Saturday, March 11, 2017

Presents Panic Unity 1 - Project plan

I have been trying to decide what to do as my next project. As tempted as I am to use libgdx or Haxe I have found that when looking at my CV rather than saying 'wow, this guys has lots of finished projects in multiple different engines/languages' potential employers say 'bah, I want someone with lots of experience in the one I am using'. Unfortunately apart from Flash that's not something I have and I am not comfortable with blagging. It seems Unity is a good way forward so I have decided to do another Unity project. I want it to be a small project so I will just port another of my old Flash games that I think will work well on mobile.

The game that I have decided on is Presents Panics, a game I created about 10 years ago as a mash up of Tetris, Super puzzle fighter and Same Game. At the time I really liked the game - it has depth and multiple ways you can play and win.

Of course the game has issues and it didn't set the world alight when I originally released it. I am hoping that I can keep what I view as the original game's strengths but fix or at least smooth over the problems it had. In my view the two main problems it had were the controls and the progression.

The controls: In the original version the game used both the keyboards and the mouse. The keyboard to move and rotate the pieces and the mouse to remove them once they had settled in blocks. Obviously as the creator I had gotten used to this and had no problems with them but new players often didn't understand or like them. Since I don't have access to a keyboard on a mobile I couldn't keep the old controls even if I wanted to. I will experiment once I have something running but I think it will work well with swipe to move, tap to rotate or explode. It will be simpler and more intuitive, I hope. Of course until I have a version up and running it's hard to say for sure.

The progression: The original game goes for a very Tetris style progression. You play until you lose with the game gradually getting faster and harder, whilst the score multiplier increases. It's pretty basic and unsatisfying. There are no concrete challenges and it ends up feeling like a slog. It's not just of it's time, it's of 10 years earlier and when you compare it to the scientifically engineered addictiveness of something like Candy Crush it feel positively stone age. I am not sure what I will do here, I just know that I need to do something. Some ideas I have:
  • Have discreet levels with a score players need to reach and a limit on the number of presents they get to reach the score. Maybe  predefined starting presents already present.
  • Change the number of blocks sent down from 4 in an L shape to just 2. This would mean that if I could make sure that you always get on colours present the level should always be clearable. this might make it too easy though. This would open up the types of game mode available - I haven't player Dr Mario in 15 years but I think this is close to what they do.
  • Bombs and other power ups that destroy rows and columns. Spawned when you destroy larger presents.
  • Still have a 'rush' mode that is like the old one.
  • I could go full candy and have a currency that you collect in games that you can spend on boosts/power ups.
  • Make it less Tetris twitchy and more of a strategy game. This would mean that instead of speeding it up I would give the players less blocks to achieve the objectives so you feel like it's about planning rather than just being fast.
The only other question I'm asking myself is, should I bother? I have no illusions on whether this will be popular or successful. It won't be no matter what I do unless I am willing to spend some serious time/effort on both the polish and on marketing/pr and even then I don't think it has enough to it for it to be successful. I have to look at it as being 90% a portfolio piece so maybe I should just bog a fairly bog standard version with limited additions.

The other remaining questions is how much effort I am going to expend in trying to monetise the game. I feel like if it's going to be a portfolio piece it needs to look and feel like a real pro game and that will mean extras, though probably not iaps. In the end I will probably just stick some ads and maybe if I do boosts I will offer them for reward ads. It has to be easy and quick. 

I have all the assets, though they will need some work to export them for unity. I will need to redo the ui as the aspect ratio has changed and I want it to look more sparkly. I am hoping to complete the project working part time in 4-5 weeks. If it takes longer I won't mind too much if it genuinely improves it.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Watercolour RedditGetsDrawn pieces

After experimenting with coloured I decided to go back to trying to improve my watercolour technique. I enjoyed the convenience of pencils but I realised I am nowhere near the stage of being able to get nice results and I wasn't sure of the direction it was going in. If I'm honest I don't think I've ever seen a coloured pencil piece that I actually like.

I also want to improve my ability to produce likenesses so I've gone back and done more reddit gets drawn pieces. I am still nowhere near where I want to be, both in watercolour technique or draftsmanship but I do feel like I am making progress.

This is a piece from a user's wedding album. I think it came out well, though I messed up the bride's face. Sadly it was the last bit I did so there was no way I was going to restart. This is what makes watercolour so brutal - there is no way to fix or recover from mistakes, you just have to go with it.

This pieces is actually coloured pens, not watercolour. I really like it though.It's fun, bright and I think it captures the couple.

A picture of someone's wife and dog. I think elements came out well but it's too obvious that I ran out of time/interest towards the end. I often get like this - I really didn't want to do the whole background but I wasn't sure what else to do instead. It has made me want to do more animals though.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Some old Reddit art

I haven't posted for ages, I just lost the energy and all the stuff I was producing seemed terrible. I'd like to start up again so this post is just a few of my favourite pieces from the oh, six months since I last blogged.

Gene Wilder (and Richard Pryor)
I'm still terribly with likenesses and my watercolour techniques is poor but I still like this.

A Western fence lizard for Daily sketch

The Reddit Snoo
One of my favourite pieces from last year. Most of it actually looks like I meant it that way
A rgd drawing
A drawing from a couple of weeks ago. It actually looks vaguely like the person.
Another rgd drawing
Another recent rgd piece. I've been trying out coloured pencils again, largely for the convenience. I still haven't worked out how to do skin tones correctly but I do like elements of this and it looks like the picture.
A Ulysses butterfly
Just a cute pixel butterfly.

Monday, June 06, 2016

More Reddit prodded art

I've been too busy to do much drawing or painting recently, putting most of my time into projects that could be thought of as being 'work'. I did have time to do a few pieces. All three pieces here were done with Joshua next to me, him frantically stabbing my watercolours with the brushes and complaining that he wanted to use the colours I had mixed up instead of the dirty smudges he was creating. My poor brushes.

Daily sketch 363 - Swans

I am actually very happy with this! I really think it came out well,  though I should have added more contrast in the water.

Daily sketch 367 - Neptune

I like this one too, though Neptune's arm is definitely a bit weird. Unlike so much of my stuff it looks like I mostly intended it to look this way!

Reddit gets drawn - sir_megatron

I am not so sure about this one. It's a bit of a mess, like I couldn't decide whether to do a cartoon picture or try for something more realistic. Which is of course exactly what happened.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Daily sketches - Prince and Meerkats

I've been a bit slack with art recently, mostly because I've been spending most of my free time working on javascript projects to get my skills up to a point where someone will ay me to do stuff.
I still managed to do two daily sketches.

335 - Prince
I was looking after the kids on bank holiday Monday morning so I broke out the crayolas and watercolours and made this version of Price as the Little Prince. I actually really like it, enough that I wish I had had more time to do it properly. Instead it has indistinct lines and because I didn't use watercolour paper or take enough care the background colours are a bit of a mess. Joshua enjoyed stabbing my paints (which are all now a dirty green brown) and I like the feel of doing an activity with the kids.

333 - Meerkats
A pen and watercolour picture of the meerkats. I went for a group composition but found it quite hard to get it right, so I cheated. I opened my source picture in an artists grid app and drew a grid on the paper and the drawing worked out quite well. I am still not sure how I feel about doing this. Drawing a grid definitely helps with the result, but I am doing these mostly as a learning exercise in order to get better, and do I really want to get better drawing from a grid?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Daily sketches + Reddit gets drawns

We went away for the weekend and took the kids to Centre Parcs. They had great fun and I got a bit of time in the evenings to do some drawing + painting. I did 2 daily sketches and 2 rgds.

Daily sketch 328 - Pizza
Our elder hd begged for pizza then refused to eat it when it came so we took it back with us and I did this watercolour from (still) life. I really like it, though it suffers from my usual washed out thing.

Daily sketch 331 - Bob's Burgers
This was supposed to be something in the style of or about the cartton show Bob's Burgers. I've never watched the show so I think my picture came out more 'generic cartoony' than anything else. I'd like to say it was a decision to do it in ball point pen but really I had one to hand and couldn't be bothered to get up. It's a picture of Theo Walcott eating his own foot while Alexi Sanchez phones his agent and Mezut Ozil regrets his life choices.

Reddit gets drawn - Bitterljuvast
I tried for a watercolour, but after I messed up the initial skin colour I decided to just go with it and make it a bit creepy. I quite like it, though as always it's too mono-toned.

Reddit gets drawn - Innersoulkitten
A marker comic style picture of some girl. I like this and did intend to colour it, but it got late and I went to bed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Journey into Bargue drawing

I'd really like to start abstracting my drawings and to try to develop something close to a style but I've always been painfully aware how poor my fundamentals are - basic things like anatomy, perspective and actual drawing/painting technique. I feel I need to get a good handle on all this before I can really try to experiment more. Or maybe I'm just putting it off and making excuses...

Anyway I had read about an old drawing course create by Charles Bargue that involved learning to draw by repetition and copying works by old masters. This is something I would never have had the patience for when I was younger but I like to think that I'm more measured these days so I thought I would give it a go. Thanks to my wife for buying me the book for our anniversary.

My copy of the first plate:

I probably should compliment this with trying to draw from life, or at least photos in a similar style. When I have time.