Will feature all 8 planets of the solar system + 12 asteroids and an asteroid field, 3D voxel painted according to NASA texture maps, in addition to 80 detailed pixel-art sprites (4 for each planet and asteroids).

Expected working time : ~ 500 hours

  • Low Poly Rocks

Will feature 250 different low poly rocks models, a wide range of sizes from pebbles to mountains, coming with a custom easy to setup shader for adding snow and moss on all models and choosing the base color.

Expected working time : ~ 350 hours

Devlog 9

Available on Android

Ahead has recently been released on Android and it is available to download here :
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.StarvingFoxStudio.Ahead

If you try the game, I’d love to get your feedback, reach me out on Twitter @StarvingFoxStd !

Here is a non-exhaustive list of my current todolist according to users feedback I’ve received to this day, and that you could expect to be featured in an upcoming update :

  • Double tapping to navigate in menus
  • Achievements
  • Challenge mode with limited moves or time
  • Leaderboard for Challenge mode
  • New player models
  • Icons rework
  • Confirmation panel upon trying leaving a level
  • Acceleration system on long travelling distances
  • Movement queuing system

The game has already been updated with new wall textures and a ground track texture to improve readability.

PC release

Seing all this feedback had me thinking that starting working on the PC version of the game right away was a bad idea, and that I might focus on improving the current game on Android and getting all the updates it needs, so when it would come to PC the game would be at its best. Thus said, it is still planned for this year.

Devlog 8

Release date and pricing

Ahead is getting towards release on Android with the initial date set to the 15th of June.

As decided by the community on Twitter, the entire revenue of the game on mobile will be based on advertising so the game will be free on that platform.

The game as been optimized to run on almost any device equipped with Android 6.0 and over, supporting both landscape mode and portrait mode. However, despite the fact that mobile users will generally prefer playing in portrait mode due to the ergonomics of the device, the game has first been thought to be played in landscape mode. Thereby, all in-game menus are optimized for landscape mode, portrait mode still being usable albeit less attractive. Anyway, keep in mind that actually playing the game (out of menus) is exactly the same whatever the orientation you choose.

After the release on Android

The game is planned to be released on PC later this year. It will mostly feature better graphics, customizability, and more music tracks. No precise release date yet but I think I’m safe to say it will be around August.

Concerning distribution platforms, Itch.io should be the first the game will be available on, but I wish to push it to the most platforms I can. Steam is not planned yet as the submission fees are not something I can afford due to the multiple projects I’m working on and the financial support it needs, but if the mobile version of the game can fund it, then why not.

Regarding console, let’s say it’s a possibility, but it’s not clearly planned yet. Though, if it was to be, I think Nintendo Switch would be the first console to consider.

Tunnel visionning on level design

CastleQuest is the project I’ve spent the most time working on recently, and it shows. I’m only focusing on level design for the time being so the world is actually building quite fast. It may not sound like an exciting task, but it’s kinda relaxing as it does not need extreme focus and it is something I am looking for when working on a side project. I can’t wait to finish building this world to start bringing it to life.

It's not only about castles

As shown in the first screenshot I’ve shared of the game, it is not taking place exclusively indoors. I recently updated the project to Unity 2019.1 so I can use the new terrains editor and I also started using Amplify Shader Editor to create some amazing shaders, including water and lava.

Playtime and overall scope

As development progresses, I’m realizing that my scope of the game is way too big. I had in mind that the first campaign would result in an hour of playtime, but I was so wrong, I’m guessing it’s around 4 hours of playtime at the moment so instead of dividing the game into multiple campaigns I’m thinking about cutting it to 1, and then adding new campaigns as huge free updates.

This would keep the game alive for several years and keep new content coming up every year, it would also expand the replayability aspect of the game as new campaigns would not only bring new environnements, but also new enemies, new loot, new abilities, and so on.

New animations

I recently acquired UMotion Pro, allowing me to start reworking every animation from scratch but using IK. Before that I was only animating using FK and it would take me a really long time for… not that great result. Now I can spend the same amount of time working on animations and get 10 times the quality of what I’ve made before, so I deleted all player animations and restarted from zero, starting with locomotion animations.

Color selection screen

As always, coming with good menu ideas feels like a challenge to me so this is highly subject to change in the near future, but I feel like this color selection screen has ideas. I’m soon going to rework the entire menu, adding one more step to get into the actual playstate of the game is making more and more sense to me, especially after reworking that many times Ahead’s menu.

Currently the level selection menu allows to choose with a toggle if yes or no Coop mode is enabled. But now that I’ve added color selection I think it will feel much better to get a level selection screen, then get a color selection screen where your partner can join the game by pressing a key, then start the game. It’s a bit like a fighting game, you choose the place where you’ll be fighting, then you choose your character, then the game starts.

The players will be able to choose between 16 colors to play with.

Devlog 7

Defense of Humanity

The player model has been slightly reworked and is now available in multiple colors.

Currently all player animations are being reworked and it might highly impact the game feel in a good way, as well as being more true to visual objectives.

A lot of work have been done on optimization and tweeking the game.

The main objective after reworking animations will be finishing music production, that has already started 2 months ago and is taking a while, but it’s starting to sound somewhat decent and fits the game.

Side projects

Due to a burnout I really needed to slow down and work on side projects to get out of depression. My motivation was at its lowest and I can’t find any by just taking days off doing nothing, however, I realized that working on my side projects has always led to a huge motivation boost. So here’s some of what I’ve done the last 2 months on side projects.

It is a low-poly style action-RPG game with puzzle mecanics set in the medieval era in which you’ll incarnate a wandering knight, hired by local lords to eradicate evil. You’ll be able to combine a large set of weapons and magic runes in a complex real time combat system (dodging, combos, charged attacks,…) to get rid of hords of diversified enemies.

It is a simplistic slab based puzzle game featuring 50 levels and it will soon be published on Android, a PC version will come later this year (and maybe console ?).

All the graphics rely on lighting, the player being the most powerful light source in the game and all levels being played in the dark. You’ll be challenged to understand how each level is setup and find your way to the exit without being blocked or eliminated by death slabs, not to mention that you’ll have to collect prisms to unlock new levels.

The last tasks on the board for this game are the rework of the main menu and music production.

Devlog 6

Playtesting

After dozens of hours playing the game, I decided to remove Hozirontal and Dynamic mode of the split-screen, so the split-screen will be Vertical only.

It appeared that both horizontal and dynamic mode were handicaping players and were making the game not pleasing to play, I guess these modes don’t fit the project.

Beside a few known bugs I’m still working on, a ton have been fixed, the game feels solid and encountering new ones is rare.

New FX

Enemies, props, weapons and items now have new explosions fx.

UI rework

As it was hard to know what weapon you actually get when you pick a gunbox (weapons are obtained randomly), all weapon related UI have been reworked.

All weapons are now relative to the first letter of their name, ammo is clearly displayed and the name of the weapon pops up for a few seconds when it’s picked.

All turrets are modeled

I finally finished modeling each turret and its upgraded forms.

Level 2 turrets
Level 3 turrets

Miscellaneous

  • Vulcan death animation has been reworked
  • Crosshair display has been fixed
  • I tried new colors for the players, yellow and orange seems like the best choices
  • Made some progress on music production