How I made the Departure in 3 weeks
Objective: Give an overview of how I made and shipped a game in 3 weeks with Unity and free assets
I am part of a Game development course called GameDevUnlocked run by the creator of the first tree David Wehle. He has a section of the course which is to create a narrative driven game in 7 days.
He split this section of the course into 7 days worth of game development as a challenge and to get you to think about what you’re making. If you’re new to game development or struggling to complete a project and get it out into the wild, I recommend the course. It comes with a load of discounts for other products and the information in the course in invaluable.
Day 1 - is to brainstorm your ideas and to play some free games on Itch.io and make notes on what you liked, what you didn’t like and what exactly you found engaging about it. So, I set out and tried multiple free games on Itch.io and made my notes about the above.
I played Good Boy, Lure and ResidentVania. I liked the pixelation of the latter two games and took this into my game. I thought that the games were good and I enjoyed them, they lasted between 5 and 20 mins of play time and that is what I went for in my game.
Day 2 - was all about grabbing some free assets from the asset store and adding them into empty projects and seeing if they fit the style of game that you’re making. I went for a low-poly look and downloaded a lot of assets, a lot. You can see how many in the credits of the game. This did include finding shaders, skyboxes, soundFX and music.
Day 3 - game development was to find the visual design that I wanted to have for my game and find the colour palette that I wanted to go for.
First I checked out Adobe Colour wheel to find a colour palette that I wanted to go for. On the right-hand side click all sources and select creative projects.
This will show images and the colour palettes in them. After going through the site I found a colour palette that I liked. You can download the image and the colours by signing into the site.
I them went onto google and search for low-poly art and clicked on images. Again I went through the images and found a piece that I liked and could try and get the colours into my game.
In the end I got a colour scheme that was a mix between the two.
I then set out the create the first part of the game by creating a terrain in Unity and setting the size, I then created a starting zone for the game and added some trees and grass. The grass in the game has been amended to the standard grass you get from the Unity standard assets pack. I edited the grass texture in photoshop by pixelating it. Once it was saved I then hit refresh on the detail tab in the terrain object and this updated the grass I had in the game.
I will mention that when you’re finding assets and adding them to a project, like sound, art etc, make sure to keep a note of who the creator is and the rights you have to use their work. All the assets I used only require attribution. You can see this in my credits on the main menu.
Day 4 - Was to create the base level design of the game world. For me I used the built in Unity terrain tool. This allowed me to create a border for the world that the player cannot walk up and allowed me to use an asset pack to give the terrain a certain blocky look. I created a material and then changed the shader to the one I wanted. I then picked a colour I liked, that matched the colour palette that I was going for.
I then dropped the material into the terrain settings so that whenever I raise/lower the terrain in will add the shader and create that blocky look.
Once I had blocked out the world area I then began on adding more detail to the starting area. I started by adding trees to the start that would guide the player down a certain path. I then added some grass to the starting area and after I had pixelated it earlier it gave a good look. I then started to mess around with the lighting intensity of the skybox.
Day 5 - Add 5 objectives to the game. This part of the game took me the longest to complete. I have a it of OCD when it comes to creating environments and objectives. I couldn’t just put in some objects and not put others in.
For example, in the house that you encounter in the first 5 minutes, I could have just made it that none of the doors open and the objective outside the house. But I found a great asset and made some changes to the textures to give it it’s look. I then filled three rooms with objects but I had to make sure that they were relevant to the room and the house.
I think the house took me the longest to get together as I has to find more assets for free, adjust them and then get them in the correct place.
You can see above the first room in the house. I recently updated the game and if you get to the TV there is a small surprise for you.
Instead of making 5 objectives for the game, for the narrative I wanted I felt that 10 objectives/notes to collect would be best for the game.
I think making the different environments for the game took me roughly 2 weeks to get right (slightly longer than the 7 day challenge). This was working on the game every night after work and my son was asleep. I felt that I need to make the environments feel as real as I could without making it feel cluttered with stuff.
Day 6 - Adding an enemy to the game.
I decided not to add an enemy to my game as I wanted it to stay as a walking sim and the player can casually walk/run around the game at their own leisure.
Day 7 - Final touches
My final touches were completing the system I made for the audio sources that play when the notes are collected. This included the note and then the player response, I then decided to play music after certain notes as the gaps between notes was slightly bigger and it gave the player something to listen to while on their way to the next note. There was then, some polishing needed on the frame rate for the game as the map is big, so I used Unity’s occlusion culling to get a better frame rate for PCs with lower graphics cards.
The last part of the game I had to wrap up was the voice acting. I am not a voice actor, as is evidence in the game as I do the player responses to the notes. For the notes, I used an AI tool called Replica Studios. You get 30 mins free to record lines using their AI voices and download them. The voices and style are limited at the moment, but I would recommend it if you need some small lines recorded.