Monday, 31 October 2011


Video posted showing 70s of attack waves.

Starting to be fun!

Sound Loops and Attack Waves

Added a couple more sound effects (interceptor engine hum and flip whooshes). Built the code to handle sound loops to integrate the former.

Also (and more fun!) added a lot more attack waves. The game has about 70 seconds of gameplay now and it's actually working pretty well synchronising the attacks to the music. It's pretty hectic and tough towards the end as the music builds up. When I implement difficulty levels, the current level is likely to be 'Hard'.

I planned to link in another video when I wrote this post, but it's still uploading to YouTube. I really need to do some compression before uploading...

Here are a couple of screenshots in the meantime:

Monday, 24 October 2011

More sounds and graphics

Added more sounds and graphical effects today, along with the first bits of the damage system. The sound system has been upgraded to overlay firing sounds and the like using alternating channels. This makes the weapons fire sound much better.

The glow effects are looking pretty nice on the enemy shots. Just need to rework the ship models and brighten everything up somewhat.

I've uploaded a first video to YouTube:
(note that this is still a work in progress and will change quite a lot before release)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Social Media Marketing

Just finished reading 'Zarrella's Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas'.

It's short (100 page) book that looks at the spread of ideas from a scientific (statistical) viewpoint. Of particular interest to me are the lists of keywords that result in retweets and Facebok sharing. It's good to read a new media marketing book that focuses on experiments and results, rather than fluffy ideas.

A bitesize read that's worth a couple of quid on Kindle:

(or $3.15:

Monday, 17 October 2011

Now They Shoot Back!

Experimented with some more shrapnel effects today. Now shrapnel is spawned in the shape of the ship being destroyed, then thrown out in all directions. It does work but the effect is somewhat lost in all the chaos of fighting. Spent a bit too long on this!

Also set up the firing routines and rendered some initial enemy shots (as per the screenshot). Gameplay is beginning to take shape.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Shrapnel and Particles

Spent most of today adding in particle effects. When enemies are destroyed bits of metal fly off in all directions along with some small fireballs. I may have gone a bit overboard initially.

I still need to experiment a bit with the balance and also look into spawning some shrapnel in the shape of the ship being destroyed, to give the illusion of a ship breaking up.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Interactivity and Processing

Cliffski's tweet about megatextures being a brute force approach reminded me of Chris Crawford's book "Chris Crawford on Game Design" (a good read). Megatextures allow artists to create huge, rich images to represent landscapes and backgrounds; however the images will be fixed. The opposite approach is to use procedural texturing which allows for virtually infinite backgrounds but only within the constraints of the algorythm's sophistication.

In his book, Chris talks about Process Intensity versus Data Intensity. Most modern games seem extremely biased towards Data Intensity, even though they have complex physics, game systems and artificial intelligence. This unfortunately results in games that are more like movies with limited interaction (the single player aspect of COD4 was way too short in my opinion).

I have a preference towards procedural generation for maps and enemies, as this makes for more emergent gameplay and unexpected events. Gravity Core has procedurally generated maps which worked pretty well. The difficulty is creating interesting scenarios and set pieces and reducing repetition - I didn't completely succeed with Gravity Core in these areas. I would like to take this further in future games.

The next (free) game won't be procedurally generated as I'm aiming for a simple vertical shooter however I do have another procedural game cooking in my brain.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Lighting Effects

Code is now in place for circular lighting effects (for explosions and shots). The balance still needs to be tweaked but it's coming together and starting to look a bit prettier.

Shrapnel code needs to be finished so that explosions throw out bits of ship.

Comments Fixed

The embedded comments box wasn't working on the blog for some reason. Need to dig around and find out why but I have switched on the pop-up for the time being. Thanks to Ian for pointing this out.

I have also switched on anonymous comments. Hopefully this won't result in spam or abuse.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Screen Resolution Choice

Do PC games really need a screen resolution choice these days?
This question struck me when designing the menus for the game. Most reasonably modern PC's have LCD monitors therefore the screen resolution for the desktop and in a game should match the monitor's native resolution to avoid blurry pixels. Older (CRT monitor) machines will have a desktop resolution that is suitable for the monitor.

This leads me to think that the game should just pick up the desktop resolution and always use that.

As a side note it's irritating when you install a new game and the resolution is 1024x768 when the desktop is set to 1680x1050 or similar. This seems to be a leftover from a bygone era and long gone are the days when a game has fixed resolution (e.g. Starcraft I).

The only reason I can think of for changing the resolution is to turn down the detail on a bleeding edge game but this will still ruin the crispness of the graphics on an LCD screen. It seems more likely that polygons, anti-aliasing and effects would be reduced.

I might be wrong about this... we'll have to see if there's a backlash when my games don't include the option!