Thursday, 14 August 2008

PC :: i'm in the middle of a...

As usual, my sidetrack has become sidetracked... there's been a series of rapid prototyping sessions on the ShmupDev forums, each lasting a couple of weeks and with a theme set by the previous winner and i've been putting something together over the last day or so for the third of these sessions which has a theme based around chain reactions. The game in question is called Vinculum for a couple of reasons; partly because it's nice and spacey-sounding and that's a Good Thing for a shoot 'em up... but mostly its because "vinculum" means "that which unites or binds", like a chain and that's what the game is about.

The objective is simple, the player is assigned three standard issue spaceships with forward-firing lasers and nothing else, then sent into battle; blazing away works quite happily but is absolutely guaranteed to result in appalling scores. The secret to racking up the points lies in using the parting shots fired by the enemies against them, when a nasty is shot it explodes rather prettily and disgorges a ring of bullets and, whilst fatal to the player, they'll also blow up any other nasty they rip into. Since that's how chains are created, the true skill is to fire as little as possible and figure out the best ways to create chain reactions that do the rest of the work for you. Every shot the player fires decreases the chain multiplier, every nasty destroyed by a chain reaction adds to it and losing a life with reset the thing entirely. Here's how it looks, running in windowed mode:

Vinculum screenshot

Yeah... it's a little hectic, what has happened is a row of seven nasties all stacked up across the screen and i've shot the one on the left; that's blown up, peppered the nasty to it's right and so on until the second to last has just detonated and is about to blow the remaining nasty to kingdom come, all whilst i dodge like a lunatic between the bullets. Even at this stage of development with just five attack waves installed, Vinculum has been proving pretty good fun to play and i've been enjoying the testing, in part because i've been placing the waves in ways that i hope will require a little thought. All it really needs to be complete is a soundtrack (which i'm pretty sure i can sort out, i've been listening to the second level tune from Patriot Dark whilst testing things out) a little more presentation work and then i have to arrange lots of fairly intricate attack wave data... perhaps i need to think about an XML processor for the Alien Release Scheduling Engine's attack waves?

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