It’s time to get back in the game; excuse the pun. The last game I wrote and released was way back in 2014 (PixelSprint). I have had other ideas, a few prototypes and lots of app dev but nothing released. In fact, I have been out that long all my developer subscriptions have now expired! (I say all, its only Apple; Microsoft and Google don’t rip developers off by demanding extortionate fees every year!). So now, the time feels right to get back into business… 

To ease myself back into the mindset, I have chosen a very simple game idea that I should be able to run with without too much difficulty. The game will just be a Frogger clone, or as the millennials will call it a ‘Crossy Road’ game. I have many more ideas wrote down, many-many more thought of, and also forgotten; but I wanted something simple to get going and that wouldn’t require too much planning or thought… something that will just let me  concentrate on the code! That all being said, it won’t just be a simple ‘Crossy Road’ clone… I have a neat game mechanic to implement that will stand it out from the crowed… if it works! more on that nearer the time.

Graphics

I’m not a graphics artist. I really struggle to draw anything, let alone anything good. In the early days I would waste so much time trying to generate my own sprites only for them to never come out right. From now on, I have decided not to even attempt any of my own sprites/graphics, or at least keep it to the bare minimum. There are plenty of websites now that offer art asset packages for either free or a small fee, and on the whole, they should be able to cover most things you would ever need. For this project I have used a free package from Kenneys Assets. Please visit his site and give him some support.

The style I wanted is the minimalist, box type style (a bit like ‘Crossy Road’ itself). It won’t be a game that is graphics heavy, and nor will it try to achieve anything spectacular. I’m still unsure on how  the final game may look, and until the prototype is complete I won’t be losing too much sleep over it.

Game Engine

All my previous games were developed using Corona SDK and the LUA language. I really enjoyed using LUA and the SDK was perfectly adequate for the games I was making. Since my last game, Corona SDK has been developed quite a bit, and passed through numerous different owners. From a now outsiders’ perspective, I’m not too sure on the way they have taken the SDK, but in truth I haven’t really been back since to take a closer look at what they have done.

Despite my historic allegiance to Corona, I am long overdue a closer look at the Untiy engine. I have had a play with it before, and to be honest every time I did, I was put off. For a developer that’s only interested in small footprint games consisting mainly of 2D graphics, Unity is huge and bulky engine. The IDE also leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion. Either way I am opting to give it a try. It seems a better bet for portability across platforms and will give me more experience on c#; which from a developer based in vb.net is sorely needed!

I will add, although I’m in my early days, I do miss the simplicity of Corona and the LUA language. I wouldn’t say Unity and it’s IDE takes the fun out of developing, but it certainly feels more like a grind.

Research

So, before jumping straight in, I had a look around the web for getting started guides on Unity… problem was they were all a little too basic. So instead I thought I would look at all the ‘Crossy Road’ tutorials and examples, of which there are many.

Now in programming it’s important to remember there is no right or wrong way of doing things… but there is a perceived good way and bad way! Unfortunately, none of the tutorials or examples I watched and/or read were implemented in a way I would describe as good. Now we all know ‘Crossy Road’ is a grid-based game. The character can only move in a pre-defined grid; however, all these examples used physics! How can you get accurate transforms from using the physics engine? let alone the extra overhead on performance that isn’t needed to move within a grid system!

That was just one of the many bad examples encountered, but what watching all these tutorials was allowing me to do was to form a plan of how I can overcome the various stages of the game in a better way and how I would get the game to work.

So with all my research done, it was time to boot up the IDE…

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