GamesPlusJam2 Entry: A Space in Time
So after about a month of learning Unity I decided to test my skills and enter my first game jam. I had learned a lot from the YouTube tutorials of GamesPlusJames (https://www.youtube.com/user/gamesplusjames), and one day saw his announcement of his second game jam. Well, I thought, why not? I kept learning and practising for a little while longer before the theme was announce and the jam started.
The theme was 'Space'. As a massive sci-fi fan, and a space nerd in general, my mind immediately jumped to a game set in space. And that would've been great. There are lots of great games set in space. But no, my brain wasn't happy with that. It wanted a challenge. So I thought about it for a while. Space... space... space... Space... bar? Yep, my brain settled on the space bar. What could I possibly do with the longboi of the keyboard? A typing game? Well, on first thought I decided that no, typing games are boring. But then I remembered that there are some excellent typing games. Epistory, The Typing of the Dead... okay that's about it. But still. It *could* work.
So that was that. A typing game. But what kind of typing game? And what about the space bar? Well, the space bar is often used to jump in video games. So let's do that. Whenever the player presses the space bar, the character jumps. So from that, I decided on an endless runner typing game type of thing. The character would continuously run forward without a care for the dangers ahead whilst the player typed out words and tried to time the spaces with the gaps.
I figured I had plenty of time with being off uni, and having a whole week in which to create the game. But I'm a parent. I did not have plenty of time because I wanted to spend time with my daughter (also, I would severely judge myself had I neglected my daughter to made a game). I still had some time in the evening though, although I also have a partner that I enjoy spending time with, so that was also limited. I got to work.
First thing was getting the core mechanics down. Making a typing game is not as easy as it sounds. I had to had a list of words for the player to type, then another list of all the keyboard keys. I then had to program the game to detect a key being pressed, as seeing if it matched the next character in the 'characters to press' list. If it was, go on to the next one. If the character, and key, was a space, make the player jump and go to the next one. Also, there are two separate text boxes at the bottom of the screen. One on the left, with red text, showing what has already been typed, and one on the right, in white, showing what needs to be typed. So anything that has been correctly typed must be removed from the right-hand text box, and added to the end of the left-hand text box. Eventually though, I got this all figured out and after much tinkering, the core mechanic worked.
Next up was the platforms. I considered a set platform level, and that may have been a better idea, but I settled on "random" platforms. In truth there are three platform types, and each platform can have one of three sizes. So there are nine variations. Making the platforms move wasn't so hard. Getting the platforms to despawn and respawn on the other side was a bit of a hassle, but I worked it out in the end. Once the paltforms reach a certain X position (off-camera), they get destroyed. A new platform get instantly instantiated at a X position (also off-camera) on the other side. The style of platform is randomised, and the height of the platform is randomised between 0.75x, 1x, or 1.25x the normal size, giving a bit of variety.
I also added fog to the left of the player that creeps up on the player if the player takes too long to type (in reality, the fog doesn't move at all, the player moves backwards slightly). This is because a player could easily just type out words and then wait for gaps before pressing space, making the game a breeze. The fog adds an extra sense of urgency.
With just over two hours left to spare, the game was finished. All-in-all, this was a fun experience and it got me my first game published on itch.io! I don't think it's half bad for my first completed game after a month of learning!
I have since received some very helpful critiques, that I have implemented on a new version of the game. These include a double-jump (if you can type quickly enough), and scrolling text. The scrolling text especially makes the game feel a lot smoother and a lot more polished. I will be uploading this version soon!
Anyway, thanks for reading!
Get A Space in Time
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