Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Metal Glove Solid in a Wesnoth Stylee

You may not recognise the game you see to your left, but it's Metal Glove with Wesnoth graphics.

Does it count as a mashup? Probably not, but at least the game is now releasable. I just need to tweak it a bit, since the size of graphics isn't reflected in the code, but apart from that, it looks even better than it did before.

Except the generators, which look like birthday cakes. Oh, and unfortunately, the Wesnoth artists only drew the sprites facing in one direction. Still, beggars can't be choosers. GPL-FTW!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Metal Glove Solid: Got the Graphics?

In an earlier comment to a posting where I was lamenting my lack of skill at drawing graphics for Metal Glove, Charlie (of Freegamer fame) suggested I give the Free Art Search tool a go, so I did.

And it's pretty good. After only a few minutes I came across the solution to my problems: Battle for Wesnoth (one of the best FOSS games out there) has excellent graphics, and they have been released under GPL! So, IANAL but I think that means that I can use them as long as I give full credit, and release my software under GPL, which I do anyway.

So my next task is to replace all the graphics for those from Wesnoth. I originally used the graphics from a game called Wyvern, but the license is unknown, and I received no reply from the author.

Once this is done, I can finally release it!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Metal Glove Solid: Front End

Now that the game is in a pretty playable state, it was time to concentrate on all the front end. I've given it a fancy title screen shown on the right (obviously not drawn by me) and a couple of menus - one asking if you would like to start a new game (hinting that a "save game" option may be in the pipeline) and one to determine what character you want to be.

Having different characters has increased the variety of the game. I've now given the player's sprite various stats, like movement speed, shot interval time, shot power etc.. These will all also need tweaking. The main advantage of the wizard in the original game was that he was far better at using the single (IIRC) spell and would kill everything. In my version, there are going to be different kinds of spells, but I'm still trying to think of a way ther player can access them easily whilst still shooting at all the enemies. Maybe just pressing a number from 1-10 to pre-select a spell, and then pressing another button to cast it will be good enough. I've also got to think of some types of spells, but I'll wait till I go to the toilet to do that since that's where I have all my best ideas. I should take a laptop next time just in case.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Add Searching to your Web Pages

[I did post this a few days ago, but noticed some minor teething problems and improvements that could be made with the program, so I deleted that post.]

As well as writing a Gauntlet remake, I've also managed to find time to write a webcrawler and search engine, which on the face of it is quite simple; it's just all the minor details that take the time. But hey, that's programming for you.

To add searching of your site to your site, simply add the following line to the HTML:

<script src="http://www.mysitesearcher.co.uk/mysitesearcher.js" type="text/javascript"></script>

You will probably be asking "What's the advantages over something like Google?". Good question, and I can think of 4 off the top of my head:
  1. Your site will be fully re-indexed at least every 6 hours. In fact, you can see exactly when your site was last indexed, plus how many words and URLs were read.
  2. This web crawler will also follow Javascript links.
  3. You can index just sub-directories. For example, if you place your searchbox at http://www.somedomain.com/mypages/mypage.html, only pages contained in http://www.somedomain.com/mypages (and its subdirectories) will be indexed, so you can search just your stuff.
  4. And, it's not Google, so you can have a clear conscience, safe in the knowledge that the Google-borg haven't absorbed you too.
So there it is. If you use it, let me know what you think. As you can see, I've added it to this site already.

More details are here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Metal Glove Solid: Taking it to the Next Level

I thought it was about time I gave the game a bit of variety, and nothing shows variety than different coloured background images. Level 2 is now like a whole new game - to the people who put graphics above gameplay.

Actually though, I do intend for the levels to be different. The first level is a simple dungeon requiring keys to get through it. This second level is far more open-plan, meaning that enemies also have much more access to the players death-button.

I was reading a thread on FreeGameDev about another potential Gauntlet remake, and one comment caught my eye - "The game was quite fast paced. As long it is a bit fast and manic, we'll be on the right track." It's factors like that that make the difference between a good game and a great game, and it's a phase I call "gameplay tweaking", since that's what it is. I've still yet to do that with this game, but it can make all the difference between this being a plodding, tedious game and a fast-and-furious arcade monster.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Metal Glove Solid: A Policy of Constant Improvement

It's time to party like it's 1987! Where to start with the list of new features?
  1. Back-ground graphics: The player is no longer walking on a void. And there doesn't seem to be any slowdown.
  2. More enemies: Flayers to be exact (that's what the image file was called that I ripped them from). I might just call them zombies though.
  3. Score - it keeps it, it starts at zero, and it goes up.
  4. Different images depending on which direction a sprite is walking in - You'll have to take my word for this until I do some kind of video of the gameplay. But it is there, honest.
  5. A GPL licence. Again, since I can't release it yet, you'll have to take my word for it, but I give you my cub-scouts honour that I svn-added that into my repository. And this time I didn't forget to commit.
  6. A working exit. Unfortunately due to there being no second map, this does cause the game to crash.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Metal Glove Solid: The Key, The Secret

You would hardly recognise the game! There are now graphics for the ghost generators and the exit, and new graphics for the walls, and new gameplay features, namely keys and locked doors.

It's almost looking like a finished game, but there is still plenty of the donkey work to do, such as designing more maps and adding more gameplay elements, such as more types of enemies.

Metal Glove Solid: More Graphics

Flying in the face of possibly copyright lawsuits, I've added more ripped graphics to the game. In this case, it's the walls, but there is a flaw:

Since Wyvern (where I've got the graphics from) is obviously a better game that mine, it has different images for a wall depending on whether it's a corner section or a straight (amongst others), there is no actual image for a straight top-down wall. And since my game doesn't calculate what kind of section a wall, I'm going to have to think of something else.

Oh, and the other problem is that my "mapsquares" are bigger than those in Wyvern, meaning I'll need to stretch them as well. Why is ripping off other people's graphics never easy? I might as well have drawn them myself.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Metal Glove Solid: Looking better

Yes, your eyes do deceive you - there are in fact no original graphics in this screenshot. I'm no artist, and as many others find, getting graphics for a game takes longer than actually writing the thing. I've used the graphics from the excellent Wyvern game, which comes with sprites that are perfect for my Gauntlet clone.

Here you can see the warrior wondering what that ghostly noise is coming from the other side of the wall. The red square is an exit, which can only mean one thing - that there is another level, though in the interests of keeping the surprise, I won't reveal it yet.

I do have a conundrum with the graphics though: I'm guessing that it wouldn't be right for me to release it with them, as they are not mine. There is no kind of licence information included with Wyvern, so I think my only solution is to email the author and ask him politely.

Top Mud Sites? Bugger that

I run a mud based on GTA. I say "run", what I mean is I wrote it about 2 years ago and it's been sat running ever since and I've not even looked at it. It gets quite a few players though; back when I was promoting it, I registered it at a few of the Mud listing sites, one being "Top Mud Sites".

I'm now in the process of changing the URL. Since my DynDNS has stopped working, I'm moving over to No-IP. So I've just tried logging into the Top Mud Sites website to change the details. Oh, my login details don't work. Why not? Well, this is the FAQ section with the solution.

WTF? Bear in mind that, surprisingly, I'm not "familiar with the new TMS database", whatever that is. I've already got one full-time job and frankly I can't be bothered to go through that rigmarole, so the details are going to stay wrong.

(Contrast this with The MUD Connector, which took me about 2 minutes to update the details).

Guest Post: The Price of Games

This is a guest post by my other personality since I forgot to take my pills today.

The price of games - it's way too low! What? I'm not talking about the current crop of games, which compared to the prices of (good) games of yesteryear seem to be a bargain considering the amount of content you get with them.

No, I'm talking about old computer games from the 80's, and specifically old Spectrum games. I've got a fair few boxes of the things that I've bought from Ebay (obv) and I was hoping that the price of them might have increased slightly in order to make me very rich. Unfortunately, that's not the case. Even a bona-fide classic like Escape from Krakatoa (a game I can't believe hasn't been remade yet - I'm adding it to my list) is available for a paltry £1.50 from the Preservation Team Shop. As it is, it looks like it will only be my great-great-grandchildren who stand to benefit. Bloody scroungers!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Metal Glove Solid: Now with a map

No, your eyes do not deceive you, you really can see some bona-fide collision-detectable walls in the screenshot on the right. They are the two blue vertical lines.

But the fun doesn't stop there. You may have also noticed the small yellow square in mid-flight downwards towards the white square "ghosts". Yes indeed, that would be a bullet - I have also implemented shooting. I'm still debating whether to allow the player to fix the direction of shooting in a Llamatron kind of way, but I'll do that as part of the gameplay tweaking later when I determine the speed of all the movement.

Whenever writing games that involve some kind of "map" (i.e. most of them), there's always the perpetual problem of how to design it. I always like to get something up and running as quickly as possible, so instead of writing a custom mapping program, or implementing a way to "design-as-you-play", I simply use a spreadsheet program (OpenOffice of course). This is a picture of the map data for the dungeon shown in the screenshot:-

As you can see, by using colours it makes it far easier to see the layout of the map, and when saving it as a CSV file, all the colour is stripped from the file leaving a nice flat file of data for the import code to read. Designing the map couldn't be easier once all the different sections have been placed at least once; it's just a case of copying/pasting about, and then re-saving as a CSV.

Another bonus is that any hackers can edit the CSV files and make up their own maps very easily. My other games Laser Tactics and DangerMan (among others) use this method, though as of yet nobody has told me that they've been bothered.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Metal Glove Solid: Spooky!

Development is steamrolling along now, crushing all that dare to question my lack of motivation which typically aflicts my projects like a sudden freeze spell.

My Gauntlet remake now has monster generators (dark grey) and ghosts (white). The screenshot below shows a game in progress, as a terrified purple warrior (fnar) runs around in circles awaiting a programmer to implement a "shoot" feature so that he can destroy the ghosts that are hurtling towards him.

Next on my ever-expanding todo list is to make up some proper maps. I've been thinking about the kinds of maps I'll have, in order to make things interesting; probably an open area (forest?), and long trek (like Level 2 on the original game) and a maze. Other suggestions on an epostcard please.