The Right Kind Of Challenge: Metroid Zero Mission Deconstructed

Metroid Zero Mission is one of the best GameBoy Advanced games I’ve played. Released in 2004, it still holds up incredibly well, even to today’s standards. I was never into Metroid on the NES. I played and beat the game on an emulator since I found it way too difficult. Not much has changed in Metroid Zero, I’d say it’s almost harder! Over time I’ve learned to appreciate the design of these game even if I haven’t been able to beat a single one without cheating or following a guide. Where Zero Mission excels is in its ability to take the essence of the series and distilled it down into a more mobile friendly game. If you’re not familiar with Metroid, it focus on the three core mechanics: upgrades, open world and difficulty. The Upgrade System The upgrade system in Metroid Zero Mission is based on Super Metriod, its predecessor, on the Super Nintendo. There are few games that I’ve played with such a perfect upgrade mechanics that naturally force you to build up youre player. The basic idea is that you start off with no powers, you have a weak weapon that doesn’t shoot far and you can jump. As you continue to explore the world, you find statues that upgrade the player. These upgrades include more powerful weapons, a rolling ball to navigate small spaces and additional health and ammo slots. As you collect more powerups you are able to traverse more of the game’s world, solve puzzles and of course take down the bosses in the game. The upgrade system is critical to moving from one...

Welcome Back to 2001: Halo One Deconstructed

I couldn’t fight the urge to pick up a copy of Halo Master Chief  Collection for the Xbox One. I have fond memories of Halo and its predecessor, Marathon which I still consider one of the best first person shooters of all time. Once I waited through the 40+ minutes it took to install on the Xbox One, I decided to take the original Halo for a spin. I was vary interested in seeing how the game held up after almost 13 years. While Halo was never known for its creative level design, there are three things that still hold up after all this time. Let's walk through the three main game design gems you can put in your game design toolbox. 1 – Halo's Weapon System Is Still Impressive Up until this point in first person shooters, the player carried every weapon available in the game. Halo changed all that by forcing the player to decide between only two weapons at any given time… not including grenades. This adds an incredible amount of personalized strategy to the game. The weapons are also well balanced for each part of the game. You start the game out with slug throwers which are good for sporadic mobs. As bad guys get stronger you need to rely on more energy weapons. Finally, when it’s all about mowing through lots of enemies, your best bet is the shotgun or rocket launcher.   Some of the other important details about the weapon system are that guns are fond by killing other things in the game. See a bad guy with a gun you want,...
Tile Map Editor + Object Pooling

Tile Map Editor + Object Pooling

I’m finally getting around to a few ideas on how to expand out my endless runner engine I’ve been working on for the last month. I decided to import the tile map editor from my last Unity 2D book and I’m using it to build out custom platforms, and other obstacles that will scroll by in my new endless runner game. Here you can see I have the tile map editor running now in my project. I’ve selected a new custom tile map so I can create a platform. Here is what it ended up looking like: Along with its properties which you can see from the inspector: Once I created the new TileMapLayer instance, I saved it out as a prefab and attached it to an Object Pool which goes into a spawner and now I have instant platforms for my new game: This tile map editor is incredibly versatile. The only modification I made to it, which I plan on updating my book, is the pixels to unit scale. I needed this since I’ve converted all the sprites to be a 1:1 ratio in the game space, making spacial math a little bit easier to figure...
Adding Shooting To My Endless Runner

Adding Shooting To My Endless Runner

I’m just putting the finishing touches on my endless runner. I now have shooting animations linked up. I have a separate GameObject for the body and the legs. When the player shoots, I simply tell the top animation to switch from shooting or to running. The legs stay the same. After that I simply spawn new bullets every time I detect the fire button was pressed. Here you can see I didn’t set up the logic to destroy the bullets which looks kinds of funny. Without that final piece of logic, the simply collect on any other GameObject with a solid collider. Finally, I have all the logic in place and I added a little recoil which pushed the player backwards every time they shoot. This subtle touch adds a little bit of balance to the game. It forces the player to decide if they want to shoot their guns they are going to get pushed closer towards the mob of zombies on the far side of the screen. So now shooting the gun becomes a last ditch effort, while the main focus is to simply try to jump over...
Adding Zombies To My Endless Runner

Adding Zombies To My Endless Runner

I’ve been looking for some additional obstacles for the player to avoid and also add some extra challenge to the game. I now have zombies that get spawned, although I still need to make them attack the player and I also have a new mob of zombies on the left hand side that get closer to the player when you let a zombie get off the screen. Here you can see I started with the mob of zombies. Next I played around with the direction spawned zombies should be facing. This was my first attempt, but I didn’t like the way they appear to be moon walking backwards. Finally, I changed the direction of the zombie and added in logic so that the mob moves forward when a zombie collides with it and moves back a little bit when an obstacle collides with it. There is still a lot of work left to do to clean this up, but I generally like to get the main mechanics in place first, then come back and polish it up after I Know everything is...

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