Category: Learning
Sprint 1 ended, Sprint 2 started.

Sprint #1 of the Prime Academy 30 day challenge came to an end last week. As a group of 54 people, we made 1086 commits to GitHub that were focused on learning, had 12 people finish with 100% (at least 1 commit each day), and averaged a 68% success rate. Overall, I was happy with how the challenge launched. I surveyed the group and every single person who responded said that the the challenge was worth it.

We actually began another round this week, this time with 78 people on board. We have come out of the gate strong with and average of a 91% success rate thus far. We introduced the concept of teams, which seems to be creating more traction than those who are not on a team. With teams, Captains have been installed as Team Leads. Captainship is only extended to those who have completed the challenge at 100%, creating a bit of Prestige around the role.

All in all, the challenge has been awesome. For me personally, the challenge has got me jump started again into learning technologies that I have loved interacting with in the past. I feel way more connected with what my future could look like and I feel like the challenge has given people hope. Not to get overly sappy about it, I am just happy that such a simple structure has given people the feeling that they control their future.

Explore

On that note, I completed another course. It was the second in the map generation series, this time allowing a character to move around the generated map with a Fog of War. There is a 3rd in the series, which covers RPG turn based combat, but before I hop into that, I am hoping to better understand the one that I just completed. Additionally, there is one course that I recommended that others learning Unity check out, but I myself have not completed it. So at the moment, I am knocking out an endless runner game.

Finally, I have started to make the transition to Write in my educational methodology, and started re-creating some old Flash games I made in the past. Definitely feels uncomfortable making the jump, which totally means its the right thing to do.

Sprint 1 is Ending

Map

Just wrapped up another course on Lynda. This time it was about dynamically creating a 2D RPG map with the ability to adjust settings of how the map is configured. All around, really good stuff. Discovered a whole concept in game development I was unaware of (impressive considering my degree is in Game Dev and Design, and I have been a hobby game creator for the past decade), which is the concepts of Bitmasking and Auto-Tiling. In any case, super excited to have this one under my belt as dynamic map creation has always been one of those “I will get to it someday”.

Next up is going to be a book on Ouya and Unity development. My goal is to be able to take the game from the 2D Platformer course I completed and port it onto the Ouya with some of my own art assets. Which seems like a noble effort. Truth be told, videos are harder to do with how I have been programming and books are easier to knock out, which is simply because I read / program in bed as my wife is reading and videos separate me from the room a little too much.

Back to the actual title of this post, our second sprint of the 30 day GitHub challenge is coming to an end. I roped in 53 other people to participate in the challenge and all around, its been an awesome experience bringing others into the fold. On Tuesday we bring it to a close and then start again a week later. The dream is to have 100 people on board in the next round. I only I mention this, is that if you need a great motivator, the challenge has been the perfect accountability measure for learning. Trust a guy who is two months in at this point (check out my GitHub profile and notice the wave of green taking over).

I will release all of the stats on Wednesday from our second sprint. Until then, I’m off to tackle some small console development!

Finished an Awesome Course

Platformer2

So it’s been a little bit. But know that I have been busy in a good way. I have been knocking out the Lynda course ‘Advanced Unity 2D: Platform Player Movement‘ by Jesse Freeman. It was a SUPER solid course, and I am VERY happy that I took the time to go through it. It is very rich in content and definitely requires that you pay attention, stop and replay if you are not getting a concept.

The course covers 2D platformer physics in a way that is scalable, customizable, and control agnostic. Meaning that you could easily cut the controls many different ways (PC, Mobile, or Console Controller). It is completely behavior driven which means that there is the ability to drag and drop components on any game element if you want to. All around, what I took from the class was a solid understanding of behavior driven development as well as how to finagle the animation systems.

It also gave me a chance to tinker with other concepts like the camera controls to get a smooth camera follow on the character. Next steps would be to go ahead and replace the art and add in some addition features like melee actions and enemies. All in all, I am a little sad because there would be SO many logical next steps for this course and not continuing in this structure means that I need to kind of decide for myself. Not that this is a terrible thing, but not having to self direct to the ‘next step’ is always a little freeing when you are in learning mode.

Next up is one of Jesse’s other courses. There are a couple options, but I wanted to get this recap out of my head before thinking about what’s next. I do have an Ouya / Unity book I plan on leveraging to pull everything together by the end of the next 30 days. Thanks for reading, the next time should not be 2-3 weeks, as this course was ~4 hours of content where as the others I believe are only 30 mins – 2 hours.

2 More!

Still hot at the challenge. I was able to know out two more games. One was a basic ‘shooting gallery’ game, and another was a very basic 2d platformer. There was a VERY valuable lesson learned in this past round, and it is this: “Do not add your game controller script to more than 1 object”.

This ended up being an unbelievable pain in the ass. A little explanation, the “Game Controller” is the governing set of logic for the game. It also acts as a bridge between the view (what is seen in the game, such as User Interface elements) and the logic. It requires that you hook together what is going between the two. It is suppose to be a singular thing, but in Unity, you can add scripts to whatever you would like. But in the case of a game controller, you add it to an ’empty object’, or object that has no visual component to it.

BUT, at some point in the development process of the shooting gallery game, I accidentally put one of those on a piece of background in addition to the main game controller empty. As a result, my game was freaking out saying I did not hook up pieces. Looked through my code, hook ups, and so on, over and over. Then, after a couple of hours of thinking about it, it occurred to my why I was getting those errors.

I have been doing development for years, and this is one of those problems that you run into all the time. One of those that with experience, become a couple second fix, rather than a multi hour fix.

The other game, which was a basic 2d platformer was really straight forward with my background. Platformer physics was the main topic and one that I am super familiar with. Admittedly, this part of the book was only ‘OK’ at best. I think this Lynda course will scratch the itch for some advanced platforming concepts.

Finally, worth noting, is that Allegorithmic was running a summer sale, and I was able to pick up Substance Designer, Substance Painter, and Substance B2M on the cheap. While 3D is not the focus, it is a proficient I would like to bolster back up. When it makes sense, I will probably issue myself a similar challenge to ramp back into 3D work. More updates to come. Thanks for reading.