Category Archives: Splodey Vaders

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 #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: