Rad Raygun

CODAME Featured Game:  Rad Raygun

With the CODAME GAMES showdown only days away, we thought we’d give you preview of the indie games that will be duking it out on August 21 for top bragging rights and a trip to the ARTS+TECH Festival.

Next up is Rad Raygun, currently available on Xbox Live Indie Games

Based on its graphics, Rad Raygun has a significant retro vibe to it.

Explain it to me in a way that takes me back to one of the most loathed times in human history.

Chris Bryant:  The year is 198X. Big hair is hot, and the war with the Soviets is colder than a refreshing glass of New Coke.

Rad Raygun must travel the world fighting communist robots and save the 1980’s by shooting his way through 5 decade-spanning levels. Ultra-sharp 144p resolution graphics and 4 unique shades of monochrome off-green bring our game to life, as only 1980’s mobile technology can!

I’m almost afraid to ask, but what’s the single most memorable part of your game that you want people to never forget?

Rad Raygun is our homage to the retro games of yesteryear.

The characters and storylines are very tongue-in-cheek — nowhere else can you fight a material girl named “Mad Donna” or take down the Berlin Wall, Contra-style!  The unforgettable experience is designed to be a fun trip down memory lane.

Oh, and Rad Raygun also comes with an original chiptune soundtrack by FantomenK — so, crank up the volume!

Aside from forcing yourself to relive the 80’s, what was the most difficult aspect of creating Rad Raygun?

Since the game is programmed in Microsoft’s XNA framework, everything was developed and tested on the PC for the first year, and was going seemingly well. Finally, we got the first level up and running, it was time to test it on the Xbox 360.

And, the result was a huge letdown!

The game took nearly 5 minutes to load!  It turns out that my tilemap code was extremely inefficient.  Fixing this meant that I had to gut a large portion of my code and re-engineer it, which took weeks.  And, since everything was in a new format, I had to write a conversion tool so that our maps wouldn’t have to be rebuilt from scratch.

Once this was fixed, the remainder of the project was smooth sailing… until one week before launch.  Since the severe load times were fixed, I hadn’t tested the game on the 360 in months.  Instead, I was simply focusing on finishing the game on the PC.  But when I got to the point where I considered the game “done,” I loaded it up on the 360 and hit the absolute lowest point in the project — for one, the long load times were back.  We were now loading in larger maps, more graphics, and more sound.  Once the game finally loaded, the framerate was atrocious!  I was devastated.

The Xbox 360 is indeed a powerhouse, but only when used correctly.  The engine had serious memory management issues that weren’t visible on the PC.  I spent days tweaking and optimizing the engine in hopes of alleviating the issue.  The results were only marginally successful and the framerate was still noticeably bad.  This was the ultimate low for me.  My team dedicated their nights and weekends to this project for over two years and, only two days from launch, I wasn’t sure if it would ever see the light of day.

Finally, while examining the game’s memory usage for the 100th time, I noticed that the maps were allocating way more memory than they should (twice as much in some cases)!  It turns out that there was a bug in the level editor and the maps were exported with a ton of extraneous data at the end of the files.  I wrote a tool to clean up the extraneous data from the map files, reloaded the game on the 360, and all of my framerate issues were gone.

This led to the ultimate high of launching the game on February 19th, 2013!

You overcame bad hair, cheesy music, and a major memory leak to create a 1980’s themed game for the most popular game console of the 2000’s.

Congrats! (I think)

Join CODAME GAMES on August 21st to be inspired, learn, play and vote for your favorite Indie Game!

Rad Raygun
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