Troll Game Jam: After the rush

Before I start getting into the nitty gritty details, I’d like to warn you that this post will be focused on some very technical, albeit awesome, details regarding cross platform development.

Now that you have been warned, let’s start where we left off, Snake Fight is a shiny neon shooter that adds the extra mechanic from the game of snake to make it more challenging. Gameplay wise there isn’t much to discuss, there’s one of you and a lot of baddies that shoot lasers and make colourful explosions.

Behind the curtains however, the first interesting thing is the way the game adapts to the current platform it’s being played on. My unofficial goal was to make an experiment to see how hard it is to develop something that can be played on anything (well almost anything, I don’t think there’s any chance of the Hurd being supported in the near future). The first problem that needed to be solved was resolution. Resolution actually spawns two problems:

  • Getting a consistent positioning for every possible resolution.
  • Stopping graphics from getting all smudgy from resizing

My approach was to stop thinking of the screen as a big rectangle comprised of a variable number of pixels, but rather as a rectangle that can span from 0.0 to 1.0. Basically instead of using absolute values, I used a percentage to describe the size and movement speed of the playable characters. The disadvantage here is that as the aspect ratios vary quite a lot, you will inevitably get unwanted stretching. My solution in this case was to make the percentage dependent only on the smallest size the screen currently has.

First problem tackled, there was just the issue of resizing assets that got fuzzy if they were stretched too much. I solved this one by generating all my assets at runtime from basic geometrical shapes. Luckily enough, the components I decided to use to build the game have an API that solved this for me, so I didn’t have to create wrapper over the drawing API to make squares appear on screen.  This also has the advantage that if there’s ever a need to move towards actually drawn images, I could just use the my shapes as target rectangles to blit the images. Of course, I’m still hoping that the nice shader bling will be enough to distract players from the lack of proper hand drawn graphics, but if not it feels good to know there’s an exit plan somewhere in there.

That being said, even though the game feels like it’s nearing completion, there’s always a little extra something that needs to be done before it feels good enough to be released to the public, there’s still some core graphics and input issues that need to be ironed out first and then there’s also thee need for some sort of graphical representation of your current lives and active effects, but that’s a discussion for another time.

For now, here’s a teaser:

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