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HTML5 Game Development from the Ground Up with Construct 2 by Roberto Dillon

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47
Chapter 5
Moon Wolf, a Space
Arcade Game
A
   space shooters were all the rage in the early days:
from Space Invaders to Asteroids, from Tempest to Defender, many
classics were made around this theme.
e genre is still a very good playground to hone our skills as game
designers because it is usually built around a simple yet engrossing game-
play demanding good hand-eye coordination and fast reexes, which are
still relevant in many mobile games. Here, gameplay has to be carefully
ne-tuned as the player progresses across waves of enemies, making also
for a good playtesting and balancing exercise.
Our rst prototype will fall into this category of arcade-like space
games. We will model the core actions and gameplay aer an old but
engaging arcade game of the early 1980s: Solar Fox. As an homage to our
source of inspiration, our game will be named Moon Wolf.
5.1 SOLAR FOX: ANALYSIS
Solar Fox is an arcade game released by Bally Midway in 1981. In it, the
player has to drive a starship across a series of grids to retrieve solar cells
while avoiding dierent types of enemies and hazards. To defend himself,
the player has a limited range re, which can momentarily halt the sen-
tinels patrolling the grid perimeter, can destroy incoming shots, and can
speed up/slow down his ship to predened cruise speeds.
With taglines like “Bally-Midway’s Solar Fox speeds through a video
universe of challenges” and “Speed and Strategy are all you have and they
48  ◾    HTML5 Game Development from the Ground Up
just might be enough!” Solar Fox was relatively popular, so much so that it
was even featured in the 1983 movie Joysticks
*
(see Figure5.1).
To gain a better insight on the game, let’s analyze it with the AGE
framework, starting with the actions.
What actions can we do in the game? Lets check the controls: the joystick
allows us to move around the two-dimensional grid, while two buttons allow
us to change speed, from low to high or vice versa (according to the game
diculty we select when starting the game) and shoot a short-range missile.
What are we using the actions for? By shooting and moving around we
can avoid enemies and grab the available cells. In game design terms, we can
then say we have a gameplay centered around themes like avoidance (avoid
being hit by the enemies), race to an end (we have to nd a path to reach the
next cell we are targeting), and taking/hoarding all cells in the level.
Finally, regarding the experience, the goals here are simply to reach and
grab all cells while avoiding incoming re. Our collecting instinct will
push us to clear the level, which, in turn, should make us happy and proud
of our success. Our survival instinct would also play an important role,
*
Despite featuring Solar Fox and some other great games, Joysticks isn’t really a movie worth
remembering: it’s an example of the low-quality, rowdy teen sexy comedies that were common in
the 1980s, and its no surprise it is currently scoring an abysmal 3.3 out of 10 rating on the Internet
Movie Database! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085764/
FIGURE 5.1 A screenshot of the original Solar Fox. Players had to move around
the two-dimensional grid at dierent speeds to gather all cells while avoiding
enemy re. (© 1981 Bally Midway.)
Moon Wolf, a Space Arcade Game  ◾    49  
making us react as fast as possible to enemy shots. Both collecting and
survival would be stronger if the game manages to make us feel like we are
actually in command of the spaceship (identication), something that the
original arcade game tried to achieve subconsciously by providing a joy-
stick shaped like a futuristic airplane control, in addition to the attractive
and aggressive artwork on the cabinet (Figure5.2).
Our analysis is summarized in the AGE diagram in Figure5.3.
FIGURE 5.2 e control panel for Solar Fox: note the attractive joystick to add
realism to the space ying experience. (Image taken from the International
Arcade Museum, www.arcade-museum.com).
Identication
Collectin
g
Survival
Avoidance
Race to an end
Hoarding
Move spaceship
Change speed
Shoot
Ex
citement
Pride
Joy
FIGURE 5.3 AGE analysis for Solar Fox.

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