Magnificent Gunbright

Posted by
March 23rd, 2008 11:36 am

Magnificent Gunbright

Man, this was a while back. Magnificent Gunbright is a totally sweet faux-Japanese abstract minimalist shoot-em-up (complete with terrible Engrish) where your ammunition is also your armour. Your blobs swarm around you, you can fire them at your opponent, and you can also collect blobs that rain constantly from the sky.

At the time, I thought that having graphics consisting only of black and white circles was strong graphic design, but the game is completely unparseable from a screenshot and it’s not much better in motion. The sound effects are awesome, though, and no one can tell me different. Bloop-bloop-shinngg!

The game itself? It’s pretty okay. It’s mostly a matter of always moving, and getting lots of shots off at the computer when he’s fishing for ammo. I liked that if you got far enough in, eventually the computer would start with a huge swarm and you’d start with nothing — when you’re on defense, the game is pretty enjoyable. It’s just that when you’re on the offense, there’s no interesting strategy; you either hit your opponent or you don’t.

The best feedback I received was from my friend Patrick Alexander, who draws funny pictures for some gaming website or other, who summed it up thusly: “It’s like Ikaruga, only… only not as good. By quite a lot.” If Magnificent Gunbright had a box, this quote would be on it.

Before MG, I’d tried Ludum Dare once before — LD4, apparently, when the theme was Infection. My entry was to be a puzzle game called Hachoo!, where you were a bacterium who could only move by causing the host you were currently infecting to sneeze on another person. Unfortunately, I made one really stupid mistake which caused me to not finish — I used unfamiliar tools. I was a cocky C programmer at the time, and I worked mainly in embedded systems. When I played with writing games, I used SDL.  So of course the natural choice was C++ on Windows using Allegro. I chose Windows for obvious reasons, C++ because I thought the STL would save me time, and Allegro because I’d remembered being annoyed at the lack of batteries included with SDL in comparison when I was 16. Well, I had major issues with the MingW debugger, the STL doesn’t save you time when you’re unused to fighting with obtuse template-based compiler errors, and it turned out that what was simple and elegant when I was a dumbass teenager rubbed the more experienced me the wrong way. (Not to mention that I made a bunch of stupid rookie mistakes because I forgot key things about the API.)

So for Magnificent Gunbright, I decided to learn from my mistakes, stop worrying about stray pointers and just use Pygame. It worked great! I highly recommend it.  The only downside was that when there are a large number of blobs on the screen, there’s some significant flickery slowdown; I say it’s just an unintentional homage to the NES.

You can download Magnificent Gunbright from my website. It’s built for Windows, but it’ll run on Linux, assuming you have pygame, because all the source code is included.

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