Unity Game Dev Update

I have been trying to teach myself game development using Unity for a few weeks now. I’ve put together a project that I’m calling “Robot Slayer”: a FPS that I created to be test environment for my script writing. Then Unity decided to pull the rug out from under all developers this week with their predatory pricing changes, and I expect a lot of studios will abandon the platform moving forward. I think I am going to switch to learning Unreal and C++, and keep an eye on how Godot develops now that Unity is imploding. So instead of further developing my Unity game, I am putting what I’ve made so far on my site here: RobotSlayer. It’s just one small level and a bit janky, but it’s playable and you can run it in your browser. I’ve also put the code for it up on GitHub.

Game Dev in Unity

I have begun teaching myself C# game dev within Unity. After watching several tutorials and reading “Unity in Action” by Joseph Hocking, I started by creating an arena where I could test attaching scripts to game objects. I experimented with textures and skyboxes a bit. A script for player movement was easy enough to get working. Then I wrote a basic script (based on an example in the book) to have objects move through the environment while avoiding obstacles via Raycasting. That looked like this:

Next, I created a proper enemy, with a bit of basic AI. Using the code for avoiding obstacles, I added a function to cause the enemy to stalk the player through the environment and to attack when the player is spotted. Then I created a simple weapons system and armed the enemy and the player. (This also gave me a chance to play with Bloom post-processing to get the projectiles “glowy”.) This is where I’m at now:

Next on the agenda:

  • create a damage system so the enemy and player will take damage when hit
  • create an effect to communicate the destruction of an enemy
  • create an effect that will communicate when the player takes damage
  • write an enemy spawn script that will generate new enemies whenever an enemy is destroyed
  • build a weapon change system
  • design a new type enemy (flying?)

Adventures in Commodore 64

I consider myself something of a videogame historian: I like to collect and restore vintage computers, and then run original games on the original hardware. One of my recent adventures has been exploring the world of Commodore 64’s. I purchased my first C64 from a local Frameshop that used it as their primary computer for about 32 years, until the store owner recently passed away. The new owner wasn’t interested in using a Commodore as her Point-Of-Sale system, so she sold me the computer and even threw in the POS software (on a 5.25″ floppy) that the previous owner had written himself.

Since I now own the only copy of this software, I felt that I should try preserving it. To that end, I began experimenting, and I was eventually able to use a SD2IEC in combination with CBM Command to save a d64 image of the floppy disk onto a SD card. Then, I uploaded the Frameshop POS to Internet Archive.

While I was at it, I also uploaded some other obscure C64 files I happen to have in my collection: COSMI Top 20 Tools for Commodore 64/128 (has a neat spinning menu), and MFJ MultiCom64 (software for controlling Ham Radio).

Advertising in Fiction

I find fictional advertising really interesting. I’ve noticed that several modern videogames include fictional advertising for fictional products as a type of world building. In the real world, thriving economies are underscored by a background of ads, so seeing ads in a fictional world makes it seem a little more real.

As an advertising nerd though, I like to stop and admire these ads and wonder about the thought process behind them. Are they simply mimicking a real world advertisement, or has some zealous designer invented an entire fictional ad campaign, complete with an original brand strategy? Usually these ads take the form of posters plastered throughout the environment, though I have also come across tv commercials and radio ads. Next time you are playing a game that creates a believable virtual world, look around and see if you can spot the advertising.

R.O.B. Robot Hack

This was a fun electronics project that I did a few years ago. I hacked an old Nintendo NES R.O.B Robot to be controllable from a PC via a webpage (I ended up selling the robot to someone who wanted to use it in a commercial).

I used a Teensy micro-controller soldered to the robot’s original circuit board and a bit of code to interpret serial input. Then I made a PHP file that sends serial data to the Teensy’s port and made an gui with a bit of Bootstrap. Here is the code if you’d like to try this yourself: R.O.B. Robot Controller