Hi there! You've probably reached this page from the Freeplay website in search of the elusive 'Up Down Ready' which took Best Design in this year's awards.

UPDATE: Hello! If you've arrived here from StumbleUpon, why not go play the game now on Kongregate! With high scores and EVERYTHING.

The versions of the game that were on this page were hosted on Dropbox. Since the recent spike in traffic, Dropbox has cut off access to my public folder. I will hopefully be migrating this stuff across to an actual server, but the version on Kongregate is the official release.

I'm Delia, the Sword Lady half of Sword Lady and the Viking. You can find my teammate over here. We are third year students in the Games Design course at Griffith University, and Up Down Ready (previously known as Horse) is our first semester project from this year, made using Adam Atomic's free Flixel library.

We entered it in the Freeplay Awards for a lark, and were incredibly surprised and excited to make it to the finals and take away an award. We hope you enjoy playing the game as much as we enjoyed making it!

- Delia

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Bang! (Clay pigeons are fuckers)

The first build of the Sound Effects Handler for Unity is go!

It is a single invisible GameObject that sits quietly in your scene until you invoke one of its public static methods from another script, whereupon it makes some kind of noise. It is dead simple, but it took a while for my thinking to progress to the stage where I could make it so.

The basic premise of the handler is that it centralises all of the sound effects contained in the scene.

As far as I know, Unity is designed to handle sound by attaching to objects AudioPlayer components, the functions of which are then called from that object's script. While this approach has its uses, it is one that I can only imagine would be immensely frustrating for a sound designer who had no contact with the game other than to provide sound effects.

Funnily enough, this is the role that I am taking on with all of the class' projects bar Horse. I decided that I wanted an interface that allows me to put all the sound effects into a scene and then say to my fellow developers this:

"Here are your sounds. This is what they are called. Here are some simple lines of code to make them play or stop, which you can call from any other script in the scene. Have fun, please try to leave my code alone, and call me over if you have problems."

And this is exactly what I plan to do.

At a glance, the SoundSystem prefab I have built looks like this:

The script property called "Sound Clips Input" is a public array where you put all your sound clips.

You may notice that some of them have pretty weird convoluted names that will be impossible to remember when you want to call one. The solution is in that Text File property of the script.

The Text File links up the names you want to attach to the sound with their initial file names. At the moment, it has to be set up by hand, but for the scope of these projects, it won't take long enough to be an issue.

In my example project, the contents of the text file look a little something like this:

blues=13-Gritty Harp 1

On the left, the new name for the sound. On the right, separated by an '=' symbol, the original file name. This gets read and set up inside the SoundSystem script when the scene starts. Simple, no? (As testing progresses this week, I will put some thought into if there are more efficient ways to manage this.)

The Sound Object Input property contains a template "Sound Object", which is a GameObject containing a blank AudioSource. This is what I use to create and play what I call 'state-based sounds' - those that loop continuously when an object is in a certain state e.g. character footsteps. This template shouldn't really be editable - I suspect there is a way to link up script properties to assets in code rather than the inspector, which I will look into in a later iteration.

At the moment, the Sound System script contains three public static functions with which developers need be concerned. They can be called from any script in the game. It does not require an explicit reference to the SoundSystem object within each script. Just use this syntax:

SoundSystem.functionName(parameterA, parameterB);

These functions are as follows:

playOnce(string Name, GameObject Caller)

This function plays the sound with name Name once at the position of the GameObject Caller, and then immediately destroys the AudioSource and cleans it up. (For those interested, it uses Unity's built-in playClipAtPoint function).

The Name should be the name of the sound as specified in the text file, and the GameObject is the object at which you want the sound to occur. Usually this will be the object the script is attached to, which would be written as this.gameObject.

startLooping(string Name, GameObject Caller)

This starts the sound with name Name looping continuously at the position of the GameObject Caller.

It does this by instantiating the Sound Object Template prefab at the position of the Caller object and changing the blank AudioSource clip to the clip called Name. This new object is then parented to the Caller object, so that if the caller object changes position, the sound effect will pan and fade accordingly.

If there is already a Sound Object attached to the Caller GameObject, the script will simply call Play() on the AudioSource component of this object, rather than creating a new object.

stopLooping(string Name, GameObject Caller)

This finds the looping sound with name Name at the GameObject Caller and stops it playing.

If this function is called from an object that has no such sound playing, the Sound System will print an error to the console.

So, that's the basics of the Sound System.

I have also collated a bunch of placeholder sound effects to be used in most of the games, so I will be implementing and testing the system with the rest of the class this week. I have a list of things I would like to iterate on as I progress through the rest of semester, and I am sure my fellow developers will have useful things to add to it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quiet in here, isn't it?

I got sick last week. I had a charming cough that sounded like I was about to bring up a lung. The cough is gone but I have missed at least one class and am still recovering.

Net result: I got almost nothing ticked off my list.

But I do now have a project plan and task list that stretches to the end of semester.


This week (Week the Seventh): mad rush to catch up and put myself back in a balanced position.

Right now: Going to sleep, because I need it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Lists - Week the Sixth

List-dump! This is for my own sanity management and goal-setting; no pictures here, move along.

It is Week Six of semester and we are therefore nigh on halfway through this first lot of crazy (and nigh on a quarter of the way through the entire insane year). What follows is a large and impossible list of things I would like to have done, or at least well on the way by the end of this week.

Not all of these are related to the Games Project stream, but I will put Games Project first so you don't have to wade through everything else (if you are even bothering to read this dross).

Games Project:

- for now, cut back graphics to focus on mechanic
- main music theme
- create shared google doc for everyone to post ideas
- lock in 10 unique mode concepts
- implement transitions between modes
- finish code cleanup & lock in code structure (diagrams)

- sound system preliminary build
- placeholder SFX for all games
- lock in main themes/atmosphere for Islands and Bullet

Industry Workshop:
- finish fixing and welding the mesh of godawful house thing
- new UV unwrap
- re-texture

CGI Environments:

- to-scale floor plans
- to-scale orthographic views
- full library of reference images for architecture, props and machinery

Migration (this is an extra-curricular project):

- better understanding of code architecture
- one gameplay implemented
- one level type implemented in XML file

Horse takes on Supanova

While over the Easter week I didn't make as much progress on the code base for Horse as I would have liked, I did, over the weekend, attend the hallowed halls of Brisbane's original nerdfest, Supanova.

Ostensibly this was for the purpose of promoting QCA and recruiting future students, but since we had game prototypes on display it turned into a prototype play-testing experiment. What I discovered was that the prototype for Horse elicited almost exactly the reactions that Henrik described in his initial pitch.

People would stop by and start playing with exclamations of 'oh, this is easy'. As soon as the mode changed, this quickly became 'what the fuck? Why am I not- I'm jumping?' And yet I rarely saw anyone walk away at this point. It seemed like the difficulty curve was just enough to challenge and entertain people, but not enough to frustrate them so that they stopped playing - they wanted to beat the game, but it didn't seem impossible.

There was one kid who came back at least three times in the morning and knelt down in front of the screen to play for 5-10 minutes with an expression of quiet concentration. I never actually said anything to him because I didn't want to break the spell, but it's probably fair to say that he was amused by it.

I also hacked in a few things over the weekend, just to see what people would do. They need to be cleaned up, but I will probably keep them all in some form:

- lives. At this point you start with three lives, and I rigged it so that that you get a new set every time the mode changes - for this context, I wanted people to be able to see all the modes before they ran out of lives
- a few seconds of invincibility when you respawn or start a new mode
- score bonuses when you skim very close to a block without hitting it (these were actually buggy, the bonus comes up but I forgot to have it add to the score. No-one seemed to notice)
- visual feedback on score subtraction when you die
- a brief instruction screen
- a game over screen which displayed your final score

Horse: The Supanova Build

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Make some noise about it

I have been working on a variety of things this week (Horse updates will hopefully occur in the next day or so), but most importantly I have been working on my solo deal: namely, making music.

So, for those of you with no attention spans who require images, this is what I have been working on:

Part of the music for Bullet, so far. This was based on my brief of 'epic strings' a la Hans Zimmer's work in The Dark Knight. It's scored for string orchestra plus timpani, bass and snare drum, and to be honest, it came out kinda Philip Glass (Philip Glass, Philip Glass, Philip Glass /music joke).

You can listen to a first musical 'sketch' of themes and ideas for Bullet here.

Bear in mind that the samples are the default output from Sibelius (the notation program, not the composer), and is kind of dodgy sounding. This will not be the final sound - it's just to give an idea of the harmonic structure and the kinds of motifs I want to layer in the music.

I'm fond of that triplet figure, even though it would be kind of horrible to play. Fortunately this won't be getting recorded, so I can fudge the samples as much as I like in Pro Tools. But in any case, Tyson and I have agreed that this first attempt is too dark for the game in question - Tyson pointed out that he felt like he should be killing kittens if this was in the background while he played. The next step, from where I'm standing, is to get rid of some of the heavier scoring in the bottom end and adjust the chord structure underscoring that top motif in the violins so that it's a little bit less edgy but still has a lot of depth.

Waiting to hear from the rest of the team before I make a move on this, though.

Next on the list was Islands:

Musical 'sketch' for Islands is here.

There's not as much stuff here, because it was really really easy for me to nail down the main motif. Going for that floaty Jo Hisaishi piano sound, a la Spirited Away. It accidentally ended up moving into 5/4 after those three introductory bars when I started noodling around with the chords on the piano, and it works really well because the extra beat gives it that slight lilt that emphasises the sense of air and flight.

I'll be eventually writing modulations, chord changes and variations on the theme (chords need work. I am not a pianist and I don't do interesting ones naturally), as well as instrumental parts to bring in and out, but this main motif will always be at the heart of it. This one I do want to record the parts for. On top of the piano, I want to write at least a sax part and a flute part, and maybe a guitar part. I am now wondering if I have any favours to call in from, say, horn players or oboists...

Anyway, I am still waiting to hear back from the team on this one.

My sound system is also making some progress, but I want to go back to focussing on implementing some more things in Horse, and writing music for it. I'd like to have a reasonable version of it ready for Supanova this weekend, so tomorrow is a Horse day.