Dev Blog

Jul 27, 2017

Develop:Brighton and Warborn Progress - By Josh

I’ve been a bit quiet recently, mainly just due to workload but here’s a summary of what’s been happening over the last month or so.


Earlier in the month I headed to the Develop conference in Brighton to meet up with fellow game developers and touch base with the industry. It was nice to get out of my home office for a week, see some friends and see what other people are working on. I talked to a few people about Warborn and there was some interest so hopefully something will come out of the meetings I had there.

I caught up with a few developers I’d met the year before including Dave Cooper who was running another Blockships tournament, I didn’t survive very long unfortunately!

Blockships Tournament
Raredrop Games Raredrop Games

Warborn Update

After a long struggle with DragonBones it’s finally beaten me into submission. I’m just spending too much time trying to get it to work for my use case and as a result I’m switching to Spine. I think this is going to make a big difference, especially in terms of load times.

DragonBones seems to favor JSON parsing every time an animations is loaded for the first time, which means prefabs are pretty much useless with it because even if you have a prefab using a DragonBones Armature Component it will still require the JSON to be parsed and cached the first time it’s loaded. This is not ideal as it’s very slow, especially when you have a lot of them. Spine has a binary format which I’m hoping will speed this up. The other thing is that DragonBones is somewhat unstable, looking through the Unity specific code revealed a few oddities and I became increasingly worried about relying on it.

So Tom W. and I are now going through the animations and converting them to Spine and integrating them back into the game using the Spine Unity plugin. It will take a little bit of time but it’s going to be worth it in the long run!

Updating the animations using Spine

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Jun 27, 2017

Fighting Dragons and Balancing Unit Abilities - By Josh

So I’ve been busy over the last month implementing all of the combat and status effect visuals and the game logic behind them.

Using (Or Fighting With) DragonBones

The work adding animations has been particularly difficult as I’m using DragonBones, which is a 2D animation tool which comes with a Unity plugin.

It works pretty well most of the time but isn’t really built for more complex use cases, for example I need to have each animated object use it’s own material instance which DragonBones doesn’t really support as it caches and shares materials between armatures of the same type. This meant I had to spend a bit of time making adjustments to allow for the additional functionality I need for Warborn and at times it seemed like I was just going further and further down the rabbit hole.

Anyway, I eventually managed to get it working the way I want and as a result the animations are coming together nicely!

Examples of the status effects
Warborn Warborn Warborn

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May 22, 2017

Improvements and Mecha Battles - By Josh

It’s been a while since I last posted, mainly due to being busy working on the game. I’ve been focused on taking the original prototype Chris and I built and building in the improvements that became apparent while playing around with the prototype.

The prototype was great in that it allowed me to quickly see which parts of the game needed refining and it’s been very much an iterative process. It does mean things take a bit longer but hopefully it results in a better game overall.

Early example of Warborn battle sequence (GIF quality not great!)

The main changes are the way unit customization works, resolving combat and then the flow of the multiplayer is undergoing an overhaul. It’s going to take a while though and I’m probably only about halfway through so I’m looking forward to actually having a fully playable build of the game again.

Feels like everything is starting to come together, just a matter of perseverance and getting through my TODO list.

On the press side of things, Warborn was recently featured in a nice article about the Bristol game development scene along with 11 other games currently being developed in Bristol.

I also did an interview with StrategyGamer about Warborn and the inspirations behind the game.

– Josh

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Feb 20, 2017

All Change - By Josh

What a difference a month can make. Things have changed pretty suddenly here, not in a bad way, just different! Last week Chris departed to work on his own games, he has some ideas he wants to pursue and we decided to part ways for the foreseeable future. We had a good 7 months working together, I’m looking forward to seeing what he makes and I’m sure we’ll collaborate again in the future.

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Feb 6, 2017

Past, Present, Future - By Josh

We’ve been meaning to write a development blog for a while and now feels like a good time to do it. I read and watch a lot of content from other developers about their projects and the lessons learned from their experiences. I’ve always found it helpful and reassuring in way, to know that everyone making independent games is in the same boat to some extent. Individual circumstances vary of course, but it’s nice to know about the similarities and think “so someone else had to deal with this too!” or “at least they found they same thing difficult”. So we might as well do the same and who knows, maybe someone will find it helpful?

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Jan 23, 2017

Dev Blog - By Chris

We’ve been working on Falling Star(working title) for around 4 months now, and in that time the game has evolved quite a lot from its early prototype build (which we still have somewhere!)

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