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Butterfly and a Wrecking Ball
Published on January 28, 2009 By mittens In Game Developers

As I indicated in my brief update last week, I did indeed get a Unity Indie license after some time with the free downloadable trial. I've never been good at constraining myself to the feature set found in a given game engine or game development toolset before but just a few hours with Unity made me a very strong believer in the power the engine had. On the Saturday of this past weekend I sat down on a couch while I was away at my parents' house with my MacBook, opened up the Unity trial, and spent some time while I was watching movies with my parents just playing around with the engine. I was so impressed with what I came up with purely through trial-and-error and experimentation (as I had no internet connection for research/help) that I got the Indie license within an hour of getting back to my apartment on Sunday afternoon.

My goal over the next few months is to come up with and develop one game every four-six weeks that I will upload to this site (Unity has a 3D web applet). The first of these projects is Magnetic Butterfly which is, essentially, a game of King of the Hill where the player controls a tiny butterfly who was born with a giant wrecking ball attached to his body. As a result of this, the butterfly will be a bit unwieldy for the player to control, but the player will need to find a way to knock any nearby enemies off a platform before they do the same to him/her. The "catch" is that the player will have the ability to activate his magnetic charge which will lock the butterfly to the ground and allow players to drastically modify the momentum of the wrecking ball and then aim it in the direction of a nearby enemy for increased force. I got a very, very basic prototype of the gameplay up and running on Sunday night and was actually pleasantly surprised with the results.

Since then I have been spending some additional time setting up the PC in my apartment to serve as my content/asset creation machine -- installing Paint Shop Pro, XSI Mod Tools, and Silo for the texture/modeling needs that I figured would arise over the course of the next couple months. I have also been redoing some of the basic aspects the butterfly/wrecking ball; for instance, I am currently in the process of redoing the chain/rope that binds the ball and the butterfly together to not only look better but to be a much more elastic solution. Here are some screenshots of my development environment over the last few hours while I was screwing around with joints to bind various chain links together (I have since decided to create the chain procedurally, which is where I left off for the night):

I can't even properly convey just how much fun I've been having with Unity since I downloaded the trial. Not having to worry about the finer details of programming for a platform and, instead, solely focusing on the game design, gameplay logic, and the player's interactions with the game world has just been a fantastic change of pace for me. The most annoying thing at the moment is the lack of postprocessing shader support in the Unity Indie license (it's a feature reserved for Unity Pro) but that's only a minor aesthetic design annoyance.

I'll try to write some more detailed development entries in the future; though, preferably, I'll write those at some time that is not an hour or so after I meant to go to sleep.

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