Powerups and trails

Well, I think I finally have a solid working system for all the base bullet powerups (levels 1-3).  I also have the health powerup spawning at two different points based upon the players health.  I also have the autofire and spreadshot powerups spawning.  If an asteroid that contains a powerup, I have it displaying a comet trail.  Each powerup, upon release, has its own little comet trail effect as well (to help the player find it amongst the morass of asteroids flying around).

I was having a little problem with a seeming random trail-renderer spawning while an asteroid was destroyed and then seemed to fly off screen (the trail, not the asteroid).  While I pondered it I started to think of the process.  OK, clearly, even though there is no trail rendered at that point, when the asteroid respawns offscreen, it’s getting the trail rendered, all the way from the point where it was last seen (hence a quick flash of a trail from the respawned original asteroid to the new spawn offscreen).

Upon reflecting about this sequence of events, I realized that I could just disable the trail-rendering until I know for sure that the asteroid will be on screen.  It’s probably smart to do that anyways, as I’m not using any CPU compute cycles then, to render anything offscreen.  I thought that this was sort of automatically taken care of, but it appears not.  So I added a check to see if the asteroid was visible and contained a powerup.  If it was, then I could display the trail renderer… But only once the asteroid becomes visible to the camera.

The couple short games  I played since then seem to indicate that the problem is fixed.  I won’t count my chickens yet, though.

The next question is: what powerups do I do next?

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I can do the laser shot which is a pew pew type thing that will slice through any asteroids in its path and continue on its way.  The idea there is to score a multiplier effect such that for every asteroid it destroys scores exponentially more.

The next level to that might be a laser-beam which is a long straight narrow piercing beam that just shoots from the nose of the ship off screen and completely obliterates the asteroids.  Not sure how the scoring will work on that.  I think I’d like to use some form of exponential system to keep it tied in with the laser scoring, but it seems like it would be too powerful to just do pure exponential.  That said, there would be an energy stock for energy weapons like the laser so that you wouldn’t have an infinite supply of charge for it.

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I could do a shield for defense.  I have health up already as a somewhat “defensive” measure, but nothing else.

The basic shield would just be that.  A shield that lasts for a certain amount of time.  Powerups for the shield could include longer time periods, and a “retroflection” effect that causes energy to shout out in an arc and destroy multiple asteroids in a shockwave.  That might be more than I’m wanting to implement, but it could be cool.

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White Holes are another defensive measure I want to implement.  Initially I was just going to have mines placed around the perimeter of the black hole, but the problem there is if I place them behind me, and right next to the black hole – they would get eaten by the hole.  If I put them in front of me, fairly closely, they would block my shots…  Instead, I thought of a “white hole” vortex that would be able to consume the asteroids.  Similar to… Geometry Wars(IIRC), you could shoot the holes for a big bonus to your score.

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Anti-matter field is interesting, but a long term concept I want to add.  Essentially a huge shield that exists around the perimeter in front of you.  Asteroids would enter this field and their matter-polarities would invert and they’d become antimatter.  They would then enter the black hole and destroy some of its mass.  HOWEVER.  They are then a one hit kill.  Instead of just taking a small amount of life off, they would obliterate you regardless of how much health you have and how weak the asteroid is.  So use with caution.

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Nuke:  I think this is one of the next ones I want to implement.  Initially I wanted a complete nuke bomb, but I’m thinking I should have it work like the other weapons.  1st level would just destroy all red asteroids on screen, yellow would do red/yellow and green nuke would destroy every single asteroid on the screen.

I think an anti-matter nuke could be really cool – so you could not only destroy the asteroids but all the mass you destroyed would be subtracted from the black hole and reduce its radius… Hmm…

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I also need to add text effect for when the powerups spawn, and I’m thinking I might change the audio effect of the sounds for the spawned powerups — I want to get them to sound more robotic feminine.  Right now they’re very distorted and hard to understand.  I want it more like my original “Killing Horizon” vocal effect.  Sadly, I never saved the sequence of effects I used, so I don’t think I’ll be able to match that, but I hope I can come close.

I also need to add a health-bar (right now it’s just a simple numeric display), and an energy bar system for the laser/energy weapons.

It’s coming along, and I’m glad I (hopefully) got the bugs worked out of my current setup so I can go forward more confidently.

I’m really frustrated at my lack of optimization (30 fps on my work machine – easily 60 fps at home, which is good, but I have a solid system.  I want it to run on lower end systems as much as possible – considering it’s supposed to be a retro game and I don’t have anything too amazingly fancy, frankly, but that is part of the process of learning)

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