Old college Developer Blog: Galactic Gunpowder Golf. Part 2 of 2 - Dated december 2014

Hello everyone. I am finally finished with college. It feels great to be done and have our little game project finished too. I created a short postmortem video about our game G3. This was a turn in for our school project and as such it had a pretty strict time limit. The original video I recorded was about 16 minutes long, but it had to be edited down to around 5 minutes and thirty seconds. So to supplement the video, I’ve written a few thoughts on the past four months of working on this game. Enjoy.

Baby faced Ben

These past four months where pretty stressful. There where only two of us who where any good with unrealscript, and even then I wouldn’t say we were really any good, we just knew how to google things. So there was lots of trial and error when it came to scripting. We spent days on problems that a skilled programmer would have taken minutes to do. It’s was pretty frustrating. But we pulled through.

What I didn’t like during development.

During the end of the first month/beginning of the second month, I had to create all of the scripts. Scripts for making the guns work, scripts for shooting the ball, changing the powers of each shot, and displaying it all on the HUD. Because all of there things where so interconnected, only one person could realistically work on it at a time. And since it’s hard to jump into someone else’s code, that fell entirely on me. It was very stressful and I pulled multiple 48 hour all-nighters with no sleep so we could have the ball and guns working as intended. Doing this meant that I didn’t have as much time as others to work on my personal level. So it left me feeling pretty inadequate, since everyone else had cool and polished levels to show off and I would just have to say “yeah my level looks like crap… but the ball works at least.” 

What I did like during development.

My favorite part was just screwing around with the ball physics. I wish we had more time to add more stuff to do in the playground/credits screen. I had more fun shooting the ball into the barrels in the tutorial than playing most of our levels. 

Originally we where going to be just like real golfing, in that we would have all of the same clubs you would in a real golf bag. That means 3 wood-guns, 9 iron-guns and a putter. That proved to be too much clutter. So then we chopped it down to just three guns. Wood for long shots, iron for medium shots, and putter for shot ones. But that didn’t give us enough room to play with, you didn’t feel like you had great control over where the ball shot.

I consider myself a better systems design rather than a level designer. So my favorite parts of development where taking this problem and finding creative solutions to them. I solved there problems in two ways. 

1. Each gun would have an adjustable power meter. Where some golf games have a moving power meter that would slide back and forth, our game would have a fixed power meter that the player could adjust with the mouse wheel. This felt great, but it created a problem where now the Iron gun was somewhat obsolete. The wood gun could now be adjusted to fire about a weak as the iron gun. My solution to that was to give the iron gun special properties. 

When do you use an Iron club in real golf? Sure, you use it when you don’t want to go as far as a wood club, but you also use it to hit the ball higher so that when it lands on the ground, it has less horizontal moment and doesn’t roll as much. So we decided to give the Iron gun special properties so that the balled fired from the iron gun will come to a complete stop when it touches something. That way you can shoot near edges and not have to worry too much about the ball falling off. This fixed our “Iron gun is useless” problem and fixed a smaller problem where some shots where a bit too easy to roll the ball off of the level.

2. We still had the problem of the player not knowing how far the ball will fly at each power level. To fix this, we created a “trace shot.” At any time, with any gun (besides the putter), and at any power level you can right click instead of left click and you will fire a trace shot that travels identically to a real ball, except it doesn’t cost you a shot, and if it touches anything the trace shot is destroyed. This lets the player take free shots and watch where the ball would go. This was fun to implement and made the game much more accessible. 

We had a lot of other random issues, some inconsistencies with how a level would look before it was "cooked", some people not pulling their weight big time, and even the occasional physics wackiness. But when it was all said and done, I really enjoyed my time on this game, even though I was stressed out a bunch early on. I’m made some talented friends along the way. I look forward to whatever comes next.

Ben Montoya