Okay, so it’s time for a second dev blog! So, we’re still pressing forward for an alpha version which will get a limited release and hopefully help us with balance, and our first batch of player feedback.
For general features that got added: I finally got around to adding a system for making sound effects more extensible; now we just have to drop them into the project and they get added and are automatically available to the game. We’re starting to ramp up in terms of adding sound effects, so it was about time it got done.
At the moment we’re going through the remaining powerups on our list and deciding if they’re going to make it into the alpha or not, depending on the amount of outstanding work for them.
We added a shield powerup with some lovely graphics from Pete, and obviously had to add the ability to be shielded – no impacts to the ship cause damage whilst you’re shielded, although your ship can still be hurt if there are invaders within. This turned out to be easy to add, as all player damage is handled through one function, so it was easy enough to modify.
We added a new powerup weapon, the spread beam cannon, which fires 5 bolts from the front of the ship and provides a lovely shotgun effect at close range.
The Drone is another powerup, and this one probably won’t make it into the alpha, as it simply has too much to do to make it work. The drone is going to be a smaller ship which rotates around yours in a circle, and which will fire when the player fires, to add a little support.
The smart bomb was proving tricky to pin down. Mechanics wise it’s quite simple, working much like the smart bomb in any shmup, killing any on-screen enemies, but deploying it was another matter. Powerups activate immediately when they’re assembled – the Mechanic-Player plays through an assembly minigame to put them together – but this seemed too slow for deploying a smart bomb. In shmups, usually when you’re about to use the smart bomb, you’re hopelessly overwhelmed and don’t have time for this.
Towards the end of our last dev session it looked like we had a solution for this though – we’re going to change the ship graphics to include a “slot” on the top where the smart bomb goes when it’s assembled, so both players can see that it is ready, and it can be deployed in an instant. Looks like this one will make it into the alpha.
Some of you have been asking about the “Record game” option seen in the last video (well, in truth, no one has asked me that, but I want to talk about it, so there 😛 ) – After reading about how valuable good visualization tools are for debugging in this article by Jordan Fisher, I’ve added this feature which allows a player to record their game session to a file to send to us. Our recorder doesn’t work in quite the same way; it very simply serialises all of the visible game objects on each tick, and we’ve got another program which can play these files back to us. Doing it this way has some performance overhead, that’s why it’s probably not going to be available in the finished game. This needs a little more work when we’re ready to go alpha as it currently has some problems with the minigames.
So to end this post: Our plan for the immediate future is to finish the last few items from our Alpha to-do list, and then balance, balance, balance!