The Novelist and the Asset Store: The Visual Scripting Story
Kent Hudson made a game that is part The Shining, part Gone Home and part something new entirely. In The Novelist, you are a ghost helping a writer who’s struggling with work-life balance. The developer told me that the uScript plugin was his own friendly ghost in the machine.
“I know this sounds like a shameless plug, but it’s true: Unity and the Asset Store are the reason I’m able to make games independently,” says Kent, who’s been previously working on games like Deux Ex: Invisible War or BioShock 2 before going indie. He has more than a decade of game development experience, but tells me that without uScript Visual Scripting Tool, creating The Novelist would be out of reach for him.
“I come from a systems design background, so I think very technically, but I’ve never stuck with programming courses long enough to actually become a proficient engineer. I’m used to architecting reusable systems and game objects, though, so uScript was the perfect tool for me.” explains Kent Hudson
He used it for player movement, the memory system, controlling the UI, the human AI behaviors, the narrative structure of the game, and every other bit of on-screen functionality in the game. “Not a single line of code was written for my game; the entire thing was built in uScript”.
Here’s a the uScript editor window, opened up to the logic that computes character relationships when the player makes decisions. Click on the thumbnail to see the full screenshot:
Another big advantage of using uScript is its powerful reflection system, which means that it can interface with other Unity plugins. There’s no extra support required to get it working with code from other programmers on the project or other Asset Store plugins and extensions.
Kent Hudson also used NGUI for the UI and its partner plug-in, HUD Text, to create the thoughts that float above the characters’ heads. “Instead of crafting a UI system from the ground up, I was able to focus on writing the text that would be displayed by the UI.”
So what is Kent Hudson up to next? “Now that I’m so familiar with Unity, I feel like there aren’t many limits on what I can do for my next game. I can start up a new Unity project, import my key plug-ins, and start building things right away. The number of possibilities the Asset Store has opened up has been amazing, and I feel like it’s only going to get better from here.”
Here’s a shot of all of the possible outcomes that can result from the player’s decisions in The Novelist. Click on the thumbnail to see the full screenshot:
All assets used: