C64 Shmuptember Action

SandP_titleIt may no longer be C64 month, but hey, who is complaining when you are getting an awesome free C64 game! Besides, it is SHMUPTEMBER, so here is your contender – take it away, Mr. Anthony Stiller:

SOPWITHS AND PTERRORDONS:
This simple, single-level Shoot’Em Up Construction Kit (SEUCK) game was a project I assigned myself to celebrate August, the unofficial C64 month. I didn’t hit my deadline (Ed: we ain’t complaining).

This is my first completed SEUCK game. My only other attempt was a long, long time ago (I tried to get a bubble to float gracefully across the screen, couldn’t get it to look any way decent, and gave up).

There’s no backstory to Sopwiths and Pterrordons. I just thought of two things that would be cool – my love of World War I and World War II planes, and who doesn’t like dinosaurs? They seemed like a great mix (and from feedback I’ve received, other people feel the same).

Feel free to make up your own backstory. Make sure the pilot is dashing, handsome and says, “Tally ho!” and “Chocks away!” an awful lot.

Special thanks to Andrew Fisher, David Rayfield and Cameron Davis for their valued advice, support and feedback.

Thanks also to Noble Kale and Rob Caporetto for their encouragement and inspiration.

Get your free copy of Sopwiths And Pterrordons here. Enjoy!

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Playing tips:
– Scoring has been balanced, so with a little practice, you should just be able to nab an extra life right before the end of level boss;
– Due to the shape of the player bullet, enemies, and how SEUCK determines hitboxes, you really need to line up your shots with the pterrordon’s head to better guarantee a kill;
– You can squeeze between the vertical rows of deadly crystal chunks in the terrain later in the game
Design Notes – I approached Sopwiths and Pterrordons with definite goals:
– Use vanilla SEUCK;
– Short (originally only one scrolling and one static level which I then dropped to one scrolling level only);
– End of level boss;
– Minimise framerate loss (a particular bugbear of mine with regards to SEUCK games);
– Well-animated player and enemy graphics;
– Noticeable ACTION-REST-ACTION phases during the game;
– Use of foreshadowing (new enemies usually appear in generally non-threatening positions onscreen. The first laser-pterrordon is an exception however neanderthals are placed before it appears to encourage the player to move away from the mental “safe zone” of the bottom-middle of the screen);
– Minimise unfair death (pterrordons that appear behind the player)

What worked:
– The restrictions of SEUCK greatly reduced choice paralysis during the design/build phase;
– Descoping: I had several rather neat ideas that I dropped late in the design phase and into the early build phase;
– Getting some player feedback was very helpful; and
SEUCK is still a pretty great tool, relatively speaking!

Challenges:
– Like anything, this took a lot longer than I expected from both an effort and elapsed time perspective. For example, the title page took about 4 hours of actual effort spread out over a day. In total I think I spent around 40-50 hours of total actual effort on this project from beginning to end;
SEUCK and C64 restrictions can get a little frustrating and needed a lot of replaying. I also wanted this to work on a real C64 with minimal juddering and forgot that emulators can keep a steady framerate much easier than the original hardware;
– Initially I went for a low-flying biplane meaning the graphics needed to reflect that we were closer to the ground (eg: larger rivers). After some consideration I went for a higher altitude. This ended up causing considerable difficulty in the subsequent graphics design as I had to create graphics that provided the illusion of depth and distance (things falling into the screen or rising out of the screen);
– The cliffs on either side were a right pain. Ultimately the “overhang” design seemed to work;
– Colour palette choices. UGH!!!!!;
– I used CCS64 using snapshots to save progress but actually getting the final game onto a working d64 image via SEUCK seemed to be entirely random

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AntStillerAnthony Stiller
Loves the C64 a little too much, but that is ok.

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  1. Sopwiths and Pterrordons – Commodore 64 | Commodore Is Awesome says:

    […] In the game you are a pilot and must shoot down the flying dinosaurs. Download: SandP.zipSource: Ausretrogamer Category: Link […]

  2. […] Stiller avec SEUCK, et mêlant biplans et dinosaures. Il se télécharge librement sur le site AusRetroGamer. Sinon – ne paniquez pas – Roberto Ricioppo nous gratifie de sa fournée habituelle de […]

  3. […] September is traditionally known as Shmuptember, we thought we would let you budding C64 coders know about the latest Shoot’Em Up […]