After some initial insecurities where to begin and what component I should build first (Everything is connected! Each element is dependent on other elements that also don’t yet exist!) I learned …
to better think abstractly and could begin properly. Ultimately, in hindsight, nothing was particularly difficult. The choice and concept of our project proved to be fantastic since the strategy of having separated minigames worked out great for me. It enabled me to essentially build five projects in one, four games and the surrounding application that connects them together.
Today I can excitingly see my own progress from one game to the next. This comes with the minor disadvantage of me wishing to go back and fix up the parts I build first. But since they work well from the players perspective I simply enjoy knowing I wouldn’t write the same spaghetti code today..
An insight I didn’t expect was how little I enjoy building animations. Specifically animations for four-legged creatures. Sheep have a weird running style. Have you ever checked youtube in search of sheep running videos and then watched it twenty times? I’m really grateful that people even upload that kind of stuff. If you were ever wondering about the purpose of clips like that, this is at least one possible answer.
Animation Jump for Height, the first game we made
Animation Hillrace, the last game
The real breakthrough for our animation quality was discovering Anima2D. This is a plugin for Unity3D which allowed me to build bone-based 2D animations, a technology that is usually reserved for the third dimension. These days Unity ships with its own version of this technology.
Now I could make our sheep move a lot more fluid, bend their knees and necks and have neck and back actually bend and stretch. It made them so much more lively and expressive that I just had to use it.
Same sheep in action
It was a lot more work intensive than the simple, more puppet-like animation in Jump for Height. Still, the end result was totally worth it and I have developed a lot of respect for this profession. Especially animating something with a different physical build and movement patterns which can’t be recreated with your own body.
Of course my work also included repeatedly going back and fixing bugs, an unavoidable part of software development. I would like to thank our testers who by now also know the Highland Sheep Games by heart and whose help and information was critical to make the game enjoyable for everyone. Now hopefully all bugs have been splatted, the sheep groomed and the lawn mowed so that the Highland Sheep Games can be officially opened.