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Deimos Lander

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OK, I can not play this game. Not enough fuel is given when you start.

 

You can barely tap the thrusters before you are out of fuel.

 

I think the amount of fuel you get at start should be selectable via game select. Maybe control the gravity level via the difficulty switches for added customization.

 

If you look at the coinop version of Lunar Lander, the gravity level is a lot less than this game, AND you get more fuel than this, so you spend more time making minute corrections, which is kinda the idea behind this genre.

 

If you are short of memory, I would remove the text messaging "TOO FAST" etc... and find a less memory-intensive way to indicate crash or landing (sound, screen flash, sprite blows up, etc...).

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post-6203-1152348756_thumb.jpg

 

The game is actually quite playable.

 

More levels would be fun and please keep the infinite lives (doing already cracked levels all over again is killing a game).

 

A little bit more fuel wouldn't hurt, though.

 

What about starting a new level with the fuel amount added that was saved from the level you played before?

 

Adding explosion and (downwards) thrust-fire graphics would be great.

 

8)

Edited by Rom Hunter

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What about starting a new level with the fuel amount added that was saved from the level you played before?

 

I think this is the best idea, long-term: adjust the fuel for later levels downward a bit; inherit the fuel that went unused from the previous level; and give a fuel bonus for finishing the level on your first try. Something like that, maybe?

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OK, I can not play this game.

Er, I suppose it's not a good thing when the contest judge can't play the game. :ponder:

 

Not enough fuel is given when you start. You can barely tap the thrusters before you are out of fuel.

About 4 seconds of thrust to be precise. It's enough fuel to land, but it is challenging. :)

 

I think the amount of fuel you get at start should be selectable via game select. Maybe control the gravity level via the difficulty switches for added customization.

Well, I can't change the fuel without a major overhaul to the way it's expended, but allowing for adjustable gravity is an interesting concept.

 

I am worried, however, that making the game too easy would take the fun out of it. The challenge is intentional, intended to appeal to those who like fast-paced arcade games as opposed to the more ponderous pace of the original Lunar Lander. i.e. Deimos Lander is its own sort of game, and is intended to stand on its own rather than be a clone of previous games.

 

If I ever get around to doing a follow-up game, that would probably be a bit more along the lines of what you're thinking. :)

 

 

More levels would be fun and please keep the infinite lives (doing already cracked levels all over again is killing a game).

In the next version you'll be able to select the starting level from the title screen. That way you won't have to keep playing the same level over and over and over. Unless you really want to, that it. :P

 

 

I think this is the best idea, long-term: adjust the fuel for later levels downward a bit; inherit the fuel that went unused from the previous level; and give a fuel bonus for finishing the level on your first try. Something like that, maybe?

Hmmm... Well, that could create a few problems in later levels if you didn't save enough fuel from previous levels. Especially when you manage to land with no fuel left. For some of the later levels it's often easier to pop up from under the pad, then coast onto it with only inertia. The last of your fuel can then be used to make a last moment adjustment.

 

In any case, these are some great suggestions guys! I think the key thing that I'm hearing is that the difficulty curve needs to be adjusted. i.e. Earlier levels should probably be make a smidge easier to help new players get into it more. Thanks for your help everyone!

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I like the game! Very challenging and fun! :thumbsup:

 

How about making the horizontal speed a criteria for safe landing, too?

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I think this is the best idea, long-term: adjust the fuel for later levels downward a bit; inherit the fuel that went unused from the previous level; and give a fuel bonus for finishing the level on your first try. Something like that, maybe?

Hmmm... Well, that could create a few problems in later levels if you didn't save enough fuel from previous levels. Especially when you manage to land with no fuel left. For some of the later levels it's often easier to pop up from under the pad, then coast onto it with only inertia. The last of your fuel can then be used to make a last moment adjustment.

 

Just to make sure what I wrote was clear, I meant that extra fuel could be inherited from level to level, but that (contrariwise) you should always receive a certain amount of fuel at the beginning of a level. That way you'd reward lower scores, while not making it impossible to keep going if you have a bad run. (That's one of my pet peeves with certain NES games like Legendary Wings - if you get hit and lose your weapons, you're dead meat!)

 

Basically, some sort of level-to-level inheritance would be nice. Here's an idea - maybe the extra fuel from each level could go into a reserve tank, which progressively fills and - after you finish off the regular levels - determines the amount of fuel you get for one final, fiendishly difficult level? And maybe you only add fuel to your reserve tank if you finish the level on your first try?

 

(Actually, I really like that idea! Do that. ;) )

 

Thomas's suggestion scares me - keeping in mind that this is the guy who wrote Thrust, a game I wasn't able to beat (though admittedly I didn't put THAT much time into it) even when using savestates!! Some of the levels in that one are insanely tough...

Edited by thegoldenband

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"I am worried, however, that making the game too easy would take the fun out of it. "

 

Then have it just start easier and allow pros to start at higher levels (like Atari coinops tended to do from Tempest onward).

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How about making the horizontal speed a criteria for safe landing, too?

You are an evil, evil man Thomas. Keep up the good work. :lol:

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I don't really like the fuel carry-over idea; if a level is doable without fuel carried over from a previous level, having extra fuel merely allows for sloppiness on later levels. And if it isn't, completing a level with too little fuel is basically a "game over".

 

I would suggest adding more levels to the game by having a table of starting positons, landing station positions, fuel load, and map number. Even a novice player would be able to get through most of the maps on the first "go-around" since there would be plenty of fuel. The second go-around would be harder, and the third harder still. Such tables would allow adding a lot of "game" with only a little ROM.

 

You might also consider using the bottom six-digit display as something other than a fuel read-out. I've not looked at the bB kernel but would expect it should be easily adaptable to selectively use different character sets for different digits. This would allow an indicator of vertical velocity, small text indications for 'LANDED", "CRASH", etc.

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I managed to land on the first level, once.

 

I can get onto the pad much more often, but usually after just expending my fuel and coming down hard.

 

I think even if the threshold for "too fast" were loosened it would make the game that much more playable. As it is there is only the narrowest of margins possible to land.

 

Because there is so little fuel, the game becomes more of an exercise of process of elimination. You work over the level a million times until you find the perfect timing of thrust to work. With a more traditional Lunar Lander engine, you have enough fuel on board to reach the pad in more than one strategy, which I think is more fulfilling.

 

The Lunar Lander on the C=64 was cool because you would travel down into tight vertical caverns. Since I've seen so many BBasic games with scrolling playfields, maybe this could be a justification for adding more fuel to the level.

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I don't really like the fuel carry-over idea; if a level is doable without fuel carried over from a previous level, having extra fuel merely allows for sloppiness on later levels. And if it isn't, completing a level with too little fuel is basically a "game over".

Agreed. And finding the right balance of fuel over many levels will become extremely difficult.

 

Maybe you are rewarded with extra fuel only, if you made a level in your first try. So something like a "perfect game" becomes another goal while you are still able to play it like now.

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You are an evil, evil man Thomas. Keep up the good work. :lol:

I only wanted to make the game a bit more realistic. ;)

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I just played to the last level (the one with the very narrow, vertical page). Usually I made it in maybe ~10 attempts, so IMO the game isn't that hard at all.

 

Now I want many, many more levels. :)

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What do you think of the "reserve tank" idea -- that at the end of the game, there's one last, really hard level, where the fuel you're given is the sum of all the leftover fuel from previous levels? That way, there's an incentive to play each level as skillfully as possible, so that you have enough at the end to pull it off...

 

Anyway, just an idea, but I think it might be the best of both worlds. Plus, I really like it when games have proper endings!

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I managed to land on the first level, once.

 

I can get onto the pad much more often, but usually after just expending my fuel and coming down hard.

Anecdote time!

 

I had some stuff to take care of here at home, so I set my 6 yr. old son up with the game and explained how to play. (He's been begging to play it anyway.) He got past the first level after a few tries, but seemed to be stuck on the second level. I left him to play thinking he'd be at the second level for a while.

 

Imagine my surprise when I check on him a half hour later and find that he's on the 8th level! He'd apparently gotten the hang of the game pretty quickly, and was only stuck on the hardest level in the game! He may very well have beaten that level as well, but it was time to go to dinner. :-o

 

Mos, you're not going to let a six year old show you up, are you? :ponder: :D

 

Now I want many, many more levels.
I really like it when games have proper endings!

Well, both of those ideas are going to have to wait until I get around to bankswitching. I've got a few other tweaks that need to be completed first so I can get the game entered in the contest. (Though it doesn't sound like my chances are very high. :ponder:)

 

I'm curious, if I added a ton more levels, and perhaps did some work on bonus features, would anyone be interested in carts? I don't entirely know where to start (though there seem to be plenty of helpful folks around who could point me in the right direction), but I know that I'll at least be doing up a cart for myself. If only a couple of folks want carts, I could probably do them through 8bitclassics. If a lot of people want carts, I'm sure that we could get the game started on the same process that most other homebrews go through.

 

It's kind of funny, because I never expected Deimos Lander to be anything more than a demo. But it seems that I underestimated its potential! :)

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I was trying to figure out what the loss and victory screens reminded me of, and then I realized: Bokosuka Wars!

:lol:

 

I suppose it's a good thing I don't have a "You Lose!" screen then!

 

BTW, for those of you who can't see the second image:

 

post-8100-1152468137_thumb.jpg

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I don't really like the fuel carry-over idea; if a level is doable without fuel carried over from a previous level, having extra fuel merely allows for sloppiness on later levels. And if it isn't, completing a level with too little fuel is basically a "game over".

We're talking about a very little amount of fuel left over.

It's certainly not enough to destroy the game balance.

 

And there is no such thing as completing a level with too little fuel.

It's just the standard amount with some bonus left-over fuel from the level before.

 

Mark my words: it will boost up the gameplay.

The better you play in the beginning the further you will end.

 

8)

Edited by Rom Hunter

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Official Contest Entry Version!

 

After hours of fighting, scraping, and rewriting, the official release version of Deimos Lander is complete. It's still only 4K, but I've crammed as many new features in as possible. Note that future versions may still be forthcoming (especially if there's a lot of interest), but this is the final version for the purposes of the contest.

 

 

New Features

  • Skip to any level
  • Level display screen
  • Easy and Hard modes
  • Adjustments to levels 1 and 2 to improve the difficulty curve
  • Reset now resets the game
  • Improved level startup
  • Awesome Retro-80s font!
  • Tons more features and gameplay tweaks! :)

Controls

 

Left - Thrust left

Right - Thrust Right

Fire - Thrust up (Also clears message screens and starts the game.)

Select - Change the level (Only works at title and message screens)

Reset - Resets the game and displays the title screen

Left Difficulty Switch - Mode B is easy, Mode A is hard (Hard mode reduces the available fuel by 30 units)

Right Difficulty Switch - Not used

 

 

Download

 

Gamers who just want to play the game should download lander.bas.bin under the "Color" section below. Developers should read on.

 

As before, there are two versions available. The "color" version is compiled with the unreleased version of bBASIC, while the "monochrome" version is compiled with the latest beta version released on March 2nd on Batari's blog. The score_graphics.asm file is a patch to bBASIC that is required to correctly compile both versions.

 

Color

lander.bas.binlander.bas

 

Monochrome

lander.bas.binlander.bas

 

Additional Files

score_graphics.asm.txt (Delete the .TXT extension. This was required by the forum software.)

 

 

I hope everyone enjoys this version as much as I did making it! :cool:

Edited by jbanes

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If you make a sequel, will it be called Phobos Lander? :)

I see someone has been doing a bit of research? :)

 

Ok, confession time. When I chose to make a game called "Deimos Lander", I did so because it was a semi-realistic portrayal. As it so happens, setting up a base on or in orbit of Deimos is a very likely possibility. The reasons behind this are packed in this little chart. The chart explains how much "DeltaV" (a measure of the energy needed to change orbits) is required to visit several different places in our solar system.

 

Here's where things get weird. The energy cost associated with visiting the surface of our own moon from LEO (Low Earth Orbit) is a 5.5 km/s change in velocity. However, the cost to visit the surface of Deimos (a hunk of rock about 48 million miles more distant than our own moon) would be only 5.6 km/s! The difference is surprisingly minor, making Deimos an ideal staging point for a Mars mission.

 

Phobos, on the other hand, is a less than acceptable destination. It would take an extra 0.8 km/s to go there instead of Deimos, it's surface is far less smooth than Deimos' surface, and it's geologically far less stable. When you look at the fact that it would take 1.5 km/s to go there from Deimos, it doesn't even make sense as a secondary staging point. It would take 6 km/s to get to Mars surface from Deimos, and 5.5 km/s to get there from Phobos. Given that the difference is so small, it makes more sense to land directly on Mars rather than land on Phobos first.

 

With that in mind, would you like to guess what the next game would actually be called? :ponder:

 

As an aside, the small amount of fuel given in the game feels far more realistic to me than the traditional Lunar Lander games. Anyone who's ever punched in the numbers for the Rocket Equation can explain that the mass of a craft is sacred. You can't just fuel up with tons of reserves like you can with a plane. Extra fuel could actually mean mission failure rather than success! As a result, space missions usually need to follow a precise, planned trajectory as there's only enough fuel to follow that trajectory. No more, no less.

 

That being said, video games usually focus more on "fun" than realism. So while we may derive the ideas from real life, we need to remember to bend the rules whenever it impacts playability. Ergo, the ability to plug more quarters into Lunar Lander to obtain more fuel. ;)

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You may want to make one more tweak of this. For one thing, I see a way for players to cheat by avoiding the screen by hopping above the obstacles. This is true in level 5 for instance. I didn't play level 5 enough to test that theory but it looks doable.

 

Also, the difference in difficulty between level A and B is still too narrow. It took a tremendous amount of attempts to get to level 5. Out of those, I'd say about 60% of the time I hit the pad at what I consider to be acceptable speed, but it said "TOO FAST". I think if you aren't going to be more generous with the fuel on the easy mode, at least be more tolerant of the landings speed. And as long as you don't have one lander foot colliding with non-pad, (like if it's hanging off the edge or something) then let it count. This is just for the easy mode. I think it's a big enough accomplishment to reach the pad on most of these levels. Having to retry the level 100 times in oder to get a soft enough landing is kind of Chinese water torture. You need to reward the player a little bit.

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Having to retry the level 100 times in oder to get a soft enough landing is kind of Chinese water torture.

I suppose you are not very good at Gravitar or Thrust too, right?

 

It really seems that some people have much less talent in those thrusting games than others. So IMO the easy version should be for those poor, handicaped thrusting game loosers. ;)

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