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1942 – in search of Space Monsters

Thunder Gun – 1942 themed game in development

Capcom’s 1942 is a game we’ve always played and enjoyed. In a brief meeting where we review future projects we voted unanimously to give it a revamp.

Here’s some screens from early development.


The concept of Greed in game design

A concept that always intrigues me in game design is the concept of Greed. That powerful force that is strong enough to pull you away from your chosen path in the game to try and achieve something. You’re effectively taking a chance. You don’t need to pursue this extra “thing” to complete the game or even the level but the rewards for being successful are just too great to ignore.

capcom 1942

In shoot ’em ups we see it in the pursuit of power boosts to your guns / lasers. Classically in 1942 (above) you were presented with a formation of red planes. If you knocked them all out you were presented with a power-up.
I employed something similar in Crossfire. You didn’t need to hunt this special power down but you just knew that having that extra firepower would be a) more fun and b) pretty handy for completing the level.

With Jumpin’ Jasper I have a similar concept. When a bonus balloon drifts across the screen the player can leap in to it to burst it and take the rewards. Similarly when the Squirrel bounces on top of a monster the monster’s subsequent demise spawns a bonus item. Currently bonuses are purely a points boost. Hardly a real driving force for the player. So I’d like to create a mini-challenge by having a sequence of bonus items to collect. They appear ghosted out at the top of the screen – a strawberry, some cherries and probably a banana (yellow works well against the game’s backdrop) , an apple and an orange. Red, purple, yellow, green and orange respectively all work well against the game’s bluish backdrop.

As the player collects each item of fruit they populate the empty slots at the top of the screen and a special bonus is awarded when all are collected. Quite what yet I don’t know but it will hopefully be enough to see the player divert from his current path to try his luck with the bonus balloon as it drifts in to view. Or possibly take on the monsters to achieve the same result. Of course the random nature of the bonus items’ spawning means that the player could well go to all that trouble to spawn a bonus item that they’ve already collected.

I had initially wanted to run a story through the game and have certain side elements unlocked with progress. This could have been a neat way to involve the bonus items but on reflection I’d rather wait. My next game (which will use the same code framework) will probably lend itself to that approach more since it will be more of a science fiction affair.

In development – River Raider – mobile HTML5 arcade game

My HTML5 take on Activision’s classic River Raid is almost complete and it’s been a huge amount of fun.

The beauty of the original game was, for me at least, in it’s slick execution. I loved the way the plane rolled left and right and accelerated the more you held the stick. I also loved some of the neat little touches like having a tank approach the bridge rather than simply destroying a bridge. There was a tremendous sense of achievement and satisfaction in timing your shot such that you took both bridge and tank out.

title graphic

As with my earlier games I never simply carbon copy the original game. I don’t see the point.
For me it’s about taking some elements, throwing a few new ones in there and crafting a cool new game from it.

My inspiration for River Raider was actually in part Capcom’s classic 1942. I had always loved the way that game played and have tried to implement a few of its cool features in to my own game.

capcom 1942

Capcom's 1942

So what does River Raider give you ? How will the game play ?

In short it’s a straight shooter where the levels are actually bumped with every bridge that you destroy.
There’s all the usual suspects: planes, boats, choppers and land to avoid (although I let the player hug the river bank – I felt that was a bit too tight on a touch screen game) and at the end of it a bridge to knock down.
Rather than one shot to destroy the bridge I decided to build the bridge in sections. So you get to destroy the bridge bit by bit. I rather liked it when I first put it in and it’s stuck.

All of the adversaries will fire back at you. The farther you progress the more frequently they will shoot.
In addition I have planes attacking from the top of the screen.
To ease you in this is initially just a single jet fighter that launches its bombs towards you as it passes.
Later you’ll see a kind of death formation of jet fighters that come at you in a number of patterns and launch missiles your way. Tricky !

River Raider

River Raider Mobile HTML5 Game

There’s really nothing too complex about implementing the attack waves since the sprites are given a default downward behaviour that is modified to either float left or right depending on a flag when they hit a certain area of the screen.
To improve the effect I perform sprite rotations depending on which direction the planes are heading.

My HTML5 game system handles this with no fuss and it adds a huge amount to the appeal of the game.

Just now I’m in a phase of balancing the firepower of the player’s fighter with the attacks that are thrown at him.
I’ve opted to have 4 attack styles just now for the fighter. A standard solitary bullet, double bullets, 4 bullets that fan out and then 6 bullets per shot that spray from the plane.
I’d like to try and add some missiles as well.

What this means of course is that the enemy are simply cannon fodder so I need to up the ante a little on their part.
Right now I’m toying with the idea of a boss stage. Or atleast a stage that involves gunning down an enemy with a different AI.

I plan on having this game completed shortly after the Easter break.

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