For me the next month is about actually defining the bulk of the game. The engine is built now and works well. It's integrated with the Neon editor making it easy for me to define environments. The fundamentals of the gameplay mechanic are in and do what they should. I'm just now putting in lives and Game Over, and when that's in we have a framework in which it is possible to start a game, play, get bonuses, die, and end the game. On Monday we'll have a merge with Giles' stuff, which is all about managing achievements, creating hi-scores, and doing all the necessary stuff that needs doing to function as an Xbox Live Arcade title. With all those things together we'll have a fully functional game framework, and my job then will be to flesh it all out with the levels that will make up the whole game.
This basically means adding enemy types beyond the handful we've got now, designing and sequencing the levels so that new types are added over time in a way that conforms to how I perceive that the difficulty curve ought to be, and generally fleshing the thing out into a game with 100+ levels that presents a coherently incremental challenge. I'm also thinking about the bonus round - hopefully I'll be in a position to be working on that some time next month.
Today I've mostly been obsessing over screen furniture; specifically the displays for bonus multiplier and number of lives remaining. People have very much liked the Nixie-tube style display of the score, and I wanted to keep that theme going but without simply using more Nixies to display these statuses. So I found images of another kind of tube-based becade display sometimes referred to as a "Pixie tube", in which tiny digit filaments are arranged radially around the edge of a tube and light up to show their value. I figured a couple of those (with symbols made out of 15-segment display to represent lives and bonus multiplier) might be nice on the side opposite the score - not just more Nixie, but kinda fitting with the ancient-electronica feel of the existing screen furniture.
I found a site with images of these tubes in each of their display states, and extended the maximum texture literal capacity of the Neon engine we're using to accomodate them. They looked pretty good but in the captured images sometimes the surrounding glow of the activated digits overwhelmed the actual shape that they were trying to display; cue several hours in Paint Shop Pro tweaking them up in magnified pixels so that the actual numerals are better articulated but (hopefully) without destroying the nice ancient analog look of them. I think they look pretty nice now and look good opposite the Nixies of the score.
Looking forward now over the next few weeks to actually shaping this into an actual game with a beginning, an end, lives, hi-scores, achievements and such - something I can actually ship out to guinea pigs to play and get coherent feedback about. Really this is quite a fun part since the bulk of the implementation work is done and this bit is more about small touches, construction of behaviours, and planning of the diff curve }:-).
And now I am off to watch a film and frink some beeer. Not sure what yet, but it's Friday so we'll find something.
Not much one for New years resolutions (cue my annual joke about 3840x1280 or whatever)... but this year we have decided:
- Fridays shall be film nights. We have a backlog of unwatched DVDs we need to get through.
- This month we will research surround sound systems for the barn and get one before the month ends. Silly to have a HD screen, HD sources, and still just normal stereo sound. Besides I would like to work on some spatial effects for Giraffe.
- When they ban smoking in pubs and curry houses come April I am going to quit smoking. My greatest pleasure (and temptation) with regard to smoking is just those situations and when they make us as primitive as California by removing those last rights, well then, I might as well just not bother.
- All other projects are subordinate to that of the donkey };-).