Jetboard Joust - Defender-Inspired Cute Retro SHMUP - Alpha Now Available For MacOS and Windows

Chatting about life in general, videogames, making videogames and stuff. No adverts/team requests.
User avatar
BitBullDotCom
Remakenaut
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:31 pm
Contact:

Re: Jetboard Joust - Defender-Inspired Cute Retro SHMUP - Alpha Now Available For MacOS and Windows

Post by BitBullDotCom » Wed Apr 25, 2018 4:25 pm

I’m pretty resigned to the fact that these bosses are going to take me ages now - and the fact that I’ve finally come to this realisation weirdly makes the process of creating them considerably easier to deal with. Also I think I’ve made all the edits that the code needs to cope with enemies with multiple ‘hit spots’ and the like so I’m no longer having to go back and rework old code, this alone makes the process considerably less frustrating.

So, whilst this one took me knocking on six days and was still really hard work it felt like the easiest of the lot. I think a large contributing factor to this was the fact that the art came together really quickly (I was done in just over a day) and I feel much more in my comfort zone when I’m coding rather than pushing pixels.

I based the spider’s head and abdomen on ‘real’ reference material, though I also referenced much more stylised representations. I took the layout and proportion of the legs from a robot spider image I found somewhere on the net but changed the look and feel completely to fit in with the overall game style.

Animating the legs, mandibles and abdomen was done in code. This wasn’t difficult but was extremely time consuming as there’s so many moving parts (24 leg sections) which, as MonoGame is pretty ‘raw’, all have to be lined up and connected manually by working out pixel grid references and such. This is a pain in the arse – I guess engines like Unity and Unreal have ‘drag and drop’ tools that make this type of process much easier but generally I don’t like the bloat and overhead that comes with those types of tools and prefer the fact that MonoGame is pretty low level.

Image

I’m calling this enemy the ‘spinner’ and it has three attack phases…

Stage One
In this stage the spinner is attached by a web strand to the top of the screen. It tracks the player very fast horizontally when in its ‘retracted’ state or attempts to divebomb the player when the player moves beneath it. This is the only way to get it to expose it’s fleshy, pulsating abdomen which must be destroyed in order to move to the next stage. When it hits the ground after a divebomb attack it spits out a burst of fireballs.

Stage Two
With its abdomen destroyed the spinner detaches from its web and begins to chase the player very aggressively. At regular intervals it will fire off bursts of a triple laser beam. In order to move to the next stage the player must shoot off all of its legs – its head and body are invulnerable until this happens.

Stage Three
Now legless, the spinner alternates between a mad spin attack in which it fires off a single laser at increasing speed, and a kamikaze style attack where it attempts to ram the player (its mandibles do a lot of damage). All of its body parts are now vulnerable to attack.

Image

Generally I’m really pleased with this boss. There’s still something about the ‘lightbulb’ on its abdomen in stages two and three I’m not sure about so I may rework this but generally I think all the attacks are working pretty well, just need to be balanced in-game properly. I even had some time to add some custom audio for the lasers and fireballs, still need to go back and add this for the other bosses.

And I still need to add boss-sized bones and explosions!

As always - thank you very much for staying with me, your encouragement is always appreciated!

Dev Time: 6 days
Total Dev Time: approx 185 days
====

James Closs, Director & Wielder of Code, BitBull Ltd

http://www.bitbull.com | http://www.joystickjunkyard.com

@BitBullDotCom | @JunkyStickJoy

====

User avatar
BitBullDotCom
Remakenaut
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:31 pm
Contact:

Re: Jetboard Joust - Defender-Inspired Cute Retro SHMUP - Alpha Now Available For MacOS and Windows

Post by BitBullDotCom » Mon May 21, 2018 12:54 pm

Yes, it’s been too long since the last update. Far, far too long. This last boss has been the most time-consuming of them all, but I don’t really mind as I’m really pleased with the end result and the bosses are now (just about) finally out of the way which is an enormous weight off my shoulders!

I wanted a kind of creepy giant worm for this one. In my head it would be somewhere between the giant sandworms of Dune and the real-world creepfest that is the Bobbit worm. It ended up having a healthy dose of H.R. Giger in there too! I’m currently calling it the ‘squirmer’.

Before starting on the art I thought I’d better knock out a quick prototype of worm-type movement as, if I couldn’t get that right in code, no amount of pixel-pushing would make things look any good. I spent some time pondering how to do this and in the end settled on a very simple skunkworks physics type approach (it’s probably less than ten lines of code) which, to my immense surprise, worked out incredibly well. There’s a really nice ‘slither’ effect to the tail motion which I really hadn’t predicted at all.

Image

To get this effect I first move the head of the worm. I then iterate through each segment in turn (from the head downwards) and see if the distance to the previous segment is greater than a specified ‘joint length’. If it is I move it towards the previous segment by the appropriate amount. I then store the amount of movement as momentum so that the next frame each segment will move according to its stored momentum as well as being pulled by the next segment along. That’s the basic principle anyway.

Once I knew I had that pretty much nailed I started on the art. It didn’t take too long to get something that had the vibe I was looking for, what did take a long time for this one was animating it. The motion of the teeth itself was fairly simple but, for some reason, getting the mouth to look right around the teeth whilst it was opening and closing was tricky. I ended up having to make the whole head expand and contract slightly. For some masochistic reason I decided I should try making the whole mouth rotate (it just seemed as if it should do this) but the process of splitting everything out to get this to work ended up being extremely fiddly and time-consuming. I think it was probably worth the effort though.

I also spent a long time dithering over eyes. I went through multiple options as I felt it needed something ‘eye like’ for character, but everything I tried looked too cartoony or fish-like. At the end of the day it just seemed creepier without any eyes at all so I stuck with just simple antennae.

Image

The tentacles at the side of the head also took a while. It felt like I needed something here and I tried a number of things (including extending jaws like the Bobbit worm) but none of them really did it for me. The tentacles seemed to work OK but, again, they were difficult and time-consuming to animate.

The segments didn’t take too long to get right though I was quite a while on the larger segments that ended up loosely based on the spiny shells from Super Mario.

To get the ‘glow’ effect for the segments I have a duplicate sprite in a much lighter colour palette. This is placed behind the ‘normal’ sprite and I vary the opacity of the ‘normal’ sprite’. It took a fair bit of tweaking before I was happy with this effect.

Image

Once all the art and basic movement was done (around eight or nine days in) I could finally start on the attacks. There are three phases to the battle, in each phase only the tail segment is vulnerable so the squirmer must be destroyed one segment at a time until only its head remains. As each segment disappears (and when it moves to the next phase) its movement gets faster.

Stage One
The squirmer spits out eggs which, once they hatch, spawn mini carnivorous worms that move very fast and attack the player.

Stage Two
The squirmer uses an ‘extending mouth’ attack inspired by H.R. Giger’s Alien. These ‘extending mouths’ both attack the player and serve to defend the squirmer from the player’s attacks.

Stage Three
The ‘extending mouth’ attack become more powerful, the mouths are larger, more aggressive, and have a greater range. They also shoot laser beams.

The ‘extending mouth’ effect is based on the same code for the tail of the main boss but with adjustments made for tethering the tail to a fixed point. It took a fair bit of tweaking for this to look right but I think it seems fairly convincing now, or as close as I can probably get anyway!

Image

I added a few a new audio effects, a sound for the squirmer’s teeth gnashing and rotating, firing eggs, eggs hatching, and a new laser sound which I’m particularly pleased with. As with all the sounds, these were created on the DSI Tempest.

Oh yeah, I’ve also finally added some bigger explosions and a special ‘boss’ explosion. I spent about a day on explosions alone as I’ve also created smaller ones to give more variety between the various enemies.

OK, I think I’ve gone on enough now. Next I have to go through the bosses (the first two mainly) checking a few things and making a few improvements – then I’m done with this and on to what should be the final major gameplay addition!

Here's a quick vid showing all stages of the final boss battle - this one works out a draw!

Image

Dev Time: 11 days
Total Dev Time: approx 196 days
====

James Closs, Director & Wielder of Code, BitBull Ltd

http://www.bitbull.com | http://www.joystickjunkyard.com

@BitBullDotCom | @JunkyStickJoy

====

User avatar
Tam Toucan
Team RR
Posts: 411
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:57 pm
Location: My head
Contact:

Re: Jetboard Joust - Defender-Inspired Cute Retro SHMUP - Alpha Now Available For MacOS and Windows

Post by Tam Toucan » Mon May 21, 2018 5:51 pm

Really nice once again.

Does the radar need something to differentiate enemies? Doubt it affects gameplay (assuming boss fights are without all the other normal level enemies), but looks a bit odd having the mini worms the same as the boss on the radar.

User avatar
BitBullDotCom
Remakenaut
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:31 pm
Contact:

Re: Jetboard Joust - Defender-Inspired Cute Retro SHMUP - Alpha Now Available For MacOS and Windows

Post by BitBullDotCom » Tue May 22, 2018 7:03 am

Tam Toucan wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 5:51 pm
Really nice once again.
Thanks!
Does the radar need something to differentiate enemies? Doubt it affects gameplay (assuming boss fights are without all the other normal level enemies), but looks a bit odd having the mini worms the same as the boss on the radar.
Yes, you're right. It does differentiate but I've neglected to set that up for the bosses yet. I need to make scanner icons for them all (and the mini-enemies they spawn) and will do that over the next few days while I'm going through and making the final boss tweaks.

Thanks for the feedback!
====

James Closs, Director & Wielder of Code, BitBull Ltd

http://www.bitbull.com | http://www.joystickjunkyard.com

@BitBullDotCom | @JunkyStickJoy

====

User avatar
BitBullDotCom
Remakenaut
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:31 pm
Contact:

Re: Jetboard Joust - Defender-Inspired Cute Retro SHMUP - Alpha Now Available For MacOS and Windows

Post by BitBullDotCom » Mon Jun 04, 2018 9:36 am

At long bloody last!!

Finally finished all the boss battles – well, I say ‘all’ but I do have an idea for a fifth but I’m not going to add that until the rest of the game is complete (if I do at all).

Looking back through my files I started this process on the 13th March, so that’s around 2.5 months of elapsed time. It used to take me that long to bang out an entire J2ME game! No wonder it’s been doing my head in. There’s been the blogging as well of course, and preparation of GIFs etc for Twitter, plus a couple of bank holidays and (unlike most indie devs) I’m determined to maintain a sensible work/life balance so I only allow myself to work on this four days a weeks (otherwise I’d go completely nutso). Still, I think that’s far too long by anyone’s standards. Ironically though, despite the fact that I’m probably at the lowest-ebb I’ve been motivation-wise throughout this ridiculous project, in these bosses I’ve completed the work I’m probably most proud of throughout.

So this last week or so I’ve mainly been tweaking the first two bosses, the Stinger and the Snapper, to make them live up to the standard of the last two. When I started this process I had no intention of creating boss fights – these were just going to be ‘normal’ enemies (only larger), but as time went on I just had to admit to myself – ‘Face it, these are boss fights and you should approach them as such’. Consequently I needed to go back to the first two and approach them with this mindset.

1. The Stinger
This battle only comprised of two stages so I felt I had to add a third stage to make it consistent with the others. I added a second stage attack whereby, once the stinger’s abdomen is destroyed, it reveals a hive that unleashes a swarm of mini-stingers to attack the player.

To create the swarming effect I have a HiveMind class that is basically an invisible sprite that either tracks the player or returns to the boss. The individual creatures always swarm around this central point in an offset eliptical motion which looks random yet somehow predictable.

I also added audio for the various attack stages and made a bunch of code changes under-the-hood to make the way things were structured consistent with the other bosses (this was my first boss so some of the code was pretty hacky as I worked out the best approach to do things).

Oh yeah, I also now have the boss’s creepy legs get shot off one at a time in the third stage for added drama!

Image

2. The Snapper
I spent quite a long time on this one as I just wasn’t happy with the ‘rhythm’ of the gameplay in the second and third stages. The motion and attacks were too clumsy and the ‘shredder’ weapon fired in the second stage was pretty much impossible to avoid which made the whole fight feel too random.

So I completely pulled apart the AI for the movement and improved it considerably, including adding a ‘reverse’ attack which I think plays out pretty well. I also swapped the shredder weapon for limpet mines which are can be shot or avoided by the player.

In the third stage I improved the exposed ‘brain’ animation considerably and turned this into the boss’s weak point for said stage (this seemed too obvious an opportunity to pass up). I also added another attack for this stage where bubbles containing strange fossilised plankton creatures are fired from the boss’s ‘exhaust pipe’.

Finally I added audio for all the various attack stages.

Image


3. General Testing
Then I went through all the bosses testing them against the Flamethrower and Gravity Hammer weapons as these operate rather differently from the other weapons.

The Gravity Hammer particularly is a right pain in the arse as it affects the motion of any enemy it touches, effectively taking control of an enemy for a short period of time. As I never really planned for this properly when I structured my initial code it leaves things open to some nasty bugs. Oh well, lesson learned!

I also made sure each enemy and mini-enemy has an appropriate icon on the scanner (not really happy with the stinger one – looks too much like an aerosol can), added an obvious ‘hit’ effect for when the player takes damage by touching a boss, and finally applied some explosions worthy of such giant enemies.

Thank God that process is over!

Dev Time: 6 days
Total Dev Time: approx 202 days
====

James Closs, Director & Wielder of Code, BitBull Ltd

http://www.bitbull.com | http://www.joystickjunkyard.com

@BitBullDotCom | @JunkyStickJoy

====

User avatar
Tam Toucan
Team RR
Posts: 411
Joined: Mon Jan 06, 2014 3:57 pm
Location: My head
Contact:

Re: Jetboard Joust - Defender-Inspired Cute Retro SHMUP - Alpha Now Available For MacOS and Windows

Post by Tam Toucan » Mon Jun 04, 2018 5:08 pm

That exposed brain is a really nice improvement.

User avatar
Ian
Team RR
Posts: 1031
Joined: Sun Jan 05, 2014 11:02 pm

Re: Jetboard Joust - Defender-Inspired Cute Retro SHMUP - Alpha Now Available For MacOS and Windows

Post by Ian » Mon Jun 04, 2018 6:15 pm

Wow!!!!!! :D :D :D
I came. I saw. I Played.

User avatar
BitBullDotCom
Remakenaut
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:31 pm
Contact:

Re: Jetboard Joust - Defender-Inspired Cute Retro SHMUP - Alpha Now Available For MacOS and Windows

Post by BitBullDotCom » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:20 am

Thanks guys - it's been a painful process but I think (hope) it's been worth it!
====

James Closs, Director & Wielder of Code, BitBull Ltd

http://www.bitbull.com | http://www.joystickjunkyard.com

@BitBullDotCom | @JunkyStickJoy

====

User avatar
BitBullDotCom
Remakenaut
Posts: 99
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2015 2:31 pm
Contact:

Re: Jetboard Joust - Defender-Inspired Cute Retro SHMUP - Alpha Now Available For MacOS and Windows

Post by BitBullDotCom » Thu Jun 14, 2018 2:05 pm

I always loved those bits in Super Mario World where you travelled down a pipe and entered a semi-secret room stuffed full of coins. Sometimes there was a mini-level down there – and the memory of discovering those hidden places, along with the way the background music shifted to a minor key, still gives me goosebumps. It’s one of my fondest gaming memories.

It’s replicated to an extent in other games. There’s the little side-caverns in Downwell, or the bonfires and merchant areas in Dark Souls. Often these places offer some kind of refuge from an otherwise hostile environment as well as a generous reward in the game’s currency or upgrades.

Though I’d never planned anything like this at the start of the game I wanted to add something similar to Jetboard Joust – and having the bosses guard hidden treasure chambers seemed like a good solution. Not only does it give a reason for the treasure chambers to be there (and a heightened sense of reward when they’re unlocked), but it means the bosses are semi-optional and don’t exist purely to block progress through the game (a common gameplay mechanic that I’ve never been overly fond of).

As I’d never intended having the player travel below ground level in the game, or a camera that moves on the vertical axis, introducing a subterranean component had a fairly substantial knock-on effect in exposing the general laziness of my coding and there were a number of things that had to be fixed in order to achieve this. Fortunately none of these presented serious issues but things could have been a lot easier if I’d have planned this from the start. So the lesson (as always) is – think very hard before you cut corners by saying to yourself ‘Oh, I’m never going to need to do x, y or z.’ as you’ll probably change your mind and it’s always easier to build functionality in from the start rather than try and retrofit it later!

I spent a long time on the art for both the chambers themselves and the entrance to the chamber but I must admit to having some help here. Whilst looking for reference material I came across a Unity asset pack that was remarkably ‘on point’ for the game’s visual style – in fact one of the images I used for reference when formulating the overall style was from this pack (I never realised it was an asset pack at the time as I found the original image on DeviantArt)! Though it made me feel somewhat dirty (why I don’t really know) I purchased this pack and the internal chamber backgrounds and the tower thing on the entrance originate there (with various degrees of editing involved). I may alter these more before release, not because I’ve done anything ‘wrong’ in using an asset pack, I just hate the idea of another game appearing with similar art when I’ve spent so long drawing everything else from scratch. Here's a close-up of the chamber entrance...

Image

I’m pleased with the end result. There’s a bunch of details in there that I didn’t have to add but wanted to include for added atmosphere such as the drips falling from the chamber ceiling, the spooky eyes in the background, and the dust falling from the chamber doors as they open. I also wanted there to be a reason to use a weapon down there which is why the main reward is enclosed in a glass case! It’ll probably never give anyone goosebumps like Super Mario World but, once I add a some spooky background music, hopefully it’ll do a passable impression.

You can see the sequence of events for unlocking and entering a treasure chamber in the video – note that I’ve severely nerfed the boss for demo purposes!

Image

Completing this means I’ve upped the progress level for the game to 80% complete – hurrah, major milestone! Unless I add another boss this should be the last significant addition to gameplay.

Dev Time: 5 days
Total Dev Time: approx 207 days
====

James Closs, Director & Wielder of Code, BitBull Ltd

http://www.bitbull.com | http://www.joystickjunkyard.com

@BitBullDotCom | @JunkyStickJoy

====

notrobot
Remakenaut
Posts: 202
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 7:55 am

Re: Jetboard Joust - Defender-Inspired Cute Retro SHMUP - Alpha Now Available For MacOS and Windows

Post by notrobot » Thu Jun 14, 2018 10:16 pm

This is looking so polished I'm afraid of slipping over... very nice work indeed.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Ordvana and 1 guest