pub04

The Postmortem was released! Glad to be over that hurdle. Now I'm going to start moving on to some other stuff. I mentioned learning new engines in pub03 and I've installed Godot Engine and it seems pretty cool and I've been reading the documentation for a week or so. I'd still like to do a cosmetic upgrade of SRC in GM:S 1.4 so that's probably on the way still but I'm going to develop another small game in tandem across a variety of engines to see what I like/dislike about them.

Just a small little update.

A 'Space Rock Cleanup's Year Late Post Mortem

My second foray into Game Development was an Asteroids clone called Space Rock Cleanup created in Game Maker: Studio 1.4. It features a rough UI, bad assets (both artistic and audible) created by myself, and simple gameplay (but, hey, that was kind of the point) that can be boiled down to don't touch rocks, shoot rocks. It came out to reviews of 'kinda addicting' from the small handful of friends I got to download and play it.

Gameplay

As I mentioned Space Rock Cleanup's inspiration is a is a 1979 Atari game called Asteroids. You play as a capital 'A' and shoot dots at outlines of asteroids to survive and score points and things have only changed slightly when it come to SRC. When you launch SRC you are brought to a title screen with not a lot of fan fare. Pushing the space bar puts the game into game mode and you are presented with your blinking ship in the vastness of a 2000 by 2000 pixel room, I mean the vastness of space.  In your top left corner you see a semitransparent black box with a pair of globes floating around. This is your minimap and the globes are the Space Rocks you're tasked with cleaning up. Along the bottom of the screen is your status bar which shows your Score, Cooldown, Level, and Lives. At this point you 'place' your ship with the mouse and begin to play, flying around with WASD and shooting with the space bar. So most people would fly toward a blip on the minimap and would be greeted by a rock. Destroying this rock with the laser grants you 100 points and spawns four smaller rocks, each of these damaged rocks spawns two yet smaller rocks. Destroying these smaller rocks is permanent and the key to progressing to the next level in the infinite climb of scores and levels... there is no 'beating' this game, only getting the highest score. So get people to play and beat their scores.

Technical

There isn't really a lot to get excited about on the technical side of SRC. I made it in GameMaker: Studio 1.4, all of the art assets were drawn in paint.net, and sound effects were put together using bfxr.

The three objects within the game that did all the heavy lifting are the Game Manager, Player, and "rock family" objects.

The Game Manager watched over everything and has some 'game state' logic inside of it to control the GUI and calculate the high score for the title screen. I only used a single 'room' for this game but the game manager would have been the object to do all of the saving/loading of rooms. The game manager is also in charge of shutting the game down.

The Player processes input from the user when the game is in the Play state and uses that input to drive the space ship. 'W' and 'S' adds or subtracts speed in the direction that the ship is facing, with 'S' adding sufficient 'negative' speed for the ship to go in reverse. 'A' and 'D' rotate the ship left and right respectively, and finally the space bar shoots a laser directly ahead. The Cooldown values are driven by the Player using a counter and Alarms, which are a built-in Event in GM:S that let us run code at a specific point in time in the future.

The Rocks are spawned at a random edge of the screen by the Game Manager at the beginning of each new level, and by larger Rocks turning into smaller Rocks, and pick a random speed and direction and go that way. They each have a hit point value assigned which is reduced when the Rocks detect that they are touched by a Laser object when the number of hit points the Rock 'explodes' and either disappears for good or spawns smaller Rocks (depending on its level).

Marketing

I did not do any real marketing for this game because I just wanted to 'finish' something. I made a post on facebook and told some friends I know from online forums to play it. I more or less ignored this component for SRC. Opting just to focus on the game. Looking at the Analytics tab on the itch.io page the game has been downloaded nearly twenty times (at least 5 of which were likely me). 

This will definitely be an area to look to improve as I release games in the future. I actually think this part could be fun but I haven't dealt with it yet so I could be extremely wrong.

Improvements

There are many improvements to be made in the future of the SRC franchise. The obvious areas for improvement is art assets and the lack of music. I am not very good at doing either of those things so those improvements would have to come from some one(s) else. Secondly, there could be more variety in the game. The only obstacle in this game are the Rocks that float in a single direction very slowly and turn into smaller Rocks before disappearing. There is definitely room in space for little enemies to fly through and try to do damage to you, bigger enemies that hunt you down, the possibility for more action is pretty much endless for the future. The interface also needs work... the Cooldown bar doesn't have a clear end point so you just have to get used to the number of shots that you can fire in a row. I brought it up time and again while I was developing and I still didn't do it: parallax scrolling! I should have added another 'star dust' background so that parallax scrolling could be implemented to make the objects look like they are really moving. An in game manual or tutorial is something that could be included in a project like this. It's a simple enough game and I walked through the controls on the itch.io page but I think it's a good thing to have some documentation in the game itself.

I could go on for hours in this section... so I wont.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading about (and hopefully playing) Space Rock Cleanup. I had a lot of fun making it originally and going back over it for this article. It's not the most polished or feature rich piece of software out on the web but right now... it's mine and I'm happy with it and I'm looking forward to making something new.

 

pub03

I spent the last week or so going heavy into some administration stuff so apologies to my zero readers for the couple weeks of radio silence.

The Post Mortem will be out within the next day or so. I have it mostly completely finished but I'm going to go over it once or twice more. I think it's sort of ugly and I'm not sure what the point of it is supposed to be (outside of 'content' but I guess that's enough for right now). I think that I still need to update the SRC build on itch.io before releasing the PM. So I'm excited to get a new type of entry here.

I'm not sure what my plans are for the next game. I have some ideas Place Race or Irish Rover and developing a game across multiple engines in tandem to get a feel for more than just Game Maker: Studio 1.4 since YoYo Games has moved on to GameMaker Studio 2 I feel like I should start to learn one of the other free engines/frameworks.

I also recently looked into commissioning a piece of art for this place to spice it up some.

pub02

Only 8 days and after moving all the assets and code over to a new project I have restored the playability to Space Rock Cleanup. Of course I only realized the issue was a single setting in Global Game Settings after copying everything over and running into the same error in my new project. Since I had been testing along the way I knew that the new project was working fine up until I got to the Game Manager object which uses a 'window_set_fullscreen' function which apparently doesn't play well with Windows 10. 

I also started running Spriter and I got an asset pack through Humble Bundle that is a customizable space ship and similar assets for SHMUPs, which SRC is at the very highest level. So I'm going to try to pump out a sequel with better assets and some fresh features pretty quick. Hopefully the Spriter-to-Game Maker: Studio transition isn't too bad.

Now that SRC is up and running I'm going to do my best to get the 'Year Late Post-mortem' done before the weekend.

pub01

So the issue with Space Rock Cleanup's visuals seems to be more than an outdated SDK. I went through the steps to make sure my Windows SDK and Visual Studio were up to date but I still can't see anything when I boot the game. I still have another plan to get it up and running (spoilers: it's doing everything from scratch). In the meantime I'll get a different article out sometime this week.

pub00

It looks bad there isn't anything here yet so I'm just going to put something down to get some content on the site and get the ball rolling. I'm not planning on making this a journal, hopefully it acts more like a roadmap. I am working on a Year Late Postmortem for my first actual game on on itch.io Space Rock Cleanup. It's a clone of an old arcade game Asteroids, the controls and instructions are on itch.io. I'm not 100% sure if it's working for Windows 7 right now and i know it's not working on Windows 10 but I need to reinstall an SDK, which is taking forever, because I haven't updated the game since Windows 10 came out. I'd like for it to be playable if I'm talking about it (or if it's still up on itch). I'm also trying to figure out what to do next. i'm going to update Unity but I haven't put in very much effort to learn it so it's still an adventure. i also want to update the reddit Game Day Thread bot, which is in Python which is like my Unity and C#. 

I'm also working on reviewing games that I've played.