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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsHelicopter Smashy Game [Flash Prototype]
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Author Topic: Helicopter Smashy Game [Flash Prototype]  (Read 4540 times)
Sam
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« on: February 22, 2009, 04:24:51 PM »

Helicopter With a Magnet XTREME
A physics-based arcade game.



You have a helicopter, and you have a spiky wrecking ball a huge electro-magnet.  Have fun!

You can test the tutorial here.
Latest version is 0.40 - This number should be shown on the main menu just below the title.
If you're seeing an older version, try disabling any ad-blockers you may run - I think they interfere with the dark magic of the Mochi updater.

Currently available:
A placeholder level 1.  Not a real level, but an area to test stuff out.

Left and right arrow keys to tilt, up and down to adjust thrust.
Space to toggle your giant electro-magnet on and off.
R to restart current level.
Q to quit back to the main menu.

If anything (including your dangling magnet) hits the main rotor blades of your helicopter, you'll crash.  The rest of your helicopter is completely invulnerable.

Use your magnet to pick things up.  Throw and smash them about for points!

Objectives not implemented yet, but it'll involve throwing and smashing things.


--Change Log--

3 minutes after original post:
-Fixed objects sometimes appearing/vanishing whilst on screen.
-Something breaks if you fly very far to the right.  Working on it!

Half an hour later:
-Fixed the crash for going out of bounds (although the helicopter will still freeze if you keep flying past the end of land.)

-Fixed a leak which was causing progressively worse performance the longer you flew back and forth (trucks were leaving their wheels behind.)

Two hours later:
-Added a training mode - Press B to toggle.

1st March:
Found myself busy with non-game things much of this week.  Have done some work on this, but mostly stuff you sadly can't see!

-Added little puffs of dust when things hit the ground.  Will change the smoke-when-you-die effect to be similar to this soon.

-Added ability to have self-moving objects other than the helicopter.  None in this version, but I've experimented with little stompy creatures which are working well - but I'm too ashamed of their art at the moment.

-Added a popup message/tooltip/tutorial/something system which I'm rather proud of.  A textbox appears with a nice simple animation, and has an arrow that will point to an object in the world, tracking it if it moves.  Haven't made the thing to decide when to show the popups yet, so again not actually visible in this version.

-Whole lot of fiddling with the dynamic loading stuff.  Should be smoother when loading the next chunk and overall performance slightly increased.  I was able to generate a 4 million pixel length world and it has the same performance as the 40,000 pixel world in the example SWF above (but does take a long time to generate.)  Utterly pointless in this game of course, but I'm sure I can use it again in something more suited to huge worlds.

-Changed flips so that they just reset the timer on your multiplier, without actually increasing it.

-Testing on the chain-falling-apart bug: It can still happen, but only if you get your wrecking ball caught on something whilst moving very fast.  I've changed a parameter in how constraints are calculated by Box2D, so it's now less likely to happen.

-Seeing objects fall to the ground as they first appear on the screen is due to extremely lazy map generation and will be fixed soon enough.

-Added a cliff at the far right of the map to stop you flying off into nothingness.  You will crash into it.  Watch out!

17th March
-Title/menu screen added.

-Tutorial added.

-Drew some monstrous fruit.  You can see an apple at the end of the tutorial.

-Palette system added - it picks from a selection of palettes each time you start a new level, each palette is just three colours which are used to colour everything.  Some are delicious, a couple are hideous.  To force it to change palettes start the tutorial and straight away use Q to go back to the menu.

-Pauses if the game loses focus, or if you press P.

-Wrapped it with the Mochi preloader/version control thing.

21st March
-Replaced the wrecking ball with a magnet.  Need a new name.

-Changed tutorial to match the new mechanic, also made the messages much shorter and to the point.

-Added funky screen shake when large collisions happen.

21st March again
-Added in a placeholder level.  'Select Level', '01', then 'Play' to get to it.  There's no fruit to smash or any objectives implemented - it's just a big area for you to fly around and throw cars in.

23rd March
-Made the dynamic loading of stuff into simulation more awesome.  Now spreads the load over a number of frames, which removes a brief hitch that used to occur when moving between sections.  Downside is that if you make a pile of cars, fly far away then fly back, it may not be exactly as you left it.

-Implemented new way of adding objects to the game world, which is much more friendly to adding objects during play.  This will make generating debris possible.

25th March
-Chopped out the tutorial and integrated it into the first level.  Offers contextual information to explain stuff as you play.  The game now also pauses whilst the message is displayed to make it easier to read.

26th March
-Spent ages trying to work out what's up with framerate, slightly simplified a few shapes to help speed it up.  There's also now a pretty graph showing how long each frame took to process: further from the top of the screen the line goes, the more time it took.

-Tidied up the contextual tutorial system - you can now skip messages.

-Added progress bar showing target score and current score.

27th March
-Added clock showing a time limit to complete the current level.  Time limits vary between levels.

-You can now complete the level!  Get the target score before the (very generous) time limit expires, and you get to see level 2.. which is very similar to level 1 for now, except a different colour.  Complete level 2, and it'll probably break.

-When you crash, you are now able to have your helicopter reset back into the air and carry on playing without having to restart the level.  Probably need to add in some penalty for death - uses up some of your time, maybe.

Short term to-do list:
-Look for more places that would benefit from a tutorial message (suggestions very welcome.)
-Simple message at start of level stating objective.  Description of objective is already given in tutorials, but those are only shown the first time you encounter that objective type.

Longer term to-do list:
-Level generating algorithms for cave and town type levels (currently it just produces "hilly" type.
-Maybe stick a fancy lighting engine in for the cave-based levels.
-Many more "props" to sprinkle around the world.  Some magnetic, some not.  All ready for smashing!
-Some system for allocating props in a sensible way.  Especially if I have a very wide selection - doesn't make much sense to have petrol tankers in a cave.  Then again, having a helicopter in a cave doesn't make too much sense.
-Implement other objective modes.  Destroy a few specific targets, kamikaze mode, and think of some more.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2009, 09:29:19 AM by Salt » Logged
Maisnon!
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2009, 04:43:56 PM »

I broke my chain and now it's a long stream of black particles, the wrecking ball still attached Tongue

Some more stuff:

I kept smashing myself at first Smiley but I'm getting better at it... maybe include some kind of quick restart button? Tongue

The movement feels pretty realistic by the way Smiley I like it.

Reminds me of the game with the flying airships with mace's and axes and stuff attached.. Hammerfall I think?
« Last Edit: February 22, 2009, 04:46:58 PM by Maisnon! » Logged

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Sam
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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2009, 05:13:29 PM »

Thanks for trying it!

I'm not sure what was/is causing the chain to break apart.  Normally in box2D that happens if excessive force is put on the joints, but that shouldn't be happening in this.  I've just fixed a bug that was making performance (much) worse the longer you play for, so possibly the extra low framerate was putting extra pressure on the chain?  I've not been able to break my chain since that fix anyway.

Pressing R should restart it, hopefully!

Hammerfall!  I was considering trying out a mouse-based control scheme like Hammerfall's for this, but thought it might end up being too similar. I also quite like having a focus on trying to keep your helicopter under control despite the couple of tons swinging around under it, which I think would be lessened if you were just pointing where you want to go.
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thewreck
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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2009, 05:17:19 PM »

hah! great stuff! managed to wreak my own chopper with the ball.

the controls were abit hard though, might need some getting used to for me, but i like the fact that it feels like you can become pro at it. Looking good!
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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2009, 05:21:43 PM »

Maybe a 'beginner' mode for the controls? Please? I love the mechanics, and all of it really, but I am HORRIBLE at the controls. I love the controls, they are really nice! It's just, I am not good at them, aha.

Also, Kamikaze attacks are AWESOME. I love spinning, smashing, and seeing how many points I rack up!
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Sam
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« Reply #5 on: February 22, 2009, 05:45:21 PM »

Maybe a 'beginner' mode for the controls? Please? I love the mechanics, and all of it really, but I am HORRIBLE at the controls. I love the controls, they are really nice! It's just, I am not good at them, aha.

Also, Kamikaze attacks are AWESOME. I love spinning, smashing, and seeing how many points I rack up!

Done!  New version linked on the first post.  Press B to toggle - it starts in 'normal' mode.  The training mode makes you tilt slightly slower but most importantly greatly increases your helicopter's air resistance which makes it much less liable to get pushed around.  Of course, you can't go as fast and cause as much carnage in training mode.

I like the idea of kamikaze attacks!  Bonus points for hitting things whilst you're on fire? Evil
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Inanimate
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« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2009, 07:21:05 PM »

Oh, please! It is SO FUN! I view it as an alternate play style, since my suckage is now converted to points!
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Farbs
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« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2009, 11:04:26 PM »

I like it. I think the big challenge now is coming up with satisfying higher level goals for the player (smash x stuff in y seconds etc). Add an absurd story and I'm sold.

Oh, and I think it's possible to perform flips indefinitely, thereby building up an insane multiplier. I think you might find a balance issue there.
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Sam
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2009, 04:56:28 PM »

Hello!

I've updated the link in the first post to point at a version with a tutorial implemented.  I'd love to hear any feedback you might have.

The tutorial may end slightly abruptly as soon as you smack the fruit - it should be waiting a couple of seconds before ending.  I also plan to add a "level complete" screen after the tutorial, maybe summarising the key lessons (what the controls are, that you should hit fruit, and that you need to not let your rotor hit things.)
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I_smell
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« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2009, 11:02:01 AM »

I played up to the part in the demo where you get cars, then I kept dieing.

It's really hard to hit the cars because they're allways on the floor. I think a funner game would be to have a giant magnet on the end on the chain, where you press space to turn it on or off. Then you could pick up cars and freely swing them about and throw them at things, or enemies. Of course you could still smash things with it aswell.

I first thought the helicopter should be controlled with the mouse, but then it'd be too easy to not crash.

I think the destruction aspect could be better. Y'know, make the cars burst into flames with a particle effect, make the tyres fly off, put some camera shake in there.

The whole ball-on-a-chain thing is great by the way. I've bin makin Flash games for ages and I can never get my head around IK chains. I wish I was making this game.
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Sam
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« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2009, 06:26:23 AM »

Thank you, so so much!

I've felt like there's been something fundamentally wrong with this game for ages, and just couldn't put my finger on it.  That led to me making agonisingly slow progress and being very easily distracted by other projects.

You're entirely right!  You're flying an insane helicopter around, but all important interaction is concentrated on the these little things sitting on the ground that you have to carefully nudge around.

You've inspired me, so in the last couple of hours I've turned the wrecking ball into a magnet.  The link up at the top should start pointing to the new version (complete with new tutorial) very soon.  Also, CAMERA SHAKE!  Jiggles up and down whenever a very large force results from a collision - tossing a truck around should be enough.

It is just so much more fun already.  Grab a handful of cars on your magnet and send them spinning into the air!

The initial difficulty of flying-without-dying may still be too great, and I'm not sure what to do about it.  I want there to be that sense of progress of being able to fly brilliantly after some practice so don't want to just make the helicopter handle like it's flying through treacle.  But I also don't want people to give up before they gain the skill to fly it.

I almost want to have a movie playing on the start screen showing someone flying well, gracefully flicking trucks around to inspire new players.  When did games stop having that thing of showing you the game being played if you left it at the start menu for too long?  To do it, I'd need to implement some kind of demo playback.  If I were really fancy that could be extended to let players record their own demos to show off.  But then there'd need to be some central store of the demos, and I know I'm not up to making that.  I'll try finishing the actual game first.

Anyway, yes.  Magnet!  Hurray!  Thank you again.
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Jared C
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« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2009, 09:57:55 AM »

Hey; wait a minute!

That's no wrecking ball.  Tongue

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I_smell
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« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2009, 11:08:09 AM »

Brilliant  Beer!

The camera shake made smashing things alot funner. I love how you used a classic horse-shoe magnet, I never thought of that. I also didnt expect to pick up three cars at once, so that was funny. I teased the truck down the road and made it crash into the other cars without picking it up. I didn't expect you to script the cars to zoom towards the magnet. Also I did a flip and I love that it noticed.

I think you should have a video of someone playing it at the title screen- like in the background, behid the text, allways playing with the word [Demonstration] at the bottom. It's not that only old games showed demonstrations, it's usually arcade games, and they still do it. Because arcade games have to entice people to come up and play them. I just got Street Fighter 4 and that does it. I say use some video capture software and do that.

As far as controls, I think text is your worst enemy. I hate reading controls. I don't the kind of audience that likes to fling cars about and the kind of audience that likes reading text really intersects. This'll sound mad, but what I'd do is I'd just have no text atall. Just show like a sihlouette of the arrow keys. I mean you've got nothing onscreen but a helicopter and arrow keys- What else are you gonna do? After a few seconds, you drop a car in and show a silhouette of the space bar. I think the helicopter, the magnet and the car are all so readable and recognisable that people will be able to figure it out. It's faster than text, it takes less effort, it works in all languages etc.
That's kind of a risk though, so I'd understand if you don't do that.
EDIT- Actually, I just got up to the fruit guy and I spose that wouldn't work there.

Finally, PLEASE give us just a room with cars in it. It's so annoying me when I crash in the tutorial and have to sit through it waiting for the cars to come back.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2009, 11:13:43 AM by I_smell » Logged
Sam
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« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2009, 01:09:40 PM »

Hey; wait a minute!

That's no wrecking ball.  Tongue
I don't know what you mean, this game has always been about magnets!  Only Goldstein would make a game about wrecking balls. (That is a rather laboured reference to how much I seem to be editing the first post.)

Finally, PLEASE give us just a room with cars in it.

I've hacked in a placeholder level.  Select level 1 from the main menu, and voilá!  It's huge and barren, but has plenty of cars to practice on.  They spawn in messily so you might occasionally get screen shake from stuff appearing off screen.  Real levels will be much neater, and will also have something to do on them.  But this should at least make it possible to play around without tutorial text flooding you.

It may take a few minutes and/or some "forced" refreshing of the page hosting it to get the new version.
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