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 Post subject: Rick Henderson and the Artifact Of Gods
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 10:45 am 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 21
Introduction

Hello guys,

first of all i would like to introduce myself. I come from Belgrade, Serbia, i'm 34 and i grew up playing likes of U.N. Squadron, R-Type and Uridium on C64, then Z-Type, Project X and Xenon 2 on Amiga 500, all the way to Jets 'n' Guns and Steredenn on PC. I have been stalking the forum for a long time, but opened an account just recently, and i decided to open a DevLog thread where i could share the news on the game's development, make someone interested, and above all, help someone by sharing my experience in game development (which proved to be a very serious thing).

Gameplay and features

RHAG is, despite it's name fitting an adventure game better, a more or less classic 2D horizontal scrolling shoot 'em up i always wanted to make. It's a mixture of Jets 'n' Guns (who has the Story Mode) and Steredenn (which is basically and Endless Mode only game). The story features Rick Henderson, a disillusioned galaxy war veteran who turned to suspicious activities after the war to make ends meet, his robot follower, sarcastic Ben who makes every conversation fun, and a lot of NPC's who will be introduced during the development.

Story Mode Single Player - Interesting storyline full of dialogues with interesting characters to keep you amused between levels.
Endless mode with Multiplayer - Local and Online
Daily Challenge - Once per day Endless Mode Run with predefined equipment and perks
Online Leaderboard - Compare your scores with your friends and other players
6 factions - Pirates, Rokh Raiders, Terran Confederacy, Vakshaa, SunDyne Corporation and Paragons.
40+ types of enemies (for now)
30+ types of weapons and upgrades (for now)

Single Player is featuring a shop between levels where you can equip your ship with weapons, drones, engines, utilities, shields and armors.

Weapon types: Ballistic, Energy, Explosive, Meelee. Each type of enemy is usually resistant (partially or fully) to a certain type of damage, so watch your loadout! Ship can equip two weapons, but they can't be fired simultaneously. Weapons also generate heat, so you can't keep that button pressed all the time.

Graphics:

Game is done in pixel art which i really love and which proved itself as (usually) the best choice for shmups due to its clarity (and yes, development costs). I'm not much of an artist, so besides the things i do myself (backgrounds and small art), credits go to Lighterthief, a young lad from Netherlands who does some amazing graphics. I'm often awed how quickly he can make some good looking stuff. You can check his art on his Twitter account: @Lighterthief

Sound:

I've been a musician and sound designer in my spare time doing mostly electronic music for the last 15 years, so i've got that covered. If things turn out well, i might have a surprise artist for music which you all know well, but let's not talk about that yet.

More Information

Website - http://www.fatpugstudio.com
Twitter - https://twitter.com/FatPugStudio
Tumblr - http://rickhenderson-game.tumblr.com
Devlog - https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=59099.0

Currently the single endless mode is in development, after that is finished i will get down to local multiplayer and dailly challenges. The hardest part will be the story mode and online multiplayer which i will leave to be the last.

Here are some pictures, in a month or so i will probably present the video of a gameplay. I see you are a really hardcore shmup community (i've been a non-registered lurker for a long time), so you're welcome to shoot any questions if you have them :)

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Last edited by Fat Pug Studio on Fri May 19, 2017 3:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Rick Henderson and the Artifact Of Gods
PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 1:11 pm 


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Joined: 22 Aug 2016
Posts: 27
Looking forward for the gameplay video, good luck with your development! 8)


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 Post subject: Re: Rick Henderson and the Artifact Of Gods
PostPosted: Sat May 20, 2017 2:53 pm 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 21
A small gif i made for today's #screenshotsaturday on twitter

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I'm slowly adding animations and pickups (weapon switching system took a lot to be done properly, but now it's working great yey!)
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 Post subject: Re: Rick Henderson and the Artifact Of Gods
PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 10:43 am 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 21
Hi guys, i just finished a new devlog, it regards the Endless Wave System and spawning of enemies in single prefabs, squadrons and path moving enemies.

The Endless Wave System spaghetti monster i mentioner earlier grows even larger now, but i'm encountering some stuff that needs to be addressed. Since the whole endless thing is, let's say, semi-random (predefined squadrons, random number range single enemies and enemies that move via paths, all spawned randomly based on experience points range and number of enemies on screen with their own "weight" values) the pool seems to small to give a sense of variety.

Here's the picture of a system scheme, pretty basic for now:

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You have an explanation on Tigsource Devlog (https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=59099.20) but i'll explain it further here when it is fully complete.



Squadrons

They have the largest number of variety, but they can be painstaking to make if a large number of ships is involved. For example, this is a basic one, Marine Carrier in the escort of five Provokers, six ships total.

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Due to Unitys limitation of nested prefabs, i can't just pop them into scene view and save the whole squadron as a prefab (which would be really awesome and speed things up), instead i have a prefab which instantiates ships on defined coordinates in local space. That needs a lot of tweaking, entering values manually then pressing play to see where they are actually positioned. In the whole process, waiting for Unity to start the game to see where the ships are spawned takes the most time. Obviously, the time spent is the largest con, but the pro is that i can simply replace prefabs in the squadron in a blink of an eye. That means i can change those Provokers escorting the Marine Carrier with another ships in only a few seconds, or even set each position to spawn a random ship, thus making the ships following the carrier different each time and even spawn different ones according to the players experience level.

When you take into account around 40-50 ships made until now, you get the idea how tiresome can sometimes be to make all these squadrons, but it keeps the game away from being a procedural generated crap, it keeps the randomness factor but in a structured way.

Random Number Range Single Enemies

Now this is the actual procedural generated crap that is to be avoided, but when used properly it functions great. What does that title actually mean? There are several enemy spawn points scattered all around the screen, by utilizing this approach, depending on certain variables, they will spawn single enemies that follow their own behavior, be it the regular "move forward and shoot" or something else. There are some cool thing regarding this. For example, i can spawn 1, 2 or 10 ships in a random pattern based on the players experience level or number of ships already on screen. They act like fillers, we already have one or two squadrons on screen, so let's drop a few more small baddies that do their own thing. It also keeps the players on toes since they don't know what to expect. A horrible drawback is that things can get too random if not controlled by various parameters that need to be finely tuned.

Enemies That Move Via Paths

I'm sure you'll agree that the game would be very boring if all the enemies would just move forward towards players side of the screen, no matter how many types of them there is. Using paths to move the enemies further deepens the variety and the semi-randomness factor of the game.

Obviously, paths can be used for both Single Enemies and Squadrons. They work great for single enemies since we can set a wave to spawn, let's say, 5-7 small ships and then use a path that's branching, like this:

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In this example, when the ships get to the first waypoint (purple square in the upper part of screen) they will do a check which will apply random branch choice, some will keep moving forward towards the left part of the screen, and some will circle around and go back right, or maybe sometimes we'll set them all to follow the same path, so for a path like this, we actually have three outcomes: all follow path 1, all follow path 2, all branch random, which is flexible and great.

Using paths in Squadrons take a bit more time to work on, but they add further variety to squadrons. The Provokers following the Marine Carrier in the first picture may spread or fall back after a while.

Another important option that using paths gives is the easing of movement. Ship may start moving slow, than speed up while moving down the path. Or other way around. That can be randomized to, per ship, squadron, or a whole wave. It gives a lot more natural feeling to movement since ships moving at the same speed constantly may feel mechanical and boring.

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Here's how that easing actually looks in game, just played areound, number are not tweaked.

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Utilizing all this stuff drives the game away from the classical "memorize the pattern while moving on rails" type of play. It takes a lot more time to work on but definitely keeps every game session exciting and fresh and rises replayability to a whole new level. Unfortunately for some, not using seeds for procedural generation means you won't ever be able to replay the level you played, maybe some other time :)
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Last edited by Fat Pug Studio on Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Rick Henderson and the Artifact Of Gods
PostPosted: Wed May 31, 2017 12:52 pm 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 21
Btw, i need your advice experienced shmupers!

I must admit the endless wave system needs further tweaking and finer granulation. My goal is to make an optimal gaming experience, and there are two possible mechanisms i can use utilizing the current system of adding ships' "weight" to a pool.

Every ship holds a different value, small ones from the screenshot are worth 1, and that nasty marine carrier is worth 5. When they appear on-screen, the total value in the pool is 10 (five small ships worth 1, and one big ship worth 5). The pool size is growing with players experience, which increases by killing enemies.

Now, i actually need your help since there are two possible scenarios here.

Scenario 1 - Smoother gameplay, not enough breathing room if you play well

I can do a check of the total pool value in smaller intervals (like a second), and according to total pool value and experience points variable, further ships are spawned, but not above the maximum pool value determined by experience points. For better players that manage to do their kills quick, this will actually provide a constant flow of enemies. For the ones perhaps struggling a bit, it won't spawn enemies as fast. The con to this is having no breaks if you are good, which can be tiresome. I don't plan the levels to be too long (from 30 seconds on the first level to 2-3 minutes on the later levels) and the pauses will be in the form of hyperspace between levels, but some other form of taking a breath would probably we welcome, maybe a subset of waves in the level.

Scenario 2 - More natural progression, more breathing room, risk of not so smooth gameplay

In the other case, i would make a total pool value check a bit more dynamic. When the game starts, the checks can be done every few seconds, and the time between checks can get shorter as the player progresses. While this provides some breathing room between the waves and a more natural progression of the difficulty level, it tends to group everything. If you clear the screen before the next total pool value, the game can throw a lot of things at you if the pool is already at such a level it can hold a lot of enemies.

On early levels, if you are a good player, you will clear the screen in a jiffy and then wait for the next wave. If the wait is too long, it gets boring over time and, like mentioned in the last paragraph, the next wave can be overwhelming.

There's also a possibility of a fixed wave timing, but that sounds boring to me.
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 Post subject: Re: Rick Henderson and the Artifact Of Gods
PostPosted: Thu Jun 01, 2017 10:46 am 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 21
Here's a small graph of the system, i think the weight system is the way to go, just need to set the timing right and the prefab pools to avoid overfilling the pool or spawning the same squadrons. I think it's gonna be a lot harder than i think :evil:

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Array which represent the number of ships on screen will still be in use though, to enable stopping the further spawning when the experience threshold for spawning boss is met. It can also be used as a secondary check, if the pool is not too filled in weight value but there are a lot of small ships on screen, it will prevent further spawning.

But sometimes it won't :twisted:
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 Post subject: Re: Rick Henderson and the Artifact Of Gods
PostPosted: Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:33 pm 


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Joined: 22 Aug 2016
Posts: 27
Very interesting read!

Scenario 1 sounds solid to me, I would think that for such short levels as you have described (30 seconds+), it would be wise to avoid dead air. Maybe in levels of 3 minutes and more, breathing time might need more serious consideration. This is just a blind guess though since I haven't tried the game, and whatever system you end up using will probably need some iteration anyway.
Looking forward for a demo or longer gameplay sequences in video! It is obvious you have put a lot of effort in this project.
Greetings and good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Rick Henderson and the Artifact Of Gods
PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2017 9:53 am 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 21
Thanks a lot, i'll be popping a gameplay video as soon as possible, probably in a few week, there's a lot to do. Thanks for the comments ^_^

Here's a pic of sketches to final product, i usually draw late at night on a tech paper and the graphics guy translates it into wonderful art.

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I used to be a techno DJ and producer when i was younger, and i know i shouldn't be doing any sound until i get to the point when the technicalities are finished, but that Ableton icon was tempting me, i haven't started it in two years. So i started making some music for the game. Nothing special really, but that's how i imagine it, i don't like the metal stuff people usually put in shmups, i'm more into Wipeout/Rollcage type of music.

https://soundcloud.com/kruko/rick-hende ... ds-track-1
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 Post subject: Re: Rick Henderson and the Artifact Of Gods
PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:46 pm 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 21
Well, i've come to the point where creating a vast variety of waves and squadrons is an absolute necessity if i want to test and upgrade the endless wave system. My god it's tedious. With about 30-40 enemies until now, it's gonna be a long work. I made some templates so it's basically dragging and dropping presets and spawn points into appropriate boxes with some tweaks, but still.

Good thing is that it brings me closer to some gameplay videos and demo :)
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 Post subject: Re: Rick Henderson and the Artifact Of Gods
PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:52 pm 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 21
I'm still working on my Adaptive Difficulty System, but today i'm having some fun with implementing debris that fly when bigger ships are destroyed

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Also, i implemented some composite killables, like asteroid cannons, you can destroy only cannons, or the whole asteroid with cannons. Sorry for twitter link, i accidentally erased gif from my desktop.

https://twitter.com/FatPugStudio/status ... 5851067392
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 Post subject: Re: Rick Henderson and the Artifact Of Gods
PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2017 11:07 am 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 21
Hey guys, new dev log is out, it's called The Anatomy Of A Roguelike Endless Mode, and it's pretty lengthy with lots of images, so it's better to see it on www.fatpugstudio.com (posts are probably limited do 20k characters, so it wouldn't fit).

Also, i would like to ask you if you have any wacky wishes/ideas of attack patterns for following ships

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I got all sorts of regular stuff, bullets in forward shooting patterns, spread patterns, bullets shooting at players last position, dumb and homing missiles, lasers, mines, bombers, homing enemies with huge circular saws, enemies that turn their back on you and start spitting flames out of engine, huge cannons on asteroids, you name it.
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 Post subject: Re: Rick Henderson and the Artifact Of Gods
PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:29 pm 


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Joined: 30 Nov 2016
Posts: 23
Ahoy there! I have some questions/comments.

Is this game mouse controlled? (If not, ditch the player ship inertia.)

The pixel art looks amazing!
How do you choose the colors without it looking messy? (This is difficult for me)

Can't wait to see some proper gameplay!


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 Post subject: Re: Rick Henderson and the Artifact Of Gods
PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:53 am 



Joined: 19 May 2017
Posts: 21
Hello Mate!

No it's not, keyboard or controller, inertia is 0.

Actually, i pay the pixel artist to do the sprites based on my drawings or ideas, i'm really bad at precise pixel art. Though i am making my own backgrounds, since i've got a more clearer vision on that. Here's one from yesterday, i will probably be doing some color adjustments according to other colors in the game with the aforementioned art guy.

Spoiler: show
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I hope there's gonna be some gameplay in a few weeks, i really want it to be top notch before i put out a decent video!
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