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Welcome to "The Making of Scott's Space Invaders"

Scott's Space Invaders is a free space invaders style game for your windows PC. It uses rendered 3D graphics, so it requires directx 9.0, but it is still essent ially a 2D game, just like the classic.

Scott's Space Invaders is written in C++ using Borland C++ Builder and uses the DirectX 9.0 graphics libraries. DirectX is a 3D graphics package, designed for writing 3D games. Although Scott's Space Invaders is written using a 3D graphics engine, game play is inherently 2D in nature. After all, space invaders wouldn't be space invaders if it was 3D.

Scott's Space Invaders is the second arcade game that I've written -- Astro Hunter 3D Deluxe was the first. A lot of the code was borrowed from Astro Hunter 3D. In fact, the "flying saucer" mesh is the same for the two games, and Astro Hunter 3D even uses some of the space invader meshes in one of the intermediate levels.

Design Goals

There were several goals for designing the game:

  1. I wanted a nostalgic appearance. This meant blocky/pixelated space invaders that looked like the original space invader aliens. One of the common comments I get is that the "invaders look too blocky". Well, that's exactly the look that I was going for! I might design some more organic modernized invaders for a future game, but Scott's Space Invaders is intended to have a retro look and feel to it.
  2. The game should play like the original. The original space invaders doesn't have a whole lot of variety. You just get wave after wave of aliens. The second most common comment I get is that the "game lacks variety". Well again, the game is patterned after the original; more variety and it wouldn't be space invaders. To see something with more variety, see some of my other games such as When Icons Attack! or Political Invaders.
  3. Special Features. There needed to be some cool new weapons and powerups. Things that wouldn't effect the game play or appearance, but would still add some fun. So I threw in the whole load of powerups from Astro Hunter 3D. This included multiple missile launchers, starburst missiles, hull plating, shields, and more...

Designing the meshes

An object in a 3D game is commonly referred to as a mesh, and generally speaking you need to use a 3D graphics package to create a mesh. The package that I used is called "Animation Master", and is a spline-based modeler. Using splines tends to nice create organic rounded shapes which are great for character modeling. Fortunately, there's an easy way to make all of the corners pointy, making the blocky-looking meshes that I desired for the game.

as I was a bit inexperienced with Animation Master, it took me a while to figure out what the heck I was doing, and the space invader meshes could use some improvement. In a spline based modeler, one or more splines are used to create a "patch", and patches work best when they have four corners. Three cornered patches and five cornered patches can create some "creases" or other artifacts which will show up in the game, so it's best to avoid them.

To get the models out of animation master and into a game, I used a tool called "amxtex" which is a plugin for animation master. It will export the Animation Master models in the directx x-file format.

To be continued...