Day 6: Job Competition

Calgary, Alberta is best known for hosting the ’88 Olympics, cowboy hats and Oil & Gas. The city has never been considered a gaming development hub.

So it was a pleasant surprise when earlier this month New World Interactive announced it will be opening a development studio here in May. The makers of ‘Insurgency’ and ‘Day of Infamy’ plan on hosting job fairs to attract talent and are already accepting applications.

The Calgary studio hopes to expand to up to 50 employees in the next 3 years. Don’t quote me on this but I thought I heard on the radio that they had already received hundreds of applications within days of the announcement.

That’s some tough competition. How would a new would-be developer like myself even hope to land a job in the industry when there are so many more qualified candidates?

I need to work hard and somehow stand out.

New World Interactive uses UE4 for their development (darn!) but I believe if I get a solid understanding of programming and design under my belt, those skills are transferable regardless of the engine used.

Today, I began the Beginner Gameplay Scripting tutorial. I made sure to type out all the code – no copying and pasting.

I’m enjoying this tutorial series because not only does it teach C# but also how it relates specifically to Unity. Some things are beginning to click. That’s a nice feeling.

Onward!

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

Day 2: Learning Beginner C#

I never dreamt I would be rounding the corner to 40 while working full-time in an entry-level retail position. A dash of bad luck, a sprinkle of health setbacks, and a wallop of poor decisions and voilà! A recipe for a middle-age career disaster. I’m literally further behind career-wise than when I was in my teens and my city’s job market doesn’t look like it will turn around anytime soon.

I also found myself anxious at the prospect of learning a programming language and going from “Hello World” to somehow creating a game you would see in the App Store.

Maybe “anxious” isn’t the right word. Scared at failing? I tend to create imaginary obstacles that I haven’t yet even encountered. That’s definitely a mindset matter I need to work on.

So no more self-pity, no more excuses.

I finished watching the 4 1/2 hour C# Tutorial – Full Course for Beginners and I highly recommend it! Mike Dane did a phenomenal job teaching the course by slowly building upon simple and easy to understand concepts.

Unity in Action: Multiplatform Game Development in C# Book by Joseph Hocking

To make use of the downtime during my lunch break each day at work, I’m thinking of picking up Unity in Action, Second Edition  by Joseph Hocking.

I’ve also recently created a reddit account and subscribed to only game dev related subreddits. As long as I don’t get sidetracked and venture over to /all, I think I will find the interaction with other like-minded users helpful.

Onward!

Day 1: 365 Days To A Published Game

I’ve created this devlog as a motivational and accountability tool to keep myself on track.  I’m on the wrong side of my 30’s and in a non-career.  I feel like my life is stuck on pause so I need something to focus on, to create, to move forward.   They say you’re never to old to learn and I’m going to put that adage to the test.

The goal:  to have a game published on Android and/or iOS and/or Steam.  My hope is that a year from now I can look back at the progress I’ve made with pride and perhaps help encourage someone else that finds themselves in a similar position.   The 5-year stretch goal is to become a game developer full-time, either as an indie or part of a studio.

GameSalad, Unity, Unreal Engine, Corona, GameMaker Studio, and Godot are just some of the game engines available

A lot of time has been spent researching which programming engine/language to use.  In the end, I wanted the flexibility to create both 2D and 3D games along with multi-platform developability, so I’ve decided on Unity with C#.    There was plenty of analysis paralysis with this decision.  I just needed to choose something and start programming!

Unity has a lot of tutorials.  But before I jump in with the game engine, I want to lay  down a knowledge base with C#.   The last time I’ve “programmed” anything was over 20 years ago, but the only thing I can actually remember goes even further back – to the days of Apple IIe and BASIC:

10 PRINT "HELLO"
20 GOTO 10
RUN

I remember being fascinated by games like Elite and RoadWar 2000.  My friend had a huge collection of floppy disks (his dad’s) and he would bring them to school for us to play.

Apple IIe
This technological marvel was the pride of my elementary school

Sadly, computers were cost prohibitive back then so I begged my parents for the next best thing: a video game console.  Coleco, Atari, and Intellivision were old news.  There were two new kids on the block.

I stared at that Consumers Distributing catalog for hours, agonizing between the NES and Sega Master System.   The fateful decision made on that day would determine who were my friends and enemies at my elementary school.   Once a side was chosen, I was bound to uphold and vindicate the supremity of that system.  The latest issue of EGM and GamePro would provide fodder for each respective side.

Consumers Distributing ad
The 80’s were a magical time

But I digress. I’ve procrastinated long enough.  It’s time to start on the  journey to become a game developer myself.

I will begin with this free course on Youtube:   C# Tutorial – Full Course for Beginners by Mike Dane.

If you are reading this, feel free to comment and leave your thoughts throughout the journey.

Onward!

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