Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

FAQ You ( Very Much )

The response to DN8 seems to have exploded, and I've tried to reply to all the comments where I can, but some common questions keep coming up, so I figured I'd try and answer them here.

"is there any possibility of updating it with arrow key or even better WASD controls?"

Nope. Firstly you'd lose a lot of speed, and accuracy. To stop the movement feeling clunky I'd have to ease the ships movement, and I think that would adversely affect the gameplay. Having it as an option would just lead to a lot of people selecting that over the mouse, hating it, and never playing the game again. Sometimes less is more.

"It's too hard / it's too easy."

Not even worth trying to deal with, and I don't mean that nastily. Game balance is never going to be perfect for everyone, the best we can ever hope for is the middle ground. If anything we've made the game easier, the power-ups are always more powerful than you actually need. We want people to complete the game, creating an awesome last level that only a tiny hardcore ever get to see if just pointless.
We could have difficulty levels, but if the easy level still has people struggling ( Which it would ) and others just piss through the hard levels ( Which they would ) then we'd get exactly the same feedback and have spent time adding a feature which isn't really needed.

"My one big problem is that the shield is just too powerful, it really does make the top path worthless."

The shield does help a hell of a lot, get that with the side pods and you're really heavily protected. Conversely, the weapons on the lower path are shooting a lot less bullets than the top path, plus grazing is made harder as the side pods protect you from so many bullets. Again it goes back to balance. The game code is set up so each level can have different attack waves, so in theory I could have tailored baddies to match the player upgrades ( eg, got the shield ? Ok, the baddies are going to fire more bullets to make up for it ), but that's self defeating.
Many shooters give you a really powerful laser, but to balance that and keep the challenge high they just make the baddies take more hits. So in effect you haven't really upgraded, you've just got a different graphic to look at ( A trick is to give the player a kick ass weapon and send some of the lower powered baddies in so you can get a clear sense of how powerful it is ). We've done that to some extent, it's very hard not to, but by keeping the waves the same for every possible branch we've avoided the worst of that ( I think ).

"First but S-U-C-K-S!!!"

Yeah, like your momma. The only difference being my game sucks for free.
( To be fair we've had very few prick comments like that, the feedback on newgrounds especially has been excellent )

"For this being advertised as a "bullet hell", I lose the vast majority of my lives to being rammed."

There have been quite a few "Bullet hell ? Not really" comments. It's all relative kids. Play a "Real" bullet hell game. What's that ? It's too hard and you gave up because bullet hells are only really fun when you're watching them on youTube ? What's that ? You only stuck at it 'cause you paid money for it, and we'll suffer any old crap to get our money's worth and not feel stupid about buying something we don't really like ?
Bullet hell games are niche, I didn't want to make a niche game ( This time ), I wanted to make a casual bullet hell inspired shooter.

"Also once you get the the boss in the third to last level (the one that shoots 3 lasers essentially) you can get extra lives like crazy. I ended the game with 20 some odd lives."

There is a loop hole with grazing. You can really build up the lives really quickly if you're aware of it. As a developer what are my solutions ?
* Change the baddie shooting patterns and hope that no one figures another way around it.
* Cap the max number of lives and then award points instead.
* Leave it.
I opted to leave it, not through laziness, but as part of the reward mechanism. I know, that sounds like I've been caught out with a bug and I'm trying to lie my way out of it. I'm really not. As a player learning how to beat the system is a good feeling. Not just beating the game, but finding a way around what the game designer has done, to break through it, and take advantage of it.
When I've tried my best to make sure as many people as possible can complete the game having a known loop hole to make that even easier isn't the end of the world.
Actually it's not a case of completing the game, or abusing grazing to rack up the lives, the question is did you have fun ? If you had fun even if you made it easier for yourself by having 20 lives queued up, well I've done my job then.

Hmm, still sounds like I'm lying to cover for a bug doesn't it.

"there should have been like a shop so you can buy upgrades"

Fuck off. Honestly, just fuck off with that shop shit.

I think that's most of the common ones ticked off, along with a couple I just wanted to swear about as they annoyed me.

Just to stoke my ego a little, I'm going to link to an excellent review over on the Guidology blog ( Which is a really great blog, well worth having a look around there ), review.


And now we just wait

With the game complete screen added, DN8 is finally a complete game. Not finished, but complete.

It's currently up for sale on FGL ( If you're a slightly mental millionaire on the look out for a shooter to sponsor, here you go, it's here. Also if you're a member of FGL and above the bare min. rating on there you can give it a bash too ).

For everyone else, here's the trailer video I knocked together the other day.

( Due to pesky copyright arse, which really isn't our fault but life is too short to spend arguing, if you live in Germany the muted version of the video is here ).


DN8 8eta

It's finally beta testing time. If you've got 10 mins you wouldn't mind spending shooting things then please leave a comment with a valid email address and I'll post you over a link ( Sorry we're doing it this way, but we don't want a half finished game turning up on shovelware portals ).

Couple of notes, the captcha thing is a pain in the arse. We cracked and removed it the other day, and within 10 mins the blog was being spammed to death, so we've had to re-instate it. I've found entering the letters in lower case seems to work more often than not. Just double check your comment has been posted, as we never delete comments which aren't spam.
If you're concerned about handing over your email, really, don't be. You should know how lazy we are by now, there's is no way we'd use your email address for anything naughty. You could probably send us your credit card details and it would have expired by the time we got round to doing anything with them.

Speak to you soon,

< Update - The beta is now closed, thanks everyone for your great feedback >


And now its hell

Quick update on DN8. Since we last had one of our little chats I've basically being throwing content in there. World 7 ( Of 12 ) is in now. You may be wondering why its taking so long, I mean its only a shooter ?
Due to the branching level system ( Which was simplified a couple of days ago, I was losing my sanity ) it means for each new world I have to code a background effect, between 2 and 4 power-ups as well as the baddie attack waves ( Along with any new baddies which may be needed ). Throw in testing with each possible power-up combo, and its 2/3 days per world, which is far from quick.


The other day I did 3 world backgrounds in one big hit, so only 2 left to do. Four more levels worth of baddies, and I think around 8/10 power-ups. New code wise it's mainly the challenges left, and then just bits and pieces like the preloader, pause mode, mute button and whatever else I've forgotten.

It's become a bit of a slog this week, but the end is in sight. Hopefully there will be a big fat beta on Friday for you all to play with.



New things, new things, new things.

What are they ?

Let me shove a picture in here and tell you.


What have we got here then. The energy bar I mentioned last time, Matthew's Graze bar as suggested via the comments ( Ta mate ), a proper player sprite at last, sporting this years must have rear pod attachment.

The baddies actually shoot now, we're not in bullet hell just yet, but we will be. There are side pods too, as well as side and diagonal shots. With a lot of bullets and particles on screen it looks beautifully mental, and it's creeping closer to what I want.

Also a lot of the sound effects are in, plus in-game music. The music is a combination of 7 or so drum loops and bass ones, running at 175bpm, and randomly mixed together, which surprisingly works really well. I'm getting closer to the dream of a 100% random game so I don't have to produce any assets at all.

Next up is doing the attack waves for world 4 and then that's all complete, only another 8 to go... I wish I hadn't written that down, that seems like so far away right now.


If only every week...

Every day this week so far seems to have been more productive than the last. It's so rare work being like this that I've really got to make the most of it.

Let's start with the screen shot that makes the game look really crap, before going on with what's new.


Ok, we've got a HUD in there at last, with a nice colourwash effect running through it. Combo's have been added ( X03 in the background there ), there's a procedural baddie generator in now which randomly generates baddies for us ( The player ship is going to need a make over to make it match with the new chunky style ), I've increased the fire rate which has made a huge difference to the playability, the attack wave plotter has had new features added to it which allows different patterns, double shot weapons are in as well as an energy bar ( Not shown in the grab as you have to evolve to get it ) and the game loop is in place, so you can lose your lives > go to a game over screen > start again.

All that this week, not bad. And yet it still looks like shit in screen grabs. Let me get to the half way point regards levels and content and then I'll post up a demo, it's a bit too early yet.


Starting to add the love

The levels are starting to go into DN8. Today has been mostly spent trying to replicate an old school dot tunnel effect. Only took three total re-writes and a chat with Olli, but so worth it.


Like the rest of the game, it doesn't seem to screen shot that well ( Unless of course I could be lying, and the game does look as poor as it does in static shots and I'm just bigging it up to you ).

Not sure what to tackle next, adding the combo points in may be nice little eye-candy task, but with auto-fire I'm not sure how exactly they're going to work, the hud would be a good thing to go in so we can start scoring, or maybe the baddies shooting at the player.

Anyway I better get back to it, I'm well behind where I wanted to be.


We have the [dead] baddies

Dropped the collision routines in today, basically ripped the code from X as it's a good fit for this game. Unbelievably it took less than an hour and pretty much worked first [ Couple ] of times trying.


Spent more time on the explosions, which to be honest don't look all that in a screen grab, but work well when running. I'm aiming for a really over the top swallow your tongue whilst having a fit look.
Once I throw some combo text in there it should look nice and busy.

We're getting close to having a vertical slice in place.


We have the baddies

Time for a quick catch up on DN8. It's been a bit of a slow week hence the lack of updates, but it's finally starting to take shape.


Since last time we've got a player sprite in there, which just follows the mouse on the horizontal, nice simple stuff. I added in some player bullets which really didn't take much time ( Although I feel there's going to be some re-factoring when it comes to the power-ups ), and fresh off the press are the baddies. At last.

Normally for baddie waves I take an ultra simple approach. Open a fla, draw a nice curve, turn it into a guide, tween a sprite along that guide and spit out the coords as an array, drop that into the game and its job done.
I started doing it this way again for DN8, but for the life of me I couldn't get it to follow the guide properly. After about 5 minutes of swearing at Flash ( Not my fault obviously ) I decided that we're going to have mathematically created waves. Yes, my lack of patience has created a ton more work.

At present the game only handles Bézier curves, but they sure do look pretty. To create a pattern I just do the following:

new Array("beizer",[startX,startY],[controlX,controlY],[endX,endY]);

That's for the actual wave ( Curve ), and then we just


triggerTime being when we want the wave to run, waveReference being the first array with the curve parameters in, baddieType just because, NumberOfBaddies is so we only have to calculate one curve and have as many baddies as we want following it, and GapBetweenEachBaddie being a delay in frames before triggering the next baddie ( So say we have 10 baddies, to stop them all appearing at once we can set GapBetweenEachBaddie to frameRate*2 to leave a two second pause between each coming in ).

There is a bit more in there which is possible due to using curves like this, but I don't want to splurge it all into your face in one go, we need a bit of mystery in our relationship don't we.



Today was the start of the level select, never one of my favourite things to code to be honest.


As you can see we've got a flowchart kinda thing going on there. The plan is that going down the different branches lets you evolve in different ways, so some may make your ship faster at the cost of shields, others will give you a certain weapon type etc.

That's about it really. By putting this in place and having the first node clickable I can make a start on the actual game tomorrow. I'm painfully linear when it comes to coding, I like to develop a game in the order you'd actually see it. It gives me a chance to dwell on what I actually want in there and nailing the title screens look & feel early gives me some focus.

Maybe more tomorrow if there's anything worth showing, I think this post is pushing against the door of pointless, so if there's nothing of interest I'll keep it to myself ( Or rather post it on Twitter / Facebook, as that's what those places are for ).