All posts by Chaz

Unfinished things – The Time Pilot / Uridium Project

Rummaging around in some dusty old project folders I came across these old mockups. Back in June 2008 we started work on a TIme Pilot ‘inspired’ game which was shaping up nicely, though we didn’t get as far as adding the Uridium style ships…

However, it felt severely limited by our old odd square format, giving you very little time to react to the enemy ships. We’ve dropped that now though and gone all widescreen for Revenge of the Titans, so maybe that wouldn’t be such an issue now.

The other problem was that it induced extreme motion sickness in a few people 🙂 …

Would that put anyone off, or worth digging up one day… once Revenge of the Titans is all done? Titan Attacks 3 perhaps?

A brief history of TA2 part 2 – Monster Mash post-mortem

We had intended to write a game that would be a fun shooter, something that would appeal to ‘shmup’ fans and a more ‘casual’ audience – and we wanted to create a shooter that would feel natural to play with a mouse, and no keys. Titan Attacks could be played with the mouse but it had been tacked on at the end of development as an alternative to keyboard control, and the various mouse-only control schemes we tried with Alien Flux and Super Elvis aka Super Dudester either never seemed completely natural to us, or the ones we liked everyone else hated.

We also wanted to avoid scrolling, and not make a standard vertical or side-scrolling shmup, thinking that might put off a fair amount of people.

The problem generally was being able to handle both movement and aiming at the same time – to be able to move in one direction whilst firing in another. We sidestepped this by removing the movement element completely.

After a month of playing around with various ideas we had a pretty fun little game involving building up your defences with turrets, mines and barricades to protect your city blocks from an onslaught of funky gidrahs. Here, again, are the only surviving screenshots…

However, the game had several rather big problems…

1. We had a simple lighting system, with spotlights showing the tracking of automated turrets and under the player cursor. For this to look any good the levels had to be pretty dark, and grey. This left us stuck as to how to change background gfx sufficiently to show level progression, not helped by…

2. The fixed screen made things feel very claustrophobic, quickly filling up with buildings, the aliens appearing almost on top of them, and there was no room for any pretty background graphics.

3. We hadn’t really thought through any kind of level/world progression at all. The game was fun, but… it didn’t really go anywhere.

…and then Cas’ wife suddenly left him. And ‘crashed’ his brand new pickup truck into a tree. And demanded all of his money. Development abruptly stopped.

…and then a game of the same name was released (a generic tower defence game), after we’d mentioned Monster Mash on this here blog, many moons ago. An unfortunate coincidence.

Not that that should have made any difference, but when we did resume development we decided to start something fresh (on what would end up being Droid Assault) rather than tackling the above problems of our now nameless game.

To be continued…

…with less words and more pictures 🙂 In the meantime, notice anything different here?…

Revenge of the Titans – latest screenshots

We’re not really going for accuracy in geographical locations – but should do something about that cactus.

Added and updated a whole load of things recently – it’s looking pretty slick. The HUD now has working ‘quicklaunch’ icons and tooltips on the bottom bar for buildings and powerups, and an alerts panel top right the other right (doh!), that also lets you quickly scroll to the building in question.

Also added new Earth level colours, new explosion particle effects, capacitor effects, powerup collect and activation effects, new extra glowey bullets, monster death effects, mini droid units, and a whole load of new weapons and buildings, and a big bad boss for level 10… all of which I’ll try and squeeze into a new vid soon.

More screenshots… Continue reading

Bug spottin’ Dropbox scribblin’

Sometimes an IM chat just doesn’t cut the biscuit when it comes to describing weird bugs – in this case the bizarre interaction between explosion particles and a floor setting which is meant to make little bits of shrapnel bounce about when they hit it. Instead it acts like a big gluey magnet. But only sometimes. And smoke, which should float upwards generally, has decided to head east instead. Creating a set of test emitters, a few screen grabs and a quick scribble helps narrow down the problem…

Dropbox is what we’re now using to zap these test images back and forth between us, and it comes highly recommended if your doing any kind of remote development thing.

With any luck Cas will get that little pesky fella sorted soon, and then I’ll post some video of things exploding in a gratuitous manner.

Can you tell what is it yet?

Been working on a bit of video recently that will hopefully end up in the game titles if Cas can work out getting Ogg Theora decoding onto an OpenGL texture in background threads. I have no idea what that means. If not it’ll just end up in some pretty promo vid kind of thang on Youtube.

Well it makes a nice break from working on GUIs anyway, on which we will be posting shortly. Here are a few rough snaps for now… and in the words of the great Rolf – can you tell what it is yet?

A brief history of TA2 – Monster Mash coming soon!

Revenge of the Titans is a game with a long, convoluted and simply amazing history. It is perhaps the most incredible story never told in the entire history of computer games. In years to come a small group of distinguished historians and academics will undoubtedly discuss its development with Melvyn Bragg on BBC Radio 4’s ‘In our Time‘.

Okay, that was a lie – got a bit carried away there. But it has taken a long time.

Our tale begins nearly four years ago. Basking in the financial glow of the success of Titan Attacks we devise a plan for a new game, a game that will have all of the great bits of Titan Attacks, like shooting things and buying upgradey stuff in some kind of a shop, but that will be playable completely with a mouse. We hope freeing players from the shackles of using ‘keys’ will make a more accessible game, and spread the joy of making pixelly things explode in a glowy manner to a more ‘casual’ audience.

Work begins in earnest in the spring of 2006, with Cas beavering away in his secret underground base, deep below the Quantocks, and myself working poolside upon my Bangkok penthouse. With multi-coloured spotlights attached to computer controlled turrets tracking a variety of daft pixel monsters, the game begins to develop an odd 70’s disco feel to it. Not a bad thing at all. The below screenshots really don’t do it justice, honest…

And we decide to call the game Monster Mash. A banner is produced declaring confidently ‘COMING SOON!’…

But then, disaster strikes!

To be continued…

Steaming Puppy pumps cool hot turrets!

Here’s an example of the colouring system we’re using in Titan Attacks 2 – Revenge of the Titans. In this case as applied to a cooling tower, a player building that cools down your overheating turrets. It’s a common problem. Building a load of these little fellas nearby though can increase their fire rate.

Here we have the cooling tower as it looks with colours applied in two schemes – night and desert. On the left we have the Colour Diddler which lets us fidddle away with the level palettes as the game is running. Neat eh?

So how this all work then?

The cooling tower is a collection of static sprites, animated sprites and emitters. The sprites, mostly white, can be coloured by the level palettes, and then this colour is affected by an attenuation colour and % the further from the center of the level they are – black in the case of the nighttime level, and a subtle red tint for the desert level colour scheme. Here’s the various sprites…

First of all we have the base. This defines the bounds of the building making it easier to tell where the player can build things and distinguishes player buildings from other stuff going on. All buildings and monsters and trees and things are drawn from the front, but the map is actually viewed from above which is perhaps a bit of an odd way to do things, but it’s a lot easier to draw poo like that. The next sprite, the shadow, also helps in making the flat front-on sprite look like it’s sitting on the ground and not just floating about in space.

That little black rectangle sits behind the main sprite animation. Inbetween these is an emitter that pumps out steam. This way the steam looks more like it’s coming out of the cooling tower rather than just from behind it. It’s hardly noticeable really. Maybe got a bit carried away there.

The main sprite, unlike the others, has two colours applied to it – a top and a bottom colour – applied as a gradient to the sprite. The top colour is specific to buildings, and the bottom is a general ‘floor fog’ colour which is applied to almost everything – buildings and monsters and trees etc. This helps in the illusion of the flat building existing in the world space wotsit. It also means if buildings overlap vertically there will be a bit of colour difference between them, making it easier to tell them apart.

Next up is the overlay sprite – this is about 50% transparent and is not affected by the level’s attenuation, meaning it’ll seem like it’s a bit glowy or reflective. Then finally on top of all that is the little glowing light animation that is synched up with the pumpy animation of the tower and the steam emitter. This sprite is neither coloured nor affected by the attenuation colour, so it’s always going to be a bright orangey red light thang.

…and if you’re really interested or just having trouble sleeping here’s how the cooling tower appearance is defined in xml…

<sprite layer="4" sublayer="1" colored="floor" attenuated="true" image="spriteimage.generic.2x2.base.01"/>
<sprite layer="4" sublayer="2" colored="shadow" attenuated="true" image="spriteimage.generic.cooling.ground.01"/>
<sprite layer="5" sublayer="1" colored="buildings" attenuated="true" animation="generic.cooling.back.animation"/>
<emitter offset="25,0" emitter="steam.burst.emitter"/>
<sprite layer="5" sublayer="3" bottomColored="floor-fog" topColored="buildings" attenuated="true" animation="generic.cooling.animation"/>
<sprite layer="5" sublayer="4" colored="buildings-alt" attenuated="false" animation="generic.cooling.top.animation"/>
<sprite layer="5" sublayer="5" animation="generic.cooling.glow.animation"/>

Phew. Any questions? Anyone still awake?

I see colours! TA2 development video 2

Recently we’ve been updating the graphics to use a system we first tried in Droid Assault to change the colour of tiles and items for different levels. This time we’ve gone a bit further – now pretty much all the sprites are rendered out in shades of grey, and are coloured in-game according to a level palette, and these colours are also affected at the edges of the level by an attentuation colour and % value.

This lets us significantly alter the feel for every level without having to have dozens of different coloured sprites for the same object. Also objects can be excluded from the attenuation colour, giving a glowy self-illumination effect on night-time levels. Nice. Of course this would all be an effing lot easier in 3d.

More detail about such stuff in future posts.

Return to Titan

After a break for a bit of contract work we’re back on the case and we’ll have Revenge of the Titans ready for a Christmas release… hopefully this Christmas. We’re also playing with the idea of releasing a pre-order beta version like Cliffski of fellow UK indie Positech Games has recently done with the epic Gratuitous Space Battles. Anyone interested?

In the meantime here’s some work-in-progess pics showing the game in action in three different Earth settings…

Revenge of the Titans progress

Droid Assault a winner in Game Tunnel 2008 awards

2008 Action Game of the Year

Droid Assault recently picked up 4th place in Game Tunnel’s 2008 Action Game of the Year awards, making it our third in the Action Game category.

For those not familiar with the Game Tunnel Game of the Year Awards this is the 6th year they’ve been running, an always entertaining review of the very best Indie games in a range of categories – action, sport, sim, rpg, puzzle, adventure and strategy – always worth checking out for the odd gem you might have missed. Cheers Russell!

Game Tunnel Gold for Droid Assault

Droid Assault picked up a Gold Award in the Game Tunnel June Monthly Round-Up, as did Ultratron and Titan Attacks when they were reviewed, making it our 3rd Gold Award in a row. Oddlabs’ Tribal Trouble also got gold, so that’s all the games we currently feature 🙂

We were just pipped to the post this month by Jon Mak’s Everyday Shooter, which I’ve yet to play as there’s no free demo and I’ve got a feeling it’s not going to work on my old laptop. Bah. Were pretty chuffed anyway with joint 2nd in a month which featured some big games – new releases from Rake in Grass, Grubby Games, Pi Eye Games, the follow up to Gumboy Crazy Adventures and the Penny Arcade Adventures game. This month also sees a welcome return to the panel format, which is always a good read, even when Cas isn’t on the panel stirring things up.

Droid Assault released!

The robots are here! It’s been a while coming, but we’re pleased to finally announce the release of our sixth and most ambitious game to date – Droid Assault…

The droids are malfunctioning – it’s your job to destroy them all!

Droid Assault 1.1 screenshot

Infiltrate the Omni-Corp warehouses, capture droids using your transfer beam and build up a small army of bots to assist in your mission. Along the way, modify your droids with upgrades and powerups, discover a whole range of advanced weaponry including disruptors, laser beams, rockets and flamethrowers, and fight your way through boss battles and special challenge stages too.

Version 1.1 contains a few fixes and tweaks – we’ve increased the contrast between spaces and walls, tidied up the help screen and balanced out some of the droid stats.

more screenshots…

Continue reading