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 Post subject: Turn based strategy game
PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:08 pm 
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Hi folks

This is my first post

I've started on a turn based strategy game. I figure its possible to do a 3 units vs 3 units given the limted amount of sprites available. So no epic battles but seems like 6 units shooting and bashing eachother should be enough to be challenging.

I've built most of the game engine, but it's still a far cry from being finished. I figure it would be nice to get some feedback half way through :)

It has some interesting things like
- shortest path algorithm
- line of sight algorithm
- expandable in game menu (which only pauses the game at this point)

It is still lacking an AI so the player controls both sides

start menu includes instructions

https://github.com/paulmaaskant/guardia ... r/game.nes

let me know what you think!


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 1:25 pm 
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This looks really cool. I like the 3/4 perspective, and I think the setup has a lot of potential. I like that the mechs overheat after firing too much. :)


Some small suggestions:

Have you considered making the d-pad axis "diagonal" with respect to the screen? i.e. up goes along the grid up-right, and left goes up-left? I think that might feel a lot more natural than the staggering horizontal motion and corner-hopping vertical motion it currently has. It would also make selecting the facing direction easier, i.e. just press the direction you want, rather than the trying to stop the rotation in the direction you want.

The text appearing 1 character per frame is really slow when there's a whole screen of text. I think it would be appreciated if holding a button would accelerate it to e.g. a line of text per frame instead.

I'm not sure if you can see it in NTSC, which will normally have the bottom 8 lines of the screen hidden, but the vertical scroll seam is visible there. Since you're using single-screen mirroring with the HUD overlay, you could actually hide the seam up there instead if you wanted to.

The bullet effects currently have way too many sprites in a line at once, I think. It totally cuts out the picture of the mech on that scanline, at least when firing horizontally. Could probably get by with only 1 or 2 bullet sprites that move quickly?


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:25 pm 
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Thanks for taking a look rainwarrior.

And thanks for the suggestions!


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:45 pm 
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Great first post! :beer:

The game looks like it could be really fun, and i'm a big fan of isometric gaming. :)

This is a minor thing/maybe not even a thing that probably only came to my mind because i've spent a lot of time with making nes music lately, but i was thinking... what if the cursor movement speed (and it's subsequent sfx) was an integer with an even division-relationship with the tempo? Would that result in a (slightly) more "harmonious" cutting of bgm notes than when cutting them at off-beat intervals? It's not even a nitpick (it is fine as it is), just something is started thinking about.

The green phosphor rain in the background might be a bit distractive when it goes on all the time. Maybe it could be limited to some circumstance?

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 3:03 pm 
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One more thing: you might want to turn off sprite rendering until the HUD split? The HUD doesn't seem to use sprites at all, and if a mech goes up there it will overlap it. Conversely, a mech sprite at the bottom of the sprite cuts off way early: it would be nice if you could see the partial sprite all the way to the bottom of the screen (and maybe important to know they're there for tactical decisions).

I really like that the buildings correctly overlap the sprites, by the way. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 12:58 am 
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You could disable the left 8px to hide the horizontal scroll seam. I'd also like to have diagonal scrolling (with both up/down and left/right pressed).


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 7:39 am 
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Thanks, calima & FrankenGraphics. That's some good stuff. I appreciate your help!

@ rainwarrior, I thought I'd start with your suggestion to turn of sprite rendering until the split. However I then realized that I rely on sprite 0 to trigger the split. So I'm guessing your suggestion only works if I trigger the split another way. Right?


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:31 am 
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This is amazing, great work so far!

iamerror wrote:
I figure its possible to do a 3 units vs 3 units given the limted amount of sprites available. So no epic battles but seems like 6 units shooting and bashing eachother should be enough to be challenging.


If you really wanted more than 3v3, you could probably draw the non-active mechs as part of the background. It would take a huge change in the engine, and would require a bunch of complicated background tiles to make it work, so I'm not remotely suggesting you should do it, but just wanted to throw it out there :)


rainwarrior wrote:
Have you considered making the d-pad axis "diagonal" with respect to the screen? i.e. up goes along the grid up-right, and left goes up-left?


This would be the feedback I'd leave as well. That and the sound for selecting an action sounded more like a "cancel" sound than a "select" sound to my ears, which confused me a few times.

That said, again, I'm really impressed. Good work.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:20 am 
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iamerror wrote:
@ rainwarrior, I thought I'd start with your suggestion to turn of sprite rendering until the split. However I then realized that I rely on sprite 0 to trigger the split. So I'm guessing your suggestion only works if I trigger the split another way. Right?

Ah, yes you can't have a sprite 0 hit if it's disabled. There are other ways to do it, though. (You could hide the sprites above the line "manually" and do something about the 8 rows where they might overlap the edge, or use an IRQ for timing, or cycle counting, etc.)


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:04 pm 
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Thanks gauauu, appreciate your input! That's a very interesting idea!

I've implemented two suggestions so far

d-pad controls for the cursor are now aligned with the grid coordinates. Since I have grown accustomed to the staggered navigation I have to admit it does not immediately feel more intuitive. It might, after a while. Interested in what you guys think.

With respect to the direction facing: one of the obstacles I've created for myself is that the grid is hexagonal, so I need to support 6 directions. The d-pad is great for 4 or 8 directions. That's why I stuck with the clock - counter clock controls up till now. But I will take rainwarrior's suggestion and see how it works.

Second, I've built in a speed mode for the text screens. Pressing A again and it will speed up from one tile per frame to one line per frame.

Thanks!


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 11:57 pm 
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rainwarrior wrote:
One more thing: you might want to turn off sprite rendering until the HUD split? The HUD doesn't seem to use sprites at all, and if a mech goes up there it will overlap it. Conversely, a mech sprite at the bottom of the sprite cuts off way early: it would be nice if you could see the partial sprite all the way to the bottom of the screen (and maybe important to know they're there for tactical decisions).

I really like that the buildings correctly overlap the sprites, by the way. :)

I haven't tried the demo yet, but from what you said it sounds like there's a status bar on the top and a playfield on the bottom. Apparently it's NES standard to leave sprites above the status bar in those cases. However it's also standard to have sprites hidden behind it when the status bar is on the bottom.

The only game I remember seeing with sprites hidden below a status bar at the top is Castlevania - Bloodlines, but it's not a NES game. I found this to look super-weird.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 4:12 am 
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iamerror wrote:
With respect to the direction facing: one of the obstacles I've created for myself is that the grid is hexagonal, so I need to support 6 directions. The d-pad is great for 4 or 8 directions. That's why I stuck with the clock - counter clock controls up till now. But I will take rainwarrior's suggestion and see how it works.

Ah! You know, I actually didn't read it as hex. I can see now that you've put 3-corner markings to kind of indicate this, but I think just the straight diagonal lines of the map itself suggested to me that it was just a 3/4 perspective square grid. Visually these two systems would put their cells in the same place, but of course hex has 6 connections instead of 4, and now I understand why it's a control design problem with the d-pad.

The controls I suggested strongly de-emphasize that vertical connection. I can see why that's not desirable.

I suppose an analog control might be ideal, but since that's not available maybe another alternative: give the user a cursor that they directly move in screen space (starting from centre of the cell to move from?), and the current selected tile is just whatever is currently under the cursor. That would probably also work for facing too.

I'm trying to think of any games I know of with a d-pad + hex grid, but can't think of many. (Mouse control comes much more readily to mind for hex games.) Nobunaga's ambition did it like your first version, staggering when moving left to right. There's Godzilla, where left and right are do-nothing leaving only 6 directions; I don't really like how that feels, personally, but it's at least another option. There's another called Conflict where you select a unit with the "cursor" idea, but then moving the unit becomes a rotary control + chosing to advance.


As far as visually understanding the hex grid nature, I see that you list the cell distance in the corner, which is useful now that I'm looking for it. Maybe some way of highlighting the current path directly on the playfield could help too? Hard to think of things that would work well on the NES, but for example you could have a coloured hex-shaped sprite that animates along the current path? If you drew that sprite last (i.e. under everything else) and only one tile per frame it would be like a flicker-transparency. Could even change the colour of the sprite where the path breaks from walk to run, but of course having enough palette space is always a problem on the NES.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 4:39 am 
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Bregalad wrote:
I haven't tried the demo yet, but from what you said it sounds like there's a status bar on the top and a playfield on the bottom. Apparently it's NES standard to leave sprites above the status bar in those cases. However it's also standard to have sprites hidden behind it when the status bar is on the bottom.

Yes, it's quite common on the NES to just not solve the problem.

However, in this particular case we have 4-way scrolling. Sprites-over-the-HUD cases are easy to minimize in a horizontally oriented game (and often desirable), but when you can vertical scroll I think it's a lot different. Actually, the only NES game I can think of right now with vertical scrolling and a top HUD is Battletoads, but it doesn't even try to hide sprites up there.

It's very easy to find examples in the 16-bit era though that do have 4-way scrolling and hide those sprites (e.g. Super Metroid, Contra Hard Corps, Gunstar Heroes, Shinobi III, could probably find tons more...)


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:14 am 
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game has a top status bar and briefly scrolls diagonally.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:51 am 
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On second thought, the distraction i experience with the background rain is maybe not due to its constant duration, but rather the intensiveness of the animation and how it has a 1x1 tile report. A looser intensity may also help masking the map clashing on a psychovisual level, at least a bit.

I noticed you have BMO doing a cameo in the sprite sheet :D

On the sprites per scanline discussion:
Not all units need to be 2 tiles wide, necessarily. A simpler tank, plane, hovercopter or reconnaissance unit could perhaps fit in one tile (if a unit is flying, another tile to mark the spot with a shadow would help). It could perhaps be a nice contrast to the size of the mechs, although the buildings are already doing that. It's a challenge to come up with a good looking 1 tile wide unit, but it is doable, if you ever want to.

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