This week was rough. I had several Ideas about games I wanted to make, but not enough time to make it. Knowing I wasn’t going to have enough time to finish my big idea I readjusted my expectations and decided to make a really simple game that focused on making one statement.
Amanda suggested I comment on the IRB process and the difficulty in submitting a revision. With that, I made a version of PONG that was unfairly stacked against the player. I chose pong because it was fairply easy to make while at the same time paying homage to one of the most influential games. I got a quick prototype off the ground and then decided to focus on the aesthetic.
I believe it was Ian Bogost who suggested videogames could be used as a form of satire that draws attention to the underlying structure (like a political cartoon). I’m not saying I achieved that, but it did inspire me. I hope the end product looks like a cartoon ala The Far Side, or XKCD.
What Went Right?
I feel like focusing on one takeaway message really helped. I had a lot of temptation to make the game more complicated by adding stuff like: a counter that kept track of the number of times you bounced the revision back, a simple AI that would make the game 100% impossible by moving the already colossal board, and a “choose your field” option that would change “submitting an IRB revision” to something a little more generalizable. In the end, I’m happy I didn’t over complicate things and feel it at least delivers a chuckle.
I was also able to insert a shader to give the ball a 2d look in spite of the fact it was actually a 3d object.
What Went Wrong?
I didn’t get the paddle to influence the angle of the ball very well. Since I was using the out-of-the-box physics engine, the ball just bounces straight up from the players paddle w/o considering the velocity of said paddle. It could very well be that I just didn’t implement it right though.
What I learned
I didn’t try to write the physics of the game myself. Because of that, I had to rely on Unity’s built in systems and learned a lot about cool things like the way that rigidbodies react with one another as well as how to use physics materials. I’m not sure I would have bothered to learn about that system if I had tried to write the OnCollision logic myself.
Other Games from Week Four
Mark is continuing to work on his Space deckbuilding co-op game and it’s looking great. Maybe a physical prototype will surface by AERA? No pressure.
Anastasia drew on her experience preparing “academia’s equivalent of taxes[…] progress-towards-tenure materials”. The result is a text adventure game boxes. I am constantly amazed by Anastasia’s ability to generate mood. The line “You can see a corkboard (on which are some get-well-soon cards)” made my stomach turn. I love text adventure games, but find them really hard to do correctly by myself (I tend to shy away from generating descriptions). Maybe I’ll take on the genre another week.
Melissa made an impressive RPG influenced by Carl Sagen. I love the minimap and totally felt like I was playing a classic dungeon crawler which, except for the Legend of Grimrock, is a breed these days. I’m impressed by the number of structures generated in such a short amount of time. I also like the idea of using starstuff as a weapon.
Greg Koeser is joining us with his first week’s entry bid war. My initial playtest was fun and easy to get going. After a couple of rounds I revisited his write up to read the strategy section (which I had refrained from reading before) and got a better understating of the game as a whole. I look forward to replaying the game with these tips in mind.