Baby steps to a complete engine

I got three small-ish features cranked out today: 4-way shooting, selectively (not universally) destructible tiles, and doors. Have a look:

Doors and selectively destructible tiles are both easily edited using an object layer in Tiled, and both can be keyed in to respond only to particular weapons, again using the map editor.

Right now the doors are three tiles high, and the character is two high. I’m a bit torn on this point: I think I would ideally have them both be one tile higher, mostly just because that’s what Super Metroid does. I’m kidding, kind of. In any case, the reason that Super Metroid did this was because they couldn’t easily deal in partial tile distances, and they needed to have three distinct character heights for the Morph Ball, kneeling, and standing (one, two, and three tiles high respectively). And Samus is pretty chunky in Super Metroid, even in profile — assuming she’s six feet tall, that makes her two feet wide at the shoulder. Must be the armor? My motion capture model is pretty svelte, but I won’t have a really firm idea on the proportions until I prototype the actual motion-captured sprites.

Still thinking about yesterday’s project, I did quite a bit of reading about various camera controls used in other games. There’s remarkably little out there on this topic considering how fundamental it is to a game’s playability. I started with this article someone posted to /r/gamedev on reddit today, then found this analysis of Super Mario World.

It’s very interesting to me how very few people would pay attention to the behavior of the camera in a 2D side-scrolling game, despite it being of such paramount importance. I can honestly say that I had never considered how the camera in Super Mario World worked until watching that. In some sense, you could say that a camera system (like most software) is like plumbing — you only notice it when it doesn’t work properly.

Of course there has been plenty of advancement in this field since Nintendo’s heyday, even if you almost never hear it mentioned, especially for 2D games. Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet did some inspiring work on this front.

In fact, I was inspired to download it from XBLA, and I’m going to go play it now.

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