Ludicrous Software

Space Instavaders

I’ve been wanting to make a little game with Haxe/NME and HaxePunk (a port of FlashPunk to Haxe), as I’ve read some good things about them. The end result is Space Instavaders, a Space Invaders clone with a Steven Poole-inspired twist.

If you’ve read Trigger Happy, you may remember Steven Poole’s discussion of realism in video games. One of the points he makes is that excessive realism can be detrimental to games by making them less fun. A specific example he uses is Space Invaders: if the aliens’ lasers actually behaved like lasers - if they actually moved at the speed of light - then it would be impossible to dodge the aliens’ attack. If you’re in the line of fire when an alien does shoot, it’s instant death. That sort of thing isn’t typically much fun in a video game.

As I was casting about for a little game to build with Haxe/NME/HaxePunk, I remembered this and thought it might be fun to make a somewhat more realistic Space Invaders. And thus there is Space Instavaders (you may actually have to click on the game first, sorry about that):

(Sprites are from the ever-handy Open Game Art. It shouldn’t be hard to figure out which graphics I did myself.) It’s not fully polished, and I haven’t done a great deal of testing/balancing. The main goal was to build out as much of the game as would give me a good sense of what it’s like to work with Haxe/NME and HaxePunk. Overall I’m very pleased, and this will most likely be the setup I use for any future games I might make. I’ll write more about my experiences with Haxe, etc., in subsequent posts.

You may notice that the lasers aren’t absolutely instantaneous. I ended up deciding to make them as fast as necessary to make dodging them impossible, but still have some degree of animation, which I think captures the essence of Poole’s description. I’d say the game isn’t unfun, but there is clearly a feeling of arbitrariness. Ultimately, I’m not sure that’s a description I’d aspire to for more polished games (“not unfun, but sort of arbitrary. Two stars.”), but I’m pretty satisfied with it for what’s amounted to a couple of days’ of playing around.