It’s really quite simple – I always wanted to make a game where the aliens come diving at you and you pump some lasers at them such that they “splat” in glorious fashion all over the screen.
So that’s what I did and since it takes its lead from my Galactians game I call it Galactians 2.
The premise is very retro and very simple. It’s also fast becoming my signature style of game. Aliens line up in rows above you and you sit beneath them with a ship / tank of some kind blasting them all to kingdom come.
I should add that when writing down a high concept for this game I considered the following 3 things: Galaxians, Starship Troopers and the classic 8-bit Defender clone Dropzone.
Galaxians for its format, Starship Troopers for its relentless bug invasion and super splatting and finally Dropzone for its visual style.
Here’s how it currently looks.
To create the moonbase I took a long look at Dropzone and got a feel for how the developer used just 3 or 4 colours to create the effect. It’s far from finished but let me tell you there’s quite a thrill for an aging Atari nerd such as myself to have Photoshop and Wacom open in one window and an Atari emulator running the aforementioned game in another.
I would quite like to blog the creation of the moonbase at some point in the future. I haven’t kept each stage of the drawing on file but I could probably get around that by starting a new, smaller graphic and employing the same principles.
It’s a real thrill to be making good old arcade games again. I know I’m not always very adventurous with my games but who cares. It’s great fun :-)
Incidentally the game will work on desktop and mobile. Depending on how you start the game (mouse click, fire button, touch screen) determines how the game is controlled.
It’s been too long since I finished a new game so I figured it was time to sit down and put the finishing touches to a new Space Invaders style arcade game.
It has alien bugs that splat, a player tank that spits fireballs and a backdrop inspired by my love of the 8-bit classic Dropzone.
A new HTML5 game in the making
After a little big of digging and some Photoshop tidying up I have an image that is essentially my approximation of the Atari 256 colour palette from the 800XL. I’m sure that this colour palette may have been available to other Atari home computers but I don’t have that knowledge.
Atari 256 colour palette
It’s a beautifully rich palette and something that I intend to use as a basis for my future games.
Something that I’ve always wanted is a fancy tool that allows me to capture an indexed colour scheme and then order it based on any number of criteria. Photoshop allows me to sort based on Hue or Luminance but I really want to sort based on the actual colours used. Black through white, blues, reds, greens etc
At Acclaim we had a wonderful in-house tool that allowed us to play with colour palettes and export them to any number of formats. I’ve yet to find a decent palette manipulation tool out there.
I think it’s interesting sometimes to see how people work.
Last night I spent an hour or so redesigning the probe from Hoth Strike to fit in to my HTML5 version of the game – Rebel Rescue. I’m using a full screen gradient that contains a fair amount of orange / yellow so I wanted to enhance the colours on the probe to better fit the backdrop. This involved adding a blue stroke to the sprite.
Designing the viper probe in Photoshop
As you can see I colour fill the sprite to reflect the amount of damage it has sustained in the game. This is done with the Photoshop blending options – Color Overlay (Red 255,0,0) > Screen. I adjust the slider to achieve the desired levels. The lowest sprite is pretty much 100% opacity.
I’ve clearly used a lot of license in creating these sprites !
I always find it useful to have the sprite at its 100% scale whilst I zoom in with a single pixel brush to add the detail. I added an in-game shot so that you can see how it should look in the final game.
The AT-AT walker that you see buried in the snow started out as a 16 frame animation. I tried and tried to get a satisfactory level of animation but ultimately ditched it.
As you can perhaps see from the image above I went to the trouble of articulating most of the “body” parts as separate layers in Photoshop. But when it came to actually performing some kind of stop-motion on them I just found it too hard.
That’s why the game changed from being an attack on the walkers to being about simply rescuing fallen pilots. I set the game some time after the events in the film and buried the walkers in the snow. Much easier :-)
The walker incidentally is hand pixelled. My source for the job was a toy AT-AT from my youth. Nostalgia at its best.
I do love these final stages of game development where everything you’ve had scribbled down from ideas to character designs to neat little effects comes together and you get a screen full of activity.
I am a huge fan of keeping the screen busy but not too busy. There is a fine line.
I’m also loving handing some of my game assets over to static Photoshop created images. It gives me the ability to better match and marry the colour schemes.
I have a wealth of sprite / tile art on my machine so it’s always a thrill to sift through some work that is years old to find a cool new starting point. Sometimes the work just fits. Sometimes it needs a little tweak to fit the style that I’m after for the game.
I think I’m pretty close to completing Dragons now. (I had played around with different game titles but realised in the end I rather like the simplicity of calling a game Dragons.)
I have balanced the attack vs defence vs goals to a decent level – certainly enough to provide a casual challenge.
Level times are at around 1 – 1.5 minutes on average. Plenty long enough for a casual game.
What I hope to complete before I publish the game is some balance in the scoring system. Just now there isn’t much variety in the scoring and I’m a believer in spreading the scoring based on how much skill / effort was required on the part of the player to actually achieve the score.
All in all a good development and a thrill to be working with lots of colour again.
I intend to write about the development process in a little more detail soon as well as providing a few pointers on how I create my 2D sprites / tiles.
I still can’t think of a decent title for this game. I guess something will spring to mind.
About 10 years ago I worked on a small nGage title called Space Ranger. It was a simple affair of guiding your space hero around a maze with a rocket pack whilst shooting your laser pistol at bizarre cartoon-like aliens and monsters. Great fun and a blast to develop.
Luckily, I kept all the art work that I created for the game on disk and recently dug it all out.
The rocks (with slight Photoshop filtering going on) and grass ledge in the screenshot are from the Ranger game. Everything else I’ve drawn from scratch.
There’s also a snow level with an icy ledge at the top of the rock wall.
As you can see I’ve coded up the collision with the Dragon’s fireballs (which incidentally right now are the alien bombs from Galactians) so that I can hurl the Knights from the rock face in flames.
As with the last game I flash up multi-coloured text boxes to indicate the score for hitting each bad guy.
The other cool thing is the hovering Dragon sprite. The hovering is done in code but the tiny wing flutterings are done in the artwork. I like the effect a lot and hope to build on the spritesheet to include some other frames for celebratory sequences or the losing of a life / chance.
Enjoying developing this one.