Vintage & Modern Tech Blog

Game Production Diary - Pause For Thought

April 1, 2016

1st April 2016

In order for me to complete making a game that can be played for a significant amount of time compared to the 10-minutes-if-played-perfectly 8-bit version of Cap'n Rescue - all on my own - a production diary was one of the first things to be dropped from my plans but, that is a decision I have decided to back on temporarily, as I'm in the mood for good grumble.

The remake is coming along nicely.  I recently decided that the game looked a little too basic, so I made some more interesting background tiles - I'm still repeating the same tile for efficiency on each level, but the overall effect looks more professional, and I'm pleased with it.

Despite the fact I've been tinkering away at the remake for 11 months now, I still find bugs when I'm testing. The main culprit is the pause feature, which is quite an important feature to have and that doesn't really need an explanation but, I'll mention the phone going while you are playing a level, for example, or needing to go to the toilet as another. 

I have a simple variable for pause, which allows the game to play if it is set to 0. If pause is set to 1, then everything freezes, a menu layer appears, and you can play around with sound settings, save progress etc. 

Pause is the bane of this game's existence, though because, everything has to stop - no simple catch-all instruction is suitable. 

The music has to stop but, if it is a different level then it has to be different music that stops. If you're being chased by a ghost, then not only do you have to be stop the chase tune but, all the volume controls (Up, Down, Toggle) must affect the chase tune and not the regular level tune.

On the subject of the Ghosts, for some reason (perhaps more like you would expect from a Ghost. were it real) their collision detection would deactivate during pause, and when the game restarted they would appear, having passed through a wall far too early in the level and then not disappear for an epic amount of time, chasing you around with accompanying music which seemed to go on forever.

I also had a problem that if you used a laser power-up on a left-to-right 'Scuttleaye' enemy, then paused while it was in mid-air, when you unpaused, instead of dropping off then level into oblivion, the Scuttleaye remains on-screen looking like an upside down turtle that can't right itself.

For both problems, I introduced a fail-safe timer that destroys the enemy if they have displayed for too long. It works but I wonder if it could be improved a bit. In the case of the ghosts I also made invisible barriers to prevent them from straying beyond their intended chase areas, and gave them a list of objects to bounce off.

That's all for now,

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