Monday, December 14, 2009

Another small lander prototype update

Updates will likely continue to be slight in the time leading up to Christmas.

There is a new version of the lander prototype.

  • Increased rocket thrust: main nozzle by 75%, steering jets by 150%.
  • Added inset rocket view in upper-right corner of screen; useful when zoomed out. This will likely be replaced or augmented by indicators displayed over the rocket's location in the main display, so you don't have to look elsewhere.
  • Altered camera framing algorithm to emphasize the interesting band of radii on the planet. It can be made smoother than it is; just haven't finished yet.
  • Limited full-scene antialiasing to 4X, rather than 8X. I got really bad performance on one of the machines I tested on so this is an attempt to improve that.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Slight update to lunar lander prototype

I've uploaded a new version to the website with a couple of small changes:
  • Tuned the steering jet controller so it doesn't overshoot
  • Changed X/Z zoom controls to operate continuously
  • Fixed camera smoothing so it doesn't lag behind the rocket

Monday, December 7, 2009

Lunar Lander: prototype version 1 released

Here is the first released version of my Lunar Lander program. It runs under Windows and requires Direct3D 9 to be installed. I had hoped to have more of a game by my deadline but didn't have time to implement much, so I've tried to tie things off so it is relatively bug-free and playable. Once some of the holiday madness subsides I will make another release.

You can fly the orange, spherical rocket around the planet and attempt to make soft landings. There are a couple of control schemes of varying difficulty. Controls in a nutshell:
  • Steer with the mouse
  • Accelerate with the left mouse button
  • Zoom view in/out with X/Z or 1-5
  • Restart if you get stuck with R
  • Esc pauses and displays additional help.
Known issues:
  • Occasionally the aiming rockets will rotate the vehicle the long way around.
  • It is possible to get positive feedback by pressing Tab to accelerate time while simultaneously increasing the orbit size; this will blow up the simulation and require a restart.

Once again, thanks to Scott Lembke for his Chipmunk physics engine, a heavily-modified version of which lurks within. Thanks also to my testers: Tom Elmer, Seth McNeill and David McNeill. Enjoy!

I've released a couple of other little games in the past:
  • ThiefRL, an attempt to amalgamate Thief with Rogue
  • SpaceRL, a very small Roguelike exploring zero-gravity movement

Merging and sizing rocket prototypes

I continue to work on my Lunar-Lander-on-a-globe. The prototype with the Chipmunk-based rigid body dynamics has been merged into the prototype with the round planet. However, the dimensions of the two were completely different: the planet has sea-level radius of one; the rocket from the other prototype had a radius of 15. I'm still attempting to get all of the physical and control parameters adjusted to make things playable.

It finally became imperative to produce a workable camera. I've left zoom control manual for now but am otherwise quite happy with what I've got. It's yet another use of a critically-damped spring, to drive the camera parameters toward their goal positions. The goal positions are chosen to interpolate based on zoom level between a small circle surrounding the rocket and a bounding circle around the planet and rocket.

Next steps are to finish tuning the physics and control parameters; implement death and reset, and add some goal landing spots. Then I think I will do a release of what I have and shift focus to holiday-related chores. Some time around Christmas/New Year I should be able to devote energy to making it into a more interesting game.