It's The Little Things...


So… following on from my last post about bugs, here’s everything that was on that Trello TODO list that’s more of an ‘improvement’ than a bug (though of course, fixing bugs is always an improvement)!

1. Different Damage Types
I’ve added different damage types – physical, fire, plasma and jetboard and given enemies the ability to be resistant (or vulnerable) to certain type of attack. Some weapons deal out a combination of damage attacks. I’ve also added armour upgrades that increase the player’s resistance to these various damage types.



2. Object Pooling
I’ve added object pooling as described here to the flamethrower and antimatter gun, both of which were spitting out a ton of new objects per frame which was causing some slowdown if a bunch of enemies appeared armed with the same weapon type.

3. Destructible Buildings / Enemy Bones
I’ve massively improved the animations for destructible buildings and also added rubble which interacts (to an extent) with the player. Buildings now take damage from explosive weapons as well as the jetboard attack, adding to the immersive destruction. Enemy bones and rubble now spin in the air when disturbed with great force – this can look pretty cool under certain scenarios, totally pointless in terms of gameplay but cool!

I’ve also been through and designed skulls for every enemy and added shrapnel as well as bones as that seemed more appropriate for some enemies.



4. Improved Explosions
I’ve added a bunch more visual ‘snap and crackle’ to the explosions. Spent way to long on this for something that only last a few frames and ended up going down a complete rabbit-hole writing a custom shader based on Voroni patterns (to give the ‘crackle’ effect) which still doesn’t work quite the way I wanted but I think will get the job done. I spent time doing some frame-by-frame analysis of a bunch of pixelart explosions I liked – one thing that surprised me is that the initial ‘whiteout’ flash in many explosions is often preceded by a ‘blackout’ frame. Of course I had to add one!



5. Improved Camera
One of my many arch-nemesises (or should that arch-nemesi?) throughout this project has been the bloody camera. Been back and re-worked it yet again, radically simplifying the code and ending up with a result that’s much better for it. Still little work to do but I think it’s finally almost there. Whereas before I was positioning the camera based on speed/time moving in one direction and enemy position I now rely solely on enemy position and only use speed/time moving in one direction if there aren’t any enemies nearby. I also take difficulty into account when calculating the ‘weighting’ of enemies.

6. Improved Jetboard Attack Visuals
I felt this needed more ‘punch’. It was one of the first things I designed and, as a result, was looking somewhat lacklustre compared to the rest of the visuals. I’ve added particle trails to the jetboard, a subtle shader effect that approximates the attack area, camera shake and a camera jolt. I think the result has miles more ‘oomph’ than it did before.

Oh yeah, I also made the jetboard attack quench fire if the player is alight and safely detonate any ‘stuck’ explosives (cluster bombs or limpet mines).



7. Improved Bomber Enemy
I didn’t like the way these guys pretty much ignored the player as they were attacked, just soaking up bullets until they exploded. I’ve made them get much more aggro when they take damage now which gives them a load more personality.



8. Improved Mother Enemy
This enemy was a bit too much of a ‘bullet sponge’ as well. I revisited the art for this one as I felt it looked a little flat, then I reworked the enemies it gives birth to, making them much more aggressive so it feels more akin to the ‘swarmer’ enemy in Defender that inspired it. I also changed the ‘bullets’ it fires, replacing them with little ‘space invader’ type characters that have far more personality and are far less annoying (though no less difficult).



9. Improved Squocket Enemy
As mentioned in the last post, the AI for this enemy was buggy so I rewrote it. The bullets it fired were also pretty lame and quite annoying so I’ve replaced them with these little ‘baby squocket’ dudes which (can you see a theme here?) have far more personality and are harder but somehow less annoying and more ‘fair’ at the same time! The screen capture software I use went a bit glitchy when capturing the video for these so apologies for that!



10. Improved Baiter Enemy
More of the above here! The enemy itself I was happy with but it’s bullets were really annoying so I’ve replaced them with another little mini invader.

11. Re-routed Treasure Chambers
I had placed these deliberately sporadically throughout the game world so that it would take tons of plays through to get to all of them but in retrospect I think that would have been too annoying. Consequently I’ve reworked things so that you should be able to get all the key treasure from any particular world in three ‘passes’ (or less using teleports). This has meant there’s not much treasure at the outer reaches of the game ‘pyramid’ so I might have to add a few bonus treasure chambers in those outlying reasons to give players a reason to go there other than sheer completionism.



There’s been loads of other minor improvements too but those have been the major ones. Next step I think I need to finalise the main game palettes and then start thinking about a ‘final’ (?) demo movie! The end is almost in sight people…

Dev Time: 7 days (ish)
Total Dev Time: approx 282 days

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