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Combining Multiple Game Programming Techniques

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This lesson guides you through the design and development of a game called Space Out that is a wacky vertical shoot-em-up. The Space Out Game is somewhat similar to the classic arcade game Galaga. More importantly, Space Out utilizes virtually every game development technique covered in the book thus far.

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This chapter is from the book

This hour embarks yet again on the development of another complete game. The game is called Space Out, and it represents a culmination of everything you've learned about game programming throughout the book. Although this isn't the last hour of the book, this is the last complete game you'll be creating. The remaining hours focus on improving the Space Out game with some interesting features. This hour, however, explores the design and development of the basic Space Out game, which is a vertical space shoot-em-up. The closest arcade comparison I can make to Space Out is Galaga, but the aliens in Space Out don't move with as intricate of patterns as those in Galaga. Nevertheless, I think you'll find Space Out to be a fun and entertaining game, both from a programming and a playability perspective.

In this hour, you'll learn:

  • About the basic premise behind the Space Out game

  • How to design the Space Out game

  • About the nuts and bolts of programming the Space Out game

  • Why testing is still the most fun part of testing a new game

How Does the Game Play?

One of the most classic genres of video games has always been the vertical space shoot-em-up. Space Invaders started it all back in 1978, but many games followed and added their own unique contributions to the genre. One of the most enduring vertical space shooters is Galaga, which you learned about back in the introduction to Hour 9, "A Crash Course in Game Animation." In Galaga, a relentless sequence of invading aliens fly down from the top of the game screen and attack your ship, which is free to move horizontally across the bottom of the screen. The Space Out game that you develop in this hour is similar in some ways to Galaga, although the theme for the game is a little more whimsical.

In Space Out, you are the driver of a small green car on a trek across the desert. Whether you believe in UFOs, it's hard to argue that quite a few sightings seem to have occurred in remote desert places such as Roswell, New Mexico. For this reason, your traveler in the game can't seem to get away from a constant onslaught of alien visitors from above. Unfortunately, the aliens in Space Out are bent on putting an end to our traveler's trip. The cast of alien characters in the Space Out game are somewhat comical, and add a degree of whimsy to the game. Following are the three kinds of aliens that appear throughout the game:

  • Blobbo the Galactic Ooze

  • Jellybiafra (Jelly for short)

  • Timmy the Space Worm

Granted, these probably aren't very realistic aliens when it comes to what you might imagine truly encountering in an extra-terrestrial sighting, but this game isn't about reality. Each of the aliens has its own style of attack, and they each fire different missiles. The idea here isn't to simulate a realistic alien invasion, but to have some fun with outlandish characters in the context of a vertical shoot-em-up.


The characters and concept for the Space Out game were created by Rebecca Rose, a computer artist and game designer who has collaborated with me in the past on other game projects.

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