Developer diary

Alien Blitz PC: news

News

Some more updates

  • Added the shortcuts for weapons when there are more than 6 selectable
  • It is now possible to move around in the in-game map using the gamepad axis
  • Added a small 100% icon when 100% of the level is completed, this avoid going to the in-game map to check stats
  • If cheat mode is enabled a few hundred hours are added to the timer, just to avoid sending cheated time in leaderboards
  • Shape and texture modes have been removed from the level editor, they were useless and not working anyway
  • Corrected some bugs specific to PC when using gamepad

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(the new 100% icon is visible on the top right)

I’ve also worked on the graphics for the different assets for the Steam store, and the guide for basic level editing is around 80% done.

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Alien Blitz news: advancement, level editor, maps, misc

Advancement

As of today most of the technical stuff and levels are theoretically ready for release, but need more testing 🙂

I am currently writing and designing everything needed for Steam (background, headers, descriptions,…)

I will work on Steam cards and such during early access, I also want to improve existing models (animating some monsters, updating some models,…) but I will do that during early access.

If everything goes well I plan to release the game in early access during March, maybe even February. And early access will last around 2 or 3 months.

 

Maps

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4 new maps are now available, for a total of 10 extra maps!

Tower

This map uses the new invisible teleportation effect. Sadly due to technical limitation it is noticeable in one part, but it’s good enough.

tower
(moving to the right stairs will teleport you to the next floor)

Player has to climb a tower, moving from floors to floors (and sometimes back to previous floors of course) up to the boss.

Arenas : small/medium/big

Arenas are maps where waves of monsters spawn and try to kill the player. Those are heavily scripted maps mostly based on timers

arena-big arena-medium arena-small

These maps and the generated waves are based on my – currently – abandoned tower defense like project. It was quicker to make them since some work was already done.

I think I’ll add more of these arenas in a collection.

 

Level editor

  • New level options
    • Arena levels needed of few options to remove infight and handle some specific stuffs, so there are now options that can be set for those
  • New scripting options
    • Made some specific triggers to handle shadow teleportation
    • Some new scripting commands for arenas

 

Misc

  • Corrected some misc bugs, they might happen on mobile too, not sure, need to check them
    • It was possible to shoot through small walls, on some specific angles
    • Weird teleportation effect after a material element dies
    • Turrets were partially visible through walls
  • It is not possible to die in the first map now, player will just be teleported back to the beach (since there is no checkpoint in this map, this was the best solution)

 

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Alien Blitz PC: news, maps

Updates

  • Maps
    • All maps have been reviewed, adding details, shrinking some rooms, correcting small texture glitches,…
    • There are two types of tress and grass that can now be added to maps
  • Cleanup
    • Nothing fancy, but I changed a lot of things about how are stored sprites. Before that I had to include isometric sprites in the game to get some information (size,…), now they are gone and these information are stored in a json file. It make the game slightly quicker to load and slightly smaller in size (just a few kb), but more important it makes it easier to add new sprites.
  • Level editor
    • Lots of bug correction, now that the editor is meant to be public it needs to be cleaned up
    • Some tools have been added to ease map creation (for example is it now possible to move sprites by 0.5 units, to place them more accurately)

 

New map: river

One new map is completed, this map is the one that took me the longest time to complete, a lot more detail than in any other map I believe (though episodes maps have been updated constantly, it is harder to know the total time I spend on them).

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Next map will be a tower map, that will use the new teleportation system to make player believe he is climbing floors. And I think last 3 maps before release will be more arena-like, lots of monsters, waves, fun to play, more scripting, but less details/level complexity.

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Alien Blitz PC: update, trees

Update

Some more changes

  • Discovered money boxes are now visible in the map (yellow marks)
  • Barrels are no longer visible in the map (just regular monsters are)
  • Downloaded maps no longer give less xp/money

And I’ve also been working on details, such as trees:

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A friend at work told me I should try to add more decorative objects in my levels, and it is a pretty good idea.
I began working on trees as I like doing low-poly trees, I first used a tree I did for a potential new version of Crazy Minecart, but it didn’t fit very well.
So I ended up doing a very simple pine tree heavily inspired by kenney.nl tree. I didn’t use any of his trees directly as I has some trouble integrating them (my shaders are not very well compatible).
These trees and all other decorative stuff are not solid, and they don’t block viewport (I will also probably make them partially invisible when enemies are near them).

I will also add more exterior stuff such as other type of trees, rocks and grass. And I need to find ideas for stuff to add to interiors too.

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Alien Blitz PC: update

Update

Alien Blitz on PC is coming along, nothing done specific to Steam though:

  • Changed a bit the way checkpoint works
    • First checkpoint is still free but is now activated automatically
    • Moving checkpoint is still free but is now done automatically
    • When dying (and using a checkpoint) a popup will be displayed (pauses the game) to explain what is going on, and you can pay to re-activate the checkpoint
    • So no more forgetting to activate checkpoints, and checkpoints are better explained

 

  • Changes on the monster AI
    • Monsters will follow player a lot more, and use more pathfinding
    • Monsters will not stop moving when player is in sight, instead they will fire, and move closer to the player (or around) while reloading
    • Some monsters in episode 3 will be in “frenzy” mode (very high fire rate) or invisible, as any can be (randomly) in hell mode

 

  • Changed balance, mostly at high level, in new game + (nightmare mode) or new game ++ (hell mode)
    • After completing the game (in easy/normal/hard) player can hold 2 more weapons
    • After completing the game in nightmare player can hold 2 more weapons (so up to 10 when completing twice the game)
    • In hard/nightmare mode items will give more ammos than before (as much as in normal mode)
    • In nightmare mode player can carry more ammos
    • In hell mode player can carry even more ammos
    • In nightmare/hell mode weapons can go higher than level 20, each level above 20 will cost the same as going from 19 to 20.
    • Bosses have less HP in nightmare/hell mode than before
    • Monsters are a bit lower level at the end of nightmare mode
    • Bosses don’t regain HP after using a checkpoint

 

  • New level editor scripting options
    • Shadow teleportation, teleportation that is almost invisible to the player, can be used to simulate going on higher floors (the same kind that was used in duke Nukem 3d when going upstairs in the cinema for example)
    • Possibility to set monsters in frenzy or invisible mode

 

  • Downloadable content
    • One more map fully done, this makes a total of 5 maps out of the 10 promised at launch
    • Two more maps will be soon finished

 

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(the new checkpoint popup after dying and using one)

 

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Alien Blitz: Steam integration – progress report

Steam integration – progress report

  • Deployment: Windows/Linux/Mac versions are working fine so far, installing and running without troubles
  • Achievements: all achievements have been integrated, there are 23 of them (2 are secret)
  • Leaderboards: 4 leaderboards for completing the game as fast as possible
  • Steam workshop: using level editor to make level, then publishing and/or downloading them works fine
  • Cloud: cloud saves are working, and multi-platform

So to sum-up integration is complete now, everything is working fine with Steam API.

What remain is:

  • Bug correction: still a few small bugs and/or improvements specific to the PC version
  • Level editor: add a toolbar or menu to help editing
  • Making guides for Steam Workshop
  • Making artwork for Steam store page and such
  • Making a trailer
  • Making a few levels to be available on Workshop on launch
  • Preparing press-release, forum posts,….
  • A few things here and there… 🙂

I also need to work on badges, cards and such, but didn’t look much into that yet.

So technically nothing huge is missing, just a few things to add and polish the game… but a lot of work on communication items.

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(one of the new map, in the level editor)

 

Libgdx 1.8

I have updated LibGdx to version 1.8, no major changes, just wanted to be up-to-date. At first I mostly wanted to get the multi-monitor support, but I noticed afterwards that it was only available when using Lwjgl 3, and I don’t want to make the switch right now, it’s too soon in my opinion.

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Alien Blitz: leaderboards

Leaderboards

Leaderboard integration is now complete, when you complete the game it will automatically send your time to Steam.

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(those are just dummy scores, using cheats 🙂 )

There are 4 leaderboards currently implemented:

  • Speedrun any%: finish the game at any difficulty, any completion rate
  • Speedrun any% nightmare: finish the game in nightmare difficulty, any completion rate
  • Speedrun 100%: finish the game at any difficulty with 100% completion
  • Speedrun 100% nightmare: finish the game in nightmare difficulty with 100% completion

There is just some minimum score validity checks, I guess I will implement some more complex one later on if needed.

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Alien Blitz: Steam workshop 2

Extra

The extra menu is now done, I have decided that clicking extra will replace the main right menu, with the new options.

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There are currently a few menus:

  • Extra maps: to play maps from level editor or from Steam Workshop
  • Level editor: to launch the level editor
  • Mods: to enable some modifications (quick reload, FPS mode,…)

But later on it will be a good place to add extra items if needed.

Level selection

Level selection screen (“Extra maps”) has been completely reworked.

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From there you can test your own maps (automatically added) and the subscribed maps from Steam.

Map publishing

When a local map (map made with the level editor) is completed the map publishing tool appears.

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You are presented with a small checklist to ensure everything is in order:

  • Map file will always be available, or else you could not play the map 🙂
  • Preview file must be a png file placed next to map file (or can be overridden if file is elsewhere). There is a key in-game (currently set to F4) to quickly make screenshots to be used as preview, but it can also be any image.
  • Title and descriptions must be set in the map options of the level editor.

If everything is in order you are presented with the upload button. If game detect the filename has already been used in your cloud then it adds an option to update an existing workshop item instead of creating a new one.

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Alien Blitz: Steam Workshop

Steam workshop

I am currently trying to integrate level  sharing in Alien Blitz, at first what was planned was something along those lines (simplified):

  • Create the level using level editor
  • Open some page on this website, to access a personal account (maybe automatically created from steam or using username/password account style) where you can upload your maps and describe them
  • To download a file it would either be from the browser with a nice interface (and copy/paste map ids in the game to download them), or from the game itself, but getting a nice interface would be hard.

That would have been a lot of work, getting a nice map sharing website with enough functionalities is not very complicated but very time consuming.

Instead I have changed my plans for something a lot better: Steam Workshop

Now what will/should happen is:

  • Sharing
    • Create the level using level editor, level editor will provide a way to create simple preview images for the workshop.
    • Open game, play your level, and complete it
    • Once completed (just to avoid garbage map, not a strong protection, but better than nothing) there will be an option to upload your level to the Workshop
    • When done you can access the workshop, edit details, add more preview and such, and make the level public when ready.
  • Downloading
    • To download you would just have to go to the Steam Workshop (from Game overlay, or just using Steam application)
    • Select a map (thanks to Steam it is nice and easy to find maps, get rating, discuss,…) and subscribe to it (Steam downloads it in the background)
    • Open the game, view all subscribed maps and select the one you want to play

The workflow might change a bit, but it will be something like that.
If user is not using Steam (DRM free version) then he will have to download maps manually and put them in the correct game folder, but I won’t manage a central map sharing in this case.

What will the workshop contain ?

At first the workshop will contain single-maps, you can upload and download individual maps to play with. It will use your current save but monsters level is automatically scaled to the save file level.

Then I will probably include map-packs, instead of publishing one map you can select multiple ones and share them in a pack.
I might also (replacing map-packs, or along with them) add full game maps replacements: basically when user download the pack he will start with a fresh new save file specific to this pack, and he will have to complete your maps in the order you selected, gaining weapons and such as you define it.

And finally if there is enough demands and players (so nothing planned yet, we will see how release goes) I could work on mods: provide a tool to add new weapons, enemies, and more.

Dev/progress

At first I tried using the newest Steam Workshop API but they are not implemented in steamworks4j, so I began adding some functions (jni/C++ and such), I had the first functions ready before realizing I could just instead use the old Steam Workshop API that is implemented in steamworks4j 🙂 It’s a lot easier that way (no need to recompile everything on each platform).

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I’ve first implemented a static publishing tool (hard-linked to some local files) that immediately worked, and then I’ve implemented the functions to retrieve the subscribed maps.

Second part is fully dynamic, when you enter the menu a request is made to Steam, and asynchronously the map table is filled. Maps are only displayed when Steam has finished downloading them.
Currently it is just a quick & dirty table with a label and button, but it works! I will make things nicer later on.

I now have to work on the publishing tool (current one is static/hard-linked), that will be available only on local maps, and that should provide a simple way to publish a new map or update an existing one.

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Alien Blitz has been greenlit!

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Alien Blitz has been Greenlit on Steam !

I’m very pleased to announce that Alien Blitz has been Greenlit on Steam this week!

This means Alien Blitz will be available (in a few weeks/months) on Steam for Windows, OSX & Linux !

Release information

  • Release date: not available yet, integrating Steam might take some time
  • OS: Windows, OSX & Linux/SteamOS
  • Early access: only used for beta testing / bug corrections, all levels/features will be included
  • Achievements: Steam achievements will be available in the game (along with in-game specific achievements)
  • Controller support: full gamepad support & mouse+keyboard & keyboard only
  • Cloud: saved games will be available in Steam cloud
  • Leaderboards: speedrun specific leaderboards will be available (2 categories planned currently, any% and any% nightmare, complete the game as fast as possible)
  • Level editor: level editor & integrated level sharing

 

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