…a 2D vector graphics multiplayer team action strategy game that plays like a cross between Robotron and Tribes with the graphical blend of Asteroids and Pac-Man.
It’s nifty! Plays a lot like SubSpace. They’ve got a coupon available to make it $14.95, and if I hadn’t just bought a bunch of mac games (for $3.99 ea. @ MicroCenter!) this one would be on the short list.
Zap needs improvements, though:
- Different ship types / flight characteristics
- Flight characteristics in general
- Simplify some of the graphics (Especially the ship-health meter in the middle of the ship. Oops @ programmer-art! :^)
- Intelligent map-swapping on server-side (ie: don’t put 3 people into a 16 player map)
- Map-creation toolkit (don’t know if this is available to registered users or not)
Right now, it seems like they should just drop the whole “ship” metaphor and render you as a circle / point-mass, because that’s how your ship flies. That is very unsatisfying to me. Play Koules, Subspace/Continuum, NetTrek, and Tribes to see the differences, especially how important acceleration is to making a game fun.
Zap has a LOT of potential. I want to support them anyway because I think they’ll eventually fix these things and make the game better (I can’t wait for Zap v2.0). And for some of the concrete suggestions (in order of presumed ease of implementation):
- Problem: Can’t tell which way ships are flying due to “too many triangles”, “ship moves like a point mass but looks like a triangle”, and “ship moving one direction, triangles and bullets pointing in 3 different directions”. Solutions:
- Simplify ship graphics, especially health display. Draw ships as filled, shaded triangles (red and blue) that fade from Bright Blue to Dark Blue as you take more damage.
- Same for turrets, except when they’re “dead” make them jump suddenly to a much darker color.
- For extra bonus points, as ship takes damage add in small vector-cracks to the ship body.
- Remove all the extraneous white outlines, and square gun-barrels. Replace with a rotating ScorchedEarth-style turret that freely rotates and fires.
- Keep the vapor-trails and flames (although make the flames not be a uniform triangle, make them 2-3 rough overlapping triangles of differing sizes. This is so the back of your ship never looks like the front of your ship)
- Problem: Game is just starting out, and servers aren’t always full. Solution:
- Make server smarter about switching maps. Annotate all maps with “recommended min / max players”, and filter out maps that don’t match current player count.
- Problem: Ship moves like a point-mass (any direction, no momentum). Solutions:
- When in “absolute” mode (or any mode, really), make the ship point it’s nose in the direction it’s travelling since orientation makes approximately zero difference.
- Capture current behaviour of firing while moving in a different direction as a rotating “firing turret” from the center of the ship. It should still be “any-direction, any-time” firing like you can do now (SmashTV/NetTrek style), but just needs to be a little better represented.
- Add acceleration (flight characteristics) when starting from a standstill or changing directions (keep the infinitely fast turning speed). See Koules for inspiration on one possibly way this might turn out.
- Add in a “brake” button for n00b’s (or option: “AutoBraking” on by default)
- Problem: Chasing people is mega-boring because you both go exactly the same speed
- Make acceleration depend on number / type of weapons loaded onto your ship. Use just a plasma cannon, ship == fast. Have 3 big guns? Ship moves slower (not by much, but just enough to be noticeable). This will give a little bit of variety to flag chasing. (Flag should slow you down just a bit too).
- Also by adding in acceleration, it makes bumping into walls more of a penalty since you have to re-accelerate, giving a good pursuer pilot time to catch up.
- Acceleration and bumping into walls might be enough by itself, so adding in this suggested variable acceleration would be unnecessary.
Also be sure to check out Orbz which is (in my opinion) the other “best” game from Garage Games.