Development is going pretty well on Paradroid at present so, pretty soon, I’m going to be posting up some work in progress of both development images, and the game as it is at present, running.
GMS 2 (Game Maker Studio 2) has proven to be a pretty good system for both of us to work on individually, but we’ll both be happy when we finally actually get a Mac version of the editor to save running under emulation to develop. My machine is quite old now, and I’m unlikely to get an upgrade any time soon because, even when Paradroid is finished, we’re not going to get any money for it. So I’m working with the IDE that’s a bit sluggish as it runs through Parallels, and also has a knock-on problem that having the system up and running for more than a few hours does start to make everything chug, even Mac applications. It’s doing some pretty impressive stuff, so I can’t knock it, but usually I can keep my mac on for days on end before a restart. Maybe once a week or something similar. But now I’m almost having to reboot before every editing session just to keep things moving.
On my system I do have all sorts of other stuff going on which probably doesn’t help. My back up system was a convulted, automated mess, until I got round to rejigging all that the other day. There’s also the QNAP linked up, that i’m ferrying stuff back and forth to that also probably hogs things a bit.
But enough of the woes. I’m making this post to update on the game progress itself.
Aaron and I get together once or twice a month at his house to work through tricky code problems together on his system and we always hold what we call business meetings down at the old local pub. That probably doesn’t sound much like getting work done but we find it vital for sharing ideas and discussing what we’re both going to do next. We’re now working our tasks for Paradroid between us and keeping it all documented on a spreadsheet so there’s an instant visual clue when we need to check on each others progress without constant phone calls, or emails. From our own perspectives, we also use this to keep in mind what needs to get done next as there will be highlighted areas of the game that Aaron might colour code to show me that he’s finished to a point with some area, such as mini-map graphics, for example, and that he needs me to code them into the console display routine before he can put that part into the console control code he has. Very rough example but it helps a lot with prioritising, so he’s not waiting to do something important while I work on something that can be done at any time.
With Paradroid there’s soooo many different intrinsic little features that need to be done to get it playing like the original that I’d bore you all silly listing everything here, but I can give an idea of the stuff that’s done, or almost done. If I broke it down into a percentage then I’d probably go to 40% because the major part of the enemy robots running around hasn’t even been started as yet, and there’s a transfer mini-game that I’m holding off working on until I get the other parts of my end finished first. I do suspect that’s going to be a beast to try and clone so I’d rather be more familiar with the syntax of GMS 2 first before I dive in.
The maps are all in and 001 is happily moving around in all of them. They are actually all stored as part of one big GMS room so 001 can be shifted anywhere once he’s gone into a lift, without making things too much of a pain in the butt. There’s a lot of work still needed to control aspects of each deck itself, as they will need seperate data to keep track of what droids are still around on each one, and if the deck is cleared or not. But it has made it easier to get 001 to spawn in a random position over the first four decks which the original game does.
The front end title screen funky scrolling screens have all been prototyped and i’ve had them up and running almost like the original game. I used images for the whole text based on snapshots from the original game to build up the entire sequence, but after some lengthy discussions, Aaron decided that we could make things much nicer with our own Paradroid style font, and to build them up as actual text. This does mean that I get some freedom now to work in some changes to the original screens, even if it does mean a lot more work to build a whole new organised sequence. It also means the design of the title screen background itself is going to change but I’m keeping as much of the original text as possible. It’s just going to look better with Aaron’s new font.
One of the first decisions we made when we decided to remake Paradroid was to try and emulate the game as close as possible. We’re still going pretty close when it comes down to it but we’ve opted to negate the aspects of the game that were done in a certain way due to the hardware restrictions of the C64 itself. The most obvious one is the map viewing size. We’ve got that running over the whole display area, rather than half the screen, which it looks like Andy resigned himself to in the original, just to keep the speed up. We don’t have that issue so we’ve kept the big area with the paradroid logo, but it’s transparent in areas so you’ve got a bigger view area to look around for droids in. It makes perfect sense to do this as we can adjust the difficulty to allow for the minor player advantage this gives at the end, anyway.
The graphics for the project are mostly done. Aaron’s done most of his work on this and the tilemap system as it’s the biggest part of the game by far. The collision detection for static objects and location settings for lifts and consoles is all there ready for me to add in bits, and apart from some minor alterations on the maps to move them apart a bit, they’re all done. The only reason we have to move them is because we’re using the whole screen and there are certain areas on certain decks where you can move into a corner and see parts of other decks just creeping into view at the edge of the scroll. That’s an immersion failure right there and Aaron is far too much of a perfectionist to just let it slide. Another part of the graphics to do is minimap parts and emulating some of the look from other editions of the game that were made. Competition Paradroid for example. And there’s a lovely dark metal version out there with a modified intro screen that I want to stick in as either a hidden feature to unlock, or a random display in the title screen attract mode.
001 himself is moving around quite happily. This is probably because we haven’t got bad guys in there trying to destroy him as yet. All the collision areas have been tested and tweaked, and we’ve made it work better than the original game which sometimes moved into walls or appeared to bounce as if it had gone to far into something and had to shift back out. We shouldn’t have that in our game. Aaron has also got the horizontal and vertical doors opening and shutting perfectly. This has been carefully done so it will work with the enemy droids exactly the same so, like the original game, you’ll be able to see doors opening and shutting in visible areas of the map, but not the droids themselves unless they are actually in a location where the 001 can physically see them. This was a great system in the original game as you could know a droid was in a closed off room as the door opened/shut, but you wouldn’t know until you went in there if you were going to scrap with a 139 or a 999. That definitely made the game more exciting.
As for other changes to the original game, i’m taking the opportunity to make the game a bit more up to date with modern expectations. I’ll put in a 5 place high score table as the original game only had the best of the day, and the worst of the day to taunt you. As we can save/load data with ease, we can save this kind of data along with redefined keys, which I’m going to add in. That is mainly because Aaron’s got it running of WASD which does make sense, but for some reason I like playing this with the cursor keys. And we may as well cater for everyone on something trivial like that.
Paradroids title sequence also had options for colour corrections and some cheese mode which was for screenshotting. We’ll probably switch off the animations in pause mode anyway so screenshots won’t need anything like that. The usual options for sound/music etc will all go in too. Not that we have any media like that yet, apart from a paradroid tribute MP3 I found but I wont be using it unless I can locate the author and they let me.
As touched upon earlier, we’d like to possibly hide a few things in the game. I may expand on this but that depends if Aaron will let me. Doing something in a hard area of decks may make interesting things happen is all I’m going to say for now. But these wont be decided and implemented until the rest of the game itself is in place for sure.
Next post will have something visual, I promise. I’d have posted up a screen dump of my testing title sequence but it just didn’t look nice enough before we decided to change the whole thing anyway.