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Rock, Paper, ShotgUnity, Part Seven

Time for the seventh post in our series covering the making of Rock, Paper, ShotgUnity– a game we're putting together in two months using the now-free Unity development suite. Last week's bug fixes seem to have been more successful than not, so this week it's time to get back to adding content. What's the plan for Build 04? Find out below.

The continuing effort to squish bugs and generally tidy up is all well and good, but we're still one key element short of our gaming picnic, one weapon short of our Tri-Farce – the Paper. The basic plan for Shotgunity has always been to try and create a game based on the three elements of the sites' name, to see if that could be done, and so the idea of three weapons around which we'd try to build puzzles was formed. The Paper would grant you invisibility in exchange for forced blindness by way of the classic 'if I can't see them, they can't see me' idea. Coupled with baddies that can only be destroyed with rare ammo or distracted by a time-limited rock, the trio would let us construct our puzzlesome levels.

Now I've already got a basic prototype paper working, and so far it's been a good start to the week, but by Build 04 on Saturday I hope to have something prettier (go go Art forumites!), and more robust, in place. Like all the weapons there's much tweaking and polishing to be done, but the core mechanic is in. The question now is how to balance it. How do we make it work as part of the trio within the framework of our levels? At the moment the paper can be used at will, but by Build 04 it will only be readable for a limited time (per level), a finite amount of invisibility to be used judiciously. You can only read a paper for so long after all...

This time limit has got to be balanced against a whole host of variables. In fact all three weapons are going to have to work in harmony with the level design if I'm to stand any chance of delivering something vaguely enjoyable to play rather than just a messy experiment in learning Unity. It's here that I want to start getting you all more involved. There's already been a fantastic contribution to code, art sounds and ideas on the forum but after Build 04 all the main mechanics should be in and working, which means the next step is getting them to work together.

So let's plan some puzzles. To do this we first need to establish what the challenge imposed by each type weapon will be. What the negative would be for using a certain tool at a certain time. For example using the invisibility function of the paper to get past some enemies would be the thing to do ALL THE TIME if there weren't some negatives. Therefore if our negatives are:

a. The finite amount of reading time.

b. Forced blindness and

c. Environments hazardous to the blind. (things like thin causeways, pits, etc),

...then how do we make sure this is balanced with ammo count? With rock availability? We will have to place ammo pick ups carefully. We will have to place Rock dispensers and triggers that need those Rocks cunningly. It seems to me that the only way to really work all that out is to play. To make levels filled with those puzzles and see how it works.

Now I can certainly rattle off quick proto-levels post Build 04 and get you all to playtest them but I thought it might be fun if you all got stuck in to the design too. Draw them on paper, in Photoshop, build me Sketchup levels, use the Shotgunity Project files and actually create prefab Shotgunity scenes if you have the will. All you need to bear in mind is the mechanic for each weapon. I'll be laying those out more clearly in saturday's Build 04 post and I can balance the details of ammo count versus enemy hitpoints, of trigger distance versus rock timer as we go. For now why not sketch out some levels?

Here's a starting point for the confused. If you look at the second level in Shotgunity Build 03, you'll see the trigger that stops the killer sphere is placed at such a distance that the rock timer runs out just as you near the end of the spheres' corridor. This means you only have just enough time to get out. These are the kinds of puzzles I'm after. We can elaborate on this so that a level presents us with options. Do I go for the ammo to blast my way through those baddies on that narrow ledge or do I risk using the paper and plummeting to my death? Is said ammo stored behind a series of rock timer traps? How does that all link together? Grab a pencil, go scribble and find out...

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James Carey