Developer diary

Alien Blitz: site update, update

Site update

I did not update this website for quite some time, most screenshots were outdated, there were missing links, old text,…

So I’ve updated a bit everything with accurate information

  • The press section (alien blitz sub section) is now up-to-date with new screenshots, video, and links. There are also more art in different format if needed.
  • I’ve removed most of the snorms pages, just keeping a smaller one with links
  • Updated alien blitz pages with missing links (the iOs version was not even mentioned) and updated screenshots
  • Updated the greenlight banner, I was using a third-party service but it was quite slow and logo was not working anymore, so I transfered everything on my website directly

Of course I do all this mainly because I want to contact press soon, so everything needs to be cleaned.

 

Update

My last release has been rejected on iOs, apparently it couldn’t start on last iOs version, problem is it is working fine on my end but I was testing the dev version, not the release. So I changed a few things but most importantly I updated LibGdx and robovm, I was a few version behind and there were some bugs corrected since.

It also allowed me to test the beta system for App Store (TestFlight), I just had to generate a new provisioning profile, install TestFlight and that’s it, I can test release build more easily now. So I know the new build I am pushing definitely works on my iPod touch with iOs 8.1.3.

I also found a little bug in the French translation, the end of level stats were messed up, nothing huge it was just a graphical error, but I have updated Android version too then.

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Alien Blitz: greenlight

Greenlight

Greenlight page has been updated, I’ve updated video and screenshots using last build.

Video is almost the same as the mobile version trailer, but using the PC engine, I’ve also encoded it in 60 fps. There might be a few frame drops now and then because my PC can’t record at a stable 60fps (it’s just a dual core, and Alien Blitz already uses 2 threads), but overall it should be nice.

This video also has the new camera (closer to the mecha), the new vision system and borders around sprites.

bullet hell falling rocks fireballs over lava over poison over water rocket vs rocks smoke

 

 

 

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Alien Blitz 1.3.1

Alien blitz has been updated !

This update does not add any new content, it tweaks balance, make some graphical changes and correct a few bugs.

You should really vote on Greenlight to make this game available on Steam (Linux / Windows / Mac) with more content & better graphics !

Changelog version 1.3.1

Balance:

  • Limited power up to one per type per mission
  • Less munitions can be stored
  • Ammo boxes content has been tweaked
  • Ammo consumption reduced for chain lighting, railgun, bombardment, grenade launcher, shotgun & double shotgun
  • UZI will shoot a different number of bullets depending on level
  • Ammo price increased and level dependent in nigthmare mode
  • Less health in medkit in hard & nightmare difficulties
  • No more level cap

Update:

  • Updated nightmare / new game +: increased monster level, weapons can be upgraded to level 40
  • New model for mecha
  • Material element will not use rock wall attack when not used as a boss
  • Free munitions for shotgun in first 2 levels
  • Reduced video memory consumption
  • Small performance upgrade
  • Fade out at end of level
  • New item pick-up effect
  • New advanced option screen
  • New end of level screen

Bug:

  • Misplaced textures on left walls
  • achievements sometimes not displayed
  • bad conditions for no damage achievements
  • few rare loading lags on Android
  • decoy power up not working
  • Added way back to start on 2 levels in episode 2
  • Material element randomly waking up

Update has been pushed on:

Update should be available soon depending on platform (immediately, few hours or few days).

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Alien Blitz: new mecha model, misc

New mecha model

The new mecha model is now official, I could make the few needed animations (walk/jump) and everything’s fine

capture_2015-02-24_15-25-12_0382_Alien_Blitz_

It doesn’t change that much, it just looks smoother and uses a bit less video memory.

 

Misc

Some misc changes:

  • You can’t buy infinite number of power ups anymore, only one of each type per map (was too cheaty at high level since player has lot of money available)
  • Ammo needed for bombardment has been reduced
  • Ammo price has been increased in new game +
  • Corrected a few rare loading lags on Android
  • Corrected the decoy power up that was crashing the game

As always I end up building a release, doing a few tests and then decide to change a small thing; so I have to build a new release and so on… This is an endless process…
So if I don’t find anything else to add this release might be published soon (at least on Android, I had a few licensing trouble with iOs lately, I can now test on my iPod touch but I hope I can also publish it)

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Alien Blitz: low poly mecha

Low poly mecha

I’ve been playing with blender latelly, I wanted to try to do some low poly stuff. Usually beginners tutorials teach you how to use blender and create a tree, the result is usually pretty good.
But when I tried to apply what I learned to do a mecha… yea it was pretty much horrible, I’m no artist :)

capture_2015-02-23_14-45-32_0067_g3dviewer_home_jb_jbs_Projets_Microbasic_AlienBlit

But then instead I tried editing the current model, and change it so that most voxels are replaced by faces, and this time result is pretty good (new one / original) :

capture_2015-02-23_14-30-07_0115_Alien_Blitz_ capture_2015-02-23_14-32-16_0040_Alien_Blitz_

It’s smoother, and when viewed from farther away it looks a lot nicer than current model.

capture_2015-02-23_14-44-44_0731_Blender_home_jb_jbs_Projets_Microbasic_AlienBlitz_

And even better it uses less faces/vertices, so that’s very good.

I will continue working on that, I am currently implementing an armature

capture_2015-02-23_16-04-08_0939_Blender_home_jb_jbs_Projets_Microbasic_AlienBlitz_

I know LibGdx can use this armature directly, but it’s not part of my engine, so I think I will just export the different animation steps (using this armature of course) as I was doing before (it’s just a few exports anyway). But for a future engine it could be very useful.

 

 

 

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Alien Blitz: new game +, tests

New game +

In new game + / nightmare mode the mission level has been changed, it now starts higher (65 instead of 45) and ends higher too (110 instead of 100)

And now mission rewards are considered level 65 in new game +, so for example when completing the first map you will get money & xp as if you completed a level 65 map (was considered level 0 before, as it is level 0 when playing normal playthrough) BUT last map is also considered level 65 (too avoid crazy xp/money you would get at level 110, you still get more xp/money than first maps though as there are more boxes and monsters)

The level cap has been removed, but starting at level 70 the way levels are computed change and it becomes a lot harder to get new levels.

And finally when in nightmare difficulty the weapons can be upgraded above level 20 (up to 40), but it’s very very expensive (and less efficient than upgrading previous levels, but at least you can spend some crazy amount of money on something).

 

Tests

Tests are going smoothly, there have been a few balance changes but no bug so far. So it’s good.

At first I just wanted todo a few tests on mobile and do a full run on PC with cheats, but I ended up doing a 100% hard mode legit run (mixing usb gamepad, moga gamepad, or just touch controls) on my Nexus 7 (old version). It went very well, just a few frame drops at a few places (crowded area) but nothing huge.

I am now continuing playing on the new game + mode (hence the balance changes), I am almost at the end and I am pleased as end is quite hard but not just impossible. I am even considering adding a new game ++ mode with increased difficulty (sort of like uvhm mode of Borderlands)

I’ve also changed 2 levels in episode 2, just adding shortcuts to go back to to the start (to avoid resetting level just for a missing monster/box/secret if you plan on doing 100%)

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Alien Blitz: balance, ammo screen, misc changes

Balance

I’ve reviewed again how ammo are used/stored. What I was doing up to today was that, like all other weapon characteristics, ammo storage was increasing with weapon level. It means that at high level you basically have “infinite” ammo (well, you have so much to not worry about when using basic weapons).

So I’ve reviewed all that

  • There is still an ammo storage increase when leveling up weapon, but smaller (15% every 5 level)
  • Ammo box will not give more ammo depending on level on hard/nightmare difficulty, and less on normal (same as before on easy)
  • Lowered cell & explosive weapons base storage
  • Lowered cell consumption for: chain lighting, railgun
  • Lowered explosive consumption for: bombardment, grenade launcher
  • Shotgun will use a bit less ammo at high level (but still shoot the same number of bullets)
  • UZI will now shoot less bullets at low level (6 instead of 8) and more at higher level (10 instead of 8)

It does not change a lot of things at low level (episode 1), but at higher level it makes searching for ammo more important than it is now, and if you play in higher difficulty you will even have to buy ammos sometimes.

 

Ammo screen

The munition screen had not been updated for quite some time now, time for a small redesign

capture_2015-02-20_13-18-26_0659_Alien_Blitz_

It now has some icons, unused spaces have been removed, and you can buy either buy a small amount of munition, or fill up your storage.
Prices have been slightly increased.

And the first time you run out of ammo you get this help screen too

capture_2015-02-20_16-08-18_0149_Alien_Blitz_

Of course this message is only displayed once.

Misc changes

Some other changes

  • The first boss when used as a regular monster will not use the rock wall attack (when he throws rocks that stay on the ground to block player) as it is a bit laggy on low/medium end device
  • The first boss when used as a regular┬ámonster will not awake randomly anymore
  • Added a missing sentence in the interlude screen in episode 1

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Alien Blitz: balance, help

Balance

Some more modifications on balance:

  • Lowered ammo capacity for all weapons
  • Added free ammo for shotgun on maps 1 & 2 (time for player to understand he mustn’t waste them)
  • Previously you were getting more ammo depending on your level, now it depends on the map level (helps if you are under-level, more consistent if you are not)
  • Lowered ammo from boxes & life from medkits on hard/nightmare

 

Help

I’ve changed help screens, they are now popup with image & description. You must close them by touching screen / pressing a gamepad button / pressing a key.

They can be turned off in the options, but they are just in the first 3 maps anyway and are only blocking once (after viewing them there will just be the small non blocking tooltip)

capture_2015-02-18_19-16-54_0393_Alien_Blitz_ capture_2015-02-18_19-18-59_0299_Alien_Blitz_

 

 

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Alien Blitz: z-fighting on nexus 10, mobile version

Z-fighting on nexus 10

I had some craziness happening only on my Nexus 10, some kind of z-fighting / image flickering

2015-02-17 13.43.25

I could somewhat reduce it by increasing camera near, and reducing far, but not completely remove it (at least now camera near/far is dynamically computed to get best values).

It appears I had to change the float resolution in the shaders

precision highp float;

What I don’t get is that it is working fine on other devices with mediump, and that it was working fine with previous version…

So I guess I’ll use highp from now on, and hope it doesn’t reduce framerate too much (doesn’t seem to change anything so far).

 

Mobile version

Most of the updates lately were targeted at the PC version of Alien Blitz, and I should update the trailer/screenshots soon.

But as I worked quite a lot on the engine and some other stuff I need to release a new mobile (Android/iOS) version too:

  • Small bugs/glitches correction
    • misplaced textures
    • some rare bug correction
    • achievements sometimes not displayed
    • bad check conditions for no damage achievements
  • Reduced video memory consumption
  • Small performance upgrade
  • Small graphical changes
    • Fade out at end of level
    • New item pick up effect
    • Sprite border in high quality (advanced options)
  • New advanced option screen
  • New end of level screen

I am currently testing it, if everything goes well (and assuming I don’t add anything new) there should be an update by the end of the month.

At the moment I just played one level on all my test devices (nexus 7, nexus 10, galaxy s3, ipod touch) and it seems fine, but it needs more testing of course.

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Alien Blitz: total destruction, random levels

Total destruction

Total destruction mod is back! I removed it as I was having some issues with 3d voxels and total destruction, but they are solved now.

Total destruction is a game mod that allows almost all blocks/walls to be destroyed, it can be activated only after completing the game, and you won’t get any xp/money/… when using it (like other mods). It can only be activated after completing the game.

Like other game mods it will only be available on PC.

capture_2015-02-13_11-10-14_0911_Alien_Blitz_

For “historical” reasons some blocks are not fully considered blocks in the engine, and they can not be destroyed.

Most of the time it makes the map unplayable, and always break gameplay, but it’s fun to try once in a while.

 

Random levels

I wanted to try to test some random levels generation for quite some time, so I am currently trying a few things.

Basically a lot of level generator are dungeon generator, usually for D&D or other rpg. They work fine for this kind of game, but couldn’t work on Alien Blitz. These level generators usually generate rooms then corridors, and in the end try to get a workflow working with that.
It’s not what I want for Alien Blitz, in Alien Blitz I want a workflow to be generated first, then rooms and corridors.

Basically here is a test diagram I made quickly

AB - level generation

There are corridors that need something to be passed (keys, switches, monster killed,…) and rooms with multiple links (labyrinth). This diagram is simplified, but the idea is that the red key door could be anywhere in the “no condition” zone, not especially in the last room.

And difficulty of the rooms (green=easy, blue=medium, red=difficult) will be used to determine which monsters to place and such.

It’s interesting to try to come up with an algorithm, I don’t know if it will make anything good or if I will use it, but testing that is fun :)

At the moment I can generate a very basic diagram, empty rooms and corridors. Most of the work that had to be done was to generate a level that the game could load from a simple model, problem is that Alien Blitz has come a long way, and level is a very old code. If I was to redo that now I would just use json thanks to LibGdx.

Here is an example of a workflow diagram (very basic, needs improvements)

AB -test

(draw.io diagram, very nice to work with as it can import/export a simple xml format to work with in any language)

And the resulting “level”

capture_2015-02-16_11-29-22_0160_Level_editor_

The player starts on the bottom right, some rooms are not connected as the algorithm could not find a way to create a corridor, so it’s supposed to use teleporters.
And there will also be some small rooms dynamically created in the long corridors.

Of course it’s just a really basic start of a prototype as of now, but it’s interesting for me.

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