Building a game in XNA Part 8

   24/09/2009 at 10:10       Nick H       5 COMMENTS.
Unfortunately I've been out of action for the last 4 months. But luckily, a local chiropractor (nicknamed the torturer) is sorting me out so I'm back in front of my PC and working on my XNA game again.

Since my last diary entry Microsoft has changed its XNA pricing structure, and our target price of 200 points is no longer the lowest band so we'll have to work harder to make it feel worth more than an 80 point Indie game for the middle price band. Or, set it to 80 points and hope we can sell a massive amount - which seems unlikely given the general lack of talk about Xbox Indie games.

One positive thing that's come out of my long holiday away from my PC though is that I've had time to upgrade my Flash action scripting to 3.0 reading Colin Moock's mighty tome Essential Actionscripting 3.0. This has improved my basic understanding of object orientated programming, so hopefully coding from here will be smoother and the next game will have tidier code. To put my new actionscript knowledge to the test I ported the game over to Flash so I could have a browser playable demo of the game with a link to the browser version of the Xbox marketplace, where users will hopefully download a slightly larger Xbox demo, or buy the game.

Nick G (the game's art creator) has been extremely busy with other work, but managed to get a full set of hazard hole tiles roughed out, so now adjacent holes will link to make a larger one. He's unfortunately not had time to look at animation, but I've bodged some together to test the game's animation code.

AATG forum member Nekotcha provided me with a fantastic tune to use with the game which sets a really nice atmosphere, lightening the mood of the game. It's currently marred slightly by my test run of the sound effects which sound like rejects from Lemmings, but the code seems to work which is good news.

The level unlock system I was considering in my previous diary, whereby you have to clear 80% of the current unlocked levels to unlock the next 10, has made it into the game. It seems like an OK solution as the levels gradually add new types of tiles. Locking levels will gradually ease players into the new tiles as they appear, most likely with a help screen which appears when you play a level containing a new type of tile.

Having received some handy feedback from Nekotcha, I've also added a few bits to the interface in game: the name of the level you are on will now appear at the bottom of each map, and cleared levels will have a rosette on them. I've also played through the first 50 levels ensuring you will always start in a safe area from which the player can decide to leave once they've thought of a strategy for the level, as previously the main character would often wander off into holes before you'd had a chance to give the map a proper once over.

The next step after making safe areas in the remaining 20 levels is to try to set up a smooth difficulty curve. Nick G looks like he might have a bit of time for animating the game sprites soon, along with amending some existing ones in order to try to avoid making the maps look so cluttered. The latest version of XNA supports video so he might also create an intro and maybe an ending movie in AfterEffects. We also need to start work on the menu design, so we're quite a way from done, but it finally feels like we're getting there slowly again after some considerable time out.

The other parts of my diary can be found: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.
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