I'll leave some comments...
I'll start by mentioning the gameplay. I was always very fond of this style of play. In the old days I played supaplex and boulderdash, those games were one of my favorites, as there is good action, and tons of logic involved. So I decided to give RoX a shot.
My main decision was to make the levels non-scrollable. Some people might think this was a bad idea, but I believe that it was the better idea. Small levels will probably appeal to the casual gamer better in terms of visual design and known obstacles. With levels that are not scrolled, players will see the whole level at once, making it easier to grasp the difficulty of the level as well as always see the visual representation. The levels can be tweaked to look very artistic, and the player will always see them as is. Also, small levels are easier to design, but at the same time can contain a good amount of puzzle and action. Anything bigger than that for this type of game I think will confuse the casual gamer, as big levels tend to get tedious at times, and people get lost easily. Small levels give less feel of adventure, but better understanding of the goals, and definitely better visual representation.
Another great addition from small, one-screen levels, is warping. I call it warping, others may have a real term for this, but the effect is of pacman like. Anything that moves of the screen, appears of the oposite side. Honestly, I think its a great addition, as levels can be made much more dynamic, and gameplay features can be greatly increased. Things can fall forever, or hidden passages can be made in a weird way. Anyways, I personally think this was one of the best choices along with one screen levels.
I definitely refined the gameplay from the other games that inspired me. Objects can have different speeds, accelerations, rolling effects are much better, everything is animated, and the feel is a bit different. But the core mecanics are very similar. There is the gravity, and objects roll off each other. Tons of puzzle elements will be added, as I use a morh/trigger type of system. Most of the game content isnt there yet.
My biggest issue was using 3D hardware to make a 2D game. I have tried setting up SDL and drawing some stuff to the screen, the performance was soo bad that I stopped right there. At 800x600, with a fullscreen background and 475 sprites app ran at about 30 fps fullscreen (16bit) and much worse in windowed mode (32bit). All the surfaces were in software, and I used default SDL blitters to do the job. Anyways, that was very slow, without any game logic I was getting horrific performance. I know that there are ways to optimize that, like using dirty rects and other tricks, but it seemed that it would take a long time to develop the right technology to get the game playable at good speeds. So I decided to stay with the 3D accelerated graphics.
I think that was the right choice. The specs are raised a bit, to DX8 + 3D hardware, but the outcome is way much better. The game is smooth, pushing up to 3k polys per frame, and I dont have to worry about things like ditry rects, I was able to start working on the game right away and not the technology. HGE made it very easy.
Other advantages that I now have is that obvious ones first, like;
rotations - when things roll off each other they rotate from code, making it seem very smooth and real. That cannot be done with pure 2D (unless you have good code that does it), and prerendering different angles as frames is not an option for this game, because of the rock/unid animations which require alot of frames for the effect they give now. With the 3D rotations, this is much simpler for me, and the effect is better IMO.
Colors - Objects can be set to any color I choose, adding tons of variety to the game in terms of visuals. Ofcourse in pure 2D I could pre-render all these colors, but that's alot of art on the HD. This way I can tint things any color and not worry about anything. (maybe ugly colors)
Effects - Ofcourse with hardware accel. I get all the neat effects, scales, rotations, colors, shadows, and alphas all add to the experience.
Tweak Grid - This is my favorite feature. Only with 3D hardware this is possible to do so easy. Regular block tiles can be tweaked by the corners, making level design and feel look very different. With the same tiles I can make levels look completely different, adding artistic feel. Tomb Salamone level shows this pretty well. With this feature the game doesnt look as repetitive, and other goodies can come from this. Again, this is very hard to do with pure 2D.
Ok, so basically by using 3D hardware I can save tons of resource space and memory. The level design is much more flexible, as I can tweak the levels to look any way I want them to. And ofcourse the game runs and animates much smoother. The bad part is that the minimum reqs. are raised a bit, and not everyone will be able to enjoy the game.
Another good feeling I have is about MOD music. We use XM files, which are to be onverted to MO3. This saves a ton of disk space for all the music, and allowes to have longer tracks. We can have a 5 minute track in under 200kb, ofcourse there are limitations with what you can do, but I think for this game its fine.
Mmm, this is it for now, pelase if you have any feedback, it would be greatly appreciated. It is inspirational, no matter how negative it is. I am also interested in performancem but what Im really interested in is of anyone find potential in this game. Do you guys think it has a chance when completed? And what do you guys think needs to be there for that chance.