Author Archives: Tom

Why so quiet?

Sorry for the lack of activity, incase anyone out there was wondering, I am in fact, not dead. For the past few months i’ve been working for a 3D art & animation company as somewhat of a general interactive-media/app guy. I won’t give any specifics but i’ve been doing a lot of work with augmented reality so i’ll be extremely surprised if my next none-studios project doesn’t involve AR in some way.

Anyway as you can probably guess working full time is keeping me busy so I haven’t had much time for any of my none-studios projects. Hopefully i’ll find a way to squeeze in some decent personal dev time at some point and start posting new and interesting things.

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So… Anyone out there want me to make them a free windows phone app?

After deciding I wasn't going to publish my Blip.tv video player app I added download functionality.

Amidst plenty of other things I’ve taught myself how to use Visual Studio over the last few months and got part way through developing two windows phone apps before stopping due to legal and feasibility oversights (more on that later.)

Now normally I’m overwhelmed with ideas and just not sure which idea is the best investment, but in the case of plain Windows Phone Apps I’ll admit I’ve run out. Which is a shame because I’d like to make one for my portfolio, (to prove I have the ability.) With that in mind I thought I’d ask if anybody out there reading this has need of a windows phone app? If so throw me an email and we’ll talk, if its simple enough I’ll make and publish your app for free.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s explore the apps I was developing and why I stopped.

The first app named Just-A-Blip lets you watch Blip videos on your windows phone, (Something the base windows phone can’t do at the time of posting). I actually pulled this off; I now have an app that lets me watch Blip.tv on my windows phone, (which is fantastic for me as I’m a big fan of a lot of Blip’s content producers.)

However whilst making such an app for my own personal use is fine… Further developing the app and publishing it seems like a good way to get harshly worded emails from Blip’s lawyers. I did try to contact Blip to see if they’d have an issue with it, but unsurprisingly they did the sensible thing and didn’t open a dialogue with “random-developer-on-the-internet”.

So in the end I gave up with that, did some upgrades I knew they never would have approved of like letting the app be able to download videos and kept the app’s raw working version as a tool for my personal use only.

My screen recorder recording a recording of screen recording, dwag

Yo Dawg, I herd you like recording your screen so I played a recording of your screen in your screen-recording app so you can record your screen-recording app playing a recording of your screen-recording app recording your screen-recording app playing a recording of your screen recording app…

The next app I started working on was a windows phone screen recorder. Now this was a very interesting venture as the functionality for screen recording on windows phone is only available in Windows Phone 8.1, (which isn’t yet released.) Because my app was going to take advantage of features from the 8.1 update I had to switch from using Visual Studio 2012 for Windows Phone to Visual Studio 2013 for Windows + the Update 2 Release Candidate.

This meant putting up with a slightly different code base but boy, I do not regret the change at all. Visual Studio 2013 for Windows is just so much less buggy then its predecessor, at least whilst running it on a mac via Parallels.

Anyway, back to why I stopped working on the app. Basically I got the app recording the screen wonderfully, hooray! But then I realized a rather large oversight on my end… Windows Phone intentionally prevents any app from screen recording anything but itself. So the only way anybody’s going to be doing lets plays etc of windows phone games any time soon is if each individual dev go several extra miles to include screen recording and skydrive uploading functionality into their games/apps.

Which admittedly seems like a silly decision on Microsoft’s part, but I can see why they did it, they don’t want people using apps to secretly record users. Who knows, maybe they’re planning to release a total screen recorder of their own to solve the issue. But as you can imagine a screen-recording app that only records itself and does nothing else isn’t much use to anyone, so I’ve binned that project.

So that’s my experience with windows phone app development so far, I certainly learnt a lot from the process, now if only I could find a proper cause to apply this new knowledge to.

Dialog Tree Extension for Unity: Feature Demo

Finally here’s some more on my dialogue tree editor extension for Unity, complete with shameless self-promotion about how I’m looking for work. Did I mention I’m looking for work? Well I am ;).

I ramble on about the specifics of how its used quite a bit, especially in the part labeled the basics so if you just want to see what its capable of producing you may wish to utilize the links which appear in the top right hand corner of the screen.

Old Jolty is now available on Windows Phone!

Old Jolty Windows Store Icon

Old Jolty is now available on the Windows Phone Store!

Clunking ungracefully through the stars, Old Jolty has now made its way to Windows Phone! Ultra special thanks to the organisers and staff of the UK’s Largest Unity Porting Event for providing the software and hardware which made this possible.

The windows phone version contains some slight graphical improvements that’ll make their way to the iOS version eventually.(I’ve got some other improvements for it planned but i’m holding back to see if I get some feedback from this version I can act on first.)

I hope everyone had a good Christmas and i’m wishing you all a Happy New Year!

Unity Dialog / Dialogue Tree Extension

The Dialogue Editor: This new window displays the trees/content of your dialogue components.

The Dialogue Editor: This new window displays the trees/content of your dialogue components.

Hello internet, its been a while hasn’t it? I thought i’d share one of the things i’ve been working on since the last Old Jolty update. Its a Dialogue Tree Extension for Unity; it manages the editing, display and interaction of in-game dialogue or conversations in a visual, relatively simple and un-intrusive manner. Thusly its easy to integrate and doesn’t take over the whole Unity project. It can manage player choices/options in the dialogue and its all done via GUIText and GUITextures, so runs no risk of OnGUI based lag.

I started work on this for two reasons: Firstly to prove to myself (And any potential employers) that I can rock the C# and secondly because it’ll be really useful for another game project I’d like to start one day. The extension will likely be going up on the asset store for free when its finished. At least initially, ideally i’d like it to evolve over time with critique until a point where I start charging a small amount for it. However i’m aware its not the only editor extension of its kind out there, (Even if i’m not sure how many of those tools are OnGUI independent.)

A Dialogue Box: They come with all three components as standard.

Dialogue Box: They come with all three components as standard.

As it stands it currently has the following features:

• Works through just two parts, dialogue components you add to whatever objects you want to speak and one or more dialogue box GameObjects tweaked to your preferences.
• Simple to integrate, just add a Dialogue component to a GameObject, edit it’s dialogue in the dialogue editor (It opens in the editor at a press of a button), add a DialogueBox to the scene, configure it to your preferences and then finally script a method call for the dialogue into your game.
• Completely OnGui independent, no need to shove stuff in your main OnGui call or risk lag from multiple (Or single) OnGui implementations.
• Formats the dialogue text to fit inside your DialogueBox’s GUITexture, splitting the text up into multiple “viewings” if there’s not enough space for the whole body of text. Compatible with other scripts which alter your GUITexture to scale with resolution as long as they do so on Awake();
• Can process an unlimited number of dialogue options or choices, (Where the dialogue diverges based on what option the player picks.) Though it will shout warnings at you if you put in more options then can physically fit in your dialogue box.
• Visually shows the structure of your dialogue in a clean and concise manner within the extension’s dialogue editor.
• Supports multiple dialogues using multiple dialogue boxes simultaneously. It also supports multiple dialogues using the same dialogue box, though obviously not at the same time.

The Dialogue Component: Add it to whatever you want your players to converse with. (Could be used for text based menus to.)

Dialogue Component: Add one to whatever you want your players to converse with. (Could be used for text based menus to.)


Ideally I’d like to add the following features:

• An option to make the text load character by character instead of instantly.
• a GOTO option in the dialogue editor where you can put in the # number of any text box and that’ll be the next piece of dialogue.
• Support for “click to continue” indicator textures/images at any alignment at the bottom of dialogue boxes.
• An option to make option/choice text become highlighted when the mouse is over it.
• Touch screen support so it can be used on mobile platforms, but remains testable on PC using the mouse (I’m considering using the unity web browser for testing in the future). Also adjustable gaps between the text options, so that they can be pressed by big fingers more easily.
• Optional field for “Header” dialogue box, which displays speaker names, titles etc.
• Optional field for “Echo” dialogue box, which shows the previous “viewing” of dialogue.
• An optional mode that makes the echo box become used for normal dialogue whilst the main dialogue box becomes used solely for the display of choices/options. The result being one box for player input and one box for NPC dialogue.
• An option in the dialogue editor which sends a message to call other methods/functions on the dialogue’s game object at a certain point in the dialogue.
• Variables held by the dialogue system, editable by method calls.
• An IF option in the dialogue editor which will cause a choice/option to only be presented if conditions involving said variables are met.
• Options to slot the variables into the text for showing gender, player name etc.
• Some kind of set up for integrating image/character portrait display into the dialogue.

We’ll see how far I get through them before putting it up. As usual if you have an opinion i’d love to hear it, until next time internet.

Old Jolty is now available on the App Store

Its finally up! (Well technically its been up since the 15th.) Now squidly adventures, involving perhaps an unparalleled amount of turning around in circles, are available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.

The last hope for humanity lies with the tired and rusting space freighter Old Jolty; decommissioned long ago but haphazardly brought back to life for one final journey. She has no weapons and she can’t turn left, but she must save the cosmos!

As you may have noticed, its now time to bring myself to the bit of this cycle i’ve been dreading the most, the shameless advertising! On that note any form of retweets, likes, reviews or brief mentions would be incredibly welcome ^^.

Progress Update and a Curious Idea

Old Jolty has been sent off to Apple for review; with a little luck it’ll be in the store in four or so days, though it could be almost two weeks.

In the meantime I thought I’d ramble a little about a curious game idea I’ve had. Though I’m really not sure to the legality of it so do chip in if you have an opinion.

Basically the idea revolves around taking an old B-Movie, which is currently in the public domain, for example Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet, and essentially turning it into an extremely cheesy FMV adventure game. So a comedy adventure game spaced between film footage, playing on the so bad it’s good angle of both old B-Movies and FMV games.

Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet

A scene from Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet.

It could be an iPad game, though it might be quite costly in hard drive space if it contains a lot of film footage. But I imagine with enough compression and editing that could be worked around. However I’m still not 100% certain on the legality, though films in the public domain supposedly have no copyright I’m sure there could be other compromising factors. For instance Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet is a re-edited/ plagiarized version of the Russian movie “Planet of Storms”, which might not be in the public domain.

Anyway, I thought I’d throw that out there. I have something completely different planned for my next game, which I’ll share in due time after I’m done checking its viable and have some pretty screenshots.

Old Jolty

Ta-da! Its done! Well… mostly. If this was a just for fun project i’d probably go ahead and distribute it as is and be loyal to the deadline, but this will be going on my portfolio. Thusly it deserves a whole lot of extra scrutiny, testing etc. Still assuming nothing dramatic happens it should be live on the app store sometime this month.

If you’ll allow me to indulge my pedantic nature a moment, theres a couple of differences between the game and video I feel obliged to mention. Firstly, the mission menu has two scrolling arrow buttons not one. Secondly, the later gameplay from the footage has a return to menu button in the corner. These differences are due to me recording the game running on a Mac instead of an iPhone.

I considered using this post as my onegameamonth submission and sneakily editing in a link here later when the games on the store, but that seems a bit too cheeky. So I think i’ll just have to put Old Jolty down as an August submission.

It’s a Matter of Squidurgency!

The end of one of old nelty/old jolty's levels, with glorious placeholder graphics

The end of a level, with glorious placeholder graphics.

Well it’s been a strange old month for me so far, what with close relatives getting married and my spontaneous decision to travel up to wales for networking. But regardless of this all of Old Nelty’s metaphorical cogs and gears are now sorted. The game is completely running from start to end through twenty levels using placeholder art. Which means I now have roughly two weeks left before deadline in which to sort out the graphical side of things.

I did very almost upload some videos earlier in the month, but I concluded that people probably wouldn’t take well to the game when it appears to be all about cubes spinning around other cubes until the occasional badly drawn placeholder texture zooms onto the screen.

Its pretty clear by this point that I’m not going to have time to get the game through the app store approval process before deadline, so I’m going to treat my deadline purely as a “this is when the game must be complete” deadline, and use the opportunity afterwards to squeeze in some additional testing prior to sending the game to the store.

That said I need more volunteer testers! So if you know me on facebook and have an iphone 4, ipad 1 or higher chances are I’ll be hassling you shortly.

On a side note, I’m considering changing the title of the game to Old Jolty. So if I suddenly start referring to the game as such, that’s why.

One Game A Month: Old Nelty

Old Nelty Game Early Artwork

Some early artwork to keep things pretty until I start on the game's graphics.

As foreshadowed a couple of days ago, I’m planning to complete a new game next month as part of one game a month.

What’s the new game about? Well…

The last hope for humanity lies with the tired and rusting space freighter Old Nelty that, until recently, was considered decommissioned. (For good reason.) She has no on board weaponry and she can’t turn left, but regardless of that, now she must save the cosmos!

Intergalactic space squid terrorize the universe blocking all trade routes and preventing all-important supplies from reaching their destinations.

Only Old Nelty can defeat the squidly hordes and carry the supplies safely to their respective destinations. But how can she defeat the squids with no weapons?

By spinning around them so fast that their heads explode.

Old Nelty (Working Title), is a…. puzzle game? Based around the perilous task of orbiting spacesquid with a ship that can only turn right. Orbiting one is easy enough, but with each squid you orbit you get faster and you’ll need to make sure you remember to dodge those asteroids on the way!

One thing I’m not sure about is the name, what do you think? Does anyone out there have a better name for a ship? Somebody already suggested Old Melty as an alternative… In which case they probably shouldn’t have parked that close to a star….