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Manta-X

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Let me go into Manta-X a little bit more. In the past, I was always a huge fan of scrolling space shooters (coming from a 'classic' era in gaming). Uridium in particular took hold of my interest - it was simple, yet highly entertaining. The basic concept was that an alien fleet was about to attack, the only hope against it was a small ship (called the Manta), sounds kind of cliche now but at the time, that was the staple story of all shooters. The game revolved around a ship that flew over the surface of a huge mothership, shooting down fighters and avoiding homing mines and ship features - once you'd cleared the ship of enemies, you were prompted to "LAND NOW!!" which you took as a cue to land on a small runway somewhere on the ship. Upon landing, the story said the Marines inside entered the ship and blew up the main reactor, taking off for the next ship whilst the superstructure collapsed. I played Uridium a lot on the Spectrum at the time and then again on the enhanced Uridium 2 on the Amiga.

So, with all that said, I felt inspired to create a shooter that I'd like to play on the PC. There's some great shooters out there, but none really captured my imagination like Uridium did - so I set about planning and coding Manta-X, as both a tribute to this great game and because I want to make a shooter I can play :)

Development of Manta-X has been a rough ride, anyone that might have followed the progress will have seen that I've fallen off the horse several times already. The problem was simply because I over engineered the 'engine' for the game, trying to make technology when I should have been trying to make a game. Thanks to a few people's words on GDN (Chris Hargrove, for one) and several inspiring Indie projects (Sector 13, for another) I've decided to once again shift my focus onto the game and not the technology that powers it. With that said, I'm making leaps and bounds now.

The actual game plan for Manta-X is inspired by Uridium, but has a large dose of Wing Commander style structure in there. I grew bored of linear shooters and feel that for Manta-X, I want the player to engage in a plot as well as blasting the crap out of several aliens. The story itself may not be the most original, but I'm hoping that it'll add a little more to an otherwise fairly static genre.

Whilst planning the enemies you face, I'm very tempted to make a couple of them a little bit more intelligent than the player would expect. For example, think of the Aces in Wing Commander - they generally flew better than the average grunt, meaning the player actually feared them, gaining huge satisfaction when they were killed. I'm tempted to throw in something similar, there might be a few enemies that will actively try and dodge the player's weapon fire, causing them to wake up a little bit and want to hunt down the rogue enemy ship. I wonder if this would be a positive feature of the game, or a mere annoyance because people expect their scrolling shooter to behave in one way only?
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