Game Development Before Breakfast

Sorry about the delay in this latest blog update!  It’s been nearly two months since the last one.  I’ve been busy getting sidetracked by World of Warcraft, family stuff, work stuff, some board gaming, a bit of music production, and truthfully, more WoW. 🙂

World of Warcraft is a great game.  It’s 80% of what I’d like to see in my own online RPG.  They do so many things right.  Of course I’ll have my own character development system specifics, quests, combat, graphics, music, and the world won’t be as large (at first…), but behind the scenes Blizzard got an awful lot of things just right.  I guess they can afford to considering all the money they have been making for so long!  Playing WoW is so interesting to me that it consumed my game development passion and made me think about my characters first thing in the morning, even before breakfast.

I think that’s a sort of a key, at least for me.  If something in my life motivates me so much that I get out of bed and immediately want to work on it, even before breakfast, then that’s a sure sign that I’m focused on that thing.  In this case, WoW is a time vampire for me, so in the interest of doing more game development I canceled my WoW subscription last Sunday.

So, the good news is that I’ve been doing game development before breakfast all this past week.  Here are a few bullets listing some of the things I’ve been working on since canceling WoW:

  • Re-acquaint myself with Unity – I dusted off Unity on Monday morning, updated it to the latest release, and started reviewing the projects I’d created in December.  There were a few things that got me hung up at that point, including:
    • Finding/tweaking/creating a character controller suitable for my RPG-style games.  Been waiting for RobinS’s Character System to get updated to use the new Mecanim animation technology available in Unity, but it’s still going to be “some months” unfortunately. 🙁  This probably means I’ll have to roll my own, at least for now.
    • Ability to import multiple terrain objects into a scene, while maintaining the ability to use Substances instead of standard materials to paint the terrain.  Substances are procedural materials (saves game memory) that add really nifty things like specularity maps in addition to the diffuse and normal maps that are available with standard materials.  The developer of the Substance Terrain Tool (Jerc) has been slow to update the package to allow for multiple terrains, although it’s supposedly coming soon.  In the meantime I am considering other strategies, including the possibility of limiting to one terrain per scene, bounded by mountains, oceans, fog and/or other visual barriers, and simply having players teleport from scene to scene at the edges.  This is not optimal, however, as I’d like for players to be able to do things like fly from place to place in an apparently seamless world.  Once the Substance Terrain Tool gets updated to allow for multiple terrains, then I can smoothly load adjacent terrains (and all their related assets) at runtime, and the whole concept of a “scene” goes away.  This is what I’m aiming at in the longer term.
  • Music synth video tutorials on, lots of them.  Since I upgraded to Cakewalk Sonar X2 a few months back, they have been giving free bonuses to us loyal customers every couple months.  The bonus for January/February is a 30-day subscription to’s music production video tutorial library.  I’ve done a whole series on FM8, plus parts of Massive, and Z3TA+2.  All are awesome synths (which I use for my music), and now I know each of them a bit better than I did a week ago.  I’ll be doing more of these tuts through the end of February, when my subscription expires.  They can be a bit long winded at times, but I’ve done quite a bit of music production, and have created several pieces (using these synths) that are suitable for use in games, so this is probably time well spent.
  • Unity music packages initial review – I’ve downloaded and listened to all the free music asset packages that are currently available on the Unity Asset Store.  That includes listening (mostly in full) to every track provided.  Some of it is quite good!  They will definitely be useful as stand-ins at the very least, and some may end up in my games.  There’s a lot of variety available from several different artists/composers, including classical, electronic, rock, and more.
  • Rigged the old Ava character model – I created my first working character rig, after all these years.  Since I don’t have 3DS Max to open the MAX source file, I had to use the 3DS file (which contains less information).  I decided to import it using Blender.  My intern Thomas and I then worked through a Blender tutorial and created a new skeletal rig, which we imported successfully into Unity’s new Mecanim animation system (after several abortive attempts).  The rig isn’t perfect, however, and some of the animations are a little bit jumpy.
  • Bought some new stuff at the Unity Asset Store.  Got a couple of cool looking visual effects packages, including one package that provides storm/weather effects and another package that does 50+ different magic spell effects.  And in a pretty large purchase, I also picked up the Mixamo animation download license for 1 year (which cost $750).  That means I can download any animations for free for a year.  Sweet!

Well, enough blogging, time to get back to deving!


  1. Cool that you’re back into developing your game. I was checking every so often, but after your “signing back up to WoW” post, I figured you must have gotten sucked in. I know how it is, I played WoW for 2 years pretty consistently. Nowadays, I can’t generate the same level of interest for “traditional” MMOs like that. I still get sucked into sandbox games though. 🙂

    I was wondering if you had any luck with the RobinS character system. I got it working pretty good…as long as I want a ninja as my character! I wasn’t able to figure out how to re-rig a different character up to the animations and re-integrate it into the character system. I, too, am waiting for the Mechanim update and hoping that’ll solve all my problems plus world hunger. 🙂

    Nice assets you bought, there. I’ve also been spending money in the Asset store. I see you got the RTP shader (saw your post on the forum). I got that one too and have been loving it so far. WAAAY better than the ATS shader. I’ve been thinking about a shuriken weather effects package, myself.

    Anyway, nice to see you’re back on the dev wagon! When I get some time, I’ll catch up on the recent posts and check out your progress. It’s interesting to me since my wife and I are also making a game, and I’m running into many of the same challenges as you.

  2. Hey zangad, thanks for following our progress. 🙂 Yeah, I did get the WoW bug pretty bad there back in January, but it was taking too much of my time so I had to quit cold turkey.

    I played with RobinS’s character system a bit, but wound up putting it on the back burner pending his Mecanim update. Besides that, it’s a FPS style controller, so I’ll have to change things like strafing to turning-on-the-spot, etc. to make it more suitable for my RPG-style game. I didn’t try to rig a new character before I shelved it.

    With the character controller on hold I’ve been working on other aspects of my game including package integration, multi-scene management, and for the last week or so I’ve been setting up a local server here to finally start doing version control. I should probably be posting about that soon-ish. So anyway the character controller stuff has taken a back seat and I’m just using something imperfect for now, with some hacked together code that I intend to replace later when I get back around to making it “just right”. We’ll see how RobinS’s Mecanim update looks when it comes out, and that may be a good jumping off point for me. If not, then maybe I’ll just make my own custom RPG controller. 🙂 But that probably won’t be dealt with until May or June.

    As far as the packages I’ve been buying in the Asset Store, perhaps it’s too many already. 😉 They don’t always play nice together. But that’s another blog post…