Hoth Strike – development thoughts and notable points

No updates for a little while so I thought I’d offer some thoughts on the progress of the game (Hoth Strike).

The last stuff to go in was the Pod / Pod Launcher stuff. Anyone familiar with Defender will know all about these little devils. The theory is simple: you shoot the pod launcher (carrier) and destroy it only for the screen to fill with tiny little pods that are to be frank a swine to hit. I was always hugely frustrated by this in Defender (leaving aside the sheer thrill of destroying all pods before they scattered with some amphetamine trigger finger action) so for my game I wanted the pods to be big and destroyable. To counter their size I made them persist within the bounds of the playing area and simply bounce around.

I now have a few aliens in place with differing behaviours:

Probe – Dump probe modelled on the one from the movie that strikes the surface of Hoth and proceeds to inform the Empire of the location of the Rebel base
Lander – Slightly less dump probe that looks for Rebels to hijack
Mutant – Awful hybrid of Lander and Rebel that turns on the player and pursues him across the playfield spunking bombs all over the place
Pod Launcher – Big dump blob (not yet drawn) that drifts around like a jellyfish and is generally a nuisance
Pod – Big bouncing ball that will most likely knock the player for six as it ricochets off the screen edge

I had a number of emails from folk asking why the AT-ATs weren’t animated and why there were no Wampas. The answer is simple, I failed to animate the AT-ATs convincingly and I couldn’t be bothered to draw and code the Wampas :-) That said, I may have some help in the AT-AT department. Look out for a sequel to Hoth Strike in the near future to see the walkers in motion !

So that leaves me with a game that is very close to completion. I have to say for the most part it has been fantastic fun to develop. I spend most of my time just now playing the game and working out where to improve it. But generally I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved.

Some notable points in the development:

Realising that the lasers could be “double timed” by utilising the onkeyup event to spawn a player laser. This was a cracker. I was frustrated at having to rapidly smack the fire button and then realised that every key press had to be met with a key up event. Both events fire a player laser. All I had to do was force a small interval but not so much that you’d experience a gap in the action.

Perfecting the “speeder slide”. This was initially frustrating. I’d wanted to have the speeder slide left and right since it adds a whole new dynamic to the game. But I had the speeder sat static in the centre of the screen and literally swung the landscape around. The effect was poor until I unglued the speeder and had it swing around the screen with only minor adjustments to the landscape below. On playing the game I realised that the speeder slide is an effective technique against the mutant probe !

Scrolling the terrain. This is key to the game working. I knew that I could stitch tiles together since I’d done it with the prototype but actually moving them at pace seemed a bit ambitious. Never the less I worked it out to the pixel so that the scenery tiles moved seemlessly. This is something that I am quite proud of.

The general look and feel of the game. The entire project has been a retro step for me in that I get to play with individual pixels in Photoshop once more. I love pixelling game graphics and this has been hugely entertaining and rewarding. There are a host of sprites that won’t make it in to the game which I may post up some day. The next game will be sprite intensive and will be an vehicle for testing my pixel work ;)

So there you have it. I hope to finish the game off in the next week or so and add it to my expanding library of 2 games.

Thanks for reading.

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  • TCP  On May 23, 2009 at 6:42 am

    very cool & good tip, thank you very much for sharing.


  • Kevin McDonagh  On May 23, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I’m loving this man, keep it up nice and detailed. Can we get some mid development screen shots as well? Anything just half done pixels and mocked screens would be great. Really looking forward to these posts!

  • markw1970  On May 26, 2009 at 8:08 am

    Hi Kevin. Thanks for the comments. If I’m brave enough I might post up my attempts at animating the AT-AT ;)

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