Done in a Flash! Wait? …where’d my holidays go?

Just before Christmas break Unity launched their open beta for Unity 3.5. To kick things off they ran a competition to showcase the new Flash Exporter in their developer preview by asking game devs to build a game in two weeks that exports to Flash.

So instead of just kicking back and playing Skyrim all holidays as I’d planned, I tried to see if I could put together an entry for this competition and expand my knowledge of Unity as I went. The end result was this very simple prototype/proof-of-concept I’ve dubbed “Lap-a-thon” (for lack of a better name). You can check it out by clicking here.

The idea was to make a simple slot-car-esque game where player control their car’s acceleration while switching lanes to overtake and avoid obstacles. I only managed to implement about a quarter of the features and content I had planned but building the game was a lot of fun and I learnt a number of interesting things, including…

Nice Art is Nice. I totally plundered the Asset Store for all the free/cheap art assets I used in the game. Which meant I barely had to rely on the dreaded “programmer art” at all. The game coud still use more polish but I’m just happy I didn’t have to name the game “Grey Box-a-thon”. It may sound dumb, but when my game looks nice I’m a lot more motivated to work on it.

Regularly test your Flash builds! The Flash Exporter is clearly in beta and not perfect and some stuff just doesn’t work. While this probably another obvious statement I have to  admit I found myself spending a whole bunch of time tracking down bugs that turned out to be caused by using features that just didn’t work with Flash. This could also be name “Read the Release Notes provided by Unity!” as that probably would have cut the time I spent  in half.

– Planning == Prioritisation. One of the things I’d really wish I’d done when I started was sit down and brutally prioritised the features I wanted to implement down to a few core things and either cut the rest or at least put them in order of importance. As it was I sort of winged it as I went (hey I was on holiday!) and really only started cutting features as the deadline loomed. Hence I found myself focusing on things I thought were easy instead things that were probably essential or at least more important. This is probably why Lap-A-Thon has a fancy-but-ultimately-useless title screen, yet no sound or music.

Regardless of mistakes made and the hi-jacking of my own holidays (I skipped out on a day at the beach to develop), I enjoyed the challenge and look forward to seeing if I can apply what I’ve learned at the Global Game Jam on January 27th!