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NZ Story Remake Dev Post #9

New this week are a few bug fixes, a configuration menu (for volume control, fullscreen, controls etc). I have also been experimenting with "Arena" levels (pictured) which is intended to be a sort of bonus stage, it effectively works as a shoot-em-up where you have to just keep shooting things to stay alive.

Actually, there hasn't been as much done on the game this week as there was last week. Things have been distracting me from working on the game (such as working till 1:30am one night!).

So, yeah, not really a whole lot to report this time. I realise that I need to manage my time developing the game much better. Instead of just working on it whenever I feel like it, I should consistently work on the game at the same time for every day for at least an hour. There's barely over a month left to go so I better get cracking.

NZ Story Remake Dev Post #8

Other week, another update:

I have been working hardcore on the engine all week. Notable additions include enemies riding balloons, enemies spawning from portals, enemies with weapons (like sheep with backpack lasers and hedgehogs that fire spikes!), a far larger range of Kiwi animations (Stephen drew all the animations about a week ago, I have only just got around to adding them to the game). And yet, theres -still- crap loads more on the engine to be done.

I can imagine myself programming the engine every day until the competition deadline; I had been planning to contribute a few levels to the game but now I honestly don't think I have time.

Fortunately Stephen, Josh and Matt have been doing some good looking levels that are unique in their own way and have great potential. They also compliment each other well. Stephen's levels are wide open areas that closely resemble real NZ landmarks, featuring tricky jumps and ballooning action. Josh's levels are a visual mish-mash of 8/16-bit platformer styles (taking cues from Wonderboy and Sonic) with vast tunnels (including submerged ones). Matt's levels are fiendish with enemy ambushes and spike lined mazes, featuring outdoor areas and tight corridors, very much in the spirit of the original game. Cam has started working on his own levels but it is still too early to see how they will turn out.

The game is really starting to take shape. It is still very rough though, a lot of hard work is still needed, but if we can stay at this pace we should beat the deadline. Only five weeks to go. Stay tuned!

NZ Story Remake Dev Post #7

Unfortunately me and the guys weren't able to have a game development get-together this Saturday, regardless some new stuff was added:

  • Stephen added Snoopy-esque flying goggles (only when operating a vehicle) as well as drawing an animated caged Kiwi (Bottom right of the image - the really subtle tears are a nice touch).
  • Bitmap font functionality added.
  • Triple parallax (Could be quad layer if you consider the foreground as part of it) replacing the single layed parrallax. I'm hoping to get a pseudo-3D effect similar to that of the early Sonic games.
  • Basic NZ Map screens added
  • Unlike the original game, the vehicles now have momentum. Dodgem style collisions with enemy vehicles should be fun
  • Configuration of enemies and levels has been seperated out from the code base into a config file.

For the past week I've been focusing almost exclusively on the engine rather then any new content - my goal is to get the game engine fundamentally complete by the end of Labour weekend. It might be difficult squeezing development time in between Auckland Congress Hall (Salvation Army) 125th anniversary celebrations and Armageddon, but I will make sure I set aside some time each and every day to focus on making the game. Less a month and a half of the competition to go and still mountains of work to be done. It's scary, but I'm confident we'll pull it off somehow.

NZ Story Remake Dev Post #6

This is Stephen's draft skytower level. Here the Kiwi is firing arrows at snails and pukekos while ascending to the top to face the (not yet in the game!) final boss. We had a very productive day today. Some of the AGW members came around to my place to collaborate on the game together - I've never really done that for a game before, and it was great. Occasionally I've met with one other person to work on a game with but never an entire group.

Stephen did a few level graphics and helped the other guys make levels, Josh did some graphics and a Wonderboy-esque level (with platform clouds), Matthew made a really big level based on the moraki boulders (the mini-map literally takes up the entire screen, I definitely need to work on scaling it), Chris sketched out a ED-209 esque boss (piloted by an evil sheep no less) and I worked on the codebase. Kai (who wasn't at the meeting) also submitted an awesome sheep enemy.

While development of the game had been slow in previous weeks, it got a real kick in the pants today. Now that levels and more enemies are starting to come in, we need to sort out final lists of both and also decide who is doing what. I would like to have another game development get-together next Sunday but we will see what the other guys are upto. Stay tuned.

Game Design Scrapheap #5: Traffic Department 2192 (Remake)

It's about time I finally laid this one to rest.

Traffic Department 2192 (Remake)


In-game screenshot. The buildings are 3D, the draw distance is longer, and some of the textures have been converted to hi-res.

The original Traffic Department 2192 was one of my favourite games back in the early 1990s. After the invasion of the Desert planet Seche

by the Vulture cult army, the former Traffic Control division becomes a guerilla fighting force for the people. While the gameplay was merely average, what made the game truly special to me was its expansive and interesting Science Fiction storyline. Each of the 60 levels in the game was bookended by a decent length dialogue sequence that was more entertaining then levels themselves were.

I have attempted and failed to remake the game no less then three times! The first time was back in the early 00's using The Games Factory, replacing the freeroaming gameplay with something closer to Spy Hunter but staying true to the original story. That was doomed to fail, it's difficult enough making something in TGF that has the scope of Super Mario Bros, let alone a game that featured more dialogue then the average novel. In 2006 (and again in 2007) I had another go at remaking the game, this time in Blitz Basic 3D.


An example dialogue sequence. The main enhancement over the original is the background watermarking of the current scene.


When I first attempted to remake the game in Blitz Basic 3D, I had actually managed to hack the graphics and level data from the original game, allowing me to transfer it to my project verbatim without needing to take an excessive amount of screengrabs. I succeeded in getting a 3D version of one of the cities from the game running (as reported here) but didn't get any further. I hadn't even attempted to bring the dialogue sequences across. I guess, because I was working on the project alone, there was no one following the project, and because a massive amount of work had to be done before the game became good, I just left it to collect dust.

That was until about half a year later when I was contacted by "Commander Stab", a fellow TD2192 fan who also had ambitions to remake the game. He had a strong desire to actually have every line in the game recorded by a voice actor. So we got to work on the project, my domain was working on the programming and gameplay side of things, his was to work on bringing the story across and collect auditions and lines from voice actors. Things went pretty well for awhile, but ultimately the project collapsed again.

What went wrong

Illustrations like this helped tell the epic story.

Commander Stab eventually became extremely busy with his real life (University, moving etc) and we fell out of contact. He had worked incredibly hard on the project seeking out voice actors and writing a program converting the original dialogue files into a format we could use in the remake, but since he stopped contributing to the game I lost motivation and stopped working on the game entirely soon after.

The Moral of the Story

Actually there's two this time. The first is that working on a game with a friend who is equally enthusiastic about it is a massive motivation boost. The second is that, a large game project requires commitment.


I dabbled in several different game projects before getting started on Derelict. Traffic Department 2192 is still a game I care about a lot, so maybe, just maybe, a TD2192 remake will actually see the light of day.

Quantum of Solace demo impressions

Goldeneye 007 wasn't just a fantastic Bond game, it was one of the greatest games ever made. Unfortunately the following Bond games from Electronic Arts were a mixed bag; "Everything or Nothing" was mostly pretty good, whereas "Goldeneye: Rogue Agent" was a terrible FPS that was a shameless attempt to cash in on the name of the original.

So when I heard that Activision had picked up the rights, I was hoping that they may finally get the game series back to its previously lofty standards. The demo of the PC version of Quantum of Solace was released today. It can be downloaded here.

I have to say, honestly, I'm disappointed. The 700mb download consists of a single level. The scene opens in an MI6 Safehouse, a bomb goes off, killing someone (I'm speculating its supposed to be Mr White) and you have to chase after the assassin through some tunnels, shoot a few guys, chase him some more and then that's it. The whole demo.

It wasn't until the gunfight in a flooded room that I noticed something peculiar. All of my health nearly instantly heals itself if I'm not being shot at. I freaking hate games like that. "Goldeneye: Rogue Agent" was exactly like that. There was almost no challenge, you just hide whenever you get hurt and then you're back in the game. No conserving health, no hunting for first aid kits or body armour, nothing like that. And if you die, it isn't back to the start of the level, it's just back to the previous room. There's just no tension at all.

The game, at least this short demo, seems extremely linear. Whereas Goldeneye just dropped you in a level and left it to you to explore and complete it your own way, Quantum of Solace appears to march you through a sequence of scripted events. It really feels more like a movie then a game. I'll probably buy it anyway, as it is James Bond, but I really expected something better.


NZ Story Remake Dev Post #5

An early working version of the Larnach Castle level. Stephen has done an amazing job with converting real life New Zealand locations into platforming levels. I haven't been working on the game nearly as much as I have wanted to, since I was away in Wellington for most of last week, plus I had a pretty full on (and awesome weekend) but I'm back into it now.

Collision detection has been a real nightmare due to the peculiar workings of the collision detection of the original (which allowed you to jump -upwards- through most blocks). I think, honestly, 2D collision detection in the New Zealand Story remake has eaten up far more of my time then 3D collision detection in Derelict ever did.

So, for now, I'm going to stick with the somewhat flawed collision detection I've put together, and work on other elements of the game while I leave my subconscious to think of a better solution. If someone else wants to volunteer to fix it, please be my guest! Sorry, not much else to report! Hopefully my next post will be more cheerful.

NZ Story Remake Dev Post #4

This will be pretty short since I have to head off to Wellington momentarily. First off, big thanks to Blitz creator Mark Sibly for kindly donating copies of BlitzMax to Auckland Game Works. He is now pretty much the coolest guy on Earth right now. Since we have copies of BlitzMax development has gone back to that, it only took a day or so to port every line of code across.

As pictured above (I stole a screenshot he took of the game) Stephen has been working on the art assets. He made this neat looking balloon and has been working on the cute kiwi character in the game. Apart from porting the code, I have been developing some rudimentary enemy AI and sprites. I'm hoping to churn out a bare basic alpha demo version by the next AGW meetup on Sunday. That's all for now folks, bye

NZ Story Remake Dev Post #3

I'll confess and admit I haven't been working on the game as much as I should have been. I was in Dunedin between Tuesday and Friday on a Conference and over the weekend I've been really ill (Still not 100%). Regardless, some major progress has been made on the game. Firstly, Stephen came up with the list of objects we're going to have in the game and integrated them into the tileset. That allowed me to program the engine to load objects into the correct positions, such as the placeholder Balloon pictured and the letter bubbles (Yes we know 'EXTEND' has no A or O, but now the bonus word is 'AOTEAROA') Secondly, coding for the vehicles has started to be developed. Collision-detection is a bit glitchy (due to the weird-as collision mechanics of the original), but it's functional and we're getting there. The new Kiwi (cheers Stephen) is still an early work-in-progress but it resembles the concept we're after, which is a grown up version of 'Tiki' from the original (who now looks more like a Kiwi then a Chicken). Oh, and that cartoony background was my (lame) attempt to rotoscope some NZ Scenery. Over the next couple of weeks I'll add basic enemies and other bits-and-pieces, we may even be able to churn out a bare bones alpha demo in a fortnight.

NZ Story Remake Dev Post #2

Okay, time for an update

This is a temporary level AGW coordinator Stephen whipped together for the project. I've been focusing primarily on the engine, and now it has jumping and control mechanics that loosely resemble that from the original game, as well as the ability to shoot (I drew these place holder arrows, I think they look kinda cool though). Stephen and I met yesterday to discuss the future of the project. We've tentatively gone back to developing in Blitz3D again but, since we don't necessarily need BlitzMax's flashy 2D features (and none of us own it!) and since I'm comfortable using it (might not be a good idea making the first game I do in a language a competition entry!) it should suit our purposes fine. Also during the meeting we defined our responsibilities; I'm focusing purely on the engine at the moment, whereas Stephen is focusing on the design side of things (level development, enemies and vehicles etc) That's all for now folks, stay tuned. (Edit - Forgot to mention, Viijay set up SVN for the project, which is a freaking awesome way of keeping the project up-to-date on everyone's computer, and Josh did a Sonic-esque tileset for the game)