Fractalus 0.6.0 alpha released

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Fractalus 0.6.0 alpha released

Post by Luke » 2012-Feb-19 21:21

Fractalus 0.6.0 alpha build is now available for download from the Fractalus project page.

Here’s what’s new in 0.6.0;

Terrain is no longer quite so steep
HUD redesign (Wing clearance, Enemy lock-on, Dangerous Altitude, More accurate to original HUD)
Options have been added (Inverted Y, Dust, High-res terrain, Screen settings)
Ship now auto-levels while flying
Returning to mothership now aligns your ship correctly before boosting
Turrets now use beam weapons instead of bolt weapons
Turrets can now lock on to you to get a more accurate shot
Turrets no longer attempt to fire through terrain
Turrets now only spawn on high points on the terrain
Targetting scope/viewscreen now has a constrained FOV like the original
Added flying saucers that appear in the distance, chase you and attempt to crash into your ship
Camera jitter added, for extra impact with explosions
If you have any thoughts, comments or feedback, head over to the forum and post them!

Let me know any thoughts, comments or feedback.

Luke's Software and Design

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Joined: 2010-Nov-15 00:33

Re: Fractalus 0.6.0 alpha released

Post by blacksimkin » 2012-Nov-19 10:54

Downloaded, tested, and lookin good.
I must admit that prefered the HUD that you designed more than the one in 0.6, but I really apreciate that you seek to respect the original HUD.
I loved the new changes, the game feels smooth on my computer. No problem whatsoever
I've a
Pentium P6200 2,13GHZ
and Nvidia 315M
I dont know If I can cooperate with some feedback or info that helps you. If I may, I would like to notice that the sound of the pilot knocking the door and entering the shio its kind of weird but i cant point out what is... not that is important anyhow
But, besides that, thanks again. I cant wait until those motherf#%$ing aliens jumps on my screen, those that used to scare the crap out of me ehwn i was a child.
Thanks for your effort, a lot of fans are.
And again sorry for my rough english.
Greetings, Simkin

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Joined: 2013-Oct-10 04:13

Re: Fractalus 0.6.0 alpha released

Post by Nick » 2013-Nov-07 23:33

I've just found out of another thing (if you haven't thought of it already)

I recently read somewhere that the reason that the alien always made you jump was that the time between the pilot/alien reaching the ship to them knocking/bashing on the windscreen was randomized, only by a small amount but it makes all the difference :)

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Joined: 2014-Sep-05 03:38

My first long post with ideas

Post by reflame » 2014-Sep-07 16:41

I play 0.6.0 - bravo! Thanks!

It is very playable. I love the very fine yet very powerful control (arrow keys). I like the powerful explosions. I like that flying through valleys and evading the mountains is nether too hard nor too easy. And I like the fast pace of the game.

I'd like to present many ideas, probably only few of them will be interesting in your view. Some of them are reports of bugs in program or flaws in game mechanics that reduce tha games'ejoyability, while other are (sometimes wild and bold) ideas how to enrich the game by elements not present in the original.

The most important ones are
1. Difficulty of night flying
2. Unpredictable difficulty of saucers and need to constantly evade them.

= Turrets

On level 5, enemy turrets cause negligible damage, but saucers are very dangerous. How about increasing the damage by the former and reducing the damage from the saucers?

Maybe it is just my feeling, but on level 16 the turrets are EVERYWHERE and I have a feeling of vanity: has it sense to shoot them down? Would not it be better to quickly load pilots and hope that their supplies will make for my hits? (Maybe experienced players do know when it is advantageous to shoot down turrets.) In my opinion, this feeling of vanity could be solved if the higher levels increase the density of turrets only very slightly, but they significantly increase their firepower. Then the player would be forced to eliminate many turrets and perhaps also to plan his trajectory to be exposed for as short as possible.

Furthermore, a slightly bizzare, but IMHO well working method to force the player to destroy turrets, would be to make three different kinds of turrets with x1, x3 and x10 firepower - their occurence could be 80% - 16% - 4% and might depend on the level; maybe the level should not increase "general firepower multiplier" (as proposed in the previous paragraph) but just percentage of high-firepower turrets (it would be 95%-5%-0% on the lowest levels and either 00-50-50 or 0-0-100 on the hardest). IMHO these three kinds of turrets should read different on the radar.

Then the player would not only be forced to destroy all x10 turrets that he cannot easily evade, but he or she would also plan how to hide from them behind a mountain - and whenever he sees a x10 turret, his adrenaline would increase. And he would get used to destroying turrets instead of ignoring them and then he would sometimes destroy the ordinary turrets as well. I think it might improve the game experience.

= Saucers

When a saucer is approaching, but not in my sight yet, the sun is blinking (I saw that when I was landed) - is this intentional?

The amount of danger from saucers is very unpredictable. Many of them are easy to shoot down, but if they come from an unfortunate direction or if they are behind a very close mountain, it seems to me very difficult to deal with them.

If I'm not mistaken, sometimes the first indication of a coming saucer appears when it is very close to me - less than 1/3 of the radar radius. This feels very unfair to me - there was nothing I could do...

Another issue: If I outrun (fly away from) a saucer, it soon appears before me. I consider this a bug with unpleasant consequences (see the following section).

= Constant evasion of saucers

When the saucer approchaes from the side or rear (from any other than the frontal direction), I think it is impossible (or far too difficult) to turn to it and shoot it down.

(Just by the way, I have no idea if the following strategy would work: to fly full speed, wait until it is off my radar and then correctly estimate the very exact moment to turn my craft around - when the saucer is far enough for me to win the duel, but it has not been "teleported" before me yet. But even if it worked, it would seem to me absurd to expect this very difficult - inventive and very precise - maneuver from players on level 4, where there is big trouble from the saucers, but all other aspects of the gameplay are rather easy. This disproportion in difficulty seems extreme to me.)

So for these reasons I think that my only solution is to outrun (fly away from) the saucer and then wait till it appears before me - and during that time (on higher levels) I am a target for many turrets. IT SEEMS TO ME BORING TO SPEND A SIGNIFICANT PART OF GAME BY THIS. I WILL PROPOSE A SOLUTION IN MY SECOND LONG POST.

= What is affected by level setting?

Level 16 is harder than level 5, but not dramatically harder as I would expect. The hard thing is that the high number of pilots to rescue
1. increases the chance that I make a stupid mistake (like crashing into a rock)
2. makes the game so long that I'm not done before the nightfall - and night flying is hard for me.

But rescuing (say) four pilots on level 16 is (almost?) not harder than on level 5. I think that the danger from saucers is similar. The high number of turrets is a trouble, but not a hard one. And the higher density of downed pilot almost compensates for it; that way I rescue four pilots sooner and so I face fewer saucers.

So I think that influence of level to various game aspects should be thoughtfully and sensitively finetuned and be more uniform (moderate positive influence on all aspects) - unlike the current situation which is very uneven:
- downed pilots occurence- STRONG NEGATIVE INFLUENCE (easier on higher levels)
- saucers occurence - ZERO INFLUENCE (or negligible - judging from my experience)
- turret occurence - BIG POSITIVE INFLUENCE.

And how about starting the game with only a partial supply of energy on higher levels? Say 100% on level 1-8 and then a linear decrease to 30% on level 16?

= Landing and collision

Landing takes many long seconds, especially in case when I press "L" on top of a mountain and before I land, I am in a deep valley. During this time I am very vulnerable by saucers. Solution: "L" could interrupt the landing process. Or is it the intent? Is this deliberate - to force the player to plan landing in such a way that he or she is not vulnerable by saucers? Actually, I vote to keep it - it actually adds a good challenge during landing, I enjoy planning the landing so that the vulnerable descending takes less than 2 seconds.

I love the freedom provided by the current game (including the rotation of landed craft) - though I agree with the "readme" file that landing at any angle is unrealistic. But another thing seems unrealistic to me: if I see a stranded pilot on the closer side of a high mountain (down there, far from from the peak), then I can fly toward him in a five-bulb velocity (this is a rather high velocity) and one second before crashing into the mountain, I press L. This makes things too easy for me. Solution: after pressing "L", the decrease from the current speed to the landing speed (which is low or perhaps zero) would be quite fast, but not instant. And during this time, touching the mountain would result in a crash rather than landing.

I think that touching a mountain drains energy dramatically more than in the original. I think that in the original when I bumped into the center of a big mountain under the WORST (90 degree) angle (between my movement and the plane of mountains' surface), I just lost some energy a was turned into another direction - but I am really not sure of this. You punish these "bigger than marginal" collision with instant death - and it does add some appeal to the game; I'm not sure which I would prefer.

And I would like a sound when I lose energy by hitting the rock. I can survive only marginal hits and these hits are easy to overlook (to fail to notice them) - and 2 minutes later I am shocked: "Where has my energy gone? I though I had a full supply."

= Instruments and night flights

During my first 100 games I often crashed into a rock, because the whole screen of thermoscan had the same colour and I did not notice it's gradually growing dark and so I read the colour as "all clear". This is tricky for beginners.

I find night flying very difficult. It feels weird that the game has two phases with so much differing difficulty. I'm not sure which solution is best, but perhaps I would
1. Add a "permament day/perm. night/alteration" option
2. And during the night, saucers might be very rare and turrets would have a lower accurancy. This should be finetuned so that the overall difficulty of day and night (after some practice in night flying) would be the same.

I would appreciate a compass for returning to the pilots (which I missed because of battling with a saucer). And the night flight would be more convenient with an arficial horizon (but: "more convenient" means "easier", but it does not neccessarily mean "more enjoyable game"...).

I would also like (though it's not important) a pair of integers showing which sector I am in - in my view a "sector" is a square part of map. The size of a sector must be carefully considered: if it is 40x the radar radius, it brings no use to the player; if it is 2x the radar radius, it brings too much use to the player, making it too easy to come back for the missed pilots (for example missed when I outrun the saucer). So how about 5x or 10x the radar radius?

= Others

Sometimes when I rescue a pilot and then launch with a saucer very close above me, the game gets stuck in a very strange mode, where the screen view irregularly moves but the saucer does not hit me and my craft does not fly anywhere and A+S nor L keys do anything.

When I land near two pilots, the more distant one starts to run only after the closer one reaches my craft. I know it has a low priority now, but a sensible solution should be planned for the future when real pilots (instead of green rhombuses) will be displayed.

Thanks again and I will post further ideas.
Pavel Jelínek, Prague, Czech Republic

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Re: Fractalus 0.6.0 alpha released

Post by Luke » 2014-Sep-14 23:27

Hi Reflame and welcome to the forum! :D

Thanks for your feedback! I'll respond to each of your sections below;

In general I am aiming for an accurate-but-modernised remake of Fractalus, so I will be attempting to keep things as close to the original as possible - at least until v1.0, after which I would like to look at making enhancements on the original game.

=== Turrets

The damage caused by turrets is very low. I agree they should cause a bit more damage. The saucers should still cause more damage than the turrets, as the original game had the damage balanced this way. The problem with the saucers is more an issue with their behaviour, which I'll comment on below. For the turrets, the increased damage will hopefully be offset by their targeting system, which takes a few seconds to get an accurate lock.

I think the problem with the number of turrets on higher levels is that they are randomly distributed across the map, independently of other turrets, so it's possible to get clusters of them, and areas where there are no turrets. I will need to check this out and see if it's a distribution problem or a count problem. If it's a distribution problem then I can easily distribute them more evenly across the map.

Your idea for turrets with different levels of firepower is something that could be implemented after v1.0, as it differs from the original game.

=== Saucers

The sun blinking on saucer approach may be a bug with the sun's occlusion testing. I'll look into it.

I have made some changes to the saucer behaviour in v0.7, including reducing the damage and making them slightly slower so that they can be easily outrun. I still need to do more work on the logic for where they appear as they can sometimes appear right next to you, which is not what I had intended.

I recall from the original game that they would approach you head on, and if you managed to dodge them they would disappear or leave you alone. I will look at implementing something similar to this behaviour in the remake as that would make the saucers less difficult to deal with.

I need to do a lot of work on balancing the saucers to make them difficult yet fair. Your observations will help with that work.

=== Level Setting

The level setting affects the number of pilots to rescue, the number of turrets present, and whether saucers appear or not. Saucers only appear on levels 4 and higher. The number of turrets is calculated as (Level - 1), and the number of pilots is calculated as (3 + (Level / 2)).

I will need to check the original game again and have a closer look at how the level number affects various aspects of the gameplay, and then copy that behaviour to the remake.

=== Landing and Collision

I agree the landing process needs to be made a lot smoother and more sensible, particularly as you mention when flying with at velocity 5 and the landing is instant if you're close enough to the mountain. I think the landing process needs some sort of autopilot AI rather than just slowing and descending.

Collisions with mountains do an amount of damage that is proportional to your velocity at the time of the collision. At high velocity, this will destroy the ship. I just checked in the original game, and the damage was gradual as your ship scraped along the terrain, even at maximum velocity. The behaviour in the remake should probably be changed to be more like the original game.

I intend to add a few more sounds for things like being hit by a turret/saucer, collisions with terrain, warning sounds, etc.

=== Instruments and Night Flights

I will have a look at the miniscreen not showing the terrain properly. What you see there should be the same as the physical terrain.

Night flying is incredibly difficult, and I've yet to come up with a decent solution for it. I went back and had another look at the original game's manual, and it mentions that on levels 1-15 you fly near the south pole of Fractalus, which would result in the sun at a perpetually low angle and almost no night time, but on level 16 and above you have the full day/night cycle, and that at night you're "flying blind".

I do need to modify the behaviour of the turrets and saucers at night, as they would have as much difficulty finding you as you would finding them.

The artificial horizon and compass instruments are planned to be added, but I haven't yet implemented them. They will probably help with navigation, and keeps in line with the original game rather than displaying coordinates.

=== Others

The behaviour with launching close underneath a saucer sounds like a bug. I'll check it out.

I think I need to rework the pilot distribution logic, similar to what I will do with the turret distribution logic above, as two of them should not really be that close together.


Thanks again for all your feedback!
Luke's Software and Design

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