Posts tagged: games

Late Night Gaming Staycation

Took a little “vacation for the mind” this weekend. Didn’t work on Squishy Bugs, and for the most part stayed away from the real-work-that-pays-the-bills type work. I blame Google Play and the $0.25 sale that has been going on every day for the last 5 days. Dungeon Village by Kairosoft is the shining star in the bunch that I’ve really enjoyed. There was also a little effort in saving the universe in Mass Effect 2, and some Assassin’s Creed.

Getting back to the state of Squishy Bugs, it’s nearing completion. Just doing things like making the font bigger here, shrinking it there. Filling up empty space or making room where the font is too big or small. Making sure the font lines up… lots of little details.

Aside from the “social” aspect (Facebook and Twitter sharing) I’m calling the game feature complete. From here on it’s just an effort to make the game shiny (and add the social sharing buttons when the polishing is done).

One “big” thing to note, the high scores need to be reset. To get technical, it was too hard to link meta data to player’s high scores. Things like the elapsed time, or number of tiles squished, to name a couple. Perhaps not a huge requirement for a game like Squishy Bugs but I’m writing the server-side api (an optional feature of Squishy Bugs) to be forward-compatible with games that are not yet written. Basically, any/all games I create in the future. So it’s best to get that fixed up now before Squishy Bugs 1.0 is out the door.

EDIT: There’s also that Squishy Bugs tutorial I need to get around to finishing…

Playing Favorites: Zombie Estate

I really like Zombie Estate on XBox Live Indie Games. It was the best 80 MS points I ever spent. (A close second is Cursed Loot, formerly called Epic Dungeon).

What Zombie Estate does right:

The theme. Zombies. An estate. You fending them off with guns. It’s just downright fun, and I’m not often a fan of twin stick shooters.

The controls. Not being a huge fan of twin stick shooters, I’m surprised I like Zombie Estate so much. I can only assume the controls are the same as any other twin stick shooter on the xbox so there’s something magical going on.

Options. When it comes to choosing your avatar and purchasing weapons, there are lots of options. Play as a ninja, a dog, a cat, a police man. It really doesn’t matter since it doesn’t affect the way the game plays, but it’s nice to have the choice. Weapons are a different story here as choice does matter. But there are plenty to choose from and there are enough to satisfy most any preference of play style. Further, the menu options are minimal. Basically, start the game and the option to turn music on or off.

Co-Op. I’ve never done it, but there’s an option to play with up to 3 of your friends cooperatively.

What it could do better:

More scenarios. The game offers only one level.

Unlimited mode. There are a finite number of waves. Once you’ve finished them all, the game is over. It would be nice to have the option to continue after the “Congratulations” screen.

Aspects I’d borrow from the game:

I want to remake the game (I started this a long time ago with Space Fight). I’d merge the turn-based play style of Blendo Games’ Flotilla with Zombie Estate. The co-op would be scrapped since I find I play the game solo most of the time anyway. You’d control 3 characters simultaneously (sometimes 4), playing turns in 5 second chunks.

How I’d make my own game:

The difficulty progression in Zombie Estate is pretty good, but it appears to be pre-determined. I’m unsure if the developer defined rules such as: For wave 3 we’ll include 30 medics and 170 generic zombies. Or perhaps there is some randomization going on before the level starts. I think what I’d like to try is having a “difficulty budget” and “average difficulty” for each level/wave. Each enemy would have their own “difficulty price”. So the level would “purchase” enemies with its “difficulty spending money”, with the aim of keeping enough enemies in the level to keep the current difficulty level as close to average as possible.

The “average difficulty” would increase the further into the game you got, having the level throw tougher scenarios at you. It could be that you’re faced with 5 very tough enemies, or perhaps 80 kinda-tough enemies.

Throw in a story line that takes you through different settings, and a friends list that allows you to import a friend’s character into your game (the 4th character in your team), and I think we’d have a pretty good game.

Edit (July 18, 2012)

I’ve managed to recruit a couple other very enthusiastic players to join me in a co-op game. Here are a few additional thoughts since playing co-op with 3 players.

It still takes forever to get through all the waves to the end of the game. Twice we’ve played to wave 25 and twice it got “too late” to continue playing. It has been a long time since I played that far in single player, but it seems to me that in co-op the game multiplies the number of enemies you encounter based on the number of people playing. A start to finish session takes a couple hours. Which brings me to my second point.

It really needs the ability to save! Getting to wave 25 and having to turn off the game really sucks. It’s going to be at least three times we’ll have had to start all over from the beginning just to “beat” the game.

And you really need something to do with your money after wave 20. I had $15000 on my character with nothing to do with it.

That being said, the game is still great. There’s little I would do to “fix” co-op. The addition of a save file, obviously, so we could play in 30-60 minute chunks. Perhaps you could purchase weapon upgrades (rate of fire, damage, etc) so that in the later stages of the game you have a reason to spend money. I’d say “keep the number of enemies the same as when playing single player” but that is dependent on the ability to purchase weapon upgrades.

It was still the best 80 Microsoft point purchase I’ve made on Xbox Live Indie Games, though.

Team Meat Loves Linux!

19 months ago I linked to a podcast where Tommy from Team Meat said that nobody uses Linux and that Super Meat Boy likely would not see a Linux release. He replied in the comments that there would need to be enough enthusiasm for a Linux version in order to make the effort worthwhile.

Humble Bundle 4 featuring Super Meat Boy.

Yes, that means Linux.

Not a Penny in 2011 – At Least Until November 1st

So I broke my New Year’s resolution. But that’s what they’re there for, right? I made it 10 months which I’m incredibly proud of.

The game that broke the resolution? The Binding of Isaac as part of the latest Humble (Voxatron) Bundle.

The toughest part of the resolution? Having to turn down $1.50 Rainslick Precipice games during Steam sales. Those Steam sales… so tempting all year long. Speaking of which, Steam should be doing a Black Friday week-long sale here soon. Just a guess.

Did I learn anything? Heck yes, I did. Right now the Magicka series is on sale at Steam for less than $7 and it seems like a heckuva deal. Last year I would have jumped all over that. Not now, no way. I learned to appreciate my current library of unplayed games. I look at Magicka (and also Oblivion currently on sale) and think to myself, “When will I play this game? Is it likely to go on sale again, perhaps even cheaper, before I actually have time to play this game?” and the answer is a most definite, “Yes, it’ll be cheaper and no I’m in the middle of 10 other games right now so I don’t need to add this one regardless of how affordable it seems to be.”

Speaking of Oblivion, I already own the game on DVDs. $6.49 for Steam cloud support (saved games stored online, accessible from any computer) sure is tempting, but what are the odds that I’ll play the game again in the near future? I’m playing the game right now using the physical media I own just so I can finish the expansion pack and the quests I had not yet finished. After that, it’s not likely I’ll want to continue by using the saved games I already have. Plus, I can just back up the saved games to a portable hard-drive.

So, yes I learned stuff. I appreciate my games. I’m not likely to add any new games to my library unless they’re games that don’t require a large time investment. In the foreseeable future I expect I’ll be “living” on a diet of quality indie titles while shunning the expensive triple-A titles that suck up too much time. I’ve got enough of those unplayed in my library already.

Polygons and a Proper Map

I wrote in my previous post that my idea would make sense once I got it working.

The purpose of this “Accessible Area” map is for the game, SpaceFight!. The orange area represents the places that the player character can reach given a certain amount of time. The algorithm works something like the following:

  1. Build a list of visible wall nodes (corners) within a range around the player
  2. Sort the list from closest to furthest
  3. Cast out spokes at given intervals with a minimum length of whenever it collides with a wall and a maximum length of the given radius
  4. Create and add to the ‘area list’ a polygon based on the previous spoke coordinate and the current spoke coordinate
  5. Iterate list of visible wall nodes
  6. Calculate new radius by subtracting the distance between the starting location and the node location from the given radius
  7. Start over at the top of this list substituting ‘player’ for ‘node location’ and keep going until the new radius is too small

I really wanted to add (union) the polygons together to create one polygon consisting of the outer-most points. Unfortunately, that messes up and I’m left with what looks like a crumpled bridge at the best of times. For the time being I’ll have to use the list of hundreds (due to the recursion) of polygons as seen in the image above. It’s not so bad as in the game it’ll be displayed in between turns when the frames per second doesn’t matter. Perhaps there’s a Java package out there that could do the job for me, giving me a simplified list of the union of all the polygons.

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