RESHOOT PROXIMA 3 Devleaks: Performance testing

Making a game is like a puzzle: It´s the sum lot of little details which creates the complete picture. To create a convincing picture, I wanted freedom when it comes down to designing details for RESHOOT PROXIMA 3.

That´s why I postponed plans of actually implementing stage 1 in march. Instead, I focused on testing the game engine further and see if it can cope with situations outside of its comfort zone. Very heavy bullet rain for example, or situations where the Amigas blitter coprocessor has to draw an extraordinary amount of objects on the screen.

This testing should enable Kev and me to implement modern features which as yet have not been seen in any Amiga game. I want Kevs and my vision of RESHOOT PROXIMA 3 not being obstructed by a limited engine which - for example - struggles to draw more than 30 objects onscreen flicker-free. 

The game design of so many Amiga games is obviously defined by technical limits instead of actual entertainment. The Shadow of the Beast series is a prime example of this. Personally, I consider only Beast III being a really great game while the other two feel  more like visual showcases. Great to look at, but rather mediocre to play. 

Even the visually marvelous and technically adorable jump´n´run-adventure Lionheart suffers from the main hero with a very limited weapon range. A warrior like him should be able to set the whole screen on fire. Instead, he can only poke his sticklike sword onto objects within an arm´s length - just because the Amigas sprite width draw limits does not allow for a wider range. 

So, the past five weeks I spent modifying the engine until it adheres to the following definitions: 

  • The engine should be able to draw an (almost) unlimited number of objects onscreen
  • Draw rate of enemy objects (supervised by the Amigas blitter) may drop to 25 or 17 fps if necessary, as long as the player does not / hardly notice
  • Scrolling, Playership, and all bullets need to keep the 50 fps in any case, even in very densely populated situations

Why is all of this important? Because I think that in order to be enjoyable, a shmup game – or any game, for that matter – needs to keep its pace all the time, regardless of how much action is happening onscreen, regardless of the number or size of enemy encounters. 

Keeping the game flow and pace unobstructed at any given moment is key to great gameplay. If a game's framerate slows down, then this should happen only intentionally by design. The creators of Thunder Force IV, Ikaruga, and many other Japanese shmups choreographed such slow-motion moments into their games, in order to help the player through difficult situations and/or to emphasize dramatic moments. 

Speaking of which: Would such slow-motion moments element fit RESHOOT PROXIMA 3 too - what do you guys think? 

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