Zero Point Post-Mortem

Posted by
April 25th, 2015 8:36 pm

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Play and Rate Zero Point

Hello, we are Nega Drive and we made a game for LD32 called Zero Point, as you clever people may have deduced from the above title. I am Rich, the artist and musician, and my friend Matt did the coding and all the actual hard work.

We’ve done a twin-stick shooter before, Dekasektor, and I was kind of reluctant to do another one, but Matt came up with the idea of flinging objects in the environment at enemies, and it sounded pretty cool. I then suggested to maybe adjust the idea so that the flinging works in the style of the Gravity Gun from Half-Life 2 (which is where the name Zero Point came from, the fancy name for the Gravity Gun is the “Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator”) because I figured it would feel more visceral and direct than just a tractor beam where you’re just manipulating objects from a distance. I think it worked out alright, I hope you guys agree. Here’s a run down of what went well, and what went badly, in my opinion.

What Went Right

We finished it, and its pretty fun. The main mechanic of launching stuff at the enemies is pretty satisfying, especially when you hit the little Swarmer enemies and they do a chain reaction. The game is difficult, but I think its reasonable enough that you can keep practicing and get a good run of a few minutes going. I feel quite bad actually because Matt really worked hard on getting things working right to the last minute, and I got the majority of my stuff done in the first day. The next game will have to take place inside an intricate oil painting or something, to balance out the karma.

The aesthetics and soundtrack. I’m pretty happy with the look of the game. Thanks to Unity 5 finally opening up full post-processing support for free users, we were able to add bloom, which really adds a lot to the aesthetic of the game. The simple vector sprites would have been pretty plain without it. I had the idea early on of having the walls be made of several transparent layers on top of eachother, to give them a pseudo-3D look. Matt was able to implement this and I think it looks pretty cool. As far as soundtrack goes, I had a bit of creative block with the music, but I eventually was able to salvage an old track from a previous failed project and polished it up for this game. I think it complements the spacey ethereal look of the game quite well.

The map. Personally I quite enjoy the kinda mazey arena. I dunno, maybe its just me, I find it quite fun darting down the tunnels on the outside and occassionally zipping in and out of the central area. The flow reminds me of running around an Unreal Tournament map or something. Maybe I’m just weird.

The AI. Matt spent a long time getting the working properly, but the enemy ships do actually track you around the arena, apart from the Carriers, that just wander about aimlessly plopping mines everywhere. This was particularly amusing during development, we had a test Swarmer chasing us around and running into us, but it wasn’t programmed to explode yet, and sometimes it would get dozy and spin around randomly. It was adorable. The thing just wanted a hug!

What Went Unright

The ship physics. Once again, Unity’s physics system got the better of us. Curse you, Unity. CUUURSE YOOOUUU. Ahem. For reasons not quite known to me the ship has some slightly odd physics in regards to coming to a stop. The ship seems to carry on moving after releasing the movement key for a very brief period before coming to a stop, and it almost feels like input lag. I don’t know if everyone has the same experience since Matt didn’t seem to notice it, but I do. Basically its just a case of tweaking the values, and we simply ran out of time. Sorry guys!

Asteroids don’t do enough damage. There is some sort of bug where the damage done by an asteroid is calculated after the physics are worked out, so sometimes the asteroid will have already slowed down by the time damage is calculated, meaning the damage is less than it should be. I think thats the explanation anyway, I’ve probably butchered it and Matt is rolling his eyes at a thousand miles an hour. Anyway, it is kind of annoying when the fighters take loads of asteroids to kill.

Lack of progression. There’s no real end goal to the game, only the pursuit of the longest survival time and the highest score. Some people don’t really seem to understand this, which is probably fair, people do expect some sort of ultimate goal in a game. We had plans for a boss fight early on, but we didn’t have time. That’s just how the cookie crumbles sometimes.

The spinner. We were going to have a bad guy that spins around and occassionally spews out some sort of weird ‘friction gas’ that stops you firing objects through it. It might have been neat, but once again, the lack of time reared its ugly head. Maybe in the post-compo!

Features To Add

For the post-compo we’re looking to zoom out the camera a bit (we had some complaints you couldn’t see enough of the arena at once), tweaks to gameplay balance and physics, and just some general bugfixing. We’re looking to add the Spinner enemy into the game, maybe even a boss fight or multiple arenas. Also, we’re working on online leaderboards for the game, so those high-scores might actually mean something! Hopefully we’ll actually get this stuff done this time and not be super lazy. One can only hope!


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