DevLog #5 - Fatigue, Trello and Drug Vats

While fatigue is a mechanic in Pit Fighter Tycoon, it unfortunately affects me as a human as well. The gap between DevLogs is due to exactly that; so I’ve written some thoughts about that elsewhere.

Planning for the Future

Along with a planned return to monthly DevLogs, I have created a Trello board, where you’ll be able to see what I am working on at the moment. You can find that here!

I’ll be using it to keep track of everything as I move towards the next major milestone – Feature Complete!

Building Some Drug Vats

When I initially announced this project on Reddit, there was a significant amount of interest in how I learned to make the game itself. I’m hoping to shed some light on the art and UI side of things in this blog! If you’d prefer to not know how the game works, maybe skip this one.

Everything in the game has been built in Unity. While my art tool of choice is GIMP2 – as it is free to use (and superior to Photoshop for pixel art, in my opinion anyway).

This is the Training Interface, it’s currently a work in Progress so colours and design are subject to change.

Work in Progress!

Work in Progress!

Most of the art here is placeholder for now. However, on the left side of the UI there are a series of Drug Vats. These will allow the player to prescribe drug regimes to their slaves, potentially killing them. I’ll write more about the mechanics when they are finished in the next DevLog!

Each of those vats is a UI object within Unity, which contain a number of image objects within them. At the top level, they just have an empty shell, which is done so that they scale properly with different screen resolutions. However they consist of a number of sub-objects, which is where all of the art is.

Nesting objects underneath allows you to easily manipulate it

Nesting objects underneath allows you to easily manipulate it

Through trial and error I’ve found that using the Stretch setting along with anchor points seems to work best for UI Scaling.

The UI will appear over the top when the mouse moves over it.

The UI will appear over the top when the mouse moves over it.

This game is very UI heavy, mostly due to the nature of it's genre. There's never a single 'right' way of doing something, just more and less appropriate/efficient ways.

Before creating nice looking art, you need to figure out the size and composition of the final image so that it actually looks right in the game itself. So, start with a rectangle, or square and place it directly in the scene. You can then figure out what size and shape your art should be.

The chair down beneath the drug vats started life as a maroon rectangle, then I began figuring out the shape and shading.

Once you're happy with the composition, then you can make it pretty. Still has some distance to go I think!

Once you're happy with the composition, then you can make it pretty. Still has some distance to go I think!

The drug vats themselves also started as a plain object, so that I could quickly and easily mess with composition.

Before and After!

Before and After!

The biggest technique for adding depth in Pixel Art is Dithering. You can read a solid overview on that here: Spriteland.com

Derek Yu also has a fantastic tutorial on pixel art, here: Makegames.tumblr.com

I’d strongly recommend making use of layers as much as possible. It allows you to break a complex object, down into more easily completed parts. You can also take bigger risks, as you’re safe with the knowledge that you can turn off a layer that simply doesn’t work with the image. It will also leave you better prepared for breaking up an art asset in the game itself.

The individual parts of the drug vat look like this:

Explosion view

Explosion view

The background and liquid within are separate objects within the Unity Hierarchy as well, which will allow for a simple visual effect of the tanks filling up. It really all looks quite different when it's disassembled!

That's it for this Blog! Next time I will explain the mechanics of training itself, and how they impact the game. In the mean time, why don't you check out the Trello Board here: Trello.com

Why would you do this?

Four months ago I quit my stable, well-paying job as a sysAdmin. I planned on using the savings I had been building up for the previous 7 years to support myself, all so I could pursue a dream.
So now at 30, instead of buying a house with my wife like a responsible adult, we've moved in with my parents and I've been working full time on a video game about pixelated humans beating the shit out of each other.

What would drive someone to this sort of madness?

My first PC game was DOOM. I was too young to have the coordination to use all of the controls, so my brother would 'drive' and I got to press the 'kill button'. 

I think I came to the realization that I.T was just a job, and games were exactly what I wanted to do with my life when I was travelling through Canada & the USA in 2013. Visiting Montreal, I was excited by the fact that I was in the same city as Eidos, Ubisoft and Bioware. 

Pictured: Canada.   By Jonathunder - Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5185607

Pictured: Canada. 

By Jonathunder - Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5185607

It made me realize that I didn't want to just play games, I wanted build them. Unfortunately I didn't know the first thing about coding.

So, I decided to figure it out.

I started with GameMaker: Studio. In hindsight the language was pretty easy, but at the time it was probably the most frustrating 3 months of my life. I built some simple prototypes, then I decided on making ultra-violent 2D shooter that focused on blasting through walls and ruining buildings. It took a bit less than a year to build it in my spare time. 
One day I will totally finish that. Maybe.

At the end of 2015 I switched to Unity, learned C# and started building a new (far better) game. That game is Pit Fighter Tycoon. 

If I make money from it - awesome. If not, well... At least my young nephews think I'm cool.

I've always wanted to answer the question of 'Why are you making this game?' with a long explanation about how I'm following through on the dream design-document of my childhood. But, it never really works out like that.