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roger_hq

"Star Lance Alpha" 2D scrolling shootem-up demo release

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Hello all, I have recently finished a demo/beta version of my top-down vertical-scrolling 2D shootem-up game called Star Lance Alpha . I am looking for feedback on how the game plays, and just general opinions on what you think could be improved before I do a final release. You can find the game at: Screen shots: http://www.deepbluefuture.com/projects.html Warning: there are 18 somewhat large images on this page; 56k users might want to be wary. Download: http://www.deepbluefuture.com/downloads.html Download size is a whopping 16.5MB. I've had a great time developing it, as it is my first real game that I've developed. I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I've had in creating it. Thanks for any and all comments! roger_hq _____________________________ "Set Phasers to neuter..." "2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2." [edited by - roger_hq on January 28, 2004 3:29:34 PM] [edited by - roger_hq on January 28, 2004 3:31:03 PM] [edited by - roger_hq on January 28, 2004 4:26:09 PM]

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WOW!!!

Truely an amazing game. I''m currently working on a shump type game, it''s my first attempt at a real game, and it does not look anywhere near as impressive as this one. This game is incredibly professional.

I''d be embarrased to post my game after seeing this one. :-/

How long did you spend making EVERYTHING (I see by the credits that you did it all!)?

Only bug I found was when I exited the game, my desktop resolution was not restored.

Also, could you include some sort of difficulty setting? The first level seems pretty hard for a first level...when you are first getting used to the controls.

I''m extremely impressed, but slightly disappointed in my own project now. I still have fun making though, and that''s what really counts.

-Q

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Thank you very much! I''m glad you liked it. I''ve been working on it some time now (a little over 2 years on and off again). Its been a long haul but definately worth it, building a project from start to finish.

Yes, I did pretty much everything you see in the game (except the sound effects, which I purchased, and then re-mixed to suit my needs). I spent a considerable time on the graphics, and a bit of time on the music. I''m no musician, but it seemed to turn out ok.

Interesting to hear it didn''t swap you back to your default resolution upon exiting. Are you by any chance using an LCD monitor? I''ve found that LCDs are a bit troublesome. If you wouldn''t mind telling me your system specs, that would be great!

Unfortunately I didn''t put the levels in any particular order of difficulty in the mission selection box. I think perhaps the "Nebula Base" mission is easiest. I think in the final release I will either not have a mission selector (just a series of mission you can go on) or have the missions in increasing order of difficulty.

Thank you again for your input!


roger_hq

_____________________________

http://www.deepbluefuture.com

"Set Phasers to neuter..."
"2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2."

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any thoughts on capping the frame rate? It''s just totally unplayable on my config! It''s so high you can''t even see the sprites of the enemy ships properly. lol :D

Looks really good though

athlon 1700+ @1.4ghz
Radeon 9700 128 mb
kt266, 512mb ram
Sound blaster audigy

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Hrm... it should be capped. Have you disabled vsync on your monitor? I tried capping it to 60fps but sounds like it didn''t work on your machine. My only thought is that you might have vsync disabled on your monitor. Let me know, and I''ll see what I can do to fix that. Thanks!

roger_hq

_____________________________

http://www.deepbluefuture.com

"Set Phasers to neuter..."
"2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2."

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yeah, I had my vsync always off. Now default to application, and it works. Maybe a warning on screen, in case the vsync is locked? or in the logfile?

Still, bloody hard game but really well done. good job!

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Hey thanks for the input guys!

oliii:
Thanks for checking into that. I had a feeling that might be the issue. I think I will issue a warning if the user''s monitor has disabled vsync. I made a version of the game that didn''t require vsync to be enabled, but it simply didn''t scroll as smoothly. Did you find the controls helpful once you got used to them? Did you find the enemies to have too much shields?

CrystalClear:
Thanks, I very much appreciate that! No troubles running the game?




_____________________________
http://www.deepbluefuture.com
"Set Phasers to neuter..."
"2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2."

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I think this is a great game, though somewhat difficult playing the first mission. Also,the game seems to run fairly fast on my rig.

It is a great inspiration to write my own shump, as I hope to do as I am learning DX right now.

Kudos!

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CaptCanada:
Thanks for trying it out! Could you tell me what your system specs are? That would help me determine why it might be running fast on your machine. A previous poster had vsync disabled on his monitor, is that the same situation for you?

I''ll be uploading a new demo version that hopefully corrects the speed problem with vsync disabled monitors this weekend.



_____________________________
http://www.deepbluefuture.com
"Set Phasers to neuter..."
"2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2."

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quote:
Original post by roger_hq
oliii:
Thanks for checking into that. I had a feeling that might be the issue. I think I will issue a warning if the user''s monitor has disabled vsync. I made a version of the game that didn''t require vsync to be enabled, but it simply didn''t scroll as smoothly. Did you find the controls helpful once you got used to them? Did you find the enemies to have too much shields?



It''s smooth as a baby''s bottom. My main critic is, the ennemies are too tough. And they fire a lot of pellets in your general direction. Hard to dodge. Even with the nippiest ship. I think there is an unbalance between the movement speed of your ship, and the large amount of things thrown at you.

There are quite a few controls to learn. I''m used to the amiga''s one-button-does-it-all (And occasionaly hitting the space bar with the foot ). Your ship is quite big, so hard to dodge, but to be fair. your spacecraft can take a lot of punishement. In some games, they have an animation for the ships (left and right rolls), so the craft can bank left or right. At the same time, they reduce the collision box around the ship. The plane banks left, and only the fuselage of the plane has collision, which improves the manouverability and you really feel like you are dodging bullets.

Another thing some shoot''em up do (U.N. Squadron, if I remember correctly), is when you get hit, the ship flashes, and you are invincible for a very short amount of time (like a second). That avoid getting mauled when the screen fills with bullets. And also, when you collide with an enemy. Having the ship flash for a moment gives a good indication when you get hit.

I like the little pods on the side, that shoots enemy bullets. Although, it makes the game a lot easier.

Also, when you die, you loose everything. Typical shoot''em up trickery

And there is no nuke! or I haven''t seen any. This is a definite must have in a game like that A large superbomb, that blasts everything on screen.

One weapon I love, In a game I used play (I forgot the name), was the fire-and-forget, laser guided, heat-seeking missile cluster (phew!).

Basically, you keep the missile button depressed, that triggers a small laser beam, which paints (or acquire, if you will) a bunch of targets, mobile or fixed positions. When you release the button, or two second later, half a dozen missiles are fired and head towards the designated targets. It''s great, coz you can decide to paint several targets, or just one tough enemy ship, or gun emplacements on a large ship, and it looks cool. You can have the same system for bombs. Have a cursor in front of the ship. paint targets on the ground, and see the bombs flatten the targets in your wake.

And a bit more variety and concistency in the ennmy attacks.

The fact that you can decide how fast you scroll through the level is a great idea. It gives a space invader flavour to the mix.

that''s my 2 cents.

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oliii:

After watching some of my friends/co-workers play for a while, I would tend to agree that the enemies could be scaled down slightly, and there could be too much being shot at you at one time. Balance is a very tricky subject. Initially I was going for ships that wouldn''t necessarily die after getting hit with one bullet (I hate that about some shmups). I think I''m going to tone down the number of bullets fired by some enemies as well as reduce the number of shields on some enemies. It would produce a much faster paced game if you didn''t have to constantly pummel every single enemy.

The controls I was hoping would become intuitive after a bit of use. I wanted to get away from highly simplistic controls of many shmups, and go for something closer to a real flight sim, in which there are several things to manage at once. Obviously, no one would ever confuse this game with a flight sim, but I do like the high amount of control and attention you have to pay to the status of your ship.

Thanks for the comments on the defense pods, I sorta came up with those late in the development process, some kind of odd inspiration. The way they work is that for each moment they connect with a target projectile, it decreases that projectiles potential damage. When the projectile''s damage is reduced to zero, it is removed from the game.

Actually, when you die, you don''t lose everything. You lose your weapon pods and defense pods. You still get to keep your special weapons and your other power-ups; and of course you lose one life. Do you think it would be better to keep the pods?

Oh, you bet there''s a NUKE! How could you not have a nuke in a shmup? Check the instructions page where it displays all the power-ups you can get. Some power-ups are placed in the mission to begin with, but as you probably discovered sometimes when you destroy an enemy, a random power-up is dropped for you to pick up. I think most people would like the cluster-bomb power-up the most, as it is very pipe-hittin''. I also tried to steer clear of power-ups that are harmful to your ship, I always thought that was kinda cheap.

Did you notice that you could target enemies with the tab key? When you have an enemy targeted, you can fire your missile-type weapons (missile, double-missile, and EMP missile) and they will lock-on and hit your currently targeted enemy. I like you idea of "painting" a target by holding down the key, maybe use that instead of manually pressing a different button to explicity target the closest bad guy?

Did you manage to get to one of the end boss yet?

Hey, your 2 cents were great! Thanks so much for taking the time to check it out!


Cheers,

roger_hq



_____________________________
http://www.deepbluefuture.com
"Set Phasers to neuter..."
"2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2."

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CaptCanada:

Thanks for the system specs. I think I've found the speed issue problems, it seems to have a high prevelance on ATI cards. I will have a fix on that sometime this week soon, I hope. Thanks again for your input.


EDIT:

I posted a new version of the game with the fix for the speed issue on some monitor/graphics card combos. If it was running too fast on your machine before, try it again and let me know how it runs now. Thanks!


Cheers,

roger_hq

_____________________________
http://www.deepbluefuture.com
"Set Phasers to neuter..."
"2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2."

[edited by - roger_hq on February 2, 2004 8:15:07 PM]

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Hello all,

I''ve been working on some enhancements, levels, and minor bug fixes for Star Lance Alpha recently, and I''ve uploaded a new zip file which contains the newest version of my game to my web site.

screens

download

Included in the new version (0.9.2) are:

- I''ve toned-down the number of enemy bullets that are shot at your ship, so you have more of a chance to dodge bullets.

- I''ve included a difficulty slider control to allow the user to decrease/increase the difficulty of the game. Currently, this only changes the amount of shields that the enemies will have, but in future releases it will also control other things like collision damage, number of enemy bullets, etc. Setting the slider in the center (default) is normal difficulty.

- I put the levels in the mission selection box in increasing order of difficulty; however some folks have told me that the "Xenoline X" mission is easier than the "Moon Base Assault" level, so those two might be out of order. "Xenoline X" is not a completed level, but I will update that soon.

- Added a new level, "Milk Run", which is a very basic level without too much challenge, to help the new user to get used to the controls and whatnot. Its a very short mission without many enemies.

- Changed the way the afterburner works. The afterburner used to have a lot of thrust time. Now, it only thrusts for a very short amount of time. Use the afterburner to get past smashers, asteriod belts, or other areas where you need a short, quick burst of speed to get out of the way of danger.

- Decreased the download size to 14.9 MB down from 17 MB. Hey, every little bit helps, right?

- Fixed frame rate issues on some machines (I hope!). Should run at a smooth frame rate even if the user has vsync disabled on their machine (this is an old fix from version 0.9.1).


Other improvements I have planned are taking some suggestions from earlier posters, such as auto-targeting, etc. I also plan on developing many more missions for future releases.

Anyway, thanks in advance for checking out the new version of my game. Please feel free to send me any feedback, good or bad! Feedback will really help make this game and my future games better!


Cheers,

roger_hq

_____________________________
http://www.deepbluefuture.com
"Set Phasers to neuter..."
"2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2."

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Idhrendur:
Thanks for checking the game out. Thank you very much for the compliment, that is great coming from someone who does not normally play that type of game! I appreciate that very much.

I am currently making some levels and adding some background story to the game. I also am in the process of creating a manual so users can go to a more aestheically-pleasing instruction doc instead of the readme, which I think should be for system requirements, etc.

A question: in a final version, do people in general prefer a zip-file version or a installer version? I can make both, I am just curious what the general consensus on the "preferred deployment" method.

Thanks for any and all feedback, keep it coming!

Cheers,

roger_hq


_____________________________
http://www.deepbluefuture.com
"Set Phasers to neuter..."
"2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2."

[edited by - roger_hq on February 24, 2004 5:26:01 PM]

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Nice game, is that your first or no? What did you use to code it just standard direct3d or some sort of library?

Good work though the graphics probably took quite a long time. I can tell you worked as hard on them as the code itself.

[edited by - DevLiquidKnight on February 28, 2004 3:31:18 PM]

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Hey guys, thanks for the inputs. Anyone else have strong feelings about installer vs. zip file? I know alot of users have strong feelings about installers manipulating the registries on their machines. Anyone here have other points of view on that?

picklejuice:
Thanks for the installer vs. zip input. I will definately make an unistaller if I make the installed version!

DevLiquidKnight:
Hey thanks for your input. This is my first game, and I''m looking forward to creating more. For this game I used DirectX 7.0 using DirectDraw, DirectInput, and DirectSound. I didn''t use any third-party wrappers like SDL or anything like that, just my own stuff. Yeah, the artwork actually took as long or longer than the code. It definately improved my photoshop skills. Thanks again for the input!

Cheers,

roger_hq



_____________________________
http://www.deepbluefuture.com
"Set Phasers to neuter..."
"2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2."

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picklejuice:
Thanks for the in-depth check into the game. I''ve put quite a few interesting weapons and power-ups in there. Which ones did you like best? From some of the feedback I''ve gotten from friends, the defense pods are a big hit, as well as the weapon pods and the grappling hook. As per your question about freeware, right now the game is freely downloadable as a demo version. In the future I might make it shareware, we''ll see. Thanks for the positive feedback, helps keep me motivated to finish all the details of the project!

I''m currently in the process of adding more content, including more background objects, storyline, and mission objectives. That should be done very soon. Also in the process of making levels, but that seems to have been set back by mission objectives work and so on. More levels coming soon!

Cheers,

roger_hq

_____________________________
http://www.deepbluefuture.com
"Set Phasers to neuter..."
"2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2."

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Congratulations on an extremely good game. It fan fine on my comp without any problems at all, here''s my specs:

AthlonXP 2800 2.1 gig
Radeon 9200 128 MB
512 MB RAM
XP Pro

On the installer issue i would think that for a game of this size - the ~15 meg download, it would benefit from using an installer which isn''t hard to do now with the free software around to create professional installers/uninstallers for you

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Spudder:

Thanks for trying the game and posting your system specs! That helps tremendously knowing what rigs and configurations it runs on. So far I haven''t run into many hardware problems, but you never know!

I think I will offer it as an installer version when I''m done. I have the free version of InstallShield that came with DevStudio 6.0, but I think its a seriously hamstrung version, so I''ll definately look into other free ones out there. Any suggestions on a good one, or are they all pretty much the same?

A note on progress:
Introductory storyline complete, mission objectives screens complete, and more content has been added. I am currently working on more levels now (phew!) and should have a version 0.9.3 ready for download.

Thanks for all the feedback, keep it coming!

Cheers,

roger_hq

_____________________________
http://www.deepbluefuture.com
"Set Phasers to neuter..."
"2+2=5 for sufficiently large values of 2."

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Ive experimented with Inno Setup Compiler which is dead easy to use with the script wizard (and is free to boot), there are a few others around Inno is the only one ive tried.

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