HDog Dev Vlog: Retrospective

So between the itch launch, the ongoing green-light campaign, presenting at AMAZE and actually working on content for the next update, I had little time to keep you all posted. The upcoming ultraviolet update will probably come with its own dev blog, but for now I give you a full retrospective on HDogs first four months of rapid iteration development. If you followed the studio channel you won't read anything new here, but I felt those stuff belonged on itch too, if not just for reference. The game has come a long way since then, to me these fist weeks already feel like ancient history. :D


02.11.2016

(Prototype, everything you see here is subject to change) Hyperspace Dogfights after four weeks of gamedev. The overall goal is to develop a randomized sci-fi dogfighting game where each run feels a little different. So far I focused mostly on basic combat interactions and mechanic, level boundaries, combat feedback and game feel, as well as camera control. I also worked on what will eventually become the games title screen. As you can see damage and collisions work about as expected, with collision damage currently heavily favouring the player. Shield statues will probably be made more transparent in the future, right now the amount of shield shards is the only indicator of how low your shield is. Sound design is still all over the place, but at least the soundtrack already adjusts to situation, fading out the baseline when you get away from enemies. The desert dust particles are still really taxing, those definitely need optimization. Enemies still ignore level boundaries, that's something that I'll tackle during the next days. The APC enemies have just been added recently, In general I want to focus on enemy variety during the next days, adding more enemies that have broader attacks, requiring you to use the very WIP hyperspace dodge move. I'm not very happy with the current visuals for that, so this might get changes soon as well. Today I also started implementing enemy randomization, the fighters you fight now behave different each play-through in regards to offence, durability and manoeuvrability.

If you have feedback or suggestions please share them in the comment or in the games forum.


11.11.2016

(Prototype, everything you see here is subject to change) Hyperspace Dogfights after five weeks of gamedev. This week I concentrated on different enemy types and mechanics to support them. This laid the groundwork for later enemies and boss fights.

I added a ground-based Flak-Mech enemy that shoots at you from long range and denies areas with its unaimed scatter shots. I also added a two-turret Gunship that can fire in all directions. It is most dangerous when approached directly from the front or from behind, since you are in range of both its turrets then. Both these enemies are made up of components that can be targeted and damaged individually. The Flak Mech's head has less hp than its base for example, the gunship can be disarmed by targeting its turrets and it will take additional damage if you target its engine section in the middle. Both enemies are still work in progress, the gunship especially, its path finding still needs work and I also want it to do evasive jump when taking damage.

At the end of the week I started to work on homing missiles. Each missile follow its own targeting marker, which in return moves towards the closest targetable object. For hostile missiles this will usually be the player, but I wanted to work in tracking of multiple targets from the get go, so I added some place-holder flares that the player can drop. They distract missiles as expected. All still very WIP, they missiles can't collide with the player yet and eventually you'll be able to shoot them down as well. The flares will most likely become the first active item I'll add in.

Player homing missiles will work in similar ways, but I hope to make them a little smarter, they will lock on to one enemy or enemy component each.

Performance is also an issue I need to tackle, it drops quite a bit when recording. I hope to get that fixed soonish. Next week I will clean up left-over stuff and then focus on the framework for selectable player weapons.

If you have feedback or suggestions please share them in the comment or the games forum.


25.11.2016

(Prototype, everything you see here is subject to change) Hyperspace Dogfights after seven weeks of gamedev. Week five was largely lost due to problems with the engine, but on the bright recording works way better now. After doing some general clean-up related to the new enemy types I mostly dealt with new ship weapons and the related UI during last week .

The game now has a framework that allows to select from any amount of weapons the player has acquired. Each weapon is treated as a unique object, with its own set of stats. This allows to assign random loot prefixes to weapons, making each weapon a little different whenever you find them. The game also already supports randomized weapon names, another thing I plan to implement for most gear in order to make it more unique across different runs. Right now I do not plan to make weapons appear directly on the player ship, so I figured I put some animation work into their UI icons to show how they work and behave.

I focused on direct fire kinetic weapons first and implemented single shot weapons alongside automatic guns and weapons that fire multiple projectiles per shot. In the current concept you'll have unlimited ammo, but there will be a reload mechanic. Along with the new weapons came a lot new stats as well: Fire mode, random damage, accuracy when boosting, accuracy when falling, recoil force, shoot speed sway, projectile speed drop and more. All of this can eventually be affected by passive items you'll gather. The selected weapon also affects how your reticles look and position themselves. The overall style of the reticle will be configurable, currently there are 7 designs to choose from.

At the end of the week I implemented the a first melee weapon. The sword still needs some optimization, especially in regards to how it deals damage. But overall I like how it turned out so far. It has a three hit combo, with each strike having different reach and base damage. Most melee weapons will have combos and special attacks as well. The sword will get a charged heavy swing eventually. Other melee weapons will have longer or shorter combos and to some extend they will interact with the movement system as well. Some weapons will have your ship leap forward or jump backwards during certain attacks, some combos might require you to combine attacks with timed boosts or hyperspace jumps. Thats the idea at least. For next week I want to focus on the framework for passive and active items first.

If you have feedback or suggestions please share them in the comment or the games forum.


02.12.2016

This week I focused on passive items, their related UI and the pause menu.

I got a little carried away with spriting those ammo boxes, so these where the first passives I introduced. They all alter your weapon fire in various ways, making shots faster, stronger, weaker, larger and so on. Right now the item have a somewhat weak effect, they'll probably get more noticeable as balancing progresses. Different items will at times impact the same stat, balancing each other out (The rail-fitted ammo on the left increases speed, the heavy shots on the right makes them slower for example). Scatter ammo has probably the most noticeable effect right now.

As I went along with this, I introduced several new stats. Among other things, weapons can now pierce or split projectiles when firing. There is also a basic framework for hit procs, so individual shots can carry special effects with them (black projectiles are death shot procs, destroying non-bosses in one hit).

Since I was working on the ui already I also added the basic framework for active items. Space-bar now launches flares, giving you a way to distract homing shots. Lately the enemies learned how to use those missile batteries from week 5, so that will come in handy.

One day I also sidelined in introduce charged attacks, like the sword cleave. Most meele weapon will either have a charge move, or a special attack executed by combining melee swings with timed boosts or jumps.

A lot of time also went into the pause menu that lets you see what items you gathered. It's not very polished yet, eventually you'll be able to get flavour text on all the items you have in there.

I also fixed a lot of small thing along the way, most noticeably gunships act more proactive now and the weapons sounds are more leveled.

Next week I want to introduce enemy waves and the intermission between them. Thats where you'll be able to pick up all those new items. :)


16.12.2016

The last weeks went into integrating item gathering, game progression and the intermission scene between "levels". A lot of other small stuff came with that, like laying the base-work for enemy waves, difficulty progression and player currency.

The game now creates enemy waves with set goals. Currently the only possible objective is destroying a certain value of enemies, with different enemies awarding points depending on how threatening they are. Down the line there'll be multiple possible wave objectives. You get notified that you have completed the wave through that neato "Go!" Arrow, but you can stick around to destroy some more enemies if you like. Difficulty increase within waves, so the fight will still get harder, but overall difficulty also increases the longer your run lasts, affecting subsequent waves accordingly. So farming a single wave for too long is seldom advisable.

Completing a wave also gives you an item chest. In the current design you'll have to spend some srm (the games currency) in order to unlock those. This system isn't final and might still change a lot, for now the essential thing I wanted to do is integrating a way to gain items as the game progresses.

You can interact with chests and srm drop during waves, but most of the time it'll be easier to end the wave and collect your stuff there. Chests will travel with you to the next wave, so you can still unlock them later. I didn't want item management to interfere with combat itself too much. The whole system opens some possibilities for later. There could be malfunctioning chests hidden in the levels that won't travel with you when you end waves, so you'll have to find and pick them up during battle...

Advancing to the next waves is done by tap-boosting three times in quick succession when facing right. The whole intermission scene still needs a lot of work, but I'm at least somewhat happy with how the jump initialization feels. After a wave is complete you can basically jump away from the battlefield at any time, which even has some tactical use.

The whole intermission design was also implemented to create respite between phases of action. I'm all in for those sweet osculating interest curves. :D But yeah, it all still needs a lot of tuning. Difficulty ramps up too slowly right now and in generally the enemies need to pose a bigger threat overall.

This whole iteration cycle was pretty weird. I felt like I did a lot of bland stuff that didn't really impact the game that much. But after only testing everything individually and then putting it all together yesterday, I kinda freaked out because HDog suddenly felt like, well "a real game". Like... it has levels now and rewards and progression. Lets see how it goes from here.

Next week I want to flesh out the intermission some more and I want to increasing the item saturation, so that each particular run becomes more unique as you gather different items each time. There are also more weapons in the pipe, mostly melee: A hardlight katana, a medium range lance thing and some kind of light-wire lash. (Weapons drop in chests by the way, I just didn't get any :D )


23.12.2016

Join me over the holidays as I unbox various new items for Hyperspace Dogfights. :D Almost all the ammo types are in now, plus various new passives that change other aspects of your ship, apart from how its weapons behave. Some engine stuff, cooldown related things, items that improve your collision damage or size up your melee swings etc.

There are also two new melee weapons, the lance and the katana. The former creates a medium range damage zone and has a charged long range attack, the later deals accumulating damage that is dealt once you end your combo. With the katana you can also do a jump-strike move that always crits, by jumping right after attacking.

There are also a couple new actives, like missiles, air mines and bombs. Their respective mechanics will be used in certain passives as well.

Throughout the week I also implemented a lot of small features, like damage over time effects, explosions that actual deal damage, shot deflection on melee attacks and impact force for all weapons. I also optimized the loading of certain animations (shots and melee), that pretty much fixed all the performance issues the prototype was having.

The item count is still just a fraction of what will be in the final game (the video showcases about half what is currently in), but there are already some neato synergies happening that I didn't plan individually. Rubberised ammo and active bombs give you bouncing bombs. Double jumps allow you to execute multiple jump strikes in a row if you have the katana. As with comparable roguelikes I want the final game to create a large variety of possible play styles, emerging from what items you get. So far its working out nicely. Discovering behaviours I hadn't plan for is great fun.

Have a great time and see you next year, when we'll deal with the first boss of the game. :)


06.01.2017

I tried to get the boring stuff out of the way and spent week 13 on refining the pause menu and implementing various options. A couple things are still missing, but overall the game now lets you configure the usual stuff, including key bindings. You can also select the crosshair your ship uses and you can tune or disable parts of the combat feedback stuff. The final game will likely also have resolution options, as well as some more ways to customize the ui.

In the week leading to new years eve I added in the first boss. As shown, it can have various attachments that the player will already be familiar with from other enemies. It also has a hanger in the front from which it spawn the new tier 2 fighters. Those are faster than the previous jets and they fire bursts of small shots.

The boss itself also has three engine attachments. Those have high crit exposure, meaning weapons generally are more likely to deal bonus damage to them. Destroying an engine deals a lot of damage to the bosses main health, destroying two is enough to defeat it actually. The version I spawned here is way better defended on the top side, making targeting the engines more risky than engaging it from below. All of its turrets can be destroyed individually though, so you can effectively disarm it. The boss also has blind spots directly to its left and right, where none of its turret attachments can reach. But in general its tier 2 fighters will continuously engage you where ever you are.

Creating the boss had me rework projectile collision a bit, so that it function correctly with larger enemies. I also fixed some of the more game breaking bugs, together with the options menu this should allow me to give the game to testers soon.

Next week I want to focus on adding in more items, including some new melee and ranged weapons I drafted.


29.01.2017

During the last weeks I added in many more passives items as well as new weapon types. I also worked on a basic tutorial, taking place in a virtual simulation environment. One issue most testers had was that some aspects of the game where not very intuitive, especially the way you advance to a new wave (boosting three times to the right). The tutorial is mostly there to make this clear, as well as teaching you the basic controls. I might still extend, or strip it down to a more bare bone level. In general I'm more interested in having the player figure out stuff themselves, I don't want to give too much away in the tut. The tutorial is also integrated into the options menu, you can replay it at any time. It transitions seamlessly into an actual run, no need to waste your time with going back to the start screen.

To support the tutorial I added in a message system that can be called upon from any events in the game. Down the line you'll also get little text messages during the actual game, from allies, enemies and bosses especially. The message system supports randomized portraits and any amounts of messages can be displayed on screen. There will probably an option to discard messages using the action key, you can already use it to shut up warning sounds.

In regards to weapons I added in a new projectile behaviours: laser beams that are displayed instantly and usually have high piercing. Laser weapons are usually fairly accurate and can damage multiple enemies, but have comparably low damage. I also worked on burst behaviour for weapons, and extended both the laser and rail-gun family with weapons that fire in bursts. Still needs some polishing, bot largely works. And lastly I added weapons that have inbuilt proc chances. The explosives launcher always fires exploding shots, the X-Ray laser has a hight chance to irradiate etc. This stuff will be used more when adding other weapons in the future.

For passives I started to add in more complex things. There are a couple items that rely on your mouse cursor now, like the shot displacer that has all you shots spawn at your cursor instead and Hyperspace Gravitas, which has your ship gravitate to the cursor during jump. There is also a Bounty Hunter Database that gives you specific targets to hunt down and a family of passives that give you a chance to spawn mines/rockets/homing missiles while your ship is in certain states (boosting/firing...). There are a couple new items that modify your jump as well, like one that causes explosions every time you dodge and one that has you deal high collision damage if you manage to jump right into an enemy.

During the next week I'll work through my list of stuff I want to add in before the itch.io Refinery launch. That includes switching out your current active item, charge restricting active uses, collidable rocks and floating items, as well as two new bosses.

After that I'll go through a few weeks of thorough testing and debugging. Thanks to everyone who follows me, supports me on patreon, helped with testing and commented on videos. I wouldn't have gotten here without you. :)


10.02.2017

Week 17 and 18 where spent on adding a bunch of new actives, as well as a charge framework that limits their use. The game also has a second boss, the interceptor squadron you see me fighting here.

Actives now charge per second, per wave and/or per damage dealt, depending on type. The charge gain mechanisms can be freely combined, opening up the possibility for passives that give you various charge bonuses. Actives can also deplete their charge in different ways and some can store more charge than what is required to activate them. Passives can add to the max charge and the UI will adjust seamlessly.

Some of the new actives:
Rocket Pod - Fires and depletes continuously while you hold the active key.
Missiles - Deplete some charge for each lock on; missiles are fired when releasing the active key.
Ace Injector – Restores a heart, requires multiple waves to recharge
Cover Fire Algorithm – Restores shield and then quickly fires your current weapon in all directions. Works with melee too.

The new interceptor squad boss has you go against five crafts that can in some regards match your own. They are pretty competent at avoiding ground crashes with their boost and they are about as fast as you (unless you got boost passives). They also get faster and more aggressive each time you take one of them out and they start to use additional abilities as the fight progresses. Their low health is counteracted by their agility and once they start jumping it becomes even more difficult to damage them.

Along the way I also added in post-death husks for large hostiles and full item descriptions for everything thats in the game so far. There are only a few things I want to add before I'll go into limited First Access with this, mainly terrain variety in the form of collidable rocks and floating islands. I'll also spent at least a week entirely on debugging and testing.

Get Hyperspace Dogfights

Buy Now$3.00 USD or more

Leave a comment

Log in with your itch.io account to leave a comment.