Sunday, April 8, 2012

The second coming

So long dear PSP.

After testing a new control scheme, I finally decided to stop support the PSP for my game and fully embrace twin stick control. It makes shooting at things a lot more precise and controllable and removes any of the previous frustration. It's a lot more fun to shoot stuff around.

My current controller layout is as follow:

Left stick -> move ship in screen space
Left shoulder -> switch altitude plane

Right stick -> shooting direction
Right shoulder -> intended to be used for weapon change, not yet implemented

So basically, movement control on the left side and weaponry on the right side. Sounds simple enough.

Note that I do not plan to use secondary shoulder buttons as these do not exist on the VITA, and I want my controls to be as universal as possible. So I'll use the common denominator of all current (and hopefully future) platforms.

Ditching the PSP incidentally makes life much simpler in term of development because the PSP was in my pipeline the only console to not support programmable shaders, and it was also a lot less powerful than the newer platforms cpu-wise.

I will now have to write a basic Cg shader that will be used during my early development stage and replace the old fixed-pipeline shaders with this one. Remember, the eye candy will come later, so will the fancy shaders :)

I have to say it saddens me to stop making this game on the PSP, it's such a great little platform. I will keep working on the PSP for teaching at the school though. I will post soon some of the latest stuff I've done on it, mostly for fun.

Level building improvement

As I said in my previous post, the only thing missing for a flexible level building pipeline was to support layers in Tiled, that's done now. I also support various tile sizes (through support of different tilesets) so now I can add large pieces to my environment. This will be useful for creating huge natural environment (Canyon, mountains... you name it).

You can see I can now superimpose objects to the ground elements, which allows for many combination. For instance the new fire element can be placed either on small or large ground tiles.

Second loop: Mid-term gameplay

Now that the the Toy is working just fine, I need to start thinking about the player's mid-term objectives. This will be the main theme of my second loop:

  • Develop others and more rich enemy behaviors so that the player can use his skills at controlling the ship, and use the environment elements to his advantage
  • Create mid-term objectives, such as saving humans or collecting special items
  • Implement success and failure conditions to develop a real sense of accomplishment
  • Implement 'story' mode with level dependence and progress through a series of levels
  • Develop new dynamic environment elements such as doors
  • Manage level boundaries
  • Integrate difficulty levels

Oh, and next post, I'll try to have some video of the game up and running. Thanks for reading and happy Easter.


  1. Hello,

    For the PSP control scheme, while reading your previous post I wanted to suggest you to use the 4 action buttons as an analog stick, but I wasn't sure if you were already using them for something else.

    Now that I see you only use the shoulder buttons, I can suggest you to use the action buttons as an analog stick on the PSP =D

    It was used in the game Apocalypse for the PSOne and it worked great. (There was also a Super Stardust game on the PSP, maybe it used it too.)

    Also, in my opinion, it is more accurate that a stick: for example, when you push Triangle, you know it will go straight up, whereas when you push your analog stick straight up, there's always some margin of error.

    Good luck with that work,

  2. Hi Guntha,

    Thank you for your comments.

    You're right, this would certainly work and indeed Super Stardust Portable does it with great success.

    Now I have other issues with the PSP, mainly the CPU power being about 1/10th of the PS3/360 power.

    Graphics wise, it's not much of a problem, I built my pipeline to deal with it, but as the CPU is used for gameplay, that would mean not having the exact same gameplay on the PSP. I could do by having less enemies etc...but it means a lot of extra work to maintain and test that separate version.
    I'm trying to be realistic here. Well, I'll think about it.

    Thanks again for your input.