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 Post subject: Dev tools and languages for shmups
PostPosted: Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:18 pm 

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Joined: 24 Jul 2009
Posts: 375
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
I've written code for a long time. I earned my living writing code from 1992 until around 2007 after which I moved into IT management but I still love writing code and I have tinkered with code ever since on and off. I also wrote code in my teens from about the age of 15 back in 1981 on an old Apple IIe computer in school and at home on UK 8 bit micros on which I coded up simple games in BASIC and tinkered with some assembler.

None of my professional experience is in game development. I have worked with databases, on-line forms, thick client exes etc. All info processing working with SQL, flat files, XML, HTML etc. Working with several different languages and environments from mainframe green screen systems, through PCs and networked servers , up to web based system just before I left the technical coding jobs.

Hobbywise I have written some card games in BASIC, web forms in PHP, and I have coded a bit in Java too. I also coded a simple turn based game in BlitzBasic that got a few hundred downloads off softpedia before it was pulled. I have also done some 6502 assembler coding, making my own 60Hz versions of PAL 2600 games.

So I have a decent technical background. I also love shmups and I'd love to have a go at writing one.

I have heard of game building tools such as Unity but I'm not entirely sure how low level something like that can be when it comes to managing framerates etc. I like to be closer to the metal and I'd rather have to handle all that and spend a good chunk of time figuring that out. BlitzBasic actually lets you code dual buffering and time frame transitions etc so I am aware of what is required even though I know I would have a lot to learn to create a proper action game.

So what tools do devs use? What languages? Are they low level like C or C++? Do some people code in assembler? Before I dip into this I don't want to back the wrong horse and burn up hours learning about dev environments that are not up to the task.

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 Post subject: Re: Dev tools and languages for shmups
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:18 am 

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Joined: 04 May 2019
Posts: 58
Location: Hyperspace
There are so many options nowadays, from high-level STG engines (Danmakufu, LuaSTG, STGBuilder), to drag-n-drop editors (GameMaker Studio, Unity+Shmup Creator), all the way to retro console devkits (e.g. SGDK for Sega Genesis).

For what you're looking for, I'd recommend something mid-level (often called "frameworks", rather than "engines") and focused on 2D. Price/license and supported target platforms are very important, and often limited in free versions of the popular commercial engines.

Cocos2d, Godot, Moai, Corona all seem worth investigating, but my personal recommendation is LÖVE ( Free, liberal license, targets the main platforms. Has been used in some good games (Blue Revolver, Demonizer) and Lua is a nice language to learn.

It also allows changing the main run-render-loop (has variable time-step by default, but fixed time-step examples are on the web).
Free indie/doujin STGs: Download | List (incomplete)

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 Post subject: Re: Dev tools and languages for shmups
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2021 11:17 am 

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Joined: 24 Jul 2009
Posts: 375
Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Cool - thanks.

Yeah - re the main game/render loop - I would like to be able to code/view/change/tweak that - if you can't do that you are pretty limited in terms of building something to a quality that doesn't feel like something built in a game editor.

Nothing wrong with games that are built inside an engine of course but it isn't something that interests me and i don't think shmups are best suited to it either. I like the idea of building as much as I can. I like to know what is going on under the bonnet.

Of course if there are excellent bits of code for bullet/enemy path management etc I'll be using that to too. :)

The idea of building totally from scratch is too daunting at this point - so a half way house framework sounds right to me.

I also like the focus on 2D.

This looks more up my alley.....thanks!! :)

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