Archive for the ‘ Features ’ Category

Nordenfelt’s Core Mechanics

First of all I want to thank everybody who provided feedback for Nordenfelt 0.4. The overall response was quite positive.

One important lesson I’ve learned from feedback so far is that tastes are different. This fact makes evaluating replies sometimes difficult. Finally it is important to have an own position and learn which opinions can and should be ignored. Otherwise there is little chance to get such a project done.

Anyway, thanks to all of you. I’m appreciating the effort you expended in testing my game. Thanks a lot!

Death of the Demo

Version 0.4 was an important milestone. It marked the end of the engine demo phase. Nearly a year of writing the engine was too long for my taste. This experience belongs to the category “if I only had known…”. In case of a sequel of Nordenfelt I’ll exploit this engine as much as I can. That should distribute last year’s effort over one more project. But that’s all still up in the air.

The next few months are dedicated to making the game itself. Thrilling times ahead.

Core Mechanics

After collecting and evaluating all 0.4 feedback from different sources I started designing the core mechanics for the game. By core I mean irrevocable features and rules. It’s quite hard to decide which of the many ideas should be set in stone. Finally it’s good advice to go with mechanics players are familiar with. Therefore I’ve fixed the following points:

Rank System

Many shoot ’em ups have a rank systems. It can be imagined as some kind of automatic difficulty adjustment. For example when the player beefs his/her weapon up to a high level the enemies start to get angrier, faster and stronger. This way the player is kept challenged. Experienced players exploit the rank system by keeping their equipment levels low. There are many more aspects in the game which influence the rank system. Figuring out what affects the rank is essential for beating the game as well as the highscore.

Score Hunt

This should be self-explanatory: get the best score, on your machine or online.

Equipment Selection

There will be a few types of equipment like bombs or bots which can be used for strategical play. Each game level is different and therefore should be tackled with appropriate equipment.

Upgrading Equipment

Equipment can be upgraded throughout the levels. This makes your ship stronger but also affects the rank (speak difficulty). Only equipment mounted on your ship will be upgraded in levels. Therefore you have to choose wisely what to take with you in each level.


Scores and Level Statistics

Version 0.4 is on the way. Only a few times left to go to sleep… 🙂

Yesterday I’ve added the initial score system, a simple accumulation of scores given by shot enemies. There are no lives anymore. You can replay each level as often as you want. You just have to pay with your score points. I’m wondering how this will effect gameplay in the future.

Today statistics found their way into the code. For the first impression I’ve implemented the enemy kill percentage which gets reported at the end of each level. Some people like perfect runs so the kill count will be their indicator.

new score and end-of-level-statistic

There are several other additions like display options or drop shadows. Version 0.3 suffered from a bug in the particle engine which is fixed now. Nevertheless there are some other magic frame rate hiccups, e.g. coming from the input system (PeekMessage() stalls, very strange). Version 0.4 should give some answers if these problems are just on my machine or on yours to.

See you in a few days.


It’s time again to show what’s happening. Quite some new stuff found its way into Nordenfelt:

  • new second level,
  • new enemy types,
  • new background music and sounds,
  • new shield which recovers over time,
  • new particle effects,
  • health bar replaced with lives,
  • increased player ship speed and
  • many more improvements under the hood

Simply download the game, unzip it (e.g. with 7-zip) and start Nordenfelt.exe. As usual there is nothing to install and the game can be deleted any time without hassle.

Download Nordenfelt 0.3

Drop me a line what you think. I’m looking forward to your feedback.


PS: This blog was abandoned for the last few weeks. Don’t worry, continue button already pressed. 🙂

I dismissed blogging because I vowed myself to not write anything before version 0.3 is out. That was in the last week of October. Time flies when you’re having fun! See you next post, very soon.

Nordenfelt 0.3 is coming and it will have a new level and new enemies.

The whole procedure of designing/modeling/texturing/rendering of level parts and enemies is sooo time consuming. These tasks are millstones around the neck in times of feature testing. Therefore I’ve entered “MS Paint mode” (again). Rule of thumb: graphics must be as simple as possible but have to represent the intention.

Second level in Nordenfelt 0.3, demonstrating MS Paint mode

Second level, MS Paint graphics

The primitive shapes and gaudy colors may bring you eye cancer. But hey, they are functional! Improved test graphics won’t be as distinguishable and may be kept in the game forever for compromise. These ugly geometrics will never survive ’til final release. Critics would eat me alive!

The testing focus of version 0.3 lies on gameplay. Graphics will follow – in beta versions, starting before 2011 (hopefully).


Video: Particle System Preview

I’ve just finished the basic version of the particle system preview in Nordenfelt. This new mode is for dev purposes only and just can show predefined particle effects. They can be altered in any external XML editor while the preview is running. A mouse click creates a particle effect at the cursor and a context menu allows to change the active particle system type and background color:

I wanted to keep this stuff as simple as possible. Visual feedback is imperative when you want to create particle systems that don’t suck. The shortest path here was to build the preview into the game. It’s primitive but it works – just like me. 🙂

The video was made with Screenr so its quality is rather bad. I don’t know if Screenr or my workstation has to be blamed. I just wanted to test this video recording service. Nevertheless, the choppy video should give you an idea what the preview mode is all about.


Nordenfelt FAQ

The release of Nordenfelt 0.2 was well received and got nice feedback. There were many feature suggestions and questions if the game will have feature X or support Y. I’ve caught myself answering the same questions over and over again. Therefore I’ve decided to compile a FAQ list about Nordenfelt. You can read it here or find its link in the site’s main menu in the top right corner.

This is the initial list of frequently asked questions:

Which features will Nordenfelt have?

It’s a Shoot ’em Up

… where you are going to shoot steampunkish vehicles and machinery.

Arcade Mode

This is the well known quest through a series of levels shooting planes, tanks, ships and other vehicles. A boss will await you at the end of each level. Upgrades and goodies will improve your ship throughout the flight.

Adventure Mode

This mode has a deeper game play depth regarding equipment and missions. You will have a hangar full of air ships with various equipment, an R&D section and strategical missions with different goals.

Which platforms will you support?

Windows XP and higher.

What are the minimum requirements?

You won’t need a high end gaming machine for playing Nordenfelt:

  • 1Ghz single core
  • 1024×768 screen resolution
  • 128MB RAM
  • 64MB video RAM
  • ~200MB free HDD

Will Nordenfelt be freeware?

No, it will be shareware. A free demo version will be available for download. If you like it I would be happy if you consider buying the full game.

How much will the full game cost?

The price will lie between 10$ and 20$. The final price is still a point at issue.

Release date?

Latest on Doomsday – 1, which is 20th of December, 2012.

Which engine do you use?

A homebrewn one. I’m just using a few free libraries like SFML or BOOST as foundation.

For me the most surprising fact was that it was totally unclear that Nordenfelt won’t be free. It’s an understandable assumption due to the sheer amount of free stuff on the internet. Nonetheless I have to make a living from it. Quality will have to legitimate the price tag. So I’m going for it.


Upgrade Triggered Refactoring Avalanche

After collecting all feedback from version 0.1 the first point on the todo list became including upgrades in the arcade mode. That sounded simple. I added a new upgrade object type and integrated it into the collision detection system. Here the first problem popped up: Physical shapes were still represented as polygons, upgrade icons were going to be circular. There was a big “TODO: replace polygons with circles” in the code. OK, let’s replace the polygons with circles. I will have to do it anyway. The avalanche started sliding.

While refactoring the collision code and adapting file formats the latter became painful work. The data formats were simple sequences of numeric values. E.g. a 2D vector was just a pair of numbers and a circle was a 2D vector followed by the circle its radius. The lack of meta data within the files, declaring the meanings of the values, forced me to always reference the corresponding loading source code. That was cumbersome so it was time for the next refactoring step: replacing the old file formats with XML. Next job in the refactoring queue.

The newly integrated upgrades had to load their data from files. They needed sprites, animations and body shapes. The third refactoring The Game The Face Of L.A. job accelerated the avalanche. Hey, I just wanted to upgrade my guns! Oh, wait a minute… equipment needs new upgrade definitions, weapons will have different shoot layouts. Dammit! Next job enqueued!

After two weeks refactoring the hell out of the game all viral tasks were finished. It’s a good feeling that the Nordenfelt engine now has proper data formats, a faster collision detection and upgradable equipment. Now I can go on with the funnier things.

For example modelling the player ship.

The Arcade Player Ship

The poll for your favourite player ship design sketches elected concept G as winner:

Steampunk Battle Ship

Today I’ve made this 3D model from the sketch above. It is not finished yet. Details like plates, frames or rivets are still missing:

Basic 3D model of winner concept

Basic 3D model of winner concept

IMO concept G is a good choice. It meets the shmup guidelines (AFAIK them), looks steampunky enough and has two Gatling guns! What would our world be without Gatling guns? 😉

Thanks four your votes!