Zombs

Weekend update…

Seeing as how this Easter weekend, that got a lot of attention – Zombs, however, did not.

Easter 2011

I put a bit of work in on a mini-game for my kiddos that lets you toss Easter eggs onto baskets for points. It’s really hard to miss the baskets, but then again, it was for my 7-year-olds. 😉

You can see the details here, but the general gist is that you get an egg spawn directly in front of you. It gets tossed slightly vertical – like a baseball that you’re about to crank into the outfield – and when it “feels right” simply [LMB] and watch it fly. Hit [Space] if you DO mess up and miss (or if you just really want to zip through the rando and see the different eggs). Get the eggs in the basket to increase the score.

Again, nothing special from a “game” perspective, but it was fun making all the different eggs and my kids seemed to love it!

Zombs

Zombs was under-loved this weekend, only getting a slight bit of modeling work done for “actual” zombies (not the iPhone joke ones). I’ve been really inspired by Patrick Spens‘s zombies, and while I have next-to-no modeling talent, I’m still giving it a go. If you look at his zombie style (Acquired Taste / If I Only Had a Brain), there should be no question that those cute little undead menaces need some 3D love and a game to help further glorify them. 😉

I did however, finally decide that the aiming/movement system that we were going for just simply will not work – at least not for what I want. I’m thinking we’re going to need to go back to the way it was; standard mouse-look for Y-axis rotation as it is now when moving, but with the added ability to aim up and down as well like standard FPS control. The “shooter”-style was great for a moment, but the more I get into it and go that direction, the more obstacles I hit and the more the style just generally displeases me.

Hierchical thinking with PlayMaker…

I’ve noticed something in this short time that I’ve been working with PlayMaker that I wanted to share. I’m sure the Hutong videos probably go over this much better than I will, but in my experience, there’s nothing quite the same as hearing about a product from a real user.

One thing that I’ve found over time with using someone else’s work is that when a refactor or reorganization is needed, third-party products typically leave you dreading the rework so much that you continue to pile more spaghetti on top of what you already know to be faulty.

Well, I am pleased to announce that with PlayMaker, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s actually quite delightful to graph pretty state machines.

While the idea of an object’s FSM may be simple to start, it doesn’t always end up that way. For example, I started Zombs off with a character that could move. Simple enough. Then I added a state to let him fire. Again, simple enough. The next thing you know, the “simplicity” of it all had me taking damage, switching between weapons, controlling firing rates, handling movement, etc… all in one FSM. At this point the instinctive “clean-this-koi-up”-gremlin came knocking at my screen.

So the first thought was “well, I have a Gun object under my Player object… maybe if I move some of this FSM it will read a little more clearly.” Sure enough, that was exactly what was needed. In seconds, a new FSM was created on the Gun object, and after copying the Player‘s FSM onto the Gun (to bring events and variables over) I removed the states of the Player‘s FSM that related to firing, deleted the non-weapon states, and viola!

Now it seems to play the Player/Gun states even smoother… and I can find my logic!

Things were literally a copy/paste/delete away from being cleaner, more functional, simpler to expand upon, easier and debug and maintain than they had previously.

In the 15+ years that I’ve been coding, I can honestly say that this kind of foresight isn’t even one that developers usually take into account when writing their own code, let alone an expectation that they can put on a third-party tool.

Weekend update…

Okay, so unfortunately, nothing was updated this past weekend. I got to (very) briefly use the new Blender, but other than that, no new developments.

Initial impressions of Blender 2.5

  • The new window splitting is a bit disorienting, but once you get the hang of it, it’s very nice. If you’re already familiar with Blender, you no longer split windows from their edge. Now you’ll want to look for the “drag-size”-style handle in the corner and simply click and drag it.
  • I love the new starting layout. Things seem to be organized so much more clearly. Mesh tools to the left are nice, too.
  • The new menu seems extremely helpful if you know the name of what you’re looking for because you can just press [space] and start typing and it will search all menu commands for you. Biggest problem I’ve found with this is that if you’re still learning Blender, this could stunt your learning by not making experimentation easier.
  • With regard to Unity unfortunately, a manual FBX export is required. Fortunately, however, everything appears to be working fine past that export. Perhaps the next version of Unity will come with direct Blender 2.5 auto FBX importing as previous versions do.

Zombs Update

So Zombs hasn’t had an update in a few days, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going anywhere. It just means that I didn’t get to work on anything over this past weekend.

Zombs has a few things still upcoming in the very immediate future, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Changing the aiming system to be based on screen/cursor position to allow full range of motion for targeting (including vertical).
  • I will stop the auto-spawning of zombs and start doing trigger-based spawning instead.
  • In order to make the trigger spawning work right, the “level” (currently two platforms, a ramp, and a hallway) will be greatly expanded upon and turned into a real, playable level (with a goal!).
  • I will be implementing a BFG for Zombs (Bunny-Firing Gun) *wink-nudge*.
  • I still am aiming to include a custom action for PlayMaker soon that will grab me a random image from Flickr and apply it as the zombs’ screen texture, but this may take longer than the others, as it will be the first real code that I write in Zombs, and the goal all along has been to see how far it could get on the FSM alone.

Also, about Blender 2.5, if someone knows a shortcut to the original menu, I would be much obliged if you’d throw me a comment here, or send me a message @Nekoyoubi on Twitter.