1GAM – May 2015: Hackman

Hackman Screen1 Hackman Screen5 Hackman Screen2

Play it here: http://jireugi.itch.io/hackman
You are very hungry for vitamin pills that lie on the floor.
Eat as much of them as you can by moving over them.
But watch out! Evil ghosts roam around and will drain your juice if they touch you. If you run out of juice you will die!
Once you ate all pills you will get teleported to another level with even tastier and more valuable vitamin pills!

ASWD – move around
Mouse – look around
Space – hack around
F1 – restart match
F8 – toggle fullscreen mode

(C) 2015 Harry Trautmann (metacozm / Jireugi interactive)
All code, graphics and sound were done by Harry Trautmann except these sound samples:
“Desert at Night” by “kangaroovindaloo” available via CC-BY at http://freesound.org/people/kangaroovindaloo/sounds/138288/
and “Struck By Lightning” by “Cheeseheadburger” available via CC-BY at http://freesound.org/people/Cheeseheadburger/sounds/141529/

Where did the inspiration come from?

Obviously this small game is a mix of Pacman and some block based dungeon crawler like e. g. Dungeon Master. In the past few month I took some online courses that stuck elements of both games into my mind. A course about artificial intelligence built around Pacman intelligently evading ghosts. Another course taught how a block based level could be made in Blender. It seemed a good idea to combine the hack’n’slash mechanic of a Dungeon Master with the polished game design of Pacman.

But of course the concept of a 3D Pacman is not new at all. Other people tried it before, see here, here and here. Also in a way one could understand the original dungeon crawler genre being a specialization of Pacman, maybe an evolutionary step forward from it. Both concepts share similarities. Just like in Pacman in dungeon crawlers the player evades baddies (the ghosts), runs around to collect loot (the pills), and sometimes fights the baddies (in original Pacman by eating the big pill – in Hackman I exchanged that by a timed axe powerup). Therefore I think the concept itself is not extraordinarily creative.

Why do it then? Because of two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to increase my technical skills of producing 3D content. Secondly I wanted to see how much atmosphere I could squeeze into this small idea.

What went well?

  • Blender: After taking the above mentioned course I finally feel enabled to model small objects and scenes.
  • Did not reuse my Indiv framework. I decided to make a small scene in Unity5 and faced the decision to either port Indiv from Unity4 to Unity5 or to simple not use it. This time I waived using it. Was ok.
  • Atmosphere experiment succeeded! Carefully I mixed sound fx like the background noise of a desert, ghost shrieks, a sudden thunder with visual fx like a decent fisheye shader, color corrections and a bloom shader. I tried to model the game elements like they were real, e. g. powerups like the pineapple or the axe do not turn in mid air as they would in other arcade games. Why should they do it? In the real world objects don´t do that. Instead axes lean on the wall, pills do not float but actually lie on the ground.
    In my opinion by doing so an extra layer of immersion can be added cheaply to any scene.

What went wrong?

  • Unity3D mecanim was a hindrance: build to enable developers to create hard animation stuff like inverse kinematics and complex state machine behaviors, human and non-human rigs and that like. If you need any of that then mecanim might be good for you. But if you just want to add one simple animation that consists of few translations and rotations (like in my case of the axe swing animation) then mecanim kills you, because in Unity5 the legacy animations do not work anymore. What was once as easy as understanding the dope sheet, now is a monster of having to add several components like an Animator, Animation Controller, Avatar, and the Animation itself, and fumbling around with a state machine that is totally superfluous in my case.
    In my opinion Unity Technologies did not do a perfect good job with it: on the one hand it is ok to supply tools to deal with complex matters, but on the other hand it is far from ok to make simple matters intransparently complex.

Where to go from here…

So, June now. Hmm. No clue yet what I want to produce this month… It was fun to assemble a 3D scene. But I fear that producing ample amounts of content takes too much of my limited resources.  Can I manage to a create a very limited 3D adventure in one month?! Dreams…