Pasquale D’Silva and Jacob Bijani show and tell their first indie game, “OK, Dracula”. Learn what they learned, as they made an ambitious passion project. They’ll be giving out free blood if you bring your own syringe 💉.
Why make a game? First of all they are fun to make and fun to play… do you want to have fun?
OK, Dracula is a game that works on Apple TV (there are very few games in the Apple TV store); which has a lot of challenges around the conroller – it’s small an imprecise. They wanted a game that drunk people could play… or children… or the venn diagram of both?!
The game is largely kicking a skull through terrain. They started with a mix of 2d and 3d graphics, but committed to all-2d. The art and ideas started to gel.
So how do games work from a technical perspective? Broadly they take user input, process the results and render the result. It has to happen 60 times per second to have a smooth game to play – performance is a really big deal. The background of the game is a set of parallax layers, then you add foreground and ui layers. This all has an impact on FPS.
Teaching behaviour is important in games – what happens if you run into a bear in the game? How will the game react? How do you teach a bear to walk along the ground?
Break it down to:
- bear – an animated character that can be animated by the game (virtual animation rig)
- ground – a set of points in space
- walking – the movement of walking is an animation loop; which then has to follow the ground path
You quickly hit problems where the root motion didn’t match distance – the bear’s feet were sliding, the bear didn’t move far enough.
Next: teaching a duck how to toss a dagger. Classic design problem!
They had a duck character that tossed daggers that stayed in the game; if you landed on them they’d kill you. So the character was scary enough, they didn’t add in any targeting.
MVG… they wanted to get the game working as quickly as possible. Start with version 1, even though you’ve thought ahead to version 4… 5… 10… But that pushes the finish line and removes iteration.
slide: the classic MVP graphic. skateboard->scooter->etc
Remember games are still just software. Use the same tools you always use for things like source control, comms and tracking. Unity is a bridge that lets artists and engineers work together. It has a lot of plugins and features that let you adjust things without manipulating the code directly.
Debugging animation – animation bugs aren’t always obvious. There were bugs Jacob just couldn’t see (Paquale would report them), but he could graph the data to see the shapes in the data.
We wanted total entropy, total random environment generated so that we can augment them abs create endless play. #direction16
Limitations require creative solutions. The start position needed to be flat, so they added a mansion as the starting point of every level. While Pasquale could create awesome, organic looking levels it wasn’t inifinitely extensible; whereas using a level generator made gameplay infinite. To help performance they modelled one tree and just rotate it randomly to create different-looking trees. Dracula can’t walk around so he puffs in and out of existence, which looks kinda neat.
(Very funny video of goofs and artefacts)
What’s next? They plan to ship for lots of screens next year. They had so much fun they formed a new company, thinko.co