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Submitted by Richard Phipps, posted on May 12, 2005

Image Description, by Richard Phipps

This IOTD consists of several screenshots of my latest shareware game Sunny Ball. It is a picture based breakout game combining 60 picture boards with 60 more traditional breakout style levels. These 120 boards are split over 5 board packs that can be played in any order.

The image above shows 3 picture boards and 2 traditional boards as well as some of the powerups in action.

The game features all the normal breakout powerups as well as several bonus systems such as combination hits, lightable stars and matching crystals for a points bonus. Sunny Ball also contains several alpha particle effects as well as a nice reflection effect in the sides bars around each board.

The game is built around a very compact graphics format I have developed which combines simple and quite complex pictures with additional colouring information. Each board is made up of a foreground and a background picture and backgrounds can be reused between boards. The final graphics can be displayed at different resolutions in a truecolour mode (although they are not actually in a vector format) and the game can be played at resolutions ranging from 640 x 480 to 1280 x 1024 all with anti-aliasing and bilinear filtering where necessary. The higher the resolution the better the graphics look and the result is a beautiful, colourful and cute look that works well for the gfx style used.

The very compact size of the boards means that the full game with 120 boards (60 picture boards and 60 traditional boards) with 7 pieces of music is only 2.25 megabytes in size. In fact I estimate that after all the compression used the average size of a picture board is probably around 4k. This small size enables me to use a lot of art without an overly large file size. In fact the demo and full game are smaller than many other breakout games despite the picture boards I use.

You can visit the website to see more screenshots and read more information about the game.

A free 8 board demo is available to play, and the full game can be purchased for $19.99:

Richard Phipps

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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active.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.
Victor Widell

May 12, 2005, 07:37 PM

Cute indeed.

Can you tell us some more about the image copmpression agorithm?


May 12, 2005, 11:02 PM

Hey well done that looks really cool.

I was surprised when I looked at your website, because I've played 'Best Friends' before and thought it was really cool, fun game. I tried it while ago at a hobbyist gamedev meet, It was actually being shown as an example of how to get a shareware game 'spot on'. :)


May 13, 2005, 04:39 AM

Looks fantastic, good work !


May 13, 2005, 07:08 AM

Well done :)


May 13, 2005, 07:13 AM

Though I am no breakout fan, I really like the idea with the tiled pictures!


May 13, 2005, 12:55 PM

Nice idea to integrate the graphically bricks into the background *thumbs up*. And a pretty cute style.

Steven Hansen

May 13, 2005, 01:10 PM

Question about your music:

What did you use to create your tracks? I've been so frustrated since support for FastTracker II was dropped - it doesn't even run on my XP box.

Also, is download size the main reason you went with MOD and XM instead of some other format (mp3)?

I can't run the game here at work, but the music sounds good. I'll check out the rest of the game when I get home.


May 13, 2005, 01:13 PM

Thanks for the kind words! Sunny Ball was designed to be bright, colourful and cute! :)

oh, 'Best Friends' is a friend's game that I'm also featuring on my site.

Jari Komppa

May 13, 2005, 01:13 PM

Either I'm awful at it, or the difficulty level is way high. I tried to play it a couple of times and had no chance of finishing even the first level.

Jari Komppa

May 13, 2005, 01:20 PM

Playing with mouse is.. somewhat easier than playing with keyboard. =)

Jari Komppa

May 13, 2005, 02:00 PM

ookay, now I've played the demo through in the 'friendly' difficulty level. Some notes:

- Making powerups fall down slower doesn't make the game easier. The powerups in 'friendly' level fall down so slowly that it is almost impossible to NOT collect all the bad powerups that appear.

- The powerups could be slightly less random. I collected perhaps 40 letter tiles (all of them that fell down), and never got an 'x'.

- Same goes for other kinds of powerups. In one game attempt the game threw five or six "shrink bat" tiles at me in a row. In other, I got all the cool fireball and electric bolt (or whatever) powerups right from the start.

- The very first level (the one with the flower girl) is *way* too hard as the first level. It is cute, but it's much more work than some of the later levels.

- Pressing 'esc' in the "you've got a high score" screen pops up "game over"

- Talking about esc, it would be better if it threw the game in a pause mode of sorts (or at least would ask whether I want to quit) instead of just giving me the game over.

- The above is related to the fact that I got to the third level several times before going to options and changing the difficulty level; once, I had to go do something else for a bit and thought I could pause the game with esc. The game over wasn't a happy surprise.

- If the game has ~120 levels, it might make sense to let the player start from the level that he/she has progressed to. Starting over from the first level was rather frustrating.

Other than those little bits, this is one of the better breakout clones I've seen for a while.


May 13, 2005, 04:49 PM

Maybe you'll like renoise in stead of ft2


May 14, 2005, 04:29 AM

Thanks for all the feedback, I may take some of the comments and suggestions on board with a few tweaks. :)

Rui Martins

May 14, 2005, 06:07 AM

I really like the game, and expecially the look and feal of it!
I think this is very muc in line with what kids apreciate. This is a nice present for a parent to offer to it's children!
No violence with cool looks and sounds. And the game play is also nice, although may be too difficult for some kids.

The progressive shading of colors is a nice solution in this context, while improving tremendously the looks independently of the selected resolution.

The power ups are nice, but some seem too powerfull 8)
One of the levels, after picking up a special power up or something, blew up 90% of the tiles, I just had to finish the 10 or so tiles remaining.

I specially like, the metalic sound when you hit the pad on the side walls (pipes) and to actualy see it's reflection on the metalic surface 8)

However, I found out, that you can recover the ball, even when it is at the same level as the pad!
You just ram it going to one of the sides, and the ball bounces, like if it had hit the pad on the top.
Maybe this is on purpose, but doesn't feel right. However it's a nice cheat 8).

Jetro Lauha

May 14, 2005, 09:49 AM

Some of the older trackers work pretty well in DOSBox:

Steven Hansen

May 14, 2005, 02:02 PM

I've tried fasttracker II in dosbox before (recently) - the lag time is horrible!

Erik Faye-Lund

May 14, 2005, 03:25 PM

blablabla, use sk@le ( blablabla


May 15, 2005, 03:51 PM

C'mon now... Victor Widell asked you about the graphics -- if you're not willing to discuss technical aspects of your post, you're really just advertising and getting free beta testing -- and that's not what the IOTD should be about.

So, how about telling us your "compact graphics format"?


May 15, 2005, 06:45 PM

Now that I've played through the demo I've got a few things I need to say. First off, this is game is very good. I really enjoyed it, however, a few things. First, if you could make the powerups a bit smaller so that they wouldn't overlap as much (so tha tI know what I'm getting when there's 2 in a row). Also, if you could make the powerups fall a bit faster in the easier modes? It actually makes those modes harder as you want to avoid the bad powerups. Also, if you could implement some kind of colouring scheme for the powerups. Green = good, red = bad, blue = miscellaneous. Something like that.

Other than those few gripes, I'd have to say that I really enjoyed playing this game, the nice variety of bricks, and the wonderful graphics made it a joy to play. And like any good brick-busting game (except for the best I've ever played: Mac Brickout) it has lasers, and that is my favourite powerup. So props for that and shift+props for the awesome game. I'll most likely buy it if those few flaws are fixed.


May 16, 2005, 03:00 AM

There is a small bug when during entering your name for the highscore the mouse is floating above the new entered characters.

And yeah, what about the compression?


May 16, 2005, 05:48 AM

I'll probably do a few tweaks to improve the game. :)

As for the graphics format:

Well, if you are a clever programmer you can probably figure out how I do the gfx without too much trouble. But this is a shareware project and I don't want to make the compression easily hackable by revealing how it works.


May 16, 2005, 10:44 AM

Hey this is a really great little game!
I'm kinda addicted i think ;)
As i finally decided to buy this little game and support the shareware-scene a little bit i was a little 'shocked':
$20 ?!?
I think it is a little overpriced.. i mean you get most AAA-games a half year after their release for that price-tag (in the budget-version). I really like your game, but i'd be happy if you corrected that 'bug' ;) (maybe $10-$14, $9,99 is always a nice price-tag.. i think you'd even sell so many more copies that you'd have quite some benefit of lowering the price, but i am not an economist, so what do i know ;) )

One minor bug though: When there are 10 highscores and i play another game with a score below my lowest highscore it asks me to enter my name for position 11 (which isn't shown in the highscores). So it would be better if it doesn't ask for my name and just returns to the main menu.

Greets, Yonaz

Steven Hansen

May 16, 2005, 11:51 AM

Economies of scale doesn't always apply to shareware titles. In effect, if you like the game, there are very few people that will buy it at $10 that wouldn't buy it at $20 *** for that market ***. The problem is that shareware doesn't have the PR that higher budget games have. It doesn't sit on the shelf and eventually irritate the retailer enough that he drops the price just to get it out the door. Instead, this niche market has only the press generated by internet links and posts. Let the guy make however much money he can. If you like the game at $20, buy it - otherwise don't - but don't give him a hard time over pricing. He'd like to make a living too.

Aaron Wirtz

May 16, 2005, 03:07 PM

In other words you just ripped off someone else's GIF library, dropped all the header information, kept the LZW compression, and XORed the result against some "magic" byte, thus greating an "smaller than GIF", "encrypted" gfx format...

Seriously though, just bragging that your graphics format is better than others, without giving us any clue as to why is is any different than normal LZW or RLE compression is kinda lame.

Personally, looking at the style of the graphics used in the screenshots, I would guess that best compression would probably be achieved with run-length encoding followed by LZW stream compression. If you use an insanely large number of smooth gradients, you might get slightly better compression if you do a delta transform before compression.

A determined reverse engineer would figure out how to mess with your graphics even without a description from you of the compression algorithm, and we aren't asking for the exact format; just some comments on what techniques you are using and the benefits/drawbacks of those.


May 16, 2005, 03:52 PM

great game, i love it!


May 16, 2005, 04:17 PM

There was no need for any sarcasm, or even any 'comedy' sarcasm tags.

I'm proud of the engine, but I wasn't trying to brag about it. It's something I've not seen before, but as it is used in a commercial game I don't want to go into specifics. If it was a free game then I'd talk about it happily in great detail.

If you can't understand this way of thinking then there is no point in discussing it further is there?


May 16, 2005, 04:18 PM

Exactly right Steven! Unfortunately for Shareware Authors though..

I also live in England, so the weak dollar really doesn't help at all.


May 16, 2005, 05:10 PM

This is a community, developer-oriented site. It's not a shareware promotion site or a place to run free ads. If you're not willing to answer technical questions about your software with some degree of helpfulness, expect some flak.

Rui Martins

May 17, 2005, 11:52 AM

Give the author some slack people.
It is his right to want or not to explain the inner workings, you may not like it, but that is how it goes.

And since when did Flipcode outcast shareware robomurito ?

Would you prefer not to know about the game ?
I wouldn't, I think it is a very well made game, and should be "shared", for anyone to enjoy.
I hope to see more of these at Flipcode! Some will explain implementation details, others won't, but in the end, we all gain something.

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