Against all odds, I’ve actually managed to make a level in my game. Well, I’ve half made a level (I’m yet to figure out how to make the enemies move and shoot on their own), but I do have a couple of scenes and they do have a great aesthetic so I’m calling it a win.
I eventually found a really good program called GameSalad and after taking a brief “course” I was able to figure out how to plan out my scenes (levels) and how to add actors and make them move and change their attributes to do my bidding. It took me about 2 hours to get it to move side to side and another hour to choose the right laser beam my player would shoot—it’s green, obviously.
I remember the guy in the videos saying “computers are really dumb until you tell them what to do” and this process has made me realise that it’s so true. Every movement, object and aspect of your game has to be programmed all the way down to the tiniest details. For example, when programming my actor (the little spaceship players control) to shoot lasers, it wasn’t enough to tell the actor to spawn a bullet when the player presses the spacebar. I had to then tell the bullet to move! Upwards! At 300 speed! It was like trying to teach my mum how to write on other people’s Facebook walls instead of updating her status. Looking back, it’s rather obvious that those instructions were needed, but at the time, seeing those static laser bullets appear on top of my actor was incredibly frustrating. Where’s self aware AI’s when you need them?
Another thing I learnt was that I needed to place actors that acted like walls off screen to stop said laser bullets from just flying off into the void forever, taking up memory and making me think too hard about data and 1s and 0s and the universe. I did learn this after I got the bullets working and sat on the game just shooting lasers into the sky for several minutes, and was left to wonder about all those little green pixels that I doomed to an eternal existence of floating through cyberspace. It got very existential.
The style of the game has evolved from the original comic book look to a more 8-bit arcade look. Mostly because I found a really cute pixel art cityscape so naturally all the other elements in the game had to match. Ah, the creative process. After several hours trawling through Deviantart and various websites, I found the art I needed and while the enemies are not exactly Lovecraftian, they are quite similar and they work fine as stand-ins for my prototype. Nevertheless, I was able to finalise my design and despite all the elements not working 100% as they’re meant to, I think they make pretty cute screencaps and are pretty close to what I envisioned the game looking like: