Ablative Starfighter: 2010 WPI D-Term Game Jam Game

18 04 2010

In roughly 48 hours, Graham Pentheny and I created a working version of Ablative Starfighter, the space shooter game I’ve been trying to prototype for a while now. Graham did all of the coding while I did the art and sound, as well as coming up with the core concept.

The theme for this Game Jam was the Seven Deadly Sins, and I felt that my ideas for Ablative Starfighter could suit both Greed and Gluttony quite well.

Made in Flixel, this version of Ablative Starfighter is a bit different from the envisioned format of a veritcal shooter, instead being in the style of geometry wars. But the principle I feel applies to any sort of shooter. Basically your ship can upgrade itself to fight enemies, but with every upgrade it acquires, the ship becomes slower both in speed and maneuvering. Essentially this is where the greed and the gluttony come in, since you can weigh yourself down with upgrades and damage tank, but you’ll be more susceptible to actually getting hit. However, it’s a two-way street. You can purge upgrades as your bomb-type weapon, freeing yourself up at the cost of armor or weaponry. For this version we stuck with 6 upgrades, alternating a weapon and armor upgrade for each tier, and limited the number of enemies you face before taking on our boss, Munch of 38 Studios (they were one of the sponsors of the Game Jam). You can play the game at Graham’s WPI-hosted webspace here. It’s more in a demonstration phase since you only fight a small number of enemies before the boss and then the game ends (the boss also having an insane number of hitpoints). At some point Graham and I will probably turn it into a more full-fledged experience with more enemy types and so forth.

Update on Prototyping and Aleutia

12 04 2010

Although I really wanted to use Flixel, I’ve decided that really for the game idea I wanted to prototype I don’t need to prove I can program it, just that it’s an idea with merit. So I’m using Game Maker. Yes I know, but if it was good enough for Spelunky I think it’s good enough for a few prototypes of my silly ideas. I’ve already made most of the sprites for one of my prototypes, now it’s just a matter of building the vertical shooter framework and making some adjustments to it.

In other news I have almost solved the problem of Aleutia’s asymmetry, it’s still not perfect (and again, seems that it never will be) but at this point I’m willing to let it be, finish it up, put it up in its alpha 2 version, and move onto my next idea. Better to learn from it and improve next time than to never try again after all.

IL-2: Now with more Nostalgia

7 04 2010

I had a brainstorm after my last entry. Remembering that the classic Command & Conquer: Red Alert had a WWII-era Yakolev fighter in it, I decided to repaint the Yak-9 (of which the Red Alert unit was derived from) in the style of the unit from that game, this is the result.

Almost seems like parade colors

Underbelly View

An unlucky BF-109 painted in SA's G├╝nwaffe livery gets ventilated by the Yak's cannon

I wish I could provide an image of the Yak from Red Alert for comparison but it’s very hard to find an image of good quality for it.

IL-2: Of Damage Models and Paint Jobs

7 04 2010

I recently acquired IL-2 Sturmovik: 1946 for the PC and was surprised to discover it has a more comprehensive damage modeling system than that of its successor, Wings of Prey. Most specifically planes don’t just magically vanish in a fireball when they hit the ground, instead their debris is flung across the landscape or they slide across the ground in the event of a crash landing. This is a phenomenon I’ve witnessed across many games in that more modern games sometimes have damage modeling systems that aren’t as great as their predecessors (the best example of this being Mechwarrior 4’s damage modeling paling in comparison tot that of Mechwarrior 3, but I digress).

The number of planes available is also staggering, but that’s more because 1946 is a package of all the IL2 games up to that point which gives it a slight advantage. Still you wind up with variants of many planes and even experimental craft that never saw the light of day.

The flight model is also more difficult especially with my joystick that seems to have the rudder always pull slightly to the right but I’ve actually been having fun with it. Of course, the gameplay itself isn’t the only reason I picked it up, I also picked it up because of the ease at which custom content can be generated, namely paint skins. It took a little while and a couple tutorials but now I’m able to crank out relatively good-looking skins quickly. For example, here are a couple I made for the Spitfire Mk. Vb model.

Desert Camo over water probably wasn't a wise choice

I was going for a different Desert pattern here, but it seems Jungle-ish

Eventually I plan to work on making more specific design choices, like adding decals in certain areas or drawing things like teeth on engine cowling (like on the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk)

Quick Aleutia Update

6 04 2010

I’ve managed to get Aleutia’s underground parts into a form somewhat more symmetrical than it used to be. I’m still working on fixing above-ground areas and doing a few more tweaks to the underground but if all goes well I’ll have an Alpha 2 version completed within the week. Depending on how it’s recieved I’ll continue to work on Aleutia or I may start from scratch with a new map idea I’ve come up with that involves trains and train stations.

Keeping oneself occupied through 3D

5 04 2010

While I’m still searching for work as well as investigating my options as far as being an independent designer, I’m also working on 3D modeling here and there. Nothing too grandiose, although I did do a decent job of skinning my Mammoth Tank knock-off:

Probably not the most effective camo

And I also made a model of a small space fighter, and slapped a quick skin on it that I’m still working on.

Looks more like a shuttlecraft with that kind of cockpit window, I know. Like I said I whipped up the skin really quickly.