Urban Interactive – Project Development Blog

The plan for stage 1…

Posted in ROTJ by urbaninteractive on August 22, 2010

I’ve been thinking more about the game programming now, and will start on the first level – The space Battle of Endor.  Looking for inspiration, I’ve been watching a lot of Star Wars Trilogy Arcade machine and I think they have it just about perfect.  After studying the game play I need to develop a simple level editor which will allow me to place object in 3D space and have them fly along predetermined paths.  I will use this technique for all the large craft.

I will then add a path for the player to follow.  There will multiple routes the player will take an these will be created dynamically every go so there will be a lot of variation.  The aim is to have the player zooming in between the large craft picking off Tie Fighters, and supporting other X-Wings etc.

Anyway just so you get the idea, here is a video of the original arcade machine…

Will post again once the level editor is nearly done and I have something interesting to see 🙂

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11 Responses

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  1. TJT said, on August 24, 2010 at 7:11 am

    Great stuff. Just some notes on gameplay of original SW vector games from a fan and someone who holds the records on all 3 SW games on MAME(using hacked original yoke):

    -What made these games addictive was their fast paced and challenging gameplay…not flying around in predetermined path for long stretches. The meteorite storm at ESB was the most tedious stage perhaps(and also sometimes a bit “unfair”).

    -Very notable feature on SW and ESB was that on most stages(except tiefighters…and meteorites) you control the MOVEMENT of the SHIP and AIM of fire at the same time. In other words the crosshair moves your ship too.

    -And last but not least: What made the vector graphics unique on gameplay was the fact that one can see(and shoot) through objects: Especially used as an advantage on SW towers and trench sequences, your forest level obviously uses that too.

    Dying to try this out. Any need for a gameplay betatester? 🙂

  2. urbaninteractive said, on August 25, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Hi and welcome,

    For sure the meteorite storm stage was the weakest of all stages. It just wasn’t fun and the pace was completely different to all the other stages. Like you say the fast pace made it addictive.

    I’m pretty sure though in the first stage of the first game you had no real control of where your x wing is pointing, instead its on a predetermined path. If you could move it wasn’t much from the path, but just enough to get out of the way of plasma bolt. You were never able to have true free flight.

    My concern over having complete free flight is that it becomes more of a simulator rather than a game. I think using paths with some lateral movement means I will be in better control to make sure there is a real challenge and put the player in a position where they have to fight to survive, otherwise the player could spend a lot of time simply avoiding flights. Anyway things are not 100% cast in stone yet. I’m still proceeding with the path editor as it will be needed anyway for the movement of the other craft in the first stage. Adding free flight isn’t difficult (in fact its easier than the path option), so I can always add it as an option.

    Reference see through vectors, I agree and even though I have made a hidden line routines, you will still be able to see behind those objects. I’m just removing lines which make it difficult to tell the orientation of object. Again this will be an option the player can select.

    When it comes to beta testing time I will drop you line 🙂

  3. typondis said, on August 25, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Yes, nice to see you’re making progress. I like the idea of being able to select between free flight and pre-determined, although in free flight mode you could make it so that you’re chased if not engaging enemy forces, which would be mostly true in real combat.

  4. Jerky said, on August 26, 2010 at 12:07 am

    I like to think that the spirit of this game is, “What if this was the game that Atari created in 1984 instead of the raster version?” So I think that this should be path-driven and not be a simulator. I think that if this looks and sounds retro, you’ll have a hit here!

    But this should not just look like a hack of SW. We need some features to set ROTK apart from the others (kind of like Millipede or Stargate.
    Suggestions:
    – Select different ships to give a different cockpit appearance (even though the missions would be the same).
    – Penalties for shooting the good guys. You never saw the rebel ships in SW or ESB, so this would be a nice new feature of ROTJ. I wonder if you should stop the action and display the message like Gauntlet did (“Shots do not hurt other players…yet!) :). Again, I’m thinking of this being made in 1984.
    – Bonus/Challenging stages?

  5. urbaninteractive said, on August 26, 2010 at 5:47 am

    This is a good discussion 🙂 Im with you Jerky with regards to the spirit of the game i.e. “What if this was the game that Atari created in 1984 instead of the raster version?” , but thinking they beefed up the hardware a little bit.

    I’ve been thinking about the cockpits, and especially the gun turret on the MF. This might be a good solution to the path problem vs free flight. If you were in the gun turret of the MF you would not have control of your flight path.

    Reference good guys, only yesterday I was thinking I would like to introduce some to defend, or hit accidentally. I think it will add to the game.

    If any of you have any ideas for bonus stages / challenges then please just let me know.

  6. Xiaou2 said, on September 1, 2010 at 10:33 am

    The Original game is not on Rails.

    It appears to use special AI that checks which ships are in view, and nearby,
    and both steers and rolls as needed. When no ship is in view, it will seek one
    out. When a lot of ships & fire on screen, it seems the screen rolls at those
    times. (evasion tactic?, strategic 3d positioning?)

    Basically, the game has a true Intelligent Co-Pilot. Which means that every game
    will be completely different… which is one of the big draws to the game. The game
    feels like you are steering it, because the copilot is doing just about exactly what
    you would be doing.

    If you put the game on rails, it will make it easier for you to program levels… but
    reduce the overall experience dramatically. It does not matter if you make 5
    alternate routes… a rail game is a ‘dead’ (lifeless) game. The patterns will become
    easily clear… and things will feel like a gun game (T2) and not a flying game.

    Take any rail game, and compare it to the fun in the original SW… and you will
    know right away. The rail game feeling boring and generic. Each play feeling
    the exact same in most spots. You might find it ok the first 2 times.. but never
    want to play it again. Where as the original.. you always have that desire
    to fire up again, over and over.

    If you are crap at AI… then I guess I could understand.. but, you should at least
    try AI programming before you turn the game into a lifeless pile of crap. OR, have
    someone good at AI lend a hand for those parts.

    In addition, it would be nice to add the option of additional control. It could be
    very simple.. just like the originals “point to steer” system seen in the deathstar
    stages. You could have an additional button(s):

    1) Press & release button2, to tell the copilot to steer where your current cursor
    is pointed. (Like Diabllo or RTS game control)

    2) Hold button 3 to tell the copilot to accelerate. Double tap to slow down quickly.

    With this system, the AI will keep the action going strong.. but gives the player
    the added control they may desire or need at the time.

    There could be many combinations of control method to allow ship control.

    • urbaninteractive said, on September 1, 2010 at 1:04 pm

      Hi,

      Like I said, nothing is set in stone regarding the player control. I will try out several options to see how they work. If multiple options work well then I may give a choice to the player.

      I need to program the path routines and make the path editor anyway for the Rebel fleet (I have no plans to write individual AI for every craft in the Battle of Endor). Their movements will be scripted with maybe a few random variables to make it different every time.

  7. xiaou2 said, on September 1, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Not sure if you misread what I wrote or not…

    I never said anything about each Fighter having AI. The original game probably
    used scripted fighter paths as well… BUT, with possible variations based on your
    attacks, position, etc. Realistically, if you fire on a ship… if it continues to fly right at you, or into the path of your laser fire… its gona be pretty lame. (like shooting fish
    in a barrel)

    The AI I spoke of was used mainly for the automatic copilot.. which adjust the ships
    position based on where the enemies are, how they are attacking..etc. Basically, it reacts realistically to how a real pilot would, based on the enemies positions as well as the goal desired.

    Without a realtime intelligent co-pilot, the game will be lifeless as all the other
    sequels and remakes. The original is still superior to all the other for good reason.
    The programmers were not lazy & pushed the boundarys of what was possible… and
    they actually wanted to make an amazing game experience. That attitude seems to have been lost somewhere in time. Today, its about the look, and not the gameplay. Very sad indeed.

    • urbaninteractive said, on September 1, 2010 at 5:50 pm

      Hi, I wasn’t suggesting that you suggested I wrote AI for the other craft. I was just stating I wasn’t planning on doing that, and that paths were the way to go for that aspect of the game.

      All options are still on the table (paths, complete free flight, and autopilot). I will program them all and see which is best. By the way I hope you weren’t suggesting I was lazy by exploring the path route 😉

      • Xiaou2 said, on September 3, 2010 at 2:38 am

        Sorry if that seemed that way.. but really its just a response to the huge disappointment in the state of todays games.

        Employing an easier method does not necessarily equate to being lazy. In fact, many
        great games use shortcuts and approximation tricks. (in the past, many had to,
        because there wasnt enough processing power or memmory to do things 100%
        accurately)

        Its only when a person knows that a more difficult method would produce superior
        results… and chooses the easier method to save time / energy.. that one
        could be considered to be lazy.

        “I will program them all and see which is best”

        Thats what I like to hear 🙂 Only a truly passionate man would take that effort…
        and because of that, you are bound for great results.

        Btw – Congrats on the 2d engine work. That will surely help increasing the
        game speed in the speeder chases. Awesome potential. 🙂

  8. Xiaou2 said, on September 3, 2010 at 3:07 am

    I want to add comments about the Trillogy video:

    Space Battle section:

    boring & very slow flight path.
    No rolls or evasive actions, hard turns, upside down spins… very pathetic.
    no screen shake when hit (only a horrible flash effect)
    no fire from huge battle cruisers !!! You are attacking them,& they let you?! Fail.
    horrible enemy targetting system ruins the look of the game & isnt needed.
    enemies very poor in aggression. A snorefest. Few & far between. Only seem to come
    from the distance, never fly from close by on the sides nor from behind. Dont react to
    your fire. are not fireing a billion shots at you like the original.
    Cant shoot their fire? Their fire seems too fast to avoid, merely designed to much
    quarters… Not for good gameplay.

    Towers Section:
    very boring sinewave flight path. no aggressive moves. no control of ship like original
    game has in this stage.
    no gun turrets firing at you?!
    Again, poor aggression on the enemies. No enemies from the rear, none dive
    bombing from the top or the sides of you – nearly or ramming into you. Snorefest.

    Deathstar Stage

    no enemies in pursuit ?!
    no enemies to shoot while on path to center
    no flight path control.
    no escape to surface needed. Ugg

    Ending:
    sucked (like the rest of the game. surprised? Nope.)

    All in all, this version is an abomination…
    Which is why I never put a single quarter into it when it was at the arcades.


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