I’ve been working on the PC port of Hypership Out of Control for several months now. For gameplay that is already done, you’re probably wondering why it is taking so long to finish this up. Well, there are a number of reasons for that which I will detail below. With the various tweaks and additions I’ve made for this port, it probably is the best version of Hypership to date thanks to my overly due diligence.
Online High Scores
Hypership on XBLIG used a peer to peer system for sharing high scores which worked moderately OK, Hypership on iOS used GameCenter, and I created my own system for Hypership on WP7. After investigating what was available for PC, I decided that I would create my own system again for the PC port (though I did borrow heavily from the WP7 version). This involved creating a web service for the game to interface with for saving and loading high scores and user management and in the game I had to create new UI for joining, logging on, and registering users. This was really the biggest reason Hypership PC has taken longer but I developed this suite of online high scores with the idea it would be reusable for future games, so when I do the PC port of Bad Caterpillar, adding online high scores should be trivial.
Releasing on consoles I didn’t have to worry much about this, I had one screen resolution to target. For the PC version, I had to support something that worked for the user. I decided it would be best to determine the user’s current resolution, run full screen, and scale the game screen to that resolution. This avoid having to determine valid screen resolutions and change the resolution from what the user is currently using. I felt this was the surest way to ensure Hypership ran on as many PC platforms as possible.
Mouse and Keyboard Control
In addition to supporting 4 Xbox 360 gamepads, I also updated Hypership PC to support keyboard or mouse control. Mouse control is probably the biggest deal because it makes the game play much more like the iOS version (the most well received variant of Hypership). The level of precision control you get with the mouse far exceeds any of the other control schemes and I full expect this will be the weapon of choice for those who climb to the top of the leaderboards.
I’ve talked about this before, but once again my early games had collections of particles attached to every item, enemy, player, etc. It’s a lot more efficient to have one big collection of particles to loop through than to have a number of smaller collections on a number of objects. Besides just changing this design, I also made particles bigger, more numerous, and more random and subsequently Hypership PC is the coolest looking iteration of the game.
One of the cool additions related to this now when you use a bomb to clear the screen, every block has a particle explosion. For performance reasons, the blocks just disappeared on the XBLIG version. This effect ends up looking pretty cool.
Old and New Graphics
Graphically Hypership has gone through a few facelifts in its life. I did the original artwork for the first XBLIG version and then later I hired an artist for better artwork. Hypership Still Out of Control also had modified artwork and ship colors added. For Hypership PC, in one way or another, any of the artwork is available. So you can play the game like it was originally envisioned or in the much newer and better forms.
The Join Screen got a lot of love for Hypership PC. In the mobile versions, you could only pick one ship, in the XBLIG version each ship corresponded to a gamepad. For the PC version, I added a lot more depth to this screen. You can play with any combination (up to four players) of 4 Xbox 360 controllers, keyboard, and mouse. Each player can then choose the color of their ship from any available and sign in to the online high scores system.
On mobile and XBLIG, I was not worried about storing level files as plain text. On PC though, it would be far too easy to access them and modify the levels. If someone did that and just deleted all the blocks, they could easily reach the top of the leaderboards. I decided to not only encrypt the text of the levels but then integrate the levels themselves into the EXE for Hypership. This should (in theory) prevent any funny business.
On the other platforms I simply could generate a file used for the installation. On PC, I needed to create a new installer and install some dependencies. I want to blog more in depth on this later but I’ll just say for now this was a fair amount more complicated than what had to be done for the previous releases.
Because there are many PC configurations available, I did testing on as many systems as I could. I found a few errors (mostly on the installation) that needed to be addressed. I expect as the game gets out more, I will find more problems too, but for now I’ve tested and verified it can run on Windows Vista, 7, and 8.
As of now Hypership PC is awaiting approval at Desura and hopefully it can be released next week. If you want a taste of it now, you can get the demo here
or check out the PC trailer below.