Dev Diary 011: A SHMUPS/Match 3 Hybrid (Early Prototype)

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Matt Barton's picture

Whew...Well, after a few days of coding I have a working prototype of my new game. I'm still calling it "Heavy Metal Metal Blocks," though I suspect that will change as the game evolves. I had a really, really tough time getting the Match 3 stuff worked out; I never dreamed how convoluted the code would get. There's probably a much easier way to do it than what I came up with, but it DOES work, at least as far as I can tell. Have a go and let me know what you think of the basic concept!

You should be able to get a better idea of the fundamental game mechanic after playing this for a few minutes. Obviously there's a lot more work to do, but I feel a lot of the hard work is done (at least as far as the coding is concerned).

Over the next few days I'll work on implementing the last of the crucial features. Here's what to expect in future installments:

1. Enemy fire. The enemies will drop bombs down on the player like in Space Invaders. This should add considerably to the challenge, since you'll need to dodge it to avoid being killed.

2. Orphaned enemies go kamikaze on you. You'll notice that now all that happens to enemies that can no longer be destroyed via match 3 just start rotating. That's a placeholder. I'm not quite sure what would be the most fun thing to do with them, but right now I'm planning to have them drop formation and go dive bombing at you like a kamikaze. When they do that, you can either shoot them or dodge them (if they drop below the screen I'll just self-destruct them).

3. Enemies will speed up as you destroy more of them. A fairly simple thing, actually, but should make the game more fun.

4. Match 3 bells and whistles. Obviously, I need a score, and you should get more points if you destroy more enemies at once.

Obviously the audiovisuals will need a lot of work, as will menus and such. I'm saving all that for last. I want to get the core gameplay down solid before I start messing with that stuff.

Some ideas I'm toying with -

a. Instead of smooth movement, I could make the aliens "step." Then I could add the familiar "thump thump" sound effect that'd speed up along with them. I'm pretty sure I could make it look smoother; maybe they could slide across the screen at intervals...I know there's a bunch of Unity stuff for controlling animations. At any rate, I'd like to know your opinion on whether it's something worth looking into.

b. More Match 3 stuff...There's so many variations I could look into, such as having some blocks that can only be destroyed by destroying adjacent ones of the same color (no direct fire allowed). I could perhaps have some that periodically change colors automatically. I could a rainbow alien or some such that'd detonate all the surrounding ones when hit with a direct shot.

c. A saucer or some such flying across the top of the screen every now and then. Hit it for bonus.

d. Power ups. Bonus lives, more firepower (not sure how useful it'd be, but easy to add), speed boosts, etc. Perhaps a missile that'd destroy all the aliens in a radius.

Let me know your ideas and what you think of it so far. Again, NO need to get nit picky at this point. Just general comments please.

Unity Web Player | WebPlayer


Scott (not verified)
Definitely agree with point

Definitely agree with point #3 about enemies speeding up, first thing that came to mind while trying it.

Power ups are a good idea. Perhaps they can be awarded for knocking out an entire row at once or something.

Are you going to have a "health" system or do you have to avoid fire entirely? You could have enemy fire do less damage but failing to dodge a kamikaze would destroy you in one hit.

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Joined: 01/16/2006
Thanks, Scott! I was

Thanks, Scott!

I was wondering that. It'd probably be easy enough to implement a damage system instead of outright destruction, though I think just killing you with one pop would give it more of a retro vibe. I guess I'll start off just having them destroy you and see if it's just too difficult to be fun. If it's frustrating, I can always add the damage thing.

I've been playing with the enemy projectiles. That's another way to make it more difficult--speed them up and also have them drop more bombs more frequently. It could get pretty hairy.

I like your idea about tying the powerups to the Match 3 stuff. It should be easy to make one drop if you destroy a certain number of aliens in one bullet. I don't know if you noticed, but I included some "English" with the projectiles so you can steer them a bit and try to hit the aliens in the upper rows. I'm guessing somebody with real skill could even blow up ALL the aliens with one bullet. Of course I'd need to give out a huge power up for that!

I wonder if it's possible with Unity to have a high score list saved on the server...That'd be neat! A little competition always helps.

TripHamer's picture
Joined: 07/31/2010
So far so good.

I wouldn't waste any time worrying about audio/video/animation at this point.

The main thing is the get the gameplay working and find out what works and what doesn't. Squares and circles and such are all you need right now.

Try a few ideas and discard ones that don't pan out. You'll probably have a somewhat different game that what you started out with but you'll probably be just as pleased with it.


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