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Saturday, 22 December 2018

UFO progress report - Games development update 22/12/2018

Only a short dev diary update today as preparations for Christmas are taking up a lot of my time. It's only a text update again this week, and I'll do get back to video updates in the new year.

As you can see from the image above, the game is taking shape quite nicely. I've been struggling a little bit with getting the AI movement to work independently of the scroll, because I couldn't figure out how to get this working with GMS2's built in cameras and views system, so I took the route of making the player object essentially stationary in the main view and having everything thing else's movement controlled by a velocity variable that's controlled by the players keyboard inputs.

I'm currently working on adding some more enemies to the game, but work is a bit slow at the moment, but I should be able to jump back into it properly once Christmas is out of the way.

There probably won't be any live stream until new year.

And finally! If you want to join the ACOB online community, you can do so by accepthing this invite to the Discord server.

That's it for now! Sorry it's a bit rushed, and I'll see you all in 2019.

Saturday, 15 December 2018

BlasterMax is done and a new project is underway! - Games development update 15/12/2018

The first bit of news this week is that BlasterMax is completed and should be available for download from in the first week of January 2019. I'm holding the release back to next year as I want to play test it again in a week or two before I release it.

The second bit of news this weeks is that I've already started working on my next game! This new game is a Defender-like game where the player controls a UFO that has to abduct humans, sheep and cows while avoiding the airforce and army who have sent planes, helicopters and tanks out to stop you. The game is very early in development, and I've had a few Game Maker Studio induced problems with it that almost caused me to drop development, but the problems are now fixed so I can get on with developing the gameplay. Below is a short .GIF of what I have so far.

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Almost Done! - Games development update 08/12/2018

BlasterMax is almost complete! 

All of the levels, enemies and bosses are in place, and the only thing that needs to be done is some play testing to find out where I need to tweak the difficulty curve and if any sneaky bugs have escaped my notice.

I've added gamepad controls to the game. Instead of adding an options menu, I decided to have the game ask the player if they have a gamepad at the start and if they would like to run the game in full screen or windowed.

I've put the ground levels in starting at level 5. These add a new gun enemy that tracks the players position and fires a bullet. This is one of the things that might require a bit of fixing when I start play testing next week.

To give the game a sort of coin-op arcade feel, I've added in a coin pick-up that spawns randomly. The player collects the coin and it adds 1 extra turn to the game, allowing the player to continue from the start of the last level they died on with full lives and their current score. It's meant to be similar to the player putting another coin in the slot to get an extra go in the arcades.

The game now has some scenario text that appears on the title screen after around 30 seconds, and it has a scorecard that displays the enemies and all of the points you get for destroying them. The game also has an end game screen that is displayed if the player makes it to the last level and defeats the final boss.

Okay, that's it for this week, I'll leave you with the dev vlog.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Game Maker Studio problems - Games development update 01/12/2018

BlasterMax 80's retro inspired title screen

Games development this week has been a little on the slow side due to some annoying issues with GMS2 and some real life problems.

The GMS2 problems were caused by an object that starts the level running itself multiple times. This was causing there to be multiple copies of the player instance overlaid one on top of the other at the start of the game. Because they were all created in the same place it looked like there was only one object, but everything this object did was multiplied by the amount of copies that were created. A simple thing like firing a bullet resulted in multiple instances of the bullet being created, so that when the bullets collided with an enemy only the top bullet was destroyed. This made it look like the bullet was passing straight through the enemy without being destroyed on collision. It was a few odd issue, and the only way to fix it was to delete the start game object and recreate it using the exact same code. Since the object is exactly the same as the previous one and uses exactly the same code, I'm at a loss as to why the object was misbehaving in the first place and why replacing it with an identical object has fixed it... I've reported it as a bug to Yoyo Games support.

The real life problems this week have been caused by multiple trips to the hospital. My mother is currently unwell, and I have to take her to the hospital for treatment leading up to an operation on the 27th of December. All the trips to and from the hospital have left me feeling a bit tired, so I've not been working on the game as much as I would like to. This is also the reason why I've not been doing many live streams this week. I'm hoping to do three live streams next week, on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, but my mother's health takes priority over any games development, so this schedule may change.

That's it for this week. I'll leave you with the Dev Vlog for this week, which contains a bit more about what I've tried to do with the game since the last update.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Games development update 24/11/2018

I made quite a bit of progress on the game this week. All of the required elements are in, aside from one enemy type and some power ups, and I've started working on the difficulty curve and level scaling. 

The game now has all ten bosses in place, and these have a different number of companions each level to protect them up to level 5 at the moment. I've also added an extra life counter that triggers every 20,000 points and a corresponding effect to go with it.

In relation to the YouTube channel and the live streams, I decided to wipe out all of the "tutorial" type videos. This is because I wasn't happy with them. I felt that I started well, but as the game got more complex I started to find it harder to explain what I was doing. So, I've decided that from now on the stream will be simply a gamedev live stream and I'll upload weekly dev-vlogs to YouTube and share them on here to go along with these little text updates. 

The first one is a bit rushed, but here it is:

That's it for this week. I'll be back with some more updates soon!

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Games development update 17/11/2018

It's only a text update for this week as I'm going to start doing something a little different with the live streams next week.

The idea behind the live streams was to record each one and share it to YouTube as a development diary. Unfortunately, I think that this idea isn't great as it means people have to sit through an up to 2 hour long video every day to see what I've been doing. So, I've decided to condense the live streams down into a weekly "dev vlog" that I'll upload to YouTube every Saturday staring next week.

This week I spent some time redesigning the sprites for enemies, player and bosses. I wanted to move away from the Master System-ish look that the game had previously and more towards an 80's arcade style look.It still requires a bit of work, but it's getting there.

The game now has three properly working levels with the game getting progressively more difficult through each one. The idea is to include 10 levels with a boss at the end of nine of them until you reach the "super boss" on the final stage. The enemy spawn rate still requires some tuning to keep the game engaging without letting the difficulty get too hard on the earlier stages.

I started working on the ground levels, but I've not found an elegant way of incorporating them into the level design yet, so they've been shelved for the moment. The code is in the game, but there's nothing to trigger them just yet.

Okay, so that's it for this week. Now I'm off to play Pokemon: Let's Go Pikachu!

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Games development update 10/11/2018

There are no video dev diaries for this week as I wasn't really able to spend much time on Twitch. I did, however, manage to do some development on BlasterMax and here's this weeks update:

Boss sprite being created
The game now has three bosses with different behavior for each one. The first boss moves left and right while firing at the player, the second boss moves and fires the same as the first but creates a shield between itself and the player to prevent you from shooting it, and the third has the same movement but is backed up by two circular enemies that take turns attacking the player. All three bosses currently have the same sprite, but I'm working on making each one look different.

I've now got the level progression working properly, with the game starting with the red enemies on level 1, red and blue on level 2 and red, blue and yellow on level 3. There are also a UFO enemy and a bomber enemy that appear randomly starting from level 2.

I want to add more sound effects to the game so that different enemies have a different sound when shot. This is a fairly easy process to complete and I'll probably get onto sorting this out next week.

I also want to add some ground levels at some point. This is only an idea at this point, so it's not a definite addition yet, but I've laid out some ideas for ground based enemies, tanks and gun turrets, that I can look at including on later levels.

The schedule for next week is to do three games development live streams on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. These will be at the usual time of 1pm until 3pm UK time. I may also look to add some evening streams, as I've now got a desk mic that allows me to stream while not wearing my headset, so I can now hear if I'm needed elsewhere. The only drawback of the desk mic is my mechanical keyboard is quite loud and it sounds like it's feeding off the suffering of human souls when I type, so I may have to look at getting a quieter keyboard.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Games development update 03/11/2018

I started the games development live stream last week with the aim being to run it like a tutorial series for newcomers to learn the basics of making 2d retro games in Game Maker Studio using GML. It's going well, but I don't think I'm very good at explaining things properly, so I'm going to change the format slightly by still steaming development and trying to talk through the process, so people can follow along, but without the added pressure of trying to pace it like a tutorial. This is mainly because I'm finding it a bit hard to be on camera, coding and talking about what I'm doing all at the same time, and also because I'm probably skipping over stuff and making it a bit hard for beginners to follow.

So, what's the current state of the game so far? Well, I've compiled a playlist of all of this weeks dev streams that takes you through the processes of starting with a blank canvas and getting things working. The game currently has one proper stage with a boss that spawns at the end of that stage.

Level 1 boss
On the first level the player has to destroy 10 enemies, not counting asteroids, and that triggers the boss encounter to end the level. After that the kill total rises by 5 each level until the player hits level 10 where the final boss appears. Once the final boss is defeated the game will end.

My biggest priority at the moment is getting all the enemies and bosses built and moving around, then I'm going to get to work on the level progression so that the game gets slightly more difficult each level. I basically want to add a modifier to the enemy speed variable that increases by a small amount each level. I'll get on with this when I'm back on stream on Monday.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

New dev stream

I'm starting a new games development live stream on Twitch. The idea behind it is to make some retro styled 2d games using Game Maker Studio 2 and use ideas and concepts that I think would be easy for someone new to development to follow along with and learn how to make arcade games of a style similar to 1980's arcade machines and consoles.

My aim is to create the games in as simple a way as possible, using very simple code that isn't too complicated for beginners, and stream the process as I work through the games. This will include problem solving, tracking down tricky bugs, play testing and the highs and lows of working through creating a game.

A lot of the games development tutorial videos on places like YouTube tend to be quite scripted and the developer has everything laid out before hand so you rarely see them making any mistakes or having to deal with bugs. This, I think, gives newcomers a wrong impression that games development always goes smoothly, and when they start running into problems it can be quite a struggle to stay motivated. So, I thought I'd make my own live stream where you can watch the whole process of making a game and see how I encounter problems and find solutions to them, and upload the videos to YouTube so people can follow along like a series.

I'll be live most week days between 1pm and 3pm.

If you want to check it out, you can find it on Twitch at

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Anyone fancy a dungeon crawl?

Retroids has kind of been abandoned for the moment, as has Cult of Monsters and Asteroid Mining Company. With everything that's been going on here, with my mothers cancer and other issues, I've developed a habit of starting projects but not finishing them. I had a feeling that this is probably down to shooter fatigue (I do tend to make a lot of shooting games), so I thought I'd try something new.

My new game is called Tiny Dungeon, and as you can see it's a sort of dungeon crawler. The game is very early in development, so I don't expect it to be released for some time, but it's coming on quite well. I can only work on it in the afternoons when my mother goes for her nap, but it's progressing quite quickly and I'm hoping to get back to more regular updates on the development. It might not be back to my usual post per week, but it might be a post per fortnight or something along those lines.

I'm not going to go into too much detail as to how the game plays yet, as the mechanics are still quite basic and could be subject to change, but as it grows I should be able to share some more details.

Watch this space for further updates!

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Really small stuff!

I've just learned that my mother has got breast cancer, so I can't spend lots of time working on games at the moment, but I've been looking at some really simple game ideas that I can put together quickly for fun. Being really simple ideas, I should be able to get most of them done in a short amount of time and still be able to do everything I need to do to continue my mothers care. This will enable me to keep a slow but steady stream of content coming to the blog and and ensure that I'm not spending too much time on the computer.

I'll post an update soon!

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Super Retroids XD Plus Development (sort of)

I've put The Diabolical Cult of Monsters on hold for a little while while I work on Super Retroids XD Plus. 

I actually lost the source code for the original version of Retr0ids, because I didn't make a backup of it, so I'm having to start development from scratch. This is actually a pretty good thing because it's enabled me to make a much more polished game and do a few things better than they were before. The eagle-eyed among you might notice that the .GIF above is not of Retroids, this is a little game I have in development called Asteroid Mining Company, some of the code from which will be used to create the basis for Super Retroids. 

Retr0ids has always been an Asteroids clone at heart, but with some gameplay ideas from Robotron added to mix things up a little bit, so I thought I'd make a more traditional asteroid shooter first to give me the base code for the new version of Retroids later. I'm not sure exactly how or if I'll release Asteroid Mining Company yet, but I'm thinking I'll bundle it together with Super Retroids as a freebie.

Friday, 4 May 2018

Super Retroids XD Plus!

Super Retroids XD Plus front end concept (WIP)

Alongside The Diabolical Cult of Monsters, I'm also working on an updated version of Retr0ids called Super Retroids XD Plus. Details are a bit sketchy at the moment, but it's going to retain pretty much the same basic gameplay as the original game, but with enhanced graphics, sound and level design.

This is currently a side project while I'm working on Monsters, but I'm hoping to have it out on Steam when it's completed. I'll post updates as I work on it.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Small tweaks

This week I've been working on some small tweaks and fixes for the current game, so it's another short update for today.

I wasn't 100% happy with the control scheme, so I made a few alterations that make it easier for the player to move and shoot. One of these changes was to fix a bug that kept resetting the firing direction to straight up when you stopped moving, so the player can now stop and keep firing in the direction they last moved, which should make hitting enemies a bit easier. I've also spent some time refining the collision detection for all of the objects, especially the spinning knives as they kept getting stuck at the edge of the screen.

I'm still thinking of doing these updates in video format, but this one was such a short update (and I currently have bad cough) so I didn't think it was really worth it. The first video will likely be a walkthrough of the gameplay from one of my previous games, either Retr0ids or Hyper-Galactic Spiders from Mars.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Levelling up!

It feels nice to be back working on my game again!

Only a short one from me today as I'm still picking up the pieces from the aborted house move. I'm still very early in the development process for Monsters, but things are progressing nicely at this stage, which is usually the point where it goes wrong and I end up shouting at the PC, hehe! All the keyboard movement controls are in for the player, and the game has two levels, two basic enemies and two demon types. Basically I've got a fully playable but very short game that's lacking sound effects and a high score, so now I need to start fleshing it out.

In other news, I'm toying with the idea of doing these dev updates in video format rather than just typing them up on the blog. I feel it would be a good idea to actually demonstrate the games in action and talk the viewers through some of the gameplay, so it might be something I can explore later on.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 29 January 2018

A quick update and a new game!

Hi everyone! I thought I'd best take a moment to put fingers to keyboard and post a little about what I've been up to since the release of Hyper-Galactic Spiders from Mars (which you can play and download by clicking the banner above).

I took a little break from games development to work on some new music. Nothing special, just a couple of instrumental synth tracks (you can find them on my music page). However, I've not been completely idle with the games development, as I've been busy planning out my next game which is currently under the working title of "The Diabolical Cult of Yakk", and I have a very basic working prototype.

The games main goal is for the player to move through the ritual chambers of the Cult of Yakk, slowly taking down each cultist until you reach a confrontation with the main boss demon. The game has a slight Yars Revenge feel to it, but I'm going to add my usual twist to mix up the gameplay a little. The game is also going to be done in a pseudo-Commodore 64 8-bit graphic style, as you may be able to tell from the basic title image above.

I'm taking my time over this one, so I don't currently have an ETA as to when it'll be finished. I will post regular updates as I'm working on it.