It’s a real wake-up call when I want to make a new blog post and WordPress lets me know that I have 12 plugin updates to make. It’s been another half-year of (mostly) inactivity, sad to say.

Since my last post, I’ve shelved Jaunty Journey for a few reasons, and did a substantial amount on laying the groundwork for a Stab revival. In short:

Most of what I wanted to get out of Jaunty Journey was already done. The bulk of the goal with this game was to come up with the “three minigames, two play styles” thing elegantly, and I feel I accomplished it with my rough prototypes. Artwork struggles and time/energy/lifestyle constraints kept it from going much further.

As for Stab: I actually spend some weeks in August/September fleshing out behavior trees and actually implementing (!) them in Unity, with A* pathfinding and all. This Gamasutra article by Chris Simpson (I also had a good brief time playing some Project Zomboid over the summer), Panda BT, and TileTool2D deserve an enormous amount of thanks from me in getting it started. I may come back to post a more substantial snapshot of where I left off, but my notes indicate that my latest problem was solving this branch: “Get a stack of Rooms in this Building that we want to search.

A bit more tangentially, I also got a Raspberry Pi and built a sort of “silent doorbell” residing in a black rectangular box made of plastic. When you press this large white arcade button on it, a blink(1) LED light on my desk flashes bright orange to get my attention. I definitely spent way longer on it than I should have, but it was quite rewarding to get my hands dirty on the hardware side and complete the project front to back.

After a recent talk with some friends, I also regained some interest in the Better Ballistix project. I think there’s still a market for local co-op, or “couch gaming” (specifically on Steam). I’m not necessarily thinking of games like SpeedRunners or BattleBlock Theater. Even an extremely simple game like Golf With Your Friends is terrific, and I was inspired by my annoyance that an early release of the game still had minor physics kinks that I felt were probably easy to fix. This type of project is approachable and falls under the same category as Better Ballistix, in my eyes.

The question is whether I want to keep it true-to-Steam, and cater to the living room Steam machine crowd, where everyone has a game controller and stares at the TV; or let it reach a wider audience via smartphones. Or a mix of both? The former is the obvious route if I wanted to get to a finished product ASAP. Multiplayer mobile gaming seems like a nightmare, so that’s likely not the route I’ll take. What about a middle ground? Something like a Jackbox remote system where you go on your phone’s browser and just use it as a controller. Really you’re only pressing two buttons (left/right or up/down) for 95% of the game, besides a Confirm/Action button.

Time to look into Unity networking. I guess getting a rudimentary server up will be a good exercise either way.

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