Why Vector Star Brawl? A little bit about the game…

Now that my first iOS game is done, I wanted to explain a bit about why I decided to make this game and why I made it the way it is. Just to explain a little bit about what went on before and during development…

I’m a big fan of retro gaming (it wasn’t called retro when I was a kid, of course) mostly because those are the kind of games that were done at a time where graphics weren’t too powerful and so you had to focus on gameplay. I’m specially fond of vector games such as Asteroids, and many of the other games of its time… The technology behind those games was very different and used monitors that worked in a totally different way, actually drawing all the lines instead of drawing a raster image with horizontal lines like normal TVs do. This meant that there weren’t any pixelation problems. The resolution was perfect… Continue reading

Music and Sound for Vector Space Brawl

Today I’ve posted 3 songs from my upcoming game on Soundcloud. I wanted to create a soundtrack that sounded like instrumental surf music with electronic instruments… I like how these songs have turned out and I’ll probably make a couple more in the next few days… do comment if you like them (or even if you don’t…). I’ll probably will make them available for download in some form after I release the game.

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Update on Vector Star Brawl

Even though I’ve been silent on the site for a while (busy with real-life and programming mostly), work on my game is progressing along. I think the game will be finished very soon… at least, ready for an initial release…

Special Powers

I’ve added some cool special powers, an “easy” mode for people not used to the thrust/turn system and a use for landing on things. I’ve also added a new scenario for the game where you have a big planet with a couple of orbiting moons.
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Solving the small playground problem

So I’ve been working on my vector graphics space dueling game. One of the features I knew I wanted from the start was a really big playground. Most games of this type limit you to the size of the screen, and on iOS devices, especially the iPhone/iPod Touch, this would make for a pretty limited space in which to battle.

So, at first I just made an auto-zooming camera so that when ships got farther away from each other, the camera would zoom out, always pointing at the center between the two ships. This way, ships could get much farther from each other up to a practical limit where they’d just become too small to be playable. I tried to make the playground wrap around so that if players reached the limit, they’d appear on the other side, but this meant a jerky camera motion as it tried to keep both ships in view, which made things confusing.

Smoothing out the camera movement/zoom would mean that a player would stop seeing their ship for a few seconds, so in the end I just made “solid” walls around the play field and let the ships bounce when they hit the edges. This way the camera was smooth and players always saw their ships.

Now, the next problem was the fact that the total playground was still not too big. When two ships were chasing each other, it was too soon that they reached the edge and bounced off, breaking the flow of the chase. This, I think, is no fun.

So, what I decided to do after thinking about it for a while was to make the actual playground infinite and just limit the maximum distance between the ships. So, now, the “bounding box” follows the players around. This means that as long as the two ships stay relatively close to each other, they can both advance in the same direction indefinitely. If both ships go off in different directions, the camera will zoom out up to a limit, where players will bounce of the edge if they try to cross it.

Right now I think this is the best solution and I’m happy with the results. Of course, the problem would not exist at all if the screen was split, but that’s not the kind of game I want to make. First, I don’t like how it limits your visibility and you don’t get a feel for the positions of both ships. What I love about my solution is that you can always see the relevant parts of the play field and you always know which direction you have to go.

Minotron and Forget.me.not

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Minotron 2112

So I finally tried Minotron today and it’s as great as I remembered Llamatron to be. Haven’t played it a lot yet, but I’ll get into it… Again, the controls are great. I tried both the adaptive controls and the regular ones. Both seem to work fine although you’ve got to get used to not lifting the moving finger, but in this game you have to keep moving anyway, so it’s ok.

I guess it might come handy if you play so well that your moving hand gets tired… but I haven’t reached that point yet…

Anyway, it’s nice to see a bit of experimentation with different control methods…

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Forget.me.not

I also got Forget.me.not and liked it as well. It also has invisible controls which I love already. I love the random levels, which are very well generated and both challenging and entertaining. It’s basically pacman with shotting and a few other nice tweaks like destructible mazes and different enemies but it all works really well.

I was surprised to see how your shoots do hurt you and it forces you to be careful, especially on corridors that go from one side of the screen to the other and wrap around. It’s cool how the key to access the next level protects your back too…

I’m really loving all the retro goodness on iOS and discovering some interesting games by small indie developers.

Jeff Minter’s iOS games

Ok… so this is old news to anyone interested in retro gaming on iOS… I know… Even though I got my iPad before the year ended, I only started using it about 2-3 months ago (I kept telling myself: I can’t use it until I start programming…right). So the other day, I don’t remember how, something reminded me about Jeff Minter (maybe someone mentioned llamas…) and so I googled him for the first time in years to find what he was up to. Imagine my surprise when I discover he’s releasing games for iOS now!

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