I am not a Jedi but…

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March 1, 2013 by jonmillymiles

What a week!!! It’s been so productive all round that I’m considering giving myself some time off over the weekend.

Work has gone manic, it seems like I may have developed a new “disruptive technology” that may move our business on to do better. 3D Level design needs another blog as I’ve taken massive steps on that and Interactivity for games… well that what this one is all about.

Let me take you back to a post “Time to go retro!!!” where I analysed R-Type in a somewhat brief format. I said that it was really hard, I also said that I loved the idea of “The Force”: the bolt-on drone that fits on the front of your ship. Well I decided that I wanted one in my game, not because I didn’t want to be original, but because I wanted better strategy with the mechanic. I wanted to develop the idea further and test out my programming and logic skills to see if I could actually get it to work.

For those who can’t remember this is R-Type:

I downloaded it on my XBox 360 as research material alongside the subtly complex Ikaruga. So now I’m taking great pleasure in educating my kids in the more simplistic style of gameplay where fun matters more than winning. I’m not saying that winning is not important, but they need some fun too.

So thinking things through, and looking at what I know about ActionScript I decided to do as much as I can within what I know and concentrate on the player mechanics and the dynamics of the game play centred on the player ship.

So… following on from my last prototypes

Health system with a graphical readout – You’ve now got a health bar at the top of your screen. In order to do this I had to learn a little about masking and the shocking thing was that it worked in an opposite manner to what I thought – the mask showed what was below, not hid it. I also put in an extra button that gradually depleted the health bar so that I could simulate the effects of enemy fire. This lead on nicely to

Representation of damage – I made a couple of movie clips for smoke and fire and then created extra frames of animation for the player ship. The health bar now controls how much damage you get to see. Please feel free to play with it 🙂

Force Push – I created a drone that was mounted to the front of the ship. This was the really tricky part as I also prototyped some control elements. Now when you press ‘Q’ to transform your ship you launch the drone… thus making you more mobile. It shoots off ahead and then recovers half way and hovers in front of your ship. Pressing ‘Q’ again transforms your ship to the slower form and recalls the drone. This was quite rewarding to have accomplished but I still wasn’t happy with the look and feel. It seemed wrong and anyway I wanted to control TWO ships 😀

Force Dock – This time I gave the drone some boundaries and put in some code that docked the drone automatically on contact with the front of the ship. The drone still doesn’t look fixed and I could still only control the one ship so there was still some work to do. However, I also worked on some animations for the change in engines and gave each mode speed parameters. SO please have a play and test out the speed variations with the drone docked and without.

Force Pull – By changing two variables I was able to get my drone to target my mouse instead of the front of my ship. Now I can control both ships at once, dock and release and I have cursors that change depending on what the state of the drone is. This meant that if it is docked you have a simple pointer, when loose you have a directional arrow (that doesn’t work… yet) and when docking it changes to a docking icon. Overall I was happy… but there were still some niggles.

Force Feedback – I asked the wife what she thought. She said that it didn’t look right. The colours were wrong and it didn’t look like it fitted on the ship properly. Looking back at R-Type, one of the things that I didn’t like was the way that the Force “stuck” to the front of the ship rather than docked. So I changed the graphical styling and started trying to get my head around the rework to make it more solid on the ship. Bounds were given to the drone so that it couldn’t be lost off the stage and I also got my directional cursor working so that the player now knows what direction they are making the drone travel in.

Prototype Side Scroller

Prototype Side Scroller

Force Mount – I moved the code for the location of the drone into the player ship code, but only for when the drone was docked. This meant that there was no lag in passing data from the one timeline to the other – and now… there is no lay so the drone actually stays mounted to the front of the ship.

And at that point I am happy to leave this alone over the weekend, happy and satisfied that I have achieved my goals for the week and by way of a thank you here is a beautiful video from Of Monsters And Men a band who powered me through today. I love the post apocalyptic landscape that looks like decoupage and the way that the bright positive elements contrast so strongly with the dystopic backgrounds. Also check out the Little Talks video which is just as inspiring.


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