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AppGameKit/AppGameKit Studio Showcase / Combat StarZone [ WIP ]

Daniel TGC
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Joined: 19th Feb 2007
Location: TGC
Posted: 23rd Sep 2013 02:48 Edited at: 29th Sep 2013 19:19

Hi guys,

I've started a medium term project rather than my usual 24 hour coding sessions I'm hoping to develop this game through alpha, beta and release stages using the Google Play store system to start with, then I'll port the Tier 1 code to all platforms that AppGameKit supports. I am documenting the whole development process in a rough blog format which can be turned into lesson notes in the future.

So for all intents and purposes this is intended to be a proper game with a proper development cycle which I can then teach to students.

This video shows the early Alpha I produced over the weekend, the code and game are far from mature, but it is playable enough to warrant an Alpha stage release at build 1.

If anyone want to help out by testing this game, reporting bugs and suggesting features then please e-mail me at with your google e-mail address and I'll send you an invitation. The alpha and beta's will be distributed through the google play system, again so I can document how to use it, benefits of using it, and any comments you guys might have.

I am also going to keep track of the costs involved for developing this project. I intend to invest in proper professional artwork, videos and audio. Due in the alpha stages of course I'll just be using placeholder graphics while I work out a list of what I'll need to complete the game.

*** Update 004

Daniel TGC
Retired Moderator
Years of Service
User Offline
Joined: 19th Feb 2007
Location: TGC
Posted: 23rd Sep 2013 07:43 Edited at: 23rd Sep 2013 07:47
Download Build 002 APK HERE

Build 002 is up. This adds:

* Enemies re spawn
* Automated fire just hold down on the screen
* manual fire-as-fast-as-you-can-tap enabled in addition to auto
* Butterflies now random colours
* Improved game performance, now runs at 60fps on a single core 800mhz ARM processor

Goals for build 003

* Lose game conditions
* Removal of video from main APK
* Download video to phone feature
* Laser gun fix, fire from nose of ship
* Smoother butterfly movement
* Explosion animations

Goals for build 004

* Create HUD
* Improve artwork
* Add new player ship for every 10,000 points
* Improve laser graphics
* Replace menu screen code
* Add high score functionality
Daniel TGC
Retired Moderator
Years of Service
User Offline
Joined: 19th Feb 2007
Location: TGC
Posted: 29th Sep 2013 19:23 Edited at: 29th Sep 2013 19:46

Game Development
Combat StarZone

Before I try to teach anyone how to program, I always begin with an actual project designed to fit both a goal and my own passion for creation. Ever since Star Trek TNG, I've loved space. This has carried on into my game programming. I've learned to code Asteroids, Space Invaders, and this game is another long those lines. The game I used to play that has inspired Combat StarZone is Starship Command an old game on the BBC Master. For those of you who never played it, or for those of you who do remember it here's a nostalgic video of that game.

The difference between ripping off a game, and being in inspired by a game, is very simple. You have to write a game as you'd like to play one, or do some market research and find out what your customers want. Directly ripping off every single aspect of a game from it's general gameplay, style and theme isn't acceptable no matter how much you love it.

So whenever I start out on a nostalgic inspired game I'm very careful to create something unique, to introduce plenty of my own ideas, from story concept, to in game systems.

This bore Combat StarZone, the basic principle is the same, you fly around space and shoot stuff. But hey, you can say that about almost everything, 90% of games are running around something shooting stuff. The biggest aspect of Starship Command I wanted to capture was the sense of size. I didn't want to put up artificial barriers that slap the player in the face. Hitting the edge of a playable zone and having to turn back always slams me out of the fantasy. This is reflected in my choice of game that I played growing up. Starship command, Elite, Elite Frontier, and many others. They all give you an amazing sense of freedom.

At the same time I wanted to introduce some kind of physics into my game. I'm not talking bouncing balls, but just enough to inspire imagination. For example, what happens when you fly at the speed of light and try to shoot a laser in front of you? Simply put the laser will travel and the same speed as you. In this game as you speed up, you can catch up with your own laser fire. I've set the maximum ship speed to around 0.75 of C, and the lasers I took a little liberty with by setting them to 0.85 of C. But hey it's a sci-fi game not a sci-fact game. It's just enough to inspire imagination while maintaining the effect I wanted.

What else makes up a starship? Power generation is the first thing that comes to mind, all ships will have a finite amount of power. I am a star trek fan so I've mixed a little of that in there, generators produce a steady output of power, and batteries store the surplus. The ships weapons, shields and engines all running at the same time exceed the amount of power generated, so they draw on the main battery reserve. The longer you run at full power the faster your battery will fail, having said that if you fly less fast, shoot less often and don't get your shields pounded then your generators will recharge your shield batteries and main batteries pretty quick. However if you use them moderately, then you're recharge will be that much slower.

This is what starships commanders do, the manage their hardware, they make the decisions. Should I expend a ton of energy constantly engaging? Rack up the points and die? Or employ a hit and run system that's a bit slow, but safer, or should I mix the two, go in for a prolonged engagement, run myself to the wall and run ahead of them suffering a slower recharge rate? It's all about giving the player real time decisions to make.

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