Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Decent Quality YouTube Videos

Recently bought a new video editing package - Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 11.0.

Previously I had been directly uploading FRAPS videos to YouTube (takes a looooong time) and also tinkering with Windows Live Movie Maker (resulted in horrible blurry videos).

It took a bit of effort to find optimal settings to make clean, crisp videos therefore I thought I would share my experiences and hopefully save somebody a bit of pain.

(I did have a few tips from other Indies - you know who you are, if you're reading - thanks!)

In order to match the 720p format, I started the game in a window at 1280x720 resolution (60 frames per second).

FRAPS is configured to 30 frames per second (otherwise the game runs a bit too juddery).

In Sony Vegas I created and rendered using 720-30p format (1280x720, 30 frames per second, progressive scan).

The critical part here is to specify exactly 30 frames per second (rather than the default 29.97 offered by Vegas). Using the 29.97 resulted in blur and ghosting. This needs to be done in the project (Project / Properties) and the render settings (Project / Render As - click 'Customize Template').

I also brightened up the video, as the compression seems to darken it a bit. I applied a 0.05 brightness increase and 0.10 contrast.

For bits per second I used 20,000,000 and the codec is Sony AVC/MVC (mp4).

I imagine the same rules (30 fps etc) will apply with other video packages.

Hope this helps someone out!

Here's an example vid:

(note at 720p full quality it might need bufferring up a bit beforehand, but it looks fine at default quality if it's left in a window, rather than full screen).
Did various bits of tinkering yesterday - varying pitch of weapons fire (depending on shot size) and enhancing explosions for Bomber and Destroyer.

The main chunk of work has been the secondary weapon (a traditional charge up blast weapon).  There's a twist in that the shots break up and scatter on impacting a smaller unit.

I've uploaded a new video:


The gameplay difficulty still needs tweaking. It is very tough on Hard difficulty (as shown in the video) although I can battle my way through without losing a ship most times.

Need to finalise the name of the game shortly - can't keep calling it 'Vertical Shooter' forever...

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Music and Coding

Lots of refinements this week. Improved the sprite system to make it more flexible - easier to scale, colour and fade sprites. Added quite a few more graphical effects, such as sub-explosions on the destroyer. Screenshots to follow...

A few other game devs (and other non-game devs) have been tweeting about music and its role as a motivator in coding. I thought I would throw in my thoughts...

When I'm in full flow writing new code I tend to listen to pacy metal (DevilDriver, Machine Head, Shadows Fall, Disturbed, Blaze Bailey... to name a few) and it really syncs up with my mood. If I'm grappling with design decisions or difficult to track bugs I normally opt for silence. Once I have a solution the metal comes back on.

To anyone reading... please comment or your own music preferences when 'in flow', coding or doing whatever you do.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Homing Missiles, Energy Pods and Massive Attacks

Homing missiles are now implemented (these are the red enemy shots you can see on the second screenshot below). The bombers now drop energy pods (first screenshot), givng you a fighting chance against the hordes of enemies that follow. As the music intensifies, so do the enemies. It's not entirely balanced at the moment - Death is a frequent companion!

I also added a few more sound effects and graphical effects, in particular enemy shots hitting the player shield now bounce of with a pretty effect and sound.

(energy pod)


Just for a bit of historical perspective, I grabbed a couple of screens from an old game I made (Windows 95 era) that bears a startling similarity to this one. Considerably more primitive and bland - I've definitely improved, as have my drawing / rendering tools!

(old game - circa 2003)

(old game - circa 2003)

Next job - secondary weapon.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Attack Waves Progressing Nicely

Attack waves are built almost 50% of the way through the music. The section after the destroyer was pretty intense to set up, as the music has two interplaying layers. I spent a lot of time in GoldWave playing snippets to help me visualise the required attacks.

Here are a couple of screens, showing the new Bomber unit (will fire homing missiles when finished):

I also implemented a method for skipping to a point in the music, to aid testing. This had the unfortunate side effect of spawning all of the prior enemies in one huge wave. Unintended but entertaining!

Here's a video of the bug:

Based on the intensity of fighting later on, I'm going to add 'energy' pods dropped by the bombers. These will prevent energy from running out due to continuous firing (firing and being shot reduces the energy bar).

I still need to introduce an energy bomb secondary weapon. Holding down the button for a second or two charges it up and uses around 30% of the energy bar.

Lots still to do before I have a finished game, but it's getting there!