Award Winning Mobile Gaming

Star Rangers

Star Rangers is a fast-paced space fighter game based on the original Atari game Star Raiders. Back when I launched my Atari computer magazine, ANALOG Computing, we were huge fans of Star Raiders. In fact, so were a lot of other people and that game single handily sold more Atari computers than anything else. So, when mobile devices finally had larger screens and fast processors, I brought some of the ol’ team back together to create Star Rangers. I handled the game design, marketing and testing. Tom Hudson, who was the creator of 3D Studio, heading up programming and Jon Bell rendered the graphics. Jon previously did work for James Cameron on the Abyss, Discovery and History Channels. They have been long time friends and both work for Autodesk now. Star Rangers won huge accolades from players and great reviews.

These images are from the tablet version, the smartphone version looked just as good, but the controls were crammed into the smaller space. The forward view above has the displays for fuel, number of enemy ships, timer, throttle, scanners, etc. They had to be far enough apart to prevent accidentally hitting the wrong control. Notice we arced the throttle on the left since that’s how your thumb would move when holding the tablet. We used large buttons for the functions on the top and bottom rows. At the time the game had far more sound FX than the average game…over 120 of them! Each class of every ship had its own explosion sound and there were 3 versions of each of those, so you didn’t hear the same sounds over and over. I made the heavier ships explode with more bass and the crystalline ships sounded similar to shattering glass. While flying the ship there were background sounds like on the bridge of the Enterprise in Star Trek.

The Galactic Map shows enemy ship movements, ally refueling stations and friendly star bases. Tapping on a sector will take you there if you are good enough at steering through hyperspace. The enemy ships move in to surround and destroy the bases – they need to be stopped. “All your base are belong to us
3D Tactical Long-Range Sensors show enemy ships and your bases in a sector. This is handy to see what’s going and navigate. It was fully iterative and live in real time.
Game menu flow – I rendered this so that the team could build the imbedded menu links.

I worked with composer S. Christian Collins to score some cuts for the game. I had him listen to some Japanese turn-based games I liked for the Main Theme and Victory tracks. For “Game Over: I wanted a dirge. The “CGI Cut” was the first take on a theme but it sounded to 80s-ish, so we used it for the video demo and CGI cuts. (Click on any of the links below to hear the soundtrack.)

Star Rangers “Main Theme

Star Rangers “Victory!

Star Rangers “Game Over Man!

Star Rangers “CGI / Disco Cut

Wire frame model Jon Bell worked on. I asked him to try an animate the ships under translucent skins and this was his first take. I liked the idea of mechanisms moving around inside the ship, like engine drives.

The following link is for the CGI-opening cut video. Everything looked pretty good except there were to many asteroids and the lighting needed some work. This and the wire frame model were rendered by Jon Bell with 3D Studio Max, which Tom Hudson, the lead programmer for the game, created.

Click image below to play “Star Rangers CGI / Opening Cut” (no audio)

youTube link to the Star Rangers promo.
As a team we always made our job fun. Producing a video game or monthly magazine is really hard so goofing has to be part of the plan. 18 medals could be earned in total, this was what I sent the team for how I wanted that page to look.
The final renderings were beautifully created by Jon Bell from a list I had of achievements. I really like the radar-ish tactical badge, galactic swirls, sun and enemy ship pins.