SMS: Next Mission – August Update

Time for another update… Space Mission Survival: The Next Mission development has been going well these past couple of months. Right now, I have the following modes in a playable state:

  • Arcade 70s – Blips, bloops, vector glow!
  • 8-bit 80s – Classic home computer pixel fun
  • Console 90s – Higher res, digitized sound effects

Screenshots are to the right… click on the pic for a larger image. I am also planning a short video to go over the history of this game, my development timeline, and of course, game play.

No more restarts… this is the project that will continue until release!

Some tweaks that I am planning on adding in the next couple of weeks:

  • Right now, the game plays very similar in all 3 modes (except for the sounds). I plan on adding some additional features to the 80s and 90s mode to include features that were available at the time.  Perhaps a boss level for the 80s mode, and more enemies in the 90s mode.
  • I am considering adding an additional mode for the 2000s. Roughly based on some ideas from my previously abandoned “Shmup Mode”. I have a couple of ideas, but no promises., and I won’t let me hold back the release.
  • I am thinking of adding something to the game for early adopters… perhaps a new mode (text-based 60s, anyone?), or a special ship.

The plan is still to put a version up on itch.io or Steam as soon as I can. I am working toward that goal now. Maybe that will generate some feedback.

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SMS:Next Mission – May 2018 Status

I guess it should not be surprising, after reading many of my previous status posts, that things have changed yet again. It seems like I never want to release this game. This time, though, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

After several attempts at trying to create a “Shmup” version of Space Mission Survival, it has finally occurred to me that I do not like any version I put together, and I should temporarily abandon the attempt, since that is the only thing holding up release. Instead, I decided to clean up the currently complete version of the 70s, 80s, and 90s modes, and release a beta on itch.io as soon as possible.

A lot has changed in the Unity world since I completed that version in 2017, and loading up the project resulted in a lot of errors and warnings. I’ve also learned a lot along the way, and some of the ways I went about coding the game makes me cringe.

Right now, I am migrating everything to a new Unity project, again keeping most of the code. When I get a playable version, I will release it on itch.io in beta, and then as a full release. This release will only include the 70s, 80s, and 90s styles, the “Classic” Space Mission Survival… with some minor enhancements for each decade’s mode.

Progress is great! I think I will be able to get an alpha version out on itch.io very soon!

It’s now been two years of restarts, and one year of a completed version sitting on my hard drive. The only delay in the release was that I wanted to add a Shmup mode to the game. Maybe I will one day, but I am no longer making that a priority.

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SMS:Next Mission – February 2018 Status

Another six months gone by! Here’s a quick update on the development of Space Mission Survival: The Next Mission.

I am pleased to state that the Classic 70 Arcade, 80s Home Computer, and 90s Console versions of Space Mission Survival have been completed! They are basically one game, with appropriate graphics of the defined decade. I utilized a lot of the code and graphics from “Iteration 5” of the project, and I finished Iteration 6 within 3 months.

What have I done with SMS:TNM since I completed Iteration 6 in July 2017? Basically nothing. As I previously stated, I have been having difficulty working on a theme for the Shmup mode, so the game has been sitting on the back burner. I think I have decided recently on a preliminary theme for the Shmup mode, so I am again enthusiastic about picking up development again in the very near future.

I think we all know where this is going… I am planning to not use Iteration 6 as the basis of the game, and instead will focus on an all-new “Iteration 7” for the Shmup mode. With some minor tweaks, all the code from Iteration 6 will be folded in, so there should be no new development required for the classic modes.

The development of this game is very strange to me. It seems like a project that has no ending. I have stopped and started more times than I can remember. As history has shown, there may be several rounds of dev/nodev coming as well for various reasons including discouragement, momentary lapse of interest, and other side projects like my recently completed Tappy Easter, and some Ludum Dare fun along the way.

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A Very Long Overdue Status

My last status post on SMS: The Next Mission was over 10 months ago. I figure it is about time I provided an update.

Reflecting

Looking back between September 2016 and about May 2017, I lost all desire to continue development in its current state, even though I had a lot completed. If you read through some of the older posts, you can see that something was just not right. I wasn’t sure about what features to add, and I was unsure about what to add to the shmup version (of even if I should include it). Development was also getting a little sticky as I was still learning some concepts in Unity. All of this caused me to stop development for a few months until I could figure out my next steps (and to build up a bit of excitement and momentum again).

Fast forward to June 2017. I decided I again wanted to continue (AND FINISH) this game. Looking at my project, I decided it was best to start over, but leverage any code that I had already written over the past 5 iterations. So here I am… the 6th time starting this project over and I am glad to say that progress so far has been great and I am confident that this will be the last time I need to restart.

I think the overall problem back in September 2016 was I was trying to take a game I previously wrote and love playing and create a PC/console version of the game that I think others want to play. That version of the game was not enjoyable to me and I lost motivation.

Currently, Space Mission Survival is available on mobile platforms and is a retro space shooter that I find quite enjoyable.  That is the basic game I want to recreate on PC/consoles, with some enhancements of course:

  • The Classic 70 Arcade, 80s Home Computer, and 90s Console versions that I previously mentioned will remain. They are basically the same game with some differences including graphics, sounds, and game play that was available during those past times.  All three modes will be complete, stand-alone games, and will feature enough unique game play and achievements to make them slightly different.
  • I do want to add a Shmup mode, but I a a bit unsure what this version will consist of, or how this mode will actually play at this time.
Current State
Classic 90s Mode

I decided to focus on the classic modes since I know for certain how these games will play. Using the mobile version as a model of game play, I will adjust game play to look and play like a game in those specific decades.

As of today, the 90s console version is pretty much complete. The game is playable and has a look and feel of a 90s game. Modifying the game to feel like a 70s and 80s game will be easy since most of the code will be identical… it just a matter of changing sounds and graphics for the most part.

I am going to begin a very small alpha testing of the 90s game with some friends and family soon. Any fixes will carry over to the 70s and 80s mode.

Future State

I am still undecided what the shmup mode of the game will be like, but I know I want the game to be intense (the classic modes are “wave-like”, so there is a bit of a breather between levels). I also think I want to utilize the 70s, 80s, and 90s modes somehow, perhaps through a time warp feature, but I am not sure.

Change of Attitude

During my hiatus from SMS: The Next Mission I decided that I am going to write a game that I want to play (and hope that other will as well), instead of trying to cater to the fickle demands of the masses. Making everyone happy is a game you cannot win. This will be a topic of another blog post, to be sure.

Conclusion

So there you have it! To summarize… SMS: The Next Mission will have 4 stand-alone games (70s Arcade, 80s Home Computer, 90s Console, Shoot-em-up). It may have a different name as well. Finally, my blog will be where I post updates (I hope you follow), and my decision to work the way I am working will be detailed in another article.

Thanks for reading!

SMS: The Next Mission – September Update

Lots of progress this past month, despite trying to get some coding in due to other obligations. I successfully added an “80s Home Computer” mode to SMS. Below is how it currently looks… pixel graphics, classic fuel bar, and 8-bit text in all its glory.  Click the image to see a larger screen shot.

80s Home Computer
80’s Home Computer Mode

I spent a lot of the first half of August researching how to handle the graphics for this mode.  I though of recreating all the graphics in pixel art, but it seemed like a lot of work to animate the ship to give it a true 8-bit rotation look.  I tried a shader, but it was a bit limited due to the layers I was using in the game. I finally settled on using a render texture, and it works great. I think it captures the look and feel of the 1980s. The score and fuel gauge were then created on a HUD UI layer.

Scope Creep

It’s been about 7 months since I started this project (albeit “off and on”), and I am still adding features. I still want to add an optional “60’s Mainframe Mode”, and I haven’t started on the “Current Year Shmup” mode (although I have some ideas). Once I get these modes where they are playable, I would like to release some video and a playable demo.

This month I plan on tweaking the graphics and code for the 3 modes, defining what I want in the Shmup mode, and putting together a title and options screen.

SMS: The Next Mission – August Update

It’s been a few months since my last status update for SMS: The Next Mission. Over the past two months, I have decided to remove, then re-add, the shmup version of the game.  I am also again on the fence on whether I should include multiplayer support like I had originally planned (and then decided against).

Originally, I wanted to recreate the mobile version of Space Mission: Survival on the PC and Mac.  A desktop version has been running in development for several months now. The PC opens up a lot more options, so I wanted to add a lot of bells and whistles including multiplayer, and expand on the “Classic 90s” retro look.  A bit later, I decided to drop multiplayer and focus on single player.  I added a “Retro 70s” look as well.

A couple of months later I had a playable game that had two styles, Classic 90s and Retro 70s.  Same game, two styles that the player can play from beginning to end. At this point I decided that maybe it would be cooler if the player was some sort of time traveler and can warp to different video game eras. I like it!

So, right now, I have a Retro 70s, Home Computer 80s, and Classic 90s version of the game. The 2000s version will be the shmup level and I will start development on that soon. I am actually thinking of adding a “Text Based 60s” mode to see if I can pull that off.

I am trying to keep each level accurate to the decade. This includes graphics and text styles, sound, and game play.

I am not sure if changing my mind so many times is a good or bad omen, but I believe the current idea of traveling through decades and playing the game with features available at that time will be fun and challenging. The only other decision I have to make (other than a name change, perhaps) is whether I want to add (local) multiplayer support, which would be ideal for consoles.

May 2016 Update

I’ve been a bit quiet lately, and since this is the end of the month, I figured this is a good time for an update to go over what i have been working on.

I took a break for a couple weeks after Ludum Dare 35, and started up again in mid April.  I was all set to continue working on the update to Space Mission: Survival, currently named “SMS: The Next Mission“, but I am still in a bit of a funk deciding what I want to add to the Shmup version of the game.  The 70s and 90s version is pretty much complete, except for some tweaks. Until I figure out exactly what I want to see in the Shmup version, I decided to work on some updates to the original mobile version of SMS.

The mobile version was written back in 2014 and one of the features I coded, but did not utilize, was language support. I decided it was a good time to add language support now. Late last year, I wrote a Corona plug-in called GBC Language Cabinet that made it easy to add support for additional languages. Works like a charm… it’s also free for Corona developers. I spent a few hours adding language support to the game via the plug-in, and several days adding language support to the iOS and Android app stores in preparation for the update.

There’s a few other things I wanted to add to SMS, so I decided to keep going and make this upcoming version a massive update. Some improvements you will see, others are internal. Other obvious visible improvements are better support for smaller (ie. phone) devices, and some bug fixes.

Using GBC Language Cabinet is so easy, but while using it for this update, I noticed there are some other things I want to add that will make this plug-in incredible. I am seriously thinking of continuing development on this plug-in and releasing a “Enhanced” version as a paid version (keeping the free to use option also available).

SMS: The Next Mission is still on my radar, and I hope to get back to it very soon. The mobile update should be completed soon, and then I will decide whether to continue development on GBC Language Cabinet Enhanced. If yes, then SMS comes a bit later.  If no, sooner.

SMS: Early April Update

A couple of weeks since the last update and things are progressing, although a bit slower than I would like. The “Retro 70s” and “Classic 90s” versions of SMS are pretty complete (minor tweaks still needed here and there), and I have begun the development of Shmup Mode.

A few reasons why progress is slowing:

  • I have been experimenting with various ideas for Shmup Mode, and this is taking a bit of time. There’s a couple things I know I want in the game, and there are some things I need to try in order to determine if it will work for me or not.
  • I had to spend a lot of time in order to try things that I ultimately decided I wanted.  For example, in order to test moving the player’s ship across several screens, I had to implement a camera follow and a parallax scrolling routine. The results are promising, but still require some fine tuning.
  • I decided that a tweening library would be a great addition. I spent a few days playing around with the one I chose to buy and use. Amazing stuff, and I see the possibilities. I may also go back and add some tweening to the Classic 90s and Retro 70s version as well.

So, progress was a bit slow, but a lot still got done:

  • Addition of tweening library.
  • Successful test of parallax scrolling.
  • Division of Shmup, Classic 90s, and Retro 70s into individual Unity scenes.

I have another week or so of development, and then I will take a weekend off to participate in Ludum Dare 35. Looking forward to it.

SMS: The Next Mission Game Play Video

Early game play video of the “Classic 90s Console” and “Retro 70s Arcade” modes of Space Mission Survival: The Next Mission.

Space Mission Survival: The Next Mission is the working title of a re-write of my mobile game Space Mission: Survival. These 2 game modes, and an all new “Bullet Hell” or “Shmup” mode will be available in one game.

Game play is basically done for these modes, but graphics and sounds are subject to change.

March Development Status

It’s been about 2 months since I started my recreation of Space Mission: Survival for desktop, and there has been a lot of progress. The game play for the Retro 70s and Classic 90s modes are pretty much complete. I am going to begin the Shmup mode shortly.

I started with “Classic 90s” mode first, since I am borrowing the graphics, sounds, and game play from my mobile version of Space Mission: Survival (my original goal was to recreate the mobile version). A few minor tweaks to the graphics and sounds, and I also have a playable “Retro 70s” mode. These modes still need a bit of a graphics face lift, but I am happy with the current results (for now), and the game plays nicely in both modes. I may upload a video in a few days.

Now The Hard Part

I am thinking of what I want in the Shmup (aka “bullet hell”) mode. This mode will be an entirely new design, although the basic concept of saving your astronauts will remain. There’s still opportunity to send me your ideas.

Right now, I believe the game will still be in a 2D view, and will allow the player to fly their ship throughout multiple screens. These seem to be the two things I have decided on… everything else is still unknown, but I am thinking about the following things:

  • A weapons upgrade system, and how to display that graphically.
  • The type of weapons you can upgrade to.
  • Whether the astronauts start off of the asteroids, or if they float off ala Classic SMS.