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Day 10: Install Git

It was a silly oversight on my part that will make programmers facepalm. I must’ve completely zoned out while watching tutorials about connecting VSCode to Github, or perhaps they logically assumed I had completed the necessary prerequisite: first install Git. I had not.

The other day when I read that VSCode had git integration, I incorrectly thought that was all I needed to connect with Github.

I didn’t understand why I was getting this error

Later when I finally clued in and downloaded Git, the installer was giving me grief and wouldn’t let me proceed with my editor selection:

I discovered it was because I had VS Code open. Oops.

Frankly, it was just one hiccup after another and nothing much was accomplished tonight.

Actually, that’s not true. I now know more about Git than before. I practiced how to stage, commit, and push files. I learned what a SHA-1 hash is, how to clone a repository and create a new branch. And I’ll continue with my research tomorrow.

(See how easy those negative thoughts can creep in. I need to push them away. Shoo! Scat!)

Onwards!

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Day 5: Connecting With The Player

My wife is in the other room screaming. No, she isn’t upset. She’s playing the remake of Resident Evil 2 and really getting into it.

As I watched her play earlier, I tried getting feedback from the viewpoint of a prospective game designer. What caused her to have the biggest reactions? What was(n’t) fun? What was(n’t) intuitive?

I found it interesting that a lot of the suspense created was due to sound alone. Even when she couldn’t see Mr. X, his heavy footfalls were enough to elicit an ‘Oh sh–!”

It’s amazing how games can make you smile, laugh, cry (GoldenEye – Aztec level, Difficulty: 00-Agent), or even scare you. They can draw you into an engaging story and let you escape into a different world. It can be an emotional experience that drains or uplifts you.

And now I proudly present my very first game that evokes none of the feelings described above: Tic Tac Toe.

What a masterpiece

The Unity tutorial I followed helped me get a better feel for the Hierarchy, Project, Scene and Inspector windows and I feel comfortable laying out a simple menu.

But if I’m being completely honest – a lot of the code didn’t feel like it was at a “beginner” level. Reading the code made sense and I understand the logic, however I don’t remember any of the syntax. At all.

I’ll follow WeirdBeardDev’s suggestion and tackle the tutorial that focuses on scripting next.

Also, thank you AJ for pointing me towards Visual Studio Code. It loads and runs so much quicker! I appreciate all the tips!

Just for fun, I muddled through the build settings and uploaded the tic-tac-toe game onto itch.io:

https://paused.itch.io/my-first-game-ever

I notice that after you play one game and start a second, the “Choose who goes first” button text color changes and isn’t readable. Maybe I’ll fix that in a subsequent patch 😉

Is it normal for small WebGL games to take so long to load? Does anyone have experience with itch.io for hosting games? Any other sites that you prefer? So many questions.

Onward!

Day 4: Game Testing

I read an amusing anecdote in Game Testing: All in One about Astrosmash, one of the best selling games released on Intellivision back in 1981.

The game’s programmer made the assumption that no one would ever score 10 million points and so he didn’t write a check for score overflowing.

Sure enough, weeks after the game was released customers began calling the game’s publisher complaining that when they scored more than 9,999,999 points, the score displayed negative numbers, letters and symbol characters. Oops!

This was considered really good graphics back in the day

The importance of game testing cannot be overstated. And that is my clumsy segue into saying that I’m officially a game tester now! Okay, not really…but kinda?

I responded to a posting from an indie developer requesting testers for their pre-alpha build of a 3D tower defense game and had a chance to play, log errors and provide feedback.

Early build of “In Defense of Aliens” by Kicksome Entertainment

This was an interesting opportunity and a challenge to not only try to discover bugs but to recreate the error on subsequent playthroughs.

I wonder how many opportunities exist for game testers to work full-time remotely and how I could get started. Anyone have any tips? It would be ideal to be in a game related position while developing rather than working where I do now.

In any case, I’m thinking about printing out the “You’ve got money” email notification and framing it for inspiration as my first game related income. 😉

With that fun – er, I mean educational – diversion out of the way, I’m back on track with Unity’s introductory course. I’ve completed the first section, Using the Unity Interface. Next up is the 2D Game Kit.  

I’m wary as it appears the 2D Game Kit can be manipulated all without writing any code…which is what I wrote about yesterday and why I was going to avoid visual scripting or drag and drop tools in the first place.

The reviews on the asset store page are exactly what I’m afraid of:

As a “kit” that lets you build a 2D game very similar to what’s available in the kit, it makes a lot of sense. As a learning tool, it doesn’t make a lot of sense.

As I mentioned, there’s a lot of content that you can modify a bit, but since the project teaches you how to manipulate the projects instead of building one, you’re pretty limited. The changes will be mostly cosmetic versus being able to build a truly original experience off of the kit. It’s disappointing that I can explore this project but still have next to zero idea how to actually build a game of my own. This is one of the first official learning projects on the website, and after going through a few of them, I still couldn’t tell you how to set up a full 2D project, anything about file structure, importing sprites, animations, building a scene, creating a tile map, setting up controls, or just about any other basic thing I need to do to build a 2D game.

I might have to curate the courses to develop a learning path that makes sense for me.

Onward!

Day 3: Intro to Unity and Visual Studio

After installing the latest versions of Unity and Visual Studio I started playing around and getting a feel for the UI.

I browsed Unity’s Asset store and came across visual scripting solutions such as PlayMaker and Bolt and tools like the Corgi Engine.

Visual scripting: yea or nay?

The idea of quicker game creation is appealing but I think it’s important that I script using just C# to begin with. Learn to crawl before I walk, right? While my ultimate goal is to create a game, I want to learn to program in C# and Unity. Perhaps later in my journey I’ll revisit those tools. Anyone have thoughts on this?

Today, I also began the official Welcome to Unity Course – thank goodness for all these free tutorials. It’s nearly 8 hours long so it’ll take me a few days to complete during the work week.

Onward!

Unity has a lot of free tutorials, which is great because I don’t have money
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