Aug 23, 2013 - Elliott Draper
I wanted an excuse to play around with Futile, the 2D framework for Unity by Matt Rix, especially since I read that it's quite easy to pick up if you're familiar with Cocos2d, which I am. I figured a simple puzzle or shape game would be best, so I didn't have to spend too long messing around with assets, so I came up with the idea for Throwing Shapes.
It's designed for touch screen devices (although right now you can just play the prototype in your browser) and specifically asks you to throw shapes, either to the left of the screen, or to the right of the screen. Throwing them to the left "scores" them, removing them from play, and incrementing your score. Throwing them to the right makes them split into three new shapes from the left. You start with a single shape, and a 30 second countdown, and the idea is to score as many shapes as you can in the timeframe. It's a fairly straightforward risk/reward dynamic, with you spending time splitting the shapes into more, and having to figure out when you bank the shapes you have to boost your score.
I have a fair few other ideas to extend it, as it isn't particularly challenging or providing of much entertainment more than a couple of plays right now. It'd be nice to introduce levels and increasing difficulty - starting with what the prototype has now, building up to only scoring shapes when thrown through a smaller and smaller gap on the left hand side, maybe even leading to sorting shapes by type or colour when scoring, making it a bit more than a frantic mashing of dragging fingers. It also lends itself to GameCenter leaderboards to compete with friends, given the score based nature.
The music as well is just a placeholder at the minute, me messing around with Garageband and the excellent 8-bit plugin, as well as just having the music shift to suit the context (more frantic in the last eight seconds to represent the final countdown).
Working with Futile was awesome, especially as Owen Goss released a starter script to help you get a blank Unity 4.2 project up and running with Futile incredibly easily. It certainly takes the focus out of the Unity editor and lets you concentrate on the code - whether that is a good thing or not is probably based on how much you like the Unity editor. I find it very useful for 3D games, but for 2D I prefer the structure of setting out my sprites and layers in code, and again this comes from working with Cocos2d a lot. Futile is very similar, and overall it doesn't take a lot of code to do some cool stuff. I'd recommend playing with it if you have an interest in cross-platform 2D games for sure.
So check out the video above, and then play the game for yourself - I'm thinking I might add a few more challenges and levels to Throwing Shapes, add GameCenter support, and then tidy it up a bit to get it on the App Store for iOS soon - what do you all think?
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