So I've been busy coding, just not on my games again. :o/
Well, that's not technically true, I've been writing games, just not exactly for my game-a-month project.
What I've found is Unity and Flixel.
I knew about Unity before I started this project, but for some reason I'd got it into my head that it was pay-only and there was only a free trial. That's not the case. For PC, Mac and Web development it's completely free (save some more advanced libraries like realistic water effects).
It's astoundingly easy to use and I've created a small invaders re-make that I'll release shortly. It's almost finished, just needs 'bombs' adding.
Flixel is a flash library. Normally I steer clear of Flash because performance under it is absolutely terrible for games. Really terrible. How much this matters depends on your perspective and I'll write a piece on that another time.
Flixel allows quick and easy development of Flash games. It uses completely free tools (Adobe's Flex SDK is free and there's a very handy IDE called FlashDevelop). Which just leaves learning ActionScript 3.
If you've any experience with other modern languages, that's not really an issue, but it has some peculiarities in it and seems overly verbose in places to me, but still, it's easy enough. Following the 'hello world' tutorial on the Flixel site gives a reasonable introduction to the basics, but doesn't explain a lot of things.
So, 48 hours after picking up Flixel I have a full game written in it. Yes, it is that easy to use.
I could embed it directly in the page, but I've always kinda been against that, so here's a link instead.
Space to shoot, cursors to move.
You'll have to excuse my pretty dreadful graphics, I was mostly just experimenting and seeing what I could manage. The backgrounds took less than 2 minutes each and the clouds were about the same. The ship is from a while back. The ghosts were just me yesterday morning going "what's an easy enemy to draw?"
Most of the code is taken from this tutorial, which I don't think anyone who doesn't know about resource allocation should follow. If you follow that tutorial to the letter, you'll end up with some nasty memory leaks because it doesn't reuse resources properly, it just leaves them hanging around in the background. Most notably are the bullets (which aren't destroyed, so any that miss enemies and fly off into the ether to the right of the screen will just go on forever), enemies (same issue going off the left of the screen) and explosions (creates and doesn't dispose 10 sprites every time something dies).
So, I changed it slightly so that my game destroys bullets off the right of the screen, enemies off the left and re-uses the same 10 explosions, seems to work well.
I also extended the tutorial to include my parallax background effect and moving clouds. There's nothing particularly spectacular in there, but it was something I was interested in working out.
Flixel is pretty well known in the Flash community, the main author is Adam "Atomic" Saltsman who wrote the game Canabalt (google it, you've almost certainly played it before).
So that was this weekend's Flash adventure. Was interesting and I've an idea for a Flash game I want to put into practice at some point using Flixel. Although it's a platformer so will require me learning a fair bit more about how it all works.
Because I've not been keeping to my game a month schedule, I'm going to mark this minor game as part of the project but not give it a number, I'll label it 'b'. 'a' will be the Unity game which I'll finish off and post shortly.