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All posts for the month January, 2013

I want to write this while the Junction Point studio closure is still fresh to me.  I apologize to everyone reading as it’s mostly for myself.

mickey_sad

Yesterday was a strange day for me.  I can’t comment on a lot of things about Junction Point (there are PR people at Disney for that), but seeing the studio go away is a shame.  This group of  people was hands-down the most talented group of individuals I’ve had the pleasure of working with.  They were to a man (or woman) committed, talented, professional, friendly, and teamwork-oriented.

My story with them wasn’t the longest.  3 years ago I walked in for my first day and, as one of my friends said, “The place is literally all puppies and rainbows compared to any other job I’ve had.”  The group I was placed in already had 4 and 1/2 amazing members (one guy was only in our group half the time) and every day was a joy.  Getting to work with Warren was an honor, and many of the others at the studio had worked on some of my favorite games as a teen: Wing Commander, Thief, Metroid Prime, Ultima, and Deus Ex. It was literally my dream come true.  There was so much to learn and just observing them taught me valuable lessons and made me a better developer.

The bottom line is that the time shipping Epic Mickey and starting Epic Mickey 2 will be the time I choose to remember from Junction Point.  I will fondly recall:

  • Warren’s inspirational speeches at company meetings
  • The smell of warm cookies from the break room table (Thank you Tiff’s Treats and everyone in HR!)
  • Beer/Burger Thursdays
  • Learning something new almost every day
  • Heated disagreements from very intelligent programmers about esoteric concepts (always ending amicably)
  • All the laughing/smiling/chatting between people of different disciplines
  • E-mails from “Uncle Beaver”
  • Tony’s Tiki
  • Going to see all the latest Marvel movies as a studio at the Alamo Drafthouse
  • The first time I saw Oswald’s in-game animations (specifically the one where he sticks his tongue out when Mickey turned his back)
  • Reading the heart-warming letters from fans (especially the kids)
  • Knowing that we were all playing a part in the history of one of the world’s most iconic characters

Now that it’s over, I could be really sad to see this studio go, but instead I’m choosing to be happy I was given a chance to be part of it.  Farewell Junction Point.  Thank you for the last 3 years.  I will never forget them.

So, just today I managed to…

  • add a Main Menu and Game Over screen
  • make another kind of enemy
  • add new music and sounds
  • add sweet explosions
  • create a system of never-ending waves
  • add scoring and UI
  • solve all of the frame rate issues with the game (Unity doesn’t like drawing more than 400,000 polygons)
  • make my inner dialogue change from “this is barely a game” to “Wow, this is actually fun!”

Game jams are one of my favorite things to do as a developer, and this one was the first one I’ve done all by my self.  I’ll admit I was a little intimidated, but it came out well in the end.  I feel like this prototyped out the spirit of the idea I wanted to test, and it’s fun and even somewhat polished.

I’ve really gotta thank the guys at OUYA for making a surprisingly powerful little device, and major props to the Unity3D guys.  I swear, anything that I needed to get this game going, they’ve put in some kind of support for it.  I want to high-five everyone on that team.  Also, thank you so incredibly much for the Unity Pro trial.  That let me access the Profiler which allowed me solve almost all of the problems I was seeing with performance.

To wrap up my final OUYA Create development post, here’s my task list.  Let’s see how I did overall:

  • Bullets/Weapons (in multiple types/colors)
  • Enemies/Enemy AI
  • Collisions
  • Bullet Patterns for enemies and player ships (spread shot, etc)
  • Obstacles/Environmental Hazards
  • Level Design/Spawning Implementation
  • Explosions + sweet particle effects
  • Music/Sound effects
  • User Interface and Menu work
  • A Boss

Didn’t quite have time to do a boss, but I think given another day or two, I’d have knocked that off the list, too.  Anyway, thanks for reading, and wish me luck in the contest!

Burning the midnight oil tonight; I really do believe there’s something to programmers working late into the night.  Here are a couple of screens from tonight’s work.

GeminiScreen1_012313

That one was from earlier in the night before I’d fixed a little bug with collision.  Notice how bullets aren’t being destroyed once they collide with  the enemy ship (the white one on the right).  I just needed to go into the collision function and tell it to destroy the bullet after the collision and then we end up with something more like this (below).

GeminiScreen2_012313

Enemies will now gladly take aim at the player ships, which is a nice little improvement.  I also added some simple sound effects and music to the game today, which is a great touch.  In the future, I’m always going to push for getting something in there that drives home the intended emotions that the player should feel.  I think the audio really inspired me to get some things done.

The biggest work today was on a spawning system for enemy waves. Setting up dynamic spawn triggers was a breeze and I can now set the game to spawn any number of different kinds of waves (just need to create more enemy types and attack patterns!)   I was hoping that movement would be as simple as adding splines for the enemy ships to follow, but Unity doesn’t support it right out of the gate.  This required me to write a simple little system to bring enemies in from off-screen and move them off when time was up.

Sadly, I’ve added a new task to the list, as it appears that I’ve pretty much blown my performance on the OUYA itself.  There will be significant effort tomorrow to make sure that things run at a smooth framerate.  Anyway, here’s my updated task list!

  • Bullets/Weapons (in multiple types/colors)
  • Enemies/Enemy AI
  • Collisions
  • Bullet Patterns for enemies and player ships (spread shot, etc)
  • Obstacles/Environmental Hazards
  • Level Design/Spawning Implementation
  • Explosions + sweet particle effects
  • Music/Sound effects
  • User Interface and Menu work
  • A Boss