Project IV: Lunar Lander

Project narrative

Land your Lunar Excursion Module [LEM] on the surface of the moon. This is a storied and much beloved game from early digital video-gaming (ca. 1969).

Here’s a re-creation of the earliest iteration of the game — text-based!

And a good overview of the game’s multi-platform history:

Project Requirements: Code

  • Make use of basic collision detection in GameMaker (esp. recommended,e.g.: place_meeting(), position_empty(), etc. For special circumstances, consider also the “advanced collision detection” functions (e.g., collision_point(), collision_line(), etc.);
  • Make use of at least two different sound effects that are synced to player or game behavior;
  • Make use of at least two cameras (e.g., one close-up and one distant; one on the game field and one trained at a control panel, etc.);
  • Make use of at least one simple particle generator (built by you, and not part of the GameMaker physics engine proper).
  • Special Aside: Your code should NOT MAKE USE of the BOX2D PHYSICS simulator in GameMaker.

Advanced Options: Code

  • Consider using procedurally-generated terrain via an implementation of Perlin Noise or Perlin’s more recent innovation, Simplex Noise.
  • Game data should be clearly and intuitively modeled for the player. While a purely numeric dashboard is a good start, for example (displaying remaining fuel, rate of descent, etc.) a graphical presentation of that information — in the form of dials, gauges, etc. — might make it more fun.

Project Requirements: Gameplay

Please consult any of the variants upon the original Lunar Lander (Atari) for game-play ideas. In essence, here’s how gameplay proceeds:

  1. Your LEM has a finite amount of fuel as it attempts to land on some lunar surface;
  2. The player guides her ship, using a main (vertical) thruster and two smaller horizontal thrusters, towards a promising surface for touchdown.
  3. Feel free to vary difficulty (randomly, or by level) by varying (1) gravity, (2) fuel reserves, (3) rate of fuel consumption, and/or (4) how rigidly you evaluate a “soft landing” versus a crash.
  4. The pleasure of this game — aside from its simulative nature — is the tight integration between our input (thrust) and the moon’s pull (gravity, inertia), as both are understood vis a vis our dwindling resources (fuel).

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