I have come to the conclusion that I would like to continue on my pervasive game ideas. So I looked at my collection of semi-started projects and decided that I should try and merge some of them into one, more fleshed out, idea. As a result, Stricod i no longer just a small local vs SHMUP but will expand to be that as well as absorb gameplay that I designed for my old TREC submission for the NASA hackathon in 213 (moved it’s post to this project) and ideas I had for my old browser game back in high school.
I found this open project called MazenGo and started working on a prototype.
A major reason for me to look into this project again is also that some old friends got interested in it after I unintentionally pitched the idea. They want to work on the back-end, works for me. :)
It’s been some time. The most recent update is that I have been working on a system for loading the various stages of the game. It sort of works, but I still need to design all the stages to make sure of that.
I have also added a system for faked depth of object so that it for instance can look like the space station is stretching out into the distance in relation to the camera. I have also worked on the interaction flow when setting up the game so that it’s more intuitive and smooth.
So the game has been fairly unstable and not well tested with more than one player for some time but I finally managed to get a somewhat stable build out again. I have tested it with different groups of friends and so far I’m pleased with how it works. All features seem to be somewhat where they should be and requests mainly refer to new features. The controls are still not completely set, there are some issues with the special move controls. It’s however unclear whether it’s just the novelty of the controls or that they are actually bad. There are still some bugs, but at least they are not game breaking.
On another note I got a new pen tablet at work today. It’s a very luxurious one compared to any of the ones I have had privately so it has been a nice experience trying it out. I took it for a test spin and threw the image below together.
So I had some intense day at work recently as a result of me struggling with a deadline. I felt somewhat relaxed this weekend though, and I managed to wrap up some work on Stricod that I have been working on to and from for some time. Well it’s not polished or anything, but you know.
Basically I have added character customization in such a way that users will get an idea of what it will look like in the game. I might have mentioned that I have this idea that all interfaces in the game should be “in-game”. In practice I want to make it graphically look like all menus and look like projections from the mother base (which is usually in the center of the screen between game sessions) or from the players’ cods. So the use flow now goes like this:
- Title Screen
- Select versus or coop mode
- Select stage
- Activate player
- Customize ship
- Mark for ready
- Session starts when all active players are ready
- On victory or draw, reenter customization state
- Pressing “B” get players back to one step between mode select, stage select and customization
In the future I want the stage select to look like a projected, rotating galaxy with points of interests in it. Selecting such a point gives some text information and a thematic image of it. Each of these points represent a stage.
In order to allow all players to customize their ship efficiently I’m giving each player their own little projected interface which follows their ship.
So I started working on the characters that I want to be playable in the game. They will be characters somewhat in the same sense as the characters of F-Zero series, though the inspiration (or motive to honor really) comes from Micro Machines (characters and cod types will not be related). I have taken inspiration from the drawing style in King of Fighters, because I think they do it excellently, and drawn the foundation. A character from KoF can be seen to the bottom left, the others are Spider (top-left, reference to Micro Machines), Dragon (top-right) and Punkomancer (bottom-left, cameo from Gr3at M4gician).
I have also added markers to show where the players’ cods and the power ups are in the play field when they are outside the screen. This remains to be tested by multiple players for usability and performance. : )
So I went to these reunion party at where I did my master studies. It’s this weird little building which is very designed, in the middle of a science park by the water and the only students which study there are from that master. Naturally the students become pretty tight in an area like this, meaning that parties can be great. So I brought Stricod and got quite some nice test runs with that. I also brought a pair of Oculus DK2s from work, so my poor 2d shooter had pretty tough competition. Nevertheless, a good evening. I also really really tried to fix a better damage model for when my cods (the ships) ram each other, but I will have to work some more on that.
So I went to one of these traditional university student parties at my old school. Me and a friend started a gaming group when we studied and it has survived until today so I was invited when some gaming groups from two programs (whereof one was computer science, mine) organized a little drinking convention. I obviously brought my laptop and controllers and wanted to see whether some Stricod would interest the company.
It was appreciated and I also got a lot of feedback, especially on the moves that I have recently implemented but not tested with actual players. I went with some friends to another little space at the school and found some more testers. Even though the evening gave me the worst hangover I think I ever had, and I had to go to a book fair and teach kids how to program the day after, I must say it was a great evening.
Once I had landed in Sweden, coming back from Austria, I was greeted with some very tragic news regarding my family. I slept at my apartment over the night and then jumped on a train back to where I grew up to meet with family. My beloved aunt, who is my third parent and who have raised me almost as much as my own mother, have had a very serious stroke. It doesn’t look good at all and I don’t feel very happy at all. I have been working on this project to distract myself, during the train trips and in the evenings.
This has led to various advancements such as player chosen colors and Cod (the players’ vehicles) models as well as the beginning of a coop game mode and a better code base (all player controls now use the same code so that I don’t have to update it for every player). I have also started on the in-game GUI which will be a like a projection from the CodBase (the mother ship) giving the feeling that the menu is in the game world.
A final thing I added are a lot of new moves, which was easier to implement after I had fixed the general player control script. Cods can now dash (pressing the stick forward) which gives a boost with a ramming advantage but stun penalty, sharp turn (pressing the stick down) letting the player turn sharply at a speed penalty and some very basic dodge move (left and right shoulder). The idea is to give the players more possibilities to fly in an unpredictable manner and allow for more advanced techniques. All these things haven’t really been tested though, as I haven’t had three other players to play with me.
So I got back from the UK only to have to go on another busy trip to Austria. This time around I have had a little bit more time to work on Stricod however. I did some alpha testing with the people I traveled with on the airplane, train and in the hotel. : )
One thing I found and fixed was an issue with the fourth player’s control which turned out to be deprecated code for this player. I the went ahead to implement crashing. Players now collide with each other and objects defined to be solid. When there is a collision a player lose control, bounce back and rotate a little bit as speed is slowing down. The player then regains control and starts to fly again.
I initially tried for really heavy damage, removing a big portion of the players max health on collision. The idea was that this would allow for players with more health to ram an opponent given that this player was aware that the outcome would be favorable. Ramming was fun but it turns out that my damage model was a bit naive, leading to a draw most of the time.
So I have been on a business trip to Southampton for two days. During what little time I had on the trip and evenings I have been scratching my head over this lighting bug I had with my power ups. Finally figured it out, which is a good thing because without the light they where hard to see. : )
As I got back to develop something new instead of solving bugs the first thing I added was limited ammunition. Ammunition will now deplete quite rapidly so that a lot of turrets (what the power ups give you) won’t immediately make you the winner without any skill. The Cod (the player’s ship) has a higher fire rate that the turrets and will deplete it’s 100 bullets quicker than them. When a power-up is picked the Cod’s ammo is replenished and a new turret with full ammo is added. Old turrets are however not reloaded.
All of this needs to be tested but the idea is that while a player will benefit a lot from finding upgrades, the player can easily lose that advantage by not aiming well. A good player with few turrets might still win by outsmarting the other player (fooling that player to dispense its bullets while avoiding them) and then take down the player with a few but loaded guns. Used up turrets still function as shields, but it gives the possibility to let the player use them up in some offensive move if that is more useful than a passive shield. The game is starting to get some interesting choices. : )