Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Retaliator Alpha 0.04

Who would have thought that a blog that was originally about games development and being a journal (hence the "gdj" part of the url) would ever actually have a post resembling something of the sort? It has been many years since I undertook the board game development unit at QUT, one where we needed to write an online blog about its progress as well as many topics around general game design. The relics of these days can be found in the far off reaches of the infernal abyss (i.e. first few posts on this blog). How times have changed since then...

The top down side scroller (TDSS) or shoot em up (SHMUP) as they are often referred to I am working on is currently codenamed Retaliator. It is a simple game, one I have been working on, slowly, in Unity 3D for the better part of 2 months. It takes inspiration from several games I used to play back in the day, such as Raiden and Baryon as well as the recent (and brilliant) Jamestown. Although Jamestown is a recent addition to the genre, it unfortunately is a type of game that has also faded from the minds of today's gamers. Much like arena shooters. Hmmm ... I think I am seeing a pattern in my personal preferences here.

I have hesitated to post anything about the actual games production I randomly do, mainly because some of it falls into the 'not-creatively-owned' category of developing content for tutes at QUT. Which is a shame because I have developed many simple game assets in Blender and Unity in the last 3-4 years. Other non-work related content, such as Retaliator and its previous iterations (in Blender) I have barely mentioned either, mainly to keep it as private and secret as possible. The last thing I would want is some wanker taking my idea and developing it before I do.

The basic premise of my game is that its a traditional SHMUP, but breaks the rules in several key areas. The first is that you can aim anywhere along the 2D axis these games are usually restricted to. Obviously this will need to have a much higher difficulty then normal, as positioning enemies in your single axis beam of death was part of the challenge of traditional SHMUPS. The second feature is that you can (or at least will be able to) customise the layout and firepower of your ship, choosing multiple weapon types prior to entering a level and adjusting the spread of your primary weapon during the game itself. Unlocking weapon types and ship slots will probably use some kind of credit system, derived from your score at the end of a level. Finally, the last major change falls into the 'unique' gameplay mechanic that I actually abhor teaching in games design units at QUT. Although I am a firm believer that you don't need a unique gameplay mechanic for a game to be acceptable (shit, look at the COD series ffs), I feel the 'Link Cannon' coop weapon I am providing in the game will create some interesting ways in which players will play my game.

 This Link Cannon is also the primary feature of this video diary, that being for Retaliator Alpha version 0.04. I would recommend watching it at 720p:

I probably won't make too many posts about this project in the future, mainly because the time I will get to work on it is uncertain. Also, it is something I don't want to have consume all my free time and consequently all I ever want to talk about.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


A few days ago I was asked by a somewhat opinionated colleague of mine, what was in fact 'wrong' with me to still be playing Diablo 3? Apparently everyone else in the world had 'quit', so my persistence with it was seen to be unnatural.

Am I still REALLY playing Diablo 3? Well ... yes. So it seems anyway. I don't quite know what has compelled me to return to the world of endless hordes of demons to mow through (though its probably that), but I have fired up the old girl to see what has changed in the world of Diablo. Alot, it seems. In particular, the buffing of Legendary items, changing of drop rates and addition of both monster power level and the Infernal Machine. Should I ever choose to level another character (quite likely), one can now finally say "fuck you" to the default easymode difficulty and ramp the monster power level as high as they can handle. This should at least provide a more engaging and dangerous experience for newcomers ... which is unlikely to happen. While most of the super casual (i.e. non Inferno/60) players have moved on, unfortunately they have taken a large chunk of Diablo 3's reputation with it.

Many people were apparently unsatisfied with the game, partly due to conforming opinions (i.e. everyone else doesn't like it so I don't like it either). While I still think many of these people were expecting of and playing the game for entirely the wrong reasons (i.e. narrative, perfectly attuned item drops, fast/challenging leveling immediately etc), I can honestly say that I don't miss their presence. Diablo 3 has begun to turn into a gem of a game without Blizzard appealing to the squealing masses and the game is on road to becoming something I will frequent in the future.

After dabbling a bit into Torchlight 2, I have decided on one simple, honest truth. Diablo 3 is a superior game. I have no bias towards either game or their parent company, but when it comes to straight up, non-skill capped game play, Diablo 3 trumps a game like Torchlight on almost every aspect. An example of this is the fact that I have found an even more powerful and interesting build than the apparently confusing one I was using before. I say this because several Barbarian friends I introduced my old build to (dubbed 'Riding the Walrus') found the build to be too complicated. I feel this is because they didn't understand the purpose of it, or realise its true potential (i.e. near complete invincibility), perhaps not having witnessed it first hand themselves. Watching someone else or a video is very different than doing something yourself. Nevertheless, the new build, which is far simpler, involves using a huge 2 hander, leaping into packs of stuff and doing enormous burst AoE and direct damage, using straight lifesteal as your main means of survival (besides defensive stats of course). While this probably means very little to anyone reading this blog and while there is obviously a bit more to it then that, I will say I have dubbed the build 'Nuking', for that is exactly what it feels like. It is also incredibly fun. Observe.

While Riding the Walrus is an incredibly strong build, it unfortunately lacks some oomph, which can make its undertaking a little underwhelming. With Nuking, the visceral and destructive power I felt as a barbarian while leveling has returned. While it is not as safe as Riding the Walrus, it is powerful enough to handle Inferno content on as high as monster power level 5, which is good enough.

Why am I back to playing Diablo 3 again? I am not entirely sure. I think it offers a satisfying game play experience that I don't think many people encountered, perhaps due to their own personal playstyles. For me, the semi-theorycrafting, bloodthirsty, honour bound lunatic, the way I play the game is enjoyable and so I enjoy playing the game. It is really as simple as that.

... or maybe its just the numbers +_+