Thoughts on game development, Unity and procedural content


It’s been a while since I updated this thing and I’ve been fairly busy. I’ve got several products underway since I put Grimoire on hold. I am planning to do a total redesign of that game first though.

So here’s the first project:

Drown (working title) is an underwater exploration game that takes place on a far off world. You will explore, dig and fight undersea creatures while gathering unique resources to research and upgrade your technologies.  

I wanted to create sort of a tribute to XCom: Terror from the Deep as well as some of the great 80’s underwater scifi like Deep Star Six and Leviathan. So Gavin Allen and I started building Drown earlier in the fall. So far the game has come along really well, its XNA but using the port of Flixel created by Ben Baird. The gameplay is similar to Terraria, all the ‘dive’ levels are procedurally generated and the deeper you go, the greater the danger + reward. At some point I’ll update you more on this game but for now you can check the devlog on Tigsource:


Also, I worked again with Gavin on a great little flash game called Looking for Group. It was part of the Ludum Dare internet game jam. We had 72 hours to build the game and upload it to the site. I had a great time working on it and learned alot of new stuff about AS3 and Flixel.

You can read about the entry and see our scores here (We made it into the top 25 for the jam!):

Game is available on Kongregate:


Global Game Jam on the 27th! Stay tuned!





So if you haven’t heard yet, I’ve been working on a casual game in my spare time based in a gothic themed fantasy world. You can read more about it here at IndieDB: The team is comprised of my good friend Tim Gardiner and Sally Jackson, an outstanding young artist from the UK.

I’m the sole programmer on the project which has been both a blessing and a curse; I’ve picked up alot of new programming techniques and skills I did not have before. So far, I haven’t run into any major hurdles that have prevented me from getting the game working. It’s only been a few weeks and we already have a fairly solid pre alpha build.

On the technical side, I’m writing the code in C# in Unity3D. We are using SpriteManager to manage the 2D art which has proven to be essential. I am also using a basic event messaging system to broadcast messages to the many gameobjects in the scene which has made life 100x easier. iTween has also be integrated and used to full effect- such a handy library to have… if Unity was smart they would integrate this stuff directly into the engine.

Here are some early screenshots of the main menu  ingame:


So I’ve picked up quite a few RPGs and roguelikes for my iphone- but the one I’ve had the most fun with has been the remake of the commodore 64 Sword of Fargoal. This game definitely has everything that I love about roguelikes- a great sense of adventure and exploration, nail biting moments when you are close to death (permadeath mode!) and lots of cool loot and dungeon features. The graphics are simple but stylish and the controls are incredibly natural for the iPhone. Simple touch controls for moving your character, attacking, zooming the map in an out are all there… I found that I didn’t need a tutorial at all to pick up the game, nor did any of my friends- its just that well designed.  Everything is right before you in a very clear and simple way. This game is a great example on how to do a graphical roguelike that appeals to casual gamers. I’ve been playing it non-stop on train rides to work, haven’t succeeded on the main quest yet but every character I make gets farther and farther down the dungeon.

I highly recommend picking up the game if you have an iDevice. They are also working on a follow-up sequel.



Thought I would throw up on here the game I worked on for Global Game Jam:

Made in Unity over a weekend! My primary roles were scripting and design.



I found this roguelike from some forums i visit. It looks really intriguing- you play as a explorer attempting to found a new colony. The general mechanics are typical roguelike fare but you are now in control of a ship, with passengers and a crew exploring the open ocean. It looks like they have met their goal of raising 700$ on 8bit funding, so I’ll definitely be interested in giving this a try when it comes out. Check out their video for some gameplay on their page:


So ever since I started working on the pathing and such, I couldn’t not associate this project with the game of my youth, SimAnt. The great thing about SimAnt was that it was both a colony building game as well as a pseudo-RTS, where you could directly control your single ant builder and have him dig and collect food, but you also had automated workers that would do the same sorts of things. I really need to get a copy of this game so I can play it again and use it to influence some of my design decisions for this colony game.

Here’s a link to some gameplay for any of those who never got to enjoy this awesome game.



So I managed to get some basic state management going into the game, you can now choose where to place your colony in the random world and then off go the little colony workers to collect resources. It’s really fun watching them scurry around like ants in an ant farm. Just seeing this in action gives me a renewed sense that this game has potential!

Here’s a webplayer if you want to check it out. Use the arrow keys to control the camera.



So I’ve been  posting on various pixel art and indie game forums trying to drum up some interest in the project. So far not many people have considered (I’ve only had 2 bites so far) but I’m not about to let that get me down or prevent this project from moving forward. If anyone out there is interested in doing some pixel art for the game, please contact me!


And our story begins….

I started this blog because having looked around the web quite a bit myself, its pretty difficult to find solid resources when it comes to making procedural games in Unity. Also, for a long time I’ve had a desire to build a roguelike that includes alot of the mechanics that I really enjoy from Dwarf Fortress. So, from time to time, I’ll update this blog with news of what I’m currently working on.

We don’t have a name for the project yet, but I can tell you its a colony building game where you must establish a new colony on a unexplored planet. The player will not have direct control over the colonists but will be able to issue tasks for them to harvest or craft whatever might be needed. Currently I have managed to procedurally generate the tile-based world using a form of cellular automata and it looks pretty spiffy. Also, I devised a slope algorithm to help smooth out any of the jagged edges in the terrain so the rock faces are nice and purty.

Here’s an early shot of the build. Currently we have some world generation going on, as well as integrated A* pathfinding for both the player and colonists. All the art is placeholder for now until we figure out the style we wanna go with.

Until next time.