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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsSilent Earth - a mysterious missile defense game
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Author Topic: Silent Earth - a mysterious missile defense game  (Read 6297 times)
samloeschen
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« on: June 27, 2016, 12:06:11 PM »




Silent Earth is a vertical missile defense game where you defend a city from waves of enemies with weapons that you can modify for wildly varying effects and playstyles. It's largely a game about simulations, and how we perceive reality through them.



Hey all - I'm Sam, the programmer and artist for our two man studio, Remote Games. We're currently finishing Silent Earth, our first game together. Silent Earth is a mobile missile defense game that we will be releasing in winter 2016/2017.








Development Status

Currently, we're somewhere in the last half of development. The game is super playable and stable, and runs great on most modern phones. We've got all of the weapons designed (two of them currently in progress) and we are principally working on the game's bosses, story, and audio. As a developer, I'm highly focused on polish, so I'll likely be tidying up animations and general feel throughout as we wrap up development. We're hoping to release in early fall on at least iOS and Android, likely accompanied by an Itch and Steam PC/Mac release as well.

We are building the game in Unity with C#. 90% of the art is procedurally generated, and the game will also feature a randomly generated soundtrack.



About Us

Remote Games is currently Sam Loeschen (me) of Richmond, VA, and Thomas Hoey of Bristol, UK. The company was pretty much born when I realized I needed custom audio for Silent Earth. I found Thomas through a post on r/gameaudio, and after awhile we realized we worked really well together. We have a website, which I update from time to time (most recently a blog post about how Silent Earth's dithering shader works).

I'll probably be updating this pretty often as Silent Earth's features are really starting to pull together. Thanks for reading Smiley







« Last Edit: November 01, 2016, 09:48:05 AM by samloeschen » Logged

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Mark Mayers
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2016, 12:24:57 PM »

Those are some pretty cool looking gifs Cave Story

Good luck with development! Looking forward to reading more about the game.
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« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2016, 01:12:00 PM »

Look fantastic, as does everything you guy's put out. Smiley
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samloeschen
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« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2016, 02:22:30 PM »

Aw shucks, thanks guys. I'm gonna do an update with the new missile type probably tomorrow morning
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« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2016, 03:57:46 AM »

Love the glitches!

I'd love to buy a procedurally generated soundtrack? Tongue
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samloeschen
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« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2016, 04:32:58 PM »

Hey everyone! I have some fairly substantial updates today to show you all. Today, I focused mainly on two new weapons - a horizontal-spread missile, and a force-effector missile.

Here's the physics-push in action:


The basic idea here is a quick and impulsive attack that rather than targeting enemies directly, pushes chained explosions into enemies that wouldn't otherwise hit them. Ideally it will be a more efficient tool than the standard attack because it's a) instantaneous, b) recharges quickly, and c) makes massive chains, which bolster your progress bar (more on that later). I haven't even explored all of the potential ways to use it - I want it to have a lot of interplay with the other weapons and I think it's going to fit that position nicely. Currently there's no slick aiming animation for it, something I'll probably add tomorrow. I'm also probably going to make explosions from destroyed enemies inherit the velocity of the explosion that destroyed them, too.


Next up is the horizontal spread:



It's essentially a big, slow attack that you can use to either save yourself if overwhelmed, or combine with the physics push to make a shotgun:





If anyone has a tip or two on making that thin horizontal line more juicy, I'd love to hear it! Not quite capturing the feeling I'd like with it currently. (more katana slash pls)

I'm feel pretty good about the two missiles so far, although I'm starting to think that the physics push is going to be the hardest to balance. I'm not yet sure if it should be a special missile with difficult execution but a big payoff, or if it should be more of a tool that players routinely use to shape the detonation cloud to play most efficiently.

I'm also at the point now where I have to decide whether to keep collectible ammo in the game. Previous builds of the game used an ammo crate that would descend from the sky like an enemy, and shooting it rewarded the player with two "clips" of ammunition. This was a really easy way to balance the missile types we used to have, but at some point I ended up making the standard missile have infinite ammo with a cool-down/recharge instead, and people responded really well.

In my opinion, ammo drops are really just a cool-down mechanic, the only difference is that the cool-down is execution based. That in mind, why not treat all the weapons like "skills" in an RPG instead of weapons that take ammunition? I think the only main sacrifice there is that I can't use ammunition as a reward (large ammunition dump after defeating a boss, for example). With the exception of survival shooters like Resident Evil or TLoE, I don't think I've ever had a moment in any fast-paced shooter where I've had fun being out of ammo or hunting for ammunition for my weapon.

Either way, if you guys have got any salient points on the new weapons or shooter/action design in general, I'd love to hear them!
« Last Edit: June 28, 2016, 04:49:14 PM by samloeschen » Logged

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JamesRossi
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« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2016, 05:38:07 PM »

For the horizontal bomb explosion line, perhaps have it so an initial blast occurs in the middle, then have the successive bombs ripple outward over the course of a moment or two, so in both directions bombs explode in quick succession. Connecting those explosions could be something like a jet contrail that forms and then dissipates quickly. I'm essentially imagining something like 2 jets shooting out horizontally at a fast speed, from the initial blast, as they then drop and detonate bombs behind them.
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samloeschen
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« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2016, 06:20:49 PM »

@JamesRossi that's really not a bad idea actually! I'd really like to get an effect similar to this line attack from Katana ZERO:

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« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2016, 06:47:18 PM »

Yeah, that slash looks super good. It'd be great to draw from for that effect.
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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2016, 11:45:30 AM »



Have you thought about doing arbitrary shapes for the explosions rather than just circles?
Could look really interesting visually and diversify the weapons, but also provide some gameplay value.

Ex. that horizontal attack would be a dynamic polygon rather than a set of circles.
Maybe similar to horizontal lightning or something?

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samloeschen
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« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2016, 10:56:18 AM »

Quote
Have you thought about doing arbitrary shapes for the explosions rather than just circles?

Mark, I actually hadn't! Generating random polygons would actually be really simple. I might give it a try. I think my initial love of circles is that mechanically, they are very predictable. The circle explosions do tend to look really nice in a chain at the moment, so it would probably have to be more round shapes.
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samloeschen
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« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2016, 11:39:37 AM »

Hey all, sorry for being quiet on here the last two weeks. Been very busy keeping up with contract work, and had to go through several iterations of the newest weapon before I felt comfortable putting it out for feedback.

Today I present the (mostly) finished force-push!



As you can see, I'm still very much polishing up some things like preventing explosions from descending into the UI, and further tuning/polishing of the physics, but the results are spectacular!

The idea behind it is simple. There's an "autopilot" that shoots missiles for you (but not with perfect accuracy), and you tap/click to connect the explosions to enemies and build chains. Originally, the weapon couldn't do any direct damage - it was only used to push explosions around that you had created with the other weapons. I realized pretty early on that the decision path of fire -> switch weapons -> force push -> switch back was absolutely not the path of least resistance players would take. It's simply far too much work for the modest reward of having a nicer chain and conserving ammunition, even if it is really fun to use. You can still do combos with other weapons, but the force push needed to stand independently on its own as a damage-dealing weapon.


To make the targeting system more apparent, I added a tracker/lock on reticle that tells you the next missile the autopilot will target. Here it is in action:



To control the radius and strength of the push, you can hold instead of tapping. Here's an example of some big pushes:



There's also an overheat bar at the bottom. While the limit is generous, it's basically there to keep players from abusing the physics and adds more risk/reward to doing extremely big pushes, which can overheat up to 70%.

I'm strongly considering making the force-push the first weapon that new players have access to when starting the game for the first time. There are two reasons for this - One, it teaches the timing and chaining mechanics of the game without the player having to learn them completely on their own, and two, it's immensely fun to use which will make it a good initial hook for new players.

I'm pretty happy with the results right now, and it plays amazingly on a phone. I still need to tweak the physics quite a bit and balance it with the other weapons a bit more. Also, if anyone has recommendations for improving it's god-awful icon, I'd love to hear them Smiley

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samloeschen
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« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2016, 03:08:14 PM »

Just wanted to post a quick update of some things I've been working on over the past two days. First up, I created a shockwave - distortion effect for the force push weapon. Really pleased with the results! I basically just edited Unity's default glass shader to work with an orthographic camera, so I'll attach it at the end of this post for anyone to use.

Here it is in action:

Next up, I started putting together a new boss for the game. I've decided that having 3D low-poly bosses instead of sprites would look amazing, so I pulled open Blender for the first time in what feels like forever and made this clamshell-laser guy:



The model might seem a bit too aggressively low-poly, but this is intentional. I'll be writing a lit version of the dithering shader used on the mountains and sky that will go on the boss, so I want to keep topological details as minimal as possible so that the dithering won't look too noisy.

That's it for today. I'll probably post another update once I have the boss animated and moving around. Thanks for reading!


Oh - before I forget. Here's that shader if anyone wants to use it. Just give it a normal map for whatever you want the distortion to look like and it should work!

Code:
Shader "Sam Loeschen/ShockwaveDistort" {
Properties{
_MainTex("MainTex", 2D) = "white" {}
_BumpAmt("Distortion", range(0,128)) = 10
_BumpMap("Normalmap", 2D) = "bump" {}
}

Category{

Tags { "Queue" = "Transparent" "RenderType" = "Opaque"}
Lighting Off Cull Off ZTest Always ZWrite Off Fog { Mode Off }

SubShader {

GrabPass {
Name "BASE"
}

Pass {
Name "BASE"

CGPROGRAM
#pragma vertex vert
#pragma fragment frag
#pragma multi_compile_fog
#include "UnityCG.cginc"

struct appdata_t {
float4 vertex : POSITION;
float2 texcoord: TEXCOORD0;
};

struct v2f {
float4 vertex : SV_POSITION;
float4 uvgrab : TEXCOORD0;
float2 uvbump : TEXCOORD1;
float2 uvmain : TEXCOORD2;
};

float _BumpAmt;
float4 _BumpMap_ST;
float4 _MainTex_ST;

v2f vert(appdata_t v)
{
v2f o;
o.vertex = mul(UNITY_MATRIX_MVP, v.vertex);
#if UNITY_UV_STARTS_AT_TOP
float scale = -1.0;
#else
float scale = 1.0;
#endif
o.uvgrab.xy = (float2(o.vertex.x, o.vertex.y*scale) + o.vertex.w) * 0.5;
o.uvgrab.zw = o.vertex.zw;
o.uvbump = TRANSFORM_TEX(v.texcoord, _BumpMap);
o.uvmain = TRANSFORM_TEX(v.texcoord, _MainTex);
return o;
}

sampler2D _GrabTexture;
float4 _GrabTexture_TexelSize;
sampler2D _BumpMap;

half4 frag(v2f i) : SV_Target
{
// calculate perturbed coordinates
half2 bump = UnpackNormal(tex2D(_BumpMap, i.uvbump)).rg;
float offset = bump.xy * _BumpAmt * _GrabTexture_TexelSize.xy;
i.uvgrab.xy = offset * 1.0f + i.uvgrab.xy;
half4 col = tex2Dproj(_GrabTexture, UNITY_PROJ_COORD(i.uvgrab));
return col;
}

ENDCG
}
}
}
}
« Last Edit: July 19, 2016, 03:17:39 PM by samloeschen » Logged

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JWest
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« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2016, 01:25:46 AM »

This looks incredible!  I'm posting so I can get notified for any updates in the future, looking forward to seeeing the results!
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« Reply #14 on: July 21, 2016, 06:32:03 AM »

That physics pushing of explosions looks really cool, adds a lot of depth to the gameplay!
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samloeschen
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« Reply #15 on: July 21, 2016, 08:12:23 AM »

Mark, thanks dude! it works really well. I think it will be a good second weapon for players to unlock.


JWest, thank you as well! We're going to shoot a live action trailer for the game soon, and I'll probably do a series of posts on that.
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samloeschen
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« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2016, 08:09:51 AM »

I made a lit version of the dithering shader for the boss!


This was actually really simple to set up. It's still using the same dithering algorithm in an unlit fragment shader, but I added a light vector to simulate really simple half-lambert lighting. The math is pretty simple:

Code:
float light = dot(FragmentWorldNormal, LightDir) * 0.5f + 0.5f;

Seriously, that's all there is to simple lambert lighting! Multiplying and adding 0.5f makes it "half lambert", like the character shader in TF2. The light value is then multiplied into the dithering pattern algorithm I already have in place for the other objects.

You might notice that the back faces inside the boss's shell get the same lighting as the corresponding front face - this is just an unfortunate side effect of having ultra simple (ultra fast) lighting like this. No shadows or luminosity or emission of any kind. This is fine for me, since so far the only things that will have "lighting" are the bosses - I have no plans to dynamically light anything else. Being that they'll be moving around a lot and the dithering actually adds a lot of implied detail at a distance, I don't think it will be noticeable. It might actually look better than a surface shader!

I'll post again when I have the boss up and running Smiley

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« Reply #17 on: July 24, 2016, 08:49:14 AM »

I love the art direction! The shading drew me into the concept, and now I'm curious to see the game evolve further. I'd love to hear the audio, since I bet some tunes could go really well with this retro theme.

Posting to follow, continued luck! Toast Right

P.S.: If you're still looking at giving the Horizontal Spread more oomph, have you considered making the line thicker, then disappear much more quickly? It seems that's the main difference between your effect and the one in Katana ZERO. Otherwise, I'd also try a screen shake effect. Since you're already jiggling the screen during gameplay, a larger shake wouldn't be too bothersome and could really give that line some impact.
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« Reply #18 on: July 24, 2016, 12:56:43 PM »

TheWanderingBen: Glad you like how it's looking so far. Audio is a huge part of this game, and we'll definitely be talking much more about it very soon. Right now we're working on a very analog-synth heavy soundtrack with some procedurally generated parts. We also plan on releasing a remix EP alongside the game!

 I'm going to try your recommendation for the horizontal spread, seems like it might work nicely.
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« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2016, 12:59:16 PM »


Almost forgot - I put together an entrance animation for the boss:



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