January 11, 2017 Student Spotlight: Pixel-Ate
Ernest Ng
Ernest Ng

I grew up playing video games, so I have thought about trying to make some sort of game at some point in my life. Most of the video games I enjoy playing fall under the JRPG section like Golden Sun and Final Fantasy. I previously tried my hand at writing an original story taking inspirations from JRPG game in hopes to make it an animation or an actual RPG itself. A feedback I received during that time that stuck with me had my English teacher commenting that it reads like a fractured fairy tale. So I named it Fractured Fantasy and you could say it has been in development hell for the past eleven years or so. Also around that time during high school, I briefly played around with certain games and programs like RPG Maker. That’s when I found out that it is a lot more complicated than I had initially imagined. I probably only worked on a small town map and several characters before moving on to something else. Later on while taking graphic design courses in college;I tried learning Adobe Flash because I wanted to learn how to make a web animation and online games like the ones you find on the Internet. Several years after graduating and not really getting anything done personally, a friend introduced me to Playcrafting.

I took a few RPG related workshops they offered throughout the year like the Intro to RPG Maker and RPG Design. I took a one-day crash course for Unity at some point and later in the year decided to try expanding on it with the eight weeks Unity course. It was complicated mostly at first, thanks to me having little to no experience in C# coding. It was pretty much like learning another language. Playing around with the primitive shapes to build things was fun. We made a simple house with a snowman with C# coding. Then we made a simple Flappy Bird clone, which I used Super Mario sprites. The second project was a generic space shooter that ended on a world-ending note. The third project wasa mini 3D world explorer using free online assets and whatever else I found online. It definitely helped a lot and having basic building blocks to attempt to make something original. My first Unity game I made is called Pixel-Ate. It was born from a word pun that I randomly thought of. It’s a game about a pixel that ate things and grew too big for the world to handle.

pixelate

It’s about a pixel. It ate things.

After the course was completed, they offered something for RPG Combat. As I said earlier, I liked RPGs, so I decided to take it as well. I had my ups and downs mostly due to my inexperience with coding, but thanks largely to help and support from the incredible instructor that is Sam and the awesome teaching assistant who goes by the name Adriano, I was able to get things functioning. We learned how to set up character stats and a battle system for a basic turn based fight. There were a lot of scripts involved that I wasn’t familiar with, so I definitely learned something new. There was setting up different abilities to do different things of various damaging degree. What I enjoyed the most was building the world for the scenes to take place in and just the absurdity of a cube fighting a block, or a cactus against a mini dragon. When it was time to work on our own projects, we pretty much had the basic blueprints to create what we wanted and dress it up.

class1

class2

Progress.

The game I attempted to make on my own for this course is titled RPG Combat: A Hero’s Journey, a working title not particularly set in stone. It was more or less just a small project or demo for a concept I was trying to build around using several turn based RPG battles one after the other. Kill then enemy, next scene, kill the enemy, next scene, rinse and repeat, save the world. Throughout the course, we were encouraged to work with free assets online and in the Unity store. We used them to make 3rd person turn based battles. I asked myself if there were any turn based RPG games in first person. Has there ever been a game where during fights, you see it happen from the player’s point of view and not have simple lines or effects representing attacks. I wanted to have a character leap at an enemy with a sword or vice versa with the enemy to the player. What I was shooting for was a turn based Skyrim game. It turns out that after asking my friends online; the Shining series, Shining the Holy Ark, did something like that at some point which was the closest to what I had in mind.

attackanimation

A general idea of what I was shooting for. Most of the enemies in the game I made with basic shapes in Unity and some free online assets. I was not sure how to edit the animations on the online assets, so it prompted me to make enemies of basic shapes and sizes and animate them myself. The animation process was of course tedious and challenging, but I eventually got it to do what I mostly wanted them to do.Since it was from a first person perspective, I wanted to make it look fun. It was little things like having the camera move up and down to simulate breathing or shaking when damage was taken. I worked on animating the player to do some actions matching its abilities to make it look visually pleasing. Leaping at the enemy with a sword, shooting a gun, blasting fire, and casting magic. It was mostly simple actions involving Unity’s animator and built in effects.

slimeanimation

The obligatory slime monster.

fireanimation

I’d kill it with fire.

Like most RPG games, I made multiple endings. There’s a nonstandard game over in which the world blows up if for some reason you take too long at the final battle. So I decided to up the stakes at the final battle by having a meteor crash onto the battlefield after about a minute pass. After building the world with primitive cube shapes, I had a lot of fun seeing my own work be put into action. The “good” ending stops the world from blowing up for the most part.

badend

These things happen.

Apparently world destruction endings are a reoccurring theme with the games I made as someone pointed it out. I ended up using what I learned from the previous eight-week course and this one to make it work mostly in the end. I would probably get around fixing some bugs or experiment around in it to improve it or make something else on a larger scale, now that I had the building blocks. Hopefully it will be a lot prettier looking by then.

Overall I say what made whole learning process great was being able to make something interactive from scratch while receiving a lot of help and support for someone like me that just started halfway into the year. The people I worked with are great and learning from them and getting feedback made everything a fun learning experience. I do hope to use all I have learned throughout my life to this year and so forth to make something fun. I fully intend to make Fractured Fantasy happen in some form in the future.

goodend

I’m sure it’s still fine.

My current game portfolio can be found at http://zerox2624.itch.io

For any possible updates or nonsensical ramblings on my daily life,

https://twitter.com/zerox2624

Quick Questions

1. How did you get into games?

I started playing video games around 3 or 4 years old with the old Nintendo system with Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt.

2. You’re part of the first manned mission to Mars! You’ll be gone for 5 years and can

only bring 3 games to play alone or with your 3 fellow astronauts. What are they? Skyrim complete with all the mods that fixes it, Pokemon Sun or whatever is the latest installment by time I leave the planet, and Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F2 for the rhythm game soundtrack goodness.

3. What would be your dream game to build?

A JRPG-anime inspired game that’s fun, full of light hearted humor and clichés about a bunch of heroes for hire and its main antagonist trying to adjust and be taken seriously in a now mostly capitalistic driven society. Complete with a disturbing back story for those that paid attention and piece together the little details running in the background. Fractured Fantasy.

4. What do you love best about the game community in NYC?

The people I’ve met are really nice and fun to work with and I’m more likely to run into them whenever something involving Playcrafting happens.

5. Choose 5 words to describe your experience making games so far.

Challenging, Frustration, Thinking, Therapeutic, Fun.

 

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