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Old 22 July 2019, 11:38   #1
saimo
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Blastaway, a new game for AmigaOS 4 (?)

Blastaway, a new game for AmigaOS 4 (?)

Since the middle of May I've been working on a new game called Blastaway. It isn't finished yet, but it's playable.
Ideally, I would have loved to make it for AGA Amigas, but, instead, the target platform I chose was... Windows (!) Last week, I thought I could make it available for AmigaOS 4, too. So, I ported it and on friday I made an AmigaOS 4 build publicly available.
More about the platforms later: let's look at the game itself, first.

Blastaway will be (hopefully) a highly playable and entertaining arena shooter, gameplay-wise heavily and shamelessly inspired to Wizard of Wor and graphically somewhat inspired to The Chaos Engine.
Looking at the latest video preview will let you immediately understand what it is all about:

[ Show youtube player ]

You can try the game yourself anytime by downloading the latest build from the game's page (it will redirect you to https://retream.itch.io/blastaway, as itch.io is where I'm currently keeping all of my games).

At the moment there is only 1 stage (i.e. world) with its 10 arenas (i.e. levels), but the final game is planned to have 5 stages, for a total of 50 arenas. I have a few more points in my to-do list, but the core of the game is complete.
I'm releasing new builds frequently, so, if you're interested, keep an eye on the page and/or follow the public devlog on the same page or Twitter, LinkedIn, Patreon, TIGForums, YouTube. Whenever possible, I'll provide updates also in this thread.

Now back to the target platforms. There's a long story behind, and I'm going to be totally open about it. I'll try to keep it as short as possible, but still it will unavoidably turn out lengthy. Please bear with me.

I wrote that, ideally, I'd be making Blastaway for AGA Amigas: in fact, that would be the most self-rewarding experience, as I just adore programming the oldschool systems of my childhood/youth - the Amiga and the C64 - and doing that the oldschool way (i.e. direct hardware hitting). Moreover, I've developed a lot on the Amiga, but I have released too little, so my urge to make games for it is boosted further by the motivation of making more stuff of mine available for that machine. And then, I have a number of projects/engines waiting to be used, and I'm really afraid that I'll never have time to do anything with them. Those are the reasons that, less than two years ago, pushed me to return, after years of work on PC (in a general sense) and C64 games, to the classic Amiga and make SkillGrid.
Thus, the fact that I chose to target Windows is quite surprising, isn't it? And there's also another surprising aspect: while my other games are designed to bring innovation, be unlike anything else, and be based on rich and unusual mechanics (that often require massive and detailed manuals), Blastaway is familiar and straightforward, and I'm trying hard to refrain from adding the many gameplay features that my thirst for originality and depth suggests.
The reason for such a sharp (and tormented) turn is simple: I needed to reach the widest audience possible. I've been making anti-mainstream games, some of which for niche platforms (you know which), for a long time, but now I'm in a situation where I really needed to reach lots of people. So, I decided to go more mainstream. Sure, I'd better make real mainstream games, but my heart isn't there and I can't program a single line of code without heart (which is also why I'm not a developer by trade); also, I'm good only at making oldschool games, so Blastaway just had to be retro. Of course, this automatically means reducing the potential audience, but - hey - there are limits to what I can do. Also, the same limits are what rule out mobile platforms and consoles: I just can't find the words to explain how sick I feel at having to learn other platforms/systems/languages; I'm no geek, I'm not interested in technology per se, and I just feel like going crazy when working on systems which are alien to me (especially for projects that aren't my own). It's already a miracle I managed to build my own little, isolated world on top of C and SDL back in 2004, which is what allowed me to make games for PC like BOH, Huenison, KOG - and now Blastaway.

So, why do I need to reach a wide audience?
In the middle of 2016 I quit my job and returned to Italy to offer support to my seriously ill father and my mother. Returning to such country (and, in particular, the south part of it) automatically meant one thing: being unemployed or enslaved. I've had interviews, went through job selections, worked briefly for a certain company... all indecent, unspeakable experiences. Seeing how there's one thing that, even in this place, seemed to flourish, I decided to become a professional pizza maker. I've followed an expensive course and toured around making pizzas for about a year and a half; unfortunately, even this occupation fell in the category "slavery", so I quit. I've also written a book and looked for a publisher, but since in this rotten country publishers ask you money to publish a book (they run their companies with the authors' capital... now that's a smart business model!), I could only find a very small publisher willing to publish the book without getting paid: the book was indeed published, but the fact that the publisher was so small also meant that the book remained unknown (on top of that, I didn't get support from the people who had told me they'd help me with promoting the book). Basically, for about three years my only income was the little money that comes from my games, which is just pocket money (to give you an idea, just think that the all-time gross revenue of all my games on itch.io is a miserable $1389.84 USD). Basically, the only thing that allowed me to go on was that I was again at my parents' place: they gave me food to eat and a bed to sleep in - and, let's not forget it, the electricity to make my games.
(At least, my unemployment had the positive side of leaving me plenty of time to work on my projects: in fact, I have updated and re-released all my games, published the special physical editions of BOH and Huenison, had the heavily-expanded version of MAH published on cartridge and floppy, and even created SkillGrid from the scratch and have it published on CD and floppies.)
On May 5th a radical change happened: my father died (after years of ever-increasing physical/psychological/spiritual pain). Therefore, I could finally leave (for the third time) this devastated country and build a present and a future for myself somewhere else. Well, not really: I just couldn't leave my mother alone all of a sudden! I decided to stay a few more months so that she could deal with the loss more easily, and also to assist her with the burden of the bureaucratic matters. But then another thought came: I'd be far away just when she would need me most, that is, during the last part of her life. That will be hard for both, although she can't wait to see me begin to live again and will support any decision I'll take. I told myself: OK, for once, don't make the game you want, but the game that people want! As unlikely as it can be - who knows - maybe this time around you'll achieve a significant commercial success and be able to stay. Well aware of how nearly impossible that is, especially with an indie game of my kind, still I had a few months to give it a try: so, I (sadly) put aside my classic Amiga and C64 projects and started Blastaway. And not just that: to obtain the maximum visibility, as mentioned already, I also started keeping a frequently updated devlog, releasing pictures, videos, and builds, using the variety of channels listed above (plus Facebook, which I have recently gotten rid of due to personal data abuse). All that promotional activity requires a lot of work, which I honestly don't enjoy and I'd rather dedicate to the game itself. Finally, I never said that the game would be commercial: I haven't taken a decision yet, and actually one of the options was - and still is - that the game remains free, to really reach as many gamers as possible (in that case, what I'd earn is publicity, sales of my other games, and a chance to be noticed by some important player in the game industry).

Did I succeed? The answer is a big fat NO. In 64 days, Blastway had only 334 views and 60 downloads (and that's including multiple visits and downloads by who is somewhat interested in the game). There's only one word for this: failure.
I know it's going to be unpleasant to hear, but since I'm being 100% honest, I can't hide that such failure is the reason why the idea of making an AmigaOS 4 port came: I thought that I could get support from a small community that knows me already and that wants new software. By "support" I don't mean "sales", because, as said, the game might stay free and because the community is too small anyway, but the community might help a lot with spreading the word and attracting people outside of it, and also provide ideas regarding how to promote the game and reach others in the rest of the world.
That said, of course, giving the AmigaOS 4 community another game is an additional pleasure for me.

In conclusion: hey, I'm making a new game for AmigaOS 4, are you interested in it and would you help me let the rest of the world know about it? Please let me hear your comments and ideas, both about the game and about how to promote it, and let other people know!

Of course, you don't have to give support, nor must you necessarily like the game. If the game fails to generate enough interest in the community, I'll just acknowledge it and drop the AmigaOS 4 version.
Anyway, I'll do my best to get the game finished: it's something I personally and strongly want, even if nobody ever played it. I don't know how long it will take, and I'm afraid there will be soon major delays as I'll start looking for a job abroad at the beginning of August, but I really want to get it done (just like it happened to Huenison: I had started it when I was in Italy, then moved abroad three months later, and eventually finished and released it).

Finally, a few notes:
* I chose AmigaOS 4 because, quite simply, that's the only NG system I've ever had;
* please don't ask for ports to other systems: I can't take that burden (supporting two platforms is already demanding, and with BOH I've learned that increasing the number of supported systems beyond two is insane);
* please don't offer to make ports for other systems: also that, for several reasons, takes time and energies;
* please don't be offended if I don't answer to requests/observations about ports: I can't afford to get involved in conversations about something that isn't going to happen anyway;
* if you have a non-IT job for me in a Nordic country, please let me know!
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Old 22 July 2019, 20:06   #2
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@saimo

what a great surprise Simone !!!

a BIG YES please count me in even for a phyical release as well if that happens...as you know already I'm sorry to hear about your recent struggles but keep strong and keep doing what you love and supporting your mother as much as you can

to all fellow my fellow amigans please consider donating anything you can afford to Simone's Patreon page:

https://www.patreon.com/RETREAM/overview
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Old 22 July 2019, 21:00   #3
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@klx300r

I'm deeply grateful to you for your neverending enthusiasm and support
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Old 23 July 2019, 16:37   #4
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A less traumatic start: previously, the entrance was such that the player had to enter the arena very carefully, a enemies might hide behind the arch, and only their shadows could be seen behind the entrance bars. I decided that it was a little unfair, so I have redesigned everything.
The "only" other notable change here is that the AmigaOS 4 version gets hardware-accelerated scaling. Before, the old AmigaOnes like mine (AmigaOne XE G4 @ 1 GHz + Radeon 9000) had a very hard time coping with zoom factors from 3x and above (e.g. at 4x the frame rate dropped to about 16 fps), but now the game runs constantly at full speed, no matter the zoom factor! (The second part of the video shows precisely this.)

[ Show youtube player ]

CHANGELOG
* Redesigned entrance so that enemies behind it can be seen.
* Added (experimental) hardware-accelerated scaling to AmigaOS version.
* Added an arena.
* Touched up some arenas.
* Improved manual.

Latest build download: https://www.retream.com/Blastaway
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Old 23 July 2019, 18:26   #5
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Looks very nice, I hope You will have success with Your project ^^
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Old 23 July 2019, 19:57   #6
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Thanks!
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Old 23 July 2019, 20:34   #7
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Looks good saimo; shame it's not for classic 3.1 Amigas though otherwise
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Old 23 July 2019, 23:09   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DamienD View Post
Looks good saimo;
Thanks!



Quote:
shame it's not for classic 3.1 Amigas though otherwise
You can be sure I'm more heartbroken than you
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Old 28 July 2019, 17:02   #9
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More noise! Arenas feature now some blocks that can be destroyed by shooting at them: at first, that might seem useful to wander around more easily, but, on second thought, that also makes life easier to wors! In fact, they can destroy the blocks, too...
(Note: in the future, the blast marks on the ground might: a) stay as they are; b) go; c) be extended to affect also the vertical elements like walls. Option c) is the most unlikely.)

[ Show youtube player ]

CHANGELOG
* Added destroyable blocks.
* Assigned [SPACE], [ENTER], [RETURN], [CONTROL], [SHIFT], [TAB] the shooting function.
* Touched up graphics.
* Added one arena.
* Updated/improved manual.
* Made other internal improvements/bugfixes.

Latest build download: https://www.retream.com/Blastaway
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Old 29 July 2019, 20:01   #10
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@all

Several people in several places told me that they'd happily buy the game (and a couple of them, whom I can never thank enough, even donated me very generous amounts of money): while such intention is much appreciated, at the moment sales are *not* what I'm after! As explained, the game might even be free (and currently it is). The best support right now consists in letting people outside of the Amiga community know about the game. "Outside" because of two reasons: many/most of the fellow Amigans already know by now, and those who don't know yet will sooner or later; the Amiga community is (sadly) very small, so it doesn't make a real commercial difference.
The indie scene has become an ocean and an industry, so it's extremely unlikely to reach a significant success without important connections and massive investments in marketing; still, word of mouth might help the game hit the right spot at the right time... sure, almost impossible... but not completely impossible ;-)
So, if you feel like, just let your friends/connections know: that's the best form of support the game can get. Thanks in advance!

By the way, of course many thanks to who already helped with spreading the word and, in particular, to these blogs and the authors of the respective articles (in alphabetical order):
* Amiga.gr, https://amiga.gr/2019/07/925/blastaway
* AmigaGuru Gamerblog, https://blog.amigaguru.com/a-first-look-at-blastaway/
* Epsilon's Amiga Blog, http://amigax1000.blogspot.com/2019/...-on-x5000.html
(If I missed any, please let me know.)
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Old 31 July 2019, 00:08   #11
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Improved looks: this update mostly brings cool enhancements to the graphics.

[ Show youtube player ]

CHANGELOG
* Redrawn wor kill animation (and changed associated sound effect accordingly).
* Improved graphics of tiles, destroyable objects explosion, blast mark, and bonuses orbs.
* Made a couple of other internal improvements/bugfixes.

Latest build download: https://www.retream.com/Blastaway
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Old 06 August 2019, 17:41   #12
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A brand-new stage and tons of other improvements! Finally Blastaway has more than one stage (i.e. setting), which means more graphics to enjoy, greater sense of progression (as the stages change every 10 arenas), and more arenas to play (20 in all now, but they will be 50 when, in the end, all the 5 planned stages are done).

[ Show youtube player ]

CHANGELOG
* Defined the setting of the stages and gave them names (THE CAVES, THE OUTER WALLS, THE CELLARS, THE CHAMBERS, THE LABS).
* Added a new stage (THE CAVES).
* Changed naming scheme of arenas.
* Extended handling of arena clearing: now an arena will be declared cleared only after also all the keys have been picked up (before, killing the Exxwor immediately ended the action and thus the player could miss the keys not picked up yet, which could make facing the following arenas impossible).
* Recalibrated bonuses distribution.
* Made killing the Dmewor easier.
* Made picking up keys easier.
* Improved Exxwor's AI a little bit.
* Halved wors speed increase between arenas.
* Prevented entrance doors from closing if any wor is in the entrance area (otherwise, a wor might get stuck there, thus becoming unreachable by the active soldier inside the arena, which could well lead to a situation where it was impossible clear the arena and continue the game).
* Adapted/improved/fixed some arenas.
* Adapted/improved/extended manual.
* Made various other improvements/bugfixes.

Latest build download: https://www.retream.com/Blastaway
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Old 13 August 2019, 18:52   #13
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A new stage and ten new arenas to enjoy!
This build represents a major step as it adds lots of content and brings quite a number of additional improvements.

[ Show youtube player ]

CHANGELOG
* Added stage THE WAREHOUSE (previously THE CELLARS/JAILS).
* Added 8 arenas.
* Added milestone bonus (a soldier is awarded every 20000 points).
* Reduced number of wors to kill per stage.
* Refined rendering of blast marks, so that they follow the irregular borders of the nearby vertical tiles.
* Reduced shadows to 2 bits to make them sharper and stay more faithful to 16 bit machines.
* Touched up / redrawn a few tiles.
* Updated/improved manual.
* Made a couple of minor bugfixes.

Latest build download: https://www.retream.com/Blastaway
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Old 18 August 2019, 01:03   #14
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A small but key change: the soldier weapon is now centered relatively to his body, so it is easier to hit wors especially when the soldier is pointing west/east. Also, the HUD should be less intrusive and more readable now.







CHANGELOG
* Centered weapon with respect to the soldier body, so that it is easier to aim.
* Made HUD smaller and easier to read.
* Optimized tiles coordinates handling.

Latest build download: https://www.retream.com/Blastaway
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Old 19 August 2019, 17:06   #15
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Gameplay improvements: this update improves some key gameplay aspects and, in particular, fixes the bug that made beams pass through fast-moving wors without killing them (the so-called "tunneling bug").

[ Show youtube player ]

CHANGELOG
* Fixed tunneling bug.
* Increased maximum soldiers (i.e. lives) number to 7.
* Changed a parameter in the Exxwor AI.
* Touched up some graphics.

Latest build download: https://www.retream.com/Blastaway
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Old 20 August 2019, 20:57   #16
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Looks good, I'll try it once I return from holidays.
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Old 22 August 2019, 12:07   #17
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Thanks!


@all

Wizard of Wor, the game Blastaway inspires to, has a DOUBLE SCORE bonus: if the player manages to kill the Worluk before it flees, the next dungeon will award a double score. Blastaway just had to have something similar: it has it now, and it has even a TRIPLE SCORE bonus! If the player kills the Dmewor and Exxwor with the first shot, he achieves, respectively, the DOUBLE and TRIPLE SCORE bonuses, which, as their names suggest, double or triple the current arena score.



CHANGELOG
* Extended arena end screen report.
* Added DOUBLE and TRIPLE SCORE bonuses.
* Reduced wors speed increase.
* Added specific tune during the fight against the Dmewor.
* Added 5 arenas.
* Updated manual.

Latest build download: https://www.retream.com/Blastaway
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Old 22 August 2019, 13:14   #18
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Everything looks great now, very readable except my only suggestion is the gradient overlay text, please make it more subtle. Thanks for the updates
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Old 22 August 2019, 14:52   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by invent View Post
Everything looks great now, very readable
Thanks!

Quote:
except my only suggestion is the gradient overlay text, please make it more subtle.
Now that the arena report has become a wall of text, I find it not that readable, too, so I agree with you that something needs to be done about it. But, instead of changing the gradient, I'd rather use differently colored fonts, mostly on alternate line basis. It's in my TO-DO list, but I still haven't had time to experiment.

Thanks for the feedback

Edit: implemented now. This is how it looks:



(I have changed also the colors of all the other texts, by the way.)

Last edited by saimo; 22 August 2019 at 16:18.
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Old 22 August 2019, 17:43   #20
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Looks much better now
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