Sunday, February 10, 2013

Putting It Off No Longer

One of this project's many ironies is that while one of my initial motivating factors for making this game was that I would get to design a bunch of classic platformer levels, now that it's time to do just that the prospect looks like a terrible chore. This is easy to explain; I never invested in making any tools, I just have a bunch of scenery pieces I'm throwing down with no respect for any kind of grid... I do have "level/tile editor" as a future project, I suppose we could bump that up on the schedule.

I spent most of this week's time stitching together the initial screen and the character creation screen with the first gameplay level. I used a plain empty gameObject created in the main menu scene tagged, so cleverly, "BIG_BROTHER", then gave it a script with some values like currentLevel, currentPlayer(as there are three possible choices), and the key line


allowing this all-seeing-eye to remain as each scene is dropped from memory in favor of the next one. Fine and good until I noticed I was relying on those values in the gameplay scene and thus if I ran that scene alone I'd crash with a bunch of null references. The only way to avoid them was to run the start menu scene so that the gameObject BIGBRO would get created before scene_level1 loaded in.

This is a mini-micro version of a really common real-world problem. Developers have to be able to make frequent iterative changes to, say, level six, without having to boot the entire game and watch the intro and logo screens every time. My solution, in this case, was to have the level scene manager script check at startup whether BIGBRO was null. If not, fine, continue on. If so, create a new gameObject (FAKEBRO) and give it some default attributes with the same names as the ones the level scripts will be looking for later. Instant debug mode, that doesn't need to be switched on and off, and displays visual info in the Editor via the name of the object as to whether I'm in it or not.

The catch .. it feels like I'm veering awfully close to breaking the commandment of "thou shalt have no God Objects", I mean I have BIGBRO and then a scene manager that controls game phases, and I'll probably combine those at some point, how much is too much? It's a given that something has to survive between scenes, I'm just wary of all the other parts of the scene becoming too dependent on that on thing ... wonderful, my game somehow found a way to have a religious crisis.

So, time to forget about it and get to finalizing the first level, which will involve further wrangling with those "wavestoppers" I thought were such a brilliant idea around mid December but now don't look so quite brilliant anymore, seeing as how they only work about half the time. I think it has something to do with an unintentional intersection of box colliders, which is another argument for getting that level editor done now. That's it, I'm calling a meeting with my Producer.

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