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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsNull Vector - a rogue-lite arcade game
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OpticalOverride (Alex)
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« on: March 17, 2017, 11:53:21 AM »

Welcome to the Null Vector devlog!

Null Vector is an arcade rogue-lite game drawn with 80's style vector graphics.

The game will be releasing in August 2017.

About the game
It's a challenging permadeath rogue-lite. Fly and fight through rooms of random, uniquely designed enemies. Pick up components that augment your ship and weapon to better your chances of survival. How far can you pilot your ship?

Alpha Demo v3.0 released! https://opticaloverride.itch.io/null-vector

The demo is in an early state for the Oculus Rift and monitor. While the game supports the keyboard, I highly (...highly) recommend using either an Xbox One or Xbox 360 controller as the game is a twin stick shooter. Please give it a try and let me know what you think Smiley


Update 5/10: I have taken the demo off (for now) as it does not reflect the game in its current state. I am spending all of my time finishing the complete version of the game and having to update the demo to parallel the rapid changes and improvements I'm making is nearly impossible. I will hopefully be uploading the final demo sometime before or soon after Null Vector comes out in August Smiley Thank you to everyone who tried the game!





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Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/OpticalOverride/


About the dev
My name is Alex and I'm a 25 year old programmer and independent game dev who's been making and playing games for years. If you want to know more about me, check out my post in the Introduce Yourself thread Smiley https://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=45.msg1323232#msg1323232
« Last Edit: June 10, 2017, 02:08:39 PM by OpticalOverride (Alex) » Logged

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Nordanvinden
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2017, 12:40:31 PM »

Looks interesting, especially since its VR. I get curious about how VR is utilized to make it a unique experience apart from more traditional games similar to this. But I read that you will update more about the game soon so Im looking forward to it Smiley
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OpticalOverride (Alex)
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« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2017, 02:12:02 PM »

Looks interesting, especially since its VR. I get curious about how VR is utilized to make it a unique experience apart from more traditional games similar to this. But I read that you will update more about the game soon so Im looking forward to it Smiley

Thanks, that's great to hear! Smiley VR in my game has a subtle effect, but having prototyped the monitor version I can say it's a distinct effect. Tracking the moving ship around the room with the Rift gives it a unique and immersive feel. I love monitor games, but there is nearly always some unique feel to VR applications in my opinion. In the VR version of the game you simply turn your head to see the randomly generated map and any explored contents in those rooms, rather than a button press like the monitor version. Plus the "story" (which will come to light in future posts) will make more sense in VR I believe.

Also, I just updated the first post in this dev log with an itch.io link (https://opticaloverride.itch.io/null-vector) if you or anyone has a Rift and would like to try out an early alpha demo of the game! Let me know what you think!
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Nordanvinden
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« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2017, 10:56:30 PM »

Looks interesting, especially since its VR. I get curious about how VR is utilized to make it a unique experience apart from more traditional games similar to this. But I read that you will update more about the game soon so Im looking forward to it Smiley

Thanks, that's great to hear! Smiley VR in my game has a subtle effect, but having prototyped the monitor version I can say it's a distinct effect. Tracking the moving ship around the room with the Rift gives it a unique and immersive feel. I love monitor games, but there is nearly always some unique feel to VR applications in my opinion. In the VR version of the game you simply turn your head to see the randomly generated map and any explored contents in those rooms, rather than a button press like the monitor version. Plus the "story" (which will come to light in future posts) will make more sense in VR I believe.

Also, I just updated the first post in this dev log with an itch.io link (https://opticaloverride.itch.io/null-vector) if you or anyone has a Rift and would like to try out an early alpha demo of the game! Let me know what you think!

That sounds nice. I see what you mean with adding VR and getting a more immersive experience. Its kind of being like a god looking down upon the battlefield. Im sad to say I dont have an oculus, but you dont have a monitor version as well? Smiley

Also Im curious to what game engine you are using, if I might ask? (:

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OpticalOverride (Alex)
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2017, 08:26:01 AM »

That sounds nice. I see what you mean with adding VR and getting a more immersive experience. Its kind of being like a god looking down upon the battlefield. Im sad to say I dont have an oculus, but you dont have a monitor version as well? Smiley

The next update to the demo will include support for monitor and keyboard/mouse, I'll let you know when it's uploaded Smiley

Also Im curious to what game engine you are using, if I might ask? (:

Sure, it's just Unity with a lot of cameras/post processing and some low level GL class to make the vector graphic look.
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Nordanvinden
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« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2017, 12:28:43 AM »

That sounds nice. I see what you mean with adding VR and getting a more immersive experience. Its kind of being like a god looking down upon the battlefield. Im sad to say I dont have an oculus, but you dont have a monitor version as well? Smiley

The next update to the demo will include support for monitor and keyboard/mouse, I'll let you know when it's uploaded Smiley

Great, looking forward to it Smiley

Also Im curious to what game engine you are using, if I might ask? (:

Sure, it's just Unity with a lot of cameras/post processing and some low level GL class to make the vector graphic look.

Okay, thanks. Always interesting to know what tech lies behind the game!

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MiNTO
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« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2017, 03:18:50 AM »

This looks and sounds pretty damn awesome.

Going to have to give the demo a try once I can get my hands on a rift.
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OpticalOverride (Alex)
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« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2017, 08:38:29 AM »

This looks and sounds pretty damn awesome.

Going to have to give the demo a try once I can get my hands on a rift.

Thanks! Glad to hear it. The next update to the demo will include monitor support as well so you may not have to wait for a Rift Smiley
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OpticalOverride (Alex)
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« Reply #8 on: March 22, 2017, 11:50:41 AM »

Demo 2.0 released! https://opticaloverride.itch.io/null-vector

Added monitor support and support for the Xbox 360 controller (demo now supports keyboard, Xbox One and Xbox 360 controllers).

NOTE: While the game works with the keyboard, I highly (...highly) recommend using either the Xbox One or 360 controller instead as the game is a twin stick shooter.
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Nordanvinden
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« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2017, 12:47:33 AM »

I just tried out the demo on a monitor. Nice game Smiley

Feedback:

- I like the graphics and dont think you need to do much more there. They are clean and coherent.

- I had some trouble getting used to the twinstick-shooting. (I was using a 360-controller). I think It might have been that the bullets were moving too slow and that it was hard to get a perception of where the enemies were, since they are floating above the ground. I got better at it in the end though.

- I found it a bit annoying that the bullets just got destroyed after a while, without hitting anything. It made it hard and sometimes annoying when I though it would hit an enemy.

- It also took me some time to understand that I had to shoot and then hold down right trigger to activate the current powerup (And I read the text in the beginning) . Is the floor turning pink to show how much energy you have? I though it was going to explode there on trigger release or something :p

- You got the sense that you were travelling in a maze, going from room to room. Nice!

Keep up the good work, it was a very cool game. And I can se how the oculus would have added to the immersion Smiley

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« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2017, 05:47:13 AM »

It's not everyday you see a game with such a unique visual style. Really nice! I'm not a huge fan of VR, but I'd like to try it out if I ever get my hands on a 360 controller. Smiley
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OpticalOverride (Alex)
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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2017, 09:51:59 AM »

I just tried out the demo on a monitor. Nice game Smiley

Feedback:

First off, thank you so much for trying the game! Second, I really appreciate your feedback and the honesty. You're only the second person of all the people who tried the demo to give serious, honest feedback and it is helping so much. I was going to respond to each piece of feedback you gave (as they're all great) but the truth is I'm beginning a large rebalance/redesign of gameplay mechanics based on all feedback I'm getting. I hear all of your feedback and am deeply considering it and I expect to make a ton of gameplay changes. It may take a couple weeks but I'll let you know when the new and (hopefully) vastly improved demo is online!

It's not everyday you see a game with such a unique visual style. Really nice! I'm not a huge fan of VR, but I'd like to try it out if I ever get my hands on a 360 controller. Smiley

Thanks for the kind words! It can be played on the monitor too, but I'd definitely recommend waiting to get a controller before playing. Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2017, 09:57:02 AM »

I wonder what this game smells like. Either way, I will go ahead and play it with friends. Maybe even you.
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OpticalOverride (Alex)
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« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2017, 04:02:24 PM »

I wonder what this game smells like. Either way, I will go ahead and play it with friends. Maybe even you.

I hope it smells good Who, Me?

Balance and an Updated Vector

NOTE: none of the following is currently in the demo on itch.io. I will be updating the download (and this dev log) very soon with the new mechanics/game play!

Thanks again to those that tried the game, the feedback has helped a lot. I've been doing some heavy re-balancing and rethinking on the mechanics based on feedback and it's playing so much better already. Here is a quick example of the next iteration of balance:



Overall, I'm making the game faster and more challenging.

Quick change log (not yet in the live demo):
1) Player ship by default (with no buffs) moves faster, bullet velocity is increased, and the bullets no longer have range (they wait until hitting something to destroy themselves).
2) Enemy HPs changed, enemy bullet velocities have been reconsidered and changed to fit the faster game play.
3) The often confusing "energy shot" buff mechanic that is currently in the demo is getting ripped out and rewritten. It's already working so much better and I'll dive into specifics in a future post.
4) working on several new game mechanics (some based on ship movement, others on map traversal) that significantly change the way the game is played. More details coming soon, I want to hear what you think about them!

So far my play tests with friends and family are much improved with the new balance! Can't wait to put these changes online.

What's Next

Next up is a dreaded, but needed, code clean up (...dang  No No NO). Let me know if you're interested in technical/code stuff and I'll update this log with it, otherwise I'll keep this log game play related Smiley

Then later this week, more (more...more...) balance and work on the new game mechanics until they're ready for me to put in the updated demo.
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Nordanvinden
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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2017, 11:09:34 PM »

Sounds like nice changes!

I like technical/code stuff, so if you have time, please include that in some posts Smiley
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« Reply #15 on: March 28, 2017, 02:51:45 AM »

I like the idea of neon light graphics. Did you try to increase the intensity of those lines? Perhaps it's just my monitor, but it seems like they should glow more.

Is it possible to rotate/move the camera with the controller? I feel like I would like to position camera to be more overhead (but not completely) while playing this game.
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OpticalOverride (Alex)
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« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2017, 09:17:45 AM »

Sounds like nice changes!

I like technical/code stuff, so if you have time, please include that in some posts Smiley

Thanks! Yea your feedback has been helping a lot, hopefully the next update will fix a lot of the general "game feel" issues and confusion. And I'll try and add a "Technical" section to my next update for demo v3.0 if anything interesting happens in the code/Unity.
 
I like the idea of neon light graphics. Did you try to increase the intensity of those lines? Perhaps it's just my monitor, but it seems like they should glow more.

I'd been considering making them "glow", but hadn't really played around with it before. Your comment inspired me to put some time into it and now the game looks like this. I think it looks much better, good call. Game looks much more "alive" then before. What do you think? Is this what you meant?



Is it possible to rotate/move the camera with the controller? I feel like I would like to position camera to be more overhead (but not completely) while playing this game.

The next update's camera has a steeper angle (more overhead) then in the 2.0 demo. It is not adjustable with the controller but I could consider adding it. The problem with making the camera's angle too steep is there is a depth perception issue when enemies leave the playing field to fly around above the player's ship... It seems to play well for me but I will consider adding this feature, thanks!
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OpticalOverride (Alex)
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« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2017, 04:11:57 PM »

Small Update about a Big Update

It's been about a little over a week since I've posted but I've been insanely busy tearing the game apart, re-writing code, re-building game mechanics....  Crazy

The next update to the demo is getting enormous... I don't know how it happened but after the feedback I just decided to rip it all apart, have a nice long think, and then slowly piece it back together. Here is the list of updates going in to the new demo (v3.0) coming out sometime in the next few weeks:

- re-balanced ship movement/aiming/shooting (code almost completely re-written)
- re-written enemy behaviors (all enemies are now using Unity Physics, more about this in the 'Technical' section below)
   - enemies are now affected by "knock-back" from being shot
- re-balanced/re-written enemy spawn system and procedural room creation
- added obstacles that now spawn in the rooms to vary the rooms a lot more (all enemies react to obstacles appropriately)
- steeper camera angle (thanks bigosaur!), much easier to see now especially with the faster game play
New Game Mechanics
- new Warp Crystals: picking up 3 Warp Crystals unlocks the warp to the next Sector
- HP pickups that replenish ship hit points, occasionally spawn on room completion
- Ship Components (previously named just "buffs") now immediately affect your bullets (confusing/annoying usage of energy no longer necessary)
- energy is now used for the new Hyper Speed mechanic (pulling the trigger makes your ship enter Hyper Speed, slowing time around you for a little while allowing you to dodge and fire much faster)



I'll be giving more updates as the demo gets closer, and then a final update on release. Stay tuned!  Beer!

Some Techical Mumbo-jumbo
This section is for other code nerds like me. If you hate code, avert your eyes. Epileptic

Re-writing the Enemy Code
When originally writing the enemy code, my only thought was speed; write as many unique enemies as fast as I could to see what works and what doesn't. With that being said, all enemies were written without a base Enemy class. That means every enemy was unique, with lots of copy and paste code; a bit like using chewing gum to hold your car's engine from dropping out onto the street while driving... a bit messy and ill-advised. Also, if the enemy needed to move, I moved it's transform. If I needed the enemy to glide around the room, I did the math "by hand", so-to-speak, and moved their X and Z coordinates all the while checking to make sure it never left the current room's boundaries. It was a pain in the ass.

The other day I finally got the courage and created a base Enemy class complete with virtual functions like "MoveTo", "SetMoveDirection", "Damage", "Kill", among others. On the game-play side of things, I no longer touch the transform component of the enemies and instead completely rely on the Unity Physics engine for movement using calls to rigibody.MovePosition(). This allows smooth reactions to physical objects in the room as well as "knock-back" from player bullets.

The downside I've found is that Unity's physics are mean... You have to work very hard to please the physics gods Beg In other words, it's a pain in the ass now for a whole new set of reasons. To combat this, I've written a series of "sanity checks" that ensure the enemies stay within the confines of the playing field for the player to shoot and don't get stuck on things or end up outside the map, for example. Here's a snippet from the sanity check function in the Enemy base class:
Code:
float m_leftGroundLevelStartTime = -1;
// returns true if sanity checks passed, false if failed
protected virtual bool SanityChecks()
{
    // off ground (un-killable)
    if( m_rigidbody.position.y > 1.1f )
    {
        if( m_leftGroundLevelStartTime < 0 )
            m_leftGroundLevelStartTime = Time.time;

        // off the ground for > 10 seconds, failed.
        if( Time.time > m_leftGroundLevelStartTime + 10.0f )
            return false;
    }

This sanity check tracks how long a given enemy has been off the playing field and if it's being an idiot, it fails. Failing the above sanity check results in an instant death for the enemy.  Cheesy

That's it for now, let me know if this technical section was at all interesting and I'll keep doing it. Or, let me know if there's other stuff you'd like me to bring up in my next post (design, art, sound). I'll be back soon with another update -Alex  Gentleman
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OpticalOverride (Alex)
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« Reply #18 on: April 21, 2017, 01:39:22 PM »

Major Changes! New Demo v3.0 is Live!

Get it here: https://opticaloverride.itch.io/null-vector

I've spent the last 3 weeks taking a new approach to the game, re-building huge sections of it in the process.

What's new?
- new movement/aiming/shooting balance (and code)
- new mechanics (like Hyper Speed and Warp Crystals)
- new "ship components" (5 ship components, all re-balanced for the v3.0 demo)
- new enemies (7 enemies total, also re-balanced)
- new visuals
- a lot more...





I know I'm biased but I really feel the new demo is headed in a much better direction. Thank you again for all the feedback, I think the game has come a long way already because of it. Please keep it coming! I greatly appreciate it.

- Alex  Gentleman
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OpticalOverride (Alex)
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« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2017, 10:29:14 AM »

I have been writing code for so long I've forgotten how to talk to humans. The remainder of this post will be written in C#.

Code:
Reason[] reasons = { "tired", "busy" };
for( int i = 0; i < daysWorkedSinceLastPost; i++ )
    Debug.Log( "I'm too " + reasons[Random.Range(0,reasons.Length)] + " to write a dev log post today, I'll do it tomorrow." );

Just kidding. Big Laff

Weapon Chemistry
Every ship component now affects (and consequently is effected by) every other ship component. This means combinations like

- [Rocket] + [Ricochet] + [Homing Shot]
- [Laser] + [Homing Shot] + [Multi-Shot]
- [Multi-Shot II] + [Laser] + [Rocket] (Hand Point Left very fun)

Here's a GIF for an example ([Ricochet] + [Laser] + [Multi-Shot]):



Here's a quick list of the other changes and improvements since the last post:

Change log
- Warp Crytal game mechanic removed, Sector Portal always open
- Sector Portal room is now marked on the map and spawns 3 waves of enemies when entered
- Added a new resource (Crystals)
- Added the "Exchange" machine, produces random exchange deals to the player (2 HP for 4 Crystals, 1 Energy for 1 Ship Component...) that can be re-rolled for a cost.
- "Slow time" Energy based ability removed for now... still playing with the Energy based special abilities (insta-kill all enemies in the current room? reverse the direction of all enemy bullets currently in the room and make them player controlled?) Let me know if you have any ideas for a special ability that costs Energy to use!

That's all for now, I'll be back soon with another update.

- Alex Gentleman

« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 11:31:36 AM by OpticalOverride (Alex) » Logged

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