After spending 17 months on my first Unity3D project, I decided it was time to do it all over again… This time in 24 Hours.
To be honest… despite the title, the total time spent was 26 hours, but 24 hours does make for a better tagline. Now that that’s off my chest let me try to make this story as vivid and accurate as possible.
We all have that one friend who subtly jabs you about your project that you have spent so much time and effort on. You’re socially obligated to laugh along, but secretly you feel as if they hurt your baby — one of the reasons it’s easier to wake up in the morning. I’d be lying if I didn’t say at least 120% of my friends fall into this category, I still love them though — Iffy.
“The best way to counter-attack a hater is to make it blatantly obvious that their attack has had no impact on you” — Tim Ferriss
My friends were under the assumption I wouldn’t be able to make another app in my college career. This is fair when you consider that Space Bolt did take 8 months longer than my other projects on average. However, they didn’t understand all the fine nuances that went into learning Unity3D. Even after you finally understand how exactly shaders worked and how to optimize your models, you’d still have to limit all those draw calls to make sure your app doesn’t lag on an Android phone with 512 MB of RAM. Tragic. Eventually everything works perfectly, and you get an intense adrenaline rush, sifting through all the redundant errors becomes worth it, because you finally have something worth sharing. Be it any software cycle anywhere in the world, we all know the bipolar and tense nature of development.
After working with Unity3D for so long on Space Bolt, I really felt that I had a solid grasp on the Development Process and wanted to challenge myself (and also wanted to prove my friends wrong of course). I wanted to give myself an impossible time frame that would push any developer to the brink of insanity. I gave myself 24 Hours.
After embarking on this near-impossible quest, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to create a game that had intuitive gameplay and was easy to learn but hard to master. Coincidentally, I was playing a castle defense game around the same time and realized that there really weren’t any good space defense games for mobile. By keeping the setting in the final frontier, I would be able to maximize the use of my assets that I had from Space Bolt. I wanted the Gameplay to be so simple that anyone of any age could learn; this resulted in simple swipe gestures that would control defender movement.
Running out of time, I faced a couple of tradeoffs. For starters, I kept the app single scene and had no trace of any Menu or GUI for a good 20 hours. I also didn’t even name the app or come up with a slick logo (If you have any name suggestions please comment below!). In addition, I made a bold decision not to have any complex power-ups to keep the simplicity of the game and have a maximum pick-up-and-play no strings attached experience. However, I did add a simple randomly spawning double defender that moves in opposite direction of the main one. Solely focusing on game mechanics and minimalism allowed me to (almost) reach the 24-hour deadline.
“UI is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good” — Graphic Design Proverb
My adventure started by forking the Low-Poly Planets from Space Bolt to use in my new game. I put together 2 pillars and had a flat low poly surface from the same Launchpad to create the defender platform. I wanted to reuse as many assets as I could from Space Bolt to spend the least time modeling on Blender as possible. However, I did find this really neat Asset on the store which I used for the Comets. It’s called Stylized Projectile Pack 1 by EffectCore, the asset is very well documented, and the animations are Hollywood-esque.
To make the polish of the app feel much richer, I wanted to incorporate a panning camera with just a little bit off time offset on every swipe. After implementing it, not only did this make the app feel cleaner but also allowed players to be able to see the sky around them better for incoming comets.
For the GUI, I wanted something minimal and flat to match the gameplay and graphics style. I looked at Endless Lake by Spil Games for some inspiration on how to approach the interface. I was blown away by this game when it first hit Facebook messenger; the connection with the game and the User Interface had a bond that few games are able to achieve, all packed with simple user controls and an addictive gameplay arc. Some UI elements from the MVP can be traced to Endless Lake, as shown.
Even though I am thoroughly satisfied with the outcome, I’m unsure about whether I should launch this game or let it wither away for eternity in software limbo. Putting substantially less time into this project compared to my past ones gives me a certain level of freedom from attachment. For me, this app isn’t my baby like Space Bolt or even VolunTree. Meteor MVP is my demonstration of being put into an impossible time constraint with an impossible task.
However… if I did spark your interest in the app, I will put beyond optimal effort in order to tweak the last few lagging features. Aside from developing an identity for this app, the projectile spawning must be a tad bit smarter and the UI could be much more robust. Aside from that feel free to comment, what other features would set the Meteor-Defense MVP apart from the pack? Some things one might think about: Should I keep the swipe style controls? Should I add more enemies/projectiles, if so what do you have in mind? Should I create randomly generated planets to spawn after Pluto or should I make Pluto the end and make the Comets spawn indefinitely when its reached?
At first, I set out to write this article to relate to all my other indie developer friends across the world, to set battle against our (lame) discouraging friends, but when I finished writing I realized that it created a much different narrative… It helped me confirm my belief, that even with a small dash of inspiration and the correct motivation, even a subpar developer like myself can achieve things he/she never thought possible. Thank you for reading.
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