I am well aware that this might not ever reach anyone even close to EA, but I have to write it somewhere, and before I hijack someone else‘s blog to write about something he might want to write about himself some time in the future, I figured I use my own, you know, like a sensible person.


Dear EA,

I know you want to make money (well, anybody knows that) and I am quite sure you want to salvage as much as you can from the wreckage that was once labeled to be the next bright star in the MMO universe, also known as Star Wars: The Old Republic, but the way you are trying to do that right now is just plain wrong. Not open for improvements or worse than other ideas (actually these, too, but that would put it too mildly), but wrong. You know as well as I do, that the F2P option was the last resort for the game, but your F2P idea is not even related to what other people (and especially gamers) understand under F2P. When I read the limitations for the SW:TOR F2P accounts, all I saw was a big Fuck You! sign. Always a bad thing to show to a potential customer. You might say that you only lost a gamer who doesn’t pay, he won’t need the bandwidth he would need otherwise, making this a net gain, but again, you are wrong. You want people to play the game, even those who won’t ever pay anything, since they populate your servers and when they already have fun with the game, they are more inclined to pay some money for it. Someone who doesn’t play your game will never pay for it. There are tons of other F2P games that welcome gamers with open arms. Just providing something for free doesn’t make people use it. It might not take any monetary investment to play your game, the only barrier to entry is a good internet connection, but we have to invest something else: our time. And for many gamers this is an even more limiting factor than money, especially if you have a full day job. People will rather spend their time playing something that looks like it could be fun to play and doesn’t take core features hostage until they shell out some amount of money. You don’t want F2P accounts to feel like they are punishing those who don’t want to or don’t have the means to pay for it. You want players to feel like they are playing a complete game, not some trial, and anything that they can pay for is a bonus, not something they expect from the game anyway and is missing. F2P gamers currently are second-class citizens in your MMO. You even call gamers who have spent money ‘Preferred Status Players ‘ to drive that point home. Stop that madness and remove the limitations you are using.

One thing I nearly forgot. These limitations don’t only hurt F2P players. Your preferred status players can also suffer from them. When the server or client fucks up for some reason, and you are booted into F2P-mode although you are still on an active subscription or have a valid timecard, you have to rebind all your actions to your toolbars when you are back in the full game, you receive all the collectors edition and other promotional items again and it is in general quite the bother for the player (if you wonder how I know so much details about this specific topic, just this happened to a friend of mine today). Think about it, even players who love the game (for whatever reason) with all its flaws are annoyed for no reason, just because of your stupidly wrong view of the F2P market.

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Added two more enemies. A flying saucer that fires lasers in a spiral pattern and mines that are deployed in random minefields. These mines explode on impact (obviously) and can be shot down. Additionally, they are magnetic, so when the player comes to close, they start tracking him, but he can fairly easily move out of range again. Probably into the range of another mine, evil grin. Sometimes the last resort is a Smartbomb. Just like with asteroids, the player’s guided missiles will not lock on to mines, but unlike asteroids, enemies can pass through mines unhindered and enemy projectiles also won’t destroy them.

Lastly the spacecraft from the last post are now created in groups of five, flying one behind the other, just like in the good old days of SHMUPs. It is slowly getting crowded on screen. I might have to create real enemy patterns soon instead of just spawning them more or less randomly, to make it less luck dependent.

I updated the uploaded build, so you can try it and see how long you survive. Did I mention that I halved the players health?

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I added the first enemies. A stationary rocketlauncher that fires three unguided rockets in quick succession and a spacecraft that fires some lightning projectiles and moves in a sinus-shaped path. I initially wanted the rockets to be destructible by player projectiles, but they are to small to really be hittable, so I scrapped that idea. Only the laser was really able to destroy them and I thought that would be an unfair advantage. But they’re easy enough to avoid.

As a side note: I suck at texturing. Also I have some strange shading errors on the wings of the spacecraft. They are just visible in Unity, no such errors in Max. Have to fix those somehow.

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Last post for today. Now I have posted more today than in the last six months together.

I created a ship selection scene to replace the ugly buttons. Still untextured, but it works. I might add some GUI overlays to describe the current selected ship later. When you die in the game, you will be returned to that scene (currently without any transition, so it might be a bit disorientating). Arrows or A and D to cycle the ships, space or return to select. Same download link as before.

(Background music: Street Fighter II ‘Guile’s Theme (R.A.H. Mix) by Rayza, OCRemix.org)

I just realized I never linked to the test version of Void(). You can download it here, if you want. Some firewalls or anti-virus software will complain when you start the game, because it tries to install some dwmapi.dll, but sadly I have no idea what this is caused by. I haven’t noticed anything bad happening. But I also haven’t noticed any functionality missing from the game if that request is blocked, so do that if you want to be safe. If you want to be super safe, don’t play it.

I added the Smartbombs. They destroy everything on screen, but the player only has three of them. Typical SHMUP stuff, really. Anyone interested in the current state can download the game here. No install required, just an archive with an .exe and a corresponding data folder. Controls are pretty much standard: WASD or arrows to move, spacebar to fire, hold left shift to charge the main weapon, release to fire once fully charged, and c to drop the bombs.

I am currently working on a scene to replace the ship selection with. Buttons are lame.

Again I apologize for the lack of updates, but university and work leave me little time to do anything else. And there are so many games to play. The completely non-existent motivation to create levels for Void() doesn’t help either. But since you are my only reader, there are not that many people upset.

Anyways, one course in university is about Unity and while most peers don’t have much experience with it, if any, I can do a little bit more than just follow the tutors’ examples. The first project is meant to be a space shooter, and since I had some spaceship models sitting on my HDD for quite some time which were once meant for such a game that sadly never came to fruition, I decided to revive them and create the game I wanted to then (albeit now on my own).

Currently I have all three player ships implemented, completely with all their weaponry (except the Smartbomb). The weapons are all upgradeable, but the system to do that is still in the planning stage. I have yet to decide if I want the player to be awarded money with which to buy upgrades between levels or to have some items flying around in the levels that upgrade the weapons when collected. The missiles track enemies, but not asteroids, the asteroids will break up into smaller pieces when destroyed, but only once. The smaller pieces will not break up again, they just disappear in a puff of smoke. The asteroids also collide with each other (without breaking up) and their respective mass is determined automatically by their local scale to make the collisions behave more correctly, although I don’t intend to make this a celestial body physics simulation, so the collisions are not nearly realistic. After all I have to override the z-component of the resulting movement-vector and set it to zero to keep the asteroids in the correct plane. They damage the player (and enemies) when they collide with him and the damage done is their current health, which is also determined by their scale (so a hit from a small piece is much less severe than one from a big one).

Initially I planned to build the game for Android, since I got my hands on a basic Android Unity license when they were free a couple of months ago and wanted to learn how to do touch controls, but for some reason my machine doesn’t want to. I installed the Android SDK, the JDK (32bit and 64bit), all Android APIs since 2.3.3, but when I want to build, Unity throws an error. I have found that I can successfully build a game for a couple of minutes after a fresh Unity install, but after a short amount of time (roughly 15 minutes, didn’t measure it) the error is back. The error is independent of the project I want to build, when it happens with one project, it happens with all others, even empty ones. It is simply no fun to have to re-install Unity every time I want to update the build, so I shelved the idea for now. On the bright side this allows me to go overboard with particle effects and stuff. The first version I managed to build for Android was quite choppy on my device already.

And now, after the wall of text, some screenshots.

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I finally started creating some levels. Currently I have the three easiest done: arenas for the 3 existing bosses. They still need some tweaking, to have them balanced, but I will do this when I have the other levels done, so I can estimate the player’s level and equipment.

Additionally I changed the sequence for the crystal’s lasers, so they are not as predictable. Also it will choose a different sequence when it is down to 50% health.

Some other small changes include single-use platforms, that disappear when the player steps off them, but I am not sure if I can use them with the player having 3 lives, since they would block his progression when he dies after walking over them. Alternatively I would have to limit their use on optional areas.

Lastly I changed the algorithm for the grid boundary, so I can now create levels from multiple grids.

And here are the arenas:

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I know I should be doing level design, but I fail to make progress there. Instead I added some more enemies, a new boss that uses heavy hitting melee attacks and a sensor tower that will alert every enemy in the level of the Player’s position, if he is in range. The last one is a replacement for the flamethrower mesh.

Additionally I changed some small details that are hard to show, like right-click on some buttons of the options menu or minor improvements to some algorithms. Oh, and I created a textbox system. If the player enters the trigger of a textbox object, it displays some texts on screen. I hope to add some voice-overs for these later. And projectiles can now play sounds on birth and impact. If only I had some sounds now…

I created a main menu for the game. Now the Player can start a new game, restart the current level or save and load the game (it always saves the state at the beginning of a level). Furthermore it is possible to change the resolution, render quality, audio volume and toggle between full screen and windowed.

Next up: sound FX and level design.