Pigment Hunt -Born in a Flash

The Hook

Out of nowhere on Dec. 23 in the early hours of the night I get email from Unity3D informing that a new 3.5 Beta and a Developer preview is available for download. Included was news about a Flash in a Flash contest with a Jan 5 Deadline. What transpires is a two week fairly intense game jamming session where the result is Pigment Hunt. Three levels of Pigment collectin fun while avoiding oinkers full of… you guess it, pigment.

First Contest Ever

I’ve never entered a game contest before. I’ve always somehow found an excuse not to enter. This time was no different, it was Christmas and holidays, I had plans, my automatic response was no way. The plans changed once a friend of mine had to cancel last minute due to family reasons. No more excuses, I decided to give it a shot.

The rules were simple and fairly open, use Unity3D 3.5 Developer Preview and make a game or interactive presentation using the new Flash Export. Submit a link before the Jan. 5 deadline.


Initial stages

After downloading and setup I spent couple of days getting familiar with the new features and found that a Pro version was required to bake navmeshes. I’ve been playing around with the basic version for about 4 months now and I’ve always had plans to give the Pro trial a spin. If I was going to really test this Developer Preview Beta I thought this was the time, upgraded to the Pro and started loving it right away.

Getting inspired by the Tech Demos

Included with the the release were several demos showing off the latest tech. After loading them up I tried to break them in as many ways as possible always making sure that it worked in the Flash build. For most cases the demos worked fine. And I was impressed with the new navigation and particles systems. Without having much idea at the time what the game will be about I knew that I wanted to show these systems off somehow. The two main idea trigger points were an example of a paint particle effect included in one of the particle demos and the general color coded NPC pathfinding maps where NPCs of different goal had their own specific targets to go to based on colour.

Evolution of the Idea

It started with NO idea. After checking out the particle demos I thought the paint particle looked cool. After playing with the navmesh demos I thought the color coding of elements was cool. Somehow the word Pigment came to mind and it became this matching of different colors idea. I thought making the characters bundles of colourful pigs was kind of funny and comedic enough to include it. Thinking of unique selling propositions that Flash offers and how to distinquish the game from thousands of other Flash games out there seemed that the game should probably be full 3D rather then the common vector graphic style. For most part a FPS camera perspective setup worked fine with the Flash export and its not YET as common.( Except one major problem which I’ll get into in a bit) Most games I’ve worked on before have used third person camera perspective I thought it would be fresh change to try something new. All these small bits of information started to shape the idea for the game.


What Went Wrong

Initial test with the first person camera revealed one major problem. Locking the cursor doesn’t work in the current version of Flash. I thought there must be a solution but after checking out the Unity Forums and asking the Twitter Brain found that Flash doesn’t support mouse locking at this time. Major downer in my case as it severly hurts the overall experience.  Testing the games in the Unity Web Player and Standalone was fun as the cursorLock wasn’t a problem, so I thought I go ahead with it anyways. I hope between Unity and Adobe they’ll figure out a way to fix the cursor lock problem. I hear it might be fixed in the next version of Flash.

What Went Right

A finished playable build in less than two weeks and a solid foundation to build on. A proof that a combination of a solid deadline, the right tools and a 20 thousand dollar carrot on a stick can make you sit down, focus and create something you’re proud of. Now the goal is to eliminate that carrot and make it a daily habit no matter what.

Going Forward

Pigment Hunt was meant to be a side project created specifically for the contest but it turned out much better than I expected and I feel like I should continue to build upon it. Whether it lives on Flash will still need to be seen as the cursor locking problem at its current state is not acceptable. At the same time it works fine with other builds and perhaps that should be direction I should be taking it in.