Hands up all of you lot that remember the original Paradroid? Quite a few, I suspect, so you’d be the people remember the attention to detail that showed up in the title screen with the scrolling screens of text, use of colour, and even formatting of the scroll text, within the limits of the font size Andy was working with. It’s down to me to realistically improve on this while staying as close as practical in feel to the original.
This isn’t proving as easy as originally expected.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I had all the information screens knocked up into a set of five large sprites for the prototype, and got them up and scrolling pretty quickly as GMS 2 has options for automating a lot of background movement tasks. Using a large sprite to cover the areas of the screen that were unused for anything visual, I would just position the sprites behind the transparent hole in that image, and then let it move off so it looked just like scrolling screens of information about the game. For prototyping this was just fine, but, on reflection, a bit of a waste of time, as I was never going to actually use this system for a few reasons. One is obviously the information on these screens is subject to changes. I was scrolling the original text dumped into sprites, but high-scores are dynamic for starters, so I would have had to have some kind of clumsy system in place to draw this on screen and move along with the sprites to try and maintain the visual effect. Might just as well have all of it as scrolling text, if I’m doing that anyway.
Another flaw with that system was how the original worked. There were several areas of inactivity during the sequence of scrolling these screens of info around, mainly to let the user catch up the reading. I’d have to double check because I’m not sure at the time of writing if you could pause the scrolling while reading but for some reason I am thinking holding up on the joystick actually did that too. My problem with the sprites would be that each one is different in size so there would be the issue of counting down how long they take to work through the text and then putting in the right pauses in the right places before they switched out to start scrolling the next page. Taking into account the screen could be paused too, then it’s a bit of a faff getting all this synched in.
So the sprites as they are have been dumped and, due to Aaron pulling out several of my fingernails, I agreed to use his new font and go with the scrolling text proper option. There are a few pro’s to this, firstly. I can use formatting codes within the scroll data so I don’t need to rely on timing how long things are going to take. I’ll be loading the data in from an external .txt file initially, but maybe putting it all into text strings within the editor once the text content is finalised to make it trickier for the hacker-types. That benefit alone means it’s super-quick to just edit and reload in the scroll text on the fly, within the game, for testing and formatting purposes. And it does give me complete creative freedom to jig any of the original text for readability as well. I’ve got around 8 function keys setup to use in the title sequence for various uses, and displaying that information will be much easier as well. Hopefully I can stick a lot of that into the top of screen information box just like Andy did in the original too, however.
So far, i’ve been struggling to find decent ways of throwing this much text around with GMS2 at any kind of decent speed so there’s been a fair bit of code written and then completely ripped out to try other approaches. I’ll get something right in the end but it certainly is proving a lot more challenging than initially expected. Luckily I’m not really on a deadline at present, until the main game gets closer to completion, and I need to start on aspects of that.
I promised a screenshot or two of how things are looking but Aaron has already made a post about the graphics-side of the game today, so I’d just refer you to the link at the side of this page to have a look at that post for some retro-paradroid imagery, and hopefully some of the dark stuff at a later date, as I know he’s ripped it all out and got it into tile maps ready for inclusion in the game … somewhere.
On a final note, I did actually manage to get a tweeted response from Andrew Braybrook regarding the transfer game that doesn’t really have much information to be googled about. I requested that he does one of his blog posts about the creation of it which, if he does, will hopefully help a lot when it comes time to start work on that area.