raccoon buddy

there are some cats in the neighborhood that come over to my place regularly for snacks and treats. one day i noticed two of them lounging on the patio so i put out a scoop of cat food for them. out of nowhere this chunky raccoon scurried over, chased the cats away, and started chowing down!

for over a week he came back every day or two at dinner time. it was so fun watching him eat with his crazy paws.

ZeroVector Review

cool! ZeroVector was reviewed by shmup.com. 7/10 not too shabby for someone’s first shmup. 🙂 it’s in French so here’s it is translated by Google

ZeroVector 0.2

so i wanted to do an update to my game ZeroVector for the 2018 Christmas holiday (and one year anniversary of its original release) buuuut i got started on it way late and bit off too much work so it wasn’t actually until May 1st that i actually got it out. i think it came out pretty cool though! 🙂

a major part of the update is a new multiplayer “Conquest” mode. in it, everyone is assigned randomly to the blue, red, or purple faction and then compete to capture sectors on a hexagonal map. this gives an extra fun dimension to the game besides just a single score attack leaderboard. the stages in each sector are also different and sectors can have “mods” applied to them so there’s extra variety to play.

ZeroVector Conquest map

with the update, there’s lots more game content added. along with new enemy ships and firing patterns there are also two new bosses to fight! big thanks to Kirill for helping me out with 3d meshes for the spider and stealth bomber and some other cool enemies like the stingrays.

ZeroVector Laser Boss ZeroVector Spider Boss

the game uses a custom 3d engine and in 0.1 i had limited myself to drawing only lines. all the ships, bullets, effects, text, and UI just used single pixel width lines. this helped me keep things simple and focus on building out the gameplay instead of sinking all my time into fun graphics stuff. now with the 0.2 update i still go for the same retro vector display style but eased up on that lines only restriction. this meant fleshing out all the engine systems for fragment shaders, textures, font rendering, and such. also i implemented a simple animation system so that some enemies and bosses can have moving parts.

something i struggled with was making each stage feel different. i tried and failed a lot with different color schemes for the enemies, bullets, and backgrounds. i had to keep changing the rendering to make it possible for me to push the styles apart. hopefully it came out somewhat sufficient. i also try to have some different enemy types and unique firing patterns to differentiate the stages. for the backgrounds i built a new procedural system which can interact with the player, enemies, and triggers and the code came out quite cool but still falls short in the actual game. in future updates i want to make better use of it and have a million ideas still to explore with it.

ZeroVector stage styles

another thing i needed to do for 0.2 was build out a proper UI system. in 0.1 i had gotten away with a crazy simple hard coded UI needing it only for the main menu and score screen. with the update there’s loads more UI especially with the Conquest mode. it’s still quite a simple system though with hierarchy of controls in linear horizontal, vertical, and stack layouts. i render the text using pre-computed signed distance fields from the font glyphs and that works really nice for having text at many sizes easily.

ZeroVector Conquest leaderboard

overall, i built out all the different game systems a ton in this update so it’s now a lot easier to create new content for it. i think it’ll be fun to make some new content (enemy, firing pattern, stage, etc) each weekend and slowly build up a nice big set of content for the next major update while also releasing some to new modes and sectors in Conquest along the way. it’s fun having a shmup i can noodle with over time. 😀

if you haven’t tried it out, you can download ZeroVector for free from the iOS App Store and from Android Google Play. if you enjoy it be sure to visit the in game store and buy me a taco! it’s fun when people do that and i really do go out and celebrate with tacos from Taco Bell, Chipotle and Pepe’s 🌮 😍 🌮

Command and Conquer Rivals

command and conquer rivals

i’ve been playing a lot of C&C Rivals on the iPad. it’s the best RTS for iPad yet! they did an amazing job adapting RTS to small screens and touch input.

the unit cap is only six so you don’t have to worry about selecting and managing a lot of units at once and the whole map fits on the screen so there’s no fiddling around with scrolling. this all keeps things very focused on strategies with which units you bring into the match and which six units you have built at any given time. it’s great! there’s a lot of depth to the micro and unit counters so you’re always busy rotating units around to give them the best match ups. also instead of just taking out an enemy base you can take control over launch pads to charge them up and send a missile at the enemy base. this does a nice job spreading the focus around the map between bases, harvesters, and missile pads.

there is a bit of pay to win since people can spend a lot of money to quickly level up their units. but, it’s handled pretty well and things don’t get too unfair. the matchmaking does a good job of pitting you up against people with units of similar level and when you do get matched against a whale with high level units it becomes a “challenge battle” where there’s no penalty for you if you lose and a nice boost in medals when you win. this feels like a reasonable compromise where they can rake in the cash from rich kids wanting easy victories while subsidizing and not spoiling the game for the free to play people.

every day there are five “bounties” you can complete to unlock a loot chest. i look forward to doing these each day - it’s a simple trick to get you to keep playing but it works. 🙂 it takes about 10 matches to get through them and you can re-roll the bounties to get new ones if for example it wants you to use a unit you don’t like. i actually kind of wish you couldn’t re-roll and so were forced to try different units and tactics more. as it is i always just re-roll the bounties until they apply to my current GDI and Nod decks - then play 10 matches and i’m done for the day. after the bounties you get very little rewards (xp, gold, etc) so it doesn’t feel worth it unless really trying to grind your way up the ladder.

i made it into the top “tiberium” league in January (which it said was top 0.5% of players) doing just free to play. last season I didn’t get as far maybe because I kept trying to make bad builds work or maybe because more players came in. i may try just playing it all day some sunday and seeing if i can get back into tiberium before the current season ends. i’m playing the current meta GDI and Nod decks which is pretty boring but have a decent 70+% win rate so i should be able to grind up there.

anyway that’s my mini review and what i’ve been playing lately. 🙂

drawer

i made a little program that procedurally draws a bunch boxes with strokes that mimic hand drawn lines. i got a bit fancy with the occlusion and finding outlines and then producing an animation that builds up the lines in a way a human might.

the box arrangements are different every time it runs and come out looking like robot insects to me which i thought was kinda neat. 🐜 🤖 🙂