Unity 2019 Bug - An Annoying Occurance

As I’ve been testing Red Planet Farming, I started to notice that a weird bug was affecting the visuals of the game. When I changed the sprite associated with an image, the sprite would become warped and stretched like so:

If you’re familiar with the RPF, perhaps you will notice that the water tower is stretched horizontally. This occurred after I removed the water tower from the plot and hit “Undo”. In that process, the game does in fact switch over the sprites.

At first I was really confused because none of my code in the last few weeks have touched anything related to this, and I was getting worried, until I realized that this bug only started occurring after updating to Unity 2019.1. It makes me feel a bit better that its not my fault, but annoyed because there’s nothing I can do to fix it. I’ve been reading online and it looks like some other people are having the exact same problem as me after updating, so I can only hope that Unity fixes the bug real soon!

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Quests, UI, and a Farewell to the Catalog

It’s been a week since my last post but a lot has happened in the world of Red Planet Farming. For one, we said good-bye to the Catalog system that we were trying out, because it turned out to be creating more problems than it was solving. I was sad to see what seemed like a good idea turn out to be not so good, but we’ve moved past it and are on to bigger and better things….

Like the UI! Noah has made some great assets, including some buttons that have a nice little animation attached to them. Its not completely done yet, but here’s how its looking so far:

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Here is a gif of the buttons. Gifs are kind of slow so it doesn’t quite do the animation justice. It looks a lot smoother than this in real life!

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In addition to all this, I also have implemented a quest system, which we are calling the “job board” in the game. Basically, players can choose to accept any of the job listings in the almanac, and then on completion, will be given a reward.

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The visuals are looking a little rough but it’s a working prototype so there’s that. I can’t wait to see how it looks when it has art + ui done!

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - NYU Playtest Thursdays

The NYU Game Center runs an event every Thursday called Playtest Thursdays, where people can bring their games to have people play and get feedback.

My favorite part was watching people get really immersed in the experience. We also received a lot of interesting feedback about the game and we have a long way to come.

In addition, I’m struggling with what to do about the Catalog. I played through with the catalog and I felt like I was overwhelmed and not in a good position to decide what to plant (even though I’ve played the game more than anyone!) I think it might be because the catalog takes up the whole screen and maybe isn’t organized? Below I have an image to show what I’m talking about:

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I really just need some people to play it the way it is now. I had people at Playtest Thursday play an old version of the game because the catalog version wasn’t ready yet.


Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Glossary

People asked for a large list of all the crops and their stats, and they shall receive. The “catalog” that I discussed in my last post is turning into more of an Almanac. We now have added a Glossary section, where players can finally view all the different things they can buy simultaneously to compare stats with ease.

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It doesn’t look great but everything has to start somewhere. I’m really looking forward to getting the catalog all polished and getting to a point where we can show it off. We are also considering putting in another section into the almanac, which is sort of like a “job posting” board, which would be the narrative explanation for giving the player quests. But, quests are the task for next week.

We have so many new ideas that I’m sure I will write about in the next few days as they become more and more fleshed out.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Gameplay

Now that we have time to really focus on RPF full-time, Noah and I are thinking a lot about the design of the game itself. We have a lot of ideas about how we want the gameplay to change, and I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by the possibilities but I think that’s a good thing.

Over the past day or two, I have been quickly making a prototype of a slightly different iteration of the game. In this version, players must choose all of the plants and upgrades and buildings that they want to use for that year, and then those items are added to their inventory. Basically, there is a catalog at the beginning of each year where the player must select what they want to use for that year. It doesn’t look pretty but here’s an image:

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The idea is that maybe players could buy items in “packs” or “bulk” and there are things that go out of stock. So, its not just a free-for-all type of situation anymore. I think this could give rise to specific strategies that the player could go for, but that’s kind of a vague idea floating around in my head at the moment and I need to spend more time thinking about it.

Taking a step back from development to really think about what we want the game to be has been very difficult for me. I like to always keep moving forward with development and get some programming done every single day, so I have had to fight the urge to start coding the past week or so. Of course, I am making this small prototype, so that’s something. I have to say though that I am looking forward to getting back into development, and to be in a place when I know concretely what the goals for the game are. I thought I knew what our goals were, but after talking to advisors, I realized that it would be beneficial to take a step back and try to think more about what I actually want for the future of RPF.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Updates

It has been two or so weeks since I last posted an update on Red Planet Farming. Noah and I are currently dealing with finals, and I am dealing with graduation, so we have not had time to sit down and focus on the game.

Thankfully, all of that is coming to a close. It looks like we are going to be able to devote a lot more time to the game starting in the next few weeks, now that we are officially being supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation! I am so excited that this grant is going to allow us to continue working on the game and allow it to realize its full potential. I have so many ideas already!

I have also been in contact with Dr. Jacob Cohen and his team at NASA, who have been guiding us with the development of the game and helping us to make it as scientifically accurate as possible. I am so glad that they are on board to continue aiding us throughout the next few months!

Until then, I think I may try to get some of my friends to playtest the game in its current state. I have a lot of ideas on how I want to expand gameplay, but would like to get second opinions on those ideas, as well as try to gather any feedback or new ideas from others as well. Noah and I have so much work to do in the next few months, but it should all be really fun and exciting. I cannot believe that this small game that I made for a solo game jam back in September (!!!) is going to turn into such an expansive project. Overall I feel really proud of Red Planet Farming and I also feel so lucky and grateful for everyone that has helped me get this far and has given me this opportunity to keep working on the game.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Progress

I make a lot of before/after posts on this devlog to show how far Red Planet Farming has come, but here’s really the ultimate before and after:

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The first image is from January, a month after I really started development. The second image is from about an hour ago, after adding in a bunch of new plots of land.

It’s crazy to see how much progress has been made on the game in just the past few months, especially since I was working at the museum and had school to juggle. I am very eager to see what the game looks like in a few months from now!

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Trailer!

Check out this cool trailer for Red Planet Farming! My roommate, McKay, is a video editor at Vice and kindly offered to make this short sort of teaser-trailer for the demo of the game.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Building Buttons

Over the weekend, we also got in the art for the buildings and the building buttons.

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Anyways, I’m probably going to post another gameplay video tomorrow or Tuesday to show off some of the new art and features. I’m also having my roommate McKay make a trailer for the game. He works at Vice to I trust him haha.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Forecast

I wasn’t expecting to really get any art or animations in for the forecast by the deadline for the game, but with sprite masks, it turned out to be a lot easier than I had anticipated. We want the forecast blocks to be animated, but are struggling to make them not too distracting, so for now they are just static images.

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Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Title Screen UI

Finally! I got around to dealing with the title screen UI. I don’t think it’s perfect yet. But I made it a lot more interesting than it was before. Basically, the title screen is in the “sky”, and when you hit start, the camera flies down to the martian surface where the farm is.

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The gif unfortunately makes it look a lot slower than it actually is. In the game it looks so much smoother! Oh well.

We are also working on building sprite animations, so my next post will probably be about that.

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Double Upgrades
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I just finished implementing the ability for players to have two upgrades on each plot. Its a feature that a lot of people have been asking for, and I was reluctant to do it because I thought it was going to take a lot longer than it actually did. But I’m happy because I think it will give people a much better game play experience. I was worried that the visuals would get too crowded, but I actually think it looks fine!

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Plant Animations

Today Noah and I finally got the plant animations into the game. It makes the simulation so much more fun to watch.

PlantDemo.gif

This is a gif from a playthrough I did a bit earlier. As you can see, some of the crops look more wilted than others, depending on how much damage they’ve taken throughout the year. You can even see the plantains in the bottom right completely wilt from the Cold Snap at the very end of the gif.

I’m so happy that each individual crop has gotten its own set of animations. It adds so much to the game, I can’t stop watching! Here are some more images I’ve taken of the new art:

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This upcoming week I need to work on some bug fixes and the forecast at the bottom a bit more. Next weekend we’re going to finish up the art for the buildings. Its all coming together so fast!

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Results Screen

I worked on the results screen for the game today. Basically, at the end of each year, the player views a screen with results and earnings that they made, including a graph. I also added in a pie chart that breaks down the earnings by crop, and I redesigned the layout and color scheme. Here’s what it looks like now…

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And here’s what it looked like before:

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The pie chart was actually pretty easy to make. I took a circle image and set its setting to Fill - radial from the top, and then just set the fill amount to the percentage of earnings that a crop made, and rotated the image based on that percentage.

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Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming - Domes

It is amazing to see how far RPF has come even in just these last few weeks, especially with all the art that’s been coming in.

I think I’ve mentioned before that Noah and I working with Dr. Jacob Cohen of Nasa to make this game as scientifically accurate as possible. We’ve have a few phone calls with him and we’ve been talking a lot about how the plots should look, in terms of how they should be covered. Growing plants on Mars in an empty field is not feasible, so we’ve been working on getting like “building” structures on each plot to portray the idea that these are already somewhat-controlled spaces that the plants are being grown in.

In addition, I really like how the art is turning out for the various field upgrades, especially for the domes:

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You can also see from this image the structures that we’ve put around each of the plots to show that they are indoors (player have sort of a birds-eye view of the buildings without their roofs).

I can’t wait to start getting in the crop sprite art next week!

Nina Demirjian
Red Planet Farming UI - Before and After (Part II)

Here’s another before and after comparison of some of the stuff I was working on today:

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before

after

after

Overall, today was pretty successful. Noah and I were working a lot on how we want each of the individual plots to look, and I think it’s coming along nicely. She’s finished some art for the upgrades, so I’ll be putting it into the project tonight or maybe tomorrow, and I’ll make another post updating what its starting to look like!

Nina Demirjian