I was thinking about the fact that my students are young and Japanese, and more easily impressed by flashy things than non-flashy ones. I am not a graphic artist, really, so I decided to rebuild my phonics shmup in Unity. The ease of grabbing things from the asset store aids in creating something visually appealing.
I’ve spent the last several days learning Unity. Imagine my luck at finding that one of their introductory tutorials is a space shmup. The assets they provide with it are free to use, too.
If I were planning to sell this game, I would care about using assets from one of Unity’s tutorials. Who wants to release a commercial game using assets that most Unity developers will recognize? But I’m not. This is going to be free and intended for educational purposes. What I really care about is the likelihood that my kids (and the students of anyone else who wants to use it) will want to play it. For that purpose, these graphics are fine.
I participated in Ludum Dare last weekend. Although it was far from my most successful LD in terms of getting a good game done, since I used the Godot Engine to make it I learned a lot. This is particularly true in the area of dealing with collisions. So it was that when I came back to my phonics shmup yesterday, I got a lot done in a small amount of time.
It’s been a few days, including a Ludum Dare weekend, since I actually did some work on my phonics shmup. It was a pretty productive time, though. As the screenshot shows, I added shields to the enemies. However, I also did a big reorganization of my Trello board.
Probably the biggest shift in my plans is how I want to represent phonics as weapon to the player. Before, I planned to have individual bullets be aligned with specific phonemes. That was going to be hard to pull off visually. Instead, I’ve hit on a more readable and natural approach: instead of phoneme bullets damaging only certain enemies, the player will broadcast a phoneme signal that lowers shields on certain enemies.
There’s an awesome game out called Epistory: Typing Chronicles. It’s an adventure game controlled entirely via typing, and although it looks to some like just another typing game, it’s not. Script is below.
I am trying to get in the habit of changing how I talk about this project. Apparently shmups don’t count as shooters to some people. The way I see it, you’re shooting things, ergo it is a shooter, but I prefer to use terms in standard ways, so here we are.
Anyway, I’ve had two days in the past week where I put in a decent amount of work on my shmup for teaching phonics… in spite of being down one hand for a new repetitive motion injury. Enemies are now a thing, though nothing hurts anything else.
I started a project ages ago, a game that was to be a shooter intended to help students learn phonics. The ship shoots sound bullets; all the enemies have letters on their ships and are only vulnerable to the sounds those letters make. Some ships are therefore only vulnerable to one sound, while a C ship, for example, is vulnerable to two.
I can’t remember why I stopped working on it. Judging by the last time I accessed the project, it might have had to do with Ultra Hat Dimension and our decision to polish and ship the prototype we made for Ludum Dare. Regardless, it’s been a good long time. Although I opted to continue using the Godot Engine to make it, I decided to start again from the ground up.
It only took me an afternoon to get back to pretty much where I was before. That could say something about how well I relearn long-disused scripting languages. Alternately, it could say something about how much I learned in the process of getting to where I was in the first place. Or both.
Three years later edit (April 21, 2019): Although I still agree with most of this, if I were writing this script today, I wouldn’t say Japanese companies “don’t understand the internet.” It’s true that companies like Square-Enix, Nintendo and Atlus have made moves involving Let’s Play videos that boggle my mind. It feels like they’re trying to control things that can’t be controlled. However, I now have a better understanding of cultural differences and law. I can only assume they’re dealing with pressures beyond my ken, though I’m still not down with the results.
I was rather salty about the fact that Square-Enix uses the PS4’s stream blocking capabilities on cutscenes in FFX/X-2 HD Remaster. Having gained some distance between me and the making of my FFX let’s play, I’ve made a video talking about why I think it’s a bad thing to for Square-Enix to have done and how I think the blocking might have come about.