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Okay then, the Easy Path Mountains are good to go. I like them, and they are easy-ish. The thing about them is that they are the 3rd level on the easy path (if you count the first level as an easy level, which I do). So it can’t be too easy, since it’s a little further along. So for some perspective, the easy path end levels should be of a similar difficulty as the early medium levels in Paper Zeppelin. Like I mentioned before, I kind of like making easy levels specifically because I can’t make them too difficult. Hard levels are easy by comparison, since all I really have to do is throw more enemies onscreen and set up cascading enemy solutions that require some fiddling. The easy levels though, I find myself having to find more inventive problems to solve that don’t require lightning reflexes. For example, on this last level I put the base inside a little alcove with destructible ground in front of it. The player shoots the ground, opening a path and makes with the booms. At no point during this exchange is anything shooting at them. The difficulty comes entirely from the scrolling environment.
Ah, but let’s get to the titles now. I started by trying to fix the way that wrecks looked. You see, the game draws everything from these big lists. It’s works kind of like how updating everything works. It goes through each individual list and draws the stuff in those lists. It’s works pretty well for the most part. Except for one thing, it seems to start at whatever spot it wants to. So sometimes, when multiple wrecks were in almost the same place, they would flicker, each one hopping to the front like a couple of wrestlers jockeying for position, and it looks like deuce.
So what I went in and did was modify the draw function to accept a way to order the way that things were drawn. So I put players on top (using a bit of maths to make them stack in order), followed by bullets, enemies and finally particle effects. It worked pretty well. Still not perfect (the occasional wreck will now just disappear although I’m not sure if the issues are related) but good anyway. With that in place I decided to go in and make the last couple of class based objects on the Big List for Paper Zeppelin – the background objects.
So I cooked up some backdrops from internets and made a class object that makes them move at 1/2 the speed of the ground and put it all the way at the back of the screen. It looks awesome. Couple of things though. First, spawning the object that doesn’t move or line up with anything the feck else when I’m level building is annoying. Because they objects in the back don’t have any specific order other than, “all the way in the back” if they overlap they flicker like the wrecks used to. Consequently, that looks like ass. When it works though, it looks good.
With that out of the way I made another class that makes background tiles that work just like normal tiles, but that don’t ever interact with anything. It makes cave areas look nice. Then I added some spawning code for those tiles when other stuff appears around them so that when I spawn an enemy it doesn’t leave a hole. Like this:

ccccc
cccBc
ccccc

See that little ‘B’ in there? That’s a Fortress. Consequently, before I made the change there would be a hole where the Fortress came from. Now, when I spawn those things up, I have them do a quick check of level data to see if any little “c” letters are around it. Now it does that, and it looks nice.

For an idea of what this looks like, have a gander yonder => at the first unofficial work in progress shots of Paper Zeppelin. Yes, it looks like crap. Yes, those are placeholders for all of the art pieces. Yes, it plays and works and can border on being fun. Notice a couple of things about that shot. First of all it has the background that I was just talking about up and running. Cool no? Second, those grey bricks on the bottom are the background tiles I was also just talking about. Finally, not the turrets and the bomb icon that let’s you pick up a bomb. It’s all there folks. It’s a real thing.
Also note the image just below that (assuming you are reading this sometime after I wrote this but before I changed the available side images again) is a copy of the Level Editor for Paper Zeppelin. An astute reader (HA!) or somebody with a sharp eye would notice that it’s really just Open Office Calc doing the spreadsheet thing. But it works, and yes indeed, it’s bottled awesome sauce.

– Oh, right. Check the icon by the URL in your web browser. Go ahead. See that spaceship? Official second logo for when I need branding on the tiniest of things. You’re welcome.