Repel Boarders – Game #2

Yeah, game 2 out on the web!

I have had a complete blast making this game! It was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have ever done. You can check it out here.

Repel Boarders Title Screen

Repel Boarders

This game is a huge detour from the first one. While Prism Ship was a Galaga-esq shooter, Repel Boarders is a turn based tactics game. A video game collecting friend tells me its very much like Advanced Wars.


Doing a turn based game presented a lot of challenges. First, most tutorials for game engines are trying to show off things like movement, animation, and how great their frame rate is. I actually have yet to stumble across a good turn based tutorial. In other words, it felt like blazing a new trail. If you know any good tutorials on turn based games, I will be all ears. There is a lot more I could learn about them.

Challenge 1 – Input

One of the problems I had initially was the input. I left the frame rate high, thinking I would try to animate the unit movement or attacks. This caused a lot of accidental double clicking.

The solution was two-fold, both time based. First and obvious was drop the frame rate. The screen does not need to be updated 60 times a second if you aren’t doing any animation. Second and similar was to check when the player last clicked or touch the screen and limit how fast to accept inputs.

Challenge 2 – Scope Creep

A second problem I had was wanting to do to much. I had to keep reminding myself that this was supposed to me an MVP of a game. Regardless, some cool extras snuck in.

These were mostly based on annoyances when testing. An information tab, health bars, and deselecting a previously selected unit were all things that probably could have been left out for the game to work, but they sure are nice to have.

Challenge 3 – AI or Network Multiplayer

Another problem, one that I am currently working on, is having an Artificial Intelligence to play against.

The initial concept of course was for it to be pure multiplayer and the combat system was initially just set up for a “hotseat” mode where you and your opponent are at the same computer. Unfortunately, this requires you to have someone else present who wants to play the game if you don’t want to play yourself.

Ideally, I would like to implement network multiplayer (with matchmaking of course), but that is not likely given the time constraint I put on myself. Its time to start on game 3 after all if I want to hit the 11 in 11 goal.

Oddly enough, writing an AI for the game appeared to be easier than writing a multiplayer server and interface. And it seems to be. A simple, random “AI” was actually only a couple hours of work. The AI currently knows nothing about the game state. It takes a list of units, moves, weapons, or attacks and picks one. That’s it. Nothing “intelligent” going on there. But for now its good enough. Maybe I will get to come back to this game and polish it like it deserves.

Lessons Learned

  1. Timers are your friend when dealing with turn based games.
  2. Watch the scope of your game. Build nice to haves only after the core mechanics are done.
  3. Even multiplayer games need a way to be played when everyone else is asleep or doing something else.

I am currently working on breaking down the first couple games into some tutorials. Be looking for them next week.

I Want to Be a Better Developer