I don’t see a future for this game myself, so for those learning AS3, I am making the source code available for reference here.
Parasite Strike, previously “Zombie Alien Parasites.” Twice as much work than The Enchanted Cave, higher knowledge of programming, more experience with the flash game market, yet a huge disaster. After some initial confusion as to the poor reception, I finally learned why this game was doomed from the start. I only wish I knew this before I spent a bit over a year making it.
Parasite Strike is a classic side-scrolling shooter that focuses on a deep customization system which offers many different ships, weapons, and gadgets to be purchased. There are 6 main levels, and 6 secret levels that can be found along the way. Each of the main levels have a boss, and there is one secret boss. In words, the game idea seems fine, so why did the game receive very mixed responses and averaging only par ratings? There are a couple of reasons:
1) Game Size. This issue turned out to be two-fold. The main reason is that with pixel-level hit-detection on ever tile in lengthy levels, and hundreds of bullets, this takes a huge amount of processing power, much more than the average flash game. During development, this issue was invisible. The laptop I develop games on has 4GB of RAM, a much larger amount than the average home computer.
The second issue with game size was the decreased quality. The original size of the game at the optimal quality that looks great with lowest size was 30MB. 30MB is ridiculously unheard of for a flash game, so upon completion, the graphics were heavily edited and compressed, sound files were immensely compressed to a poor quality, and four music tracks were removed altogether in order to bring the file size down to 10mb.
2) Audience. Parasite Strike features “classic” gameplay of older side-scrolling shooters. The young, new gaming generation hates this type of gameplay. It’s challenging, the graphics are described as “dated,” and things just aren’t as flashy as many popular games now. On the other hand, this genre of game is popular with an older generation of gamers, that played these games when they were younger. Since the primary audience of flash gamers are young teens with minimal experience of these classic, challenging arcade games, the whole concept of Parasite Strike was a bad idea for a flash game.
My focus on this game was the gameplay, and I just threw together a simple story with parasites and explosions that I thought kids would enjoy. Surprisingly, many comments I see express strong disgust for the game play but adore the story line. What…? I completely disagree! The story is shallow, simple, in what dialogue there is, the characters show little personality, and it’s just shooting stuff up. I put hardly any thought at all into it. But for some strange reason, a lot of people place it’s quality above that of the gameplay itself. Maybe I should have just wrote a book for these folks.
On the note of story, when the game was initially released under the name “Zombie Alien Parasites,” I received a lot of flak simply because the game lacked the stereotypical zombie that kids love nowadays. I had paid little thought to the story, so I didn’t think the name was a big deal, but after these, I quickly changed the name and adapted the story to not mention zombies, therefore not misleading the zombie-lovers. This basically proves how simple the story is if I was able to change the name completely and make it fit by taking 5 minutes to change a few words throughout the game.
Alright, you may be here to learn about the game development itself, so enough about the reception; allow me to explain some aspects of development.
The entire game basically stemmed from my first idea to have a shooter with multiple weapons where you could adjust the weapon angles individually. I haven’t seen any game with this feature, so I thought it’d be a unique, fun feature. From this, a basic story was developed and individual enemies and bosses created.
I’m not a very skilled artist when it comes to scenes such as the title screen, introduction scenes, and level backgrounds, so for large images like these, I contracted the work out to two artists. Most of the other graphics, like the level tiles in the foreground, enemies, and bosses, were made with the 3D modeling program Blender. Some art was pixel art, like window borders and bullets.
Modeling and Animating the Secret Weapon boss in Blender
The average flash game is a much smaller game than Parasite Strike. About a third of the way through development, the game had grown too large to be compiled using Flash Professional. I made a switch to FlashDevelop, which is a fantastic tool. After some adjustments, I had my game working with FlashDevelop and compile times were MUCH shorter (maybe 20% of the time or less).
I put many, many hours into Parasite Strike, and it’s too bad that there’s a relatively small group of players that enjoy this type of game. For those that do, I hope you appreciate the number of weapons, ships, and gadgets, and enjoy the six secret levels. For those that don’t and preferred The Enchanted Cave, just be patient while I work on an Enchanted Cave sequel. 😉