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Archive for retribution
A Steam Greenlight community member was kind enough to ask me to explain my position on why Retribution is different from Super Stardust HD. Below is my following response because I get the feeling that I’ll (yet again) be forced to justify why there are no ponies or crafting recipes in my game; because that is what apparently makes games unique these days… Enjoy.
Don’t take offense to this but the clone argument is getting really old for me =( I’ve been fighting it for nearly two years now since the first screenshots were hitting the web. I think the problem is that the number of games in this space (spherical shooters) are so small that anything looks like Stardust.
Let’s face it; Call of Duty, Battlefield, Bad Company, Flashpoint, Sniper, America’s Army, Medal of Honor, Arma, all of the sequels and spinoffs, need I go on? Give me a sizzle reel of all of those put together and it would look like the exact same game. So you tell me; what makes Call of Duty better (or even different) than Battlefield? All of those shooters have M16 and MP4 and 9mm guns and they all have frag and flash grenades and epic explosions and crashing helicopter scenes. They all have swarms of bad guys that spawn and run into the room before you go to the next room and rinse and repeat. They all have “you drive I shoot” sequences and intermittent banter and chatter between the squad members. Even the most valued member of your squad “Follow” is present in every one of them. On the surface, there is nothing to distinguish these games.
It’s the little differences like better vehicle controls in Battlefield vs. more twitch controls in Call of Duty that are the baby steps that serve to separate them in the end. So when I read a constant barrage of “I saw a screenshot of your game and it looks like ____,” it just reaffirms how little most gamers really know about the experiences they are having.
It has been said many times in the game development industry that “content is king” and for 1 guy to compete against an entire company with seasoned artists and designers is a thankless effort because the end result is that you just get shit on for not being as good as that AAA company. I never set out to clone Stardust and I never denied that there are similarities, but finding the line that separates ANY two games in the same genre is one that each person has to find for themselves.
I’ve tried the bullet point list of “here’s what’s different” and people just reply with “here’s what’s the same; you have a gun and bombs” so I honestly can’t win because it’s like justifying why a boxing game has punching it…
This was an old audio log I created for a planned Kickstarter campaign that I never launched. I ended up funding the book myself and it is now available in most major marketplaces. You can find it as a DRM-free digital download or print on demand HERE.
As some of you might know, I recently published my latest Xbox LIVE game called Ashlands: Retribution. In Retribution, I used a lot of sneaky tricks to keep C# running at respectable rates. This article will cover just one of those tricks.
The original incarnation of Retribution was called Seizonrenda and, in addition to the impossible name, the game had some considerable performance issues. Resolving the performance issues was a top priority moving into Retribution, a game that turned out so much better than this lone coder could have hoped for.
One of the performance issues that the game had was a result of starving the CPU whenever more than 10 – 20 enemies was on the Orbital Grid (OG: the visible grid around the planet that represented the field that was in play). Many asteroids could be put into play; ~500 was enough to blanket the Orbital Grid. Enemies however had a particularly expensive series of behaviors. The AI would not only chase the player, they would avoid each other and maintain spacing between them and the hundreds of asteroids on the planet.
The AI and projectiles on the OG all had the same issue, they needed to be aware of game objects with a full 360 degrees of freedom since enemies were dropping into orbit and flying around the planet at varying speeds. The original technique involved a greedy search where each AI and every projectile performed a linear search of the entire registry of game objects. This quickly devolved into an O(N^2)+ solution. To avoid some redundancy the projectiles were managed in a separate list, meaning projectiles always checked if they hit something but the AI never bothered to check the reverse of that case. This didn’t help as much as I had hoped since (in Seizonrenda) the player was the only ship who could shoot. This would not do in Retribution, where enemy projectiles could blanket the planet as much as asteroids. » Read more..
I suppose this post is a little bit of the “video killed the radio star” but I’ve definitely noticed something about the reactions to my latest works. The last two or three years of my life have been spent juggling game development and writing a novel. The video game universe and the novel are one in the same, and they briefly cross paths at one fateful moment. A single event is witnessed by two strangers who never meet but they shared that moment from different perspectives, one within the novel and the other within the game. » Read more..
Retribution is available now! http://bit.ly/ITT0yV
There are so many little subsystems within Retribution that it is hard to keep track of them all sometimes. The augmentation system is probably the most obvious, allowing the player to upgrade their ship over time. With that, there is a kind of leveling system that works hand-in-hand with the augmentations. On top of all of that, there are layered features like high score tables of course, but also also gamer trophies. Taking high scores even further I’ve circumvented the limitations of Xbox LIVE Indie Games with a global ranking system. This system allows players to use their phones and tablets to easily submit their scores to a global database on the web. From there, anyone can see if their score was enough to make the short list of the top players in the world. I think it turned out pretty well, considering the limitations that I had to work with.
Sprinkled between all of the big systems that I already mentioned are the micro decisions in the game. Each enemy has a unique behavior, giving their patterns a very old-school feel. The combinations of those patterned behaviors is where things get very deadly. Some of those most deadly enemies are the ones that do not directly charge after you. Leaving some enemies unattended is a regretful decisions and other enemies are generally harmless, even if they are unpredictable. This unpredictable nature however is what makes them difficult to read and can result in unexpected collisions. Blending these enemy classes into a completely dynamic and chaotic play-field makes for some intense moments.
Oh yeah! I almost forgot the Overdrives (like I said, a lot to keep track of). This is a huge part of staying alive in Retribution. Not using your Overdrives is a sure way to die early and often. Learn the strengths of each Overdrive and when to use them. This is the key to living longer and scoring high.
If you purchased the game, check out the Special Features. There is a bunch of great commentary in there and a list of all the trophies in the game.
This week sure has been lively and my blood is cooled only to a simmer. After a long and pointless debate with other individuals I’ve come to see the larger picture that is forming around the Xbox LIVE Indie Games platform. » Read more..
In all my haste, did I really forget to post this? Silly programmer… I realize that I’ve been so crazy with the tweets, doing what the cool kids do, that I forgot to blog! Lately most of my blogs have been about game impressions or thoughts about the future. Anyhow, in preparation for Dream.Build.Play 2012, maybe I will try to refocus a few posts on the game at hand.
Enjoy the first public images of my game currently in development!
A must read! Visit http://bit.ly/zcV4tn for a complete list of all the places you can find the book.
This is a story to help explain some of what is going on in this game. Hope you enjoy it.