A Particular Kind of Fun

Man, it is so bloody late right now. 2:37 (37!) according to the clock in the corner of the screen. But it’s been a very productive couple of hours. I’ll start with the somewhat boring stuff, and then get to the titles.
As of now, Paper Zeppelin is pretty tight from a memory usage standpoint. I had noticed that after playing for a while, the whole thing began to slow way the heck down. I realized that all of the little things that the game had ever created were still around off screen somewhere living out a meek little existence sucking the memory teat. So I created a little function that goes around and asks them, “Are you on the screen still? What’s that? You’re not? Hey look, a distraction !” *bang*
Assume that that *bang* is either a Godfather-esque shot to the dome or a giant mousetrap, the analogy holds up either way and the thing runs really much better now. (“really much better now”…so, so tired)
Once I had that in place I created a little variable called escapedEnemies, which starts at zero and goes up every time the Reaper Function has to do some wet work. What that means is that whenever the player misses and enemy of some sort, that number will keep track of it and display a percentage of enemies wasted in the corner. According to the Design Doc, the progression of the player will be altered based on this ongoing percentage. Now I just need to add a quick variable to track bomb dropping and base destruction and we’re all set for the triggers of level selection. Joys!
Then, for kicks I made bullets hit the ground. Before they sailed right through, and I have decided that I hate that more than Mondays and Denver the Last Dinosaur (he is so not my friend, nor a whole lot more). This was always the plan, but I never got around to it. Now it doesn’t suck!
Finally I made some extra changes to get the resolution that I talked about last time up to date. It seemed that the enemies were all still on the 100 pixel thing, so they didn’t ever appear on the screen. So that’s better now too. I also made the adjustments to the collision detection, which strangely works so much better now that the tiles are all little.
Okay then, after all of that, the Title! (cue music…kazoo would be appropriate) I installed a kind of Particle System in the Paper Engine. A proper particle engine is something that usually appears in 3D stuff and I’m thinking that my usage of the term may be a little off. Basically, a Particle System is used to simulate certain behaviours which are tricky to model. It’s kind of a “good enough” way of doing things. Stuff like Fire for example, is quite hard to render since it has a crazy wild shape. However, I can easily make a fire animation and spawn it up from whatever is “on fire” in the game. It looks not too bad actually.
How it works it I created a new type of Sprite that doesn’t ever touch anything. It just does what it does. I set it up with a starting point and tell it what kind of particle I want and how long I would like it and it just goes. It’s pretty cool. Right now it makes fire, which floats up as fire tends to do after I shoot enemies and they are heading Earthbound. I was going to add the smoke too, but I have to leave something for tomorrow. With the particle system in place now, I can quickly and easily add new kinds of particles. I can also rip the whole system, make a minor tweak, and make background elements work too. So overall, a good day. Now sleep is calling…so sweetly.

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