Infinitroid Dev Blog: All Posts

Art & music study week

Just took my first week off (sort of) in a long time, to spend some time on my mostly mediocre art and music skills. Thought I'd share some random creations from last week - I'm definitely trying to improve at this stuff, so feedback is welcome!

Most of the art & music in the game is quick and rough, so I'm hoping to experiment over the next several months during the evenings to find the final visual & music styles before I go into full-on production.

If I fall totally short or it's taking too long to make progress I might just find a professional artist and license / contract out the music, we'll see. I really enjoy doing both, and would like to keep art & music in my life, so want to at least take a crack at it.

Music experiments

These are some tracks made with FL Studio, in search of "the Infinitroid style". The first two were results of reusing & experimenting with existing sounds from the in-game tracks:

  • Egyptitroid:

  • Depressing orchestral:

  • Partial remake of Converter by Mega Drive - has some cool synths / styles / textures that might fit:

  • Mega Drive Converter remake:

  • Remake of some Star Wars orchestral parts using the EWQL symphonic library. Trying to learn some orchestration stuff and get into the brain of John Williams:

  • Star Wars 1:

  • Star Wars 2:

  • Digital painting experiments

    These are fairly rough & quick, mostly inspired by Feng Zhu's awesome concept art videos. I'm hoping to get better at sketching / painting ideas & concepts for possible inclusion in the game.

    • Underground river:
    • Alien cave (wonky composition):
    • Star Warsy orb thing:
    • Lumpy fly:

    Build 0032 is live

    Just updated the play page with the latest build, number 0032. Excited about this one, here's what's new:

    • Smoother framerates: I updated the code to unlock framerate and run at whatever the monitor's refresh rate is (provided the GPU & CPU can keep up) rather than trying to frameskip or do anything fancy to maintain 60fps. Tried it on a 144hz monitor on a gaming PC, it was liquid buttery smooth and awesome. This should help with more standard near-60fps monitors too, to give less missed frames and generally improve smoothness (there's a lot of 50hz, 59.94hz and other weird rates out there). If anyone notices any persistent stutter etc. on a decent PC let me know.
    • Brutal secrets: On of the bigger additions for this build - can't describe them, they're a secret! But there's one per world, they're brutal, and they provide one of 4 new exclusive items at the end.
    • New secret room visual theme: Hopefully a little cooler looking:
    • Challenge rooms: I added a bunch of new "challenge room" layouts. They're hard to defeat but provide a lot of basic loot drops if conquered. There's a 70% chance of one appearing in each "biome" (the sections separated by elevators). Should add a little risk/reward spiciness:
    • Intro story overhaul: Got rid of the janky little story popup, rewrote the text, and worked it smoothly into the title screen. Should give a nicer first impression to the game. It shows once for new players; returning players can access it from the title screen's options menu.

    Some smaller tweaks and bug fixes:

    • Nightmare room: the "2nd boss" room full of enemies at the end now has the Golden Orb initially visible opposite the cloud of enemies, to give newer players a hint that it can be defeated.
    • Weapon quick move bug: SomeNerd discovered this one. Fixed now.
    • Laser bloom color match: Lighting matches laser color for electric mod etc. (thanks Novacat)

    Build 0031 is live

    Build 0031 is now live on the play page. Here's what's new:

    • Electric modifier: You can now combine this with any other weapons for new variations. Ditched Spark Generator (Blaster + Electric now is equivalent). Thanks to dogman_35 for the suggestion. I think Novacat mentioned something along those lines too.
    • .
    • Direct weapon select keys: Can now use the number keys (by default) to directly select weapons instead of (or in addition to) the press-to-rotate approach. Controls screen got a major overhaul to support the new keys.
    • Two-button diagonal aim mode: Optional; for people with keyboards that don't support many simultaneous key combinations, or people who like Super Metroid style controls where one button aims diagonally up and one aims down:

    Some smaller tweaks and bug fixes:

    • High refresh rate support: Monitors with >60Hz refresh rates were experiencing speedups, should hopefully be fixed now.
    • Buffed light saw damage: Should be more useful now as a high-risk / high damage melee weapon.
    • Health capacity: These once again give you a filled heart instead of an empty one.
    • Boss minions: For the squid boss, I made the circular egg guys inside die when you kill the parent. Fighting the big cluster of them at the end usually gets tedious.
    • Compass tweak: Compass now reveals room icons in order of proximity. Its biggest advantage is secret-finding and those were tending to not show up because of the order they were iterated.
    • Lock icon tweak: Room 'lock' icons now clear when you traverse the room successfully. This was confusing some players.
    • Title screen: Now fades in the menu items automatically on load, less chance of confusion for a new player on how to start the game.
    • Teleporter clarification: These now show a message of the destination's "teleportability" during selection, a lot of experienced gamers didn't realize you could actually teleport anywhere in this game, and not just to other teleporters. In fact you couldn't even teleport to other teleporters, which is now fixed.
    • Black screen bug: This happened after dying, quitting to title, and playing again; now fixed.

    Dev history, inspirations, and tech

    Just a quick update, I added some articles to the homepage to provide some richer background about the game, and hopefully explain it a bit better to newcomers:

    If you see any typos, clarifications needed etc. let me know!

    Infinitroid history museum

    Didn't have much time for game work the last couple weeks unfortunately, but I thought I'd share, for your amusement and horror, some playable archived versions of the game which were up on the server:

    • 0001: Jan 2016. First web build for private playtesters, about a year into development. Confusing weapon system, floaty controls, badly written story that everybody skipped, programmer art, Atari-esque sounds - fun, fun! Still, the rudiments of the game were taking shape. At the time I was deliberately ignoring production value and focusing on gameplay improvements.
    • 0002, 0003, 0004, 0005, 0006, 0007, 0008
    • 0009: Apr 2016. Lots of usability iterations under the belt to help baffled playtesters. "Green" area added, with jump springs and tech cube enemies. Also, secret rooms, and tighter controls.
    • 0010
    • 0011: Jun 2016. Music, basic background art (with help from my Dad), and some major weapon screen dymystification.
    • 0012, 0013, 0014, 0015
    • 0016: Nov 2016. Back to the game after a 3-month freelance project. New sounds, music tracks, and art assets.
    • 0017, 0018, 0019, 0020, 0021
    • 0022: Feb 2017. Major graphics update. Fog, light bloom, and procedurally placed point lights with randomized coloration. Also death screen and a "tile snippets" system for hidden items etc.
    • 0023, 0024
    • 0025: Mar 2017. UI and HUD refinement, title screen, teleporters, electric visual effects.
    • 0026, 0027
    • 0028: Jun 2017. Story orbs, procedural thematic tile placement, control remapping.
    • 0029
    • 0030: Aug 2017. Current version as of this writing.

    My reaction to playing these is generally "good lord, I'm glad I fixed that." It's nice to see progress; game development can be dauntingly labor intensive, especially as a solo developer, and I'm almost never making progress as quickly as I want to. So it's nice to look back down the mountain once in a while.

    Build 0030 is live

    Build 0030 is now live on the play page! Here's what's new:

    Guided shot

    There's a new Guided Shot modifier, for mid-air projectile control. I was experimenting with making some "lock rooms" that require these, but they ended up being really fiddly to activate:

    Experienced players would no doubt figure it out but new ones would probably give it the middle finger.

    3 other items

    I added some new one-time-use items, which I won't spoil but veterans can probably venture some guesses on:

    Gameplay balancing

    I made a bunch of balancing tweaks:

    • Nerfed the blue circular guys ('fast lost souls') from 6 health to 4.5 (1 health = 1 vanilla blaster hit). It's nice that they're challenging but the difficulty jump felt too steep.
    • Adjusted many rooms for less possibility of "cheapness" - hard enemies clustered next to entrances, etc.:
    • Reduced missile odds by 30% from sector 3 onward. They seem to accumulate too much late-game.
    • Buffed flamethrower damage (0.6 -> 0.8) to make it better for non-flammable enemies.
    • Buffed Spark Generator to same range as the Blaster (8 tiles), and reduced damage slightly (1.4 -> 1.3). Hopefully less of a letdown finding this weapon. I might eventually change this to an "electric modifier" like Novacat was thinking.
    • Slight higher odds of weapons / items in canisters rather than hidden in walls, which should make new players' lives a little easier (less chance of missing them and ending up underpowered later).

    Miscellaneous tweaks

    • Projectile size increases more visually when damage mods are added.
    • Gut tile tweak, no more isolated "L" pieces
    • I considered making the "dropper" enemies trigger when another enemy passes under. Derek Yu (Spelunky's creator) shared a nice article on the design philosophy of the Dark Souls team, and I was thinking this could lead to some "magical moments". Unfortunately if you lure an enemy under there it'll always trigger on you first, so not a big strategic help. It'd also mess up the mechanics of most of the rooms that feature those droppers. So, tabled for now.


    • Teleport-onto-spikes is fixed.
    • The compass now only reveals the next 5 undiscovered room / secret icons instead of all of them. I also removed compass / map from the 2nd quest onward like Novacat suggested.
    • Item rooms behind missile doors weren't getting the item-specific layouts. Fixed that.

    I've got some work obligations the next 1-2 weeks so time will be a little tight (I do freelance web development part-time) but I hope to get some time for game work, and at the very least a blog post. Stay tuned, and let me know if you find anything weird!

    New site is launched!

    The new Infinitroid site is born! The baby is in stable condition, though the birth was a little messy. There's now a blog, a forum, a better gameplay page, and a bunch of other odds and ends that should make it easier to find out what's new, and to help shape the future direction of the game.

    The blog

    The blog is the central place for dev progress; I'll try to post at least every two weeks, whether it's a new game version or sharing some behind the scenes stuff. You can subscribe via email; I might also set up a feed in Twitter, Facebook and Reddit for people that prefer those (if that seems helpful let me know).

    Big thanks to players & testers who have provided feedback already, including dogman, fordiman, JC, Quicksand-S, buto, Enrik, kkairos and others. If you're interested in reading about past updates check out TigSource and reddit.

    The forum

    It's still a little lonely in there but if you have any feature requests, bug reports, or random discussion topics, feel free to post them in the forum. I'm happy to answer any questions about the game.

    Gameplay page

    The game page got a bit of a facelift - it's integrated into the site now, with a loading bar in place of those mysterious byte counts. It handles different screen sizes better, so you can play it on your phone as long as you're OK having no way to control it.

    A messy birth

    I took a break from the game proper and started building this new site over a month ago; I looked into a few blogging and forum packages but they all seemed overcomplicated and difficult to integrate, so I figured I'd spend a week or so and build my own minimal one in Flask. A blog is just chunks of text in a database, how hard could it be?

    Well, famous last words. It's not rocket science but there was a lot to sort out: hierarchical commenting, anonymous users, forgotten-password system, email subscriptions, unsubscribe URLs, visual design, responsive layouts, etc. I got pretty burned out a couple weeks in, thinking I should be done already and back on the game. I finally resorted to some of my long-forgotten project management practices, like detailed estimates and schedule tracking, which gave me a finish date and eased some of the pressure.

    Anyway I'm pretty happy with the result. Instead of a bunch of set-top boxes with 4 different remote controls (tumblr, phpbb, disqus, etc.) it's a simple integrated device with parts that I can use on future projects. I don't have to wrestle giant software packages with 200 extraneous features, and the site can evolve to support the game. But I do question sometimes whether my case of NIH syndrome is beneficial or malignant.

    Back to the game

    So, work resumes on the game proper! The gameplay needs some rebalancing after the last few updates, I think. I've got some new weapon / item ideas I'm excited about, as well as ideas for enemies and bosses in the later worlds. Also some challenges and meta-game elements to make the game more interesting across playthrus.

    Stay tuned!