is it based on the old Dolphin atari game at all?
Hey everyone, I just finished my latest game, Laser Dolphin. You play as a dolphin who has a laser strapped to his back. It is 2d sidescrolling action game made with PTK. Some of the enemies include: Robo Sharks, Missile Fish, and TNT Turtles.
I’m interested in any and all feedback. I don’t really have any idea of the system requirements so please post your system specs too.
I also have the Mac version done, but I don’t have the website and ordering set up for it yet. I haven’t had a chance to try it on any other macs yet, so if you have a mac, could you try it and let me know how it works? Mac Demo
Download Windows Demo
Desktop Wallpaper 1024x768
is it based on the old Dolphin atari game at all?
Last edited by Bmc; 02-16-2005 at 02:17 PM.
[QUOTE=So if you have a mac, could you try it and let me know how it works? [/QUOTE]
It ran fine on my Ti PowerBook. I have two monitors, and sometimes the cursor would get lost on the second monitor, but that was the worst of it. Nice graphics. I didn't care for the arrow key controls. Could you offer a single 'go' key, that would thrust the dolphin towards the cursor's crosshair?
No, I've never played that one. The only dolphin-based game I've played was the original Echo the Dolphin. Real Arcade actually sells Echo now. But I think the gameplay in Laser Dolphin is completely different than Echo (aside from the main character being a dolphin ).Originally Posted by Bmc
I've experimented a fair bit with the controls. Originally it used the right mouse button to propel the dolphin towards the cursor. This is great for low action areas but as soon as there are a few enemies on screen I found it difficult to succeed. I wanted to be able to move in one direction and shoot in another.Originally Posted by Musenik
What does everyone else think about the controls? I would appreciate more feedback and ideas on how to improve them. Do you think it would be better with a 'go' key?
at first I thought it would be better with the mouse but you would lose some control on the dolphin (like shooting while moving backwards) if you can find a clever way to do both with the mouse then I'd say switch it up otherwise I think the controls are fine as is.
Hey thats extremely good fun! I expect this game will do very well. The only things I'd criticise are:
1)Theres a backstory? gimme a break, who cares, skip it.
2)The background is really sparse. I would have added lots of background fluff to make it really feel underwater. little shoals of fish swimming around or the odd plant or jellyfish. It feels a bit bland down there.
Other than that its great, very good stuff!
I think you have done a very good job. I love the nice clean graphics and smooth feel to the game. Great pace too, kind of lets you go as fast or as slow as you like. I had fun making the dolphin jump out of the water... can I do flips and stuff? If not that would be a cool addition. The campy story line was great for this type of game too. I will definitely keep this around for when kids are over - seems like it would be great for them.
I have one huge complaint though, I found the music to be incredible repetitious and turned the sound down after about a minute. I also don't feel like it really mixed well with the style of the game, something soothing and ocean like would have been much preferred. I didn't play long so maybe it gets better. I also second the comment about adding some more elements to the scenes but still keep them clean.
Last edited by Travis Dorschel; 02-17-2005 at 09:39 AM.
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Very nice game! Pretty visuals, fun action. I agree with the others that the environment graphics are a little bland compared to the beautifully done characters. It could definitely use some bits of colorful coral, streams of rising bubbles, wavy seaweed, etc. sprinkled around.
I also found the movement controls a little awkward, but I would have no idea how to improve them (you really do need to move one direction while shooting somewhere else). The "thrust toward the cursor" key/button would essentially make it like Reflexive's Swarm, where you relied on your inertia to keep you moving while firing somewhere else. That always felt somewhat limiting to me (do I feel an Alien Flux debate coming on?).
One thing that I think could add a huge amount to the gameplay would be a couple different fun weapons and/or powerups for the dolphin. Not anything that complicates the controls (switching weapons, etc.), just things that take immediate effect when you pick them up. It's a little frustrating always having to make direct hits on moving targets. Occasionally giving the laser a homing upgrade, followed by an intense area of enemies would be fun, for example.
Oh, and keep the backstory. While it's not something that I care about in an action game, I know of a lot of players who really like that kind of thing.
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Last edited by Martoon; 02-17-2005 at 06:10 AM.
Thanks for all the feedback, it's really helpful!
I don't know about the controls - it seems that some people like them, and some people don't. I know there are lots of other games with similar controls(like Alien Flux).. Perhaps I should add the ability to swim towards the cursor with the right mouse button (space bar for mac) but at the same time allow the current arrow key controls. I don't want to add it as something in the option menu because I don't think many people will bother changing it. If I allow both control schemes at the same time, then maybe people will use whatever feels natural. And once the game gets more difficult they will probably start using the arrow key controls.
About the backstory.. I have read a few anti-backstory posts/articles lately. I wasn't originally going to have the backstory but everyone that I showed the game to was like, "But why is the dolphin out there.. what is his motivation?".. So I added the cheesy story that I think works well with the game.
Adding little background elements like schools of fish, bubbles, etc. is something that a lot of people have mentioned so I will try to add those into the game. Originally I had planned to have elaborate background images but when I tested it out, it messed around with the feeling of motion.
The other thing that a few people have mentioned is different weapon upgrades. That is something that I would really like to add into the game. I agree that it could add a lot.. definately on my to-do list. It may require some restructuring of the demo levels to show off the weapons.
Are there any other comments about the music? I thought that it is nice and up-tempo to fit with the game's action, but at the same time it is slightly ambient to make it feel 'underwater'. The full version of the game actually has 6 songs in it.
If anyone has any lower spec computers could you give it a try? I don't have any old computers where I live right now to try it on.
That's a good idea about having both control schemes simultaneously, since they don't interfere with each other. As a player, I would probably use both - mouse movement for precise squeezing between mines or jumping over rocks, keyboard for heated battles.Originally Posted by Dingo Games
I would have the spacebar active on Windows machines as well (in addition to the right mouse button). In games that require a lot of fast, precise mouse movements, you lose a lot of your dexterity when you're holding down a mouse button, so it's nice to be able to use a key instead.
You might want to have a help screen that comes up before the first level, showing that you can use keyboard and/or mouse. Otherwise, people will probably try the mouse first, see that it works, and never know about the keyboard.
Unfortunately, if someone has trouble starting out with the keyboard, after they've gotten used to using the mouse, they'll probably be even less inclined to try to learn the keyboard then. But at least you're giving them the option.Originally Posted by Dingo Games
Yeah, I think that would be best.Originally Posted by Martoon
Yes, I was thinking about adding a help screen, but with the simple controls of the game I thought that everyone would figure them out. But if I add more complicated controls then a help screen would be good to have. Maybe have a different help screen for the first few levels, so that it is more like a tutorial. If each help screen is very simple then people might actually read them.Originally Posted by Martoon
Yeah that's probably true. Even if someone sticks to the purely mouse control they should still be able to beat the game.. just not on the harder difficulty settings.Originally Posted by Martoon
Thanks for the comments - I will have to experiment a bit with this to see what is best.
cool game, nice speed and inertia on the dolphin and the scroll view prediction is good. The controls are fairly odd but I got used to them. I think my brain was expecting it to be the opposite, like cursors would point the dolphin in a direction and go there, where the mouse would point the laser seperately from the dolphin But it's cool as it is. I think one thing that would help is to slow the dolphin the more off the angle he is. It just feels 'weird' to be able to swim flat out regardless of the direction of him, plus the scroll prediction doesn't work facing the wrong way so it would help overall. I'd add progressively more bubbles if he's pointing in the right direction while going fast too.
Also I really wanted some kind of recognition of doing cool flips and getting really high out of the water Maybe make him squeek different squeeks depending on how cool a 'move' it was. Like a high 3 flip would get the full dolphin call, or getting really high makes a big clap sound with a splash of water from his fins kids would love it.
I turned the music off, I found it a bit irritating. Also one thing I forgot was that it wasn't very convenient to have to look at a separate health meter. It would be cool if I could tell my dolphin was badly injured just by looking at him.
I agree that rewarding jumps and flips would be good.
I also agree about rewarding (and more emphasis on) jumps. Getting your angle and velocity right as you're heading toward the surface, then going balistic in the air, is one of the best parts of this game. Play it up!
Actually, if you ever do a sequel, I think you could make a pretty fun Tony Hawk style game that focuses on the dolphin pulling off different stunts. Have faster speed when moving the direction you're facing (like Vectrex mentioned), constrain the dolphin with some rotational inertia (so he's always trying to turn toward the mouse cursor, but doesn't instantly snap to it), and reward things like really high jumps out of the water and lots of flips in the air. But he's gotta land nose-first or tail-first on the water. If he lands broadside, he doesn't finish the stunt. Heck, if you don't do a stunt-dolphin game, maybe I will... someday... or at least add it to my ever-growing list of games I'd like to make someday...
just played it again after reading new posts. I agree that there should be some type of reward for getting "air". Maybe have "power rings" randomly appear floating over the water and if you can manage to jump through them before they disappear you get your life meter filled up some. Maybe also have an occasional 1 up, or some type of weapons upgrade.
As for the controls, it seems alot of people don't like them. It will definetly lose some freedom using the mouse but who knows ... it might make it more fun.
I'd suggest trying to follow the control style of Wik, use the left button for the laser and the right button to swim toward the cursor.
Then basically count on your momentum to carry yourself backwards etc when you wanna shoot something behind you(just like asteroids).
A long time ago on the dexterity forums there was a thread where we posted our works in progress. There was the beginnings of a dolphin game posted in that thread, is this the finished product of what was posted way back when?
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Heh, I showed the game to a friend a few months ago and he actually suggested the idea of rewarding jumps. I thought that it was a neat idea but I didn't expect that so many other people would suggest it. I might have to add a little something like that into the game, although I'm not sure exactly what I could reward the player with, other than just saying things like "360", and "Tripple Flip".
I'm working on upgrading the control scheme. I implemented implemented the swim towards cursor when you push space bar or right mouse button. It's actually pretty good. It works fine on the easier difficulty settings where you're allowed to get hit quite a bit. But I certainly wouldn't be able to beat the game on the more difficult settings. You need to be able to dodge enemies and weapons but that isn't always possible with that control scheme. I also made it so that it is automatically adjusted so that you swim towards the cursor instead of 'sliding' around. That probably doesn't make any sense but it makes the controls feel better.
I'm going to put in a a few little help boxes at the start of levels to introduce the controls. At first the simple "swim towards the cursor" and then a few levels later when some real enemies attack I will introduce the "arrow key movement".
Also I'm going to adjust the way that the laser shooting works. So that the laser goes closer to where the cursor actually is instead of just firing in the direction that the dolphin is facing. This will be subtle but I think it will feel better.
Nope, but I just did a search to find that game. It is still on geocities here. I guess that the developer of that stopped making it. Kind of interesting. But a far way off from being finished (although strangely, it does have a tutorial). Heh, and in that game you don't shoot a laser.. you shoot "Fishballs"A long time ago on the dexterity forums there was a thread where we posted our works in progress. There was the beginnings of a dolphin game posted in that thread, is this the finished product of what was posted way back when?
I'm really impressed with how smooth your sprites look when rotated and scaled in the game. Did you write your own algorithms to do this, or is it the standard quality of opengl/directx?
Right now I'm using SDL since I'm still a beginner. I'm thinking of working more close to opengl or using another library on my next game.
It uses PTK which in turn uses OpenGL. I didn't write any algorithms, it is just a setting in PTK which antialiases rotated/scaled sprites. And I don't think PTK does anything special here, it just uses OpenGL to do this. You could do the same thing using Direct3d.
Also, the sprites are pre-rendered 3d models using Blender. They get rendered with oversampling so that I get a nice alpha blended border on all the sprites. This makes everything look much smoother.
I actually considered using SDL when I started making this game just because I wanted to avoid requiring OpenGL. I figured that I could do it all in software using dirty rectangles. But when I thought about the parallax scrolling that I planned on doing.. well I don't know if it's even possible to do that fast enough in software. Carmack had some algorithm for doing parallax scrolling that he used in Commander Keen but well.. I'm making a game here not technology.
In conclusion, PTK is good. Highly recommended.
Ok, I uploaded the new version. Dolphin Game
-I fixed up the controls so that now you can use spacebar or right mouse button to swim towards the cursor.
-I added some little tutorials at the start of a few levels.
-Improved laser targeting makes aiming the laser easier.
One thing that I'm not sure about is what difficulty setting to be default. There are very easy, easy, medium, hard, and extreme. Right now it is set to be default on easy. However, I am contemplating changing that down to very easy. I find that setting WAY to easy.. but then again I developed the game.
Note that I haven't updated the Mac version yet.
Maybe just lower the difficulty a tiny bit, like talking 5% or so.
Also, it would be nice if it was a little easier to jump out of the water, speed up the dolphins velocity a little when it hits the top of the water or something.
Other then that I'd have to say... BRAVO
Very nice improvements! The tutorial screens are really nice. They're attractive, fun looking, and couldn't possibly be more clear. The spacebar/right mouse button control is immediately intuitive (but keyboard control is definitely better for battles). The improved laser aiming helps a lot. I didn't realize before that it didn't actually fire the laser through the mouse cursor (and this created some difficulty in hitting smaller and/or moving targets). The way it works now is much more playable.
The only things I would suggest at this point:
1. Introduce the keyboard controls a little earlier. As it is now, you introduce the keyboard controls immediately before throwing a new, fairly tough enemy (the missile fish) at the player. It's better not to ask the player to adjust to brand new controls and a brand new challenge at the same time. It would be better to show them the keyboard controls, then let them try it out while doing something easy and familiar.
2. It would be nice if the "charging up" indicator was right on or near the dolphin somehow, instead of the corner of the screen. When I'm charging up my weapon, I'm usually in the midst of manuevering, so it's awkward to try to watch the indicator in the corner.
As far as the difficulty, I found it plenty easy (I was never in any danger of losing all my health during the demo). Maybe one of your tutorial popups could say something about if you find it too easy or too hard, you can adjust the difficulty in Options.
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they while their companions slept
Were toiling upward in the night.
A really nice game you have there. I played the whole demo in about 15 minutes. I would add a controls help in the main menu since I want to know the controls immediately and not through tutorials. For an action game the player might need to get used to the key system in the first place.
1. You need a bit more variety in the backdrops.
2. Sometimes I got lost. Some landmarks would make the underwater tunnels a bit friendlier.
3. Having homing missiles attacking you at such an early stage is a bit too much IMO.
4. Will there be more weapons for the dolphin? or shields? or is it up to the player to get used to controlling the dolphin in such a way that no one can hit him? The dolphin is quite big and can be hit easily.
That's it for now. If I have anything else to comment about I will post again.