Irons In The Fire
Posted by Patrick on Sunday, February 02, 2014Sun, Feb 02, 2014

It's been a long time—too long—since I last posted. Work and life got busy, as they tend to do. Our first child was born three months ago. And I've been all over the place with side projects and prototypes. But now it's time to dust off the site with a fresh redesign and begin talking about some of the things I'm chipping away at this year.

I've been getting into Unity3D over the last year or so, learning C# and generally getting the hang of things. I've worked on a little JSON library and a controller library (more on this later). After working on and discarding a bunch of game prototypes, it became time to work on a something more seriously and feel… well… productive.

I've started work on a shmup, partly because I enjoy the genre and partly because it is simple enough that I won't get overwhelmed—though it certainly has its challenges.

I'm hoping to have something playable to show at GDC this year. Maybe a level or so. I've put some money into graphics assets and have commissioned an illustrator to work on some of the characters for the little plot it has. I think it is safe to say I am committed to finishing it. Anyhow, here's a little clip of the work in progress:

The controller library is called InControl and I created it to scratch a big itch. It certainly isn't the first cross-platform controller solution for Unity, so it is surprising just how enthusiastically other developers have received it. The project gets plenty of e-mail, bug reports and patches. A more recent trend is a flood of feedback during large game jams. Clearly, it is needed. Unfortunately, it does take time and, ultimately, hardware, to test, add to and maintain.

InControl has reached a tipping point. I am still weighing the options, but it is almost certainly going to go into the Unity Asset Store soon, possibly with a few “pro” features to come. Still, I hope it can continue to be viable as an open source project.

Playing board games is one of my passions. As a designer/developer, I love being exposed to new mechanics. There is something special about the raw, tactile nature of board games and they have a great social aspect too.

As a child, long before I was able to program digital games, I would draw on bits of cardboard and make up games and activities. So perhaps they also hold sentimental value for me. They certainly inspire me. I've left dozens of discarded ideas and a few prototypes in my wake. I've been working on a prototype lately that I think has real potential, but it is early days yet.

So, it looks like I have a few irons in the fire this year. They all seem viable and I'm excited to see how they pan out.