! The decision to rewrite the game has allowed me to plan the structure better as I'm able to cherry pick everything that was good in version 1 and better plan in this version. The rewrite has also resulted in a better project plan. For this update I am planning on concentrating on the following:
Monday, 15 February 2021
Friday, 5 February 2021
There has been quite a lot of progress made on the game. I have invested time in developing the UI as well as bringing in the other buildings into the menu and applying the logic that allows certain buildings to only be placed if particular criteria has been met (see the notebook from previous updates). I have also been experimenting with the style of the game and would like to try and replicate an IKEA style when it comes to drawing out the pieces. It was actually playing a game called Sparvagn that sealed the deal when it came to the IKEA look. This simple train game looks so beautiful.
After playing Dorfromanik I wanted to explore the concept of making it turn-based, with the game presenting you with a single item at a time to place on the map. The problem is that the tile delivery has to be logic driven in order to allow the game to continue being played. There is no point in presenting the player with a tile that cannot be played, so to the notebook I went and tried to flesh out the logic for the tile delivery.
To cut a long story short, this did not work at all. In fact, it properly broke the game's code and although I religiously keep backups of everything, I'm now wanting to take the lessons I've learnt, along with the style and UI design concepts and start again. I read a number of devlogs and this would appear to be a more common occurrence than I initially thought, so I'm not alone. What I've achieved so far is by no means time wasted, it gives me a solid foundation in order to build the game again.
Sunday, 24 January 2021
I have a rough concept of the game. Thoughts now turn to the environment and map the player will be playing in. I've played a great many settlement building games lately, for research purposes you understand ;) (Try out Dorfromanik by the way) and I think playing the game in an isometric view works really well and is a nice nod to the old world building games that I used to play. I've also been giving some consideration to how the player will journey through the map and have gone for a simple 2x2 grid system to start with, with players unlocking new areas of the map as they progress through the game.
Monday, 4 January 2021
This is the start of a dev log of my game Cloud Storage. A settlement building simulation set in a dry, desert world where water is the last remaining natural resource. Harvest the moisture locked in the clouds to upgrade and trade with other players to advance your settlement and increase your chances of survival.
The initial idea
Inspiration for games come in many forms, I usually use the weekly game jams to help get the creative gears moving. This is great for short blasts of game making but for a longer build I needed to look elsewhere and it wasn't long before something of interest came my way. I'm not sure how I came across it and it took me a while to track it down again but this short video of an animation really got me thinking. I love the idea of some planes fighting for resources whilst others are trying to better the situation. Wouldn't it be great to include similar dilemmas and situations in a game of survival.
The dynamics of how someone in dry, desert world interacts and survives in such a climate. Trading with NPCs or other online players is an idea that really appeals and one that is worth exploring later on.
I initially thought about generating an infinite map for the player to level up and explore. The sketching out of this idea has made me realise that this maybe a little ambitious. This way of generating a random, infinite world that was the same on every load took me down some interesting avenues, including sitting down with a couple of maths teachers in order to got through how to generate such a thing. I was going to try and use the same mechanic for the weather system.
Level progression will be done through upgrading the player's technology in order to farm moisture better. For the basic levels, technology is operated manually with incentives to spend valuable currency on upgrading to automation, freeing up time for the user to explore the desert world. Moisture can be traded for parts and goods. I really like the idea of a messaging system between players in the form of a mail carrying blimp.
Tuesday, 22 December 2020
I've been wanting to put together a podcast for some time now, learning what it takes to plan, record and edit episode in order to learn a few new skills. As I'm on a game dev mission for 2021, it makes a great deal of sense to base my podcast's content on next year's adventures.
Monday, 28 September 2020
There is something very special about an arcade cabinet and I've made a couple in the past with varying degrees of success as I try and recreate that strong nostalgic feeling I have for retro gaming. Now that I'm more familiar with the process of building cabinets I decided to see how cheaply I could build me next one and this is the process I followed. For those wishing to make one but don't have the space then maybe you would be interested in building one of my smaller miniature versions here.
This is the finished product, a Mario themed table top arcade machine running a Retropie set up and as most of the material was sourced from scrap, the whole project (not including the cost of the monitor) came it at just over £20.
The edging is a great way to hide any scruffy joins from the previous building stages. The easiest and cheapest option I have found is to use insulation tape and I found the perfect Mario red colour to compliment the blue.
From here it's a case of wiring everything up and testing once again. I've put together a short video of the process detailed in this post as well as the finishing stages. The more observant readers will notice that I installed the control panel the wrong way round with the joystick located on the right. Always double check things before committing!
Sunday, 23 August 2020
My most recent project is my pop-up pirate radio box that's designed to serve two purposes. The first will be to stream my broadcasts online using Anchor (https://anchor.fm) and there are really easy to follow tutorials on YouTube if you wish to give it a go yourself. Secondly it will broadcast over FM with the help of a series of modified in-car FM transmitters (my video tutorial can be found here) relaying the online stream of the broadcast at various locations.
I have put together a short video on how the pop-up pirate box was built and what plans I have for it.
Now let's rewind a little bit to understand how I got here. The pirate box uses a similar set up to a previous radio beacon project of mine. At the heart of the FM beacon lies the Microbit, whose job it it to manage and help conserve power to the transmitter. Having a means to activate your transmitter on a schedule is a really useful feature and the conservation of power is a problem that can be solved in a variety of creative ways. I hunted around the usual places for inspiration on how to solve this problem and found a nice video. I love how the rig featured in the video below solves this problem via analogue means and is able to keep to a broadcasting schedule too. Such an inventive idea. Spot the cat exercise wheel in the background at 5m 55s! This project served as inspiration for the Microbit FM beacons.
Together with the power management of the Microbit and my modified transmitter hack, I have the means to broadcast on a schedule for prolonged periods of time over a range of about 600m after further tweaks.
It's worth noting that I could not have managed this project without this clearly written Instructable on motor control using the TIP120 transistor. This tutorial has helped me so many times over the years and I've used it again with activating this project's transmitter. Thank you!
Below is my circuit diagram to show how the FM beacon was constructed along with the simple code blocks that control the servo motor and FM transmitter.
Built from cheap and salvaged materials, this was a challenging yet fun project to put together. Thoughts now turn to how best to use the radio rig. I rather like the idea of taking over unused public spaces such as telephone boxes and turning them into makeshift recording studios.
Friday, 3 July 2020
I learnt something very important at that event, and that was you don't have to have everything completely polished and complete. If you have a good idea and you're enthusiastic and have the right intentions, people won't mind receiving your details on a slither of paper.
It was time to get some proper cards made up though in time for my next event. As I try and achieve things for as less money as possible with whatever I do, I found an offer online for free business card sample packs and took advantage of it. For years now I've been branded with rockets, rusty rockets and have done ever since I chose my first Hotmail email address back in the late 90s. So with these cards I quickly put together a rocket logo for the front design.
I loved how the reverse of the card resembled the inlay card of the case. Sadly no contact details printed (I think this came at a huge additional cost) so it was back to hand writing details and I got rather good at writing them out for people in the form of a track listing, as if I had made them a mix tape.
I have been using the cassette tape cards for a number of years now and I've only stopped using them as this particular template is no longer offered anymore. Never fear though, the 3d printer revolution is here! I've been experimenting with new contact cards with a difference and on finding a nice rocket kit template on Thingiverse I modified it so it could be used as a contact card. The idea is the parts all pop out to make a small model of a rocket.
This is a great idea but the actual rocket assembly proved very tricky, so I looked at ways of refining the rocket card kit and the below is the result - A more compact model that's easier to build.
These were going to be used at events this Easter and Summer but have unfortunately been cancelled due to everything going on in the world at the moment. They won't go to waste though, they can be saved until I'm next able to get out. In the meantime I've bought myself a cheap little thermal printer and I'm looking at way this could be used as a way to print out little receipt-like contact details for people, along with images and other fun things that could be included on their.
Thursday, 14 May 2020
Due to my rather cavalier approach to accuracy, build components have a hard time of fitting togther nicely. However with this project the USB NES controller is the exact width of a CD case and so slotted into place perfectly. It was as if the two were made for each other, it fitted that well!
Once I had the frame built, the components safely housed inside and confirmed that everything was working as intended, it was time to 3d print the exterior. Again, I had no proper design in mind, I just started printing small parts out and built it up from there. One thing I did find useful about this process was the fact that the little mistakes I had made as a result of not measuring properly or poorly cutting the wood, I could hide really easily from view.
Still making it up as I go along and as a finishing touch to the build I managed to find some old broken Christmas lights that I'd clearly kept for a project like this to come along. Once I got a few of the LED lights working again I was able to drill a few holes in the wooden frame of the cabinet and have them illuminating parts of the 3d printed panels, including the miniature coin slots.
Whilst I am really pleased with the way this mini arcade turned out, there are a couple of things I would like to change in order to improve the build.
The first is to print a proper button and joystick panel to go over the USB NES controller. Whilst using the NES controller allows me to retain that retro feel of the project, it is a little awkward at times to use.
The Raspberry Pi Zero is at the heart of the build and this can be run off a battery pack. Unfortunately the screen I used cannot, it has to be plugged in and so it's not completely portable.
Finally, I would just love it if this could be made into a proper coin operated cabinet. I have the coin operator along with old 10 pence coins that we could use.
Friday, 24 April 2020
I am a little late to the party but I have only recently discovered that one of my tutorials written three years ago was featured on the Adafruit blog. Whether it was a human or an automated algorithm that posted it, I am just so pleased that someone or something thought it worthy to be posted despite the photographs being blurry, the writing is terrible (even now I'm still not confident with my writing, hence this blog to help practice) and a somewhat illegal activity of interfering with local FM transmissions (see small print below). It all backs up my advice to people, that you don't have to make a project that is perfectly polished, you just have to crack on and make it, for people will see through all the roughness and home in on your idea. It also got feature over on the Instructables site too.
Since submitting this tutorial I have gone on to build and experiment with many other number station and pirate radio projects featuring the BBC Microbit as well as the Raspberry Pi.
My radio projects are purely intended for educational purposes and are not to be used to break any local laws regarding the interference of local FM frequencies. Please use these projects sensibly.
Wednesday, 8 April 2020
There are a number of organisations coordinating the huge task of printing protective visors for front line staff and I registered with 3D Crowd UK who after introducing myself and chatting with a few people on their Slack channel, found the online community to be incredibly welcoming and helpful indeed.
I was able to find and download the files they provided without any trouble and although I was surprised at how long the print took, I had my first headband and lower screen reinforcer successfully printed. In order to achieve the best quality possible, the process of printing them is slow, which is why it is really important that as many people as possible register their printers to help.
I encountered another slight issue and that was to do with the size of my printing platform. It is just a few millimetres too small for the band and I could only print them out be tilting them slightly. All is not lost though, my region's coordinator who I've been chatting to over Slack has managed to find someone local who prints the headbands but doesn't like printing the smaller components on the grounds that it slows down their process. The two of us are now working together to produce complete kits and I'm very pleased to say my first batch has been delivered to the central distribution point.
Here are some of the Wiltshire NHS 3d printing community, featuring yours truly photographed outdoors in his slippers!
If you have a 3d printer, please consider registering to help here. At the time of writing this, there were over 5,500 registered volunteers but more are needed. There are other ways you can help too by making a donation towards printing materials here.
The great rewrite ! The decision to rewrite the game has allowed me to plan the structure better as I'm able to cherry pick everything t...
This was my very first contact card. It was printed off on paper as an afterthought as I need something quick before I left for an event ...
I have previously built arcade cabinets from scratch and wanted to build another one now that I'm more familiar with the build process...