September Dev Diary: Don’t Drop Dan

Is it that time again? It’s the last day of the month, that means I have been summoned to my little corner of the internet for my (slightly) regular monthly dev log. As always, I’ll discuss what I’ve been up to, what’s new & what’s next. Let’s begin…

Previous Goals

Did I finish what I set out to do last month? No… I went in the completely opposite direction and started (nearly finished) an entirely new project! It wasn’t exactly what I planned to do, but when do I ever seem to do that? Plus, last month was slow, I had to turn that around somehow. Let’s now waste any more time and get to the good stuff.

Progress

Main Project

The first week or two started with the same energy as last month, nothing was getting done. I tried playing around with a few things, but everything was very low effort. You will see that in the gifs I’m about to show.

I started by playing around with the background and the floor, I wanted to get the look of the game down. Here’s one of the combinations I tried out (city bg & islands):

Not the greatest I know. But that did lead to me trying the space theme out:

Which looks a little better but still not great, there’s a lot of work to do.

Side Project

Then came the random side project. There is so much I could be talking about here I’m going to try break it down for easy reading. No walls of text this week.

Quick ideas

I’ve been saying I’ll make another game in a week for a while now I just didn’t commit to it. With things running how they was I thought what better time to just go for it? I won’t be using my main project, that has a long way to go. Instead I designed the simplest game I possibly could, Don’t Drop Dan. Inspired by the simple rules of keepie uppie, the objective is simple, just tap, don’t drop.

Sounds like I can get that done in a week so why not. Within the first day I had a viable prototype, nothing flashy but it’s a simple game:

The fire was just a cool last-minute thing, it works well though.

Backgrounds

The next thing I worked on was the background, I decided to try the city again, it works a lot more in this game than it did in the main project:

I put more effort into this background though, this is where I started getting my energy back. Even though it’s only a silhouette, I’m proud to say I made it myself, mostly hand drawn. I’m not an artist remember, to me that’s great!

It was a little too motionless, so I decided to add some movement by making the crane swing. The crane was already part of the background so to do this I split it up and animated it separately. Much better:

Upgrades

Upgrades weren’t originally part of the plan but as soon as I started with them the game was heading in a different direction. Sadly, this is why the game took longer than a week. But I think it is worth it!

I took reference from things like Cookie Clicker and various tap tycoon type games and started making some cool power ups. The obvious ones like gold per click, click power etc. To more interesting ones like bounce pads and making it rain. I still need to sort out the upgrades screen it still looks a little basic, but I will show a bounce pad in action:

And a tweet I shared earlier of the rain:

Large Numbers

This part was fun, at least to me. As I started adding more upgrades and they levelled up they became more expensive. As you upgrade your gold per click, you end up with silly amounts of money and displaying 1295309582 on screen isn’t pretty.

I started by shortening it, so 1294 would be 1.29k, 1875248 would be 1.87m and so on. This was fine until I reached 10m. Then instead it displayed “1e+07” which is still ten million, it still holds the correct value, but we want to display it normally.

This led to a few hours of research and testing. I even created a separate test scene just for creating large numbers:

It could continue endlessly but I don’t think we will ever need that much gold so there is a limit. Nobody should really get that far.   

Fancy UI

We made some new buttons and stuff! Honestly, they are pretty simple, but when we compare it to UI from my previous games:

I think it’s a massive improvement! I’ll be able to reuse and improve them in other games too, don’t be surprised if you see them again.

Dan

This is Dan:

Isn’t he a fine chap! Don’t drop him…

Side note – I know it’s fairly simple but I’m quite happy with the way this character turned out. Truthfully, I’m happy with the overall style of the game and how everything has built up, started putting the effort in again and I think it shows!

What’s Left?

There’s very little left on this project, it should have been done already but I kept adding more features and the game just got better. I must go through the final upgrades (a few unfinished) and reorganise the upgrade screen. Once I get through that it’s the usual testing and publishing stuff then we should have a new game!

What I think I’ve learned…

I set a deadline, I had one week to make the game from starting. After that first week passed, I had a solid prototype with the majority of the features working. I then extended the deadline by another week. By that time, I’d improved the character, UI and overall made the graphics more final. This past week I’ve been tying up all the loose ends and finalising everything else.

Even though I missed all the deadlines I set, it worked, I have nearly finished a game. Travelling through all the normal stages from a basic alpha to the final thing. Personally, I think this is what I did wrong with my recent projects. When I began, I’d set a deadline then break down that deadline down and split up all my goals. Somehow, somewhere, I stopped doing this.

Before I move on from this game, I should consider putting aside some time to plan, organise and manage the next project.

Goals for October

Based on last month, the goals that were set and what actually happened I think the goals this time are pretty clear. I need to finish up this little side project, it was fun, it got me back in the flow of things, but it wasn’t supposed to last this long!

There are a few small tasks to finish up on there, then I’ll have to go through publishing and creating all the assets I need for that too. I will aim to have that finished within the first week but give me another (just in case).

After that, it’s back on with the main project, working as normal! (finally). Guess I’ve found my energy again, don’t plan on losing it anytime soon. 

Until next time…

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