Rubicon 1.1 released!

Just a reminder: if you’re feeling charitable, you can give me feedback about Rubicon via this short survey.

So! I’ve finally kicked my gears into gear and have put together the first update (1.1) to Rubicon. Here’s the changelog:

  • You now must “bank” your points between waves to have them available to spend on unlocking stuff later. Everything is waaay cheaper to unlock, too.
  • Joystick support (actually, I didn’t have a joystick on me for the final functionality-test-runthrough. If somebody could confirm/deny that joysticks work for them, I’d really appreciate it).
  • Tweaked some stats, made everything cheaper to unlock.
  • Gaxlid AI fixed; they no longer run off  and hide in the corners.
  • You now must buy extra lives between missions, instead of having enemies drop them.
  • Nifty sliding animation whilst choosing your ship.
  • Zen mode *actually* gives infinite lives.
  • Pressing the close button while in windowed mode now closes the game.
  • Blink is now a near-instant teleportation instead of a weird buggy phantom-zone thing.
  • Added the Overcharge special ability, which causes weapons to do more damage, fire faster, and have longer range for a short time.
  • Other minor bugfixes that I’ve already forgotten about.
And one I’d like to particularly call your attention to:
  • Strafing is now as effective as normal thrust, but afterburners are now 25% better and still only work in the directing the ship is facing.
Which is actually a result of having added joystick support. I’ve generally tried to avoid just making another twin-stick shooter, but of all the ways that I played around with joystick input, using a stick to control your direction of thrust felt the best. However, it felt awkward to start going different speeds once you used the other stick to aim in other directions, so I had to make base thrust independent of the direction the ship was facing.
Something I liked about the old system was that it forced you to compromise between steering and aiming; if you wanted to aim at enemies, you couldn’t just strafe around like you were playing Geometry Wars. I’ve tried to preserve this balancing challenge by making the afterburner better. Since it still only works in the direction you’re facing, you still have to turn around and focus on driving when you really need to haul out.

Ship Customization

I want ship modification to be a major aspect of Rubicon. To that effect, I’ve been working to put together a customization system for the game. It’s harder than it sounds! How do you approach putting together a balanced economy of choices?

By looking to see how other people have done it, of course. I tried to boil down the system of provided resources, how players can allocate those resources, and the resulting in-game effects for Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries. This is what I came up with:

mechwarrior flowchart thing

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Controls are hard to get right. Here is a rather lengthy description of how I developed the scheme for RUBICON:

First, I needed to explicitly see what you DO when playing this kind of game wrote out two overarching objectives: shoot enemies and don’t get shot. The first is accomplished by interacting with those enemies via bullets that come from some yourself at some angle. The second is accomplished by moving out of danger areas. Challenges arise when these two conflict; you need to simultaneously be in a position that does not contain bullets while trying to fill their position with bullets.

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By Olive Perry | © 2020 Wickworks
Proud to be a member of PIGsquad, Playful Oasis, and Explorable Explanations.