Last month I was approached to see if I could help out with a small project at Derwen College , a college for adults with various learning difficulties. One of their students, Adam Walker had drawn some graphics with the idea they could be used in a game to be played by everyone at their upcoming Online Safety Day. The main character, ‘Ebot’, was to move left and right shooting oncoming baddies that descend like the original space invaders. The players would have a large range of abilities so the game had to start off very easy but could quickly get more difficult. We also needed to keep a record of the best player scores as prizes may be awarded on the day.
Emma the E-Safety coordinator was attempting to get something together with Buildbox but it was clear that she was rapidly running out of time and patience. Buildbox does have a free trial period but for a department on a tight budget and unsure whether the game would still run once the free period expired I suggested we develop the game in Unity.
As time and money was short I knew Unity would at least handle the input, drawing, collision detection and packaging for me. What else is there?
Well I always seem to forget that even a simple game still requires all the different aspects of a complex one so I made the mistake of thinking I could take shortcuts and just dived in. True to form I got the basic game up and running very quickly, using square blocks instead of Adam’s graphics but then as I started adding scoring, lives, levels and the online leader board I found that in the end I had to retro fit all the usual game structures back in. Of course it would have been much quicker if I’d done the job right in the first place.
Lesson learned? I doubt it .
I placed Adam’s ‘Ebot’ and alien graphic over a circuit board background and uploaded the game to my site then sent Emma the link with a day to spare. All that was left to do was wait and every now and then take a peak at the leader board.
I needn’t have worried , apparently the game went down really well and judging by the high score table some of the students got very good at it, scoring much more than I ever could.
It was really good to develop an, albeit simple, old school shooter again – my first in over thirty years. But most of all it was great to play a small part in the excellent work of the students and staff at the award winning Derwen College.