Chapter 21 -  Levels 3 and 4

For this chapter, I  began the Level 3 graphics design. It went so well that I decided to keep going and also did the Level 4 graphic design.

Level Design

Level 3

Level 3 sees the Gunstar having reached the Alien home world. For this momentous event, the Aliens have pulled together their military might and afforded you a most glorious welcoming celebration... with guns blazing!

The Alien home world is a dry harsh environment. For this, I have chosen a landscape predominantly red in color with a few yellow lava trails. The Alien's civilization is very industrial in appearance, certainly no place for a holiday! And they are alerted to your arrival and determined to keep your stay short. Their firing intensity and numbers have been increased.

Level 4

This level is similar to Level 3 in that it retains the dry harsh environment but highlights the industrial environment as a large food processing plant... a slaughterhouse for  the humans they abduct from Earth!!

This level design takes it up a notch with the inclusion of large animated meat grinding machines and alien workers can be seen, some eating remnants of human flesh! (simple palette animation)

It's a morbid concept but that's what the Aliens are doing to survive on their inhospitable planet where the environment was abused and food is now of limited supply. It's like that movie starring Charlton Heston in 1973, Soylent Green but with aliens and none of the food coloring to disguise the fact. Soylent Red if you like.  :)

Below is a montage of the four levels of graphics in GunStar. I will be keeping people in suspense by not showing a video of levels 3 and 4 but I will say that the animated machinery in level 4 look fantastic and I'd like to thank L. Curtis Boyle and Brian Palmer for suggesting it to me.

LEVEL 1 - Earth Exodus

LEVEL 2 - Stargate Activation

LEVEL 3 - Alien Home World

LEVEL 4 - The Abattoir

Tweaks and Optimizations

Before progressing further, I had several  improvements and tweaks I wanted to apply.

Graphical changes

With all the moving background graphics, there were a few things that would become difficult to see. The player has a lot to look at on the screen and often the alien's fire was not immediately apparent which made it difficult to spot from the edges of you immediate point of focus.

I therefore changed the alien fire so it had a simple animated wiggle to them, making them look alive in themselves.

Also, the Shield and Fusion Bomb charges would also blend in with all the moving graphics and it was easy to shoot them rather than collect them so I made changes to the colors I used so that they stood out better and were easier to identify amongst the background.

The Weaponizer

I made some changes to the weaponizer operation but I wasn't happy with the results and had to revert it back with some minor changes.

In this final configuration, you must collect it with you GunStar craft to obtain the next level of weapon firing capability. Shooting it merely destroys the weaponizer and you don't obtain the weapon upgrade and it's downgraded (this was as it was before).

But now, when you have obtained the highest weapon (6 shot multifire), any future weaponizers obtained will fully charge your Fusion Bomb allowing you to destroy all aliens onscreen with a single blast.

As before, utilizing the Fusion Bomb depletes all it's energy and you must collect Fusion charges to fully recharge it or obtain another weaponizer.

I also found that when shooting frantically and sending a spray of shots ahead of you, that sometimes you will hit and blow up a weaponizer just as it's beginning to enter the screen. This is good reason to not just shoot frantically without thought but I figured a lot of people will do just that so now, the weaponizers are immune to your fire until they at least fully appear on the screen. In this way it is clear that you destroyed a weaponizer with your wild and thoughtless firing.   :)

GunStar Roll

On Facebook, Tom Lindo made a suggestion that I make the GunStar roll left/right when moving left/right. This was an idea I had at the start but didn't know if it would really be wanted (and I was feeling lazy!).

So I added a roll and it looks better for it. Thanks Tom!

Story Synopsis

Along with the Title Page credits and the High Score display, I added a short story synopsis. I figured that a lot of people may not read the instructions and therefore not understand what the game is about or the main game objective.

Game tweaks

And lastly, I have been playing Levels 3 and 4 intensely to get the right balance of gameplay and doing adjustments. This tweaking will continue right up to the end of development.

Coming up next

That's it for this chapter. Next I'll add in the Boss aliens. There will be two, one at the end of level 2 after you activate the Stargate to the alien home world. This one will be called The Gate Keeper.

The second and final Boss with be at the end of level 4 and be called The BMF... for reasons that will become obvious later.   :)

Copyright 2017 by Nickolas Marentes