Saturday, June 15, 2019

Final Touches

As is quite often the case with my games, the last part of the game that is created is the title screen. The first part of the title screen is the game's logo. My One of the Weeks logo is not really appropriate, even though this game is part of that series, so to make this a stand-alone game I created a new logo. For the start button, I opted for a door as that is emblematic of the game play. As always, the code to control the button is very straight forward.



spelchan.Nightmare.prototype.startTitle = function() {
this.playButtonHandler = this.playButtonClicked.bind(this);
this.stage.playBtn.addEventListener("click", this.playButtonHandler);
this.stage.stop();
}

spelchan.Nightmare.prototype.playButtonClicked = function(e) {
console.log("Play Button Clicked!");
this.stage.playBtn.removeEventListener("click", this.playButtonHandler);
this.stage.gotoAndPlay("Intro");
}

One problem that I had with the game at this point was the fact that someone who started playing the game without reading the instructions would be totally confused by what was going on. While confusion may actually add to the story, it can also turn a lot of people off the game. As this is the first episode of a series, one thing I don't want is to turn people off the game.

While I would like to think that people read the instruction pages that I put a some effort into creating, the reality is that a lot people just start playing the game.

One solution would be to have a link to the instructions on the game's title screen. The problem with doing this is that the people who skip over the instructions page are likely to not bother clicking on the instructions button either. This means that I would end up putting more time into creating the instruction pages - which is more time consuming then writing an instruction page - which few people are going to read. This is obviously not a good solution.

The solution I did for this episode is to incorporate the background portion of the instructions into the game by starting the player at an explanation screen. This is simply a looped animation of the text bubble growing then shrinking. The code for handling the button is also very simple.



spelchan.Nightmare.prototype.setIntroButton = function(e) {
this.introButtonHandler = this.introButtonClicked.bind(this);
this.stage.con_btn.addEventListener("click", this.introButtonHandler);
}

spelchan.Nightmare.prototype.introButtonClicked = function(e) {
console.log("Intro Button Clicked!");
this.stage.con_btn.removeEventListener("click", this.introButtonHandler);
this.stage.gotoAndPlay("enterRed");
}

And that is all there is to the game. Next fortnight we will look at changes to my Blazing Games porting plans and next month we will start chapter 7 which sets the foundation for the creation of video poker.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Losing and Winning

In the previous section we introduced the BSoD. This leads to the problem of what to do when the player loses the game. My first thought was to have the BSoD claw the player to death. This would reflect the feeling you get when you have an hours worth of unsaved work and the real blue screen of death shows up. Not that I’ve ever had that happen to me as I always save my work frequently. Mind you, the reason I always save my work frequently is because of learning what losing hours of work because of a computer crashing feels like.

Having someone being clawed to death is not really appropriate for a family friendly game so instead, I decided to have a bit of fun and generate a nice error message.



There is a button on the screen which returns the user to the title screen that we will be creating in the next section. To have the button do something we have a method in our Nightmare class for dealing with returning to the title screen. This method is called using nightmare.registerTitleButton(this.losecon_btn);

spelchan.Nightmare.prototype.registerTitleButton = function(btn) {
console.log("registering toTitle called! " + btn);
this.toTitleButton = btn;
this.toTitleHandler = this.toTitle.bind(this);
this.toTitleButton.addEventListener("click", this.toTitleHandler);
}

spelchan.Nightmare.prototype.toTitle = function(e) {
console.log("toTitle called!");
this.toTitleButton.removeEventListener("click", this.toTitleHandler);
this.stage.gotoAndPlay("Title");
}

This code simply sets up a button that is passed to it to call an event handler that simply returns the game to the title sequence.  To remove an event listener, however, you need a link to the event that is to be removed. Binding objects end up creating something new so to properly remove the event handler we need to keep a reference to the binded version of the handler. The actual handler code simply uses this binded reference to properly remove the event handling reference and then goes to the title sreen frame.

Now that it is possible to lose the game, perhaps it would be nice to allow the player to win the game. The winning scene was designed with two purposes in mind. First, as a distinct way of showing the player that they have completed the game. Second, to preview the next episode of the game. The number 666 has certain significance with my upbringing and to this day I still consider that number to be a bad omen. As you can't have that number on a clock, at least not legitimately, I opted for 6:36 for the time. The code for handling the “To be Continued...” button, as with the lose screen, is simply a call to nightmare.registerTitleButton(this.wincon\_btn);


Now we just need the title and intro screens and we are finished.These will be completed next fortnight which will conclude this chapter.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Enter the Nasty

To add a bit more pressure on the player, I have a villain that pops up after the player has stayed in the room too long. Being a programmer, the first villain that came to mind is the dreaded Blue Screen of Death that occurs on Windows machines. Linux and Macintosh OS X don't have this problem (and are extremely stable operating systems) but most people have windows, and a lot of my programming happens to be for Windows machines. To be fair to Microsoft, the blue-screen problem has largely gone away.



In addition to the BSoD image, we also need a movie that controls the BSoD. This movie consists of nothing for the first few frames (labeled hide) with a stop on the second frame. There is also be a block labeled show which is a two second sequence of the BSoD appearing. For control purposes we have the button code in the previous section call the hide method which shows nothing. There is a flag that is set indicating that there is no BSoD yet. A timer is set up to 0 and when this timer reaches 3 the BSoD will appear. What are we timing? We already have a loop for growing and shrinking the room so we will use the end of that loop as the timer. So instead of having a gotoAndPlay on the last frame to loop the animation, we instead have nightmare.updateBSOD("blueLoop"); with the string being the name of the label to go to for looping the room animation. The BSOD update code is as follows:

spelchan.Nightmare.prototype.updateBSOD = function(loop) {
// BSOD calculations
if (this.bsodAppearing) {
this.stage.gotoAndPlay("loseGame");
return;
}
++this.bsodTimer;
if (this.bsodTimer >= 3) {
this.bsodAppearing = true;
this.stage.bsod_movie.gotoAndPlay("show");
}
this.stage.gotoAndPlay(loop);
}

The function simply keeps track of how many times it has been called. As the function is called every 2 seconds, we simply figure out how long we give the players before the BSoD appears and then start the appearing animation. If another tick happens after the appearing animation has occurred then we know that the player has bit the bullet. This simply goes to the loseGame frame which we use for losing the game. Which leaves us with the task of handing the winning and losing of the game.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Linking the Rooms

Now comes the task of assembling and linking the rooms. I create a block of frames for each of the six rooms with each room being broken into three animated sequences. First is the Enter sequence (labeled enterColor, with Color being the color of the room). This sequence shows the room zooming into view. Next is the main room loop (labeled colorLoop, with color being the color of the room). I want to have an additional disorienting effect added to the room. Therefore, I set this block of frames to loop. The room will slowly grow and then shrink back to it's starting size. Finally there is an exit sequence (labeled colorExit, with color being the color of the room). This shows the room shrinking into nothing.

As animate likes to tie code to the frame it is written in, we are creating a globally accessible class that we will be using for tracking the state of the game. This class will be added to throughout this chapter but to start with we have the following initialization code.

if (typeof(spelchan) == "undefined") spelchan = {};

spelchan.Nightmare = function() {
this.registerStage = function(stage) { this.stage = stage;}
this.dirButtons = [null,null,null,null];
this.dirClickHandler = this.directionClicked.bind(this);
this.exitTarget = "exitRed";
}

This sets up a spelchan.Nightmare class that holds the list of buttons that are used to control the navigation between rooms. We need buttons for the four directions that the player can go. Quite simply, I will label the directions North, South, East and West. The four buttons will be invisible buttons. These are buttons that have a hit box but no image. Actually, when the player is over the buttons, we will have a "Go Direction" message appear. This is done simply by having the over and down frames of the button have the desired text in them. In the editor the invisible buttons have a cyan color and are placed over the doors in the image. Due to the animation of the room this placement isn't exact.



Every room will have it's own set of four buttons. I use the convention of naming the button instances colorDirection_btn. As the logic for the buttons is similar for all the rooms we can create a general method for setting up the buttons for a room as follows:

spelchan.Nightmare.prototype.setDirectionTargets = function(
btnNorth, targetNorth, btnEast, targetEast,
btnSouth, targetSouth, btnWest, targetWest, exitTarget) {
this.dirButtons[0] = btnNorth;
btnNorth.directionTarget = targetNorth;
this.dirButtons[1] = btnEast;
btnEast.directionTarget = targetEast;
this.dirButtons[2] = btnSouth;
btnSouth.directionTarget = targetSouth;
this.dirButtons[3] = btnWest;
btnWest.directionTarget = targetWest;
this.exitTarget = exitTarget;

for (var cntr = 0; cntr < 4; ++cntr) {
this.dirButtons[cntr].addEventListener(
"click", this.dirClickHandler);
}

this.bsodTimer = 0;
this.bsodAppearing = false;
this.stage.bsod_movie.gotoAndPlay("hide");
}

This code simply sets up the buttons and gives each button a target frame to go to when it is clicked. It also provides the frame to goto to start the exit room animation. The buttons are then assigned an event listener to handle being clicked. We will be covering this handler later in this section. Finally the code sets up the timer for the villain. We will cover the appearance of the villain in the next section. Each of the six rooms needs to call the above method when it is appearing with the code being on the frame where the room starts appearing. This code is something like the following:

nightmare.setDirectionTargets(
this.redNorth_btn, "enterCyan",
this.redEast_btn, "enterGreen",
this.redSouth_btn, "enterCyan",
this.redWest_btn, "enterYellow", "exitRed");

As you can see this is simply a function call to the method we created above. The parameters would be the appropriate buttons for that room and the labels of the frame the program should go to when the button is clicked. The button variables are self-evident while the target frames require looking at the map to determine the appropriate room to go to.

Handling the click is the next thing we need to do. This is done by the event handler we hinted at above.

spelchan.Nightmare.prototype.directionClicked = function(e) {
// make sure button has valid target
if (typeof(e.target.directionTarget) == "undefined") {
console.log("ERROR - Missing target in button");
this.directionTarget = "enterRed";
} else {
console.log("Button target is " + e.target.directionTarget); 
this.directionTarget = e.target.directionTarget;
}

// clean up buttons
for (var cntr = 0; cntr < 4; ++cntr) {
this.dirButtons[cntr].removeEventListener("click", this.dirClickHandler);
}
this.stage.gotoAndPlay(this.exitTarget);
}

This function first sets up a class variable called directionTarget to be the name of the frame to go to once the room has been exited. We can't go to this frame right away because we have to play an exit animation first. To be good citizens, we need to clean up our event handlers so we remove the event listeners. Finally we start the animation for exiting the room.

To finish our navigation system we need to go to the appropriate room when the player is exiting the room. Each of the exit animations will have a call to nightmare.nextRoom() on the last frame. This is a simple method that simply goes to the frame indicated by the button that was clicked on above.

spelchan.Nightmare.prototype.nextRoom = function() {
this.stage.gotoAndPlay(this.directionTarget);
}

This code simply goes to the appropriate frame for the next room. And that is all that is required for a navigation system. Now we need to implement the villain of this game which we will do next fortnight..


Saturday, April 20, 2019

Building the Rooms

The idea behind this episode of the game is that the player is dreaming that they are in a maze of rooms being chased by something. The rooms are connected in a non-linear fashion, but the rooms each have their own color. Thinking about this, all the rooms in the game will look the same except for their color. This means that all we have to do is create a single room and then duplicate it five times changing the colors in the duplicates! There, however, is an even better way of handling the creation of the rooms. Tinting!

To make tinting work the best, it is best to create the non-tinted image using gray-scale. I am going to keep the game in third person perspective so that we don't have all the work required to move an animated figure around. This means that the room needs to be drawn to look three dimensional. To better add to the three dimensional look, I created a tiled floor. This was done by drawing receding lines, then by drawing lines in the distance and angling them so that there is a larger distance between the closer points than the further points. Had I been really ambitious I could have created a far off point (a vanishing point) and having all the horizontal lines coming from that point. I then filled in the squares and finally removed the lines.

The ceiling I wanted to be stuccoed. This would have required a huge amount of work to accomplish using vectors, so I opted to use a texture for this image. The texture was generated in fireworks, but all high-end paint programs (and many low end ones as well) have texture creation support.

The three doors that are in the scene are actually all the same. I drew the far door and then used the distort command to alter the other two doors. While I could have been picky and tried to get the doors to look perfect, to keep the dream motif, I wanted the doors to be a bit distorted.



There are a number of ways of dealing with the room once you have the gray-scale done and want to apply tinting. This could be done within the program. Though tinting is a very costly operation, you would only have to do it once when you entered the room. Another option, which is the approach I took, is to create copies of the gray-scale image and individually tint those symbols. The advantage of doing this is you can get a bit better result from the tinting by tinting different parts of the room with different shades of the room color. The floors and ceiling were tinted a slightly different shade then the walls and doors, resulting in nicer looking rooms from the original flash version of this game.



Now that we have the rooms ready, we need to link them together which is what we will be doing next fortnight.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Planning the Adventure

The basic theme behind nightmare maze is that you are lost in a maze and must move quickly from room to room before the evil Blue Screen of Death reaches you.  The maze in this game is consistent in the fact that the same door will take you to the same room, however it is not commutative meaning that the door from A to B does not necessarily go back to A. This means while there is a structure to the maze it works different then the real world, which is typical of dreams.

Mazes are fairly easy to implement. This maze, however, is not a linear maze. With a linear maze, you can use graph paper to plan out the maze. This is obviously not the case with a non-linear maze. Instead, a different type of graph is used for creating a non-linear maze. This graph consists of the rooms drawn as boxes with arrowed lines showing how the rooms connect. I used a variation on this having colored lines corresponding to the room the line is from.



As you can see by the above map, the links between rooms are fairly complex. However implementing the links is actually very easy. You can also see that there are a lot of ways of reaching the exit, but do to the fact that there is nothing highlighting the exit, a player could end up being stuck in the maze for quite a while.

The room approach is very common in adventure games as travelling between locations is a very common activity. Generally, when designing an adventure game, each location will be considered to be a room even if it is an outside location. This allows for rooms to be worked on independently of each other and for earlier computers that had a very limited amount of memory would allow for the computer to only have to load the drawing data for the room that the player was currently in then having some type of transition animation between "rooms" when the player left a room and the game had to load in the image for the next room.

From a programming perspective, having rooms that are connected together with lines allows us to represent the map as a mathematical graph in which each room is a vertex of the graph and the connections between rooms are the edges of the graph.  Graph theory, however, is not necessary to build an adventure game. All that really matters is that you are able to create a basic map of the locations within the adventure so that you can move between them. The map can also be used to plan out where objects are located in the world and what obstacles or puzzles there are in the game. This allows for a walk through of the game before you have even started any real work on building the game so that you know that the game is solvable.

Once the map is planned out you then have the ability to itemize all the assets that will be needed for the game and can start work on building the art needed for each of the rooms. Building the rooms is what we will be doing next fortnight, but thanks to the nature of our maze this is a lot easier for this game than it would be for most other adventure games.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Nightmare Maze Overview

In the flash version (as well as my original draft) of this book, the adventure game material was near the end of the book but as the game is fairly simple from a programming perspective, I have decided to move it to here. Nightmare Maze is actually the first episode of a 46 episode series called One of those Weeks, which I hope to be redoing using a 3D engine sometime in the future.

In "Planning the Adventure" we take a look at how the game was designed. Adventure games tend to break areas that the player can visit into rooms, with the word room being a generic concept so outdoor areas are also referred to as rooms. For this game, all the rooms in the game are in fact rooms so the next step to the creation of this game is "Building the Rooms" which covers the techniques used to build the rooms used in this game. While it is a little but unconventional, it works for this game and the basic concepts are the same for other adventures.

While it is possible to have an adventure game that exists in a single room, such as a puzzle room, our game requires movement between rooms. I am not taking about adding doors to the room, though they are what the players use, I am taking about the underlying code for moving players between rooms. This is covered in "Linking the rooms"

While mazes are often enough, for this game we have a villain, who also happens to be in all the other dream sequences in this series, so in "Enter the Nasty" we cover the mechanism for getting the villain to appear. This obviously leads to "Losing and Winning" where we cover how to handle the nasty getting the player as well as the opposite but related player escaping from the nightmare.

With the game finished, this only leaves "Final Touches" where the title screen for the game is added. This covers what we will be doing over the next six fortnights, but the game is already on Spelchan.com so feel free to play the game while you wait for my sections on how the game was created.