Wow! Was it really APRIL when I last posted about this game? Well I will blame that on the fact that I am a full-time lecturer at a college and it was the back end of the academic year, which is the busiest time for us due to marking and visits from external moderators and such, but you don’t want to know about that, you want to know about the GAME! Work on the game is slow as I’ve also been on holiday and it’s difficult to juggle work, home-life (which includes a wife and 10 month old baby daughter) with games development, plus there’s games to play, TV shows to watch and books to read, there just isn’t enough time in the day. Here’s what’s been happening since the last post:
MORE NEWS FROM GAMAYO
Although GaMaYo was a while ago now, there have been a few things posted online since my last update. You may recall I mentioned I was interviewed and that interview is now available online for your viewing pleasure (if you’re into that sort of thing). You’ll be able to see how much of a dork I look and sound like. But seriously, there’s some gameplay footage as well as some info about the game revealed in the interview, so take a look.
There were also a bunch of photos released from the evening. You can see them all here (scroll down on the page), but I’ve selected a few choice ones below:
I hadn’t built high score saving into the game yet and wanted a way to retain the score if I had to close the game down for any reason. My genius solution was to just write the top scores down on a white board with Twitter handles next to it.
I was quite proud of the crowd that the game was attracting. All the people at the front of this photo (and a few behind) were all watching/queuing to play Splodey Vaders. I felt a little rushed off my feet at times, which is a good thing.
Here is an action shot of someone sat enjoying the game with me stood in the background like a goofball holding the Android version. I’m not sure why, but I appear to be watching the screen intently.
WHAT’S HAPPENED TO THE GAME SINCE THE LAST BLOG UPDATE?
Quite a lot actually. You can keep up-to-date with all the main changes on the games Trello page, but here’s the low down on the main additions.
Integration with Game Jolt High Scores – Game Jolt users will be able to sign into Game Jolt within Splodey Vaders and post their high scores to leaderboards. This was a little tricky to get working right and I’m still not 100% happy with it, but it works for now. This will hopefully pave he way for the inclusion of achievements/trophies in the future.
Lots of BORING front end stuff – Splodey Vaders now has a menu rather than jumping straight into the game. There’s all the amenities such as stats, settings, credits, etc. Really exciting stuff.
The game will save your high score – Not only that, but it will also save your stats too. There’s also a menu option to delete all saved data on the game, so you can start a fresh.
There a few more menu and score tweaks to be made, but after that I’ll be looking to produce some new sprites and artwork for the game. The current Metroid and Galaga rip offs were only ever meant to be placeholder, but I just haven’t got around to updating them yet.
I want to game to be a little more than an arcade shooter with no overarching goal other than ‘Achieve High Score’, so I’ll be looking into adding longevity by including unlocks such as new ship designs, special power ups and enemy types. This will work something like how in Super Crate Box, when you unlock character designs and new weapons.
I’ve also been thinking about the release of the game. The current focus is to complete the PC version first and release this on online stores like itch.io and GameJolt. Although I originally intended this game to be free, I feel as though with the additional features I’m looking to add, I’m going to charge a small fee. Current thoughts are that the game will cost around $2.00. It would be good to hear what people think about this. I’ve wanted to release a comercial game for a long time now and I feel that Splodey Vaders could be a game worth paying money for (even if it is super cheap).
Please tweet or email me if you have any questions about the game and also follow me on there as it’s where I post the most updates on the game.
I showed Splodey Vaders off at GaMaYo last week. GaMaYo stands for Game Makers Yorkshire and is a networking event held twice a year where game developers from across the region and beyond get together, have a few pints and play each other’s games. I’ve been to GaMaYo a few times and have even shown some games there, but never on one of the big screens like I did at this one. It was a great experience and I recommend anyone to give it a try if you’ve got a game people can play. At one point there was even a kind of queue for Splodey Vaders, which was awesome. A big thank you to everyone who came and played.
I got some great feedback for Splodey Vaders from a bunch of people. Most of the comments where positive with some people seemingly becoming addicted, which was great. These people from Clubit TV came round and did a quick interview with me about the game, though I haven’t seen any of it surface online yet. I was showing the PC version on the big screen, while walking around shoving my NVIDIA Sheild into peoples faces to play the Android version.
I want to get the game uploaded to Game Jolt, ideally in a state which integrates with Game Jolts high score system, so that users can compete to become top of the leader board. I also need to get the game to save your score after you shut it down rather than resetting every time. After that, I want to update the sprites for the player and the Vaders (the current sprites are placeholder) and make them animated. There’s all kinds of additional features planned, but as usually, you can check what’s planned on the game’s Trello: https://trello.com/b/jTalmHfR/splodey-vaders
As I mentioned in the original post about Splodey Vaders, I’m planning on showing it at an event targeted at local game developers. I’ve never done anything like this before, other than Adventure X back in 2011. I plan on writing a post detailing how the event went, but before then I wanted to write an update on the progress of the game and outline some key features:
In Splodey Vaders when you shoot a Vader, they Splode. When they Splode, chunks of Vader go flying around the screen. If a Vader chunk hits another Vader, they Splode. This mechanic allows the player to create chain reactions where there are explosions happening all over the screen and multiple enemies are being killed. In the early stages of development, you would receive 10 points if you hit a Vader. If the chunks from that Vader hit another Vader, then you would get a score multiplier. This would times whatever the current score multiplier was by 10, in this case, giving you an extra 100 points. If the chunks from *that* Vader hit *another* Vader, then it would times the score multiplier by 10 again, giving the player 1000 points. This could get out of hand very quickly with some players getting scores of 10,000,000+. I decided to add a cap to this and reduce the amount your score can multiply by. If you shoot a Vader you still get 10 points, but if the chunks from that Vader hit another Vader then you get a multiplier of X2, giving you 20 points. You can then get X5 and X10 score multipliers by causing chain reactions with Vader chunks (you also get a nice pop up and sound effect telling you you’ve done so). All subsequent Vaders hit would be capped at X10 meaning that the maximum points you can get from any one Vader Sploding is 100. The score multipliers and chain reaction of explosions is a core part of the game. I also made the score pulse whenever you add to your score as an added visual que that you are earning points.
Sort of related to the score multipliers is the trail effects added to the Vader chunks. These can be different colours and the different colours correspond to whichever multiplier you have achieved. Initial chunks have a blue trail and if they hit any Vaders, the player will receive X2 score multiplier. The chunks from that Vader will have a red trail and the player will receive X5 score multiplier. The chunks from that Vader will have a white trail and the player will gain X10 score multiplier. The pop up text you receive for X2, X5 and X10 are also colour coordinated to match with the trail colours.
I’ve never added controller support to a game before, but it was incredibly easy to do in Game Maker. I decided to make it so that you can use D-Pad, either Analogue stick, shoulder buttons, trigger buttons or face buttons for movement to allow the player freedom of choice.
In the game, Vaders can go past the bottom of the screen and it’s not game over. It’s only game over if you get hit by a Vader or a chunk from a Vader. However, I wanted to add some form of penalty to the player for letting a Vader get past. My initial idea was to have the Vader respawn at the top of the screen, but slightly faster and moving towards the player’s location like a homing missile. This idea came from Super Crate Box, where enemies will respawn at the top of the screen faster than before. This doesn’t penalise you in terms of your score for letting enemies past, but if you DON’T shoot them, the game will become harder. I also toyed around with the idea of having Vaders explode when they reach the bottom of the screen, but this proved too difficult to avoid the chunks firing out of the Vader. At the moment, nothing happens when the Vaders go past the bottom of the screen, the only penalty is the loss of potential points you could have got had you shot the Vader, but I may change this later on.
A lot of players seemed to find the game too hard to begin with. To combat this, I’ve made the base speed of the Vaders slower, made less Vader chunks fly out when they explode and reduced the maximum speed that a Vader chunk can have making it easier to avoid them. After showing the game to groups familiar and unfamiliar with the game I think I’ve found a good balance.
- Fixed bug where text was misaligned
- Made it more obvious when you die (red flash appears)
- Stopped the infinite Vader spawning on Game Over
- Improved Game Over Screen
- Background speed now increases with game speed
- Fixed bug which caused all objects (including the Vaders and Player Ship) to disappear when Score Multiplier text faded out.
If you want to see the current road map for Splodey Vaders, I’m using Trello to track changes, fixes and features for the game. It’s an awesome site that allows you to easily track the development of a project. Splode Vaders Trello: https://trello.com/b/jTalmHfR/splodey-vaders
Well Ga Ma Yo is on Thursday and I’ll be showing the game off there and hopefully gaining some good feedback from the cornucopia of developers there. After that I’ll be creating a PC version ready to make available on websites like Game Jolt and itch.io. The next major features to be added will be saving high scores after a session and beyond that some art updates and maybe different enemy types and power ups! In the meantime, here’s a video which shows off some of the gameplay from Splodey Vaders:
I’m back! After an almost 6 month hiatus from game development after the birth of my daughter, I’m now slaving away over a laptop to try and scramble a game together.
But wait, what happened to Subtraddition and Gravity Box?
Those games are on hold at the moment. I decided that as my time to develop games is limited, I’d rather produce short polished experiences than longer ones that I never complete. Who knows, maybe in a few months time, I’ll announce another new game, while Splodey Vaders remains unfinished, but for now I think the experience is small enough for me to manage it’s production. Which brings me on to what Splodey Vaders is about.
What is Splodey Vaders about?
Splodey Vaders is kind of a mix between Space Invaders and Asteroids. I teach game design to college learners and one day I was teaching the fundamentals of scripting in Game Maker. As the students were building on the basic Space Invader forumla they had learnt, I was doing the same thing. I started by making the Invaders explode when hit by a bullet and I thought “maybe you should have to avoid the debris from the explosion” and the basic premise for Splodey Vaders was born.
Splodey Vaders is an Arcade Shooter. Shoot the Vaders that appear from the top of the screen, but also avoid the chunks of blown-up Vader that appear after they explode upon death.
This game will be released on PC and Android at some point this year.
The game will be free for android, but will contain banner adverts.
After Subtraddition and Procedrill, I’ve grown fond of the gameboy style four colour-palette, so I’ve adopted the same idea for Splodey Vaders.
Where is it at
Here’s a look back on what I’ve done so far:
This is how the game looked in very early prototype stages
Here’s another Vine of my baby daughter playing the game. Spoiler: she did better than me!
Later revisions saw improvements to the artwork, basic particle systems, score multipliers, menu’s, etc:
— Stuart Lilford (@Stuart_Lilford) January 25, 2016
You can actually see the games current To-Do list on Trello, if you were wondering about that sort of thing. https://trello.com/b/jTalmHfR/splodey-vaders
I’m hoping to show the game off at a local game dev event in April, so between now and then I want to polish the game to a stage where it looks professional to the public eye. So, which me luck!
You may recall a couple of months ago when I posted this which hinted at the fact that me and my wife were having a baby. Well, our daughter, Lottie, was born on Sunday 20th September.
What does this mean for Scared Square Games? Well, it probably means that you won’t be seeing a lot from me in the near future. I’ll be far too busy changing nappies and not sleeping to make games. So don’t expect to see anything here for a while, no need to watch this space. Thank you for playing my games and reading my articles, it’s nice to know I have a small following and I hope you’ll excuse me for choosing to spend time with my wife and daughter than developing any more games. For now, at least.
This post is REALLY late! I made this game for GBJam 4 back in August. The jam required developers to create a game in a week using only 4 colours and conforming to the original Game Boy resolution.
Made for #gbjam 4. Procedrill is a randomly generated roguelike drill-em-up. Drill stuff, find diamonds, don’t die in an explosion. The music for the game was produced by RushJet1 (who made music for PewDiePie the game).
HOW TO PLAY:
You play as a greedy dwarf who just wants to drill for diamonds. Drill rocks to break them or use bombs to cause explosions. Each floor of the cave is randomly generated and gets progressively larger. There are other things in the caves, but you’ll have to find those out for yourself.
Arrow Keys - Move
Z - Drill
X - Drop Bomb
F - Toggle Fullscreen
R - Restart Game
Esc - Exit Game
Stuart Lilford (@Stuart_Lilford) – Developer
RushJet1 (@RushJet1) – Music
Most of the changes made to Subtraddition over the past few weeks have been aesthetic. I’ve redesigned the first world layout and spent a lot of time playing around with pixels to make it look nice. As I’ve said before, I’m no artist (I’m no programmer either) so trying out different designs for tiles sets was pretty challenging. This is what the game looks like now:
This screenshot is by far the best looking screenshot I have taken of the game so far. The bridge alone went through 3 iterations before it got to its current look and I’m quite pleased with how the game is coming along visually.
But there’s something I’m worrying about internally. Mainly: Should I retain the Gameboy inspired colour palette? I initially went with this style as I wanted to practice using only 4 colours and the Gameboy palette seemed like a good place to start. I always intended on keeping this palette, but lately I’ve been asking myself questions like “Should I allow the game its own identity rather than piggybacking on something already known” to more absurd ponderings such as “If I ever wanted to port this game to a console, would publishers want to avoid the game as it has associations with Nintendo?”
Strangely enough, Just as I was about to write this update I posted the above screenshot on Twitter and someone responded with “I love the atmosphere the color palette creates (Gameboy-inspired? Nice!). So the game is already getting people liking it due to how it looks.
I sort of feel in my gut that I should probably just keep the colour palette I’ve been using as there are commercial games out there which use these colours and the game is looking good, but I’d like to open it up.
A note on worlds
I mentioned ‘worlds’ earlier, so let me explain how levels are structured in Subtraddition. You start in the Start Zone which will mainly exist to teach the player the basics of the game. From here you navigate to the Hub Zone which contains all doors leading to the game’s main worlds. There are 3 worlds and within each world there are 5 rooms/levels which contain a core game collectable. Each room/level will be it’s own unique challenge to complete, but if the player finds themselves struggling they can exit and try out one of the others and come back later. There are 15 unique room/levels in total and I will probably try to include some sort of final level as the games climax, but I’ve not thought that far ahead.
Enemy Sprite Update
I’d like to do a post about the different enemy types that are found in Subtraddition (they’re not traditional enemies. They’re not alive or anything. Mostly just objects that can kills you) but for now, I’ll just show off some updates sprites. First is a weird fire breathing head thing. Before the update it was just a brown square that fired red squares (and no I don’t mean the Russian vodka), now they conform to the colour palette and the fireballs are even slightly animated. This GIF would have looked better if the other sprites were updated, but still.
Next is the thwomp block. Before the update, these were just red squares with a scary face drawn on them. Anyone recognise the new sprite from somewhere?
How about that screenshake! Screenshake is something I’ve added into the game to make it feel as though there’s a lot more going on in the game world than there actually is. I was inspired by this talk aptly named talk “The Art of Screenshake” from Jan Willem Nijman of Vlambeer. Worth a watch for some ideas on how to help your game better connect with players.
There are lots of other visual updates I’d love to tell you about, but I’m hoping to write something about how I created some of the tile sets within the game and I’ll cover a lot of it in that. I also implemented some parallax scrolling into the game which makes the game look and feel a lot better.
My current to do list contains a few more aesthetic changes including finally adding a door into the game (currently you walk into a big white rectangle) and creating some decorative background and foreground tiles to make the levels less boring. After that I’ll mostly be fine tuning the start level and Level 1, so that I can hopefully send the game out to people to try out.
It’s not been long since I introduced Subtraddition, but I’ve updated a few things since that I’d like to share. Firstly, a new tile set. The area is supposed to look like a mossy cave. I’d like to do a post on how I created the tileset at some point in the future.
Next I finally updated the sprite for the checkpoint instead of it looking like a horrible pink box (see above GIF). The idea is that the sphere is a resurrection stone and when you die you are resurrected at the shrine. The GIF below only shows the shrines being activated and not put into practice.
I mainly started working on the visuals for the game because I was generating level designs and it was becoming very time consuming and I felt that my brain needed a break from it. I updated the images for the tiles in the first area, the block that you can move around and the spikes (these feature a lot in the game). Now that the checkpoint doesn’t look so much like a hideous pink obelisk I think I will get back to getting the level layout completed for the rest of the game.
I’m making a game! I started working on it just after Christmas I think? Anyway I was toying around with the idea of making a puzzle platformer and then I started working on a prototype and now I’m going to be making it into a full game.
This is the core mechanic of the game:
The game is being made with Game Maker: Studio.
Hang on, I thought you were making a game called Gravity Square or something?
Gravity Box is currently on Hiatus at the moment. For some reason as we got closer to Christmas I started to lose interest in working on it and ultimately stopped all together. This isn’t to say I don’t want to make the game at all… I’m just more motivated to work on this puzzle platformer game. Plus I’ve since learned a lot about game development that I can use to create a better version of Gravity Box than the one that I was working on.
So what’s so special about this new game?
With Subtraddition I actually made a small prototype last year before I started working on Gravity Box. The prototype saw you placing blocks to help you navigate the level and as I worked on it more, the more I began thinking up puzzle/level designs for the game. I was also really inspired by playing Fez around that time and loved the sense of exploration that the game made you feel as a player. I also began to think about old platformers I used to play as a kid that I loved like Banjo-Kazooie and Jak and Daxter. Essentially, Subtraddition caught the attention of my imagination more than Gravity Box ever did and I think that’s why I’m running with it instead.
What is it about?
The core mechanic as shown above, is that it’s a 2D puzzle platformer in which you can remove and place certain blocks within the level in order to allow you to use them as platforms and reach new levels. They’ll also do other stuff like protect you from damage, reach new heights and jump across distances you would otherwise be unable to reach.
The game is also about exploration. You start of in a starter level, which leads into a hub world with multiple levels and multiple puzzles to solve and a butt-tonne of secrets.
Subtraddition Key Features
4 COLOURS – I’m doing the art for the game and as I’ve said previously I’m not that great at art. I mean, I do okay… I get by. So I felt that limiting myself to only 4 colours would mean that I had less chance of making it look shit than if I made a colourful mess with a bunch of colours. I’m also working to quite a small resolution, so I’m practicing my pixel art with this game. I find that it helps to give yourself restrictions/limitations as otherwise you can overscope.
SECRETS – After my recent playthroughs of Fez, I loved how the game is filled to the brim with secrets. Although my game won’t be anywhere near the scope of Fez, I still like the idea of including little hidden secrets that will reward the player for exploration. Which brings me on to my next point:
EXPLORATION – As I mention above, one of the things I love about video games is exploration. It unfortunately means that it takes me a lot longer than it should to complete games. I mentioned to someone the other day that it took 6 hours to complete Gone Home and they were all like “SIX HOURS :O … You can beat the game in 10 minutes!” But I like to take it slow and explore every nook and cranny of the world. I was the same with Bioshock Infinite. I’d spend ages just wandering about looking at stuff and this is something I’d like players to want to do in Subtraddition even though I suppose it largely depends on the type of player.
Where is it at?
Subtraddition is coming along nicely. I’ve almost completed the level designs for 2 out of the 3 worlds that the game will contain. I’m currently working on updating the graphics for the game and implementing tile sets into levels. Navigation works, the character movement works, the block removal/placement works and there are a few levels to run around in with puzzles and platforming to complete. I have no idea how long the game is going to take, but I’m using every spare minute I get before the big life-changing event happens. September is my deadline! More updates soon.
In other news…
A couple of our games are being placed on Indie Game Stand’s Free Games section. You can find Time Stone HERE and Entrapment will be on there soon.
You might have seen the recent ” game” announcement and yes, it was an over-elaborate metaphor for me and my wife having a baby! It’s our first child, so I’m going to have a lot to learn about becoming a father. It also means that my hobby game dev stuff will most likely be taking a lengthy break come September.
BONUS ART TEST FOR SUBTRADDITION DUDE:
I went with number 12.
I’m pleased to announce that me and my wife are working on a new game due to release in September 2015. We’ve been working collaboratively on the new title and it will have been in development for approximately 9 months upon release. It’s a co-op survival horror game in which you have to endure sleepless nights and constant nappy changes. It’s a 3 player game and we’re eagerly awaiting player 3 to join us :)