Monthly Archives: May 2019

Jetboard Joust Devlog #102 – It’s the Little Things…

So… following on from my last post about bugs, here’s everything that was on that Trello TODO list that’s more of an ‘improvement’ than a bug (though of course, fixing bugs is always an improvement)!

1. Different Damage Types
I’ve added different damage types – physical, fire, plasma and jetboard and given enemies the ability to be resistant (or vulnerable) to certain type of attack. Some weapons deal out a combination of damage attacks. I’ve also added armour upgrades that increase the player’s resistance to these various damage types.

2. Object Pooling
I’ve added object pooling as described here to the flamethrower and antimatter gun, both of which were spitting out a ton of new objects per frame which was causing some slowdown if a bunch of enemies appeared armed with the same weapon type.

3. Destructible Buildings / Enemy Bones
I’ve massively improved the animations for destructible buildings and also added rubble which interacts (to an extent) with the player. Buildings now take damage from explosive weapons as well as the jetboard attack, adding to the immersive destruction. Enemy bones and rubble now spin in the air when disturbed with great force – this can look pretty cool under certain scenarios, totally pointless in terms of gameplay but cool!

I’ve also been through and designed skulls for every enemy and added shrapnel as well as bones as that seemed more appropriate for seom enemies.

4. Improved Explosions
I’ve added a bunch more visual ‘snap and crackle’ to the explosions. Spent way to long on this for something that only last a few frames and ended up going down a complete rabbit-hole writing a custom shader based on Voroni patterns (to give the ‘crackle’ effect) which still doesn’t work quite the way I wanted but I think will get the job done. I spent time doing some frame-by-frame analysis of a bunch of pixelart explosions I liked – one thing that surprised me is that the initial ‘whiteout’ flash in many explosions is often preceded by a ‘blackout’ frame. Of course I had to add one!

5. Improved Camera
One of my many arch-nemesises (or should that arch-nemesi?) throughout this project has been the bloody camera. Been back and re-worked it yet again, radically simplifying the code and ending up with a result that’s much better for it. Still little work to do but I think it’s finally almost there. Whereas before I was positioning the camera based on speed/time moving in one direction and enemy position I now rely solely on enemy position and only use speed/time moving in one direction if there aren’t any enemies nearby. I also take difficulty into account when calculating the ‘weighting’ of enemies.

6. Improved Jetboard Attack Visuals
I felt this needed more ‘punch’. It was one of the first things I designed and, as a result, was looking somewhat lacklustre compared to the rest of the visuals. I’ve added particle trails to the jetboard, a subtle shader effect that approximates the attack area, camera shake and a camera jolt. I think the result has miles more ‘oomph’ than it did before.

Oh yeah, I also made the jetboard attack quench fire if the player is alight and safely detonate any ‘stuck’ explosives (cluster bombs or limpet mines).

7. Improved Bomber Enemy
I didn’t like the way these guys pretty much ignored the player as they were attacked, just soaking up bullets until they exploded. I’ve made them get much more aggro when they take damage now which gives them a load more personality.

8. Improved Mother Enemy
This enemy was a bit too much of a ‘bullet sponge’ as well. I revisited the art for this one as I felt it looked a little flat, then I reworked the enemies it gives birth to, making them much more aggressive so it feels more akin to the ‘swarmer’ enemy in Defender that inspired it. I also changed the ‘bullets’ it fires, replacing them with little ‘space invader’ type characters that have far more personality and are far less annoying (though no less difficult).

9. Improved Squocket Enemy
As mentioned in the last post, the AI for this enemy was buggy so I rewrote it. The bullets it fired were also pretty lame and quite annoying so I’ve replaced them with these little ‘baby squocket’ dudes which (can you see a theme here?) have far more personality and are harder but somehow less annoying and more ‘fair’ at the same time! The screen capture software I use went a bit glitchy when capturing the video for these so apologies for that!

10. Improved Baiter Enemy
More of the above here! The enemy itself I was happy with but it’s bullets were really annoying so I’ve replaced them with another little mini invader.

11. Re-routed Treasure Chambers
I had placed these deliberately sporadically throughout the game world so that it would take tons of plays through to get to all of them but in retrospect I think that would have been too annoying. Consequently I’ve reworked things so that you should be able to get all the key treasure from any particular world in three ‘passes’ (or less using teleports). This has meant there’s not much treasure at the outer reaches of the game ‘pyramid’ so I might have to add a few bonus treasure chambers in those outlying reasons to give players a reason to go there other than sheer completionism.

There’s been loads of other minor improvements too but those have been the major ones. Next step I think I need to finalise the main game palettes and then start thinking about a ‘final’ (?) demo movie! The end is almost in sight people…

Dev Time: 7 days (ish)
Total Dev Time: approx 282 days


Unlocking Plasma Armour

Destroying Buildings And Playing Amongst The Rubble

Explosions With More Snap & Crackle

Bombers Are No Longer Bullet Sponges

Gratuitous Showing Off of the New Jetboard Visuals

The Improved ‘Mother’ Enemy, (Defender Swarmer)

The Improved ‘Squocket’ Enemy and It’s Offspring

Re-routing the Treasure Chambers

Jetboard Joust Devlog #101 – Bug Days

Yup, it’s been a while (again). I’ve really had my head down trawling through a list of bugs and small(ish) improvements that I’ve been noting down in Trello over the past few weeks. Desperately trying to keep the motivation up. Have also had a bit of contract work on (which is welcome given the current state of the BitBull coffers) which isn’t over yet either.

So I’m just gonna bore you with a long list of these bugs as this shit is all part of the joy of gamedev. The improvements, which I’ll cover in the next post, are rather more interesting. As well as these there’s been a ton of other minor fixes and a lot of just going through and checking stuff over.

1. Max Out Weapon Damage
Weapons that dealt out damage for more than one frame were often inflicting more damage than they should if they came into contact with an enemy over the course of several frames. This was particularly apparent on bosses which often have a large vulnerable area and multiple ‘proxy’ parts that do damage to the main character. I now keep a ‘damage record’ for these weapons over the course of their lifespan to ensure they don’t exceed the maximum damage to any particular enemy.

2. Fake Frame Rate Judder
Sometime it could appear that the frame rate was juddering if multiple enemies were destroyed in quick succession. This is because I deliberately drop a frame with each explosion to add to the jolt effect. I’ve now implemented something so that this ‘drop frame’ can’t happen too much in quick succession.

3. Palette Fixes
There were multiple issues with things being drawn in the correct palette – particularly with weapons that should be drawn in the same palette as the enemy that fired them. These issues were exacerbated by the fact that I’ve now added three possible palettes for different enemy types. Been through and fixed all these.

4. Bones and Rubble Not Wrapping
Enemy bones and the rubble from destroyed buildings weren’t wrapping with the rest of the world in relation to the player. This had me scratching my head a bit at first – there are a ton of these sprites so I don’t want to check them for wrapping every frame. In the end I figured I could get away with just checking one per frame (the wrapping doesn’t have to be accurate as it always happens way outside the player’s view). This works fine and has zero performance impact!

5. Check Level Up Rate and Damage Scaling for All Enemies
Some of these were wrong so I’ve been through the laborious process of checking all the scaling parameters =for every enemy.

6. Splitting Crawlers
Under some scenarios the ‘crawler’ enemies were doing weird shit, splitting in two and stuff. I think I’ve fixed this (it was to do with the algorithm that positioned them sometime positioning them out of the player’s ‘wrap zone’) but it was such a hard bug to replicate I can’t be sure so I’ve also added some code to ‘paint over’ the bug should it happen again (I hope)!

7. Levels Completing Too Early
This could happen with enemies that split into multiple offspring when destroyed. Had to write something toi account for this in teh code that checks for level completion.

8. Parallax Scrolling Glitches
Keen observers may have noticed this on some of the GIFs – elements of the parallax scrolling kept moving when they shouldn’t and, on very rare occasions, could completely glitch out. This was a real pain in the arse to fix for something that should really be pretty simple – in the end I re-wrote pretty much all the parallax scrolling code from scratch.

9. RPG Anim Playing Constantly Post-Mutation
RPG weapon would glitch out if the enemy that was armed with it mutated. This was another one that was a real pain in the arse to fix (hard to replicate). In the end I figured out it was to do with object pooling.

10. Flamethrower Not Working On Egg Sacks
Easy fix

11. Jetsuit Pickup Not Wrapping
…and doing other weird shit like disappearing. I’d implemented this in a rather hacky way for some reason so went back and wrote it as a ‘proper’ pickup.

12. Invaders Getting Stuck
Blocks of invader enemies could get wedged between a high building and the top of the screen and end up not moving. Fairly straightforward fix.

13. Title Screen Glitch
Title screen could get weirdly offset if the player exited the game whilst in a treasure chamber(!). Fixed this along with a few other game over / exit issues.

14. Treasure Chamber Escape
Player’s could jump out of a treasure chamber using the jetboard attack and end up falling endlessly through the void beneath! Fixed.

15. Buggy Bombers / Gravity Hammer
Bomber enemies were glitching out sometimes when struck by the gravity hammer. Fixed this and have also gone through and checked a bunch of other enemies against the gravity hammer (which has probably ended up being the most PITA of all the weapons).

16. Player Jump Anim Constantly Playing
This could happen sometimes after a jetboard attack. Was surprisingly difficult to fix, largely because I haven’t touched that part of the code for something like three years now!

17. Teleports Skipping Levels
Fixed various bugs to do with the selection of levels when teleporting.

18. Teleports Blocking Chamber Entrances
Sometimes teleports and warp gates could appear over the treasure chamber entrance making it impossible to enter the chamber. Easy fix.

19. Disappearing HUD
Sometimes the HUD wouldn’t appear correctly on the upgrades screen meaning the user had no idea how much cash they had to spend. Fixed.

20. Enemies Appearing ‘Inside’ Buildings
Problems with some of the algorithms that position enemies as they teleport in. Fixed.

21. Scanner Rendering Of Destroyed Buildings
The scanner rendering of destroyed buildings was glitching out if the building was destroyed after it had wrapped relative to the player. Fixed, with some difficulty. At least this one was easy to replicate!

22. Explosive Raycasting Issues
There were some issues relating to the removal/blocking of enemies in the raycasting checks that are carried out for explosive weapons. Fixed these and also tweaked the raycasting code for much better damage distribution, plus made all explosive items inherit from the same class and got rid of a load of dodgy ‘cut and paste’ code.

23. Squockets Getting Stuck On Buildings
Sometimes the ‘Squocket’ enemies could get wedged somewhere and just keep banging their heads against a brick wall. I wasn’t entirely happy with the tracking code for this enemy anyway so re-wrote the bulk of it.

24. Limpet Mines and Collision Proxies
Limpet mines were sticking to collision proxies that weren’t transferring damage in their current state, rendering them pointless. Does that mean anything to you? Probably not, but it was an easy fix.

Dev Time: 7 days (very approximately)
Total Dev Time: approx 275 days


The Joy of a TODO List That’s Now DONE

Bug Day!