In this post, I will be talking about the weapons. No shoot em up is complete without them and Paradroid is no exception. For a game back in the eighties, it was not often that you played a game which had multiple weapons – let alone different abilities, sprites, and sound effects.
There are five weapons in Paradroid, one of which is attached to the ‘Influence Device’ itself. This is so the player has the ability to use the host droids own weapon when controlling a droid that doesn’t have it’s own, such as the pretty useless maintenance classes. All the other weapons become available as and when you can successfully transfer into a droid that has that weapon.
Each weapon has been built with a set amount of damage that it can deal, a cool down and they all different sprites and sounds. Below are five of the weapons as they appear in Game Maker.
This is attached to the Influence Device and also a couple of the lower powered droids. This is the weakest weapon of them all. The cooldown is around 1 second but it is the fastest to fire with.
Droids with this weapon: 476, 615, 629, 751.
This is much more powerful than the basic, built-in weapon but the cooldown is slightly longer to prevent overheating. Not many droids have this weapon.
Droids with this weapon: 629, 751, 821, 834 and the 999.
Only one droid has this as its weapon and it does a lot of damage so, if you are in a low-class droid, you won’t last long. The cooldown is slightly longer than the twin laser above as a result.
Droid with this weapon: 614. If you spot him then the best strategy will likely be to take him out fast – or transfer into him for taking on the bigger droids.
This is the most powerful weapon and, naturally, it has the longest cooldown. It also belongs to a droid that looks almost identical to a famous robot we see on the BBC. Perhaps the catchphrase “Exterminate” may mean something to you??
Droid with this weapon: 883.
This weapon has no moving sprite so we use a visual clue to indicate that it’s been used by the screen flashing and jumping, which you can see demonstrated in the video below. Additionally, its sound is much more noticeable than any of the others. Interesting fact: the effect used to show a droid using this weapon took over half a day in man-hours to get just right.
This weapon does area damage and is the only weapon that can harm multiple droids with one hit. However, you shouldn’t consider this an “I-Win” button for dealing with the droids you don’t want to face head-on in a laser fight. Some of the droids, such as security class, are immune to this type of damage!
Droids with this weapon are: 711, 742
In the original game, the sprites strobe through three or four colours to give them a bit more of a visual presence. I have done this by adding extra frames to the animation rather than play around with colour cycling. I could have done this by changing colour over time but it wasn’t really needed as it was much quicker to just add in more sprite frames, as we’re lucky enough to not have the restriction of less than 64k of memory.
Additionally each of the weapons originally just had 4 images: horizontal, vertical and two for diagonals. Although it’s not ideal to have a bullet flying at a slight angle and being horizontal, it didn’t really matter. Memory constraints may well have been an issue with not being able to store more angles. It would also not be a realistic task to rotate the sprites by code on the fly. Luckily for me, I have plenty of memory and can just change the rotation of each sprite on the fly, with built-in animation options in the development system, so performance issues just aren’t relevant.
Below is a video showing the player firing each of the different weapons. This is a video I recorded just after implementing the actual firing so the position of lasers when they fire has not been tuned and the graphics are still subject to tuning. There will be no issues such as the droid moving faster than the lasers, or the laser actually firing from its back-end once the game is finished.