PremiseYou take on the role of Stargella, a lonely star fighter pilot just returning home to the beautiful world of Freyja0 after a long patrol in deep space aboard the carrier ship Hofvarpnir1. Sadly in your absence, the evil Viekasiekian Empire has begun laying waste to your luscious planet! Deploying all fighters, as a group of imperial Triremes2 begin encircling the carrier, the tides turn in the enemies favour. Soon you find yourself the sole survivor to reach Freyja alive, as all remaining hands go down with the Hofvarpnir.
Far from fearing a single star fighter in their midst, you must exploit that Viekasiek pride in order to liberate your planet from the clutches of Emperor Zurick. Battling across the polar ice caps, over the sea, and into the forests of Freyja, you must push the Viekasiekian forces back into space: facing hordes of enemy fighters along the way. Among these include the heavy Ballista and Scuta, as well as lighter Velites3 and scout pods that make up the invasion force. Finally punching through the fleet in orbit, for a final show down against the emperor.
Game PlayThe game is meant to be played in a 2D-esque top down point of view, utilising the mouse to manoeuvre across the screen. At it's heart, is the intention to keep the action alive, blending an array of attachable/ejectable weapons and combat styles with a large amount of adversaries. My idea for a game, you can play additively as an arcade classic but with a pace that better befits the modern style. It's aimed at folks like myself, who can still sit down and play Centipede or Tetris all day long with a grin, but would like a bit more spice.
It is meant to be more or less, 'traditional', in the sense that power ups drift across screen to be collected, and fairly simple on the graphical spectrum.
Current specs call for about 11 enemy craft and 3 more usable by the player5. The players ship is basically given a capacitance based on its size: larger equals more guns and harder to kill. Depending on the class of ship5, will also limit its ability to bring that heavier ordinance to bear upon the Viekasiekian slime.
- The light fighter given at the start, being designed as a simple but agile craft, is meant to reflect an association with nature. It is obviously limited to only a few weapons because of its small size, but has a regenerative armour skin around a highly effective power plant, that makes for a long lasting craft with some serious skill. It gives extra advantage to players focused on not getting hit all the time, and favouring a few lasers backed by a heavier weapon for dispatched more powerful foes.
- Medium class, being a more conventional ship of the line gained after a a certain amount of game play. Trading the lighter vessels regenerative skin, for a deflector shield and larger weapons bays, every hit on the shields will reduce the power available to laser weapons; thus off setting the greater capability to carry heavier missile and cannon than smaller craft. It's meant to be a middle of the line way of playing, that rewards those who can balance its abilities during furious combat and still come out on top of the scrap heap.
- Where as the heavy class, is basically the big bruiser of the bunch. It's meant to be an unlock for scoring a good bit of points during the course of play, yet still balanced enough so that even the light fighter from the start can still stand a chance at winning the same fights as the heavy. Combing a large weapons payload with enough armour to last a while, it makes up for needing 'armour patches' during a long engagement, by being able to smash through anything that can't kill it. Think about a dump truck turned into a war marchine lol.
Weapons can be equipped when found, or jettisoned to make room for others. The hit list includes various strength of laser, that balance energy use to power consumption<6, as well as several class of heavier particle beam and ballistic cannon style weapons. My favourite being the missile types, hehe.
Each ship can only carry X slots in weapons with so much ammo, so one has to balance out what you have collected, when it's fired, when it's dropped, and do it all tactically during the regular course of game play. Weapons come in several principal varieties based on the kind of ammunition they utilise, making it simpler for the player to calculate a weapons value in the present situation.
- Drains part of your energy gauge with every shot, but other wise never runs out of ammunition.
- Blue Laser
- Low output for short range combat, aimed to minimise energy drain whilst dealing with cannon fodder.
- Green Laser
- Typical energy weapon offering moderate damage to energy consumption. It's a staple weapon but lacks serious punch.
- Red Laser
- Packs a hard punch but requires plenty of energy for each shot. Best suited for destroying targets that you can actually hit.
- Particle Cannon
- Fires a stream of charged paricles, consuming a large portion of energy in exchange for a solid knock down punch. It's the plasma cannons younger brother ;).
- Plasma Cannon
- Very powerful but sucks up energy like a thirsty vampire. Ideal for quickly dispatching Viekasekian scum.
- Drains all available energy and unleashes a devastating shock wave, dealing a proportionate level of damage to anything caught within the waves radius. A weapon of last resort!
- Uses up so much missile ammo per shot, but only a nominal amount of energy drain per firing. Some offer a form of lock, fire, and forget capability.
- Micro Missiles
- A small cluster of homing missiles, that gives chase to any craft in their line of fire. Not very powerful but amazingly handy in a brawl.
- Heavy Missiles
- Less intelligent than micro missiles, but capable of dealing strong damage to watever it manages to hit.
- Spread Bombs
- The tactical nuke of your arsenal. It fires straight ahead and explodes, dealing massive damage to anything within its corona. Best used as a weapon of last resort or against a tight group of enemies.
- Zip Mines
- Explodes a small zero point charge whenever a craft comes within a short radius of the "Zip" mine. They gradually float off screen, making it hazardous to player and enemy alike. This is your only rear firing weapon.
- Requires "Shells" for ammunition and packs a strong wallop with low energy drain.
- Auto Cannon (AC)
- Rotary Cannon (RC)
- A multi-barreled, large bore Gatling gun. Fires less powerful shells than the AC, but offers a more rapid rate of fire. Can quickly burn through smaller craft and shells alike, but it also jams with frequent use. Fire it in short bursts.
- Cluster Cannon (CC)
- In effect, a giant shotgun. Deals massive damage to anything up close but is practically useless for more distant targets.
TechnicalStargellas Revenge in it's own right, is only the equal of about 6-12 months worth of coding, leaving most of the effort to graphics creation. An early prototype was built in C++, around SDL for graphics and Xerces for data serialisation tasks. Soon however, I realised that it would be worth my while to make it more general, so that much of the games insides could be redeployed for other game projects7.
This makes the game much more time consuming, particularly when you consider its a 'side' project, but the advantages are worth the delay. One reason I like it, is it allows me to flesh out the systems resource, multiplayer, AI, and various other infrastructure tasks without having to do it while coding around a much more complex game.
Most likely, it'll be the test bed for a custom rendering system8 focused on stressing the API. The overall design of the games internal, is designed to be pluggable9 enough to allow easy access to some very professional strength rendering technologies, as well as being able to hot swap as much of the componentry as needed. Thus allowing the graphical quality to be reduced on systems where the better tools, are sadly, unavailable... without having to give up on them where so available10. The main reason for this being, I want to be able to play Stargella on my laptop11, as well as the 3D games on my desktop!
0 Freyja is a goddess in Norse mythology, associated with attributes appropriate for describing Stargellas home world.
1 Hófvarpnir another reference to Norse mythology.
2 The triremis being a type of Roman warship.
3 These are all references to Roman military weapons and armour. In particular watch out for the Celeres defending Zurick.
4 It's a fairly consistent theme, that names of Viekasiekian fighters stem from the Roman military, where as those assoicated with Stargella, have roots in Norse and Germanic mythologies.
5 Will probably be named after Valkyries.
6 Blue = low drain / damage; Green = medium; Red = kick ass and slurp power.
7 See previous post.
8 Think W3D level of complexity rather than COD6 graphics, but than again, this is a game inspired by games built during the 1970s.
9 I only intend to do OpenGL for most things, doing an equalivulent in DirectX 9/11 is left as an exercise to another geek, or a bored weekend.
10 You can have very high quality graphics under Windows NT, GNU/Linux, and Apple stuff: but FreeBSD is rather lacking in ease of deployment for games :-(.