Archive for April, 2012

Nordenfelt Dev Log 34

Nordenfelt comes full circle. I’ve revived two features which disappeared from the design documents a year ago: level generator and world map.

These two features where part of the canceled adventure mode. This mode was cut due to the pressure of making a living from Nordenfelt. During the last two years just bullet hell shooters were released. At least that’s what my news channels reported. It seemed the market was reduced to this type of shmup. So I tried to adapt Nordenfelt accordingly.

Now that I have a steady income again the need for entering this crowded market is gone. Now I can go on experimenting and do things differently. That’s what I like most about making games. Participating in the rat race of faster-higher-stronger sounds like long-term suicide anyway.

Level Generator

Level design follows rules which should make levels interesting, challenging and fair. An example would be: difficulty has to rise over time. Players get better so the challenges have to get tougher as well.

Another criteria to meet is the learning curve:

MMO RPG learning curves

Courtesy of

Ideally games should present new mechanics or features to learn after the last one has been mastered. The level designer’s job here is to find out how long it takes the average player to master each skill.

Third example: dramatic structures in their usual sequence of intro, crisis development, climax and resolution.

Further, simpler rules would be scalar factors like level length, boss strength, bullets per second, powerup density, risk/reward amplification, etc.

Finally many tasks in level design, at least formal ones, can be automated. There’s no need to sit down and plan each level from scratch. Nordenfelt’s level generator will serve at least as boilerplate for creating level skeletons. The rest is filling out details by “design intuition”. Time will tell how much level design can be formalized and converted into code. The optimum would be a full-blown, no-intervention generator. That would be cool!

World Map

Nordenfelt has random-accessible levels now. There’s no longer the need for going through level A and B just to play C. Therefore there has to be some kind of level selection. This will be done here:

Nordenfelt map screen

The big dots are test markers for the available levels. I’ll draw proper graphics for them tomorrow.


P.S.: Get real-time updates via Twitter feed @nordenfeltgame.

Nordenfelt Dev Log 33

Already 2 months passed since the last dev log entry? I can’t remember climbing in a flux-capacitored DeLorean …

Whatever. Let’s have a look what happened since begin of February.

Finished Music

The game’s soundtrack is finished so far. Because there’s just one level yet there will be more work to do. Nevertheless, finding appropriate tracks isn’t that easy. 99% of stock site tracks simply don’t fit the dynamics of the game. So it took quite some time to find the current compilation.

Time System

Nordenfelt got a time distorting system which can scale the effective time flow. There’s a factor for scaling frame times which is usually set to 1. If the game should run faster, e.g. for testing purpose to reach a specific point in the game immediately, this factor can be set to any value >1. Slowdowns can be caused with values <1. Logically pausing can be done with a factor equal to zero. The only thing I’m not sure about is if negative factors work as well …

Released Nordenfelt 0.5.3, Silently

Version 0.5.3 was published in the preorder forum. I did not shout it from the rooftops because there were no real gameplay changes since 0.5.2. I’ve just finished details like explosions and audio, nothing game-changing.

Now I’m busy working on new level content and fresh equipment, the game’s essence so to speak. An equipment type already available but far from ripe is the Tesla weapon:

For future level work I’ve decided to cut back graphical complexity and go for reusable tiles and segments. This idea is quite old as the left of the following two screenshots from 2010 illustrates:

Left half of image shows version 0.1, right half shows coming version 0.2

I’m not sure what exactly distracted me from following the tile concept. Most likely the urge for boundless creativity was the reason. Nearly two years later I know that boundaries are your friends. They coerce you to not expand artistically ad infinitum.

Time to meet finitude.


PS: Just to remind you about the @nordenfeltgame Twitter feed. Feel free to follow and get dedicated info about what’s going on at the the Nordenfelt development front.