Sunday, October 11, 2015

How to add a 2D Animation in Unity in 3 Steps

Once upon a time I was worried about creating animations in Unity. Well that was silly of me; animations are really easy! At least the developer part. The artists have the challenge. So let's quickly learn how to create a simple animation in Unity. This is assuming you're using Unity 5 or higher.

Step 1) Prepare Assets

Let's assume you have some amazing images ready to go. The easiest way to get started is to have each frame of your animation exported as an individual image. Have them named something that will list them numerically in an appropriate order for ease of use, like player-walk-1, player-walk-2, etc. Drag those image files from your computer to Unity, in the area labeled "1" in the above picture. Click to get a higher-res view.

Next, create a Canvas Image (GameObject > UI > Image). You can also create a Sprite with a Sprite Renderer (GameObject > 2D Object > Sprite). I like using the Canvas, but it's up to you. Select your object in the Hierarchy, then drag one of your images from the Project window (1) to the object's Source Image (2). It doesn't matter which one, this will act as a placeholder.

If you are using the canvas, click "Set Native Size" (3) to automatically adjust the object's dimensions to fit your sprite. You can then scale it to your desired scale.

Finally, the important part. With your object selected in the Hierarchy, click on the Animation tab (4). If you don't see it, click Window > Animation. NOT Animator. That's a little different.

Step 2) Create the Animation

Simply click on "Create" to get started. Save your animation somewhere sensible (I keep mine next to the image assets. Creating a separate folder for animations might be wise, too.)

Next, drag all of your images from the Project Window into the Animation window. In the top left you will see a number field labeled "Samples." This will essentially adjust your animation speed. It also adjusts what your Animation window looks like, so for this example, I've set it a low number of 4. When it's this low, you can easily see which image is being played at what time. It's simply moving from one image to the next.

Keep in mind that the Animation window cares which object is selected in the Hierarchy. If you don't see your animation, make sure you have your desired object selected.

Step 3) Edit the Animation

The animation window should look slightly familiar to anyone who has ever worked with keyframes in Flash or video editing. I only have 3 source images, but I need a fourth keyframe to make the animation look smooth. My little character's feet should move from the back - to the middle - to the front - then back to the middle before repeating. So, I click one of the diamond shaped keyframe icons (1) above the image, copy it by selecting Edit > Copy or hitting the shortcut, then Paste it on the fourth line (2). Now we've got 4 frames for our little animating dude that loop automatically. Hit the Play button to see it in action on your Game scene!

There is, of course, much more we can do with Animation and the so far unused Animator. Behind the scenes, you can see that when you click on your object, an Animator component has been added. If you select the Animator tab, you'll notice that the Animator has automatically set your new animation to play from "entry" - or whenever the scene starts with the object in it. The Animator lets you add different animations to the same object to play at different times, but for now, we're going to keep it simple.

Congratulations! You now know how to animate in Unity 2D.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Project Zero 2 Scam - A Review

Please don't buy Project Zero 2.

This Game Academy website has made its way into a great number of inboxes. Here's what you can expect. You will be promised to have the secrets of game design revealed to you - "you can make money with little to no effort!" You will get links to "training videos." These videos will just tell you to copy what's already in app stores so you can make gobs of money. After that, you can expect emails announcing something big. Finally, the day comes. Something big is here! It's Project Zero 2. JUST ANNOUNCED! Available to you, for the low-low price of $997 (it's half off!). You have 3 days to buy it or you'll miss your opportunity!

You might feel that tingling feeling already - that sense that something just isn't right. Why release software for a limited time? They claim it is so they don't "flood the market," but in reality, it's their way of getting people to think that this is a worthwhile deal - "ACT NOW! TIME IS RUNNING OUT!" If this actually was a limited release, it'd be a product with zero user support (which it is), but the reality is even worse than that. This "offer" is just tied to your email address. Other people already got their chance. This isn't a worldwide release. It's a scam - just for you.

What makes it a scam? Firstly, the name is as generic as possible. Googling "Project Zero" will grant you links to an adventure horror game, educational research, aircraft technology... nothing for game design software. Trey Smith, Game Academy's founder, claims that no programming skills are required. If there was software out there that decreased the workload for programmers, they'd use it. Project Zero 2 is not being used in the industry.

Secondly, they claim that Project Zero 2 is the first "drag and drop" game creation software out there. Well, that's just not true. Construct 2 and Game Maker are successful game design tools that actually work. Instead of writing code, you drag and drop "events" to design the game. They aren't as robust as other game design tools, but they don't require programming.

Thirdly, and probably most importantly, the software is terrible. If you get the link to the video, you won't see the software for quite a while. You can't skip ahead in the video - you're forced to listen to their marketing mumbo jumbo, complete with buzz words and big promises. "Look at all these guys that made thousands of dollars! They're so happy!"

To their credit, they show you the entirety of the software. So let's look at it! If you don't want to bother looking at it in its entirety, here's the short version: you get an "infinite flyer" builder. Very few options, no room for creativity (except for the art that you make yourself), but hey, it has monetization options. There are obstacles that fly at you. You fly at them and shoot them. It can be landscape or portrait. You get coins and powerups. And that's it. Just because you're going up with a race car instead of a jet plane going left doesn't mean it's a whole new game mode.

Okay, let's look in detail.

Make an app. Want ads? Landscape or portrait? That's it.

Look, you can make money! Hope you like revmob and basic in-app purchases, because you don't get any options.

The start of foreground objects. You get to make a character. He gets to move up or to the left. He gets to shoot projectiles. Hopefully you have your own art.

You get a parallax background. Just one. You can control how fast it goes by! Parallax backgrounds are a bit tricky, so this is almost cool. Almost.

Buttons! Buttons bring you to other screens. You don't get many screens. Main screen > character select > game window > monetization stuff. That's it.

You can add your own fonts.

A preview window for the game, which they swear is a big deal, even though plenty of other engines preview windows now.

An example game. Move to the left. Shoot things.

Move to the left. This one's different because you don't shoot things.

Now you're moving up.

You get an incredibly basic "app maker" if you buy now. Add some images and social media links. That's all an app needs, right?

Another game example. You get a very basic game maker that only lets you create one game type. This game type can be easily made in dozens of other game engines. Maybe it will be faster to make it with this tool; at least by a few minutes. But you'll be limited to creating bland, unoriginal content that is literally incapable of having any new game mechanics. You'll also be short nearly a grand.

Here's the link to the "expired" offer:

Stay away from this scam. It is open source, but for nearly a thousand bucks, there are better tools out there. I suggest buying a kit from the Unity Asset Store or following a tutorial for Construct 2.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

List: Games Every Game Designer Should Play

I was recently asked what games budding game designers should play to get inspired. It's a difficult question to answer, because there is a lot of great stuff out there, but it's also difficult to figure out what one person may or may not have played.

So, I've compiled a big list of games every game designer should play and be knowledgeable about! These titles range from super popular to hidden indie gems - and they are all important. This list is separated into categories, and below each category I will leave a short description about why that section is important. For my next post, I'll talk in more detail about each individual game, and why they are each important. Okay, let's get started.

Staples of Game Design that Everyone has Probably Played
Most likely, nearly every game has played or at least heard of these games. Knowing them, and understanding their relevance, is important as a game designer, especially when discussing design decisions. A game designer should know the difference between Zelda Z-targeting and Fallout 3's VATS.
  • Fallout 3
  • Half-Life 2
  • The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time
  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Minecraft
  • Portal
  • Super Mario World & SMB3

Big Budget, Amazing Result Games
Still pretty popular, these titles introduced new ideas into the gaming universe and, thanks in part to sizable budget, were able to deliver an experience that felt complete and polished. 

  • Alan Wake
  • Demon's Souls / Dark Souls
  • Heavy Rain
  • The Last of Us
  • Resident Evil 2 & 4

Oldschool Games that Can't be Missed
Listed below are some classic titles that are still talked about today in game design circles as being excellent titles that brought new ideas to the table.

  • American McGee's Alice
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem
  • Ico
  • Okami
  • Katamari Damacy
  • The Lost Vikings
  • Rez
  • Shadow of the Colossus
  • Super Mario RPG

Lesser Known Incredible Classics
These games aren't as wildly popular, but introduced to the gaming community some brave new ideas, oftentimes layered inside some excellent storytelling (or least a few clever poop jokes).

  • Beyond Good & Evil
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day / Conker: Live and Reloaded
  • Indigo Prophecy
  • POD
  • Phantom Dust
  • Secret of Mana
  • Subspace

Important Series
From turn based battles to open world exploration, it's no secret that some of the series listed below are the best examples of certain gameplay elements.
Castlevania, Civilization, Dragon Quest, Fable, Elder Scrolls,
Final Fantasy, Mass Effect, Pikmin, Uncharted

Popular and Amazing Indie Titles
Some of the most artistic and influential games didn't come from big companies; they came from the small studios producing great pieces of art like those listed below.

  • Braid
  • Cave Story
  • Fez
  • Flower
  • Journey
  • Psychonauts
  • Thomas Was Alone

Indie Games you May Have Heard of that you Should not Ignore
From excellent multiplayer to intelligent puzzles to amazing musical scores, these titles have made waves in the gaming scene for a reason.

  • FTL: Faster Than Light
  • Papers, Please
  • Quantum Conundrum
  • Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
  • Spaceteam
  • The Stanley Parable
  • Super Hexagon

Games Few People have Heard of, but are Incredible Nonetheless
Lesser known, but these are some amazing hidden gems that highlight just how creative game designers can be.

  • Chibi-Robo
  • Cubivore
  • Fly'N
  • Subspace

Just Play these Games because they are Fun and Brilliant
Incredible gaming experiences that are worth your time.

  • Cool Spot
  • Hotline Miami
  • Monaco
  • Nidhogg 
  • Super Meat Boy

Monday, February 3, 2014

GitHub Trick: Delete ALL Changes

What happened to the year 2013? It seems I disappeared for a bit. I'm going to attempt to use this blog a bit more often.

First post back, I'd like to post one of my most used tricks. Sometimes, when using GitHub for proper version control (which everyone should do!), you'll find that you have, quite literally, a thousand changes that you don't want. Perhaps you updated an iOS application with some broken code and a lot of useless Xcode files. Maybe you tried moving a whole bunch of files from one directory to the other, and it didn't work out. Whatever it may be, it can be really annoying using a GitHub GUI to discard individual changes - and if your GUI happens to let you discard all changes, it might not actually remove them all.

So! Here's a quick trick you can throw into your terminal window or command prompt. I have found this trick through extreme googling and rigorous trial and error.

git reset --hard #
git clean -fd .
git checkout -- .

That's it! Hopefully this helps someone get back to normalcy within their project. Good luck!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Remove computer noise from recordings

Here's a quick tip on how to remove those annoying fan noises from any voice or musical recordings you might have. I'm also writing this so I can look it up when I forget how to do it. ;-)

First, download the free software recording/editing sound program Audacity.

Drag your sound file into Audacity or record what you need to record. Next, select a few seconds that should be silent... but are filled with loud whirring noises from your laptop or computer's fans.

From the top menu, click on Effect > Noise Removal. Click on "Get Noise Profile." Hit OK.

Now, hit Ctrl + A at the same time to select your whole sound bit. Click on Effect > Noise Removal again. You can preview a small portion of your recording if you wish. Hit OK, and BAM! Just like that, you have a near-professional recording uninhabited by the cacophony of noisy computer fans.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Create a trailer (tips)

Become a professional video editor in just 2 easy steps!

So you need to create a trailer or maybe make a cutscene for your game, but you've never edited video before? It's okay, I'll show you two easy steps to make your video look better than 90% of YouTube videos.

When recording your footage, follow the first step.

STEP 1. Use a tripod. If you can't use a tripod, steady the camera some other way (on a chair, on a table).

Now you can edit your steady, beautiful footage in Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Final Cut, or Windows Movie Maker/iMovie (if you have to). While editing, simply follow Step 2.

STEP 2. Find & use the "Cross Dissolve" or "Cross Fade" video transition effect. The only transition effect (to switch between scenes) you should be using is either Cross Dissolve, or none at all. The only exception might be "Fade to Black" or "Fade to White" to open up or close down the video.

Ta-da! Your video looks more professional than 90% of videos out there. It's not shaky! It doesn't have pointless transitions! Be prepared to sell millions of copies thanks to your perfect trailer.

If you happen to be editing footage you didn't record by someone who did not follow Step 1, I found this little piece of ingenious software can nearly remove shakiness and even fix up the colors from a bad white balance: vReveal. It's free if you don't need a video better than 480p, and not too expensive if you do.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Hello World

Hi, I'm Dan Jorquera. Over the years I have learned many different techniques that help during the creation of video games. I have even more experience when it comes to what NOT to do when creating games.

Some of the best help I've found while creating games has been from random blogs, like this guy.

I'd like to share a bit of my experience to help fledgling game designers in their quest to finish a project. Degrees in Game Design are becoming more and more popular within universities, but because the programs are still so young, I don't think they fully prepare students/graduates for the nightmares and tribulations that come with programming or game design in general. So, this is my way of paying it forward or something. When someone who has just graduated, came up with a great game idea, then ran into a brick wall because nothing is rendering, slamming their face into their keyboard over and over because the main character still won't jump, I'd like to be a potential resource for them. There are a lot of little tips and tricks that, if I'd known earlier, could have saved me a lot of time and hassle.

Here's my first tip: Don't get a degree in Game Design. :D Okay, okay, maybe there's some amazing programs out there, but I think that taking a program that focuses in either programming or art would be time (and money) better spent. If you're determined to go the game design route, just try your best to learn as much programming or art-design-stuff on your own. Even if you are focusing on the programming or art route, the more time you spend playing with the programs and tools they don't show in school, the better equipped you'll be when you're done with school. One plus, though, if you take game design instead of programming, you'll also likely get out of taking Calculus... win! (It's what I did.)

Oh, you're already graduated? You're ready to make a game of your own? Alright, here's my first quick tip for you. Start small. Make sure you (and/or your team) already know how to do whatever you need to do to complete the game. Guesstimate how much time it will take to complete the project; then triple it. Games take forever to finish and polish. That's just how it is.

More specific tips will be coming your way soon. Specifically, tips for Flash and other game design tools, and suggestions on what kind of tools are actually useful.

Welcome to my blog. Yay!