Category Archives: Splodey Vaders

Splodey Vaders Update #06: Play Expo

I’ve not posted an update in a while, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy! Check out below for what I’ve been up to.

Splodey Vaders Updates

LevelUp UnlocksMenu

LEVELLING UP & UNLOCKS – This is something I wanted from the start and had pretty much decided to drop, but then, against my better judgement, I went and implemented it into the game. At its core, the game is a high score chaser. You have a game, get a score, and then try to beat it on your next go. But I wanted the game to be more than that. I wanted a reason for people to keep coming back to the game other than just to beat their high score. I’ve been playing a lot of Downwell recently and that game has a levelling up system which is tied to unlocks that I really liked and so I’ve decided to add a similar system. The unlocks are purely aesthetic (you can unlock new colour palettes for the game – which was a pain in the arse to implement, or you can unlock new ship designs – less of a pain in the arse). You level up as you earn XP which is tied to the score you achieve, the higher the score the more XP you gain. People who have played the game with the new system seem to really like it and although the unlocks are purely visual, players seem to enjoy choosing and changing these to their favourite ones.

I actually got in touch with the developer of Downwell to ask if I could include Downwell’s colour palette in the game! He said yes :D what a cool guy.

Downwell

ACHIEVEMENTS & LEADERBOARDS– One requested feature was to include a leaderboard, so that you could see what kind of high scores people were getting. I added this along with achievements into the game. There are currently 5 achievements in the game (5 is the minimum amount of achievements required by Google), these are:

  • Achieve a Score of 500
  • Achieve a Score of 1000
  • Achieve a Score of 1500
  • Achieve a Score of 2000
  • Kill a total of 10,000 Vaders

As you can see I was feeling particularly creative on the day I added achievements into the game. That last one exists because Google offer an option to have incremental achievements which increase by a percentage every time you perform an action in the game. The maximum number you can have for this though is 10,000 which is why I went for this number. Achievements and Leaderboards are functional on both Android and iOS

iOS BUILD – Oh yeah! I coughed up the £70 required by Apple in order to have the privilege of developing for the platform (Google charge around £12) and spent a nightmarish evening trying to get the game working on my iPhone 5. Here are some of the things I needed to do in order to make this happen:

  • Register as a developer
  • Add my iPhone as a test device
  • Create and upload a certificate request to be a developer
  • Create and upload a certificate request for distribution
  • Download and verify developer certificate
  • Download and verify distribution certificate
  • Upgrade to the latest version of macOS
  • Download Xcode
  • Download Application Loader
  • Own a Mac
  • Have files shared between Mac and PC using Game Maker

There were probably a bunch of other things I needed to do, but yeah it was a tiresome process and a version of the game is working on iOS. Yipee!

PAUSE MENU

Another often requested feature is the ability to pause the game. If you tap the top half of the screen the game will pause and you can press play to start the game back up again.

Play Expo Leeds

IMG_7403

I showed Splodey Vaders at an actual gaming event like a proper developer and everything! The event was great. Tons of people played the game and I got some really great feedback. I remember reading a quote which said something like if you want people to treat you like a big shot developer, then act like a big shot developer, so that’s what I did. I took the game on a big screen TV (which I borrowed from the college I teach at), I had a huge poster printed out (also done at college), I had a bunch of freebies made up (some cool badges and stickers) and held a high score tournament where the highest score won a copy of Halo: The Graphic Novel, which I bought years ago and never read. The winning score was 2090, a great score. Loads of people said they liked the game and one little girl kept coming back to try and get onto the leaderboard (she managed it early in the day, but was soon knocked off, bless her) her Dad downloaded the game on Android there and then, so hopefully she’s still enjoying the game at home. Here are some choice snaps from the event:

17966562_10156184076493079_794842573499317076_o  

 IMG_7412

IMG_7407

The ‘I Suck At Games Podcast’

I think I’ve decided to knock this on the head. It was a good little distraction while it lasted and I love the idea of doing a podcast, but one of things I enjoy about the podcasts I listen to is the back and forth between presenters and although I’ve enjoyed some podcasts that have a single host, I think I would prefer to record one with someone else. I also think that people would rather hear me talking about game development and what I’ making rather than my thoughts on games that I’ve played. Thirdly, I don’t get a lot of free time to play games these days as I’m choosing to spend my time making them instead. So there’s a bunch of reasons why I’ve stopped this, but as I said it was fun while it lasted. I’ll leave the episodes up on soundcloud in case anyone wants to have a listen. Here’s Episode 2 about my experiences with VR:

What’s next?

The thing is, I could keep updating Splodey Vaders forever. There is still so much I want to do with the game. Power ups, mainly, but also multiple enemy types, different wave formations, animated sprites, etc. Plus the list of little tweaks and fixes here and there seems endless. I’ve decided to heed the advice from some fellow developers and just release the game. The people that have downloaded the Alpha and played it like it, the folks at Play Expo said some really nice things about it and I feel that it’s ready to just get out there. As soon as the iOS version gets approved by Apple I’ll be setting a final release date and then pushing for marketing/reviews/let’s plays. I will most likely continue to update the game after release with some of the things mentioned above, but the game is done and needs to be out. I’ve been working on it for too long and it’s time for a change. Hopefully the next blog post you see will be one with a final release date for the game. WATCH THIS SPACE!

Splodey Vaders, Game Jam, Game Design Idea Generator & Podcast!

Hello! Boy that blog title makes it sound like I’ve been up to a lot. Since the last blog post it’s been a hectic Christmas-New Year period, but now we’re halfway into February and there’s been a few things I’d like to share with you.

Splodey Vaders Updates

First up is progress on Splodey Vaders. Updates on Splodey Vaders have been a bit slow since December. There’s been some bits and pieces that I’ve done such as adding in a nice transition when they player moves from menu to main game. I’ve also included a handy little animated tutorial image as a lot of people when first playing the game didn’t know how to control the ship.

Tutorial

Something that’s been bugging me a lot is how to deal with what happens when the player allows Vaders to go past the bottom of the screen. Is it game over? Do you lose points? Do the Vaders respawn at the top of the screen, but faster? Do the Vaders explode? But, I think I’ve finally got a solution that will work which I need to implement and this will be rolled out in the next update. I’m not going to talk about it too much here as I feel like I could write a whole article about that design choice.

Global Game Jam

Global Game Jam is a game jam that takes place every year in January and I organised for the college I teach at to take part in the Jam. This year the theme was Waves and we had some really cool ideas from the students, but I also took this as an opportunity to make something small. So I made Mexican Wave Simulator in around 4 hours.

Game Design Idea Generator

Prior to this I made less of a game and more of a web tool using Twine. This was inspired by the annual BAFTA Young Game Designers competition. They provide a card game which had different environments, rules, goals, genre and a wild card and the idea was to generate ideas using randomly selected cards. I took this format and made it digital. My tweet on this probably got the most likes I’ve ever got!

Experimental Podcast: I Suck At Games

I’ve been listening to a lot of Podcasts in the car on my commute to work lately. This got me thinking about how I’d love to make a Podcast in which I talk about games, game design and general game stuff. Then I figured ‘I’ve got an hour-long commute to work and a voice recorder on my phone, what’s stopping me?’, so I recorded a spew of thoughts about the most recent game I played, which was the HD remake of Shadow of the Colossus. I uploaded it to Soundcloud, so you can have a listen to it there.

 

I’d much rather have had someone else to talk to in the podcast as I feel like multi-person podcasts are more entertaining to listen to. Sadly I was all on my lonesome, so had to make do. I called it ‘I suck at games’ because I genuinely feel that I’m not particularly good at playing games.

Wow, when I write everything down like that it looks like I’ve been really busy, which good I suppose. I’d love to hear your feedback on the games I’ve made and I’m particularly interested in hearing what you think of the podcast and if I should make it a regular thing. Please get in touch via Twitter if you’d like to share anything with me. You can find me on @Stuart_Lilford

TL;DR

Splodey Vaders Update #04: The game is now on Android (in Alpha)

There comes a point in the development of (some) games, where it stops being fun. You get bored of working on the same game over and over again and your brain is subconsciously looking for something to tear you away from working on this project anymore.

You want to just work on the game and get it finished, but your brain is sat in the office in your head eagerly sketching ideas down for a new game. Your brain spends a lot of energy on this and puts together a very convincing PowerPoint presentation of a series of game pitches along with bullet points on “Why you should ditch your current project and work on this game idea instead”. Your brain is very good at this pitching process.

Splodey Vaders recently reached this point in its development. I went to the Trello page for the game and created a new column which I labelled “Not Gonna Happen :(” and in it I began to transfer all of the things that weren’t absolutely vital to the game being finished. This included addition enemy types, power ups, unlockables. The only thing left in the MUST column is making sure that ads are showing up for all users, making sure the player can pay to unlock ads and to improve the Android store page (the game now has an android store age by the way). The aim was to get the game finished as soon as possible.

Then one night my baby daughter did a poop in the bath. The next couple of days afterwards I finally gave in to my brain and worked on something new. This became Super Diarrhoea Baby, which you can play in browser. SDB is a little one click collect against the time limit game. It was fun to make and has shut my annoying brain up for the time being. Now I can focus properly on Splodey Vaders and get the game DONE!

What’s happened since the last update?

Reading through the last blog update under the ‘What’s next?’ heading is a very sobering experience for me.

  • Produce new art assets – this didn’t happen and probably isn’t going to happen.
  • Adding longevity by including unlocks – this hasn’t happened either, but still might happen.
  • The current focus is on the PC version – Nope! Mobile version is now the priority

But it’s not all bad! I made a store page on Google for the Android version of Splodey Vaders and released a build of it there (currently in Alpha), so you can play the game right now if you want to. The build is pretty stable and I’ve had some great responses from people playing the game. Most things work like they should including IAPs which I’ve even sold a couple of! The game has some new music by an ex-student of mine Joshua Mbewe (@laxcitymusic) which sounds awesome, I fixed a bug where the player would disappear from the screen occasionally. Advertisements are functional and I finally decided on what to do when the player lets a Vader go past them on the screen (this alone probably deserves its own blog post which I may do sometime in the future). All in all the game is coming along okay and there are a couple of exciting things on the horizon for 2017. Here’s a video of the game’s main music track by Josh.

What is next for Splodey Vaders?

There’s a few minor bugs to fix that were found during testing and I need to fine-tune a couple of graphical elements, then the game will be pretty much done! I have a few stretch goals which include the following:

  • Animated Enemy Sprites
  • Transitions
  • Google Play – Achievements/Leaderboards functionality
  • Unlocks for added longevity (this one is pushing it)

As always you can check the Splodey Vaders trello page to see what’s currently going on and how the project has evolved from the start. I also need to update the Play Store page with better game images and video.

Hoping the get the game to a release version early 2017. It will be coming to Android and possibly the Apple App Store. After that I’ll be looking to port Super Diarrhoea Baby to Android and iOS too! I made the super smart decision to post this update on New Years Eve, so if you’re reading this – thank you! And don’t be a stranger, say Hi, download the Alpha build and let me know what you think! I’m @Stuart_Lilford on Twitter.

Splodey Vaders Update #03: Boring Menu Stuff

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.

Settings_GIF

WHAT’S NEXT?

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.

Splodey Vaders Update #02: GaMaYo

GMY10

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.

IMG_4210

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.

IMG_4206

What’s Next?

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

Splodey Vaders Update #01 – Preparing for Ga Ma Yo

Gameplay

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:

Score Multiplier

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.

Trails

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.

Controller Support

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.

Penalties

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.

Difficulty

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.

Other Changes

  • 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

What Next?

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:

Introducing: 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.

 

Splodey Vaders Logo

 

gameplay_v007

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.

Key Information

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:

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 

What’s Next?

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!