The Deep Web is a part of the Internet which can’t be indexed by search engines. Examples of not-indexable resources are private websites (password-protected) or dynamic content. Google, Bing and other crawler bots just can’t get there.
Why am I telling you this? Today Nordenfelt got updated to version 0.8, yet the changes aren’t obvious. This is because only the final boss got (massively) improved. It now has one more combat form and several more attack patterns.
For nearly a year this blog was quiet. If you want to know why, please read about the reasons here.
But I don’t want to talk about the past. The present is much more interesting…
Nordenfelt 0.7 Released
This is an excerpt from the change log:
added final boss
added level type desert
added equipment Omega Weapon and Auto-Aim System
added play analytics (player gets asked for permission)
(re-)added score system
replaced “level items” by “tech tree points” for unlocking equipment
primary weapon levels no longer need to get unlocked
player ship moves slower while shooting
I’m curious what percentage of players will allow the game to send information about their play behavior. The data is anonymous and only for reasons of game improvement. Nevertheless, people have the fear of being spied out. Therefore, enabling the analytics module is just for the brave.
The Nordenfelt demo got its overdue update. The last version 0.5.3 dated back to 2011. So it did no longer represent the current development state.
Right now I’m working on a desert-themed level. It’s quite tough to make an interesting background which mainly consists of sand and rocks.
However this area will develop I won’t spend too much time struggling with it initially. Gameplay is more important than fancy backgrounds. Regardless if it doesn’t look that good I’ll switch to expanding the tech tree tomorrow.
As stated above the next task is expanding the tech tree. It’s structure should influences the way how you can play the levels. E.g. some enemy types are immune to the primary weapon. So you have to unlock the right equipment to wipe them out. This is the basic idea which I’m going to refine within the next days.
It’s happening: Nordenfelt will be available on Desura on 9th of July.
The release was planned earlier but I made a mistake. I decided to add a new level boss while the latest version has been in Desura review. As soon as the initial boss draft moved across the screen I felt the urge to include it in the release. So be it. God knows why my rational brain did not intervene: “A new boss? Fella, you know this will delay everything for 3 weeks, don’t you?”.
Delay, delay, delay – it happens every once in a while.
Anyways, 9th of July is the day:
The following stuff bears the blame for “being late”:
New Level Boss
The new flying warship level boss is a larger-than-screen enemy. You have to blow it up section by section:
This boss introduced a crucial part in shmup design: scriptable bullet patterns. Patterns help players to memorize attack forms and let them come up with canned tactics how to dodge bullets.
(Not so) New Equipment
Also the Tesla gun got revived (first mentioned here):
This unlockable equipment is great when broad swarms of enemies enter the screen. Flashes of electrical discharge span over close neighbors. This way you can blow up whole flocks with less movement. Quite helpful when the screen gets littered with bullets.
The tech tree finally gets it’s long outstanding attention, lava is OK but not great and Nordenfelt waits for Desura’s go.
Nordenfelt on Desura
At the beginning of this week I’ve uploaded Nordenfelt to Desura. Since then it’s stuck in their review queue. So the ball is in their court now. In the meantime I’ve added new equipment …
The tech tree is a core feature of Nordenfelt. Despite this intention I had to neglect it til now. So just 2 main weapon increments were available for a long time. Simply put, it was empty.
Now I’ve added the first standalone equipment: bot swarm
It’s simply a set of shooting bots accompanying the player ship.
The next equipment will be something more unique. “Unique” is a bold word because most equipment ideas already got implemented sometime in shmup history. I would need to know all shmups to be sure nothing comparable has ever be done. Nonetheless, the probability is rather low that I’ll reinvent an unknown wheel.
Basically it’s important to have a mix of novel and well-known features. Too much new stuff and people get scared off by the “experiment”. Too much well-known and the game gets tagged “old hat”. So the plan is something known, something new, something known, something new, etc.
Lava Level Continued
The lava level backgrounds don’t have satisfying quality yet. They serve their purpose and players won’t recognize their blandness as long as enemy hordes enter the screen. Nevertheless I can call them done.
They are not as good as I want them but done and releasable. And that’s the only thing I have to know to sleep well at night.
The last 3 weeks led me down a rather bumpy road. After completing a few minor but motivational tasks I hit a road block. It was a problem of show-stopping nature.
In the last dev log entry I’ve mentioned working on an auto deploy system. It’s done and follows this simple scheme:
get Nordenfelt‘s latest version from SVN repository,
archive it and
upload the archive to the web server
I start to like scripting common tasks like deploy, directory cleanups an the like. Even if the scripted task can be done within seconds by hand, double-clicking a script file takes a fraction of a second, is less error-prone and needs less brainpower.
I’ve contacted Desura regarding alpha funding. They were positive about it but wanted a little more media to show. So I started working on a second level type: lava.
It will take a while ’til I can craft good lava levels. This collage is just an “outtake collection”, resulting from learning how to draw lava stuff.
Making Level Generation “Dumber”
When I was experimenting and testing the new lava tiles in-game I hit the initially mentioned road block: the level generator started to crawl. The increased number of background segments combined with the exponential growth of combination possibilities killed the performance. The problem was that too many, yet necessary rules where taken into consideration for stringing together level tiles to a complete level. A few optimizations made it faster but it was the overall algorithm which had to be changed finally. The solution was an easy one, derived from thoughtless human behaviour:
I know it when I see it.
The new generator code cranks out dozens of possible levels WTTM and a final decision maker algorithm chooses the best solution. Imagine a crowd of apes assembling prefabricated houses and one smarter ape who decides which one comes closest to habitable shelter. Sounds primitive? Yes, it is. And it works.
The jump to Desura became more of a low hop. So next time I want to tell you “Nordenfelt is on Desura”. Fingers crossed.