Friday, December 4, 2009

Purple Rain Postmortem

[EDIT]: I changed a butt load of typos in this post, and changed the ending...just being honest.

Purple Rain was an idea my brother and I had awhile back about a game with tiered enemies. When you would land a hit on an enemy, they would go down a tier and change to an A.I. pattern that was based on the current tier.

So I worked it up really quick (a week actually). My original post announcing and releasing it is here. It's popular to do a postmortem now, so figured I could go over what I like and don't like about this game and maybe see where I could improve my game making process.

where to begin...

I thought it turned out good, the game is okay to look at. The controls are kinda fun, once you figure out that your gonna die if you don't use the rotation lock thing.

I was going for a strategic point with the tier system. As an enemy is brought down through the tiers you'd have to deal with the new tier. The problem is it kinda happens too fast, and the enemy is destroyed before it can ever do anything with it's new behavior. This doesn't detract from the fun at all, but it kinda misses the original point just a little.

There are a few instances where you do have to take into account what the enemy will be doing after you attack it though, if you hit an '8' with only a few bullets before diverting your attention to something else it will probably land on a tier that shoots and moves toward you. Meaning your gonna get hit.

Another thing, there's no pause button. I hard-coded the timers for everything to match with the computer's internal clock, instead of using how much game time has elapsed. This means that if I paused, the game would keep going. It was a dumb noob mistake.

I didn't realize this until late in the project when Nick said to me "Tony, pause the game and come look at this awesome picture I just drew!!", and I realized o noes I can't!! But by that time it was to late.

That ordeal has led me to writing a manager that handles timers and time. It's really simple, and manages everything for you. If I ever get around to making it presentable I'll post it.

Another thing I was pleased about in PR was the way the wave based levels turned out. When I first started I figured the game's difficulty would start easy and randomly things would get harder, but as I was working on that idea, I found that it wasn't really working the way I wanted. I would start off really sloooow and easy, then spin up and get ridiculously hard.

So I worked up a really simple way that I could specify which enemies spawned and how often on each level. This not only let me specify the exact difficulty curve I wanted, but it also allowed me to play around and have levels with some more character, such as the "purple rain wave" itself. That just started out as a "how many enemies can I draw on screen at one time" stress test. (it turns out a lot) and it soon became apparent that it's actually a healing level. Since all the enemies are tier 1, if you play it correctly, you can fully heal before the next wave rolls around. And I usually take advantage of right before I introduce the 10's.

Of course I left out a proper tutorial. I don't know why I forgot it, when I did Sticky Situation I figured it was important to explain some finer points before dumping a player into the game. Didn't get around to doing that for Purple Rain though...

...with all it's flaws, I think it turned out to be an okay game.

Thats about it, if you haven't played it yet, please do. And then tell me what you think.


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