Blood Ship: Day ???


Concept art for Stage 1 of Story Mode

During my recent hiatus I polished my art and music skills… and completely forgot how the hell I programmed this damned game. It’s taken me about a month to relearn this plumber’s attempt at code, but I’m back on track again. Last night I added a focus button to slow the ship down during difficult-to-navigate bullet patterns and punched up the music and sound effects.

One of the hardest things to calibrate in a vacuum is difficulty. Shmup fans typically don’t shy away from difficulty, but I’ve found myself playing Jamestown+ a lot more because the older I get the more I appreciate an accessible shooter. It’s satisfying being able to 1CC a stage without memorizing every single pattern, but also having the option of increasing difficulty (I have yet to beat the final Jamestown+ boss despite steamrolling all the others). I would love Blood Ship to ease players into the madness the same way, especially since I hope the planned art style draws in people who have rarely played a shmup before.

The problem? I’ve gotten pretty damn good at playing my own game. I really don’t know how difficult the game is outside the vacuum I’ve created. Which means my next milestone is getting Early Access out there as soon as possible. I was shooting for April, but I haven’t even gotten around to putting up a Steam page yet so that seems unlikely. Check back to keep informed!

Free Game Assets (Public Domain)


I’m dumping some of the stuff I created in the beginning of the game before I knew where I wanted to go with the art style.

The following sprites served me well as placeholder art. Maybe you’ll find something you can use as a placeholder in your own game. If any of it should end up in your final product, that’s fine as well. Feel free to modify this stuff in any way you see fit. No credit necessary, but it would be nice if you could link back here if you have a dev blog or something.

Continue reading →

Blood Ship: Day 61

Two months… two friggin’ months.

My ToonBoom trial ended and I had to fork over $180 for the yearly subscription, plus I bought some FX assets that may or may not remain in the final game. That brings the total cost of the game up to $310.97. That’s cheap for a game budget, sure, but it’s not cheap for me.

So some of the things that changed this week: the game plays a lot faster (which initially broke a lot of shit), the HUD is closer to its final version, and all the power-up icons have been revamped, complete with a new slot machine. You can see the latest iteration of the HUD above (click to enlarge).

Blood Ship: Day 53

See the new player ship above. I modeled it in Blender to get a reference (I suck at perspective) and animated in ToonBoom. It banks left when the player moves up and it banks right when the player moves down. This works as intended about 95% of the time, but the rest of the time it decides on doing a barrel roll for no apparent reason. I have an idea what’s going on, but I don’t feel like investigating it yet.

Despite my initial love for Spine, I haven’t used it in weeks. Now that I’ve gone with more traditional animations, the predominantly tweened animations I did last month stick out like a sore thumb.

Games I’m currently playing on my MAME machine: the Gradius series, Raiden, and R-Type.

Wait. Not playing. Researching. 


Blood Ship: Day 46

About a week ago I broke the bomb ability. The problem was dumb and the solution was even dumber, but it’s surprising I’m over a month in and that’s one of the more serious issues I’ve had. I can only think of two or three other times I wanted to rip my hair out by the fistful. (These kinds of problems seemed to plague my last game attempt on a daily basis.)

As I’ve said in previous posts, I’ve been circling and circling around the imperfect stuff, improving instead of building new stuff. I think the time to branch out to new stuff is almost here. I’m thinking proper stages, new bosses, etc. I’d like to make a browser version, too, so people can try the randomly generated mode before downloading the complete desktop version.

I’m kind of shocked I’m 46 days into this. It seems like last week when I started this blog on day 12. I would have hoped to be further along at this point, but I’m not disappointed with the progress, either. This has been more of a learning experience than anything else.

(Sonic Mania isn’t coming out today after all, but that’s probably a good thing for the sake of productivity. My day job is unusually demanding this week.)

Blood Ship: Day 39

Boob physics, anyone?

Looks like I’m using Toon Boom Harmony for my animations. I’ve tried most of the competing programs, and I resisted this one because I hate subscription models, but I fell in love with it minutes after beginning the trial. Super smooth, super intuitive (I haven’t even looked at the instructions yet), and the subscription thing’s not nearly as egregious as Adobe’s subscription models.

Today’s the first time I felt unmotivated to work on the game. I’m tired and I just want to play Slime Rancher, which is probably the biggest threat to my productivity since I started this whole thing. (I imagine next week’s Sonic Mania will be the next big threat.) I managed to get some stuff done, but I’m probably going to bed at a somewhat decent hour tonight.

Visually, there’s nothing terribly new in the game other than some of the effects, but it feels a lot tighter than it did last week. I’m currently fixing the stuff that was handled sloppily during my push to get a working prototype as soon as possible.

Blood Ship: Day 32

I’m 99.9% settled on an art style now. I’m 49.9% sure I can pull it off. I still haven’t finalized a workflow from sketch to game. I’m bouncing between a lot of animation programs again, trying to find the one which suits my style the most. This is more frustrating than it sounds.

Two problems this week: sometimes the wave generator doesn’t shut off when the boss appears and, even rarer, the player’s projectiles impact on something which doesn’t seem to exist. I’m still in “ignore it and hope it fixes itself” denial, but that’s kind of like just driving a car until the check engine light burns out.

I’ve been studying a lot of other shoot-’em-ups and paying attention to the little details which contribute to the way the game feels. I want to nail the feeling of what I’ve got before adding any more new stuff. I want to get the artwork a helluva lot closer to the goalpost, too (as you can see above, it ain’t even close). The problem is I have the best ideas for new stuff when I make it a point not to add new stuff.

Here’s my end-of-month budget report:

$18.99 Gamemaker (purchased during last year’s Humble Bundle sale)
$14.99 Aseprite (already owned it, but haven’t used it in earnest until now)
$0.99 A bullet-hell script (which may not make it to the final version)
$69.00 Spine (also may not make it to the final version)
$5.00 Some generic laser sounds (almost definitely won’t make it to the final version)

$108.97. Not bad, I’d say.

Blood Ship: Day 28

Placeholder sound is in and I’ve been tweaking it the last couple of days. I now have generic laser sounds and bullet-impacts, as well as dynamic boss music. I don’t plan on leaving any of these sounds in the final game, but it’s amazing how much more fun it is now.

Endless mode is completely functional at the moment… you can play it forever (if you’re good enough). Although there’s currently one boss, he gets tougher each time you face him. To give you an idea of the difficulty: I’ve beaten the boss twice in a single game, but not three yet.

For the next few days I’ll probably be adjusting what I have rather than adding anything new. I have a little over two pages of notes I want to address, so there might not be a whole lot to report for a while.

Blood Ship: Day 25

early draft of a boss fight… it needs a lot of tweaking


I played around a lot with Adobe Flash in my late teens or early twenties (whenever Newgrounds was friggin’ huge), but I never really liked the look of what I could do with it. I think those preconceived notions of tweening software are why I was so reluctant to delve into Spine, but I’m happy to say I’m over it. Spine is fantastic.

The problem is I kind of feel like I’m going to break Gamemaker every time I import a Spine animation into it. Its Spine support leaves a lot to be desired, so much so I’m not sure it’s entirely worth upgrading to the Pro Edition of Spine yet. Maybe I’ll check out the unofficial runtimes and see if that improves things, but I’m being lazy on that front. I just have a feeling if I were to do it all over again, I would do it again with Spine, but not GM. I guess it depends on how well the competitors integrate these types of animations, which I haven’t read up on yet.

Yesterday I played around with backgrounds for a few hours. The test failed spectacularly. I had a generic cityscape going by in the background and there was no middle ground between “too slow” and “so fast I’m going to puke.” (I’m not exaggerating… I’ve never had a game give me motion sickness and crossed eyes the way my own did.) I assumed I could quickly slap some backgrounds together for testing, but it’s clear the backgrounds affect the way the game feels more than I expected.

On the bright side of things, I think I’m zeroing in on an artstyle. The mere thought of it no longer fills me with dread.