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Submitted by Kurt Miller, posted on December 14, 2001

Image Description, by Kurt Miller

The screenshots in this image are from Strayfire, the first game by Gradient Studios, my infant game company. The main artwork was done by Max Shelekhov (link), the music was done by Pete Burke & Jeff Jordan (link), and I designed / coded the game.

Strayfire is an arcade-style shoot'em up with 3D accelerated graphics, hordes of enemies, gigantic bosses, and gobs of special effects. It will eventually be released as inexpensive shareware, but I decided to release a beta version here first. I'm still working on finishing/cleaning it up, and I was hoping you could help me test it :D. The game requires a 3D accelerator (TNT2 or better) and DirectX 7.0.

The test demo features the complete first level. Its quite similar to what the shareware demo will look like, but the goal of this release is mainly compatibility testing. It has been succesfully tested on a TNT2 32Mb, Radeon DDR 64Mb, and a Voodoo3 16Mb. If you decide to give the demo a go, please send info about any compatibility issues, crashes, bugs, funky behavior, etc, here, with as many details as you can provide (including system specs) so I can fix them! Thanks a lot.

The only known issue at this time: if you have multi-monitor support enabled, you'll likely need to disable it before running the video hardware configuration utility.

Its available for download here: strayfire-beta-12-14-2001-p1-setup.exe (8.2MB, updated 12/15/2001 - 3:55AM, EXE-only here)
Please don't distribute the test demo. Have fun! Don't forget to use the shield!


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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.

December 14, 2001, 03:48 PM

Looks amazing!



December 14, 2001, 03:53 PM

SWEEEET! DL'ing now...


December 14, 2001, 04:06 PM

Just had a play! Ran fine, AMD800, WinXP, GF3. No errors!

The difficulty level needs taking down drastically; I want to be able to kill lots of guys before they start to get that tough! Also, an alternate fire (big weapon, limited use) would be very good. More weapon powerups are _crucial_ to this kind of game, and early on, don't make me wait any more than 30s before getting a cool big gun. Sure, take it off me as soon as I hit something, but there's nothing more gratifying than a big gun! ;) Makes me want to play again to get it back.

A dive feature would also be cool, like Xenon had, where I can dive under the enemies for a while to escape them.

Really beautiful explosions! Where did you get the textures from? _are_ they animated textures?!


December 14, 2001, 04:08 PM

Locks up HARD on my sys. Win2K, P3 500, Geforce256 32MB, 196MB RAM, latest DetonatorXP drivers. I can't even end task or terminate the process, gotta get all the way down there and hit the reset button with the trusty pen.

Kurt Miller

December 14, 2001, 04:13 PM

Are you sure you have the latest drivers? A friend of mine said he had a similar crash (with similar hardware/OS), which went away when he updated his drivers.


December 14, 2001, 04:15 PM

Runs silk smooth on my pII 266, 128 ram, voodoo3 2k, win98. outRider might consider "upgrading" his OS :)


December 14, 2001, 04:18 PM

Works great on My 1ghz T.Bird with a Rage Pro(don't ask).
It was a bit hard though, even on the easiest setting.

Peter Mackay

December 14, 2001, 04:19 PM

Works fine on my Athlon 1300, GF3.

I agree with the earlier post that it gets too hard too quick. The player doesn't really have any breathing time.

The graphics and music are great, especially considering the download size.

The only interface change I would make would be to make the shield and health panel slightly less intrusive - it's hard to see what the ship is doing if you're flying underneath it.

Other than that, I think it's fantastic, and so highly polished! Good stuff!

- Pete


December 14, 2001, 04:27 PM

It works great on my PIII 1 Ghz with 256 MB of RAM and a 32MB Geforce2 MX at 800x600. I think it actually doesn't get hard too quick as long as you get the bigass kewl weapons. That way, you can kill pretty much everything. I really like the speed and number of enemies you have, as well as the 3D effects, like the part where the yellow blocks are shifting down and up, and you have to time it over them. The music and graphics are also really good. And the explosions! Nice update to an older genre of games! =)


December 14, 2001, 04:34 PM

yeah I found a few bugs

1. 100000000 billion bullets and nowhere to run, and no way to turn sideways to fire at the things surrounding me with bullets. having a lot of bullets floating around is a lot of fun, if there are ways to evade them cleverly.

2. in the menu, the keyboard capturing isnt solid. I can press up or down repeatedly and the menu selection doesnt always change. play around with it, you'll see what I mean

winxp pro
geforce2 gts
23.11 detonator I believe

good looking game, I esp. like the blocks moving up and down and the guns aiming at me, and the missiles that the ship fires when you get a lot of powerups.

question... anyone able to blow up that green jump-rope thing that comes down? I figured that killing one side of it would make it stop working, but now matter what I do i cant kill a side. maybe I need more powerups to kill it

Kurt Miller

December 14, 2001, 04:36 PM

"Don't forget to use the shield!" ;D


December 14, 2001, 04:36 PM

Just beat the level on 'easy' setting (I know: "I'm a whimp!" ... I always want to see everything with minimum effort). Runs nice, but I would expect it to do so (Athlon 1,4 GHz, XP, GF3, 512 MB).

The game is cool, but I really, really disliked it when the enemies shot blue plasma balls and I had to pick up those blue crystals ... argh ... running out of shield ... argh ... no safe spot on screen ... argh ... well, actually I would say the game is tense.

The background texture needs a higher bit-depth, as the banding was really nasty.

Note to others: Just clear away the first groups and you get awesome coverage with those weapons ... the only trouble is that you can't see the enemy fire anymore.

I also liked those semi-3d elements ... that gave the game a twist.

Some suggestions:
- It might look cool to animate that plasma cloud in the background
- More weapons / different looking weapons (lighting, fire, lots of eye candy waiting there)

Other stuff:
I wish you would have given me some counter about the total particle count I managed to have on-screen at the same time ;-)

How many levels does the full game have and how much does it cost?

- Marco


December 14, 2001, 04:38 PM

Yeah, works great on the 1000000000 bullets AND the jumprope thingies.

- Marco


December 14, 2001, 04:38 PM

damn cool, no glitches on an athlon 1.2 ghz, 96 megs ram, tnt2 32 meg, win2k pro...

i'm kinda curious, are we ever going to have a chance to check out the source to this wild thing??


December 14, 2001, 04:41 PM

Lol, I forgot about the sheild, that could have been why I was sucking.


December 14, 2001, 04:47 PM

Excellent game but i must say, the shear quantities of enemy fire is a little much even on normal setting. sure the shield works but when pretty much every square inch of the screen has enemy fire floating around on it, that shield only goes so far. The game was indeed intense and has proven classic gameply to bring people to play it OFTEN, but tone down the enemy fire just a tad man!



December 14, 2001, 04:49 PM

Also beat it in 'normal' ...

- Marco

Nate Miller

December 14, 2001, 04:49 PM

The game ran fine on my machine. I like how your energy and shield levels slowly build back up after they have been used. It is a lot better than getting hit a few times and then dying. Once I got the hang of how to use the shield things get a lot easier. If you don’t use the shield you have no chance.

Is there an option anywhere to run in windowed mode or is the game full screen only? I couldn't find a windowed mode option and being able to play in window would be nice.



December 14, 2001, 04:54 PM

Its interesting all the comments about it being a bit hard because every game I have worked on I have had the same comments and have to tone it down. Obviously its because since you are programming it you get really good at it and dont see how hard it is. One good test is to get someone who has never seen it before and sit behind them and watch them play and dont be tempted to say anything at all - helps you spot interface problems as well.

Johannes Böhm

December 14, 2001, 04:56 PM

really cool game
ran smoothly on my PIII 500 /192mb/Win98SE/Elsa Erazor3 TNT2 with elsa drivers

game issues: apart from the sometimes too much enemy bullets, the shield is a bit too powerful (i would decrease enemy fire and shields).

and i thinks it depends a bit too much on the powerups and their "strayfire". Maybe aiming should be more important than pressing shield in the correct moment.
Oh, and maybe pop up the main screen. The writing looks too harmless =)

Definitly a game for the "addiction" drawer :)
Well done.



December 14, 2001, 05:05 PM

Amazingly enough, it runs using WineX (from (under Linux) at a very playable speed. 800mhz Athlon, GeForce2 MX. Great work with your DX code. Great job with the engine, you might also be interested in the people at: and their game "space tripper". Both are similar engines, but theirs has more of a 'defender' feel to it.



December 14, 2001, 05:12 PM

Great game!
Runs fine on Athlon MP 1900+ (multiprocessing disabled), Radeon 8500 (didn't play there, just ran the game).
Also runs fine on a poor PII 450, ATI XPert 2000 pro (did play here, and it rocks).


December 14, 2001, 05:24 PM

the game ran beautifully on my p3 500, 128mb ram, geforce 2 mx 400, win2k. very nice eye candy, but i agree the game is tuff; i might suggest scaling down the models a bit, give the player some more room to manuver.

fun game though, good job.


December 14, 2001, 05:25 PM

Works like a charm on my AMD Athlon 1GHz 256MB SDR, ATi Radeon 8500 32MB DDR AGP2x. And the game is very polished up. Very professional. I did find it rather hard at 'normal' though, but that's probably a lack of skill on my part. ;)


December 14, 2001, 05:33 PM

Bad news - I couldn't see my own ship or any enemy ships. The only things I noticed were glowing orbs (2 flew towards my "ship", some were apparently where other ships would be, some were apparently fire, and two blue ones appeared when I held space). I could also see the explosion which killed me :) (followed by the "GAME OVER" text) Also, the menus displayed fine. I this problem at both 16bpp and 32bpp.

I'm running WinXP and am using the latest DetonatorXP drivers (I've got a TNT2). Also, FYI even though it's probably not useful, I'm running an Athlon 550MHz, with 384megs RAM.

Also, Politik is right about the keyboard problem in the menu. I'm certain it's more serious on my machine than on yours, because it really makes it difficult to use.


December 14, 2001, 05:41 PM

In case it matters, perhaps I should also mention that I'm using the DirectX 8.1 Debug runtime.


December 14, 2001, 05:47 PM

Tried it, and it locks HARD just like it did for outrider (can't even get the taskmanager to show up). I tried downloading latest drivers from nvidia, but it still locks up. The menus seem to work fine, but when i try the gameplay it locks up after about 5-10 seconds.

I've got a Celeron 400, 384 MB RAM, ASUS P2B motherboard, nVidia GF2MX, running W2K, latest nvidia drivers and DX8.1.



December 14, 2001, 05:54 PM

This looks interesting. I'm downloading now, but I don't know if i'll get a chance to boot into Windows any time soon. It's been a week since I've been there. This is a shame.

I expect contra style action with flashy and fluid shooting animation and graphics. It looks really fun.


December 14, 2001, 06:16 PM

Gwah, Nvidia released 23.11 behind my back, that fixed it for me. Fun (and challenging) game, might I suggest you maybe add some distant background, which in this case would appear underneath the ship. Maybe a nebula, or an asteroid belt, or some planets or what have you. Try tracking down the old arcade/Saturn game RayStorm.

Wes Bigelow

December 14, 2001, 06:22 PM

I haven't seen this level of polish in the independent game dev scene for a while. Congratulations!

Regenerating shield and energy are nice concepts. I love the insane number of bullets on screen!

Bonafide Reproducible Bug:

When first entering the menu, if you go to check the credits first and then start a new game, game over appears and you are dumped back to the menu.

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