Porting to SDL2

The last main post was a bit of a downer, what with me successfully completing the porting of my game to SDL2, but then encountering a mysterious game logic bug that got rid of itself after a code-wise non-change. Details of that are in the previous post.

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to go over future additions to the game, and an overview of the game itself.


The player is the light green square. They must try to pick up the red crosses, which are health. They need to avoid everything else. The yellow squares are “hunters”, which follow the player around, and then charge in a straight line if they get close. The light blue squares are “bolts” which are fired out of the “sniper”, the dark green/blue square, and travel in a straight line to the player from where they are fired out. The red squares are “burn spots”, which damage the player a certain amount per second if the player hovers over them. The blue squares are burn spots that have just been initialized, and are inactive for 400ms, or 4 tenth’s of a second, since they can spawn under the player and that would be unfair.

The game is up, feeling snappy, and playing great right now, but a brief overview of what exactly is going on in this picture is necessary. Check out the caption. It’s worth keeping in mind that I’m a programmer, and have no artistic ability. The final product should have everything be obvious at a glance to a new user.

The players health is also constantly ticking down, and they must rely on picking up the health packs or they will die. They must basically avoid everything else on the screen, and survive for 60 seconds. I think it’s a mistake to start working on the story, characters, themes, or even visuals with such a small team prematurely, but I think the time has come to advance the games design beyond mere mechanics.

Questions that need to be answered are:

Why is any of this happening?

Who, or what, is the player character?

Who, or what, are the enemies?

Those are the main questions that need to be answered before any more serious work gets done on the game. I’d just like to make it totally clear that the fact that the player controls a square, avoids squares, and plays in a square battlefield is entirely due to those art assets being easy to create, and not due to any well thought out thematic consistency. Having said that, I’m very much not opposed to a more abstract take on any of the above questions.

Here’s my proposal: The player character is some sort of futuristic prisoner, who’s been tossed into this arena for the amusement of his captors and must fight to survive. Or maybe it’s ancient Rome in the colosseum with basically the same situation. It could also be some sort of deadly game show. It doesn’t actually have to be so dark, it could just be a fun little thing in the game world, but frankly I’d prefer dark.


A different screenshot of the game. Smaller this time.

Imagine for a second the green square is the player, who’s a robed Roman prisoner who is trying to stay alive. The yellow squares are lions, the health packs are bandages (okay it’s silly but whatever), the blue squares are crossbow bolts (although they travel so slowly that they would have to be redesigned), the blue squares are tar pits, that then get lit on fire, replacing the red squares. The background of course is that of sand and the remains of previous battles.

It’s alot easier to come up with science fiction ideas, and I have plenty, but for now let’s focus on the art assets that would be necessary to bring any vision to life.

Luckily all the art is 2D, so we don’t need to worry about 3D modeling, animating, and texturing(3D models). We can basically just draw, and then maybe even just scan in the drawing onto the computer to get the finished product. What that finished product would entail is:

-Nice UI elements, such as a health bar for health. I haven’t shown the menu of the game yet, but that would need it’s own background image and nice clear layout.

-A background for the arena, luckily this would be static, and thus only drawn once.

-An image representing each of the characters on screen. Then multiple images when we get happy with one, for animating.

-Footsteps for each character, except of course the bolts and burnspots.

-Blood decals, this depends on the theme but I love dark.

-Theme appropriate representation of time left, such as an old clock if Rome, or a very sharp digital countdown if futuristic, or gamey if it’s the game show, etc.

It’s a signifigant amount of work, but honestly it’s really not THAT much work, especially to create something that’s cool. The above game with a nice sand and blood colosseum background, with some lions chasing a robed guy, etc., is good enough to decide if we want to go the next level or take a different path.

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