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Interesting Twist on the Top-Down Shooter?

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Hi everyone, I'm looking at some free time in the near future, and consequently, lots of programming! Huzzah! I was thinking about a new game I wanted to work on and I started to notice a major difference between first-person shooters and top-down shooters (my personal preference from a programming point of view). Generally in a top-down view, the player can see everything within the size of the game frame, while first-person games of course can only see in front of the player, and the view is obstructed by objects. I decided before I went any further with the storyline that I have in mind, to write up an engine in which the player would have a field of vision and any objects in the area would block the player's view. My game is intended to be sort of a dark, sci-fi/creepy sort of thing, so imagine the vision as a flashlight being shined in a dark room. Part of the story is going to include the player having some form of mutation that will expand his vision, and eventually allow him to see in 360 degrees, like an insect's compound eye. Here is the prototype that I am currently working with. Yes, the images are my work and yes, they will be gone by the time I get anywhere near done with the game. http://www.heroesofearth.net/Compound.jar Controls: WASD- Movement Mouse- Look/shine flashlight Left Click- Shoot (Pistol by default) Right Click- Examine objects (presently walls and doors are the only things to see). Click again to close the view. Space- Open/Close door Issues that I know about: Shadows when the player is not fully on one side of something or the other may display incorrectly "Cracks" or very thin slices of light when looking at walls Walking diagonally into walls will stop you completely The artwork is bad Any other thoughts you have on the prototype or the idea in general are appreciated. This may be something that's been done before but I haven't seen it in my limited experience. Thanks all!

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Can't seem to get the Jar file working... could be my JRE.

Aside from that, I like the idea of not being able to beyond the actual FOV. One thing to do (which you might have done) is have the player at the bottom of the screen (or just above) so the player can't see behind as that is the edge of the screen. The controls would have to control the background rather than the character (like an FPS)

What would also be interesting to tie in with this is things like peripheral vision. Maybe stuff that wasn't quite in the FOV would be greyed out or blurred. You could see SOMETHING moved, but you are not sure what. This would tie in nicely with the scary theme.

The light is another good idea - users may be confused why half the screen is black - but a light would explain it nicely. Also, use other light sources that flicker, I always find that quite creepy! :P

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The things you are proposing sound good.

They all feature in 'Counterstrike 2D', the player has a tile based line of sight (similar to those of the enemy on a 'Metal Gear Solid' radar).

It works like a fog of war, you can still see the dimmed terrain - but nothing else so that it simulates you knowing the map layout from memory, but not knowing where the enemies are.

I think some 'Soldat' games employ a similar idea too.

There are lots of improvements to be made to the CS2D version, it is very blocky for a start - probably a symptom of the game's tiled graphics.

Also, my opinion, for what it's worth is that you could really nail the creepy sci-fi thing with this idea. I was thinking that instead of using it as a field of vision, you could use the same formula as a light engine - so the lighting in the game casts proper shadows.

Imagine a light bulb swinging from it's cable, the shadows it casts would sway from side to side along with it - perhaps only revealing an enemy for a second at a time, forcing you to guess it's position and heading before you shoot (This idea is partly inspired by the end of the movie 'Heat' if you've seen it).

Pair this with the field of vision of the player and you'd have some pretty nail biting stuff me thinks.


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The whole idea screams "Alone in the Dark" horror to me. Sci-Fi mixed in would be great as well. A good light engine and the allowing the player to still see terrain they have explored would be a good improvement.

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Thanks guys

I was thinking about using fog of war, since it's usually more interesting than staring at a window that's mostly blacked out. Being myself and wanting to get the cool stuff working as fast as possible, I stuck with just blackness for now, but I think I will look into that as I get further into the work.

I also really like the blurry peripherals and the swinging light ideas, those are definitely worth some thought as well.

Also, thk123, did the Jar give any specific message for not running? If not you could try running it through the command line (java -jar Compound.jar). If that still doesn't work, here's a screenshot to give you an idea of what I have so far

[Edited by - Droopy on November 18, 2008 8:23:08 PM]

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I wondered why that PW thing was coming up. The picture looks awesome! Have the light fade as it gets further away from the character (if that is possible) and have it fade outwards as well.

Looks really cool though.

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Sorry about all the technical difficulties. I think something got messed up uploading it the first time so here's the game on MegaUpload:

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=GJ7EDZPQ

PS, thk123, I threw in a little primitive fading out just for you ;)

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Thanks! From what I saw it looked really cool, the shadows are really creepy. However, my screen was flickering at a seizure inducing rate... I have tried this on both Vista and Ubuntu. No error is thrown, it still works, can move, shoot etc, but the screen flickers non stop

No idea why it happens though, so I can't help you. Sorry!

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Crap, this will motivate me to work faster on my game.

I had this idea over 5 years ago, but I still haven't finished the game lol.

>.<

Edit: Here's a pic of what my game started out looking at.



I'll give you a hint from my experience, take it as you will. I learned that when you fill what's not visible with pure black, when moving around it tends to create an illusion of a 3d world with infinitely tall walls all around you. It can be highly nauseating too. One way to fix that is to simply render what's not visible in a darker shade or something, as you can see in the last screenshot (eX0_4).

[Edited by - shurcool on November 21, 2008 11:41:17 PM]

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No flicker for me nice start. A lot of people never get even that much up and running (me included :P )

Could you make the directional movement keys relative to the avatar's rotation though, please? Even with such primitive graphics, moving around would be more immersive with that fixed. The shading looks pretty good. Maybe get more place holder graphics up and and some sprite animation for the activation of objects like the door. Add a lamp you can toggle on and off and use that to play with lighting.

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A problem that may crop up is emotional detachment from your character, which can negatively impact the horror of the situation. Personally, when I'm playing a top-down shooter, I'm much more calculating than I am when I'm playing a game where I have at least some understanding of what my character looks like. I don't know if it would considerably more difficult, but I think an isometric perspective would allow you to connect with your character more easily.

Anyways, I'm sure there's a lot of ways to deal with the problem of emotional detachment, but it's probably something to keep in mind when creating this. I hope this works out, I love top down shooters as well as horror sci-fi.

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Quote:
Original post by JasRonq
Could you make the directional movement keys relative to the avatar's rotation though, please?


I second this, it was a bit wierd that "W" was always "up", even if I was facing right, etc. I think "W" should be "in the direction you're facing", etc...

I also got the flickering, but it wasn't as bad as what thk123 got (I'm on Windows XP SP3, JRE 1.6u10 here). It's certainly good enough for a "proof of concept", though.

Altogether, I liked it. Very creepy!

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Quote:
Original post by Codeka
Quote:
Original post by JasRonq
Could you make the directional movement keys relative to the avatar's rotation though, please?


I second this, it was a bit wierd that "W" was always "up", even if I was facing right, etc. I think "W" should be "in the direction you're facing", etc...


I've always vastly preferred absolute control as opposed to relative control. An option for either way certainly can't hurt though, right?

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You could also factor in proximity senses (listening/smelling/feeling) around your character into your system here. In FPSes you could usually know the general direction an enemy is just by listening to the sounds your speakers/headphones emit. Even without surround sound, you could still tell whether or not a nearby enemy is to your general left, right, or behind you. In a top-down shooter with tunnel vision, simply playing these sounds where the enemies are relative to your hero's position might not be so effective, as playing a sound just a little bit off from your top-down center hero probably won't be as effective as playing the sound completely off to the side of the screen as in FPSes.

So to help with this visually you could add a nearly skin-tight detection bubble around your main character, and even a fading effect as the bubble's radius goes out from your hero, transitioning into the darkness/fog around him. You could still play the sounds where they are, its just that now you have a clearer sense of where things are in your close proximity while still mainly depending on your front tunnel vision as your "main" detection method. I would make sure the proximity detection bubble is small enough to keep some mystery intact while still being effective enough to know where an enemy is when it gets immediately near to your flanks or back. As well as making sure later on as you get wider vision upgrades, your close-proximity detection is small enough so to not make those upgrades redundant.

Or you could do what StarCraft 2 did with its Terran proximity warning system - keep your detection range/tunnel how it is, but whenever something comes immediately near you that is out of your tunnel sight, you could represent that as a colored dot in the darkness around you so to keep some mystery intact.

I mainly see this necessary if say you have a lot of melee enemies in your game (like zombies, or facehuggers, or zerglings). When you start taking damage from an unknown number of melee enemies you can't see yet, it'd be pretty helpful to know which direction they are hitting you and from that, where to escape to or which direction to turn to face.

[Edited by - Tangireon on November 22, 2008 8:39:44 PM]

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Quote:
Original post by Tangireon
You could also factor in proximity senses (listening/smelling/feeling) around your character into your system here. In FPSes you could usually know the general direction an enemy is just by listening to the sounds your speakers/headphones emit. Even without surround sound, you could still tell whether or not a nearby enemy is to your general left, right, or behind you. In a top-down shooter with tunnel vision, simply playing these sounds where the enemies are relative to your hero's position might not be so effective, as playing a sound just a little bit off from your top-down center hero probably won't be as effective as playing the sound completely off to the side of the screen as in FPSes.



Well, if we discount smell, taste and touch, as you don't really use them in any game, you end up with just sound. What if, to represent this, the sounds approximate location could appear on the screen. This would give the player where they came from. Maybe just a little white dot - nothing too immersion breaking (such as a big neon sign saying sound here). This could fit in with the peripheral vision thing - as a thing moves out from central vision it slowly becomes an indistinguishable dot, until that is all it is.

This would work as a substitute for the speaker, maybe the position of the dot would be accurate in relation to the direction of the sound (it is much easier to detect from what direction a sound is coming from) but it's proximity might be more off. A player could think something is far off, but is just behind them.

Also, I remember a post a while back about paranoia (I think) An idea that came of that was as the player went deeper in to the game, they became more nervous. Maybe that could factor in to this. The player would have the option to really strain their hearing - giving an immediate advantage of improved hearing range. However, as a player continually used this power,they would start hearing things that weren't there.

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