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Cheeseness

Primary Community Project (Pongball) & FAQ

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Hi people! As many of you will have heard/seen, Pongball has been selected to be the primary community project across Amnesia Fortnight 2017. This means that Pongball will get a bunch of development attention, receive mentorship from some cool Double Fine developers, and maybe even show up once or twice in the AF2017 documentary series.

We'll be making use of the free, personal edition of the Unity game engine (which is available for Linux, Mac and Windows), and Pongball will be developed as a 3D game with networked multiplayer. You can find the current codebase up on our GitHub repository!

Here are some things to get started with:

 

Below is an FAQ thread with a bunch of helpful information and troubleshooting steps.

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FAQ

Who do I talk to if I have questions or need a decision made?

At this point in time, @Cheeseness @lightsoda @bobsayshilol @invadererik are the best people to talk to.

 

What is IRC?

IRC is a realtime chat system. We'll be using that rather than the forums' built in chat system so that we don't crowd things up. There are all sorts of IRC clients - if you have one that's connected to the Foonetic network, you should be able to type /join #amnesia-fortnight-community to find your way there. If that doesn't make sense, you can use this easy to use browser based IRC client.

 

Where can I download the game code, assets and builds?

You can find the current version of the game's codebase and its assets in the main Pongball repo on GitHub. You can find source files for assets in the Pongball assets repo. You can find current and historic builds the main repo's releases page.

 

I'm having problems! Where can I find help or report bugs?

Hop on over to the Help and Troubleshooting thread for more information!

 

Where can I learn more about Git/GitHub?

You can find an introduction on using Git and GitHub on the Pongball wiki!

 

What if I just can't work out how to use GitHub?

If you're contributing assets you can let the people listed in the "Who do I talk to if I have questions?" section at the top of this FAQ know and we can organise to get your stuff committed.

If you're working on code, you'll need to learn to fork, clone, pull and make pull requests to work effectively on the project.

 

Where can I find out what I can help with?

We'd rather let people work on what they're excited/motivated to work on themselves than assign everybody roles, but if you're stuck for inspiration, you'll be able to find bug lists in the GitHub issue tracker and "projects" todo list, and you can also ask the people listed in the "Who do I talk to if I have questions?" section at the top of this FAQ.

 

What if I want to work on something that someone else is already working on?

If you're working on assets, that's fine. We're aiming to set up the project in such a way that we can double up on music, models, levels, sounds, etc.!

If you're working on code, collaborating with others is great. There's nothing wrong with working on multiple possible implementations, but unless the functionality being provided is something the game should allow users to switch between, understand that only one will be included in the project.

 

What happens if my contribution breaks somebody else's?

This is the nature of collaborative development, so don't stress too much. Definitely let the other contributor or one of the core developers (see the people listed in the "Who do I talk to if I have questions?" section at the top of this FAQ) know and we'll work to smooth things over. On rare occasions, rolling back a commit might be needed. If that happens, we can look at what changes would be needed to allow for for re-adding that back in.

 

What licence(s) are we accepting contributions under?

We're using the MIT licence for Pongball (excluding third party dependencies). See the Contribution guidelines and licencing wiki page for more details!

 

Can we put in references to other games/copyrighted works?

If you want to include a small reference or easter egg (eg: a stuffed glottis toy in a kid's room), that's fine, although we're asking that you contribute these works under a CC BY-NC licence (see the Contribution guidelines and licencing wiki page for more details). If you want to do something that's a prominent part of the game's content (eg: Manny as a character you interact with), that's not a good fit for this project.

If you're looking to include/make use of anything owned by Double Fine, we can be a bit more flexible, but touch base with @Cheeseness first so that we can organise proper approval.

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This is great and informative, thank you and I can't wait to get started! Is there a primary platform we are targeting, I can imagine the game being easier for people to test if there is a web build?

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Sounds great!

One question: will the mentor streams be viewable later on? These are one of the parts of the process I will be most interested in!

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3 hours ago, TimeGentleman said:

Sounds great!

One question: will the mentor streams be viewable later on? These are one of the parts of the process I will be most interested in!

I want to say yes, but since we've not quite nailed down whose account(s) that's going to be streamed from, I can't say for sure just yet. It's something I'll definitely push for though!

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Yay, Unity! I learnt a bit of C++/Unity programming in the last Ludum Dare Game Jam. I'm eager to practice some more for this month's Ludum Dare!

I'm going to try to break down the things that I think need to be done, just to see if I've got a good understanding of the project:

1) Moodboard - put together a collection of images that can serve as inspiration to the artists and game designers.

2) Rules - decide what are the rules of the game. I imagine it's going to be 2-person local multiplayer? And I suppose singleplayer is a possibility if one wants to control both paddles? What kind of 'obstacles' and other pinball things will be included and what will be their functions?

3) Board template - decide the size of the board and where all the obstacles and stuff will go and what they do. Programmers will work with that with simple blocks in place while artists work on the final 3D art.

4) Programming scripts for:

a) The paddles, including player inputs

b) Win/lose states

c) The hardest part: the ball. The collision physics and how it responds to the obstacles.

d) Menu screens navigation

e) Attach sound effects and background music

5) Art assets:

a) The ball? Shouldn't be too much work xD

b) The board and obstacles. Animation as well?

c) Pongball logo and menu design. Points/ win/ lose text

6) Audio: background music and sound effects

 

So if we're starting work properly on the 12th, we've got a few days to first collect moodboard pictures and outline rules?

 

 

 

Edited by EMarley

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That all makes sense to me EMarley!

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18 hours ago, EMarley said:

I'm going to try to break down the things that I think need to be done, just to see if I've got a good understanding of the project:

These are some great starting thougts, EMarley!

On the note of moodboards, etc., I don't think that we necessarily want to direct/aim for a single cohesive visual style. We're very keen to embrace whatever it is that contributors want to explore - I definitely think there's value in individual contributors/groups of contributors putting together inspirational collections though! I think there's probably also some value in getting references of pinball elements, and maybe some kind of list of pinball elements that people think we should consider borrowing to help everyone get on the same page with what a drop target is and what the difference between a bumper and a pop bumper is.

We're currently working on initial multiplayer controls/implementation. The pitch is aimed toward a 4 player, 2 team experience, and I think that's what we'll continue to work toward, but at the very least, I think some level of player AI should be "on the table", and that would potentially allow for single player experiences.

I think we'll want to keep boards modular, so that player spawn positions, level sizes, obstacles and goals are components/elements that level creators can drop/put into their level scenes either as reusable prefabs, or maybe as minimal placeholder objects that are programmatically replaced with more complex contributions.

 

I'm working on a rough suggested asset list that we'll have ready for people to jump on if they feel like they need some prompts. Here's a look at what I have so far (subject to lots of revision depending on how things go over the next few days!)

  • Player
    • models (characters or paddles?)
    • animations
    • materials/textures
    • sound effects
    • taunts?
  • Ball
    • models
    • materials/textures
    • sound effects
  • Skyboxes
  • Levels
  • Level elements
    • goal zones
    • player start positions
    • player movement bounds?
  • Pinball elements (models, materials/textures, animations, sound effects)
    • bumpers
    • pop bumpers
    • slingshots
    • drop targets
    • ramps
    • spinners
  • Music
    • menu music
    • gameplay music
    • dramatic match point music?
    • dynamic gameplay music?
  • Menus
    • main menu
    • game setup menu (player selection, game rules selection?)
    • game summary screen (scores, stats?)

 

And here are some notes on possible scoring stuff/win conditions that I've been bouncing around

  • Tennis style scoring (first to score 2 above opponent with a minimum of 4 points)?
  • Air hockey style scoring (first to X, where X is configurable)
  • Soccer style scoring (max points at end of time limit with tiebreakers)
  • Should hitting pinball elements be worth points?
  • Should hitting pinball elements increase the point value of the eventual goal (increasing tension over prolonged volleys, maybe cleared by tilt?)?
  • Should tilt reduce the tilting player/team's score?

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I love the idea of interchangeable assets and multiple scoring modes! Also the decision to stick to 4 player multiplier with teams and a simple AI should be really fun and provide plenty of work for programmers! Is there a specific time we will be having the first discussion/skype call about the game if that is the plan initially? I am in the UK and know that often I'm sleeping by the time the west coast is finishing at work and getting home.

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10 minutes ago, jctwood said:

I love the idea of interchangeable assets and multiple scoring modes! Also the decision to stick to 4 player multiplier with teams and a simple AI should be really fun and provide plenty of work for programmers! Is there a specific time we will be having the first discussion/skype call about the game if that is the plan initially? I am in the UK and know that often I'm sleeping by the time the west coast is finishing at work and getting home.

I dont know a great deal about making games but i'm guessing we can have say a bumper asset that can be used across the project but with different models attached to it to change it's design.

I also live in the UK so theres a small time frame for working simultaneously. 

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I'm super excited about this idea! I'm hoping to have time this next two weeks to contribute to programming on the game quite a bit. Have we decided on if it's going to be only local or are we shooting for network play? My vote would be for local only given the time frame.

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@Cxsquared We don't want to give anyone a "lesser" experience by requiring to gather friends to play it, so we want to go with networked play from day one.

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I'm in. Art assets mostly, maybe some animation. Depends on work / time difference as I'm in the UK.

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Also in the UK and definitely up for helping with programming and any graphics things : )

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I'm looking forward to the GitHub wiki that should summarize some of the decisions/activity that aren't captured in the FAQ. In the meantime, I've started a Google document placeholder that organizes some of the information so far. Currently anybody with the link can edit and help with organizing the information. @Cheeseness or @lightsoda can move the information to the wiki and modify it as they see fit when the time comes:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1zsCUcK5Hj9DE-HP9MqbcPTWxRxkj3m4R86vbzWEyGhE/edit?usp=sharing

 

Edited by VideoGameScrapBook

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Thanks, @VideoGameScrapBook! I think that as we move forward, the first two posts in this thread are going to fill the role of that doc (in terms of providing a project summary and acting as a portal to more information).

Most of the lists and questions I'd shared previously in this and the other thread had been discussion prompts for things that the group working on the initial codebase has since moved forward with. We'll also be setting up some threads here on the forums for concept art and stuff to pull those sorts of contributions/discussions together into one place.

I understand that projects without team rosters and role assignment can feel really daunting for people who've not worked on distributed open projects before, but if Bad Golf was anything to go by, it should be fun for everyone :)

 

We're aiming to kick things off at around 23:00pm on the 12th UTC providing we don't hit any snags along the way! Here's a handy time zone converter for anybody who doesn't know their UTC offset.

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Looking forward to this. Never done a game jam type of thing before. Going to be great fun. 

I can do 3D assets(modelling, texturing) art and animation where needed. 

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I'm in as a programmer, this will be my first time contributing though.

Does anyone have thoughts about using Unity Collaborate? I haven't used it yet, but I have had to deal with merges on Unity projects which isn't always fun ;)

Will there be a Trello board or anything like that to keep track of who is working on what or are we strictly using the IRC channel?

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1 minute ago, HaileyH said:

I'm in as a programmer, this will be my first time contributing though.

Does anyone have thoughts about using Unity Collaborate? I haven't used it yet, but I have had to deal with merges on Unity projects which isn't always fun ;)

Will there be a Trello board or anything like that to keep track of who is working on what or are we strictly using the IRC channel?

We'll be using GitHub's issue tracker and "projects" feature (which is a little like Trello) for tracking some stuff. IRC and pull request comments are probably going to be the best places for programmers to coordinate.

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Keen eyes will notice that we have a shiny new subforum. People should have the ability to post new threads in here if they like!

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Looks like the repo is live early, people! I'll be updating the first post and FAQ with some more details soon. Hop on IRC and jump in if you're keen! :D

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Hi everyone! This is so exciting, I'll try to catch up often and hopefully lend a hand! Go go go!

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So thinking about gameplay and board design.

I think it'd be good to have a clear line to the opponents goal. That way it'd be possible to 'shoot' straight past them and score. I feel like this will help give a sense of skill or control. If the ball always hit others things and eventually made it to the opponents side and into their goal it might feel more like they missed it (or luck based), they failed to keep it out, than you getting a good 'shot' passed their defenses.

What is everyone's thoughts on this?

In the board concept I tried to implement this by adding the bridge in the centre which the ball could be hit into then straight towards the goal. Also something to think about if we plan to have a tennis style serve after a goal is scored. If there is a possibility of scoring an Ace that could be exciting.

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38 minutes ago, KGuNN said:

So thinking about gameplay and board design.

I think it'd be good to have a clear line to the opponents goal. That way it'd be possible to 'shoot' straight past them and score. I feel like this will help give a sense of skill or control. If the ball always hit others things and eventually made it to the opponents side and into their goal it might feel more like they missed it (or luck based), they failed to keep it out, than you getting a good 'shot' passed their defenses.

What is everyone's thoughts on this?

In the board concept I tried to implement this by adding the bridge in the centre which the ball could be hit into then straight towards the goal. Also something to think about if we plan to have a tennis style serve after a goal is scored. If there is a possibility of scoring an Ace that could be exciting.

I agree. It'd be nice to have some ability for pure skillful play along with the wacky-ness of the ramps,tubes and bumpers.

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That would be my main concern with the game is that it would be too much random whackiness.

Like if it's a situation where the gameplay just boils down to deflecting balls from your goal and letting the random whackiness of the board handle all of the scoring, that is maybe interesting as one board/level to play on, but I think it would be better if it was balanced with other boards/levels where the players had more control over the offense and could apply some skill.

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I am not sure if this is the right place to discuss, but I had an idea about the game scoring that I thought I would share. Before that, I just wanted to preface this by acknowledging that I don't really have the skills to help much this project and think that those that are doing the legwork (are amazing and) have more valuable opinions. 

To me, the core gameplay of pinball is trying to rack up points by interacting with the playing field, while Pong is based strictly on getting the ball passed your opponent. What if we combined the two? What if you scored points for successfully hitting the ball into bumpers, ramps, etc., but also scored points for getting the ball into the opponent's goal? Unfortunately, the only thing that comes to mind like this is Quidditch where the main scoring earns a lower amount of points with a simple goal, but the teams also aim to score a large number of points by completing the ultimate objective.

For example, what if hitting a bumper was worth 10 points, using a ramp could be variable depending on the location (say, 50 points), getting the ball into a hard to reach area could get you 100 points, but scoring a "goal" was worth 1,000 points. Maybe the game could be played to 3,000 points? 

I think this might be a good way to reward the risk of players trying to shoot at the opponent's goal (and also incentives you to pay attention and defend your own goal), but also promote the exploration and use of the entire playing fields. It also could lead to each individual table having very unique playstyles for skilled players. To me, one of the best parts of playing pinball is exploring what makes each table unique and learning how to score the most points. I would be a little afraid that just trying to score "goals" would discourage this exploration. 

Sorry if I posted this in the wrong location but I wanted to throw in my two cents. Thanks to everyone for all their hard work and for letting people like me watch you create.

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Hi @rheberling

Everyone's input is very welcome. I agree with you on that idea. Getting a goal should get you a certain amount of points but if you should be able use the pinball elements to rack up your score with multipliers then secure those points by scoring a goal. 

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For anybody who hasn't spotted, the second mentor stream and second day's activity summary are up!

 

7 hours ago, rheberling said:

Sorry if I posted this in the wrong location but I wanted to throw in my two cents. Thanks to everyone for all their hard work and for letting people like me watch you create.

These are some good thoughts, and it's definitely a topic deserves a bunch of discussion and exploration. If you're keen, make a new thread and we can try to pull together some of the ideas that people have been bouncing around and encourage further discussion. There are also some ideas in the design notes page on the wiki that might be worth having a read over.

It will be hard to know what works best until we can try stuff out in the game, but my gut says that things are likely to feel best if we have one scoring method (scoring goals) that is influenced by the game's other mechanics (similar to what KGuNN is suggesting).

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