I last 56 seconds….
Still working on capital ship weaponry and it’s fun! I’m actually doing a lot of clean up under the hood since my general programming process is get something working that I can play with on the screen as fast as possible and worry about making the code better later. I am in a make the code better phase because capital ships are far more involved than fighters and they are forcing me to break out some of the systems I just hard coded into my fighter scripts so that after I am done, I’ll be able to iterate more ships, turrets, weapons, other objects faster.
One example of this current decoupling is beam weapons – a totally different style of ‘projectile’ that still works with the components I built. The main turret I made last weekend just fires off regular cannon projectiles which are the same things that the fighters shoot. It’s been my standard projectile along with missiles for a long time. Standard cannon projectiles do 1 damage to the hull (armor and shields haven’t been implemented yet…) and missiles do a bunch more. The beam weapons are set to 1000. They cut through anything and can destroy multiple ships in one hit. I’ll probably dial it back but its fun to watch the thing just vaporize fighters like gnats. I envision this level strength weapon to be a capital ship attack weapon so the turret will probably track slower and generally just target other big ships. I might also make a short range faster tracking anti-fighter beam to punish players who get to close. The beam weapon definitely makes a cap ship something to fear.
On the technical side – I used a line renderer with a collider for the beam and I hacked together a lense flare and light at the origin of the beam. I might add another lense flare type thing to places it hits stuff so that it looks like a weld torch. Might be a cool effect that is different from the regular sparks and stuff of other weapon collisions.
Here are some of the latest screenshots of Space Warfare: Infinite! Still WIP and still in pre-alpha, but it’s also still a lot of fun!
I spent the weekend putting together a capital ship and its turrets. Its still a work in progress, but it is fun to have to play around with.
I built the capital ship model using Pro Builder. I’m still a true amatuer at modelling, but I am working on it. The ship is a carrier-type with a big fighter bay on the side. It’s about a kilometer in length, but you can only really tell if you put a 3rd person character on it and walked around. It seems like the trick is to put bunches of detail panels and sloped surfaces on it so it doesn’t look like a flying cube. I am using games
like Freespace 2 as a reference since the ships were boxy but people still liked them. Once I get some nice models together, I will explore real texturing. The current carrier isn’t going to be in the finished game – at least not the model in its current form. The main goal was to get something giant to fly around and fight against that had a killer amount of turrets. Ta -da !
Having the cap ship, tho, gives me lots of directions to go. It’s be cool to have the player fly out of a fighter bay tunnel at the start of a battle. I have an idea for smaller gun boats that would be a much smaller cap ship with a big gun and a pd. They’s have less armor, but would be a bit more maneuverable than big stuff. They’d be used in groups to attack big
ger Battleships by attacking from different angles and things to overwhelm defenses. Going one-on-one with a battleship would be a big problem since a big gun might take it out in one hit, but a group could score a bunch of hits while a big gun can only focus fire on one target.
I want to get AI together that will allow the cap ship to maneuver. Once that happens, a second capital ship so that they can fight each other. The current one would have to have AI that would make it find an average waypoint in the middle of the action so it can get in there and mix it up with fighters. Or, it will need AI that can chart a course along the side of another cap to do a flyby. If all caps follow the current gun load out a dive and attack would be a good strategy since a caps guns are on top mostly, so getting under the enemy will offer a passing attack while not getting exposed to the bigger guns on top.
Also there will be at least one cap ship with a giant trench in the middle leading to some sort of highly explosive power core. It will be the only cap ship that a fighter might be able to take out on their own.
The turrets rotate and look up and down to target enemies. Currently they are sort of Point Defense guns, but I am also going to add anti-capital ship guns, beam weapons and missiles. The model for the turret is really for a big anti-cap gun.
My basic thoughts are that all guns on a cap ship should be on a turret since the ship can maneuver as simply as a fighter. Big anti-cap ship guns will rotate slowest, but pack a big punch. Currently, if a fighter is unlucky enough to get hit by a anti-cap projectile its instant explosion. Big guns will prioritize other big ships that aren’t zipping around. Point Defense (PD) guns will track and take out fighters and missiles that get too close. Currently each turret has its own targeting AI. I hope to also add a targeting list function for some guns like PD and high-fire rate missile launchers so that they can move briskly between many targets. In a combat mission against Capital Ships, the main goal of fighters is to take out the PDs and other guns to make way for missiles to take out the ship. I am thinking some classes of cap ship will have strong enough armor that standard cannons on fighters won’t do any damage at all.
AI can make a game like Space Warfare pretty exciting. I plan on having some multiplayer aspects once I get the major systems together, but the focus of the game is really a single player experience at this point. Since that is the case, cool AI pilots who behave in interesting manners is important. My actual AI code at this point needs to be refactored because it is a big mess, but the things its doing already even without a really nice organized OO state machine are pretty fun. I plan in the future to build out more of a Playmaker-esque state machine for these guys but it’ll take some focus. Because of the behaviors of the AI, the game is becoming pretty fun to watch. It has the enemies turn and loop and barrel roll to escape or ambush each other.
Current states include Chase, Attack, Reposition / Flee. Within those states the ships are able to barrel roll in reaction to being hit as well as change target focus. My idea is that I want to have some base states like Attack and then have a bunch of maneuvers that can be employed by the pilots depending on their style/personality/status. I am looking into multiple temporary short range ‘waypoints’ to create maneuvers so that AI can do looks or spiral at another ship instead of go in a straight line.
Some of my research to me to the above really cool video from Star Citizen (disclaimer: I am one man, Star Citizen will always be cooler than my game…). It hints how they are thinking about AI and displays some quick shots of the Ai engine. I can’t afford to hire that Ai company but I like some of their approaches. One of the things they really focus on is collision avoidance which made me think – oh man I don’t have anything to collide with yet other than really small ships better get to work on that! Unity’s Nav Mesh seems out because its a 2D plane and not a big open space. I’m heading towards a raycasting set up for individual ships. I forsee it being a little costly so I might have to add some collision radius objects that trigger the raycast steering only when necessary. One video that seems to explain the basics is here: http://vimeo.com/9304844. Sadly the author seems to have disappeared from the internet and never continued the series.
I’ve also implemented missiles into the game. They are basically have perfect tracting to the only way to not get hit is to accelerate long enough that they can’t catch up or have them hit or get hit by something. I am working on a few countermeasures like a ‘chaff’ like drop and perhaps flares. I know chaff is for radar, but I might make it a dual purpose item in this game. It just drops a bunch of chunks of metal behind the ship that can clog an enemy radar with blips or set off a guided missile if a chunk collides with it. The other balancing option I will add is the length of time the guidance system works. This will give the player the ability to outrun then dodge a missile over a range if the guidance cuts out early, but is still a threat if the ship remains on the same course.
When I have add the ability to upgrade, ships could by better missiles with longer range guidance systems to make them harder to shake. As it stands now, unless your opponent launches a missile from too far away, the likely outcome is an explosion. Its so likely that for the above video I needed to disable missiles just to show you the Ai fighting without immediately creaming each other with missiles. Also I wouldn’t be able to stay in one place and film for my that 10 seconds before getting hit myself.
Missiles are a powerful weapon. But I always feel they are underpowered in games. Perhaps I should make it a little more random – 10% chance of surviving a missile? Perhaps its time to add shields!? Also individual parts of ships might mean less instant kills if its not a direct hit.
On the Bloom front… well the game is shiny now! Look at the before and after!
Things I’ve learned so far… some Unity image effects may be added after every camera is rendered. This means that no matter what camera you add an effect to, everything is gonna get the effect. The bloom happened on all my cameras no matter what my order was or culling set ups were. I’ve tried it all…. If someone out there reads this and finds out a way to make my findings untrue, I would love to see the solution! Comment, twitter, email me!
The main problem I’ve had is that the really nice Space for Unity scenes were getting over exposed and washed out so that you couldn’t enjoy the scenery. Since the main thing I wanted blooming were the trails and lasers, I ended up really brightening the particle materials they were using and then turning up the ‘threshold’ setting on bloom so that everything doesn’t wash out. It sort of works. I like more glowing than less so I am happy where I am with the look. Sometimes I feel like almost Bloom alone makes the Unity Pro license worth it — just the cool factor.
I know I should be working on my November game, but the prospect of being able to devote more time to Space Wars (As well as finding a real game name for it – Space Warfare Infinite?) has been too tempting! I will get back to my monthly project soon, but in the mean time lets talk updates to Spacewars.
Bloom is all the rage. It’s the main reason to get Unity Pro from what I can tell. That and the profiler. But lighting effects take your game and put it in the pro category – at least with the looks. I’ve been trying a bunch of different post-processing effects, but standard bloom seems to be the best for making space object look interesting and making laser flash and glow. The battle now just seems more alive! The downside is that brighter backgrounds glow too much and look too bright. At the moment I am just letting it slide. I fooled around with the camera render orders and such but could never get the bloom to only effect lasers. So far it doesn’t seem possible for me. (I did see someone wrote a shader that keeps bloom from rendering on something. I might do something like that someday to fix the nebulas and other stuff I don’t want to glow).
I’ve also been futzing with the Ai. I really want to write behaviors and more decision making. The current Ai chooses a random target from a list of enemies and then blindly charges. When in range they start firing. The other behaviors include: if they get hit a couple time in rapid succession, they will find a random waypoint to run off to; if they are attacking for more than a few seconds they will find a new way point to back off and then go back to it; if they get hit by a ship that is not their target a few times, they will switch targets and defend themselves.
Last night I changed a few things that annoyed me. First I added a lead object to each ship so that ai will aim just before the target thus leading their shots. Works well for moving objects.
I want to build a behavior where the Ai does flybys or other maneuvers that make sense. As I step towards that, I removed their ability to stop. It looked super dumb to see ships just floating in space taking shots. I just have them thrust at all times now. I also dropped their rotation speed from 20 to 1 which makes them curve a little more when flying – looks more natural. No more turning to the player in a blink! I also want to add a behavior when they are too close for more than a few seconds, find a nearby waypoint to go to before attacking again — the ai seems to get in close and then circle the target without being able to aim shots. They need to be able to get a new attack vector. The movement makes the game much cooler looking. Everything circling around with trails.
Ai Behaviors I am hoping to put in:
- Rush pass / loop: Ship flies by target attacking as they pass then pulls up and executes loops to do another run on same strike vector
- Flanking loop to hit target from side Circle to get around and behind target Go to waypoint
- Patrol series of waypoints
- Follow / Protect target
- Follow / Copy target (attack its targets) Stand still – cap ships will prob do this alot Kamakazi ramming
- Strafe side – get up to speed then rotate to aim guns at target let inertia carry ship along side target while unloading weapons… (currently not possible in way game handles ship flight… but this might be an effective attack for fighters against a cap ships PDS)
- Preferred targets – weakest, injured, toughest, untouched, ranged, fighter, cap, midrange, auxilery, stationary, slowest, low shields, low armor, high shields, high armor, no ‘type’ gun, specific ship
- Scanning / Sight Range- how far should awareness go? Should be increased by auxiliary scanning ships in fleet.
- Use specialized component – Scanner Jammer, EMP, Cloaking,
I’ve figured out how to set up a Twitch.tv account and how to do better screen cast videos on my computer. I hope to have better videos (HD) to show off future games. I also hope to start doing more How to Make Games tutorials for beginners on the web and my students. The Badger Head Games Twitch.tv channel is http://www.twitch.tv/badgerheadgames and my Youtube Channel is https://www.youtube.com/user/mikedolan03/videos. I’ll post relevant videos here, but you can subscribe to those channels as well.
As you will see from the video, while I love making games, I am not the best video game player! While I enjoy playing games, I also play stuff that I can get ideas from. The folks behind Strike Suit Zero have made a pretty impressive space battle game. I love the feeling of being in a big space battle with lots of fighters and capital ships flying around. The mission in the video also has a space station. I spend a lot of time trying to blow up a frigate and take lots of damage getting hit by its turrets. Each turret is targetable and destroyable. In my game, charging into Point Defense Turrets like that will probably make for a quick end to your ship. Taking out cap ships will require some strategic targeting of the defensive guns before making any type of bombing run.
Things I love about Strike Suit Zero:
- Big cap ships engaging in battle
- Nice small fish in a big fight feeling
- Engine trails that make it easier to see enemies
- Turrets on ships
- Cool HUD targeting system – arrows pointing to available targets, boxes on targets, circle that tells you you are aiming right
- nice explosions, shield effects, player hud static effects when damaged.
- Comms w headshots – moves story along with cinematics
- Being able to survive but still lose a mission (sometimes the game doesn’t continue on tho, you have to play until victorious)
Anyway, look forward to my future videos. I am planning to make an intro to Unity tutorial featuring hover tanks and rockets. It should be an ‘easy’ to follow tutorial to get folks started on making their own Unity games.
My September game of the month has been an exploration of procedural (kinda random) generation of star systems that players can travel to through jump points. I’ve been using Space for Unity Construction Kit which makes really pretty stuff even when I write code to completely randomize its elements. I haven’t done the math, but just to choose a random seed, if picks a random number between 1 and 5 million or something so there are at least 5 million variations of star systems I suppose. Some might be more interesting than others.
Here is a video:
Hope to have a demo online soon!
Plerion is difficult to describe. Basically there is an energy source in the center of the screen that increasing sends energy burst fireballs off to the edges of the screen. The player must tap or click the edges of screen to send their own energy blast to stop the bursts from going past. It works best on a touch screen since you don’t have to move a mouse, but I am putting up a web version for fun. Also, I am still finishing this, so while the basics are there, its unbalanced and super difficult to go very far. I am thinking of having distinguishable levels, perhaps a more pattern based energy release, and eventually a sense that one can master the game. At the moment, I think it feels way too difficult and confusing. But… its pretty and there are explosions!! Here is a link to Plerion.
At long last! Tap Invasion and Tap Invasion Lite Now on the Google Play store for Android devices! I’ve even sold a few games!
Full Game for only $0.99! Click here to go to the Tap Invasion Google Play page.
The store description goes something like this: Fast, addictive retro arcade action! Aliens are attacking Earth again! Tap the invaders as they attempt to destroy your city. How long can you keep the city alive?
Tap Invasion Lite is a DEMO version that gives you the feel for the game and a boss battle. The DEMO has a time limit and only a few of the bad guys. But it does have a boss!
– Retro arcade action
– Simple but addictive gameplay
– Power ups!
– 8-bit pixel art transports you back to the 80’s
– Chip tune sound track!
Try it out and then buy the FULL version to get all the cool features below…
Cool Features of the FULL GAME:
– More Retro arcade action
– Simple but addictive gameplay
– Infinite levels – if you can tap fast enough!
– Randomized levels with increasing speeds and difficulty
– 5 bosses to destroy
– Power ups!
– 8-bit pixel art transports you back to the 80’s
– Chip tune sound track!
– Top Score Board – Can you beat your friend’s score?
– No in-app purchases!
Please support indie games and me! I make games for fun, but its also fun to be paid for your creative works!