Monday, 18 November 2013

#SpeccyJam progress after day 2/3

The game is well under way now, and it feels good

Been too busy coding for #SpeccyJam so I didn't get a chance to blog end of day 2, this will be a day 2+3 super combo. Right lets get to it...

Day 2

After day 1 I had a very simple game mechanic and render engine, I had to now get to the nitty gritty and start getting the whole game structured.

Short video of Day 2 progress:

The areas I covered:
  • Basic states to the game manager, menu, level start, playing, end of life.
  • Points scored for items collected.
  • Started to manage the HUD, top bar and also 'press key'/'level00'.
  • Improved collision detection and introduced lives.

Day 3

Absolutely buzzing and raring to go, I've managed to squeeze time in my lunch break and after work keen to get this game nailed!

I covered:
  • The player now has to collect a number of items to progress to the next level, 10 feels like a good number, but kept it at 5 for now to speed up test time.
  • I introduced the different game states on Day 2, and today I implemented using them to feedback to the user. When the player collects all the level items, or if they collide with the enemy, I now flash the screen to inform the user.
  • NEW LEVEL MAP! Day 1 I wrote a routine to load in map data from a text file, today I was able to quickly slap in a new level map. Not the most exciting of levels I know, but the level maps alternate as the player progresses through each level.
  • Refined the scoring, 10 points per item collected, then the player gets the remaining time on the clock as points when they complete a level. They also lose 50 points for losing a life.
  • Probably the thing that I'm chuffed about the most is that I introduced a new enemy with simple AI. Same as the old enemy except that it now makes a decision to jump when they reach a drop, or if they've been walking for too long. I introduce them from level 3, and it really takes the game up a step.
  • Added 2 frame sprite animations to the player and enemy. I also flip the pixels depending on if they are moving left or right.
  • Finally I migrated my code to use XNA/MonoGame with the vision of hopefully deploying to Android, OUYA and Silverlight later in the week to make it easier for others to play.

Where am I? Lets sum it up

It's only end of day 3 and I'm very happy indeed. I started off not knowing if I would have time to enter the #speccyjam, and it's turning out great. I genuinely find the game fun and playable. I sometimes catch myself playing it trying to beat the levels when I'm supposed to be testing a feature. It probably just shows how sad I am, but hey, retro gaming is in my blood.

Not sure if I'll be able to get any time tomorrow for progress, but here's some stuff on my mind I want to get done soon:
  • I need to add more maps for other levels.
  • I would like to add a tongue in cheek splash screen.
  • Add the classic ZX Spectrum borders.
  • Add additional enemies, ones that travel horizontally like a bullet or a bat. And maybe one that travels vertically like lava dripping down the map.
  • SOUND! I would like to add sound, I've started to add classic BEEP sounds, but they wont work on anything but a PC so I need to find myself a wav clip to use.
  • If I get time I would like to make an Android version which will require adding touch screen controls.
Thank you #SpeccyJam, so far you've made my week!

Comment here or get involved on twitter: @rich_lloyd

Sunday, 17 November 2013

I'm having a go at... #SpeccyJam !!

Making a game in the style of a ZX Spectrum game. Can't wait!

That's right, I'm taking a step back from the Amiga dev briefly and I'm making a game for the #SpeccyJam, my first ever jam! The game can be written on any platform, but must be as close to a ZXSpectrum game as possible.

So where do I start?! The jam is only a week long, fitting it around my family and day job, time is tight! Here are the rules:

Choose a platform... any platform...

My platform of choice is simply a Windows Form application written in C#. I would normally use Unity3D which I highly rate for developing pro games, however, the ZX Spectrum has a unique graphics display. The screen is made up of 32 x 24 attribute blocks, each block is 8x8 pixels. The tricky part is that each block can only display 2 colours at a time from a fixed palette of 15 colours.

If you're not familiar with ZX Spectrum games, then you'll not be aware of the crazyness that happens when sprites clash colours. Personally, unless you can implement these GFX rules, then I don't think it's a true ZX Spectrum replica game. This is why I stepped away from Unity3D and went down the Windows Form route, I felt I would have more control over rendering the screen. Also if I get time, I can just migrate my code to use MonoGame (XNA using Mono), and deploy to multiple platforms like Android, iOS, Linux etc...

Now for the game itself

I don't have a lot of time so it has to be simple. Many hours/days of my youth were spent playing Chuckie Egg and Manic Miner, these are true classics so will use these as my insperation. Not entirely sure where I'll take the game yet, but will be a simple player with a static level(s), collecting things, whilst bad things chase the player.

Day 1:

And we're OFF! First things first, I needed to nail an engine for displaying all the sprites on the screen as a base then build the game upon it. The way I achieved this was to draw the sprites in Photoshop using 2 colours, white + black. These are loaded in and I read the pixels storing them in my own data structure as rows of bytes for each attribute block. Each block has 2 colours, for Paper and Ink. This means I can chuck pixels around my data structure, and my engine will draw the pixels with the correct colours.

Next I built a map engine to read a text file describing a list of 8x8 pixel sprites to use, their colours and their position on the screen. Now this is in place, it will allow me to load multiple maps/levels with ease.

ZX Spectrum has a distinct font, so I drew each character as 8x8 sprites, using the same data structure I was easily able to chuck text on to the screen.

Finally on day 1, I needed a basic character I could move around the screen using the keys. As the map information was already implemented, I was able to quickly add very basic gravity and physics collisions with the scene. As I was on a roll I was able to duplicate the player code to use as a bad guy which ignored the user input. For good measure I quickly put in a collectable sprite, which I rotated through the limited colour palette ever frame, to try and make it look like it was flashing.

Quick screen shot:

Here's a quick video to demo my day 1 progress:

So that was day 1, really really happy with progress. I have the basis of my game, so I can just spend the rest of the week beefing it up, and hopefully make a game not only in the ZX Spectrum style, but actually FUN!

As I write this, I'm actually on day 2, but I've run out of time, so I will blog my progress tomorrow and through out the week.

Comment here or get involved on twitter: @rich_lloyd