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View topic - [Coding competition 2016] Swabby by hang-on

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[Coding competition 2016] Swabby by hang-on
Post Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2016 6:29 pm
http://www.smspower.org/Homebrew/Swabby-GG



hang-on wrote
"Rise from your grave!" With the intent of resurrecting the man/beast centurion once more, the mighty Zeus strikes the abandoned graveyard with a vitalizing beam of magic. Only this time, due to a still unexplained glitch in the Segaverse, the magic misses its intended target, and continues downwards to the deepest of the Sega 8-bit catacombs. Here it strikes Swabby, the mazerunning snail built into some of the earliest Master System consoles.





Gameplay:

You must take control of Swabby as he travels through three challenging rounds of 8-bit craziness. Start on Altered Beast's graveyard, and proceed to Sonic's Green Zone. Then prepare for the last stage, which is set in the unforgiving streets of Shinobi. Dodge and/or shoot the enemies in each stage, and try yo keep safe while also keeping an eye out for chances to beat the high score. A flying enemy is worth 100 points, a shooter is worth 300 points. You are also awarded bonus points for each of your remaining lives at the end of each round.





Controls:

Start the game by pressing the Start button on the title screen. Move Swabby with the d-pad, and use button 1 for firing. Swabby is not an avid shooter. In fact, his ability to shoot (and fly) is an odd side effect of Zeus' magic. Hence, Swabby can only have one bullet in the air at the time. You must plan your shots carefully...





Greetings:

balkry & Maxim - I loaded your maps into TilEd, and suddenly a childhood dream became a reality: I could remodel the stages of my favorite games as I saw fit. Thanks for mapping Altered Beast, Sonic and Shinobi!



Bock - This game was tested and debugged on Meka.



sverx - Swabby is proudly powered by PSGlib and the related tools.



Maxim - BMP2Tile is the link between Paint Shop Pro and compilable byte/word definitions.



Calindro and the rest of the SMS-Power community - Always great support!





Notes:

Swabby is tested on Meka, Kega Fusion and real hardware (w. Everdrive)... This game started with me getting a Game Gear for Christmas this year! My first Game Gear ever!! A whole new world of Sega 8-bit love opened up for me, and once I had read through the technical documentation, I started working on a sidescrolling engine. And then a snail somehow crept in, and things started rolling (ehm, scrolling actually).



The in-game backgrounds are modified versions of original Sega Master System game levels mapped by balkry and Maxim. The big snail in the cutscenes is based on the snail from Wonder Boy (arcade). Fonts are prototyped with Photonstorm's Arcade Font Writer. The in-game sprites, title and finale screens are fully homegrown (using Sprite Something (iPad) and Paint Shop Pro 7), and so are the humble chiptunes, which are programmed in DefleMask.
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Post Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 10:42 am
Yay! A shmup. My favourite genre.

I love your spritework, and the music complements the gameplay very nicely. Those pesky semi-aimed bullets seem to always catch me unaware, though. :)
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Post Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 11:43 am
I really like this one, but there are 2 things keeping it from being a truely great game IMO: varied enemy attack patterns, you know - don't just have them come into the screen on a sinewave pattern. Maybe you could have a certain enemy come onto the screen slightly infront of you, shoot at the player, then take off. Just be a little creative, and/or get ideas from other shooters of the era. The other one being is some light sound effects for the shot and death of the enemy.
I see a lot of potential here :)
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Post Posted: Mon Mar 28, 2016 2:55 pm
Hi guys.

Thanks for the feedback! Yeah - I agree, more varied enemy patterns and/or enemies would improve the gameplay. I still have to create a 'true' sprite engine to allow for this - the one powering Swabby is a little bit too hacked up by now, and thus not easily expandable :)

I actually had sound effects, but then I cut them out, because they would overlap my background music in not so nice ways. I guess one will need to plan ahead and compose music that leaves open channels for sound effects.

Semi-aimed bullets! They are indeed pesky. I always fly pretty close to the ground in order not to be caught off guard by a bullet coming from below. If everything gets a little too hectic, you can press left d-pad while pressing the start button on the title screen. This will enable a cheat mode where the flying enemies are harmless - but you will still have to dogde bullets and/or shooters.
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 9:00 am
I have no chance to try this on hardware, unfortunately, but I tried on MEKA and I like it :) You still need to invest time on enemy patterns, surely, and this could become a cute shmup.
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 12:04 pm
I don't have a real GG, so i tried it on Fusion 3.64.

Works perfectly on it.
A very nice base game, but the limits of 1 alive bullet per time, really makes the game seem to drag on, i like to shoot shoot shoot, fast.

I love shmups, and it's really cool to have a new one to play.
The graphics looks really good.

But i do have one major complaint. The vertical scroll. That, to me, is a BIG nope in h-shmups. i think it really detracts from the gameplay. To me shmups are about strategy and for that to work, i need to be able to see the entire playfield.

But that's a personal thing, and not a bug, so it won't influence my vote. :)
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Post Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2016 6:57 pm
Thanks for the comments, guys! :)

sverx wrote
You still need to invest time on enemy patterns, surely, and this could become a cute shmup.
- Yeah, you are right. I think my next project will be about making my first semi-generic sprite/object engine w. flicker handling, movement patterns, animations, positions, size etc. I almost don't dare admit it, but my game has different procedures for Swabby, the shooters, the flyers, the bullets, etc.

tibone wrote
But i do have one major complaint. The vertical scroll. That, to me, is a BIG nope in h-shmups. i think it really detracts from the gameplay. To me shmups are about strategy and for that to work, i need to be able to see the entire playfield.
. I agree - there is actually no really gameplay-enhancing need for the vertical scrolling here. Swabby started with me wanting to experiment with creating a scroller engine,and with the GG's smaller screen, in the 'middle' of the 'regular' SMS screen, enabling limited vertical scrolling was as easy as adjusting the vertical scroll register. I could not let that chance pass :)
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Rise from your grave!
Post Posted: Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:28 pm
I have been making mockups and coding a little while investigating how to overhaul my little GG snail game both on the inside and on the outside.

One of the traps I seem to always fall in is coding in the dark, with only vague ideas about how the game is going to look and feel. This makes me want to make super generic routines for everything that goes on, and I get bogged down in overly complicated code. So now I'm creating assets and mockups ind advance to help my coding.

I'm rethinking Swabby along the lines of Cloud Master, with fixed vertical scroll, lots of bullets, power-ups, boss fights, etc. Development is going very slow at the momemnt, but I have been coming back to this project for some time now, and thought I would share my progress.
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Post Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 7:39 am
Those mockups are very, very nice. That new, cleaner, more cartoon-y look makes the on-screen action so much more readable. Which is a must for shooting games. I also like how you manage to make the Altered Beast references easily recognisable even though they are done in a totally different style. Very well done.

I must admit, though, that Swabby seems to have turned unexpectedly happy and friendly. That's fine by me, as I'm a sucker for cute-em ups, but Swabby's grumpy former self had a particular charm of its own.
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Post Posted: Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:48 pm
Thanks for the kind comments, Kagesan! I have really tried to take the target machine (GG) into account when thinking about graphics. Because the screen blurs so easily, I went for a brighter palette, including a bright blue background. This is also why the sprite outlines are rather thick and a little jaggy, so that the sprites stand out. I use the Pico 8 palette by the way.

I have been heavily prototyping Swabby, ranging from ugly to crazy and back again. Here are some :) My son is the co art director, and he went with the new happy Swabby over the classic grumpy Swabby. If I follow through my self-imposed jagged outline style on the grumpy Swabby (only halfway done in the attached image), it also ends up looking a little odd.

But then again, the old Swabby is not out. In my dreams, there will be a gashapon mechanic in Swabby, where you can unlock all kinds of Swabby-heroes to play, including the old grumpy/cool Swabby, Swabette (his punk sister), etc... Saved to the backup ram and everything :)

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Post Posted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:36 am
It's great to see more progress on this game. :) I like the new mockups too.
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Post Posted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:10 pm
efry wrote
It's great to see more progress on this game. :) I like the new mockups too.


Thanks a lot efry! I'm also happy to be following your work over at Monkey Lad's thread http://www.smspower.org/forums/16437-MonkeyLadProgressUpdate. Three things support my longer-term investment in my game this time around:
1) Mockups. It is super motivating for me to be able to see how things could look like. And then my imagination is quick to fill the gap where the code will one day go :)
2) Library building. I try really hard to create re-useable (and well documented) functions as I code, and they go in a library. When everything is neater and less entangled, it is easier to come back to, even after weeks of no active coding.
3) Limitations. Assembler programming... it makes me exactly as free from constraints as I ever dreamt of back in my 90's days of BASIC programming. With this freedom comes all kinds of choices to make, and these are hard on me. But in a good way :) I'm beginning to find peace and creative/coding energy in building limitations into my 'engine', like "the palette is fixed to these 16 colors", "there can be maximum 16 active objects at once", "metasprites come in these three variations", etc.... so nice general functions on one hand, and deciding on a set frame of limitations for the actual game to grow inside. Ah :)

Efry, Swabby is of course dwarfed by Monkey Lad - but I see that we are both sticking with our respective entries for last year's compo. Do you have some tips on how to manage a project like yours so that one can keep coming back to it over and over for a longer period...?
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Post Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:22 am
hang-on wrote
Do you have some tips on how to manage a project like yours so that one can keep coming back to it over and over for a longer period...?


My code is pretty messy and poorly documented :( I usually try to familiarize myself with the code first before making changes after I come back to it from a break. I often start by working on some supporting tooling in a higher level language which gets me thinking about the game problem space again. Then I go over the code and think about what I need to do for a couple of days then start coding again. ;-)

I find prototyping the logic in a higher level language really helpful. It allows you to muck around with ideas which would take forever to do in assembly. Then you can hand code the assembly nice and tight.
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