What Have I Been Up To? (“The Great Penny Robbery”)

I haven’t made a post in a few weeks. Why? Because I had exams. I am a student after all. Thankfully, that’s over, and I can focus my time on important things for the next few months.

But I’ve done a lot in the last few months, too. None of it is really important or “complete,” but some of it is actually pretty darn impressive given the short amount of time it was completed in.

  • A Txt-Based Adventure Game Engine
    • This one’s the most boring from a user’s perspective, but the most exciting thing I’ve done from a programming perspective. I had never programmed a game-engine from scratch before, and the exact definition of what a game engine is can be iffy. This is a C++ program that allows you to play a text-based adventure game (the old style, choose-your-own-adventure type game), where the entire story and choices for the player are defined in a chain of .txt files.  That means a story-writer/game-designer could make many adventure games by simply typing the story in .txt files, with basic formatting for compatibility, no coding necessary whatsoever. There no real support for graphics or animations, hence why this might bore the average player, but you can still make some cool stuff with it. You can download the code and sample files here.
  • A Unity3D-Kinect 2D shooter
    • I worked with a student club that focused on game development, regardless of past experience or skill. Sadly, it was a train wreck this year due to poor organization and promotion, and very few of the projects went very far. Despite that, I am happy to say I almost single-handedly ensured the club wouldn’t die this year, and it’s set to be stronger than ever next year with new council members. One of the only playable demos was a remake of an older game the club made in previous years, a basic 2D shooter set in space in the vein of Asteroids. I remade the game in Unity3D with relative accuracy, and added the ability to control the game with the Microsoft Kinect camera (first-generation). It was a poor implementation, but it worked, and was the first time I had ever used the Kinect camera for anything, a definite experience, and a great demo for the University to use. However, we also learned that the Kinect camera has a leak in it that results in slowdown after a few minutes of use, even with built-in demos that came with the camera. I’m sure Microsoft fixed that bug with the Xbox One Kinect Camera… right?
    • This one’s the big one. Also by far the most incomplete. But this is based off a real idea I hope to better implement in the future, and this demo was made for a game dev class as a final submission. You can download a PC demo of it here.
    • Based around the Canadian Penny, the 1 cent coin that recently stopped being minted. There exists an older version, the “1936 dot penny,” which is rare enough to only exist in private collections, the last one seen in auction to have fetched over $400,000. The story revolves around your grandfather, who kept a dot penny since his birth as a lucky charm when it is stolen from him by goons. Now on his deathbed, you (a skilled thief/artist) vow to get the penny back. In doing so, you team up with a range of people, from ruthless coin collectors to mobsters to auctioneers, all of which have their own plans for the coin. When they find out that you plan to keep the coin yourself, they will hunt you down, and you prefer to not resort to violence. So you run. Run faster. Avoid capture, put goons against each other as you flee. If you’re careful, you might pull off the most exciting heist in Canadian history (which isn’t saying much, but it’s a start).
    • The physics system was custom coded in Unity3D, instead of just using the built-in “character controller.” The characters are hand-animated, working with the environment to try to match older DreamWorks animated films. Music from http://freepd.com/, a fantastic public domain library of tracks. A trailer that shows the concept and gameplay can be seen below:

    • Ok, the animations aren’t finished, the art looks crude as hell, and the gameplay isn’t exactly polished. But this was made in only one week. Seven days of hard-working gamedev time. And in a year or so, maybe this will amount to something much larger.

So that’s what I’ve done. The next few weeks should be much more interesting, dedicated to the next game I plan to seriously release. More details to come…