Steve from Quote Unquote asked me to give an interview for his site. I happily did so as he’s a really nice fellow. It felt a bit strange though since I was inactive on the scene for several years and there was no special occasion for the interview, like, heaven forbid, a new release… So we mostly talked about Rescue: The Beagles, destiny of yet unfinished games like Ablation X and I largely went on about minutia of my game creation process and design philosophy. If you’re interested into that kind of thing - check out the interview.
Hello good people,
16×16 is online again. It’s been awhile… Site was intermittently up and down for the last year or so, mostly because I couldn’t find affordable hosting service. This is resolved now and hopefully will stay that way.
Other than that, no spectacular news. Pretty much it for now.
Cheers to all!
Completed version of Rescue: The Beagles is out at last! You can download it here. The things added are mostly on the presentational side although a few gameplay improvements were made too. Great many thanks to Dean Pavlekovic who took the effort of doing some code management and transferred the project to a better development environment. He also set up a version tracking system for the game code. All this made the finalization process a breeze. And as a side effect, the download size is smaller now as we could afford to lose some runtime libraries.
So enough with technicalities, here’s the list of additions and improvements:
- gamepad support, for both; hat and analog joystick.
- Placid Flow Bonus - a new type of bonus you earn at the end of each level if you don’t harm anybody on the level. It’s well worth going for as it rewards you with +200% of the total level score.
- bigger HUD option (which is on by default)
- option to mark soon-to-be-lost beagles with flashing red circles, for people who have trouble spotting a beagle
- parachute backpack and rope are now visible on player avatar to indicate the particular resource is available
Presentational and other fluff:
- a new glowy, bubbly logo
- main menu reworked
- story, instructions, enemies and credits screens
- splash screen with illustration by Annabelle Kennedy
There are some beagles in distress and they are desperately awaiting for your help. If you haven’t played the game yet, get it now! If you, however, enjoyed the beta, the full version is well worth downloading - for the complete experience.
Annabelle Kennedy posted a note about how much she loved Rescue: The Beagles accompanied by the artwork named Rescue Time she modestly referred to as a “fan art”. Take a look at the picture above. Obviously this is so much more. I can’t even begin to describe the joy it induced in me.
She somehow managed to capture the atmosphere of the game so amazingly well. Her ability to “read out” tiny pixel sprites and transpose them into fully fleshed characters is just astonishing while the execution easily parries commercial grade retail box illustrations. Oh, and the cuteness level is exactly to my liking.
Getting positive feedback on your game is one thing but when someone invest their time and effort into making something as elaborate as this… well, it’s just flattering.
Designing and developing a game is an intense process. You can easily find yourself wondering; “why the hell am I wasting my time staring at the screen the whole day? I’d be better off doing something useful, like sunbathing or having a pineapple picnic”. Receiving this kind of appreciation really makes the effort worthwhile.
I rather dislike using the word awesome but this is leaving me no choice because it’s nothing but a sheer awesomeness. For the end - a short announcement: This is now the official Rescue: The Beagles splash screen and as such it will be included in the final game release. Thanks Annabelle!
I’ve noticed some people missed the background story of Rescue: The Beagles, which by the way can be found in the readme.txt file that comes with the game. That made them mistakenly interpret Amita Range as an alien planet, Biohazard Doodz as astronauts and Lip Balm Residues as red boxes *meh*. Mind you that game is still in the beta stage and as such it lacks some planned features. Two of them being the in-game story and in-game instructions. Out of nothing but a pure capriciousness let me just put those things here while we’re all waiting for the final release. Here goes:
A cargo airplane crashed somewhere above the wast areas of the Amita range. It was carrying a large shipment of beagles headed to the CutLab, a huge animal testing facility.
The Lab is upset about losing its precious testing material and is deploying a biohazard division determined to reclaim its property. They operate under the strict orders: seize the usable specimens, kill the rest.
We’re sending three of our elite animal rights activists to rescue as many dogs as possible before the Lab’s grunts confine them back to the life of endless misery.
LIP BALM RESIDUES - Blobs of wild cherry flavored lip balm formula meant to be tested on beagles. The tank exploded during the crash and the whole area got contaminated with residues. It’s highly toxic and cannot be attacked with owls. Avoid at all costs.
BIOHAZARD DOODZ - They are only interested in “securing the area” and “detecting the leaks” and other childish stuff like that. So 90s! Plus, heavy biohazard suits make them slow and easy target for your owls.
VIVISECTORS - Beagles are their primary concern. They’ll scan about and try to catch the nearest dog. Rinse, repeat, until they can carry no more. Don’t let them escape with the dogs. Owl them out and get the puppies back before they hurt them.
LAB EXECUTIVES - Quite opposite of vivisectors, their main concern is - you. If they spot you they’ll follow you around nagging for signature on some “important” piece of documentation, asap. Riiight! Better feed them adult dose of owl poo-poo before they lay their greasy hands on you.
New version of Rescue: The Beagles beta is available for download. The main thing added is the online score board. Also the game itself is made somewhat easier by tweaking the enemy spawn rates, adding extra lives and additional score bonuses at the end of each level.
With Ablation X in the slow lane I decided to take on a quick mini-project. Rescue: The Beagles is a small platformer made for TIG Source procedural generation game competition. It’s actually a prototype built from scratch in about two weeks time. Pretty intense! Great many thanks to Rich Vreeland and Aesqe who worked on sonic aspects of the project. I’m a bit tired now and my website is behaving strangely so I’m calling it a day. More to come. In the meantime - download the beta.
Well it was just an ordinary day when all of a sudden Aesqe popped up on my messenger wanting me to upload one of the Ablation X videos we did for music testing purposes. So I did. And after looking at it I knew it was time to update my freakin’ hibernating website. So I’m doing it.
Ablation X didn’t made it past the first circle at IGF. Rightfully so because the thing submitted was basically a rudimentary alpha. Anyway, I continued sporadically working on the game afterwards and hopefully will do so until it’s done. Slowly, slowly. That’s about all the PR I’ll emit at the moment :)
The video above is depicting a current state of the game. The level in the video was played by Aesqe. He kinda sucks at shmuping hence the lame action. But the musical track he did, albeit still in the early stages, is downright gorgeous.
There is only one primary weapon called… the gun (or lazer if you wish). I’m very creative with the names, see :) This weapon can be powered up by the collectibles that float around. Pretty much straightforward shmup issue. However, it can operate in two modes of fire: spread and concentrated. Switching between the two can be done at any time by tapping the fire button. Player’s now able to make some tactical decisions in every situation; should he go softening the whole attack wave or just piercing right through it, should he concentrate fire on most dangerous targets first and then finish off the rest of the scattered enemies using spread fire or maybe the other way around…
Now to something a bit more interesting - secondary weapons. When prototyping them, I’ve had three things in mind: to give them a lot of destructive power, to utilize game’s unique hull/bullet concept to a great extent and finally to make each weapon operate in a rather distinct way. The list of about ten ideas narrowed down to three that ended up in the game:
Singularity pulse - produces a strong negative gravity field around the player, deflecting all but biggest enemies away. Enemy bullets in operational radius are turned and fired back on them. By holding the detonate button player can gradually charge the pulse up to the wanted intensity. It’s predominantly a defensive weapon, very good for breaching out of tricky situations.
Sticky mines - Player can launch a number of mines that stick to enemy hulls. When detonated they’ll cause a massive damage to everything in radius. Similar to Singularity pulse each mine can be continually charged up. It’s up to player to decide should he attack with many small scattered mines or just fire a couple of big ones.
Bullet thief - This weapon sucks out the enemy’s bullet reserves. Stolen bullets “stick” to the player’s ship until he fire them back in form of directed or radial blast. Very effective because it will deprive the enemies of their firepower and simultaneously build up the powerful counterattack.
Bullet thief in action against the X boss (top:stealing, bottom:blasting back)
Only one secondary weapon can be carried at time. Prior to mission start, the player must pick the one he’ll be using throughout the mission. Unambiguous nature of each weapon require of player to deal with enemies in a specific way. This significantly changes the playing style for each weapon. Secondary weapons are powered up alongside the primary. Powering will increase the damage while optimizing the charge consumption.
Third kind of weapon found in the game is the floating bomb. These come in several flavours the players of original Ablation will probably be familiar with. They are detonated simply by picking up. Very destructive but there’s a fair amount of luck involved as they’re randomly spawned by the destroyed enemies.
As some of you may already know, Ablation X will participate in Independent Games Festival 2008 competition. Because of the late decision to finish it for the competition, deadline came quickly and I had no choice but to submit an early alpha.
Ergo the build that currently resides on the IGF server has a heavy “work in progress” aura to it. Some of the key gameplay features, like secondary weapons and the whole charge/powerup mechanic, needed to be turned off. They were not fully functioning at the time. Also the player cannot die and enemy attack waves are fairly basic so no real threat there.
The new version is coming in about two weeks. It’ll be much closer to a proper demo and probably available for public download. I just hope not many a judge dismissed the whole game after fiddling with the alpha thingy. Yet. Fingers crossed :)
For those of you who now sit and wonder “What the heck is Ablation X?”. There - It’s a computer game, currently in development, heavily inspired by the classic 16-bit arcade shoot ‘em ups. Specifically those of vertical scrolling, pre-bullet-hell flavour. Unlike it’s colourful role models, the game will use a sort of flat, minimalistic vector graphics. This allows for some interesting little gameplay twists although, in it’s essence, Ablation X is a very retro inclined game.