(wip) Exit Plan Z

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R'zo
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(wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby R'zo » Sun Jan 24, 2016 3:15 am

Title: Exit Plan Z
Genre: RPG
Requirements: Vic-20, 8k expansion and a joystick.
Author: R'zo
Language: Basic

I have this game worked up to a playable demo and am looking for testers ad feedback.

Download demo Exit Plan Z

Image

Features:
A new Action/RPG battle system
5 difficulty levels
Random generated levels
Up to 50 playable levels and infinite mode
Creepy ambiance created by sound and lighting effects
B-horror movie feel with slow and stupid old school Romero style zombies.

Planed Features:
Multiple endings based on how much fuel you collect
Story and direcions ran from seq files (direcions currently print hello story does nothing.
Open to possible suggestions

Undecided Feature:
Character graphics ( I like the petscii look and may decide to stick with it.)

Story: The zombie apocalypse has broken out. You are a scientist in a secret laboratory located deep underground who has discovered the cure. You hear a loud crash, the lights go out. The Z virus has now broken out in the labs and with the generators on the fritz you must make it safely to the surface where you will find a helicopter that you can fly to the military base to the north. Can you make it out alive to deliver the cure and save the world? The fate of the world and the future of humanity rest on you in Exit Plan Z. Crawl through up to 50 levels in the dark with only the occasional flicker of lights to guide your way.

Directions: explore each dark level of the laboratory. Avoid/fight zombies. Collect health, fuel and money. Find the key and exit to the next level. Watch out for walls, stubbing your toe in the dark does hurt. Money is still good on military bases so collect as much as possible. Grab fuel when you find it, the helicopter needs fuel to fly.

Map controls: Joystick to move, button to pick up Items.

Battle screen: When you encounter a zombie the battle will take place in the "BTL" screen on the left. You are the circle in the center. When a zombie appears in the box around you push your joystick in it's direction to hit it. Score a hit and the zombie dies. Miss and take damage.

Symbol Key:
Z= Zombie
K= Key
F= Fuel
Heart= Health
Brick Pattern= Wall

(update)
Final version contains redefined graphics, the zombies got smarter, the screen got color the game got AWESOME!

d64-exit plan z 16k.d64
zip folder with d64 and booklet-exit plan z 16k c=vic-20
(update)
Now at Zimmers-exit plan z 16k c=vic-20
Last edited by R'zo on Tue Jun 07, 2016 11:30 pm, edited 5 times in total.
R'zo
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malcontent
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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby malcontent » Mon Jan 25, 2016 7:01 pm

Okay, the random noises for atmosphere don't do it for me. I have some suggestions, take them for what you will.

At the beginning of each level I dare not take a step until the first lightning flash for fear of bumping a wall. Sometimes this takes too much waiting for this to happen. I would recommend some sort of flashlight. Like a limited use "lighting flash" you can use with the button, or it could reveal a line and depending on the last direction moved. Or you could have a flash right at the beginning of each level. You could remove the lightning flash altogether and just use the flashlight to make it less random and more about conservation of resources.

Sometimes when moving into an enemy you miss the first time because you are already holding a direction. Also the diagonals require a bit of finesse to hit right. Also occasionally returning from a diagonal not very smoothly results in a second detection from one of the two combined directions. I'm using a USB gamepad with a D-pad, so that might have something to do with it too.

As for the sound, I would use it atmospherically by making the zombies make noise, the volume changing as you get closer, maybe a windy sound for nearing the exit, and perhaps your own footsteps get louder as you approach a wall.

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R'zo
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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby R'zo » Mon Jan 25, 2016 11:15 pm

First of all WOW and thank you. This is exactly the kind of feedback I'm like :)

malcontent wrote:Okay, the random noises for atmosphere don't do it for me. I have some suggestions, take them for what you will.

At the beginning of each level I dare not take a step until the first lightning flash for fear of bumping a wall. Sometimes this takes too much waiting for this to happen. I would recommend some sort of flashlight. Like a limited use "lighting flash" you can use with the button, or it could reveal a line and depending on the last direction moved. Or you could have a flash right at the beginning of each level. You could remove the lightning flash altogether and just use the flashlight to make it less random and more about conservation of resources.


Speeding up the random light flickers is an option I've already been pondering here. Generating a feeling of suspense is a primary goal in this game so I don't want to make the flicker to rapid. I have had times when playing this where I stumble my way through a full level with out a flicker. I've been playing around with it a little bit. Trying to balance both the equations for how often the light flickers and how long it flickers.

The flashlight was the initial inspiration when I came up with this game. I also thought about a lantern that would illuminate the surrounding space allowing you to see a zombie sneaking up behind you. At the end I decided against them to go more the stumbling around in the dark helplessly and hopelessly. I have been thinking of adding a flare gun. You'd have to find each flare or have them randomly dropped by the zombies, each flare would be single shot, it would take out any zombie in it's path and reveal the wall that stops it. I think that this would help add a little more to the action element of this game. It would also allow the player (should they have one) to shed a little light when their feeling trapped in the dark.

Ultimately stumbling into walls and zombies in the dark because the future of humanity depends on you to do it and survive is the game. I don't want to do to much to distract from this.

Sometimes when moving into an enemy you miss the first time because you are already holding a direction. Also the diagonals require a bit of finesse to hit right. Also occasionally returning from a diagonal not very smoothly results in a second detection from one of the two combined directions. I'm using a USB gamepad with a D-pad, so that might have something to do with it too.


I am running a usb controller on my pc at the moment for testing. My joysick for my vic broke so I haven't had a chance to test it with the real hardware yet. I have experienced this to. It seems consistant to the difference I've noticed in other games that I've played on both. I'm curious if any one has played this on a real vic yet to chime in on the battle controls.

A lot of old zombie/horror games had frustrating if not impossible battle controls. The current battle routine seems to require precision with the d-pad, if your off by just a hair of a degree it doesn't do exactly what you want it to. I am concerned to the other direction that with an atari style joystick where you don't have the 360 degree dir input but only the eight directions that the battle system might be a little to easy. I might end up having to increase the difficulty settings. The battle system itself basically being zombie whack a mole.

As for the sound, I would use it atmospherically by making the zombies make noise, the volume changing as you get closer, maybe a windy sound for nearing the exit, and perhaps your own footsteps get louder as you approach a wall.


I've been struggling with the sound already. Bloops and Bleeps just don't fit the zombie atmosphere in the first place. past that I'm trying wrap my mind on how to connect the sounds to the objects themselves in the minds of the player. The zombies don't move when the light flickers. They'd only make noise in the dark. To the player whatever noise they here would simply be background noise. I could maybe perhaps create a little animation before the title screen to attach the sound to the zombie befor the game starts.

I have produced a much better sounding music routine for the menu it will be in my first update after I've made a couple other additions to the game. This may be a few weeks I'm looking to be pretty busy for a while.

Thanks again for the feedback.
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malcontent
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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby malcontent » Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:01 pm

R'zo wrote:Speeding up the random light flickers is an option I've already been pondering here. Generating a feeling of suspense is a primary goal in this game so I don't want to make the flicker to rapid.


If you speed up the light flicker, then you can have the zombies chase you faster. Seeing the walls as often would prevent you from wondering blindly into one, but if you were being chased, there's a chance you might panic and make a wrong move. You could also add more walls in this case. It's not that suspenseful for me because most of the time it's the player trying to find and kill a zombie rather than the other way around.

I might end up having to increase the difficulty settings. The battle system itself basically being zombie whack a mole.


I think the battle system would be better limited to 4 directions, but having zombies take a number of hits, moving like after a miss. Higher difficulties could have more durable zombies. Or, something I just thought of, since it's similar: combat could be like a rhythm game like DDR, with a little scroll of directions. The extremely low health as the way to increase difficulty just makes running into a wall that much more frustrating.

Thanks again for the feedback.


Good luck with your game!

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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby R'zo » Sat Jan 30, 2016 12:04 am

malcontent wrote:If you speed up the light flicker, then you can have the zombies chase you faster. Seeing the walls as often would prevent you from wondering blindly into one, but if you were being chased, there's a chance you might panic and make a wrong move. You could also add more walls in this case. It's not that suspenseful for me because most of the time it's the player trying to find and kill a zombie rather than the other way around.


I've inserted an automatic light flicker at the beginning of each level to give the player a quick peek before venturing out into the dark. I think that this gives a small element of memory to the game.

I'm thinking about adding night vision goggles as a droppable item. They would normally be rechargeable but since the power is on the fritz you will have limited battery supply. This feature would be as simple as a variable to change the screen color and a flag variable for counting down battery power.

I thought about a flare gun, now I'm thinking about a flame thrower instead. It would use up your fuel and burn up any items that might have been dropped by zombies that it takes out. It would however be able to take down internal walls which could come in handy in the higher levels where the random wall placement could possibly block the exit. You would be able to use the flame throwers in both map and battle modes.

The zombies now will take multiple hits. The higher the difficulty level the more possible hits the zombie may have to take before it drops. I am thinking about making this feature controlled by level and giving the player a levelable attack. I am not sure if this would really add to this particular game.

I am working on buffing out the level gain on speed in the battle mode. I feel this balances the game difficulty more than any thing else.

The sound is getting a little better will be working on this a little more before the second test demo release.

I have abandoned black and white and added in red. The alchemic color scheme seems to fit so far. I may add in a touch of yellow. If I put in the night vision goggles I will probably use purple for the effect. I think it would make the black characters still difficult to make out with the red foreground on top of it.

I should be able to have the second test demo wrapped up in about a week or so.
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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby darkatx » Sat Jan 30, 2016 2:01 pm

Gave it a go - its a nice premise...I think the battle system could do with an overhaul...the overhead view feels more like a whack-a-mole type game at that point.


Eager to see it develop. :)
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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby R'zo » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:45 am

Here is my second revision. I have switched over to color. Added night vision goggles, a flame thrower and the ability to level up your attack. The zombies now level up as well. I smoothed out the speed gain on the battle system.

I renamed the difficulty modes and added a new difficulty level "infinite nightmare" (an endless version of the game). I have also smoothed out the difficulty levels as well as the progress of difficulty in game.

The menu music is sounding better. I still might decide to go a little more traditional. The sound effects are now at least fitting to the atmosphere of the game.

Here is the d64 exitplanz

ImageImageImage

The instructions now work but I have not yet added the story.

I have not added the ending sequences yet.

I have a concern. I am running the instructions, story and ending sequences off of seq files. The instructions work when the game is first loaded but produce a device not found message if tried after playing and coming back to the menu. I suspect this has to do with the bytes poked for the joystick routine. I am not so much concerned on how this effects the instruction and story routines but I am concerned on how it will effect the end story sequences meant to be played after you have beaten the game. A device not present would not be much of a reward for beating a game :(

The battle system will not get much overhaul from this point, I like the "Whak o' zombie battle system". I would like feed back on the progress of difficulty for the battle system. Does the speed gain from level to level feel reasonable. How does the balance between the zombies leveling hp and the attack plus (+) Items being dropped feel?

Still toiling over whether or not to add my own character graphics.
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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby Mayhem » Mon Feb 08, 2016 5:49 am

Will see about giving this a try later :)

("infinite" is spelled incorrectly in the menu there though!)
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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby R'zo » Mon Feb 08, 2016 10:05 pm

Mayhem wrote:
("infinite" is spelled incorrectly in the menu there though!)


Thank you... easy fix.
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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby malcontent » Tue Feb 09, 2016 12:54 am

Yes. This is much more like a game. The slow to respond battle controls are still giving me fits though. The zombies still aren't very menacing and just sort of wander around aimlessly.

Bug: After returning to the difficulty level menu from the game over screen, trying read the instructions gives a ?device not present error

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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby R'zo » Wed Feb 10, 2016 9:46 pm

malcontent wrote:Yes. This is much more like a game. The slow to respond battle controls are still giving me fits though. The zombies still aren't very menacing and just sort of wander around aimlessly.


I came up with a couple of ideas yesterday morning that should allow the zombies to move a little faster and move towards you. Right now the zombies only exists in their screen memory position, no variable to back them up no other address in ram to recognize their existence until either 1)you and the zombie collide where upon you jump into battle mode and the zombie is given hp, or 2)the zombie movements are controlled by first peeking a random screen position on the map(p1) if there is a z present at p1 then peek a random position around the z (p2)if this peek is an empty space or the player then poke p2,z: poke p1, empty space. An Idea I had to try to come up with the simplest way possible to make multiple sprites move around on the screen. It has one advantage in that the more sprites that are on the screen the faster they seem to move around. The disadvantage is that they wonder around aimlessly and pose very little threat.

I plan now on setting up the zombies screen positions in a dimension ( z(1) to z(30) should be sufficient.) Now I can randomly choose a zombie directly instead peeking 1 out 196 map positions looking for zombies. Once the program has chosen a zombie it will run an equation to extract the difference between the characters x,y screen position and the current zombies x,y screen position. This will determine the zombies new direction, moving it towards the player unless there is a wall or item blocking the way. They will not be able to figure their ways around walls, after all they are still very unintelligible zombies. All of this will allow multiple zombies to move every turn without slowing down gameplay. It will also allow for a chance that a zombie will move multiple squares for your every 1 movement with an especially high chance of this at lower levels. Advantage-zombies move faster and they chase you. Disadvantage Individual zombies will move slower instead of faster as more zombies appear on the screen. However there will almost never be a moment where not at least 1 zombie will be moving after you on the screen as opposed to now where you can often complete level 1 without a zombie movement, this is hardly really a disadvantage.

I came up with another idea about an hour ago that should speed up the games joystick reaction in battle without effecting the amount of time you have to hit the zombie. Simply set a variable flag that detects joystick movement followed by if joystick position is <or>0 then end time loop.

Bug: After returning to the difficulty level menu from the game over screen, trying read the instructions gives a ?device not present error


I have already detected this, I fear it will also disrupt my game endings as well. I suspect that the bug is created by the js routines, I vaguely remember reading something about the js routine pokes interfering with the disk drive. This should be resolvable with a single poke. I just have to do a little studying to find it.
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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby R'zo » Sun Feb 21, 2016 10:52 pm

Here is the next revision...exitplanzdemo2.d64

Accomplished...

The zombies now chase you.

Gameplay has sped up and flows smoother.

The battle controls now react instantly to the joy stick (Tap the joystick now instead of hold. if you hold you will likely miss the next attack and receive damage.) This has made the battle controls more fun and challenging (thank you malcontent).

There are now treasures on the map to pick up, no longer just dropped by zombies.

I decreased the cap levels on the difficulties to better accommodate the new zombie sprite routines.

I buffed out the level controls to make the progression of difficulty a little smoother.

Instruction and story options are now fully functional and retain functionality after returning to the menu from game play.

All around the game is more fun and challenging.

Still to accomplish...

Custom graphics. Graphics are designed just not worked into programming yet. This will probably be saved for last.

ending animation and story sequences for multiple endings.

Title screen.

Music for title screen and end game sequences.



Thank you again for all the feed back. All of you have helped me take this game a lot further than I originally planed on taking it. Exit Plan Z is really growing into something enjoyable. Let me know what you think of this revision. I am eagerly anticipating your feedback :)
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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby R'zo » Mon Apr 11, 2016 12:03 am

Here is my latest revision exit plan z demo 3 It currently requires 16k expansion to run.

Image

It now has a title screen, multiple endings and music for the title, menu, game over, battle and game won.

I have a few minor details to change or add before the final release but nothing that will effect gameplay.

I am still undecided on adding custom characters. I am not sure if it would really help to add anything to the game. I would really like feed back on this subject. here is the character set I have designed should I decide to use it.
Image
If I do use it I am thinking about dumping the zombie graphic and sticking with the character z. It fits the title and feels satirical to me.

I am eager to hear any feed back possible.
Thank you.
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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby randolph.pickle » Sun Apr 17, 2016 2:05 am

I finally got a chance to try this game out, and I have to say that I like it! I played totally blind my first time, and my only problem was figuring out what all the collectable symbols were for. I'm going to continue playing to see if I can't beat it. As far as custom characters go, they would probably have made playing without RTFM first easier. But, in my opinion, you should totally keep the "Z" for zombie.

Keep at it, and I hope you have a better time finding more play testers :D.

UPDATE:

I'm trying to beat it on relatively difficult. Just died with a score of 2379. I also just realized that there are in-game instructions :oops:. If you want, I could make a snapshot movie in VICE the next time I play and upload it.

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Re: (wip) Exit Plan Z

Postby R'zo » Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:12 pm

randolph.pickle wrote:I finally got a chance to try this game out, and I have to say that I like it! I played totally blind my first time, and my only problem was figuring out what all the collectable symbols were for. I'm going to continue playing to see if I can't beat it. As far as custom characters go, they would probably have made playing without RTFM first easier. But, in my opinion, you should totally keep the "Z" for zombie.


I am glad you enjoy it. Thank you for the feedback. I almost have all the graphics worked out. I will start putting them into the game later on tonight. I am definitely sticking with the z for zombie. I almost didn't but after reading your input I made 2 demo screens using 1 with a z and 1 with a zombie graphic and the z just seems to make the game look a lot more fun.


I'm trying to beat it on relatively difficult. Just died with a score of 2379. I also just realized that there are in-game instructions :oops:. If you want, I could make a snapshot movie in VICE the next time I play and upload it.


The snap shot movie would be awesome :) Would you mind making one of the final product after I've finished the game?

Let me know if you've gotten any farther I have not beaten it on relatively difficult myself yet.
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