Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

I can't believe the w/end is almost over already

I'm starting a reskin of the bowling game I was working on last year ( Working on a reskin of a game which isn't even live yet, that's weird ) tomorrow, the holidays are over so I've spent a good couple of hours this weekend working on X whilst I've still got time / energy.

Some minor things to start with... the credits have been updated slightly to reflect your input, there's a new section on the title screen called "Notes", which is basically just this blog repeated there. In an ideal world there would be a nice audio commentary but that would take an insane amount of bandwidth, so this is the next best thing ( Maybe a youTube clip with developers commentary at a later date ? )
It's a nice touch and isn't hard to do. It needs some love as I'm not a 100% happy with the presentation ( It's annoying that it's height > 2880 pixels, which means I can't cacheAsBitmap, which in turns means I can't use a gradient mask on it ), but I think it adds to the game overall.

Next up, the explosions are in their final state. Shoved into tilesheets and dropped onto the stage by directly adding the bitmap ( Rather than using a sprite or mc as a container for that bitmap ), which is a sweet tip that Pany posted here. They're animated by using scrollRect ( To just show a small "window" of the tilesheet ) and look pretty damn good. I've got to convert the player's explosion frames to a tilesheet ( It's painfully boring ), but I'm still mulling over exactly how to blow the player up, so that can be put on hold for a little while.

Along with doing the explosion tilesheets FireWorks was fired up and a lot of the existing final images were compressed as 8bit pngs, which dropped the filesize down a bit.

The homing missiles have been optimised too, seeing how no one flagged up any issues with them from the other build it wasn't really needed but it all helps.

Finally, the first baddie type is in. Nice and small "Flockers", which strangely enough are exactly the same as the Flockers in Orbs. Weird that.

They teleport in waves of 5 in a circle, and I'm pleased with them. I need to tweak triggering the player's shield if they teleport in on you, but aside from that they're pretty much done. Oh, the images are place holders before anyone asks.
( Also as I've stressed before over and over, the game play balance isn't done yet. So some levels you'll have cleared all the asteroids and just be sitting there waiting for the baddie waves to appear, other times all the waves will have been destroyed long before you manage to kill the remaining asteroids etc. ).

A good productive weekend for me, as you can see on the X Dev page.

Next up a bit of a tricky one, ideas are more than welcome. I need to allow the player to get power-ups one way or another.
My current thought is to just level up the power-up every level ( The power-ups will all max out at level 5 ), but I'm going to have 3 different types ( Spray, missiles and another one I've not quite sorted out in my head yet ). So how would the player pick which power-up to use ( The mouse wheel would be nice, but then Mac owners are left out in the cold ) ? I'm still in two minds about having a smart bomb, which means the space bar would be used for that.
My original thoughts were to have power-up icons dropped like in Polarity, and the player can shoot them to change the type before collecting them ( Think of the old 19xx shooters ). Perhaps that's the way to go, and just level up the weapon every, or every other, level.

I'm loathe to have a shop in there were you can buy upgrades to your power-ups. It's a lot of extra code and design, and will break the flow. This isn't a game of strategy and missions, it's pure score attack. Even with a shop, it would mean the baddies / asteroids dropping credits for the player to collect, and then there would still be the issue of being able to select the power-up you want to use.

The old style collecting tokens and then selecting a power-up from a list is out ( Nemesis and it's sequels ) because there just isn't the real estate on the screen for a list.

I need to play some old shooters and have a think, but really if you have any ideas please comment me up.


Comments (5) -

  • Unknownguy

    1/4/2009 9:17:57 PM |

    Just one smaller thing: if you are holding down a key or the mouse and right-click, it currently won't catch when they are released (not that you may be able to, as obviously the listener isn't being fired, but maybe you should clear on the keys when the context menu is created?).

    May not be anything that matters enough, but I could get the game to auto-fire for me. :)

  • Tom

    1/4/2009 11:26:57 PM |


    Powerup's were one of the things i really tried to improve on in my second arena shooter... but i can still find plenty of comments from players saying the system sucks :-)

    I had it so that powerups would be dropped every time a certain number of baddies has been killed (give or take a random amount). The powerup was chosen automatically based on which gun and how many lives the player was in possession of to help them on their way. I think dropping pups as a 'reward' for kills was definitely the way to go but the way they were chosen (although slightly clever) was too ambiguous for players.

    Your idea of letting the player shoot it to change is great, and along with some funky, obvious icons would work a treat - i wish i had thought of that! Or you could add an element of chance by having the powerups cycle, mariokart style so you have to collect it at the right moment :-)


  • Jon... (Techdojo)

    1/5/2009 10:24:25 AM |

    I'm loving the game (and the dev blog) but I'm not loving the control method, maybe I'm too oldskool but trying to judge where the shots will go by moving the mouse and trying to navigate away from baddies is just not working for me - maybe it's a multi-tasking thing...  Granted it works with an XBox joypad by using the two analogue sticks but a mouse / keyboard combo just isn't the same thing.

    As this game is supposed to be a pure shooter why not try and have a couple of different control methods and let the user decide which is which.

    Obviously you've got the standard Asteroid style, rotate left and right, thrust and fire,

    You could also have a method that uses the cursor keys to provide basic up, down, left and right thrust with the ship turning to eventually face the desired direction (ala Time Pilot),  I think it'd be much more intuitive for the player because at the moment I'm either focusing on the mouse pointer OR the ship and not both.

    You could always try a "fire lock" key that keeps the firing going in the current direction allowing you to shoot from the side or behind as your running away, a trick often used in the home / console versions of Robotron.


  • Squize

    1/5/2009 11:51:10 AM |

    Argh, as3 and all it's new gotcha's. Cheers UG, don't suppose you've got some code to fix that or a link ? :)

    Cheers Tom. Yeah pups are a funny thing. I was reading the Polarity feedback on NG and a lot of people hated that approach of shooting to change, but I think no matter what I did ( Unless it was a shop, everyone seems to want every game to be a fucking rpg for some reason ) people would find a way to bitch.
    I do like the idea of levelling up the power-ups by getting to the next level ( rpg ? It's infected me too, and I can't stand them. Fable2 has a lot to answer for, making me like that crap ;) ), it feels like a nice carrot.
    So you'd shoot x number of baddies, and they'd drop a power-up icon. Shoot that to pick say spray, and you keep that until you lose a life. When you complete the level it gets bumped up to a level 2 power-up. All the time x number of baddies still drop a power-up, so you can change to a homing missile if you like. I wonder if that would be the same power, or you have to finish a level with a power-up to boost it ?
    I'm just concerned that either:
    a) [ If you have to level up each pup separately ] It's easier to just stick with whatever power-up you collected first and boost that, so you don't really vary your playing technique depending on your pup type. If you've got a level 4 spray you're then not going to drop down to a level 1 missile.
    b) [ All pups level up every level ] Feels like it won't take long to max them all out, and then we're getting close to grinding our way through the levels 'cause it will be sheer weight of numbers making it hard.

    I'm warming to a) atm, and staggering the levelling up. The baddies won't appear until level 2/3, which means no pups 'til then, so I guess I can wait 'til level 4/5 before giving the first level up.

    Jon, thanks for the ideas. I am going to have to offer alternate controls schemes aren't I ? Bollocks ;)
    So I'm thinking:
    - Current scheme
    - wasd move, arrows shoot. You won't get as much freedom to shoot at every angle, but it should still be ok ( And be quicker to say shoot to the left and then over to the right )
    - Asteroids ( I can't fight it any more can I ? :) )

    Thanks again for all the great feedback guys, there's no chance of me being lazy and cutting corners :)

  • Vex

    1/5/2009 1:32:18 PM |

    You could rank the power-ups, so for example: 'extra life', 'shield', 'better weapon', 'points', and then when the power up appears it starts as the highest ranking one, then as time ticks by it drops in rank, and eventually vanishes, so the player has to head for the power-up quickly to get the best one... That's how they work in Super Stardust HD on the PS3, which seems to work well.

    And, yes, you really need to change the control method.. :p

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