Shoot em Up Tag Archive

Development Update #4


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Just like that, November has come and gone, but not before the team accomplished a number of our production goals.  We attended GameACon in Atlantic City for the second year in a row, and once again we had a great showing. Railgun lived up to its addictively challenging reputation.  There was a lot of buzz around our booth, and the team received loads of constructive feedback.  In addition, we met a bunch of awesome people and made friends with other developers who are creating really cool indie games.  Be sure to check out the photos on our social media feeds.  Now, on with the development update…

  1. Our enemies are organizing…

Jonah, our lead programmer, is designing a system of levels to control the chaos that surrounds the player in game. Utilizing custom variables in the Stingray Flow Nodes, Jonah prototypes different enemy patterns which we combine to develop packages and create the game’s devilishly fun and challenging levels.

  1. Our game play has leveled up…

Using Jonah’s enemy patterns, the design team is carefully crafting levels 1-10. We’re aiming to give players a smooth introduction to the game. The first few rounds will establish mechanics, weapons, and enemy types while later levels will become increasingly difficult and more frantic. We’re also testing each enemy pattern with various weapon types to lay the groundwork for player strategy.  Best of all, we’ve started incorporating Achievements into the game play.          

  1. Our drone tank is slick and handles like a dream…  

The tech and design teams are working closely to perfect the physics of the game. We are constantly testing different speeds and tweaking friction and gravity in an effort to keep the Railgun’s movements responsive and accurate. We recently slowed the UI to aid in switching weapons on the fly.  These crisp new controls carry over to menu navigation as Jonah has built in compatibility with Xbox controllers.

  1. Our city is lookin’ damn good…

The modeling team has left no detail untouched.  They’re currently creating filler assets for the city including trash bins, solar panels, broken bridges, devastated buildings, boats, and more. Best of all, this environment is interactive!  Buildings crumble, windows shatter, and citizens respond the Railgun’s distress.  One such city asset, the Eco System’s Crane, is modeled, textured, animated, and ready for AI so that it can deliver power-ups to the player in game.

  1. Our bosses are even more boss…

The design team has taken a new approach to the enemy bosses. Boss battles will play a huge role in game play.  As players progress, each new boss will require strategies and weapons acquired from previous stages to defeat. Design is currently developing a new boss to test this system and monitor the production and development requirements needed to finish up to ten unique battles.  Zheng, our amazing concept artist, has been sketching some unbelievable, high-level ideas for boss ships.

Up next for the team is MAGFest in National Harbor, MD on January 5th. Nick, our producer, has been hard at work generating banners, title screens, package screens, and all other assets we’ll need to take the festival by storm.  Be sure to check us out if you’re there!  

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Philosophy on design progression & balance.


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I’m working as the associate Game Designer on Railgun, an action shooter for Windows PC, built using Lua scripting and Flow Visual Scripting in Autodesk Stingray. Levels and some of the game play systems are my forte, here’s how I go about designing things:

Bottom-Up Balance

unnamedCompanies such as Blizzard typically start their design balancing from the bottom-up. Starcraft was made by first balancing the starting worker and warrior characters: Terran Marines, Zerg Zerglings, and Protoss Zealots are fine-tuned with each other before other units hit development. I apply similar principles to the evaluation of Railgun’s systems in these ways:

  • If the base weapon and unit are not fun, we have a problem.
  • If a new weapon or ability isn’t fun with the base unit, we have a problem.
  • If a new unit isn’t fun with the base weapon, we have a problem.

These tenets make it easy to develop scenarios for different aspects of the game. Though there can be exceptions (after close analysis), generally removing ambiguity simplifies the testing process and the communication that needs to happen with other members of the team (i.e. explaining design philosophy).

100 of a unit, the weapon choice for the player, and leaving everything else the same further allows for standard algorithms to be generated in predicting the outcomes of play (more on this below). Repeated tests can refine prediction variables, but they get designers working with something decently accurate to the final outcome quickly.

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Welcome to Railgun!


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Welcome to Railgun!

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