Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

Thinking of catchy titles is getting harder. See what I mean ?


More in the world of X++

The final power-up, the pulse weapon, is in now. It's a big old powerful shot, slow to move, slow to reload, but two hits from that and anything is dead.
To try and make it bigger and give it a bit more wow, I've used the particles playfield too. The particles are just little images ( Not pixels, they look too small, and it's something a lot of Flash GWars style games do, either that or they add a big ol' blur effect onto them. Neither being very nice ) which are blitted into a canvas bitmap.
Every couple of frames I run a colorMatrixFilter on that bitmap canvas to fade the alpha down, all straight forward stuff we've all been doing since F8 came along.

With the pulse I just draw() it's image into the canvas bitmap so it creates a trail / thickens it up ( For want of a better term ). Draw() is a bit costly, but I'm only ever running at most 10 pulse bullets at once ( They were always going to be slow to reload, that's why I figured I could get away with doing this extra trail effect ).
I'm really happy with it, it's in keeping with the very glowy nature of the game. BlendMode.ADD is the best thing to happen to Flash for a long time.

Once that was all in and working I did even more tweaking to the difficulty curve, the flockers now get nastier as you go, which is based both on the current level and the number of lives you have left ( If you're not doing so well there's no need to make it even harder ).

Then back to the power-ups again, and the space bar now swaps between them, which works a treat.

It's all going to plan so far, and seeing how we're on what, around 12 ( Full days ) development time, it's pretty good. It'll be nice to add the final baddie type ( Did someone say bullet hell ? ) and then the biggest thing should be the sound, which I'm a little concerned about 'cause there's a lot of things going on, and it'll be easy to just overwhelm the player with sound and make it really jar. Some thought is going to need to go into that.
From there we're looking at presentational issues and then bugs, love and play testing.


Comments (14) -

  • Unknownguy

    1/7/2009 3:39:02 AM |

    Looking really nice! I'm really enjoying the presentation, a lot of love went into this!

    One thing with press any key to continue, I think pressing the left mouse button should also count as a key.

    And I was unable to find any way of detecting the right-click menu popping up in AS3? If that was detected, than the keys could just be cleared, I always thought it was simple to detect right-click (but not very useful because of the context menu). The Adobe docs seem to say that ability is for Adobe Air(as the event does exist, but is marked with the Adobe Air signal). Not sure..

  • Jeff

    1/7/2009 5:23:29 AM |

    I love all of these bitmap filter fx that you have down cold. They make everything look some much better than the routine stuff all over the 'net. Need I say ZARJAZ?!

  • Jon... (Techdojo)

    1/7/2009 9:55:49 AM |

    Hi Jeff (obviously another Squax der thargo)

    The game's looking really nice now - I do like the way your bullets push the big asteroids and the enemies around, as for the difficulty curve, I think it's getting too easy - I just scored 560,000+ with my first life by basically staying in the middle of the screen and just using the mouse with the button held down to autofire at anything and every thing.  Maybe you should junk the concept of lives and just have one energy meter???

    Also you might want to clip your bullets at the screen edge, as it can be a bit confusing and it'd make the strategy of holding the middle of the screen more viable, in terms of controls etc you might want to have a look at mersey remakes SY!NSO game


  • Squize

    1/7/2009 3:04:22 PM |

    Hey everyone,

    "I think pressing the left mouse button should also count as a key"

    See, this is what happens :)
    I didn't want to have an option to skip that between level text, but then I thought about it after Tonypa flagged it up, and realised I was being a bit "Design over practical use" and so increased the pause, but to balance that out I needed to make it so you can skip the pause quickly.
    Now it should skip with mouse button, which I do agree with, but keep in mind that quite a few people won't be playing with the mouse ( ie the alternate control methods ), so it's not going to benefit everyone.

    Part of this experiment was to show how I develop a game, the processes I go through from untitled.fla to gold game, so ideally you guys can take away the bits you like and use yourself, and cringe at the bits I do totally different from you.

    Now I hoped for some feedback, and what I've had has blown me away, everyone has been excellent. And in effect, you've all become clients :)

    For example, the text going too quickly. To pause that longer has clashed with my vision for what I wanted, but I've amended it which has caused a bit of extra work. Now I've also got to add a mouse check in there too, which is causing a bit more work ( For something I was a 100% happy with anyway ).
    It shows how one little change can have a knock on effect, so when you have a client ask for one of these little changes you sometimes have to explain that it's not actually so little, as doing A will effect B and C.

    I'm not bitching, and sorry UnknownG that your innocent comment has caused this reply :) I'm just trying to show to everyone who hasn't done any client work yet ( I'm thinking more bespoke game rather than adding a sponsors branding button ) what it's like.
    ( The difference being I can ignore the things you guys suggest that I really don't want to do, and right at the end there won't be a major change to something that's been there all along :) )

    I'll look into the right button thing mate over the next couple of days. My first thought is just to trigger the pause mode with it and that should fix everything ( ? )

    Cheers Jeff :)

    Jon, you got 560,000+, but what level was that ? I want the score to be big, I just like big scores in games ( As a bit of trivia to back that up, when testing Peggle they did a version that was exactly the same as the previous test version, just increased the scores for everything, and they had a big % increase in people liking the game more. We're all just greedy score whores at heart ).
    I do need to force the player out of the center, I'm hoping collectables will be the carrot to do that ( Before the baddies get tricky, around level 5/6 ).

    Thanks for the link ( And what a great domain name ), I'll give it a look.

    Thanks again everyone.

  • Scarybug

    1/7/2009 8:09:13 PM |

    This is a really interesting series. I'm so used to programming games with programmer (bad) art until the final touches are made. I'm jealous of your ability to make an unfinished game look so damn good!

    I do think that something feels wrong with the ship controls. Maybe I'm too used to Asteroids and this is more of a Geometry Wars style ship, but it feels a little off. Maybe it's that the ship instantly gains velocity instead of accelerating up to it's velocity? I'm not sure. Maybe it's just me.

  • Squize

    1/7/2009 9:25:30 PM |

    Hey mate, glad you're enjoying it so far, and great to see you here ( I'm a fan of Chronotron and really pleased for you with how well it's done, it's just gone mental :) ).

    No it's not you with regard the controls, I think the majority of people now have had a bit of a moan about them.
    Controls and difficulty, who'd have thought they'd be the pain in the arse things.

    Thanks for your feedback, I'll have a big push within the next couple of days and try and finally nail the movement / input options.

  • Unknownguy

    1/8/2009 2:10:06 AM |

    By all means Squize, I understand that making one changes opens up a lot more areas for different opinions!
    And yes, it is of course your game so it is your call, it is by no means a necessity to please me, as stated (Though I am quite pleased with the game ;))


  • Squize

    1/8/2009 2:40:18 AM |

    Yeah I wasn't digging you out mate, hope you don't think that, I just wanted to show how that one little example opens up a can of worms ( I'm hoping that some people who follow this blog want to get into the industry but aren't quite there yet. I think it's important for us to touch on real life issues which some people may not be used to when just coding for themselves, and amends has got to be the biggest issue facing any developer ).

    Things like this ( In a real life development, and so with X ) will be put on to the "nice to have" list which is built up during development and then tackled at the end when everything is working well and it just needs that extra bit of love.

  • Viza

    1/9/2009 1:34:03 PM |

    Without trying to sound like a lame fan boy, I think you've done an amazing job at both having the initiative to share your development progress so well, and also deliver this awesome game too.

    With that out of the way, I don't think it'd be my nature to leave a message without some crit. =P

    A few things worth consideing imo:
    1. I also think the player movement feels 'clunky' (if that's teh right term?). I want it to move accoriding to the buttons I'm pressing straight away, and though I initially enjoyed the way the ship moved, as I moved through to more difficult levels I found it really akward to master. When I press down, and then left later, it moves diagnoal down left which is cool, but even if I held the down button down ('cause I didn't want to move left anymore) it would continue diagnoally. I realise I'd have to tap down again, but this at first didn't come natural to me.... The computer I'm on atm is super laggy though so maybe the movement isn't as I just wrote, and the key recognition is getting screwed by the comp(?)
    2. Don't have 'lives'. Immature critics gave my latest game 1/5 (on Kong) leaving a remark such as "I thought we made it clear that live systems are ancient?", "gay lives system"... In the end the low votes by these people ruined the game's chance of ever getting featured on any front pages. I think it'd be a smarter move to make the health bar larger, and even maybe regenerate over a long time. But that's just advice based on my limited exp; hopefully you don't get attacked like I did, lol.

    Anyway, sweet game, and I wish you the best of luck with it!

  • Squize

    1/9/2009 2:06:24 PM |

    Hey mate, sound like a lame fan boy all you like, it strokes my ego ;)

    1. I've noticed the past couple of days it's not as good as it should be. The ship has both inertia and friction on it, which is needs, without that it would just feel flat and lazy, but they're not right ( It's noticeable when trying to collect a power-up, it's like it's a tile based game. Phantom Mansion in space :S ).

    2. Thanks for the advice, but really, fuck the kong kids.
    There is an arrogance with game developers, that they know better. They don't always, I know I don't a lot of the time. We're encouraged to listen to any and all feedback on our games, the people writing the feedback are the people playing it, they're our audience, and as such we should be pleasing them.
    This has got to the point that the "customer is always right" with games, where feedback from some unknown person is taken on board and used to shape a game.

    Think of it this way, if someone gave your game 1/5 purely 'cause it had lives in it, how fucking valid is their view about anything ?

    So, thanks again for the heads-up mate, but you have no idea how little I care about feedback like that. X is being written 'cause I want to. I want to play it when it's done, I think I'm really going to enjoy it. Hopefully other people will like it too, but if not, well I can get over that.

  • ImprisonedPride

    1/20/2009 3:02:12 AM |

    Loving this from the screenshots, but I've attempted to play with the link from the post 3 times now, and every time I get to the game, start moving around with WASD and shooting with the mouse, Firefox locks up, and my Windows XP SP2 OS goes on about a fatal crash but closes before I can see it and leaves me staring at the "Firefox had a problem and needs to close" popup. Anyhow, keep it up.

  • Squize

    1/20/2009 3:23:26 AM |

    Fucking hell :|

    Do me a favour mate when you get chance and post your Flash / FF versions etc. although to be honest I dunno what the hell I can do about it.
    The embed code is old school, no wmode or anything in there, and the game isn't loading anything in ( Which can cause problems ).

    Does hitting the swf directly 'cause problems ?
    ( Apart from giving you a big clue about where the asteroids are coming from )

    Flash always used to work everywhere on everything the same, that was one of it's core selling points ( As opposed to the hell of html / css ).
    Cosmic that it doesn't seem that way any more.

  • ImprisonedPride

    1/23/2009 1:48:56 AM |

    Flash Player Version: WIN 10,0,12,36
    Firefox Version: 3.0.5

    Direct swf link gives the same issue. Everything runs nice and smooth until I rattle off about 10 shots with the ship. The mouse stops responding, though the ship continues to move in the last direction pressed. After a few seconds, CPU usage starts to increase and 1 of 2 things happens. FF crashes, or I have to manually kill Firefox. After a few more tests I've realized that I can move the mouse and move the ship around with the keys just fine. It's after about 5 shots the controls lock and slowly kill Firefox.

  • Squize

    1/23/2009 11:17:39 AM |

    Thanks for that mate, that's excellent feedback.

    The mainloop uses Jeff / 8BitRockets timer loop, which does mean that if too much is happening the input listeners can't keep up ( Or rather they're forced out of the way, display gets priority ).
    That's why the couple of people who have had problems where the game stops responding was where the game was getting too heavy ( That was when I was using mc's as opposed to just attaching a bitmap straight to the screen ).

    That's why your input is being ignored ( In the game, not here :) ), I just don't know what the hell is happening in the bullet routine to slow things down in the first place, I mean I've profiled this game a couple of times in Flex, and if there was anything too naughty then it would have stood out big time no matter how quick my machine is.

    Hopefully I'll be able to get an hour or two on this next week and I'll spend it trying to fix this.

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