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Submitted by Mike Spencer, posted on January 24, 2002

Image Description, by Mike Spencer

Hi, the images you see are of my game 'Space Birdz' It's a modern reworking of several early 80's shoot'em'ups.

I've been working on it for quite a few months now, and keeping up my motivation has been difficult.

The ship and enemies are all modelled in 3D. (if it's not clear) I won't pretend i'm doing anything special, but it's no small project, and there is still so much left to do.

Currently there are only 9 levels and a few power-ups, but hopefully it is still worthy of your attention.

Highlights include a colourful particle system and flare effects, 100% programmer art, sound, and music! (the music sucks, trust me)

Also worth mentioning is that the levels are not hard coded, as you can see from the bottom image, I have a beast of a game editor. The editor has many, many, screens and controls, the shot I have included is of the path editor, currently editing a bezier curve. (the mad camera angle is purely to show it off :)

The editor is also used to create the in-game eye candy, which can be chained together and assigned sound effects.

Most of my time has infact been spent coding the editor rather then the game, and I haven't yet began to use it to it's full potential, especially with regard to attack patterns and enemy behaviours.

Eventually I plan on at least 50 levels, a similar number of power-ups, and a few large bosses to defeat. Hopefully there's still enough people out there like me that appreciate this kind of game.

You can download an alpha version at:

I could be off endlessly perfecting my 3d engine, but instead I am cursed with the task of actually finishing something, it sucks.

Image of the Day Gallery


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January 25, 2002, 06:45 AM

Thanks for all the great comments, it's a lot more than i was expecting :)
To answer a few:

To Jeff with the Physics Degree:
Unfortunately maths is definately not my strong point, i imagine like a lot of people,
when i started to learn 3D i suddenly realized that perhaps i should have paid a bit
more attention at school!
I view maths as a neccessary Evil if you want things to 'look good'.
But to try and expand on the maths a bit without showing myself up too much:
The attack patterns are based on several 'path primitives':
Linear, Vertical Sinewave, Horizontal Sinewave, Vertical Elipse, Horizontal Elipse,
and finally Bezier Curves.
In my editor i can adjust control points much like a Vector art package,
but the difference is that the control points can also be moved in the Z axis and
the resulting curves can be viewed from any angle.
Additionally modifier values can be applied to distort the shape of the primitive,
e.g. adjusting the amplitude/frequency of the sinewaves or turning an elipse into
a spiral.
There are several methods of rotating the axis of the enemy as it follows the path.
Paths are then joined together based on branch conditions.
I have GCSE maths by the way. (not quite degree standard ;)

As far as Motivation goes, it's been difficult mainly because i am in full-time employment.
(The last thing you want to do when you get home at night, is switch your computer on and
start coding, because that's what i've been doing all day!)
A way of keeping myself interested in the project is when i'm bogged down with the
internals of the game, take a break and add a new graphic or effect, something where i can
see the change instantly, and tricks me into thinking that the game might turn out OK afterall.
I must say i've learnt a lot more making this game that i probably would have otherwise,
so that is a good thing, even if it does look totally old technology to some.

The editor is written in C++, i made several wrapper classes for Win32 controls which simplify
the programming and allow me to add things very easily. (i hear that most normal people won't
touch MFC with a 10 foot pole, so i didn't even bother trying to learn it, i'd have only ended
up making wrapper for it ;)
My next editor will have a tradishional 4 way split view, and one of those fancey tool bars
where you can move stuff around.

I am aware there are a few issues where the game may seem 'unfair', (such as being taken
from behind by an enemy!), none of the levels are finished and i will try and smooth these
out before it's done.
I am also aware there are people that like 'Mega Weapons' over 'Pea Shooters', it's just
finding the right balance between the Power-Ups and Playability. I have already decide that
on the later levels the enemies will have shields also, so you can't wipe out each level
in a few seconds flat if you are particularly well 'Tooled Up'.
I must admit i am torn between the 'tactical' pea-shooter style and a fast and furious
mega-weapons frenzy. (there are a lot of better 'Tyrian' style games out there)

Thankyou for all the positive and 'motivation boosting' comments! :)

Mike Spencer
Creative Asylum Limited


January 25, 2002, 07:37 AM

i've just realized that Jeff wanted to know the maths behind the death animation, not the game in general, sorry.

Well i can tell you that the maths doesn't take a physics degree to work out ;)

it's a standard particle system with each particle having a speed/direction vector and a global physics vector that acts on each particle over time.

i plan on expanding my particle system in the future to mimic more
complicated behaviour, but for spacebirdz a simple model is good enough.


January 25, 2002, 08:04 AM

oops, yes i've screwed up, please click on the text link instead of the egg for now


January 25, 2002, 08:06 AM

thanks, i didn't realize


January 25, 2002, 11:26 AM

Well gee, thats just great, but do you have a girlfriend?

Manuel Astudillo

January 25, 2002, 11:35 AM

Hey, nobody commented the speed of the 3d engine. I got 120fps with a TNT 1.. thats pretty good considering all the particles effects and 3d objects that are moving around.




January 25, 2002, 12:26 PM

Very smooth. Although it took a few tries for the game to start up decently. When I first started it, the textures seemed to be lost and everything was drawn in wireframe.

After re-starting it a few times it turned out right after all.
(system : athlon 750 + Geforce1, Windows XP + DX8.1)

Keep up the good work, you got something going there!

Is this going to be shareware when it's finished?

Alex May

January 25, 2002, 12:29 PM

OMG that would have been good. I've never heard of it, but Tyrian was absolutely brilliant.

Alex May

January 25, 2002, 12:37 PM

Top work - first, let's keep the 2D genre alive! Second, the best thing you can do is make an editor for your levels - you're right to concentrate your efforts there.

Why code a whacko off-the-wall 3D engine with 128 bit interpolated meta-textured filtered buffer-map shine-squared texels when you can code a game instead?

If the editor is easy to use and has the features you need, you can make the levels really quickly. I bet this is where a lot of projects experience difficulty; they get bogged down because of bad design.


January 25, 2002, 03:38 PM

Finishing?! There is no finishing. There's only processs.

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