Project Spikes Update #5 – Fields and Laser Improvements

Time for another update! To kick this one off, I’ll introduce a new feature: fields!

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My laser arrays are much purpler than yours.

The red laser fields harm the player, while the purple ones destroy physics objects such as cubes and turrets. When the player goes through a red field, you die instantly too, so it’s probably best not to let that happen. These new fields are ripped from the old project mostly, but with a new appearance and a bit of new functionality, both of which slot nicely into the other game features (it’s lasers all around here). There’s also another tweak to lasers – I refer you to an image from last update:

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Entanglement. I ain’t having no quantum physics going on here!

As you can see, the laser beams don’t line up correctly and look like something MC Escher would draw. But I’ve changed the lasers to use a different shader, so they’re less solid-looking than before, and render correctly, giving a more subtle look. Talking about tweaks, the Force Gun provides force in a different way than before, in that it doesn’t really apply a force, it provides an impulsive… well, force I guess. Physics nerds will probably understand the difference, but for the average Joe, that just means the movement of objects is a bit more instant.

To accommodate the fields, I’ve split Tutorial 2 into two, and tweaked both halves a bit, so there’s basically a new tutorial level to stop the tutorials feeling like an avalanche of features and instructions.

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Things are starting to look a lot more colourful!

In the background are the red fields that kill you. You’ll also see part of a TV screen at the top of the tower – remember back in the real early version of the new project, when screenshots were added? You could press F5 to take a screenshot, and it would render the image to a screen in the level. That’s been added back, but this time the screens have a simple model. Every tutorial level has at least one screen, so you can see your last screenshot whenever you want.

I’m also partway done with the turret texturing job, which is taking much longer than anticipated. I’ve tweaked the angry turret face, and made one for destroyed angry turrets.

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No, Steve, noooo! I’ll get revenge for you!

Next update is going to be a big texturing/modelling update, because I’ve been putting off replacing placeholders for a long time (the Force Gun springs to mind, however hilarious it is). You can find the update over at IndieDB once it’s uploaded/authorised, so have fun playing! Don’t forget, this update contains all the features I mentioned back in the Update #4 post, including better turret collision and different textures on cubes based on how damaged they are.

-Daniel

Project Spikes Update #4 – Improving Physics

This update doesn’t have a download to accompany it, but I decided to at least tell you guys how things are going. Or I could disappear for a couple months, but would I do that? (Please don’t answer than, I’m a terrible developer. Development team. Developtron.)

I’ve been working a lot on the cubes and laser turrets in particular. Whereas before the cubes would simply disappear when the fell of the end of the level, now they have a death sequence, where the cubes now shrink into nothingness, but by the next downloadable version, there will also be a particle effect when the cube dies.

Additionally, the evil laser turrets can now harm good turrets and cubes (we offered them anger management classes, but all they did was turn their lasers on us). To show the level of harm inflicted upon the poor cubes/turrets, their texture will change as they get more hurt, to look increasingly abused. I’ve finished the beat-up textures for cubes, and by next update I’ll have done so for turrets, too, along with textures for turrets.

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From the bottom-left, going anti-clockwise: Pristine, Used, Chernobyl.

I’ve also made slightly better models for turrets and I’m halfway through texturing them. The good turrets look much the same, just with a couple more details on the legs and parts of the front, but evil turrets look more like the good turrets in construction, with a bit jutting out of the bottom with the second laser coming out of the lower part. But the best thing about the evil turrets: they now have angry faces!

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I’m not sure if the angry turret is funny or creepy. Or both.

This was a very comical suggestion from a friend, but maybe it needs more work. However, the angry eyebrows will stay. When either of the turrets dies, it turns into a pile of debris, which you can see in front of both turrets. Then you can fling the debris around like no tomorrow! You also can’t collide with the debris, so you won’t be subjected to a horrible bumpy ride while walking over it, and when you pick up a not-dead turret, you won’t collide with it, which was a problem before.

Under the hood there have been a lot of optimisations with turrets too, mostly that evil turrets now don’t have two turret scripts attached to them as I’ve re-written some of the laser’s code, so they use less memory. Which is always a bonus, because everyone loves having RAM lying about. There’s also a couple less interesting tweaks and additions to the pause menu, but no-one cares about that because it doesn’t have eyebrows.

Well, that’s about it for this update. I’ll keep you posted on how things are going, and I hope to put out a new download soon. I may also have a new level done by then, but we’ll see how that goes, because I might improve other stuff first.

-Daniel

Space and Actually Fixed Levels – Project Spikes 01/12/13 Update

I’ve actually fixed stuff this week, and now it’s update time again!

spikes-40The Testing Area level from last update has magically transformed into a space level, complete with loads of particle effects for the thrusters. I’ve made another performance improvement by having differently-sized level geometry and textures. You won’t see any visual change on your end, but it does shift a lot of work from the CPU to the GPU and hence gives a better framerate, at least for me. This level has all the powerups and guns from the old testing level, but is laid out differently and looks better, with a new space skybox and windows, which you can actually smash with the destruction gun or by flinging cubes at them with the force gun.

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I like the texture of these, and the transparentness of them (I’m pretty sure that sentence makes no sense, but that’s why I don’t study English). This level’s gravity is a tiny bit decreased too, so stuff will fall to the ground slower. This level will probably be used in the future to provide access to bonus levels, but currently it’s just there for you to play around with powerups and guns.

spikes-42This is the new-improved-shiny-awesome World 1 Level 5! It’s so much better than the original, but keeps all the basic concepts from the level, such as the switch platforms and radial platforms. It also adds in a small maze part, and some turrets, as well as a high jump powerup. Along with that I’ve improved World 2 Level 1.

spikes-43The new version of this level adds a second floor and is generally better than the original in most ways. I’ve also modified the pause menu so you can access the options straight from there, and when you try to return to the main menu it’ll ask you if you’re sure, just in case you click it by accident. That’s basically it for this update, which you can play here. I hope you have fun playing!

-Daniel

 

 

 

My Actual Plan. More Spontaneous Changes!

As you may have read almost a month ago now (sorry, I have been extremely busy catching up with AS Further Maths and a bit of Chemistry and Physics A2), I’ve been changing my plans a bit. Now to clarify exactly what I’ve decided!

I am about to enter Year 13 (the equivalent of the second year of college), and I am going to study Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry; one more A-level than most people. This is because I found out, towards the end of Year 12, that Geography is useless if you want to study Computer Science at university. Yeah, I guess that’s obvious, but 16-year-old me didn’t know what he was going to do later on. So I switched that with FM, but I decided to do the entire A-level so now I have to catch up on the AS. I hope to get into Cambridge, but the entry requirements are high (A*AA I believe) and I must take FM as one of those. I hope by doing one more A-level than the average person it will help me stand out as a strong candidate, as Computer Science is a subject I really want to study in depth and it will help greatly in what I want to do when I’m older. Anyway, enough about me, what about my games?

I decided to put my 3D Platform game on hold for a while, as it was far too ambitious for my skill level. Now, I am following Brackeys’ tutorial on Unity survival game development, which is extremely helpful with scripting and generally explaining everything you need to know. But in addition to this tutorial series, I have started the development of a small tower defense game, which so far has been very easy to plan and develop.

tower-defense-2This is a screenshot of early development, where I played around with stuff to see what worked and what didn’t. Each small metal tile allows the player to place a turret on it, which will the automatically fire at any nearby enemies. Currently, I’m trying to shake out the bugs with this mechanic, but it’s working well so far. The cube in the top-right corner will be the target the enemies try to reach (except it will have a proper model later, along with many other things in the game), and if it gets destroyed, the player loses.

tower-defense-1In this game, I’m trying to improve my level design skills to make the game as enjoyable as it can be. The first level will have a sci-fi theme, with futuristic textures and enemies. I’m slowly making progress with the level in general.

tower-defense-3This has a similar layout to the pictures shown above, but with small tweaks to the scenery. I hope to make the scene as detailed as I can. I have worked on the enemy AI (he is the red cuboid in the top picture), which is currently very simple, but he follows the path I’ve laid out correctly and attacks the box at the end, although nothing happens to it yet. The turret placement is working, and later on I will have a series of buttons along the bottom allowing the player to select different turrets, but I have to model some first. Different turrets will shoot different bullets (or lasers, or bombs), and some will be stronger than others. I could write more, but when I have a more complete version finished, I’ll make a complete list. This is the summary for now:

NEW FEATURES

  • Turret placement points, allowing the player to place turrets in the level. Cost 100 points each currently.
  • Points system, where the player is rewarded with points for killing enemies. Points are used as currency to buy turrets.
  • Enemy spawner, which will send waves of enemies through the level.
  • Target for the enemies at the end of their path – if this gets destroyed, the player loses the level.
  • One level to begin with, with a sci-fi theme.

WHAT NEEDS DOING

  • More enemies and turret varieties – different enemies will have varying health and movement speed, and different turrets will have different bullets and attack strength.
  • Better points system, with different enemies and turrets giving/requiring different amounts of points.
  • More scenery for the sci-fi level, and eventually more levels.
  • Better wave system, in which higher numbered waves will feature stronger/more enemies.

CURRENT/NEW BUGS

  • Turrets aim straight at the enemy, so when they fire bullets, they often don’t hit the enemy, but the floor just behind the enemy. (potential fixes: turn down the gravity for the bullets or increase their speed? Try to aim in front of the enemy?)