The journey begins.
After playing around with Unity for a couple of weeks I decided to set myself the task of creating and publishing a game within a set time frame. I decided to make the challenge as easy as possible by choosing a Pong clone as my first game. I found a (very old) tutorial by Brackeys to get me started, however, since the tutorial was written in Java and Unity now uses C# I abandoned the tutorial early on after I managed to get the bones of the game working.
The core game itself was straightforward enough to create, most of the work was in finding the right balance in the physics between the paddle and the ball. I felt that early versions felt like the “ball was playing the player” so I corrected this to allow for more control to be returned to the player, hopefully rewarding skilful play.
The CPU AI was tricky, as I found it difficult to strike a balance between too difficult and too easy. I was also aware that since I was playing the game so much that I was probably an expert at my own game, so this made the task more difficult. I would have preferred to program a more aggressive CPU player or a choice of difficulty modes, but I ran out of time to do this. For the same reason, I didn’t include a 2-player mode.
I wanted to build a title screen using the components of the game (paddles, ball) so that the opening screen had more going on than simple text. This wasn’t as straightforward as I imagined as placing the ball in a closed space with “bouncy” objects meant that it wasn’t long before the ball reached light speed and clipped through the walls of the arena! This was amusing to watch and I considered leaving it in, but I thought it would come across as sloppy so I optimised the physics to ensure that the ball maintains a smooth velocity.
Finally, the character select addition was something that took a lot of work, mainly because I kept changing my mind about how I wanted it to work, and because any changes to the game physics or CPU AI required me to go back and adjust the individual physics for each paddle you could select. Again, I would have preferred more time to work on this, but I set myself a deadline to reach.
I launched the game on itch.io, just as an exercise without any expectation of anyone even seeing it, but to my surprise a few people played it and some even added it to their ‘collection’ which totally blew me away. Even if they thought the game was terrible, I’m honestly shocked that anyone would play a game that I wrote. I even noticed that a player in South Korea gave it a go. Mind. Blown. I was somewhat reluctant to even upload it, but now that I have I am definitely glad that I did. The whole experience from start to finish has felt like a accomplishment, even if it’s a minor one. It has certainly fuelled my motivation, going forward.
My next game project will be a Breakout clone, if you would like to play my Pong clone you can find it here: PONG.
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