Tuesday 15 December 2015

99 Bottles Of Swag On The Wall ...

Last blog post "Wednesday, 8 July 2015" --- bad indiedev, bad!
Devblog Harder, The Devbloggening

Having been back to sorting things out for Steam and Airship Dragoon (such as Trading Cards) apparently it was February when I last mentioned the concept of my new indie game project "The Swag 'Em Up". Back then I was testing a basic isometric control system which I went on to use in the "7 day Rogue-Like Game Jam" back in March. Since then, we've made a bit of progress, though it might not really look that way as everything is still displayed as a placeholder object. Here come the cubes ...

I created the ability to unlock objects with cash picked up from deceased enemies. These objects then dispense power-ups and swag. Can't have a Swag 'Em-Up without swag! ;) 

Having found memories of Ye Olde Arcade game Gradius (also known as Nemesis in the UK back in Ye Olde 1980s) I thought it might be fun to have a Gradius style "Option" which follows the player around, adding additional firepower to all attacks. Like the Gradius Option, these "Followers" link up in a chain, trailing behind the player's movement and inherit the player's rotation to fire in the same direction. A bit of tweaking code meant that the player and Follower would happily not shoot each other.

Of course a Swag 'Em-Up needs swag, so I spent quite a lot of time thinking up 108 unique pick-ups - which is a lot by any stretch of the imagination. These are split into 30 common power-ups, 25 uncommon power-ups, 20 rare power-ups, 25 single use special items and finally 8 upgrades for Followers. Making all of these pick-ups unique took quite a lot mental gymnastics, especially after I had gone through the many of the more obvious ones such as speed-up, health faster, more, health, dodge, shielding, teleport, fire attack,armour piercing, and the normal sort of stuff you see in video games. So here's a quick selection in action:

Magic Bullet - attack ricochets through enemies causing 4 wounds (a free internet for anyone who spots the politcal assassination reference).

Homing Missile - For those times when you want to cast magicMissile ... at the darkness! Here demonstrated by the enemy AI attacking the player.

Laser Beam - ImaCharjinMaLayZor! Big old energy beam which slices through ranks of enemies for damage. I've since dropped the explosive blast from the end and let the beam continue further off screen.

And there's plenty more where they came from ... 104 more including Follower upgrades. Minus the 8 Follower ranks and 25 special use items, the remaining 75 player upgrades divide into 8 attribute power-ups, 9 general bonuses, 30 attack upgrades and 28 defensive power-ups.

For enemies, I'm planning on using an updated version of my "7 Day Rogue-Like" AI code. So the current job is to code up the remainder of power-ups to placeholder art status, and then start testing to find the best way to create the levels as I currently imagine them to be.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Airship Dragoon Steam Trading Cards

Airship Dragoon, the niche, uber-hardcore, turn-based strategy, attrition simulator where 90% of your individually named troops are slaughtered in the first contact with the enemy, now comes with Steam™ Trading Cards.

A free internet to anyone who spots the references in some of the names, 
but you'll probably have to be British and over 40 ...

Static menu backgrounds have also had a bit of an overhaul to make them more visually interesting.

Over 9000 hours in MS Paint

In update news, there's been a few minor tweaks and bugfixes. The main one is a bugfix for airship movement which get stuck amongst a crowd of friendly dirigibles when attempting complicated pathfinding around them, and control would not be returned to the player (thanks to Vincent for sending me his saved game so I could verify and fix the issue). Airship Dragoon has also been updated to the latest version of Steam SDK but none of the code changes specifically impact the game.

And thanks to everyone who has left a nice review on this niche agraphobia simulator. ;)

If the phrase "niche, uber-hardcore, turn-based strategy, attrition simulator" appeals to you, please try the free demo.

Airship Dragoon is available on Steam and direct from the developer both at a 75% discount for a limited period only.

Saturday 14 March 2015

Random Action Arena 7DRL

I finished up my entry for the "7 Day RogueLike" game jam somewhat early as I've come down with the dreaded lurgy and feel like pants. It's a single or twin stick shooter which does what it says on the tin: Randomized Action in a procedurally generated arena.

I had entered the game jam as it allowed me the opportunity to test some very basic ideas with AI and gameplay which I had been considering for my next project, the Swag 'Em Up. Namely random spawning and dynamic hunting of the player, as well testing my ideas on input systems.

I had devised both single and twin-stick style input systems. Immediately the single stick option had an obvisouly problem, the player had to move in the same direction to shoot, which meant that melee based AI could close to attack range much more quickly. Twin-stick input on the other hand allowed the player to evade whilst shooting at enemies.

The Ai come in two flavours - both salty.  :P
Blue are melee, slightly slower than the player and must close to attack.
Red are ranged based and shoot at the player.

The player has regenerating health, a repeatable single attack, a heavy attack which regenerates and a regerneratable speed boost.

What it does not have which I have already sorted is experience, leveling, and personal boosts to abilities, both permenant and temporary, but I have coded and tested this. Another, and rather major thing missing is SWAG, this is the 7dayRogueLikeChallenge, not the 7daySwagEmUpChallenge, so just the facts ma'am.

If you fancy a play around, and feedback is welcome, just remember it is bare bones stuff done in one week, here's the linkage:
http://www.yorkshirerifles.com/downloads/RandomActionAreana7DRL.zip (a mere 15mb)

Thursday 26 February 2015

Swag Em Up

New project: Swag 'Em Up.

I had been umming and ahhing about what to do as my next project. I had toyed with the idea of another strategy game, albiet less niche hardcore and more casual, but fancied putting my skills to the test elsewhere with something a bit more fast and furious with an infinitely shorter development period. Hence the Swag 'Em Up was born.

 Boxxy placeholder with ribbon trails

Swag 'Em Up as a gameplay genre revolves around rushing about, blasting enemies, and unlocking items and collecting powerups and upgrades which form the swag question. Rogue-like or possibly rogue-lite seems a good basis for this as randomizing items, placement and enemies should lead to varied challenges and unique replayability with new unlockables being available dependant on how previous play-throughs went.

Initially I'd toyed with the idea of a top down view but immediately found it rather boring visually, so I switched to a rather high isometric view of around 70 degrees. This showed off models better and gave more depth to the scene. Here's a quick visual explanation of the differences.

After deciding on my camera system I created a screen relative movement system. When input says up and right, the player's avatar moves up and right relative to the camera/screen. This works especially well with gamepad controllers which can increment the rotation of the control stick.

I coded a new cooldown system for weapons and sprinting So that abilities take a few seconds to recharge. My thoughts for player abilities were thus, light attack with no cooldown, heavy attack, evade (in this case sprint) and special object use. I created a few new systems to allow for permanent upgrades as well as temporary time based ones and a whole experience gain and leveling system which adds health and regen bonuses. Originally I had considered a cash system alongside score and XP to buy unlockable items but instead have opted for trading experience for them. This method involves the player deciding whether they'd like to spend their hard earned experience on powerups or let it accumulate for leveling, which grants upgrades of it's own.

And here's a little demonstration of what I've got after a month of coding featuring our very own cube placeholders. Camera relative control system, light attack, heavy attack, evade, cooldowns, experience gathering and leveling.

 Now it turns out that there is a minor issue with the control system - it's bloody difficult to shoot at anything accurately. This is not really helped by being a placeholder cube with no obvious centre of facing. I might add some sort of laser aiming object to help alleviate this, or I might split movement and direction into two seperate states, like in a twin-stick shooter.

In the meantime, there it is, the start of my new project: "Action Rpg Mecha Musume Catgirl Rogue-like Swag 'Em Up".

Thursday 22 January 2015

Airship Dragoon v1.6 Update

Airship Dragoon update version 1.6 has been released.

The updated features a couple of bug fixes, some tweaks, and a new gameplay mode for Tactical Battles called "STREAMLINE" mode.

Start with the biggest change is the new choice of gameplay modes, "HARDCORE" and "STREAMLINE". HARDCORE is the standard style of Tactical Battle. STREAMLINE is the newly available choice with the following differences.

Carrying external ammuntion is no longer a requirement in STREAMLINE mode. During deployment this frees up a lot of weight in a trooper's inventory for other items like frags and aidkits (especially aidkits). In combat, weapon's still have an internal bullet capacity and clips/magazines must still be reloaded when empty, but there is no longer a requirement for additional ammunition in the inventory. Disposable single use items are still only useable once, so do not expect an infinite supply of rocket grenades, aidkits or flamerockets. Use the extra weight saved by not needing ammunition to stock up on these one-shot wonders.

Inventory manipulation no longer costs Action Points in STREAMLINE mode. Previously swapping weapons, dropping or picking up items, arming or disarming frags and bombs, all cost Action Points. In STREAMLINE mode this is now free. Using an item, such as an aidkit to heal or call for medivac, or reloading a weapon's clip/magazine does still cost Action Points.

During the Passive Phase of a Tactical Battle, when the opposing team is taking their turn, reactive attacks based on spotting a new target or returning fire after being unsuccessfully attacked by an opponent are no longer Class based. In HARDCORE mode each class of trooper has a specific range at which they can attack during their Passive Phase. In STREAMLINE mode this no longer applies, meaning that all troopers in range of an enemy may attack during their Passive Phase. Spotting an enemy still works the same as previously, and is dependant on the trooper's vision attribute, distance and angle, or when an enemy gives away their position by attacking.

Passive Fire in STREAMLINE mode makes ambushes much more dangerous, with everyone in sight now capable of blazing away at an enemy who comes wandering unsuspectedly over a rise in the terrain or around the corner of a building. Grouping troops close together gives a better chance of them all seeing a new enemy at the same time, though this also makes them more susceptible to explosive or machine-gun area fire. Expect a lot more returned fire when attacking a large group yourself.

Gameplay mode cannot be changed mid-battle (swapping from STREAMLINE to HARDCORE would mean no one had any ammo) but can be changed anytime during the Strategy Phase of a campaign via the Options Menu. When loading a battle from a saved game, the gameplay mode will default to the one in use in the saved file.

In other tweaks and changes which affect both gameplay modes:

Attacking targets who are in the open and clearly visible now gives a  +20% bonus to accuracy. So a trooper who is crouching using CAUTIOUS tactic and can see the full length of an enemy will have a +40% bonus to accurcay (crouching +20, unobscurred target +20). Keeping your troopers partially obscurred by the lie-of-the-land and/or in cover is now more important than ever.

Players asked for a better stealth when attacking from the rear, so spotting targets is much more difficult from behind now, especially at distance. This now makes it possible to creep up directly behind enemies completely unseen, with no chance of them detecting your trooper as long as they do not come closer than 30 metres, in which case they do have a chance to hear the approaching threat. Of course once an undetected trooper starts shooting they will give away their position to everyone within sight.

Enemy AI troopers have had their basic statistics rebalanced.

In the Pangea (main) Campaign the Dastardly Pirates have had their progression rebalanced to prevent them from becoming overpowered in the late stages of the campaign.

An issue with Arid Map 2 and Arid Realism Map 2 where projectiles would not collide with rocks and boulders has been resolved.


The STEAM version of Airship Dragoon will automatically update the next time STEAM is started.

Most non-Steam versions can be redownloaded from their source portal for the update or the owner can apply the new patch to upgrade from version 1.5.2 to the new version 1.6 update. If running the bonus files or realism mod, they too can be found updated at www.yorkshireRifles.com. A demo is also available from that webpage.
Airship Dragoon is an uber-hardcore, turn-based, strategy game inspired by early 1990s tactical games such as X-Com/UFO series, Laser Squad and Steel Panthers available on STEAM and DRM-free as a direct download.

Friday 9 January 2015

Airship Dragoon End Of Winter Sale and Streamline Mode

It is the final weekend of "The Big It's Really Cold Winter Sale" and uber-hardcore, squad tactics, indie game "Airship Dragoon" is half price direct from the developer. Comes with a DRM free download and a Steam key. (ends Monday 12th January 2015)

There is also a new update in the pipeline which will (hopefully) be released in the next week or two featuring a new "STREAMLINE" gameplay mode. This mode creates infinte ammunition for weapons, removing the need to equip extra bullets. Inventories can be manipulated without using up those precious Action Points, so dropping, picking up and using new items come at no cost. It's Airship Dragoon - streamlined! The original style is still available and now known as "Hardcore" mode, and the two modes can be switched at will before any tactical battle - including in the middle of a campaign - via the options menu.
There has also been some rebalancing of Ai and the Dastardly Pirates of Pangea, and a few fixes for issues which had previously snuck in.
Using cover is now more important than ever. Targets partially obscured by cover now give a negative (-10%) accuracy modifier, whilst targets out in the open have a bonus (+20%) to the shooter's aim. So a trooper in "Cautious" tactic (crouching) has a massive +50% bonus when firing on an enemy using "Standard" tactic with no cover (previously it was +30%).

"The Idea Fairy" courtesy of http://www.themeatly.com

In other news, I've been umming and ahhing about starting a new indie game project. I expect like most devs, ideas are not hard to come by but finalizing which concept is the crux of the issue. After developing an uber-hardcore strategy game, I quite fancy a change of pace to something more action orientated ... and a shorter development cycle. So to this effect, I am planning on creating one or two quick and dirt technical demos to test basic gameplay design.

Concept One: Top down (or possibly isometric for bombing runs) style steampunk/dieselpunk aerial shoot 'em up. Lot's of rear "pusher" props, giant armoured airships as a sky navy blasting big guns at each other and flak cannons at incoming bombers. Intercept and strafe the bombers, fight it out in a melee of small aircraft, duel the enemy ace, torpedo the airship destroyer, all with the emphasis on short, sharp dogfights.

Early Fighter bomber concept
I had a quick mockup of sizes using real world (World War 2) naval ships and aircraft just to see what the scale looked like.
The big green arc is one kilometre from the 200m radius circle. Yellow rectangles are various naval ship sizes (battleship, cruiser, destroyer), and the big  triangle on the left has the dimensions of a Mosquito bomber, whilst the small one on the right is fighter sized. First impressions, things need to be bigger.

Concept Two: Top down (or possibly isometric) arcade action roguelite, with emphasis on swarms of enemies, boss battles, randomization, probably permadeath, level progression, power up collectables and unlockables.
The player (character on foot) makes their way through each level, searching for power ups, collectables, new equipment and weapons, and the means to exit to the next level through a boss battle whilst assailed by randomly spawning enemies. Placement of all objects in the world is randomized, including start and exit points. Shooting monsters gives points, points make prizes with increased collectable drops.
The player would have one or two weapons, a light attack with fast cool down, heavy attack with longer cool down, extra ability which would probably be defensive like dodge, speedrun, lay boobytrap, depending on collectable and some special object with either a time limited effect or single use like airstrikes, freeze/confuse enemies, invulnerability and the sort. The emphasis would be on wide and varied collectables with increasingly frenzied arcade action.
Alas no predesign pics of this as it currently exists in the murky vapours of my mind.

Anyhow, these are two ideas which I will be testing with technical demos later in the month to see how the concepts translate to actual gameplay. First things first though, and that's the "Streamline" update for Airship Dragoon version 1.6.