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Rock, Paper, Shotgunity, Part Three

The Rock, Paper, Shotgunity project rolls on down the Road of Development like a shiny hubcap liberated from the dirty Lorry Of Gaming. For those still catching up we're making a game - yes an RPS game - using the newly-free Unity engine. Caught up? Read on.

This week I'm reaping the rewards of our cunningly nurtured community and also poking around in the innards of some of the Unity extensions. Come on kids, grab a stick!

With Build 01 released into the wild last weekend we had something to work with - I'd certainly dug the holes if not yet filled our foundations with concrete. I'd hoped that the RPS readership would want to chip in with Shotgunity but I'd been quite unprepared for the amount of effort people were willing to muster for the cause. The forum is filling up with sound, artwork and code lovingly crafted by some wonderfully willing RPSites - bless you - and ShotgUnity is growing. We now have a far more versatile player movement script (thanks largely to Tinus), much improved over the Build 01 version. With it we can now use moving platforms, jump without wall-climbing and soon we'll be able to use ladders. Imagine that. These features may sound like trivial functionality but they're important steps and it's hugely pleasing to see your designs coming to life, however basic the principles. One of things I'm really enjoying about using Unity is the ability to quickly try new ideas by instantly testing new snippets of code in the game scene, changing a few lines of code and then just clicking Play to see if they're having the desired effect. This kind of trial and error coding may not be terribly efficient, but it's certainly fun and it is producing results. For example to go with our newly functional player movement script I've been making moving platforms that are activated using specific triggers, in this case placing the Rock into a hole near the platform. It was very easy to get this simple mechanic working by trying a few lines of code, testing them at a click, then refining things til it worked. The Rock is starting to look like a more important item now, far from merely distracting the baddies, we're going to use it as an important puzzle-solving item.

I'm going to continue playing with that idea this week and see if I can't knock our first level into more of a puzzling challenge. I've also been taking a closer look at some of the extensions that you can download for Unity. These are free framework packages that often aim to provide developers with common functionality that requires some in depth knowledge they may not have. A great example of this is the Detonator framework. What's a game without explosions? Dull, that's what. FACT. But how tedious to have to design and your explosions from scratch? Wouldn't it be nice if there was, say, a framework for explosions that was infinitely tailorable to your needs? Well what do you know, Detonator is exactly that. A package of out-of-the-box asplodes which you can use as they are, or tweak - in very extensive ways - until they're totally unique and suited to your needs. Detonator takes all of the grind out of the process leaving you to do the fun bits. This is absolutely ideal for small teams who might not have the art expertise or time to work on that sort of thing and for a newbie like me it's pure bliss. I'm going to be looking at another official extension package this week, one that rather excitingly promises to procedurally animate characters using only a few key anims – the Locomotion System – to see if I can't use it along with this other intriguing discovery – the UniHuman project – to make a few more-humanoid baddies. I may give them T-shirts with RPS faces on while I'm at it. Come back saturday and see if I – sorry forum, WE - pull that off...

Why not join a more detailed discussion of all things Shotgunity in the super-special forum we've set aside for the purpose. We've still got a long way to go...

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James Carey