Oversteer Racing: Dev blog #4 - The one where the holidays get in the way

One of the main issues with developing a game in your spare time is that finding that time can be difficult. There are many competing concerns for your time and, during the year, you find yourself with more or less time than you expected... almost always less.

Over the holiday period I had hoped to be able to get my head down a bit and dedicate some time to writing code on Oversteer Racing but unfortunately that hasn't happened. That said, I have spent some time working on areas that are a little easier to fit into short, irregular periods of time than coding can be.

Scope and planning

I try and keep a plan of outstanding work in Pivotal Tracker so I spent some time adding new tasks to the backlog and arranging them into a sensible order as some items are dependent on others. This has helped me work out roughly how much more development there is on Oversteer Racing. With my current work rate the burn down predicts a beta release in November. I plan to release before this though, and I think the burn down has been affected by the lack of work I've been able to do over Christmas, but it's good to see progress mapped out like this.

Oversteer Racing burn down chart

Research

I've also been able to do a bit of research for the game both in terms of motorsport and games development. I did find time to read "Surviving The App Store" which was a really interesting read and gave me lots of things to think about. I thoroughly recommend it... although it does suggest that working on a long term project like Oversteer Racing might not be the best route to success.

Ugly UI

The other work I have been able to do is start creating a very ugly UI for the game. At this stage I'm more focussed on functionality than appearance so it's pretty basic but a good start. One thing I still need to decide on is if I'm going to use Unity's PlayPrefs or serialise the data into something like JSON. I can see pros/cons for both but I'm mainly concerned that the amount of data I'll be storing will mean that PlayerPrefs will be quite cumbersome.

Next month...

I'll be working on pit stops and a bit more of the UI.

Oversteer Racing: Dev blog #3 – The one where I stop and start

This dev blog is quite aptly named as I had planned to work on pit stops this month. However, what's actually happened is that I've had to spend time working on other things and not been able to put much time in on Oversteer Racing, so it really has been stop/start. That said, I've outlined my (little) progress below and talked about my plans anyway.

Pit stops

I want strategy and pit stops to be an important part of the game. Pit stops will allow you to refuel, change tyres and, in some cases, fix damage. Managing pit stops generates some interesting issues. For example, do you allow players to reverse in the pit lane - this is a move that, in most forms of motorsports, will see a competitor disqualified. However, if I don't allow reversing then is there a risk that players make such a mess up of a pit stop that they have to do another lap... and will that be fun?

The code I've currently got working detects if a car is in a pit box, works out if it's the correct car in the correct box and also estimates how well the car is positioned. My plan is that, the position of the car will affect the length of time the car is stationary. So, when the player enters the pit box, the game halts (for the player and the opposition cars) and the player can then select how much fuel they want and whether they want to change tyres and fix damage. The changes they select affect the duration of the pit stop and this is also affected by how well positioned they are in the pit box. So, two cars pitting and making the same changes may be stationary for different amounts of time depending on their positioning in the pit box. This reflects real life as a car that stops short/long causes the pit crew to move and the stop takes longer.

Once the player has selected their changes then the game restarts and the opposition cars will carry on around the track. The player car will remain stationary until the work has been completed and will then be released.

Language support

As I've started work on functionality I've had to start adding support for multiple languages. To do this I've been using the popular I2 Localization plugin from the Unity asset store. I've not finalised the list of languages that the game will support at release but it's worth building in support from the start so I don't have to retrofit this later.

Next month...

I'll be working on the menu screens for the pit stop, holding/releasing the car and carrying on with adding language support.

Oversteer Racing: Dev blog #2 – The one where I break things

In this dev blog I'll be focussing on damage to the car and how that affects your race.

The damage dilemma

I think it's important that your actions in the game can affect the car. For example, if you have a big accident and hit a wall then this needs to be reflected in the game. The dilemma is how much impact that should have on your race (and, potentially, your fun). In essence, should a big accident put you out of the race?

I think it a big accident should end your race but I am expecting to need to allow players to configure this. I've not decided on the options yet but I think it'll take a lot of testing and discussion with testers to find the right balance. However, I have decided that there should be functionality that means a big accident can put you out of the race even if some players turn that option off.

What bits can fall off?

I've focused on damage to the wings (front and rear) and the wheels for now. Losing the front wing is something that affects performance (you get a lot of understeer) but will be something that can be fixed during pit stops (albeit causing a longer stop). Knocking off a wheel or the rear wing will end your race (as it does in most forms of open-wheel racing).

Screenshot from Oversteer Racing showing a crashed car

Screenshot from Oversteer Racing (alpha) showing a crashed car

I've spent quite a lot of time working out what magnitude of impact should result in damage to the car and think I've got a good balance. I want players to be able to tap a wall or other car and not cause damage but if it's a large impact then the car should be damaged. I've also been working on the effects so that a big impact produces a shower of bits:-

Game play footage from Oversteer Racing (alpha) showing a big crash

Game play footage from Oversteer Racing (alpha) showing a big crash

Pit stops and next month...

I've also been working on pit stops and the car can now enter the pits and stop in a pit box. For the coming month I'll be doing more work on pit stops so that players can change tyres and repair damage and I'll also be working on some menu screens as it would help development if players can toggle options on and off.

Oversteer Racing: Dev blog #1 – The one where I go racing

Welcome to the first dev blog for Oversteer Racing. I've been working on the game for a while but thought it was about time I started talking more regularly about what I've been up to. My plan is to publish a new dev blog during the last week of the month throughout the rest of the game's development (inc. post-launch).

Game overview

Oversteer Racing is a top down racer for mobiles and tablets. It is not based on any existing racing series. My thinking behind the game is that it's about time someone did a top-down racer for mobiles and tablets. I grew up playing games such as Super Sprint and Super Cars and I don't think the genre is well represented these days. If you don't know what a top-down racer is then it's a racing game where the perspective is third person and looking vertically down at the cars and race track. In Oversteer Racing the view will move with the car rather than show the entire track on a single screen. For a bit more information you can read the official announcement.

Work to date

Test track

One of the earliest tasks was to create a test track. This isn't based on any existing circuit and needed a mixture of corner types (from slow hair-pins to fast curves) and straights. The test track allows me to check out my ideas for controlling the car and car handling. I can also work out the calculations for tyre wear and fuel usage.

I've also been able to use the test track to work out how running off the track or in to gravel traps affects the car.

The Oversteer Racing test track showing detection points for track sections

The Oversteer Racing test track showing detection points for track sections.

Car controls

As the game is for mobiles and tablets it will use touch control but this doesn't lend itself to really precise control. I've tried a number of control methods, including a virtual joystick, but my current work in process has touch controls for throttle, brake and turning (i.e. all or nothing input). The virtual joystick was problematic because sometimes you may want to have full turning lock and full throttle and a virtual joystick using a circular area cannot provide that.

All or nothing touch control is working well in the game so far. It's simple to master but by, reducing how fast the car will turn as the speed of the car increases, it's still a challenge to drive a quick lap. You need to match car speed to the corners and that's very similar to racing in real life.

I spent a very long time working on car handling. This is a critical component of all racing games and it's hard to strike the right balance between fun and realistic/challenging handling. Also, by naming the game "Oversteer Racing", I'm committed to make it possible to experience oversteer 😉 At this stage I have a good working model for both understeer and oversteer (it took a pretty long time to find something I was happy with) and this is influenced by the weight of the car (affected by fuel load) and how worn the tyres are.

Pre-alpha screenshot of Oversteer Racing - car turning right

Telemetry

In any racing game it's really important to track the progress of the cars. You need to make sure the cars properly complete a lap and, in many games, it's important to track lap times too. I've added a telemetry component to not only track the progress of the cars, the lap times and also the best sector times for each car. Like many race tracks in real life I divide each Oversteer Racing track into three roughly equal sectors and track sector times for cars.

Oversteer Racing will feature pitstops so the telemetry component also has to cope with cars visiting the pit lane. So, basically, it has to cope with cars taking multiple routes around the same circuit.

Summary

So, at this point in time, I have a test track and can drive a car at speed around the track. The car can take trips through the pit lane and its progress is tracked and lap times calculated. Also, the car tyres wear and the fuel load is used up and, depending on settings, this affects handling.

The coming month...

My plan for the coming month is to work on the damage model for the car. This needs to include graphical effects on the car and handling effects. I also hope to work on pit stops so that tyres can be changed and cars refuelled.

Announcing: Oversteer Racing

I am pleased to announce that I'm working on a new title called "Oversteer Racing" (the name is provisional, but I like it). Oversteer Racing is a top-down racing game for mobiles and tablets based around circuit racing (think F1, IndyCar, GP2 etc) but without being based on or constrained by the rules of any particular series. If you're familiar with classic games like SuperSprint and Super Cars then you're thinking along the right lines with fast and fun racing... but with a little more strategy built in.

Features

At this stage the full feature list isn't set but I am thinking along the lines of (no promises):

  • Driver and team championships
  • Multiple circuits
  • Tyre and fuel effects
  • Pit stops
  • Car failures
  • Weather effects

Some features may be available as add-ons, such as extra tracks but, again, this isn't confirmed at this stage.

Release date

As you know, Mucky Creature Ltd. is a side project in my spare time when I'm not doing my day job or any of the other things that fill my time. That said, my aim is for a closed beta release (I'll be asking for play testers via this site and twitter) towards the end of 2016 with a release scheduled for 2017.

Very early screenshots

At the moment I'm focusing on the gameplay and physics so the graphics are more "functional" and a lower resolution than they will be in the actual game... but they should give you an impression of how the game is taking shape:-

Pre-alpha screenshot of Oversteer Racing - car on main straight Pre-alpha screenshot of Oversteer Racing - car turning right Pre-alpha screenshot of Oversteer Racing - car off track

See the dev blog posts.

Bubblision update 1.11

I've just released a feature update for Bubblision. I'm really excited about this release as it adds some functionality that users have been asking for. Players can now swipe their fingers across the spikes to change the player bubble and get more matches. However, there's a catch, changing the player bubble increases the speed of the larger bubbles so players have to choose their tactics carefully.

I think this makes the game more fun to play without making it a lot easier and removing the challenge.

To download the new version visit:

Get it on Google Play

or via SlideMe:

http://slideme.org/application/bubblision

Bubblision update 1.01

I've just released a bug fix update for Bubblision. This update fixes some minor issues regarding the ads in the game. I plan to do a feature update in the next week or so that will add some new functionality to the game.

To download the new version visit:

Get it on Google Play

Bubblision launched

I'm delighted to announce that Bubblision has launched. This is our first mobile game and an Android exclusive at this time.

Further details, including a full Press Pack, will be available shortly from the Bubblision section.

So, what's stopping you? Head to the Play Store and start playing Bubblision:

Get it on Google Play