I’ve been letting ideas for posts build up, allowing myself to be lazy instead of sitting down and at least writing a first draft. So rather than write multiple articles tonight, I figured I’d just lump everything together into one. Why not, it’s my blog after all.
I want to talk about my recent exploration outside of Unity, what I’m going to be doing for Devtober (which I’ve just learned of this year), and a few other things that have been rattling around in my head.
Exploring Unity Alternatives
I’ve been using Unity exclusively since Unity 4, so we’re a couple years shy of a decade at this point. I’d opened Unreal before, but never used it to make anything, not even something small like a jam game. Before that, I wasn’t using an engine, it was just various libraries in C++ (GLFW, GLEW, SDL, etc.). So it’s safe to say I’m pretty comfortable with my engine of choice.
However, as of late, I’ve been dissatisfied with Unity. If you’re a user of it, you probably understand how I feel. From general quality-of-life issues to a wave of half-finished features (and the deprecation of their current solutions), it feels like Unity has been losing the user friendliness that brought me to it in the first place. I’m not here to talk about my problems with Unity though. If you’d like to read more about it, Garry has an excellent post on his site that echoes basically everything I’ve felt recently.
So, what have I been trying? The usual suspects, of course, Godot and Unreal.
For a while now, I’ve been wanting to participate in the Godot Wild Jam, a monthly game jam using the engine. Each time it came around, I couldn’t bring myself to leave the comfort of Unity, and the comfort of C#. See, I’d also be switching scripting languages. While Godot does support C#, it’s made with GDScript in mind, a language of their own that is a lot like Python. Even though I use Python every day at work, I have acquired a bit of distaste for weakly-typed languages, which made it that much harder to try Godot.
When I finally did, I was pleasantly surprised by my experience. Godot’s editor is incredibly easy to use, and looks quite nice as well. On top of that, each of the engine’s features work as intended, without any sort of half-working nonsense. It was refreshing, and reminded me a lot of when I started with Unity.
I didn’t end up finishing something for the Wild Jam, and I haven’t opened the editor since then, but I’d love to go back to it and write more about my time with it. It was simply time to try the next one.
Recently, a friend reached out and asked me if I’d like to work with them on a game project. After a number of talks, I was convinced. There was just one hitch: they wanted to do the project in Unreal. As I mentioned, I’ve barely done more than open Unreal, so I needed to hop in and start learning.
First things first, Unreal is daunting. When I first opened the editor, I was completely lost, and to be honest, a little intimidated. With that though, it carried a feeling of professionalism. It is probably not great to be internalizing this feeling that an intimidating interface is a professional one, but it’s one that I carry with me.
So far, the most interesting thing for me has been all of the boilerplate that Unreal provides for you. For a lot of the basic things I’ve tried to implement, they seem to have something already prepared in their Blueprint system.
For example, I thought something simple to create would be a jump pad, so I started to look into what options I have for character physics, and how I can manipulate them. It turns out they just have a node already prepared for their FirstPersonController named “Launch Character”.
It goes beyond just utility functions like that, to the point where it feels like I have to adopt a whole new style of writing game code. Rather than building systems from the ground up, it seems like in every case, Unreal has some base class that you extend instead. I don’t think this is a bad thing at all, just something I need to get used to. In all honesty, I think it’s a very good thing, as it allowed for deeper intertwining of their systems, which is apparent all throughout the engine.
It has been a blast to work with, and I continue to discover how to use all of the things given to me in it. Which brings me to the next thing I wanted to talk about.
The internet is full of month names being twisted up for an event. I’d already been planning on doing Shocktober with a friend, where we get together and play spooky games together all month. Then I discovered Devtober! Hosted on my favorite indie game site, itch.io, Devtober sees developers working on something for the entirety of the month and writing up a post-mortem on their experience afterwards. Sure, you could do this at any point, but it carries a bit more weight when you give it a name.
I’ve decided I’m going to continue my learning journey with Unreal for the month, with an actual goal in mind for the end! You can absolutely expect the post-mortem for that to be posted here as well.
Where are the posts about Overbored? It has been a month since I last talked about it, and back then I mentioned that I had down-scoped and was still planning on finishing it this year.
Well, I think I have to take that back. I took that smaller scope, and I tried my hardest to make a singular mechanic that was fun and still fit everything I had already made, and I just couldn’t. Currently, I’m sitting on a prototype where you can glide around, which is fun for a brief moment, but being able to turn it into something I can be proud of in 3 months now does not feel feasible.
So it’s over. I hate to say it, and obviously I could keep pushing and get something good working. Hell, I could even use Devtober to work on it! At this point though, I’m actively avoiding it instead of accepting that every game developer ever had a multitude of games that weren’t a smash hit before they got one that was.
Maybe I’ll have some great epiphany soon and go back to it, but that would be quite a bit of whiplash for you, the reader.
Anyways, those are the things that have been on my mind lately. I hope I write something sooner than a month from now, but that post-mortem is definitely coming then! Until then, have a great day.