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Homebrew WIP: Fly Hunter


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Hi all!

 

With a lot of support from @Random Terrain and some pro help from @ZackAttack I finally have my first game for the Atari 2600 ready for testing!

 

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Introducing FLY HUNTER!

You play as a spider with an insatiable appetite for flies. Lucky for you, there's a steady flow right below the branch you're on. Just drop down on your web and snatch it right out of the sky! But watch out for the inchworm. Get too close and he'll push you off the branch to your demise.

fly_hunter_titlescreen.thumb.png.27b34fdf1852f34bd98e4178701c21c0.png fly_hunter_gameplay.thumb.png.16ecf61b66dca00df801c1b5282b0b66.png

 

HOW TO PLAY

- Use the joystick left and right to move horizontally on the branch

- Hold the fire button to descend on your web

- Release the fire button to ascend back up to the branch

 

GOAL

This is a game all about streaks. Catch as many flies in a row as possible. If a fly reaches the opposite side of the screen, your score resets. (Don't worry. Your best score is stored) Miss three flies and it's Game Over!

 

OBSTACLE

Avoid the inchworm. He's a bully. One touch and it's Game Over!

 

LATEST GAME FILE

Fly_Hunter_20240501.bin

 

 

PREVIOUS GAME FILE

fly_hunter_20240121.bin

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fly_hunter_20240115.bin

fly_hunter_20240111-pt.bin

Please share any feedback, bugs, ideas, questions, high scores, etc.

 

Edited by 8bitPoet
Updated latest BIN file
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Really fun little game - smooth, fast, challenging, and addictive.

Love the theme of the game too, indeed 'poetic' in its way. Would make for a great Spring season game!

 

Title screen and music are perfect already.

 

The game itself offers solid and entertaining gameplay, but has potential for much more long-term appeal imo.

Perhaps I didn't get far enough to see enough of the game, but one could for instance think of different bugs with different behavior (speed, movement direction and motion, etc.). Some could be poisonous, others provide some bonus or short-lived power-ups.

Perhaps there could be raindrops or such to bring some vertical challenge.

 

Also, it's challenging, but a bit brutal I find. That the score gets set back to 0 if a bug manages to escape is harsh! 🙂

 

Aesthetically some green leaves on the sides of the branch would spice up the screen, and effectively allude to the intended scenery. It's not evident now that the brown area is supposed to represent a branch.

 

I'd also suggest to switch back to the title screen after 10 seconds or so of the Game Over screen.

 

Just some ad-hoc ideas. Really a lovely little game for now.

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Perhaps I'm not the intended audience (I have basically no skills at action-type games like this), but it took me 5 or 6 Game Overs before I was able to catch a fly, and wasn't able to get a second after a few attempts. A bit brutally hard for “level 1.”

That aside, looks and seems to run quite well.

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Really cool game, simple concept. I suck at  playing it though, my current record is  7 flies.

I like the tune and simple but effective titlescreen.

 

The only thing I feel a little too harsh is the score going back to zero. maybe could be more motivating give extra points for streaks instead to punish the player. Also maybe instead of three lives it could have some sort of energy bar that goes down when you miss a fly, but goes up when you catch one (or another number of) flies, to make every play a little longer.

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Some really great take-aways from everyone's feedback!

 

I'd like to explore the game challenge a bit deeper.

Many players are finding this game to be very difficult on their first few plays. Nolan Bushnell is quoted as saying "All the best games are easy to learn and difficult to master." I've played A LOT and while I haven't mastered it, I've achieved a high score of 217.

 

I think this game embodies Nolan's sentiment. However, this game only has one difficulty level, similar to the famously frustrating Flappy Bird. Another similarity with Flappy Bird is that Fly Hunter rewards players for streaks. It's one thing to catch a bunch of flies even if a few should get past you, but you know you've attained a new skill level when you can consistently snatch a fly out of the air.

 

That emphasis on streaks is why I chose to reset the score when a fly is missed. I realize that seems harsh, but your best streak is stored and that's what's displayed at the end of the game.

 

I considered the idea of replacing the lives counter with an energy bar that decreases with each missed fly and increases with each captured fly, as suggested by @vhzc. My only concern is that unless the player misses several flies in a row, I think the energy bar would rarely ever deplete to zero.

 

Another suggestion was to add the ability to earn lives back by reaching point milestones. This makes the most sense to me, for a streaks-based game. With the right formula for setting milestones can add the perfect balance to the game play.

 

I've captured a few minutes of my gameplay. Maybe to prove that it's not impossible? LOL I dunno. Just thought I'd share it.

 

 

As always, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to test my game and provide feedback. Keep 'em comin'!

 

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Great little game, but it will not be a true Atari game until you make 88 various ways it can be played!

Make the variations so convolved that you have to print a graph on the back of the instructions to map them all out!

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2 hours ago, dwh said:

Great little game

Thank you!

 

2 hours ago, dwh said:

Make the variations so convolved that you have to print a graph on the back of the instructions to map them all out!

LOL! I remember those pages in the manuals with the matrix of game options and having to press the game select switch 90 times to get the version of Combat with planes instead of tanks and no clouds.

Edited by 8bitPoet
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18 hours ago, alfredtdk said:

The soundtrack reminds me of something dark from Electronic Arts' Shadow of the Beast, mixed with AVCS Challenge. I love this kind of sound especially coming from Atari.

Thanks @alfredtdk! I had to look up AVCS Challenge, but I'm glad I did. Cool game!

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Thanks for all the feedback! Updated .bin available from original post.

 

I realized that the two-color fly was a greater cost of the game aesthetics. Switching to a single-color fly, I was able to use some other kernel options in bB to draw the tree and branch! I also played around with the spider sprite, making it slightly taller to increase the hitbox.

screenshot.thumb.png.9b1516ace51a4da57c44e9a5559607d1.png

 

 

Even with the criticism that the scoring is too harsh, I still stand by it. The entire point of this game is to capture as many flies in a row. The lives counter gives your several chances to obtain your best score. Think of it as a best-out-of-three scenario. Take a look at the game I just played. My score was reset to 0 twice and I still came out with a high score of 173! Granted, I've had a LOT of practice, but it just proves that there is some mastery to be gained during gameplay.

 

 

Let me know how you feel about the updates. Does the scoring still seem harsh, given the nature of the game?

 

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Thanks for the clarification - I understand your intention with the score reset now, and sure the max score on one try approach is a valid (and tried) path. Certainly is also motivating.

But why give the player 3 tries in the same game? What does he gain from that? Just let him have this one try and it's game over right away then. The gamer can just start a new game if he wants to try another round. Much clearer and intuitive that way imo.

 

Thanks for considering the greening the branch suggestion. A pity though that it was at the expense of the original two-colored flies - they had a lot of charm. Hmm, is it necessary to have a trunk to allude to the tree setting? Perhaps you could just extend the brown of the branch to one edge of the screen, and turn the current bottom green into a darker blue to evoke a "branch over pond" setting? And thus allow the return of the two-colored flies in the light blue "sky" area.

Maybe worth a try?

 

 

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The side-to-side movement ability seems pointless.  Looks like the best strategy is to just sit mid-screen.  Now, maybe if there were obstacles to dodge around or something....  I think it needs more to it...

 

Meant only as helpful suggestion, ofc.

 

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31 minutes ago, r_type2600 said:

But why give the player 3 tries in the same game? What does he gain from that? Just let him have this one try and it's game over right away then. The gamer can just start a new game if he wants to try another round. Much clearer and intuitive that way imo.

I totally agree with this! I can't remember when or why I added the lives counter, but you're right. For this genre of game, it doesn't make sense. Players can just start a new game.

 

40 minutes ago, r_type2600 said:

Perhaps you could just extend the brown of the branch to one edge of the screen

Unfortunately, the playfield won't go to the edge of the screen. I really liked the two-color flies too, but I think it's a fair trade off to have a better defined environment. 

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19 minutes ago, glurk said:

The side-to-side movement ability seems pointless.  Looks like the best strategy is to just sit mid-screen.  Now, maybe if there were obstacles to dodge around or something....  I think it needs more to it...

 

Meant only as helpful suggestion, ofc.

Thanks @glurk! It may seem pointless in the beginning, but there've been instances when I've missed a fly mid screen and was able to return to the branch, run up ahead and catch the fly before it reached the edge. It's super satisfying when you save yourself with a maneuver like that!

 

I do like the idea of forcing the player to move positions throughout the game, other than easily dodging the inchworm. I feel like it would have to be something that launches from the ground at the same X position as the player. Maybe a frog? Frogs eat spiders, right?

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2 hours ago, Madwindoman said:

Great game man!! Simple  fun   addictive!!!

Thanks! You've described exactly what I was hoping to achieve.

 

2 hours ago, Madwindoman said:

I could see a frog jumping up from a Lilly pad after 20 flies are eaten to up the challenge.

I'm cooking up a little something to prevent the player from camping in one spot on the brand for too long. Ribbit.

 

2 hours ago, Madwindoman said:

Even better if a 2nd player could control the frog!! Maybe that’s the sequel lol

Someone else asked about a two-player mode. That may have to be a sequel, but I kinda like the idea of the spider and the frog competing for flies. Makes me think of a game from my youth, Hungry Hungry Hippos. Maybe it'll be a four-player game! Who knows!?

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HOW IT STARTED spidergame_2023y_11m_30d_0245t_bas.thumb.png.5d93fb291f05313f0c6ae39b823543d5.png

 

HOW IT'S GOING fly_hunter.bas_dbg_2ee4de14.png.14edc188901bd7f4e38e2bc05f4527da.png

 

Thanks to all of the insightful feedback of this community, I've made some major enhancements to my game. Also, a huge thanks to @ZackAttack for his programming assistance.

 

CHANGES SINCE PREVIOUS VERSION:

  • Replaced inchworm enemy with frog enemy
  • Added pond for frog enemy
  • Added frog sound
  • Redesigned spider sprite for larger hitbox
  • Randomized time between enemy spawns
  • Randomized delay before enemy attack
  • Eliminated "lives" to be a true game of steaks

Game Controls are the same:

+ Use the joystick left and right to move horizontally on the branch

+ Hold the fire button to descend on your web

+ Release the fire button to ascend back up to the branch

 

Goal is the same:

Catch as many flies in a row while avoiding the hungry frog

 

LATEST BIN FILE
fly_hunter_20240121.bin

 

If you try out the game and encounter any issues, please let me know and include your system type or emulator version.

 

Happy Fly Hunting!

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ZeroPage Homebrew is playing Fly Hunter on tomorrow's ZPH stream LIVE on Twitch! Hope you can join us!

 

Games:

 

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