One of the things we’ve really been working on is the enemy AI. Typically shmups (shoot’m ups) don’t have much AI to speak of. The typical shooter uses timed enemy spawners and an animation technique called “tweening” to send enemies along a preconfigured path.
At the most, these enemies might target and shoot you directly. If they’re particularly devious, these shots might lead the target. .
In even more extreme cases, bullet hell shooters simply throw dozens of patterns at you. The patterns always take the same path, which might change depend on the difficulty setting. The challenge is to memorize the patterns and dodge correctly.
However, it’s 2015. One of the cool things about twinstick shooters as opposed to pure vertical/horizontal shooters is that enemies can display more unique behavior or intelligence. Some games I’ve been inspired by are
Assault Android Cactus
Both of these games are relatively new indie arena shooters. They focus on waves and waves of intense action in preset ‘arenas’. In Xenoraptor the enemies flyby, buzzing around while swarming you. In Assault Android Cactus, you’ve got about of dozen different enemy types that exhibit different behaviors, from giant robot gorillas to annoying sniper wraiths, all trying to kill you.
In Space Cats In Space, we want to go BEYOND simply throwing a bazillions different enemies and seeing if you make it out alive. Don’t worry, we’re still totally going to do that too.
For our AI utilize a technique called ‘Behavior Trees’ in order to allow the enemy to handle distinct situations. Combined with navmesh pathfinding, we can offer intelligent enemies that offer the same kind of tactical challenge you might get from Halo or the troopers from Half-Life 2
Squadrons and Formation AI
Military fighter craft usually fight in formations, or at least they used to. There’s really nothing like 30 fighter craft flying by in a V, swinging past and leaving a nasty barrage of bullets in their wake. In SpaceCats In Space we utilize a technique called Offset Leader Follow to implement formations. This designates a leader in a squadron, and then all of the members of the squadron fall into formation based on a certain offset from the leader.
This is typically a strategy employed in FPS or RTS games where you use all the strengths of air, land and sea units to attack simultaneously and cover the weaknesses of each unit. You can expect us to utilize this technique in SpaceCats In Space. You’ll have fighter craft harassing your position while tanks and long range cannon emplacements rain fire down on you from afar. Meanwhile, fast moving drones and mines will try to lock you down. You’ll really need to shoot your way out of a bad situation.
You Can Be My Wingman, Anytime
With an AI that nasty, who needs Skynet? Most shoot’m ups are already hard enough. We even up the score by allowing you to call in your own wingmen and bombers to take out the competition. Need to take out a fighter squadron? Call in Art Buckle, your top gun dogfighter. Got a tank problem? Captain Jane “Jinxy” Cat will take them out with a strategic bomber strike. She can even be equipped with tactical nukes!
What do you prefer in shmups? Intelligent and resourceful enemies, or tons and tons of dumb ones?
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Good bye for Meow!