Week Six

Week six began quite well, but then trailed off towards the end. I feel like I worked hard throughout the week, but didn’t quite manage to pull everything together as I would have liked. Thankfully, on Monday I managed to complete the first draft for my longer essay which means that I now have both finished with one week left to polished them up before hand in. Next week, I’m planning to devote all of Wednesday to essay work. I then want to get them proof read by someone else before the deadline on Monday. I feel so relieved to have these essays finished because I want to get started on developing Denizen fully.

In Tuesday’s lecture, I began developing my player movement script. The process was quite simple, but I took my time with the code because I wanted to fine-tune the acceleration and deceleration of the player and to get the jump feeling good. When using physics to move an object in Unity I sometimes find that the movement can feel floaty and look unrealistic. The physics engine in Unity is correct, it’s just that real world physics when applied to games can sometimes look wrong and tends to feel floaty. In my previous projects, I would adjust the physics components on my game objects directly to get the desired effect I wanted. This usually involved increasing the gravity and drag variables for a given object. Doing things like this usually meant that I had to spend a lot of time fiddling with the physics properties of my player objects. Instead of doing that, my new player movement script adjusts these variables as and when they are required. So, when I need my player to fall faster, I just increase the gravity on the object through my code. I got the idea from Super Mario World. I remember hearing somewhere that the programmers just increased or decreased the effect of gravity on Mario to get the jump just right. I spent most of the day coding the player movement and managed to create something which I’m happy to take forwards.

Once I had my player moving, I then moved on to designing my player character. I spent the remainder of the week solely on this and managed to create something which I was happy with. However, when I showed it to people on Friday, most thought the character looked like a tie, and on reflection, it kinda does… Sadly, this means that I must redesign my player character. Even though I’ve spent a lot of time on the design, I think it’s probably for the best. There’s no point in forging ahead with a design which doesn’t work. I just have to start again and hopefully come up with something which works better. Together with Adam, I managed to come up with some more ideas for my character, so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to create something much better next week.

Despite the disappointment, the day wasn’t completely awful. On Friday morning, I met with Daniel Cid Moragas an Associate Professor at Winchester School of Art and we spoke a little bit about my game and about his work. We also spoke about the homelessness issue throughout Europe and specifically in Barcelona where he has created a project called Pis Zero. This project provides a safe space for homeless people to sleep and doesn’t require anything of them, they can come and go freely and volunteers work to keep the space functioning. What I found most interesting about our meeting was how some long term homeless people sometimes refuse help because they have tried before and failed. Daniel uses stairs as a metaphor for homelessness, the setbacks homeless people face are like the steps on a staircase, they may take one step forward, but be knocked down two steps. In their minds, if they stay at the bottom of the stairs there’s no place for them to be knocked down. He also gave me some artists and documentaries which he felt would help my project. It was an insightful meeting and the only good part of an otherwise disappointing day.

Overall, I feel like I have learned a lot this week and I’m feeling hopeful that my recent setback is for the best. Aside from finishing my essay, my plan next week is to focus only on my player design.

I spent around 30 hours working this week:

  • Essay writing (2:58)
  • Coding player movement (7:55)
  • Designing player character (17:47)
  • Writing blog (1:21)

I’m quite happy with the number of hours I’m putting in, however the time I spent designing my player character is worrying. Considering I’m not going to be using it, I’ve pretty much wasted half of the week’s work effort. Maybe I shouldn’t time myself after all.

Week Seven