What… is that?

Yikes, ok, so that’s not exactly a pretty screenshot, but it represents a milestone! For the last little while I’ve been idly reading up on and mucking about with a cool Flash library called Papervision3D, and I’ve only now finally got it doing something worthwhile – i.e. embedding and displaying a textured 3D object!

In a little while I’m going to start back into my next biggish project (which I’ll write a little about soon). In the meantime, though, I feel like applying this new knowledge to some small throwaway thing…

(Oh, also – decided to try out Twitter.)


Peace is hell

‘case you missed it in the post below, Xoldiers was updated with a level editor and an online database of levels accessible from the game! You will fight for us! Download the new version! That’s an order!

Since the jam I’ve been meaning to catch up on all the little things I’ve been working on lately, but I never seem to have the time to do it properly – so I’m just going to quickly summarise everything:

Buster Drake:
A little while ago I updated the flash prototype with the new version of Buster Drake that I worked on at the jam. Gameplay wise there isn’t any difference; but on a technical level it’s a huge improvement. The original prototype was written in AS2 using a trial version of the Flash IDE – this version is written in AS3 using the free FLEX compiler and the FlashDevelop IDE. Aside from the fact that I’m now using free tools, I’m also approaching flash in a totally different way – I don’t have to think of things in terms of MovieClips and whatever any more – and now that I’ve gotten my head around it, I think I’m more or less at a level where I can do anything in flash that I might want to do in C++, speed concerns aside! Well, hopefully, anyway.

As for the project itself, Buster Drake is maybe bigger than I’d expected. Even the smaller, scaled back version that I’m working on now is probably going to take maybe a week or two to put together – so I’m putting it on hold for a little while to focus on other things. Specifically:

New Strategy Game:
So without giving too much away, there’s this little game that I’ve had in mind for ages and ages and ages – since the qb minigames days, actually! It’s basically a turn based territory control game that I like because it has a really interesting “capture” mechanic, but I’ve never really tried to make it seriously because that’s really all there is to it, and I’ve always felt like there was something missing. Just recently I had a jolt of inspiration that makes the game work, so I’m going to give it a shot and see how it works out 🙂 And I’m going to use flash! More details soon…

Commonplace Book Competition:
Aside from the B-Games contest last year, I’ve entered every game-making contest on TIGSource so far, and I like this theme a lot so I’d love to make a game for it. I was originally going to collaborate with another guy on something small, but unfortunately our “schedules” clashed and that doesn’t look like it’s going to go ahead anymore. I have something else in mind though. Something a little… different. A little darker than the stuff I normally make.

The deadline’s next Thursday though, so I’m not entirely sure if I’ll be entering or not just yet.

Untitled Tower Game:
This is the main project I worked on at TIGJam – here’s the mockup that Dock put together!

Dock and Corpus were working on a simple platformer on rails about falling, and I had this tower platformer engine [EDIT: Inspired by Nebulus, obv] from the previous night’s 3 hour “pick a game idea out of a hat” jam (I got “Trees”), so we decided to combine the two! We don’t really have anything playable just yet, but this is going to be my main focus for the next couple of days, so I hope it won’t be long before we do! The basic engine is all in place now bar one little silly thing, so we’re at the stage of adding gameplay elements.


Buster Drake in the one with the conversion to Actionscript 3

Flash is doing my head in right now. >_< Everytime I think I'm making progress I come up against something else which stops me in my tracks. It's like I'm learning everything I know from scratch again. In general, though, I am getting somewhere - hopefully I'll have something to show once I've gotten over this hurdle. The problem is I decided to listen to what everyone's been telling me and learn Actionscript 3 instead of Actionscript 2 - the tipping point was discovering that AS3 supports a BitmapData class, which is basically just a mechanism for low level blitting - *if* I can get it working I won't have to worry about messing with MovieClips and what not and can just go ahead implementing things the way I'm used to. Apparently it's also faster than the usual "flash" way of doing things, so it's win-win. But I'm trying to make an array of tiles and it's crashing when I try to access it and I don't know why, so I'm calling it quits for tonight. Will try again tomorrow. I've also switched from the trial version of Flash CS3 to FlashDevelop and Flex, a free alternative. That was actually totally painless! Good to know that I can develop flash apps without having to shell out $700 USD for the official tools! As for the game, I've decided to redo things a little - I wasn't totally happy with the Mode-X way I was displaying the game, so I've switched to a text mode font, which feels a lot more "Authentic". I'm still cheating with vertical space, but I doubt anyone will care - technically textmode is a 640x300 pixel screen stretched out, which looks kinda weird on normal screen resolutions, so I'm just using 640x480 with the same "tile" size (the 8x12 pixel font). This gives me a screensize increase from 40x30 in the AS2 version in the prototype, to 80x40 in this version! It looks pretty different, as you can imagine, but I think it'll actually suit the game a lot better. On a side note, the IGF deadline's just passed. So that's kinda depressing too. 😥


Buster Drake and the Doryen Library

I’m making progress with Buster Drake, but I’m still hitting up against flash issues. I’m getting there, though!

Yesterday I made a little editor for designing the maps. I’m not strictly sticking to the ASCII limits (technically I’m emulating Mode-X for the sake of having extra vertical screen space), but I do want to keep things feeling as lofi as possible – I could probably get away with using a 256 colour pallete, but I think it might be more fun to stick to the original 16! Here’s a shot of the editor:

I’ve decided to cheat a little for the sake of making progress quickly: instead of tiling the backgrounds I’m just going to create them in this tool and save them as static images – it saves me from having to work out a good way to make tiled backgrounds in flash (for now, at least), and hopefully it’ll be a lot faster too – it may even be smaller than trying to store the bloody things in XML files, since PNG compression is pretty good and there’s only 16 colours in the images. I’ll still have to load in a little external metadata for collisions and backcolours (in order to get the ASCII effect right), though…

Honestly, I want to spend as little time as I can programming this thing. All I really want to do is getting going with the actual game design as soon as possible.

A little about Buster Drake – I actually tried to make almost this exact game way back at the start of the year. I’d been working on that super secret puzzle game for a while and felt like a break. I hadn’t gotten very far with it, but I liked where it was going – but when Ciellus came along I shelved it (along with everything else). I was originally making it with SDL and the Doryen roguelike helper library – here’s how far I got:

You can download it here, if you’re curious! It shows off more or less the same aiming system that I’ve got the in flash version (though with a wider field of view) and also a few other extra things, but I didn’t get as far as even collision between the bullets and enemies, so I never bothered coming back to it…


Buster Drake: Early Movement Prototype

I did say I was going to be a bit more open about my projects from now on, right? 🙂 The picture under “current focus” on the right hand side of the page now takes you to my new public Flash Prototype page! I’m hoping to update it every few days or so to show how things are progressing.

To help me get started, I’ve decided to make a simple shooter. It’s based on Buster Drake, an old project I abandoned earlier this year, though I’ve simplified what I’ve got in mind quite a bit…

I’m still learning the ropes of flash, but I’m starting to make some progress! Check out the latest prototype to see an early movement/shooting demo of my first flash project! There isn’t much to see yet, but now that I’ve got the basics down I hope it won’t be long before I have something worth playing implemented!

The basic idea is that you aim in the opposite direction to which you’re moving (it’s the same basic approach as arena shooters like warning forever) – when you’re actually shooting though, you continue to aim in the same direction!


A small announcement

I’m not quite sure how to bring this up, but I figure I should probably say something sooner rather than later. Annabelle and I were aiming to submit a demo of Ciellus to the IGF; we’re no longer doing that. We’ve done a serious amount of work on it over the last two months; particularly over the last couple of weeks, but Ciellus is quite a big project – making this deadline was always something of a long shot. The game’s just too big, too complex for us to have enough ready by this Saturday.

In addition, we’re putting it on hold for a little while. I’ve been working full time, incessantly on this for the last couple of weeks and I’m kinda burnt out, so I’m actually kinda looking forward to the change. Working on a big project is hard 🙁 I’d really rather be working on lots of little concept driven games… In fact, I’ve decided to spend this time away from it on rapid prototyping.

My first goal is to sit down and finally learn how to use flash, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time. I started on Sunday evening and things are going quite well; I probably already know enough to make a little shooter or something like that. Right now I’m trying to work out how to translate concepts like map tiles from the way I’m used to doing things into the way things work in flash…

I should also be a lot more open about my projects from now on, so expect this blog to be a bit busier!