Building a studio from scratch: Week 9

Pixel Bulliesâ?? US programmer Paul Jeffrey sits in for Andy this week and explains why Corona was chosen over Unity
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[Go here to find all entries in Building a Studio From Scratch]

Week nine

If this was a 12-step meeting, I'd stand, shuffle my feet a little bit and say “My name is Paul and I'm addicted to coding, and games, and coffee, and...“ well, never mind that one for now. Anyway you get the idea.

I'm coming at the indie game development scene from almost the opposite direction as Andy, so we complement each other pretty well. The thing we've got in common is that when we hooked up, we had both already made a serious commitment to making games as Indies. For anyone thinking about doing it, that's the key ingredient.

We'd also both realised that while we could learn how to wear all the hats it takes to make a game, we'd be much better off finding someone who was doing it because they love it. (And in my case I suck as modeler/illustrator so I was kidding myself anyway.)

So here I am. One of the ways my history is different from Andy's is that while I've got 25 years programming experience, I've only written games as a hobby. I've got a lot to learn about game engines. That's slowing us down in the short term, but programming's all about learning the API. Part of the process is going to be figuring out what tools work best and when.

We had both decided to use Unity for the 3D games we had planned. It's proven to be a great tool for getting prototypes working quickly, so we could try out a few ideas and test the game-play without a huge time investment. That enabled us to decide that some of our ideas weren't going to cut it.

When Andy first proposed the idea of the underwater game, my first pass at it was to keep using Unity with 3d models. We quickly realized that a true 2D game suited the feel we were looking for a lot better. It seemed that Unity wasn't well suited to 2D rendering, so I decided to look into some other tools.

The initial concept for the game was very simple, so it made sense that if the engine handled the graphics well and took care of the idiosyncrasies of the platforms for us, it didn't matter if it had a rich set of development tools. Unity's editing tools and scripting environment just seemed like too much overhead for an iPhone/ Android 2D game.

So I did some research and chose Corona, a pure 2D cross-platform engine. It uses LUA for scripting, so I've spent the last few days learning that and playing with some of their tutorials. So far I'm impressed.

The next step is to get Andy's jellyfish sketches into sprite sheets and build a rough game framework just so we can see them moving. I've found some sample code that animates a water texture for a neat underwater effect, so I'll incorporate that and see how it looks.

Andy supplied me with an animating jellyfish, some player characters and a background; I put them together and had the basics of a maze of enemies.

Total money spent so far £292.63

Negatives
We have had a look at the cartoon art style and are now trying the more photo real one. We need to ensure that the enemies don’t get lost on the background.

Positives
We now have animating enemies, a tiling background and simple collision detection.

The Pixel Bullies
andy@thepixelbullies.com
www.thepixelbullies.com
Twitter - @AndyGahan

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