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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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active.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 Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.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, 06:36 PM

Huuuumm some problems with my computer...
3D Objects are not displayed
But, the screenshots are very very nices.

My configuration :
Celeron 333Mhz
64MB Ram
Voodoo3 3000

But tomorrow i'll test it on :
Athlon XP 1600 at 1.4Ghz
Geforce3 TI200


December 14, 2001, 06:39 PM

w2k pro, geforce 2 gts 64mb, amd 650:

The game runs very well, no major problems. You may want to check this: if I accidentally press the "win" key during playing, the computer tries to switch to desktop and freezes completely.

Excellent work! to Kurt and team, nice to see something so close to a finished product.



December 14, 2001, 07:01 PM

Runs fine on my system :)

Win2k on a PII 266, 160 MB Ram with a G400 vid card :)

And let me say that it's quite fun... But really difficult !!!

Jesse Chounard

December 14, 2001, 07:05 PM

Runs great!

1.2 ghz Athlon
512 mb ram
PNY GeForce 2MX 400

I beat it on the default setting (normal?) then I thought I'd try insanity.. ohmygod! Has anyone successfully beaten the level on that difficulty?

Kurt Miller

December 14, 2001, 07:06 PM

Thanks to all for the great feedback so far. It seems to be running for most people, but from the comments and e-mails, it looks like the biggest problem is for some people with Geforce2's on win2k. I'm not really sure what could be causing it, but I'll look into it. Gotta fix up the menus a bit too.

One other thing I forgot to mention about the demo. The game includes the ability to record and play back games in 'score attack' mode. The playback seems to be working correctly for most people, but I still consider it 'a little flaky.' If you have a sec, run the game, go to the score attack menu -> demos -> hit enter on the included demo, and see if the resulting score matches the score that's listed. Or you could just try recording/playing your own game play. If you record any of your own cool playback demos, extract 'em from the high score menu (they end up in the demos dir), and send 'em along so I can see! :D When the game's released, I hope to store an archive on the web site where people can show off their skills and scores; maybe even have some contests with special score attack add-on levels.

A few responses:

">>dom: Really beautiful explosions! Where did you get the textures from? _are_ they animated textures?!"

The firey-ball part of the explosion sequence is a texture animation. The artist did a great job with it, I'm not sure what tools he used.

">>Marco: How many levels does the full game have and how much does it cost?"

There are 4 full levels, with room for add-ons. It'll probably cost around 15$.

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

I don't plan to release the code anytime soon. :[
I'm going to write a pretty in-depth article about the game though after it 'ships.'

">>Nate: Is there an option anywhere to run in windowed mode or is the game full screen only?"

Nope, full-screen only :D

Jesse Chounard

December 14, 2001, 07:09 PM

whoops.. I forgot to mention that I'm running Windows XP Professional.

Great work, Kurt!


December 14, 2001, 07:15 PM

Runs perfect on my p3-450, 256MB ram, TNT2 32MB, Win2000. Like everyone else I found it a bit tough, but it's a great game! I love these shooters :D Also, there is a little problem when you enter your name in the high scores; if you fill the input box, it overflows over the left hand side.

Jason Kozak

December 14, 2001, 07:50 PM

Worked great on my 1.33GHz TBird, 256mb ram, GeForce2 GTS (DetXP 23.11), Win2k

I agree with dom, it'd be really nice to have some super weapons. "Earth Force" (another 3d vertical-scroller) does it by drawing on your energy, and the effects look great, especially the anime-style super-beam. Unfortunatly, the game is way too difficult since it lacks regenerating life (great feature!), and has no continues (so every time you lose you're booted to the main screen... I was never able to try more than a few times without getting fed up).


December 14, 2001, 07:54 PM

Finally a good revival of the shoot'em up genre.

Did you know Xenon 2 by the Bitmap Brothers? I think this is still the best one. I would like to see a shop like in Xenon 2 where you can
buy new weapons after a round with cash you earned during the level (for example by collecting the bubbles). Weapons you won't loose after being destroyed.
There is too much on the screen, mostly i can't see anything and run into enemy fire while collecting bubbles. Your own weaponfire also takes to much screen space. Less is sometimes more. The game is similar to Z-Out. Perhaps you can also implement this radial blast that can used limited times per level and clears the screen, or some
kind of condensator like in r-type that makes you make one big shot instead of many small ones.

Can you bend the screen by some degrees, would be quite cool to see the ship from slightly behind. And a two player option is crucial ;)

Looking forward to the final product to find its way into the local stores here!


December 14, 2001, 08:16 PM

Works noss on my laptop. :) It uses Rage Mobility 128 AGP2X, win2k Pro, 700Mhz PII !

As for the difficulty, it was kind of difficult at first without any documentation really to tell me about the objects that were flying at me. But once I figured everything out, easy mode didn't turn out too bad. Normal is challenging though. ;)

I'm really interested in how you designed your game. In your article, are you going to include your design documents?

Anyhoo, great job once again.


December 14, 2001, 08:18 PM

The game worked great for me! I'm running a P4 1.5Ghz, with a GeForce 2 (latest drivers, unless they released one since yesterday...), soundblaster live and Windows XP Pro. There were a few minor things to comment on though.

First, I only barely beat the first level on easy mode, I had no lives to spare. With a little practice I'm sure it would get easier, though. The second thing is, I ocasionally got reaaaally noticable slowdowns, down to maybe 1 fps for a few seconds. This could have been a background task on my system randomly taking up a lot of CPU time, or just being overwhelmed by the number of particles flying around onscreen, not sure. And finally, as someone else mentioned, the keyboard control on the menus is a bit funky, from time to time you have to press up/down about 10 times to get it to move, which is pretty annoying.

But overall, incredible job! It's a lot of fun, and I look forward to the finished product.



December 14, 2001, 08:37 PM

Sweetest thing I seen in a while, it was like a blast from the past. Thank god for the shield! The only gripe I have is that its hard to navigate the menus. I push up and down but nothing is happening. I have to hold it down and hope it lands on what I want. See if you can have buffered input as well I guess. Laterz

Kurt Miller

December 14, 2001, 09:03 PM

For someone who has a laggy menu in the game, can you please try this executable (211k)? I'd like to know if it fixes the problem, thanks. Just replace the old strayfire.exe, nothing else should be different.


December 14, 2001, 09:14 PM

Cool!. It ran perfectly in my AMD k7 1200, 256 RAM, Geforce2 MX400, WIndows 2000. I donīt have the latest drivers, because the beta ones did fuck my computer, when needed Iīll download and try the latest detonator.

Too much hard, even in easy, I brought first boss to half death!. If HUDS doensīt mean :" Hide Under Dis(this) Screen", they hide the ship. xD.

Cool game, need to adjust the playability a bit. Cool work as always, Kurt.

Congrats to Ghoul too, very nice models, I had seen some ships at his web, they seem to have much more polys than what they have.

To the sounds guy, nice track(s), I just donīt like that techno sound "added" to the music, but I suppouse its just taste.

Ron Frazier

December 14, 2001, 09:25 PM

Although I couldnt get the game to run (just stayed blank screen for me, and I couldnt close it except for Ctrl-Alt-Delete Logoff...I couldnt even end task) I would like to comment on everyones comments on difficulty.

As I obviously couldnt play it, I cant say how difficult it really is. But I believe a game (or at least this style of game, from what it appears) should be difficult at first. I have gotten so sick of games where it goes like: "ok, I beat this level....OK, now onto the next...OK the next...". I think a game should take plenty of time to master, where you get a little better each time. I think back to some of the old games (NES). I remember playing Gradius when it first came out. It took like a week to get good enough at the game to make it to level 3 or 4. A month or 2 to make it to level 5. And I think it was like 6 months before me and my friends finally won the game. Ikari Warriors is another game I seem to recall being like this.

I enjoyed those types of challenges, but I feel they are mostly gone. Sure, there were easy games back then (I remember returning Super Mario 2 or 3 after winning it in only 2 days), and there are difficult ones now, but in general I think games have gotten too easy over the years. I thought maybe its just because Im older and a better player now, but I played gradius again about a year ago, and I still find it to be a difficult game, so that wasnt it.


December 14, 2001, 09:31 PM

That was mad sweet :D

/ / / T / R

December 14, 2001, 10:02 PM

Duron 800 / Asus A7V / 512mb RAM / GeForce2 MX400 32mb / DetXP 14.10 / SBLive! Plat, latest XP / XP Pro

Works great.


December 14, 2001, 10:18 PM

It went away, menus are fine now.


December 14, 2001, 10:21 PM

At first, it seems really diffucult with the amount of stuff going on, and the weak guns that you have. I was gonna gripe about it also, but I kept tried it a couple more times, and I almost beat the master (lol). So I agree with you, its gotta be challenging. I am actually thinking of going back and playing, just so I can beat it.


December 14, 2001, 10:29 PM

Great and from someone virtually unknown to the community ;)


December 14, 2001, 10:55 PM

Nice, Kurt!

It ran well on my Win2k/P4/GeForce3 until I tried to play back a demo. Then the machine made a windows "ding" and locked up. I pressed ESC and was dumped to the desktop in the wrong resolution. The game itself played very smoothly.



December 14, 2001, 11:17 PM

Addictive much? umm, yeah.

Ran decently on P3 800, 192 megs RAM, win 98 SE and a (cringe) Rage Mobility M1. Don't look at me, university-supplied laptop...

Bad: slowdown when there were LOADS of particles on screen at a time. Not a huge surprise though. But for those of us with powerfully crap 3d cards, can some de-particlification be done? Like maybe could some of the really common particle events (sparks, the stars that shoot out when you pick up little blue balls, etc.) be rendered as sprite animations and thus spare the card a lot of trauma?

Really bad: every single time the turrets were about to fire, the game would freeze for probably over a half a second at a time. dunno whats behind this one.

Really random: anybody remember the name of that snes shooter game, may have been japanese only, think it had something to do with gundam, with all the fancy special effects? I remember at one part towards the beginning the whole screen starts sine-distortion waving and a huge enemy ship teleports in, making its own gravity field with it, and some other stuff.. ahh I dunno.


December 14, 2001, 11:42 PM

This is a little bit off-topic, but it looks like people are looking upon this as a rare example of a shoot-em-up on PC. I bet a lot of people would find it interesting to know that japanese ones are quite common.. and there's a page showcasing many freeware/shareware shoot-em-ups at ... and has them available for download. This was posted to Retrogames a couple weeks ago.

Steve Wortham

December 14, 2001, 11:58 PM

I just got a high score of 5,851,953! Nice job, it's very fun. I was especially impressed with the explosions and the level of detail of virtually everything on the screen. A great use of textures. =)

One problem I noticed though. When you try to maneuver with the arrow keys, you can't move diagonally. You have probably noticed this, and maybe I overlooked the problem in this huge message board. But that could be a big playability issue.

Besides that, I was very impressed. You have obviously put a lot of work into it. Congratulations!

Oh, and it runs perfectly smooth and without glitches on my computer (Athlon 500MHz, 192MB RAM, Voodoo3 2000 AGP).


December 15, 2001, 12:07 AM

Wow Kurt, I saw your demo. Only 1 death?!? You are a savage!



December 15, 2001, 12:15 AM


I've played it, and I must say that it is very fun.

A couple of things I noticed:

It sets to wav volume to the highest possible value. This nearly blew my speakers (and my ears) a few times, as I definitely was not prepared for it.

The only other thing that I noticed was it seemed to take an unusually long time to get from the High Score screen back to the menu screen (like 30 seconds, I thought it was locked up).

Other than that, it ran great, and is very fun! The music is done very well, and adds a lot of feeling to the game!


December 15, 2001, 12:25 AM

First off, this is one sweet game, great job on polishing it up, it has that essential shoot-em-up feel.

I did notice one bug: The game plays fine, but if I alt-tab out of the game and then come back in, 3D objects no longer display (I can see the bullets though).

AthlonXP 1600
Geforce2 Ti


December 15, 2001, 12:26 AM

I'm having the same problem other people are havng of my ship not displaying..

All I see is two glowing yellow balls for my ship, 1 yellow ball for enemies(?) and 2 blue balls which stick in front of my ship when I shoot.

I also see the explosions which often appear for no reason (hit something I couldn't see I suppose)

Interface works fine however.

voodoo3, win98, P2 450mhz, 128mb ram


December 15, 2001, 01:25 AM

Very very nice game. Entertaining and beautiful and it ran very well on my computer. The level music is also really awesome.

I really like the ability to powerup your weapons, but I found that the powerups were all fairly similar. The homing missles were cool, but perhaps adding a couple more would make the game a little more accessable on higher difficulty levels.

All in all, the most fun IOTD I have seen in a long time.

Athlon 800, Geforce 256 32MB, 384MB RAM, Win98


Peter Mackay

December 15, 2001, 03:07 AM

Thanks for the link, I'll take a look!

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