Archive for April, 2008

Major “Sharky’s Air Legends” release for Windows & XBOX 360 out now! Loads of enhancements, changes & fixes.

Monday, April 28th, 2008

No more “preview builds”, this is the real deal folks.  I’ve just uploaded the new release here.

In my best tacky movie trailer voice I say “If you see one “Sharky’s Air Legends” this year – SEE THIS ONE!”.

I’m stoked to release what I consider a complete game. By complete I mean, it is less a sandbox experience, more a gaming experience.  The gameplay now has purpose & tension with scoring implemented and a game over screen showing player stats. Rest assured I will continue to enhance air legends adding better and better features etc…  I also can’t wait to bring it to the living rooms of XBOX 360 owners across the world, when Microsoft open the home-brew games floodgates to 10 million XBOX Live users.

 

Sharky's Air Legends - more mayhem

There is a huge number of changes in this version (some of which you’ll have seen in my recent “preview” builds).  Barely a piece of code went untouched/unoptimized.

  • Stability improved! solved all XBOX 360 crashes, so hopefully helps those that experienced Windows crashes. None of which I’ve been able to repro.
  • HUGE improvements to the AI aircraft
  • can choose team size for a much larger battle. Up to 5 vs 5. (Allies vs Axis)
  • choice of game play between Battle & co-op. Co-op ensures players fly the aircraft of the same team
  • Smarter camera keeps closest enemy in view, or if too far away looks in that general direction
  • New “Look around” control, lets you override the smart camera for a period of time
  • now team based scoring. +1 points for bullet hit on an enemy. -1 points for bullet hit on a friendly
  • selectable Score Limit + game over screen with player stats
  • Smoke is thicker/darker the more you are damaged
  • your aircraft doesn’t leave the screen view so often. Not perfect, but good enough for now
  • Now cross-platform with an XBOX 360 build available too
  • memory usage optimizations
  • refactored particle systems for less memory & better performance
  • Special Maneuver can now be performed with either the “Left Shoulder” button or “Left Trigger” on XBOX 360 controllers

 

Go grab the new Windows & XBOX 360 version from the Latest Build page here.

 

Outnumbered
chaotic splitscreen
Teamwork
Lobby: Battle mode
Lobby: Co-op mode
Team result and player stats

One last thing…

Don’t forget to help me win a Nintendo Wii!

:o )

 

Sharky’s Blog – now with 50% added *bling*

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

I was feeling artistic last night. I finally updated my blog’s theme!
(a slightly modified version of the “Pure” WordPress theme)

I hope you like it!

p.s. don’t forget to help me win a Nintendo Wii!

Please help me win a Wii… for my kids

Monday, April 14th, 2008

…cough. Ok, so I may actually play with it too!

Last year I was deeply involved in a really exciting project at work called ActionThis.  It’s a global, web-based service providing task management for Teams.  It’s strength is in helping you and the people you collaborate with get things done. It also works well for individuals, and makes a fine todo list.
Best of all it’s FREE

There are also some very attractive premium features available if you choose to pay, such as:
- a Microsoft Outlook 2003 & 2007 plugin
- a Microsoft Excel 2003 & 2007 plugin

Personally I reckon ActionThis is a perfect tool for those XNA game, Indie game & Mod developers so often distributed across the world.

Enough with the sales pitch! 

To help my chances of winning the Wii, I need to get as many ActionThis sign-ups as possible. If I get more than anyone else in the company I… I mean my kids get the Wii!

All you need to do is sign up for a FREE trial of ActionThis using the Referral code INT413. When the trial is over it will automatically downgrade to the FREE plan. Of course you may choose to pay and continue with the premium features!

Click here for the free trial.
and remember to use the Referral code INT413.

Oh, and tell all your friends! 

So, are you interested to know what “Air Legends” features/bugs I’m working on?  I’m using ActionThis for Sharky’s Air Legends.  Any time you want to see what I’m working on next, just take a look at my “What I’m working on” page here.  (thanks to my good friend Jeff for the fine ActionThis widget)

Got a feature request or bug?  Assign an Action Item to atomicSharky@gmail.com – that’s me.

“Sharky’s Air Legends” preview #3 build released. How does a 5 vs 5 battle sound?

Monday, April 14th, 2008

I’ve uploaded yet another preview build. That’s 3 now – must be some kind of record.

This one features:

  • selectable team sizes. From 1 vs 1 to 5 vs 5
  • improved Lobby screen
  • reduced bullet range so the enemy AI can no longer shoot you from well outside the screen where you can’t even see them
  • new Team score HUD partly complete
  • survivability improved (even in a 5 vs 5 dogfight)

Known issues with this build:

  • Computer team name “Neutral” is wrong. Should be Allies or Axis
  • Scoring not completed. Doesn’t reward/penalize mid-air collisions.
  • epic battles are now possible but a little to hard to complete the kill. Usually ends up in a collison
  • funky new camera stuff occasionally lets your own plane disappear from view briefly
  • I get random mystery crashes on the XBOX 360 version. I’m not sure why yet, but try again 2, maybe 3 times and you’ll start getting a trouble free game. Bizarre. I would love to hear if anyone else is experiencing this on the 360?

Once again, this is a sneak peak release showing off my newest features as I polish them. My old, comparitively boring, release is still available here.

Try preview #3 here

You can download it directly with the following links…

“Air Legends” goes Cross-Platform (Windows & Xbox360) – preview build #2 out now

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

I’ve uploaded another preview build – this one vastly improves on the last one and shows off a great new feature I hadn’t mentioned before.

Thanks also to some generous donations “Air Legends” is now working on the XBOX 360 too, and you can try both flavours from the links below.

Think of this as a sneak peak, rather than an official release. There are known issues – things left to do before I’ll make an official release of it.

About that new feature I mentioned above…

The camera movement is a whole lot smarter now. I was getting fed up with how a lot of the time you’re shooting blind, because the enemy is often just outside the edge of the screen. One option was to zoom out, but I’ve tried something a bit different that I’m really stoked with.

It works like this.

  • the game keeps track of the closest enemy aircraft
  • the camera attempts to keep both yourself and the tracked aircraft in view.
  • if the tracked aircraft is too far away (out of the screen) the camera movement and position of your own aircraft will still give you a sense of where the tracked aircraft is coming from.
  • if you have an XBOX 360 controller you can use the Right ThumbStick to override the direction camera is focusing. ie. disregard the tracked aircraft and look somewhere else. After a couple of seconds left idle the view springs back to the tracked aircraft again.

Try it here

So if you’re keen try the 2nd preview build you can download it directly with the following links…

Preview build available – for the keen

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

If anyone feels game to try the “Coming soon-ish” features NOW, you can download a preview build directly here.

BE WARNED. There are a bunch of Known Issues that I still have to address before I’ll release this one officially.

I did a whole lot of refactoring along the way, so now it’s a case of putting things back into place again. Things such as Scoring don’t work quite right yet etc…

See this post for the full list of known issues/things to do

More Sharky’s Air Legends! Coming soon-ish.

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008

SURPRISE, I’m back!  I’ll keep this real brief though.  Just as soon as I’m satisfied, I’ll be releasing a new version of “Air Legends” with some cool new things.  Take a look at this screenshot, and you might guess what… 

Sharky's Air Legends - seeing double?

A clue?  Count the planes…

 

So here’s what I’m talking about…. 

  • Still single player or 2 player Split-screen, but those extra planes are AI planes.  Made possible now because of my next point…
  • I’ve improved the AI enormously. It is no longer the fake, more or less random & suicidal AI it was before.  It is fairly simplistic & home-brewed but very effective.
    The new AI…
    • only shoots when it makes sense to!
    • actually hunts you down and kills you
    • lead their shots – deadly.
    • have some simple self preservation techniques.
    • recognizes friend from foe and attacks other enemy AI’s.
  • What this all means is I can now make the single player experience much more fun.  To date it’s been pretty much proof-of-concept and some cannon fodder practice for those just wanting to sample the game with.
  • When you have two players & both select the same aircraft you get CO-OP play!

Why not release it right now?

I have some tweaks to do before I’ll be satisfied. e.g…

  • The AI is a little TOO effective right now.  Some tweaking required.
  • The AI doesn’t have the smarts yet to hold fire when a team mate gets in the way.
  • I’ll be able to ramp up the number of aircraft to more than just 4, but I have to optimize a few things such as…
    • more planes means more particles (bullets, explosions, smoke etc…).  I plan to scale the quantities of particles back based on how many planes are buzzing round.
  • Scores.  These changes mean I’ll need to revise the scoring to be Team scores – will retain stats per player if I can.
  • Lobby changes.  I want to make the team sizes selectable at the lobby screen. So you can choose 1 vs 4, 2 vs 2 etc…
  • Bound to be some bugs along the way.

So what about an XBOX 360 version?

I’m excited to announce I finally own an XBOX 360, so “Air Legends” WILL be coming to the console just as soon as I can manage it!

  • I still have to buy my Creators Club Membership before I can start realizing the dream.
  • Some unexpected car bills, and flooded house have delayed my start a little.  Of course donations are most welcome…  ;o)

 

That’s it for now folks.  Stay tuned…