Star Bandits - A Making Of
Recently myself and Aidan Ward created an entry for the Create game jam for the upcoming Android based console, OUYA.
Time was limited, with only having a few hours to spare each evening to work on it, but we pushed ourselves and ended up with something that while not as polished (balanced, or tested!) as we’d like, it still resembled something of a complete product.
During the process of making it, we archived off a number of work in progress builds that we’ve decided to make available to the public. The download link for this, and the final builds are available at the bottom of the post. Due to the fact this game was designed primarily for use on the OUYA, the WIP builds are considered very untested, so please run them at your own risk - they’re OSX only (only tested on Mountain Lion), and require an Xbox 360 controller (some of the earlier builds will crash without one).
For those of you who don’t want to run the builds, here’s a quick overview of how development went.
On the first day we added some of the basic gameplay elements, very little in terms of graphical polish, but we started to get an idea of how the ship would feel.
Started adding a few shiny graphics today, with the idea of a planet slowly scrolling in the distance was added. For gameplay we started playing with the idea of something new in terms of top-down shooters, a ‘grapple’, at this point it was very rough and ready and didn’t feel like it fit in with the overall tone of the game. We left it for a few days at this point to concentrate on other areas.
Today we wanted to get the scale and silhouette of the ship sorted, so we imported the latest untextured asset and placed it in to make sure we were using up the right amount of screen space. We added in the initial enemy types - mines. There are two variants, ‘homing’ and ‘static’, homing mines will trigger once you get close, and hunt you down until they explode, and static mines simply explode after a short amount of time once triggered. We also added in health and shields to start working out enemy damage.
Day four was all about graphical polish so that Aidan, our artist could start generating models knowing what they’d look like in-game. We added a preliminary lighting pass, and ship textures. For gameplay we played around with the grapple a bit more. We tried out a new idea, effectively a ‘force push’. This worked out quite well, but we still had a few more things to try. We also added a few more enemy types. A stealth bomber that lays tracks of homing mines, and a turret that shoots lasers. The turret at this point has no player tracking and simply shoots in circles.
Grapple was finally at a place we were happy with. Acting as a short tether to move objects around. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to get the gameplay elements in that this was designed for (dense asteroid fields that require clearing slightly to get through), but we were happy enough with it to leave it at this point. We also started working on the player ship weapon systems so that we could add in multiple weapon types.
Particles. That’s pretty much it. Tweaking the particle system to handle high speed emission in a better manner for the ships thrusters. It’s far from perfect, but good enough for a few hours work. We also added in a homing missile for the player that tracks the nearest enemy, and sprites for the laser fire.
Added player tracking for the turrets, they now locate the nearest player and start rotating towards it. We also added two turret variants - one that shoots lasers at a relatively fast speed, and one that shoots homing missiles. We also added some shield visual effects to give some feedback to the player as to when they’ve been hit. And more particles - simply improving the way the explosions look.
Quite a few balancing tweaks, started trying to make the enemies feel correct, not too strong, not too weak. Added in a basic text menu system in preparation for the final UI, and to allow testing two player mode. There were also several minor graphical changes and subtle user feedback improvements - such as homing mines lighting up when triggered.
The final push. We had quite a lot left to do to make it actually feel like a game, but we just about scraped by. The final day consisted of level layout (using a custom editor), menu and title screen UI, scoring (collection of scrap), and what always seems to be left until last, implementing audio. We were lucky to have a music track and sound effects created by the fantastic Jake Worrell, unfortunately we didn’t have time to balance and tweak the sound effects to do them justice! The sound and music is OUYA only, as there was no time to get it working on OSX.
If you have any comments or suggestions feel free to tweet at @pixelballoon, or e-mail me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading!