Fly Around and Zap Aliens Beta

I recently released a game on the Google Play store called Fly Around and Zap Aliens. It is currently in an open beta, so you are welcome to try it out, although I plan change some things in future. You can download it here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.kenningtongames.spacegame.

History

This game actually started back in high school. I had previously made a simple space game in Flash where you and another player orbit a planet, trying to knock each other out of orbit. When I was learning Unity, I thought I would try making a 3D version of the same game. However, I quickly ran into some serious design issues:

  • There’s a lot more space in three dimensions. Traveling from one side of the planet to the other felt like it took way too long, and it was hard to tell how fast you were going until you crashed into something, unable to slow down fast enough.
  • Your field of view is limited, since you are following a spaceship instead of getting a full view of the arena. This made the pull of gravity really confusing. Since there is no up or down in space, the pull of the planet onto the ship just made uncomfortable controls.
  • Multiplayer would be trickier than simply sharing a keyboard with a friend.
  • Boundaries are unclear. In 2D, it was simply the edge of the screen. In 3D, I needed a way to box players in and still have them experience the openness of space.

So I made an entirely new game with a similar-looking stage. There is still a planet in the center, and you still control a spaceship, but now you are defending the planet from aliens. You zap them instead of knocking them backward. There is no real gravity from the planet, but you still fly around it. I originally had a force-field for boundaries, but my force-field effect looked awful. The game was pretty much playable, though. I never could settle on a name. I then took a two-year break from game development and forgot all about it. More recently, I was looking through my old projects and re-discovered it. I had learned a lot since made it (it’s been about five years now), so I decided to start fixing it up.

The Game Now

I chose to port it to mobile because of the availability of tilt controls. Really, a platform like the Nintendo Switch would be more ideal, since it has a little more graphics power than a mobile phone while stile having the same tilt control, but Android is an easier platform to begin publishing for. The Asset Store has come a long way since I started this project, so I was able to make things look a lot nicer, but the game works in pretty much the same way. I did, however, change the boundaries, using a portal instead of a force-field. If you fly too far away from the planet, a portal appears, taking you to the opposite side of the planet, flying toward it instead of away from it. I released it recently to the Play Store, but it still has a few problems. For example, it is possible to dodge the portal and keep flying away. Most people I show the game are initially confused by the controls. It doesn’t take long to get used to them, though. Also, the end screen is kind of boring. I hope to fix these things and more. Still unable to choose a name, I chose the most concise way I could explain it.

The Plan

Between now and the full release, I plan to add the following:

  • Appearance tweaks (Already swapped out the spaceship models; just need to publish that change).
  • Fix the problem of dodging the portal and venturing into the void of space.
  • Add a leader board
  • Have the aliens come in waves instead of a steadily increasing rate.
  • A tutorial
  • Optimizations and device support (If you try the beta, and it does not work on your phone, let me know!)
  • An iOS port

These updates will come gradually as I make them, leading up to the official release. Please try it out and let me know what you think!

Nebula Gladiator VR

A roommate of mine just got an HTC Vive virtual reality system, and that gave me an idea. One of the struggles with making Nebula Gladiator has been making smooth sword combat. In virtual reality, however, you get full control with how you swing a sword. So I began work on Nebula Gladiator VR. The game is simple: fight hordes of robots by slicing them with your sword. After a couple days of setting up my computer for VR development and playing with the SteamVR library for Unity, I used existing artwork from another project, Nebula Gladiator, to set up a simple arena scene.

The scene spawns a new robot every few seconds around the perimeter. The robots approach the arena, and thanks to BzKovSoft’s Object Slicer, you can split these robots in half with your sword. At this point, the robots are still harmless, so the next step is to introduce threats, but so far, it is very satisfying to swing a sword around and watch robot gore fly around you. The video doesn’t do the experience justice. Already, in this early stage of development, I and my friend testers find ourselves wanting to swing that sword around until we are exhausted.

Yet to come will be robot attacks that lower your health, a high score board, and increasing difficulty with time. Please leave a comment with any feedback. I’d love you hear your thoughts on the project and the demo.

PyGame Detective Game

Last semester, I took a class learning PyGame. Despite the outdated-looking website, it is actually fairly well maintained. It may not have all the bells and whistles that I am used to in other game engines, PyGame can be a good tool for making smaller 2D games. With the help of PyTMX, I was able to make a quick side-scrolling detective game.

In the game, you are thrown into this village where someone is supposedly plotting a murder. People walk around throughout the day, going house to house and interacting with the neighbors. Your goal is to get the information you need at the end of the day in order to stop the murder from happened. The roles and behaviors of the townspeople are randomized at the start of the game. However, if you fail to stop the murder, you can reset it to the start of the day, where people will act exactly as they did on the last try except where your different decisions might have influenced them. The game was mostly a proof of concept to see if I could make a game all about logical deduction.

detective

Abandoned Projects

I’ve been looking through some projects from years ago that I never finished or published. I’ve been experiencing some writer’s block, so I’ve been thinking about revisiting some of these. Below is a list of some of my less awful projects. If any of these sound good, I’m willing to revisit them to either finish or scrap for parts. Please tell me what you think.

Crazy Lander: Abduction

This was a sequel to the very first game I published back in seventh grade. You go back and forth between a mothership and a farm, dodging toxic clouds and angry farmers as you try to steal cows. Different clouds have different negative effects on your ship. After each run, you earn money for upgrades. It is mostly functional, but lacking decent artwork. I made it in Flash, which is sort of dying, so if I fixed it up, I would probably port it to Unity.

cla_screenshot1
The rope snags onto the cow. Then you carry it up to the mothership and drop it off. If the farmers sees you, he will shoot.

Handsome Taco

It is a side-view puzzle game. Try to get to the obstacles using blocks, portals, fans, etc. It even includes a level creator. It is a bit glitchy, and also in Flash, but it could be redesigned.

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One of the first levels. The blue spots are teleporters. Yellow is a locked door. The red box moves clockwise when you are atop it. The crate can be pushed.

Energized

This turn-based multiplayer economic strategy game was showcased a few year ago at the annual showcase for the Center for Advanced Research and Technology. We set up multiplayer LAN games where people could try it for themselves. The hexagon tiles are rated for certain natural resources used to build alternative energy sources. Each player is a competing energy company that must buy land,  collect resources, but energy sources, and deliver the power to cities. Players are also able to buy and sell land and resources to other players. Whoever has the most money at the end wins.

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The color tells you who owns the tile. This one has a wind turbine with power lines connecting it to a third city for extra money.

Earth Defense Whirl

Ported for Android, this game features two game modes. In the main Earth Defense mode, you fly around earth, zapping alien spacecraft before they reach our home planet. The goal is to hold off the aliens as long as you can. In training mode, you fly forward in a never-ending tunnel, avoid obstacles and not letting any targets get past you. If you fall behind too much, the game ends. The goal is to get as far forward as you can.

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The arrows point to alien spaceships. You zap them when in range.

Super Rainbow Racers

As an end-of-the-year class project, our game design class recreated our classroom and made it into a shrunken cart racing game. They chose the name, not me. The physics were a little glitchy, but it did prove itself fun. Perhaps the framework is still salvageable for another cart racing game.

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We only got this track working. I thank my classmates for the artwork.

Haunt

You enter a haunted mansion with nothing but a crossbow. Your job is to hunt and shoot all the monsters hiding throughout the building. There are paintings that change each time you look at them, man-slug-things that pop out of closets, and masked ghost patrols. This was my only attempt at a first-person shooter.

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Two masked ghosts hovering toward the player.