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  27th August, 2013

What's with the track?

BlastTrax was originally devised as a classic Retro-styled GrandPrix-like racing game, with weapons.
You would drive through the course, shoot the other drivers, and make your way through to the end.
I started work on the game, made a nice retro-styled GrandPrix racetrack, added a few little cars, and then..
And that was when @FoppyGames decided to launch his Retro-styled GrandPrix racing game.
True, mine was in Top-down 2D, and had shooting, and his was fully 3D, but even so, I didn't want to appear to be retreading the same style, so instead I opted to go in another direction.
The GrandPrix was out, and in it's place I opted for a series of multicoloured bars.

Thus, BlastTrax's "Rainbow Road" stylings were born, and with odd bird-like sprites in place of the cars, the game started to take shape.

What's with the odd controls?

The controls came about due to the original style of the game. You have to remember that, initially, it was a case of "Drive and Shoot", so the obvious control scheme was as follows.
On the left, you'd have an analogue controller for left and right, then on the right you'd have a forward button and a fire button.
When I started writing it on Windows, that made sense, as you had physical buttons for forward and shoot, but as soon as I tried it on a touchscreen it became obvious that those controls were completely incompatible. You can't do the "Two buttons" thing on touchscreen!
I tried another method, making the analogue "stick" control forward direction, too. You would hold your thumb down, push up, and then tilt left or right to turn.
Again, this resulted in a case of "Makes sense on a keyboard, but touchscreens don't quite work at all!"
I found myself, instead, trying to trace the route with my thumb, rather than tilt-to-turn.
So, that's what I tried next.

Once the directional controls were working well, I had a nice "Left = Direction, Right = Fire" control scheme. I then realised that having two thumbs over a chaotic screen probably wasn't all that useful, so I stripped out the fire button, and made any touch be a fire.
Again, it's quirky, but it seems to work reasonably well.

For what it's worth, although this game might LOOK like a Twin Stick shooter, it is in fact, more like Space Invaders. The enemy never springs up behind you. They always appear ahead of you.

Why does my ship reset?

I spent a good amount of time trying to get a nice balancing system going. Levels don't get too tough to beat, and weapons don't get so powerful that the game becomes too easy. At the same time, since the weapons don't become all-powerful, the baddies similarly don't need to become super-mega-tough in order to compensate.
Hard mode is a great example of this.
As tough as it is to make it as far as the halfway mark of the first level, it is entirely possible to complete the level.
I've managed to get as far as Level 4, myself, and I'm not exactly the world's best game-player!

Since each level is essentially a giant-reset, every level is completable, although they do tend to get longer, and the enemies do start to shoot at you a little faster each time.
Given the resetting nature of the levels, and in the interest of balancing everything, for the first release I've opted to also reset your ship.
You start each round as if it's a brand new adventure.
A fresh set of life points, no gems collected, no upgrades, nothing.
It's all brand new, so you have as good a chance to complete each level as you had the level before.

In the future, I'd like to tackle some sort of mid-level shop system, and allow you to spend collected gems to purchase extra health, upgrades and more.
I'll probably add it as a seperate "Arcade" mode, but for "Classic" mode, we'll stick with the basics.

Does the game ever end?

The game's levels are Pseudo-Randomly generated, meaning they're mostly random, but in a way that can be reproduced, so that, for example Easy Level 12 will look the same as the last time you reached Easy Level 12..
For "Classic" mode, I haven't really done much at all. There are 3 basic sprites, one track style, and it's pretty much a case of just getting harder.
I might play about with different styles and themes and a proper level structure in later modes, but I'd need to put my thinking cap on, to come up with anything else!
Either way, the level numbers are endless. There is no real ending, other than your eventual death.
In general, you should probably be able to easily reach about level 15 on Easy, 7 or 8 on Normal and .. Hard's quite hard!! Applaud yourself if you reach level 2!


Not truely blur, more screen fading and feedback.
It's a cheat, but it works well enough, and I couldn't think of a quick way to explain it on a small icon, so I called it blur!

I'm not entirely sure what's happening on Android devices. This technique of screen fading is something that's been used since the 80s, and really shouldn't be complicated in the slightest. The idea of "leave the screen alone" should not be a tricky thing to do.
Unfortunately certain Android devices are over complicating things, and causing all manner of crazy artifacts to appear, all over the screen.
I don't know why this is.
It's unfortunate, and there's not much I can do about it.

The blur switch defaults to "off" on Android devices, and you can give it a whirl if you want. Works great on Nexus 7.. Doesn't work at all on Nexus 10 and on Nexus 4 it goes keraaaazyyyy!!

Are there any hidden features?

There is one hidden feature.

It's hidden.

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