13 Jun 2022 » C-Dogs 1.3.1 Released!

Small bugfix release, with a few minor enhancements:

  • Fix gas bomb poison effect lasting forever 😱
  • Add accurate 1up powerup for Wolf3D/SoD campaigns (1 life, 100 health, 25 ammo)
  • Add accurate backpack powerup for Doom campaign (small amounts of all ammo types)
  • Persistent lives

The last one is a notable change; previously lives would reset every level, making it little more than a glorified extended life meter. Now it makes sense to try to stay alive and not waste lives, and collect those 1up powerups (in Wolf3D/SoD)!

Download free from itch.io: https://congusbongus.itch.io/cdogs-sdl/purchase

Release notes: https://github.com/cxong/cdogs-sdl/releases/tag/1.3.1


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01 May 2022 » C-Dogs 1.3.0 Released!

Happy May Day! Today we have another release with a random assortment of fixes and enhancements!

Since around version 1.0, the campaign editor was missing some UI elements, like mission objectives, objects, enemies, and allowed weapons 🙃 Pretty important no? Well they’re fixed now…

Also, we have a bunch of unrelated enhancements:

Animated loading screens

Animated loading screens

Animated doors

Animated doors

Footprints

Footprints

…and more enhancements and fixes!

Download free from itch.io: https://congusbongus.itch.io/cdogs-sdl/purchase

Release notes: https://github.com/cxong/cdogs-sdl/releases/tag/1.3.0


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16 Apr 2022 » Future Plans

As mentioned previously, C-Dogs SDL has well and truly gone into sporadic development mode. That doesn’t mean it has stopped; work continues albeit at a slower pace, and there is another release in the works…

On that note, here are some future plans for C-Dogs SDL, although it’s unlikely they will be achieved. Still, they might be interesting for you to think about:

Cyberdogs

Yes, the 1994 freeware DOS classic, Cyberdogs, by the same original author as C-Dogs! Cyberdogs was released a number of years earlier, and is still fondly remembered by many. Although it looks very similar and plays similarly to C-Dogs, and if you compare the feature list it has many things missing (like different types of maps, story-based campaigns, fewer weapons), crucially it has something that C-Dogs doesn’t: buying and selling weapons and ammo. This feature is quite significant, and creates a cool meta-game on top of the base run-and-gun shooting game, which is why many players prefer Cyberdogs over C-Dogs.

Well what if we could have Cyberdogs and C-Dogs in the same game???

Cyberdogs

This is the plan: add a Cyberdogs custom campaign to C-Dogs SDL. It will have the classic Cyberdogs guns, creepy zombie/cyborg baddies, the buy/sell phase, and all in C-Dogs SDL livery with its bells and whistles. Cyberdogs SDL if you will.

And it won’t be terribly hard to do so. Virtually all the features are implemented, apart from the buy/sell mechanic.

More Wolf3D-based Mods

The big version 1.0 release was all about being able to play Wolfenstein 3D and Spear of Destiny. It was well-received, and rightly so: both C-Dogs and Wolfenstein 3D are fun games, and Wolf3D-in-C-Dogs is the best rendition of Wolfenstein 3D in 2D (if I say so myself 🧐).

As you may know, there are a bunch of games that also use the Wolfenstein 3D engine. These include some cool but perhaps less well known games, like Rise of the Triad, Super 3D Noah’s Ark, Blake Stone, and more stinkers like Corridor 7…

Blake Stone

What if we could play these games, but in 2D?

This is possible but will require a bit of work. Because they use the same Wolfenstein 3D engine, their level and audio data is easily supportable, but graphics will need to be reworked, since the transition between first-person and overhead, C-Dogs graphics is not easy. Plus new gameplay elements will need to be added where necessary, e.g. talking to people like in Blake Stone. While a lot of work, it won’t be out of the question…

Good Internet Multiplayer

LAN multiplayer was added back in version 0.6, and internet multiplayer is also supported although well hidden - you have to access it via a command-line parameter. It was hidden for good reason - lack of game lobbies, and anti-lag.

Multiplayer is perennially one of the most requested features in C-Dogs SDL, so how come it isn’t one of the top dev priorities? Well, because it’s quite difficult, and requires a lot of stars to align to be worthwhile, so to speak:

  • A dedicated online service to host game lobbies, and/or matchmaking
  • A community of C-Dogs SDL players, which so far has not materialised
  • Good multiplayer content
  • Good multiplayer modes (deathmatch is ok, but what about persistent co-op campaigns, CTF and so on?)
  • A good multiplayer bot for when human players aren’t available

So it’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem; without good multiplayer support it’s hard for a community to form, but without a community there is little incentive to work on multiplayer. But who knows, maybe with enough effort chipping away at the edges…

A Proper Story and World

One thing that constantly baffles new C-Dogs players is that they don’t understand what the game is about. In the original game, players get 5 unrelated campaigns, where you battle an army of ogres, or fight a zombie infestation, or stop bank robbers… you name it, it was a random mix of action game tropes.

What if these campaigns were all interconnected, inside a larger story, or even game world?

Cyberpunk world

Perhaps there is a real, “main” campaign telling the story of intrepid cyborg-dogfighters, or “cyberdogs”, taking on contracts in a gritty post-cyberpunk world. Players could walk around in a persistent hub-world, accessing side missions by talking to specific quest-givers like an RPG. Or maybe the existing campaigns are reworked so they fit within the same world. What would this world even look like? Does it take place in an interstellar empire, or a grimy Blade Runner-esque metropolis? And what’s with the bug-eyed monsters anyway, are they AI run amok, or the physical manifestations of an insane genius?

These questions await answers, but perhaps only by a passionate writer willing to undertake such a crazy task.

…And More!

There are many more C-Dogs SDL ideas:

  • Implementing Ronny Wester’s roguelike, Magus, as an action RPG
  • Reading maps from an RTS, like Command and Conquer, so you can play as a MOBA
  • Fleshing out melee combat, adding beat-em-up mechanics
  • Adding more vehicles, aircraft, making even more exciting multiplayer content

Which ones would you most like to see? Would you be interested in contributing or even maintaining C-Dogs SDL? Check out the project today!


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03 Dec 2021 » C-Dogs 1.2.0 Released!

This release builds off the 1.0 release and adds full support for the Spear of Destiny mission packs. Grab your guns and blast through those green guards and wacky bosses!

Quarkblitz

Downloads and release notes: https://github.com/cxong/cdogs-sdl/releases/tag/1.2.0


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23 Nov 2021 » Cybercafe of Broken Dreams

Alley concept

I found an old notebook with C-Dogs sketches during a move, and thought it would be fun to share, given that I’ve moved on from the project.

C-Dogs was one of my favourite games, so when I got into game dev, it was one of the games I wanted to remake and improve upon. I started collecting ideas and sketches about what a sequel to C-Dogs would have.

Isometric concept Clay model Rotoscoping

The game would have new enemy designs, in a sci-fi, cyberpunk theme. C-Dogs had a great variety of campaigns (zombies, terrorists, orcs, bug-eyed monsters) but thematically it was all over the place. Returning it to a pure sci-fi theme meant cyborgs and robots, heavily-armoured mechs and mech suits. The fast-moving xenomorphs and zombies from C-Dogs were fun but in the new game, they would be replaced with fast-moving and sleek robots with sharp blades for melee weapons.

Mech Blade bot Blade bot

Gun design would be an important consideration; as C-Dogs is a shooting game, the guns are pretty important, and should be fun and satisfying to use. C-Dogs had an eclectic arsenal, with standard shotguns and machine guns, to sci-fi powerguns, gaming favourites like flamers, and well… the less said about the browny gun, the better. Not so in the new game, which would be filled with futuristic, high powered fish guns and pew-pew hand cannons. The MC’s - who is definitely a cyborg - weapon of choice would be an unassuming SMG, but packed with high-velocity rounds that would shred non-military opponents like cloth. Basically I took lots of notes while watching Ghost in the Shell.

Gun concepts

Making plausible guns is one thing but making them legible in a top-down game - where the guns are tiny - would need a different approach. They should have strong silhouettes, so they are recognisable even when they’re a handful of pixels in size. Turns out you can do quite a lot with pixels.

Tiny guns

The game would also have a coherent storyline. In addition to some frankly silly world-building, the campaign would be highly non-linear: the MC would be thrust into a world with multiple factions and sub-factions, each with their hidden agendas, and depending on which factions the MC is currently working for, the storyline will take different branches, with some levels being playable as a different side with different objectives. For example, work for a certain faction and you would play a level by destroying an objective. Work for a different faction and you would play the same level but guarding that objective.

Level 1 Level 1 objectives Factions Faction missions Final level Final level

Alas that’s the end of the story. C-Dogs SDL was certainly fun to work on but it is mostly an enhancement, with no sequels on the horizon. A lot of time has passed since these ideas, many of them were tried by other games, some quite successfully. I’d still like to see some of the unused ideas tried, perhaps in a future game I make. For example the idea of revisiting a level but played from a different perspective still seems cool. For example, Starcraft 2 has a reversed campaign mod which looks fun as heck. Perhaps it’s not something practical for a large set-piece-design-driven organisation with siloed teams, to make a single level play well in different ways, but for a small team it can still be a neat way to reuse levels.

Anyway that’s enough from me. C-Dogs SDL isn’t quite dead - there’s a small update coming up soon 😉 - but you can also follow me on my future game dev adventures on my blog or itch.io. Happy gaming as always! 🎉


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