16
Jan
13

Rollback: Hydra

Okay! Time to write a post so I can consider this wrapped up and move on to the next thing.

It’s been closer to a month than it has a week, but my recent game making efforts have borne fruit.

I present you Rollback: Hydra, or: a Proof-of-Concept and Exercise in Polish.

I spent the initial 10 days working on core mechanics, with the plan to release at that point. Arriving at day ten, I had a couple of solid mechanics and a few more half implemented ones.

The decision was made to take what I had completed, spend a little time polish it up, and release that. When working on side projects it isn’t often that I’m afforded the chance to polishing something (generally you have to create said something first), so I was looking forward to the combined challenge of attempting to go ‘pencils down’ on feature implementation, working within the small set of mechanics I had adequately completed, while also stretching those infrequently exercised polishing muscles.

Your computer will hate you when you start destroying buildings.

Polish means pretty explosions.

The result is somewhat of a spin-off from the original concept; a small experience wrapped in some light narrative making use of a severely limited set of the originally planned pallet of mechanics. On top of the initial 10 days, I spent an additional seven nights on the polish phase. The total project weighs in at approximately 3,600 lines of code.

Rollback: Hydra (oSX)

Rollback: Hydra (Windows)

Expect around 5 – 8 minutes of what I can confidently sugarcoat as experimentative gameplay.

Be aware that the pacing of the game (and I use that term loosely) is slow and methodical, and will require concentration, and the careful reading of a paragraph or two of text.

To guide you on quality settings: my 2.4 GHz macBook Pro runs comfortably at Simple quality on 1280 x 800 (fullscreen). An iMac 27” 2.8 GHz runs comfortably on Fantastic quality at whatever unnecessarily high resolution those monitors are native to. Performance requirements are higher than they really ought to be, my code is not optimised and I’ve no doubt followed a lot of bad practices (take a look at how much your machine hates my building destruction).

To offer a post-mortem in a paragraph: I really enjoyed this process of crunching features, and then working towards a more relaxed milestone, tightening up the experience and polishing it within an inch of it’s life. I expect to repeat this in the future, the variation in pace is welcome, and treating the ‘proof-of-concept’ milestones as legitimate releases instigates polish at a point far earlier than would generally be allowable.

The project was written in C# using the Unity game engine, 3D assets were purchased from the Unity asset store, the creatively named A* Pathfinding Project was used for pathing, and the ever wonderful NGUI was used for GUI management.

The music track is Siegfried Funeral March from Richard Wagner’s opera Götterdämmerung.

A thanks to all those who helped me test and QA, and to anyone unwilling to read the objectives and instructions, please fall from something tall.

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Playing on Playstation 3

Red Dead Revolver - I paid about $1000 for my launch model PS3, so I guess it's time I get some use out of that emotion chip crammed inside. I remember Red Dead Revolver looking rather good when it was released, and despite the low resolution and odd blurring (that I attribute to playing on a HD set) the game holds up well. It looks good despite these graphical limitations because the art direction is so precise and awesome. And it isn't just the art direction, the music, dialogue and set design (for some reason, set seems a more fitting word than level) all work in tandem to recreate an iconic Wild West atmosphere. Red Dead Revolver doesn’t aim to recreate life in the Wild West, it allows our imagination to take over and populates the locale with legendary men and their legendary stories.

Playing on iPhone

edge - Well I never thought I'd consider playing a game on iPhone as actually gaming, but edge has turned me around. The game is built for the iPhone. Sure, it could be ported, but the elegance of what has been created is astounding, it boggles the mind and makes me wonder what amazing gems we'd receive if current gen consoles weren't clones of eachother.

Playing on PC

Sins of a Solar Empire, Demigod, Generals - Zero Hour - It may be a temporary effect as I slowly reintroduce the PC into my gaming diet, but it seems every title I’m excited to play on the platform is either a strategy game, or a cheap indie game. PC gaming isn’t dead, it’s just restricted to titles that require complex input or a pointing device, and games that couldn't be developed or distributed on other platforms. I guess that’s part of the reason the AppStore is so far a success, there were a lot of indie devs stuck on PC for lack of a better alternative.
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