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AGameAWeek 2008-2009 : Part Two
  4th August, 2009

The AGameAWeek 2008-2009 Retrospective

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five

Alien Deathmatch 2 : The Lull

Week Sixteen - AD2

Having spent 15 weeks working on short and sweet games, and the past few weeks learning the do's and don't's of Blitz3D, I decided to aim for something a little bit larger, this week. The plan was simple. Recreate Alien Deathmatch, aim for larger arenas, build extra weapons and make everything a little bit smoother.


So with all the information ready to go, I spent this week working on the graphical aspects of the new game. A few dozen tweaks of the wall and floor textures, making sure everything looked crisp and clear, and ensuring the texture buffers could hold them all. Trying to draw all of the level at once seemed to press the abilities of Blitz a bit, as well as requiring a ludicrously sized texture, so rather than load the complete arena all in one, it drew segments onto a grid of textures. This worked out nicely, and meant I could scale it up pretty well to allow for massive levels.

Rather than aim for insanely large, I kept the end level size to about 3 times wider, and 3 times taller than the original game.

With the simpler graphics worked out, and the basic movement going, it was time to work out the rest of the game's engine.

Week Seventeen - AD2 Part 2 - Stringy Things DS - Link

Spending more time working on Alien Deathmatch 2 meant that I had to skip another week. Since that didn't seem like a good idea, I opted to post a game I hadn't previously released. Stringy Things DS 2 was something I wrote a year or two earlier, but hadn't bothered to release. Unfortunately, folk don't seem too interested in word games, and so once I'd finished the game for my Mum to play, I never really did anything else with it. This week was it's time to shine!

Meanwhile, Alien Deathmatch 2 work continued with AI basics, enhanced graphics and level layout options. I had initially considered drawing a different set of tiles, so you could select lots of different arena styles, but once I tried a level with multiple tiles inside, I opted to go for that instead.

I rebuilt the level drawing engine to try and work out where each different room in the level is, and render each room with a different floor style. A simple enough effect, but one that resulted in a decent variety of styles. With a few more complex AI patterns, and some new spawning layouts, I managed to make the game tougher than it was before.

Still, something was missing. If I was to create a continuous stream of levels for people to play, there needed to be a simple way to upload them, too.

Week Eighteen - AD2 Part 3 - Experimental DS - Link

I rebuilt the online side of Alien Deathmatch 2 so that it looked into player's level folder. Each time a player clicked to download the day's highscore table, it would sneak a peek into their levels, see if there was anything new, and if there was it'd upload it to the server.

That way, whenever anyone made a new level, it'd get it ready for everyone else to try, and given enough players, and enough time, we'd always have a nice fresh supply of gameplay elements.

Meanwhile, no work on AGameAWeek. So instead I uploaded a batch of experimental DS toys. Newer versions of Centipong DS and Puzzobomb DS were uploaded, but I also uploaded test versions of Alien Deathmatch and Mario's Fiery Fourth for the DS, too.

Alien Deathmatch on the DS could've been a decent game, but since I'd started it before deciding on the "Arena" element, it never really worked out. I had initially planned to make it level based, more like the original Alien Breed, and the thought of having to make a batch of actual storybased levels scared me enough that I never really got around to finishing it! As it is, it's just a simple scrolling engine with guns. No baddies, no collision, nothing of interest.

Mario's Fiery Fourth DS probably would've wound up as a complete game, except that the first time I tested it on the DS, I came across the horrible laggy LCD screen, and it's annoying blurryness. It made the game horribly unplayable, and it wasn't worth continuing. Which is a shame.

Week Nineteen - AD2 Part 4 - A really Rubbish Darts game - Link

More Alien Deathmatch 2 work this week, as I carried on tweaking the AI. Small balancing issues, trying to get the enemy feeling right. This meant a lot of time ingame, as I tried out the hundreds of AI possibilities.

Trying to sort out the balance, I decided to try out some alternative colours. Towards the end of the original game, I added pink aliens that would explode into a bunch of grey aliens once you killed them. I decided to try out a few more options. Blues would be faster, reds would explode, and so on. It really helped balance the game a lot more, and even allowed for a few more gameplay styles.

With all that out of the way, and the game coming along well, I took a few hours to build a quick game for the week. The result was a really rubbish dart game. A case of the Plan being greater than Result. Creating an arcade style dart game isn't really that easy, and here's a perfect example of that.

Even with a nice dart effect, and a decent chalkboard, this game still ended up being a shell of what it could've been. Sometimes plans don't really work out.

Week Twenty - Alien Deathmatch 2 : Breeds - Link

Took more time than I expected, but I got there in the end. Having finally finished the game, it went online this week, and immediately found a whole batch of things to fix, from dopey enemy AI, to nicer bloomish effects, there was lots to tweak.

But nothing in the engine was spectacularly wrong. As it was, even it's first release was a fully working game. Everything from the level uploader to the daily level picks, the new gameplay types and all the little breeds. They all worked as expected.

Adding all the nice extras a couple of days later, a couple of new weapons, keeping the game balanced, and ensuring the online highscores weren't all completely broken was perhaps the trickiest part, during the week. But I think I managed to do it quite well, and the game's still worth a play or two. or five or twenty or more!

Weeks Twenty One and Twenty Two - Xmas and New Year

Having taken a few weeks off, whilst working away at Alien Deathmatch 2, it probably wasn't a great idea to then take a couple of weeks off for Xmas and New Year, but that's exactly what I did.

I spent a few days making a quick table of all the games I'd released in 2008, but otherwise didn't really do any game work at all.

Considering I made a really fantastic game, I felt rather let down by the past few weeks worth of work. AGameAWeek had been reduced to "How I made Alien Deathmatch", and I needed to kick things back into high gear.

The AGameAWeek 2008-2009 Retrospective

Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five

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