Monday, October 27, 2014

Alpha Beta Version of Project Gliese Published

Have just published the "Alpha Beta" version of Project Gliese. Using to host as it allows me to avoid some of the Google Drive gyrations, as well as the addition of a tip jar - hint, hint - :-)


- Alpha Beta Version -

* What has changed
    * Talisman added to Intro Level. Touch it with the ship to be immediately transported to the First Level
    * First Level now has music added
    * All of the first group (four of them) of talismen have been added. Collecting all four triggers the first of the second group to appear

* What To Watch For
    * Talisman have not yet been added to levels 2 and 3, and not all of the second group have been added to level 1
    * If you are so inclined you can explore past the edges of the terrain - not recommended if you suffer from vertigo as Unity will let you fall, and fall, and fall...

* Coming Up Next
    * Will probably only do one more public version which will be the "Final Beta". This will complete the talismen on level 1, and add at least some of the talismen on the other two levels

About the tip jar - any tips/donations will go toward the development of the full version of Project Gliese which would have better graphics (since I could buy the Pro version of Unity), five full levels, a much more graphically complete menu system, and proper voiceovers and cut scenes.

Tip or not, I do hope you'll give this a play!

When People Don't Play Your Game the Way You Expected them to...

So let me start with a quick PSA - if you are playing the online version of Project Gliese I currently have up, and are in the Intro level with the spaceship, make sure to hit ESC to go to the main menu to allow you to select one of the "real" levels. Preferably Level 1 at least once so you can see some talismen.

As the previous paragraph might suggest, I was surprised to learn that some folks were getting bored with the game because of all the "flying around with nothing to do". It had not occurred to me that folks might think the Intro level was actually level 1, and looking back I have to agree that leaving that level playable essentially implied there was something to do besides just look at the setting and then get to the "real game".

In the next version I am adding a talisman to the Intro level to whisk you away to Level 1. This does a better job of showing one of the main concepts of the game, and to let folks be more immersed in the game rather than have to keep going back and forth between the main menu and the other levels.

I suppose this is a lesson I "should" have already learned. When I was first beta testing Alta, Texas I was surprised by many folks complaining how short it was. After some discussion, I realized that many folks were only playing through once, and taking the "easy" path were never running into most of the other scenes in the game, IOW, I had written two thirds of the game that very few people were seeing. Based on that, I changed the route to make it a bit more obvious there were other choices that you really wanted to test, to make you run into some of the scenes through other paths, and I started making sure there were screenshots showing all five of the young ladies so that a player would realize they hadn't run into all of them and might go back to see why.

As a developer, it is part of my job to figure out when people are playing the game differently than I expected. As a player, this is where providing feedback is most helpful. If you are one or the other (or both), hopefully this provides some ideas for your next play through :-)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What SyncToy tells me about Unity

I have a nice Core i7 machine with decent RAM and Graphics downstairs, and a somewhat nicer and more recent one upstairs. Depending on what is going on, I like to be able to development from either machine. My first attempt was to add a USB drive to my router, and then try and work from that directory. In addition to making me nervous that I had only one copy of my work, it took FOREVER to load each time I started Unity.

Instead, I made a directory on my external drive upstairs, and one on the one downstairs, and figured I would just sync the changed files with Microsoft's SyncToy tool. Since the directory is over 1.5 gigs in size, copying the whole folder over each time would be a pain and take quite a while. SyncToy reduces the time by quite a bit.

However, even the smallest changes to a scene seem to touch an obscene number of files. I changed one script and changed one material and SyncToy had to change almost 1000 files out of the 15000 files it finds in the directory. It seems a little odd to think Unity is having to touch and modify (even if just by the date/time stamp) that many files for each change.

I have to wonder how much easier it would be to develop on a system if Unity were a little smarter about which files it was updating.

One other thing while I'm complaining, having to use the magnify tool because the Unity editor does NOT allow you to change the font or font size used by the UI is almost unbelievable in this day and age. They do provide a link where you can vote for them to add the feature, but given it was setup in 2010, I think it's safe to say that voting is not going to get much traction. I can only hope that Unity 5 will have an option for this. I would hate to have to port to Unreal Engine just to make it easier to read my code. At least with the recent addition of C#/Mono to Unreal that is now a possibility...

Giving a try

In the middle of working on the next update to Project Gliese, and as I was discussing the project with a couple other Indy Developers, they mentioned I might want to put it over at I had never heard of the site, but after spending some time there it appears to be a bit of a cross between Steam and Kongregate.

Have now put up Alta, Texas there as an alternate way to sell that game, and will see how that compares to the provider I have been using, as well as to see if I would want to use it for Project Gliese. They appear to have some Web Playable hosting options, and that might make it worth creating a "full" version of Project Gliese for the web as well as the Desktop and Android versions I had been planning.

Whether you play games or develop them, you may want to check the site out as well!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Alpha Alpha version is now Live

You can go to the "Alpha Alpha" version by going to the Project Gliese page linked to the right. From the changelog:
 - Alpha Alpha Version -
* What has changed
    * Main Menu cleaned up
    * Now can select any of the three levels without having to play them in order
    * ESC key will get you to the main menu from the Intro and from any of the three levels

* What To Watch For
   * Talisman are only on the first level at this point, and only part of the first grouping
   * If you are so inclined you can explore past the edges of the terrain - not recommended if you suffer from vertigo as Unity will let you fall, and fall, and fall...

* Coming Up Next
   * Next version should be the "Beta Alpha" version where I will finish the first group of Talisman on the first level and show how getting all of them triggers the next group
   * Either in that version or the next one I will start adding more of the musical background

Of course I will be more than happy to get comments or email if you have suggestions and so on.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Almost Alpha Version of Project Gliese Posted

OK, I have posted the very (!!!) rough first version of Project Gliese to the site. Go to the Project Gliese page (Link should be on the right) and click the link to play. From the changelog:

- Almost Alpha Version -
* What Works
   * Intro Plays (ESC to go to Main Menu)
   * Main Menu Displays (nothing fancy)
   * Can Explore First Level and "Capture" the first few Talisman
* What Doesn't Work
   * Pretty Much Everything Else - Close Window to leave First Level/Game
* Coming Up Next
   * I will work to open two more of the levels so you have plenty of options to explore, and figure out why the return to the main menu isn't working so you can get out a bit more gracefully

Note that since the Web Playable version contains all the levels even though they aren't playable, it can take some time to DL the first time. If you're on a slow connection, you have been warned!

Cleaning up and preparing for next week

One of the things that happens when you come back to something after some time off is to see what you have to clean up and repair before you can make any "real" progress. On the blog, I had removed the link to the page for the game since it still had Kickstarter and other "stuff" on it. So all that had to be fixed.

Then some of the posts had some weird styling from some work I did in a hurry and never went back to double check.

Finally getting into the code base there's the matter of a couple Unity updates since I last tried to compile a version of Gliese.

With all that work in, I can hopefully have something worth actually showing early next week. For each version I will try to be good about explaining what works and what doesn't, as well as what I hope to achieve before the next version release. We'll see if the plan works a little better this time around :-)