It's just over 10 years since I released Alien Breed IV, but there were a few things that I wasn't really happy with about it.

So, I'm now in the middle of making ALIEN BREED 5, which if all goes to plan, will finally be an AB game that I can be satisfied with Smile

AB5 will be for the TI-83 / TI-83+ calculators.

Here is a list of planned improvements that AB5 will feature over previous installments. Not all are definite yet, but I'm determined to fulfil as many of them as possible:

    Mission objectives/text displayed before each level (already implemented)

    Better weapon variation, both functionally & graphically. AB5 has a flamethrower! Smile (already implemented)

    Bigger levels. Currently planned at up to 60x48 tiles, as opposed to 32x32 in previous version (implemented but may need to be reduced if memory issues arise)

    Dynamic passcodes that will store your progress including ammo supplies, weapons, etc. In the previous version if you used a passcode, it only saved your level number, so you would start on a later level with basic weapons, which made it hard (still to be programmed, but will be definite)

    At least two difficulty levels, "normal" & "tough" for more of a challenge (still to be programmed, but will be definite)

    Enemy triggers will work more similar to how they did in the Team 17 Amiga versions, ie. triggers don't deactivate after spawning an enemy, they trigger each time the screen edge scrolls over the trigger point (still to be programmed, but I can't see it being a problem)

    A couple of extra enemy types. The initial release will most likely have the same enemies from the previous installment, but other types will be ready for additional levels down the track - this is a story thing (not programmed yet)

    Intex consoles (computers) have been reprogrammed to work more similar to the original Team 17 game, printing text the old terminal way (like the text in the teaser program, albeit printing the lines much faster) (already implemented)

    Graphics touched up in various ways. I found AB4 had too many random wall & floor variations that just made the screen look cluttered, so this time I've gone for the "less is more" approach to make things clearer. Also things such as power domes, intex consoles & alien eggs have been redrawn: power domes are now 16x16 as opposed to 8x8; intex consoles are 16x8; alien eggs are 16x16 (already implemented)

    Fire doors have been reprogrammed so that they don't automatically close when you walk through them. This was one of my biggest pet peeves in the past installments, which was really just lazy programming on my part. They are now activated to close by pressing [ALPHA] when facing them (already implemented)

    During boss fights, the screen will scroll so that the player is towards the bottom of the screen at all times so that it's easier to see the boss coming at you (not yet programmed, but shouldn't be a problem)

    When the player is hurt or picks up first aid kits, a health bar will temporarily appear at the left of the screen (not yet programmed but should be fine)


There are also a couple of other ideas from the original Team 17 games that I'm hoping to implement, although they're only concepts in my head at this point, so I won't bother bringing them up as I'm yet to attempt coding them whilst jugging with limited RAM.

I'll post a demo video soon showing some stuff that's already programmed Smile I'll also be posting updates on my web site, http://www.jvti.org.
Here is the teaser program I made last month:

Maybe you should add multiplayer support by way of Calcnet ^_^
elfprince13 wrote:
Maybe you should add multiplayer support by way of Calcnet ^_^


I wouldn't rule it out for a future possibility; having multiplayer co-op support is something I'd love to include, but it's not something that I'm focusing on for the initial v1.0.0 release. Motivation pending, I'll investigate it down the track, as it would be awesome Smile
Co-Op support?! I was thinking elf meant 1v1 matches but Co-Op would be sweet.
Here is a shot of some of what the game does so far.



This clip shows the 5 weapons. 3 are returning from ABIV, but the starting weapon (Machine Gun) and the most powerful weapon (Flamethrower) are new.

The Intex consoles now operate more similar to the original Team 17 game in terms of display. The option to view your mission objectives is now included (they also show at the start of the level). Also I've reprogrammed the radar scanner to make the player marker easier to spot

After that, you see the player walk onto a new surface. In the original games, parts of some levels had "trench" type paths, that were like exposed electrical flooring that wasn't covered up by finished tiled flooring. You can walk in these trench type paths, but once you fall into one, the only way out is via a ramp.

Finally, this clip shows that fire doors no longer close automatically when walking through them as previously mentioned - they are now activated by the [ALPHA] key.

The only other things to note in this clip are the new tiles for the Intex consoles, as well as the larger power domes.
comicIDIOT wrote:
Co-Op support?! I was thinking elf meant 1v1 matches but Co-Op would be sweet.


Yeah he might have - I did actually try a 1v1 deathmatch version about 12 years ago (aptly titled "Alien Breed: Deathmatch"), but I struggled getting the linkplay to sync properly. Again, it's definitely something that I'd like to address down the track if I still have the time & motivation Smile
Quick update, nothing too fancy, but just shows a minor improvement in AB5 over previous AB games, where the screen scrolling now pans further up the map during boss fights to give the player a better view of the fight, and then after the boss is killed, returns to centre on the player again.



Normal enemies are now coded as well, atm functioning fairly similarly to how they did in ABIV, although the triggering has been updated to closer match the original games, in theory providing a never ending supply of enemies Smile
Oh man, that looks awesome! I can't wait to play this game Smile
JamesV wrote:
comicIDIOT wrote:
Co-Op support?! I was thinking elf meant 1v1 matches but Co-Op would be sweet.


Yeah he might have - I did actually try a 1v1 deathmatch version about 12 years ago (aptly titled "Alien Breed: Deathmatch"), but I struggled getting the linkplay to sync properly. Again, it's definitely something that I'd like to address down the track if I still have the time & motivation Smile
I know of a certain robust linking/networking protocol you could use that even would let people co-op over the internet... Wink This is looking amazing so far; keep up the great work.
KermMartian wrote:
JamesV wrote:
comicIDIOT wrote:
Co-Op support?! I was thinking elf meant 1v1 matches but Co-Op would be sweet.


Yeah he might have - I did actually try a 1v1 deathmatch version about 12 years ago (aptly titled "Alien Breed: Deathmatch"), but I struggled getting the linkplay to sync properly. Again, it's definitely something that I'd like to address down the track if I still have the time & motivation Smile
I know of a certain robust linking/networking protocol you could use that even would let people co-op over the internet... Wink This is looking amazing so far; keep up the great work.


That would be pretty cool! It is something that's been brainstorming in the back of my mind (linkplay).. Smile

Thanks Kerm!
I refer of course to CALCnet / globalCALCnet, assuming you know of it and how it works. Do you have any particular schedule planned for Alien Breed 5, or is it more of an "as fast as I can sanely work on it" sort of thing?
I do know of CALCnet, although I'm not well educated on it as of yet. I did see a video that you posted on YouTube showing the 9(?) calculators with the bouncing balls, which was quite impressive! Smile

Yeah pretty much "as fast as I can" whilst juggling other life commitments, and also trying to make the (hopefully) decent quality Alien Breed clone for the TI-83(+) that I originally intended to make 13-14 years ago. Trying to recreate Alien Breed on the calculator was my original motivation for learning Z80 all those years ago! Razz

As a guess, I should have the coding mostly completed in the next 3-4 weeks, and then it's level building & testing. I'd say September should be a fairly safe bet unless I encounter any unexpected issues Smile
Great, that sounds like a reasonable schedule for someone with your skills and experience. For a newer member of the community, I'd probably be wary of such a short time to put together that much game logic. If you want to release betas here while you work, I'm sure you'd have plenty of eager beta-testers.
Very nice. I wasted many hours of my life playing this game, loved every minute of it Very Happy

Will the ABIV levels be usable in this game as well, or are the new levels going to be of a new format and not compatible?
tifreak8x wrote:
Very nice. I wasted many hours of my life playing this game, loved every minute of it Very Happy

Will the ABIV levels be usable in this game as well, or are the new levels going to be of a new format and not compatible?


That's cool to hear, glad you enjoyed it! Smile

Unfortunately, AB5 doesn't run the ABIV levels. The tileset has been updated & rearranged. It wouldn't be impossible to achieve, but I'd have to have a process that "converts" the levels after loading them or something along those lines. For now I'll confirm that it's not a feature that will be in v1.0.0, but I'll consider it down the track for a future update.

The good news is that AB5 will be released with 12 levels that are each nearly 3 times the size of any ABIV level. And if I can keep my motivation up, I have rough plans to release further levels packs (as "episodes", sort of like how the old Wolfenstein 3D had episodes each including 10 levels) down the track Smile

KermMartian wrote:
Great, that sounds like a reasonable schedule for someone with your skills and experience. For a newer member of the community, I'd probably be wary of such a short time to put together that much game logic. If you want to release betas here while you work, I'm sure you'd have plenty of eager beta-testers.


I guess it's been mostly smooth sailing with the coding for AB5, due to many routines being similar to ABIV, although updated to deal with the larger levels, plus other features.

I've actually gotten more achieved this week than I thought I would, and in fact, I'd say around 90-95% of the core code work is now done Smile
Here's another clip showing a few more things that have been coded in.



This clip shows:

  • Fire doors being closed, which in the case of this test level is a requirement to finish the level (in the released game there will be many levels that have fire doors that aren't required to be closed, they're just there in case you want to block access of some enemies, or in some cases, you might accidentally trap yourself.
  • The new pause/stats screen that shows your health, ammo, weapons, etc.
  • The ability to shoot doors open. Note that in the released game, it will take more than a few quick shots - the idea is that shooting open a door is a last resort in case you've run out of keys.
  • Enemies spawning, and respawning from the same trigger each time it comes on-screen, unlike previous instalments. This is more like the Team 17 originals.
  • The health bar temporarily popping up at the left of screen when you get hurt - it will also show up when you pick up first aid kits that replenish your health.
  • A new look power dome being shot.
  • The new look countdown timer using a custom font.
That all looks very nice. I might actually have to dig out one of my many 83+s to play this once it's in a releasable form Smile
Well the majority of coding is now complete - the game engine is now in a very playable form, and with all the new features & improvements over ABIV that I was hoping to make Smile

Here's another quick shot, showing one of the new features, which is that on one particular level, the player is shrouded in darkness, and thus only able to see a limited distance. Out of all the possible ways this could have been represented, I've gone for a fairly simple look, which imo was the closest I could stick to the original whilst dealing with monochrome graphics.



The next task is level layout and building for all 12 levels. As planned, the levels will be 60x48 tiles in size, much larger than the previous 32x32 levels in ABIV. I've sketched out the layout for levels 1 & 2, so I'll keep working away at it and start some actual game testing along the way Smile
Very impressive progress, as expected! From a z80 programming standpoint, I'm curious how you chose to calculate, store, and render that circle so smoothly and quickly. Good luck on the level design!
  
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