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BlastZone 2 is now available on PC for $2.99 and Android(tm) for $1.99!

 

Now available on SteamGet BlastZone 2 on Steam!

 

 

download the free demo! CLICK HERE!

 

Latest PC/Steam version: v1.27.1.0

Latest Android version: v1.27.1.0

 

Contact the developers here: blastzone2@gmail.com

 

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Welcome to the website for BlastZone2, the action packed side-scrolling shooter game that will really get your adrenaline pumping! Now available for Steam and Android!

Latest Steam Version Release Notes

 

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Android is a trademark of Google Inc.

Gameplay Trailer 3 - NEW!

 

NEWS

4/5/18 – Huge terrain optimizations and overhauled backend processing for Steam/PC (v1.27.1.0)

 

Some big technical improvements have been released for the Steam/PC version of BlastZone 2! (v1.27.1.0) The most prominent of these are huge terrain rendering optimizations. These benefit the new VeryHigh and Extreme detail terrain DLC the most, bringing performance boosts ranging from 50-200%, depending on the situation and system specs. This is such a big difference that the minimum and recommended requirements to run the DLC are much lower now. If your system ran too slow using either of these DLC packs before this update, I strongly recommend trying them again. The new, lower requirements will be posted soon. The terrain optimizations improve performance for the Normal and Low quality terrain as well, just to a lesser degree. The Low quality terrain should expect to see a 4-5% boost in performance, and the Normal quality terrain should see about a 18-35% boost, which is still quite sizable. It is also worth noting that these performance boosts are across the board when playing the game, and are not just for specific situations. Also, these optimizations were achieved without any effect on image quality. Enjoy the performance boosts!

The second portion of this update worth noting is an overhaul to the way much of the rendering pipeline is calculated by the engine. More specifically, all Projection and ModelView matrix calculations are performed internally now, giving the engine direct control over the way they are managed, improving flexibility and providing more opportunities for optimizations. This overhaul removes large swaths of old, deprecated API calls as well, modernizing the codebase without breaking compatibility.

This is the first stage of a larger, overarching goal of modernizing the entire rendering pipeline. The renderer was originally designed back in 2006, using a hybrid approach combining OpenGL 2.0 features and effects built on top of an OpenGL 1.5 rendering pipeline. (OpenGL 3.X/4.X didn’t exist back then.) This was done to have optional access to newer features, while maintaining compatibility with older hardware. The part of the overhaul done so far maintains compatibility with OpenGL 1.5 if the shaders are disabled, but I am looking into the best way to move forward from here. If maintaining OpenGL 1.5 support ends up not having enough demand to be worth it, I may drop support entirely in favor of an OpenGL 2.X/3.X/4.X exclusive renderer. Any feedback about this would be appreciated!

The v1.27.1.0 update is now available on Steam/PC. Check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. More announcements will be made in the future detailing specific goals for the new renderer, so stay tuned for those. Enjoy the new technical improvements!



4/5/18 – Optimizations and technical improvements for the Android version (v1.27.1.0)

 

A new update has been released for the Android version of BlastZone 2! This includes updated lighting for the Outer space background, and a few optimizations to the text system and terrain. The render time and memory usage of the text system has been cut in half for the Android version, but this only increases performance by about 1-2% since it is a small part of the overall rendering pipeline. Also, some small optimizations have been done for terrain rendering on Android to improve CPU/GPU concurrency, increasing performance by another 1-2%. The reason why terrain performance hasn’t jumped nearly as much as the PC version is because the huge terrain optimizations have actually been exclusive to the Android version before now, so the Android version already has them. The reason why the PC version didn’t receive them until now is because of differences in rendering systems actually caused a performance drop on PC until the recent rendering overhaul.

The rendering system overhaul detailed in the Steam/PC announcement above has also been applied to the Android version, so Android players are running the newer, modernized codebase as well.

Check out the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!



3/29/18 – Expanded gameplay range, 16:9 widescreen letterboxing, and looping minibosses for Steam/PC and Android (v1.27.0.0)

 

A big new gameplay update has been released for BlastZone 2 on both Steam/PC and Android (v1.27.0.0) that reworks and rebalances the entire game to primarily target a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. This expands the range of movement and gameplay area over previous versions and expands many of the menus. One critique I’ve heard about BlastZone 2 is the limited movement range; it was put in place to ensure a similar gameplay experience between 4:3 aspect and wide screen monitors. Now, horizontal movement and gameplay space has been expanded to the full viewable 16:9 aspect area and the game always runs in widescreen mode, even for 4:3 resolutions using letterboxing. This is beneficial for all players because 4:3 users gain a wider field of view, and widescreen users benefit from their entire viewable space being utilized for gameplay. This also equalizes the gameplay advantages and disadvantages that previously existed due to different aspect ratios.

As for vertical movement limits, Mission mode was completely designed with the original vertical limits in place, so expanding them would break many of the levels, allowing the player to easily skip significant areas of gameplay. Completely redesigning all of Mission mode to accomodate a larger vertical space was outside the scope of this update. Mission mode still benefits from increased horizontal movement though.

The Survival and Blitz game modes now take advantage of the full vertical and horizontal space of a 16:9 aspect ratio. This involved not only updating player movement limits, but also reworking all enemy movement and spawning patterns to take advantage of the larger gameplay area. This opens up more control flexibility for strategic options. A lot of work went into rebalancing these modes to make them more fun to play, so I hope everyone enjoys them!

Classic A/B modes received small updates as well, allowing for increased vertical player movement, but enemy spawning patterns haven’t been changed to preserve the existing gameplay balance.

A number of menus have been updated to take advantage of the wider aspect ratio as well. Some of the menus were previously somewhat cramped and had abbreviated labeling to fit everything in a 4:3 space, such as ship selection screens, so those look much better now. The ingame HUD has also been updated to work better for widescreen.

This update addresses another criticism of the game, which is that minibosses had a time limit and would leave if the player couldn’t defeat them in time. This has been rectified by adding a new feature to the enemy scripting system. Now, enemy behaviors can have looped sections and can stay on the screen battling the player forever until the player wins or dies. This gives the satisfaction of overcoming the challenge of each miniboss and not merely lasting long enough for it to leave.

The v1.27.0.0 update is now available on Steam/PC and Android. Check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. Check out the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!



3/21/18 – New 4k textures and greatly improved outer space environment for Steam/PC (v1.26.1.3)

 

A new update has been released for BlastZone 2 on Steam that greatly improves texture detail in the game. It introduces 4k textures, which have four times the detail of previous versions of the game. To make use of the new textures, make sure you have “VeryHigh” texture detail selected in the options. The “VeryHigh” option from previous versions is now equivalent to the new “High” option, and the rest down the line. The main textures that benefit from this update include all the terrain textures, all the sky domes and space star field, planets, and more. The added texture resolution makes the biggest difference for 4k and 1440p resolutions, but also benefits 1080p and below.

Also included in this update is a revamped Outer Space background, including brand new textures for the planet and sun, and improved lighting for the planet and moon. Take a look below: (click for a larger view)


The Home Planet terrain has received more improvements to lighting and shadowing detail as well. Check it out below:


Combining these new textures with the recently released Extreme quality terrain DLC really is a sight to behold! Check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. Enjoy!



3/21/18 – Outer Space environment improvements for the Android version (v1.26.1.3)

 

The Android version isn’t getting the 4k texture upgrade from the PC version, but the design improvements have been brought over. This mostly includes the revamped Outer Space background, including new textures and improved lighting for the planet, moon, sun, and star field background. This also includes further lighting and shadowing improvements for the Home Planet terrain as well. These improvements were made without raising memory or processing requirements.

Check out the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!



3/14/18 – High quality terrain DLC released for free on Steam! (v1.26.1.2)

 

A completely free DLC has just been released for all owners of BlastZone 2 that greatly improve terrain detail. This DLC applies to the Home Planet, Alien Planet, and Caves terrain and it really is a sight to behold. They show every little detail of each crevice and ridge in the scene with high resolution lighting to show it off. Please note that the only way to enable these new terrain detail settings is from the “Launch Configuration Tool” option from the game startup window. Also, the first time BlastZone 2 is started up using this DLC, the load time will take much longer than usual, but subsequent game launches will reduce it.

Take a look at the newly improved terrain below: (click for a larger view)




This DLC has been split into two packages, “Very High” and “Extreme” detail. The “Very High” detail package raises the baseline terrain detail by 10x (bringing it from 65k tris to 650k tris per block) and provides the best compromise between greatly improving detail while keeping performance reasonable for most moderately powered machines. The “Extreme” detail terrain pushes triangle counts to the absolute limit of what the content pipeline and game engine can handle, having 32x the detail of baseline terrain (about 2.1 million triangles per block). Extreme detail is not suggested for use by most users, as it drastically increases system requirements, requiring atleast a Radeon RX 480 or Geforce GTX 1060 to run at adequate performance.

The reason why this has been released as separate DLC and not included in the base game is because it greatly increases the game install filesize (from 80mb to 800mb), and greatly increases load times. These should only be used by players with higher end machines. The base game was built as the best compromise between keeping the game scalable to run well on low end machines and integrated graphics, while keeping the graphics substantially better than most games at the designed minimum and recommended specs.

As of a few months ago, the content pipeline and model management system in BlastZone 2 was limited to 65k triangles per object, and the terrain was built to make full use of that limit. Given that, the terrain was still able the achieve a competent level of graphical fidelity while keeping performance very high. As of v1.25.1.0, the model management system and model loader was greatly improved to raise the triangle count limit all the way up to about 2.1 million. The new model management system had many other advantages as well, but this DLC is the first time the new triangle limit has been fully leveraged.

In addition to the DLC, lower quality terrain is now included in the base game as well. These terrain models were taken directly from the Android version of BlastZone 2 and have a triangle count of 5k per block of terrain, having less than 1/10th the geometric complexity of the baseline terrain. This detail level is ideal for really old, low specced machines, netbooks, or integrated graphics. Even so, the amount of detail still contained in these models is much better than you’d think, using the low triangle count as intelligently as possible.

The home planet terrain has also been greatly improved for all detail levels. Lighting and shadowing has been adjusted to better accent finer details of the terrain. This was done without any performance or memory hit as well, so everyone can enjoy the improved terrain detail. Here is a screenshot illustrating it. (click for a larger view)



Check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. Enjoy!



3/14/18 – A few small updates released for Android (up to v1.26.1.2)

 

To coincide with the recent Steam version update, a few of those updates have been included in the Android version as well. This includes a fix for the item Pickup particle animation color and updates to screen fade transitions to hide the loading process better. The improved homeworld terrain illustrated above has been brought over to the Android version as well.

Another small update for the Android version (v1.26.1.1) was also recently released. This update included refined ship transition animations for all ship selection screens and tweaked weapon names.

Check out the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!



2/12/18 – Gameplay balancing, alt-fire update, and readied charge shot effect for Steam/Android and sound fixes for Android (v1.26.1.0)

 

A new update has been released for BlastZone 2! This update mostly focuses on gameplay improvements, ranging from weapon balance changes and improved alt-fire controls, to a new particle effect when holding a charge shot before firing it. The weapon balance changes include reducing the damage of the outer bullets of the Wave Shot for ship AB1 and AB2. This weapon was previously overpowered, so this should bring it back in line with the other primary weapons. The AB1 ship also had its secondary fire weapon swapped out for the Burst Shot to better characterize its style, mixing long range and short range weapons.

Another big improvement in this update is in the way alt-fire weapons are controlled. Now, alt-fire shots can be accessed by tapping the Fire2 button. There is still a lead time before the shot is fired, but this alleviates the old requirement of having to hold the Fire2 button for the correct amount of time to fire it. Also, alt-fire shots can now be fired at the optimum rate by rapidly tapping the Fire2 button. This new control scheme adds more versatility and gameplay options to all the ships in the game, but benefits the B1 and B2 ships the most. These two ships are now much more effective against big bosses, making better use of their only long ranged attack.

The previous update added particle bursts to illustrate attaining each level of charge without having to look at the HUD charging meter, but this update takes these improvements a step further. Now, once maximum charge has been attained, a new particle animation is shown to illustrate that the weapon is no longer charging and is now awaiting the player to fire it. This makes the graphical feedback of the player ship more intuitive and further reduces the need to look at the charging HUD meter, allowing the player to focus on the action better.

There are a few Android-specific sound fixes and improvements included in this update as well. The weapon charging sound is now stopped when firing a charge shot, also preventing multiple charging sounds from overlapping when firing multiple charge shots in succession. General sound playback has also been improved, fixing sounds from intermittently not being played or getting garbled. The Android sound system is now less CPU intensive as well, helping improve performance on lower end devices, and reduces battery usage on higher end devices.

There are a number of other tweaks and improvements in this update as well. I hope everyone enjoys these new gameplay improvements and don’t forget to leave your comments in the forums! The update is now available via Steam, the Google Play Store, or the Amazon App Store. Check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. Also, check out the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!



2/5/18 – Overhauled Survival Mode scoring system with multipliers and many other improvements for Steam/PC and Android (v1.26.0.0)

 

A big new update has been released for the Steam/PC and Android versions of BlastZone 2! Survival mode now has a completely new scoring system that makes use of a skill-based multiplier system. Destroying enemies with well placed charge shots increase the multiplier and hitting enemies with regular shots maintains the multiplier. The multiplier gradually decreases over time and reduces rapidly when getting hit by enemies. New players can still play Survival mode while ignoring this new scoring system, but it adds a lot of depth for mid range and advanced players, effectively raising the skill ceiling without affecting the skill floor.

Prior to this update, all the game modes were evaluated and it was discovered that Survival mode was mostly used as a stepping stone for newer players to ramp up and unlock Blitz mode. This helped and gave the mode a useful place in game progression, but there was an opportunity to maintain its relevance for more advanced players. As it stood, Survival mode was the most straight forward mode in the game, not having much unique to help it stand out. Now, with this new scoring system, I found myself playing it very differently and being much more engaged in the moment to moment decisions to maximize my score. This gives the new Survival mode a more unique identity, and makes it more fun to play.

The main drawback of this update is that it makes the current online leaderboard obsolete. Skillful players can now easily surpass the top scores of the leaderboard and the current top score holders will need to claw back up to maintain their titles. Some thought was put into potentially boosting all the current scores to keep them relevant, but it was ultimately determined that this is an artificial fix and there is excitement in shattering the old skill ceiling organically.

A number of other additions and improvements are a part of this update as well, including score rank categories added to more game modes, which adds more options for unlocking those achievements. There are also better ship state feedback effects, including animations for attaining each regular charge level, as well as a context sensitive hyper charge animation to show when it is charging at an accelerated rate or not. More details on these and more are in the release notes.

I hope everyone enjoys the newly revamped Survival mode and don’t forget to give your feedback through email or the forums! The update is now available via Steam, the Google Play Store, or the Amazon App Store. Check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. Also, check out the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!



12/21/17 – Many new particle effects and other updates for Steam/PC and Android (up to v1.25.4.0)

 

A few new updates have been released over the past month. The most notable of these updates (v1.25.4.0) include over a dozen new particle effects that have been added to the game. These include a new Hyper Mode effect, weapon firing effects, and bullet dissipation effects. These new effects take advantage of the recent huge optimizations to the particle system, so performance is still great, even on low end machines. There are also changes to Hyper mode movement and netcode improvements in this update.

A few weeks ago, another update (v1.25.3.4) was released on PC that focused on improving texture management and loading. This fixed a broken textures bug, reduced memory usage, and improved texture load times. An extra hotfix to this update was originally intended to fix a remaining game close crash/corruption issue, but has the additional effect of greatly reducing the time it takes to close the game. The Android version of this update reduces memory usage and improves startup loading time as well.

An Android-specific update has been released as well (v1.25.3.4a) focusing on greatly reducing APK filesize without sacrificing content and migrating to the latest Android SDK.

Check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. Also, check out the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!



11/17/17 – Another critical crash fix for Steam/PC (v1.25.3.3)

 

Another quick update has been released to fix a crash bug that has recently been discovered on the Steam/PC version. This crash would occasionally occur on game close and had the rare possibility of corrupting save data, including high scores, unlocks, and settings. The v1.25.3.3 update fixes both of these issues. Please note this issue doesn’t affect the Android version. To ensure you have this update, check the “View ReadMe/Release Notes” option in the launch window, or start the game and check the lower left corner of the title screen for “v1.25.3.3” or above. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE.



11/14/17 – Many technical improvement updates for the Steam/PC version of BlastZone 2 (up to v1.25.3.2)

 

Over the past month, a number of technical improvements have been made to the PC version of BlastZone 2, split across a few update releases. Most of these improvements focus on improving performance for the particle system and greatly improving the startup loading system.

The particle system now automatically detects the optimal number of threads based on the number of detected CPU cores. This eliminates the need for the “Particle Threads” option, which some people may not have taken advantage of anyway. Now, the particle system takes the best advantage of everyone’s system without needing to explicitly set it up. Also, there are a few general optimizations to the particle system that significantly reduce CPU load at high particle counts and reduce the rendering load per particle.

The startup loading system has been completely revamped as well. This was required to fix a “Not Responding” issue on lower end machines during the loading screen. Even though everything was working properly, Windows may have falsely detected BlastZone 2 as crashed before this update. The new loading system also significantly reduces load times, taking better advantage of CPU cores and scales up to a higher number of CPU cores. Also, there is now a progress bar and working spinner to give better feedback during this process. To further reduce load times, the startup loader now supports loading precompressed S3TC textures directly into video memory, eliminating the need to compress textures into memory at load time. This also eliminates the “Texture Compression” game option, as the precompressed textures are higher quality as well, being nearly indistinguishable from uncompressed textures in most situations. This also reduces the game filesize footprint, since S3TC textures have a higher compression ratio than the PNG textures they replaced.

As a side note, the v1.25.3.1 update introduced a player/boss death crash bug that was fixed in v1.25.3.2. This crash impacted the public release branch on Steam for about a week and a half before it was fixed and I apologize for any inconvenience this caused.

Check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. Enjoy!



11/14/17 – Numerous graphical and technical improvements for the Android version of BlastZone 2 (up to v1.25.3.3)

 

Over the past month or so, a few Android updates have been released, focused on graphical improvements, as well as a few technical improvements brought over from the PC version. The technical improvements are mostly optimizations to the particle system, reducing both the CPU and rendering load per particle. This significantly reduces performance hits when many explosions are visible and helps reduce battery drain.

A number of graphics improvements have been released as well. The goal of these are to bring the game much closer to the PC level of detail and reduce the compromises needed to keep the game compatible with older/slower devices. This includes higher resolution textures brought over from the PC version. The most noticeable areas improved are environment terrains, skies, star backgrounds, planets, and boss textures. Also, mipmaps have been added in all these areas to improve detail smoothness of far away objects. The best results can be seen on large screen tablets or TV devices, but helps for smaller handsets as well. Improved compression is used to offset the increased memory load of higher resolution textures. This results in no change in device memory requirements; the existing memory budget is used more efficiently now.

The Cave environment model has also been significantly improved, showing much more geometric and lighting detail than before to bring it closer to parity with the PC version. This was done by more intelligently using the existing polygon budget, so there is no performance hit for this increase in detail.

Measures have also been taken to reduce the APK size of the game. The demo version sees the biggest improvement here, reducing the APK size from 35mb to 26mb even while using higher quality assets than previous versions. The full version sees a modest increase in filesize (41mb to 48mb), but this increase is much smaller than it would have been given the improved asset quality. The APK filesize reduction was done by profiling and eliminating numerous assets only used by one version and not the other.

Check out the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!



10/5/17 – New model loading system and vastly improved alien planet terrain detail for Steam/PC (v1.25.1.0)

 

A new update has been released for the PC version of BlastZone 2! (v1.25.1.0) The focus of this update is to take advantage of the new model loading system that was introduced in the v1.25.0.0 update, but went unused. One of the main advantages of this new system is the ability to load external model files. Previously, all models had to be compiled into the executable, so any new update required redownloading all the model data with it. This will reduce the download size of future updates, as only the updated parts will need to be downloaded again. Another big advantage of this update is that it greatly increases the triangle ceiling per model. Previously, individual models were limited to 65k triangles, but now that limit has been raised to over 2 million triangles. All models being used still adhere to the 65k triangle limit though to maintain consistent performance, but I am exploring the possibility of taking advantage of higher polygon rates in the future. Internal tests have shown that ~2 million triangle models are working quite well in game and there is a future possibility of releasing a “high polygon pack”, but I can’t guarantee anything at this point.

The new model loading system has been heavily optimized to make it ready for public use as well. The game launch loading process has been reworked to take full advantage of up to 5 CPU cores to speed up load times. Also, loading metadata is now saved out after the first startup to improve load times even more for subsequent launches of the game.

Another big portion of this update is the Alien Homeworld background terrain has been revamped to vastly increase detail. This was done by more intelligently using the 65k triangle budget for terrain blocks, so performance will be identical to other terrain backgrounds. The visual difference is quite striking though, and I encourage everyone to take a look for yourself. The sacrifice taken to achieve this comes from removing the cave entrance seen in the intermission screen before entering Area 7 of Mission mode. I think this was worth it for the amount of detail gained in the rest of the terrain. There is also a newly improved Charge item model as well.

Take a look at the newly improved terrain below: (click for a larger view)


Check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. Enjoy!



10/5/17 – Improved terrain detail for Android! (v1.25.1.0)

 

A new update has been released for Android! (v1.25.1.0) This update brings higher detail terrain to the Home World and Alien Planet background terrain. The Home World terrain improvement is more subtle and mostly helps the lake perimeters line up more accurately with the adjacent hills. The Alien Planet mountain terrain has received a much greater boost in detail though. While maintaining the exact same triangle count and performance to the previous version, triangle usage has been refactored to add much more detail to each of the mountain ridges and bumps. The resultant level of detail actually exceeds the Alien Planet terrain from older versions of the PC version. The latest PC version still exceeds the latest Android version here, but still illustrates how far the Android version has come in detail without any performance reduction. This update also includes the improved Charge item model from the PC version. Enjoy the improved visuals!

Check out the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE.



9/27/17 – Level select improvements and new Kiosk mode released for Steam/PC (v1.25.0.0)

 

A new update has been released for the Steam/PC version of BlastZone 2! (v1.25.0.0) The main improvements in this update focus on Mission Mode level select, changing the way it works. Now, only individual levels are played and the player is directed back to the level selection screen to choose another level. Also, starting stats and lives have been tweaked to better fit this new play style.

Another big update included here is a new “Kiosk Mode” that completely changes the way the game is approached. This mode was created to split the game up into small 5-10 minute gameplay sessions with a broad selection of areas to try out. This is intended for use with public showings of the game, including conventions, trade shows, and similar events; so people can walk up to play a “bite size” version to make it easier to see the many facets of the game. This mode is accessible in this release, but is not the intended way to play the standard public release of the game. There is a hidden setting in the game config file to turn on this mode, but should only be attempted by more technically adept users.

Check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. Enjoy!



9/27/17 – Level select improvements and Area 1 clouds animation update released for Android (v1.25.0.0)

 

A new update has been released for the Android version of BlastZone 2! (v1.25.0.0) This update brings over level select improvements from the PC version, check the above announcement and PC release notes for more information about this. The Kiosk mode update has also been added at a technical level to the Android version, but is not exposed to end users at this time.

This update also includes cloud animations for Mission Mode Area 1. This animation has always been in the PC version, but was stripped out of the Android version because of graphic glitches and performance issues. The graphic glitches have been fixed and the recent 20% across the board performance boost for Android gives extra headroom to accommodate rendering the cloud animation now. This makes Area 1 of Mission Mode look much better and give a better feeling of flying at high altitudes.

Check out the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE.



8/29/17 – A few recent maintenance updates for Steam/PC and Android (v1.24.2.1 - v1.24.2.4)

 

A few new updates have been released for Steam/PC and Android. (v1.24.2.1 - v1.24.2.4) These updates include a number of multithreading improvements, crash fixes, and improvements to client side motion smoothing for multiplayer. There is also now a limit to the number of particle threads for the PC version so that it cannot exceed the number of logical CPU cores in the system. The latest Steam/PC version is v1.24.2.3 and the latest Android version is v1.24.2.4. The newer Android version number includes an additional startup crash fix and optimization that doesn't apply to the Steam/PC version.

There are a number of other improvements and bug fixes included in this update as well. Be sure to check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. Also, check out the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!



8/6/17 – Massive particle system optimizations for Steam/PC! (v1.24.2.0)

 

A new update has been released for Steam/PC! (v1.24.2.0) This update overhauls the particle system, resulting in huge performance gains when many particles are on screen. Testing shows that roughly 20-30x more particles can be shown on screen for the same performance levels of previous versions. Not only that, but performance can be improved even more through a new Particle Thread Count option. The game defaults to dedicating 2 threads to particles to ensure the best experience for Single-Core and Dual-Core CPUs, but can easily be raised up to 8 threads in the Configuration Program to take full advantage of Quad-Core or Octo-Core CPUs. Please note that the thread count cannot be changed in game. These performance gains can be tested through the “Stress Test” and “Stress Test 2” custom addon packs for those who are curious. I strongly suggest raising the particle detail level to “High” or “Very High” now, even for lower end machines.

There are a number of other improvements and bug fixes included in this update as well. Be sure to check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. Enjoy!



8/6/17 – Big across the board performance improvements and higher particle detail for Android! (v1.24.2.0)

 

To coincide with the huge particle performance improvement update for PC, there is an even bigger update released for Android! The newly overhauled particle system has a roughly 10-15x performance boost for Android. This is lower than the boost for PC, as this doesn’t take advantage of multithreading, but is still quite substantial. Also, the particle detail has been greatly increased to take full advantage of the improved performance. Now, the particle limit has been raised by 12x over previous versions, which puts it on par with the “High” particle detail setting from the PC version. All of this is done at the same performance level when the particle count limit is reached, and at much better performance when fewer explosions are on screen.

Additionally, there are substantial improvements to the Android code path of the model manager, which translates to a 20% performance boost across the board! This means that performance is always significantly higher now, not just for specific situations. Lower end devices can now enjoy smoother gameplay, and higher end devices now have lower battery consumption and heat output.

The full release notes of this update can viewed on the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy the better gameplay experience from this update!



7/12/17 – More netcode improvements for Steam/PC and Android (v1.24.1.1)

 

A new update has been released for Steam/PC and Android! (v1.24.1.1) This update is a follow up to the recent online multiplayer improvements update and makes further improvements to the netcode. The primary improvement included is out-of-order packet detection and discarding to help reduce juttery object movement for the client player that still remained after the motion smoothing improvements. Another improvement is generalized object movement packet loss tolerance to produce more consistent behavior for the client beyond several key cases that were covered before the update. This includes covering sudden behavior for bosses and enemies in mission mode and is tuned to work well with motion smoothing as well.


This update is now available on Steam and Android. For the full list of changes, check out the Steam announcement HERE, the release notes HERE, the Google Play store page HERE, or the Amazon App store HERE. Enjoy!



7/7/17 – Online multiplayer client side motion smoothing and improvements update released for Steam/PC and Android! (v1.24.1.0)

 

A new update has been released for Steam/PC and Android! (v1.24.1.0) The focus of this update is to improve the experience of the client player when playing Online or Bluetooth multiplayer games. This is primarily done by adding a new “Motion Smoothing” option for the client player that uses a combination of interpolation and prediction to generate additional object positions to what is being sent by the server. This makes the client side experience appear much closer to how the game looks for the host/server even when a lower 20hz or 30hz tickrate is used. This has a big advantage of greatly cutting down the bandwidth and send rate needed for a great experience. Also, this can fill in the gaps and account for packet loss to improve the experience for lower quality internet connections. However, the drawback is that there is some additional perceived latency on a moment-to-moment basis. The amount of latency added peaks at about 50ms when a 20hz tickrate is used, but averages at about 20-25ms or so for the same tickrate, and is lower when higher tickrates are used. During testing, this amount of latency wasn’t enough to adversely affect overall enjoyment and playability of the game. However, if a particularly laggy internet connection is being used and latency needs to be reduced as much as possible, the option exists for the client to disable motion smoothing.

Other updates include fixing a client-side new object flashing bug and covering additional cases that would cause bugs for high packet loss connections.


This update is now available on Steam and Android. For the full list of changes, check out the Steam announcement HERE, the release notes HERE, the Google Play store page HERE, or the Amazon App store HERE. Enjoy!

NOTE: Another update will be released in a few days with further improvements to netcode. This discards packets received out of order to fix juttery client behavior that still may occur in this update. More info will be released about this soon!



6/22/17 – BlastZone 2 is taking part in the Steam Summer Sale! It is 66% off for a limited time!

 

Announcing that the Steam Summer Sale started today and BlastZone 2 is taking part in it! For a limited time, the Steam/PC version has a 66% discount, which brings the price down to only $1! Grab it now while the sale lasts and don't forget to tell your friends about it! Keep in mind, this price includes the BZ1/BZ2 bundle and all recent updates to the game. You can grab it from the Steam page HERE. Enjoy!



6/19/17 – Soft keyboard support and multiplayer chat added to the Android version of BlastZone 2 (v1.24.0.1)

 

A new update has been released for the Android version of BlastZone 2! This biggest improvement of this update is adding soft keyboard support for leaderboard names. This makes it much easier to enter names without relying on directional pad letter selection. The original way to enter leaderboard names is still in place for use with gamepads.

Another big new feature in this update is adding chat message support for bluetooth multiplayer games. Chat messages can only be entered during the multiplayer lobby screen or pause screen to prevent bringing up the soft keyboard accidentally during gameplay. Each of the screens that allows for bringing up the soft keyboard contains a text label informing the user of where to tap.

The full release notes of this update can viewed on the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!

Another note I'd like to add is that I have received a few requests for Wifi multiplayer support for the Android version of BlastZone 2. I am beginning to look into the possibility of adding support for this in the future, but I can't guarantee anything at this point. I will post more updates as things progress in this area.



6/15/17 – BlastZone 1 Released for Steam and Android!

 

Announcing the release of BlastZone 1 for Steam/PC and Android! This is a completely free game release that is now bundled with all versions of BlastZone 2 on all platforms, including Demo/Lite versions. The purpose of this release is to address a frequent question I’ve been asked over the years of how people can play the original BlastZone game. Before now, I’ve directed such questions to the Classic A game mode of BlastZone 2, which is a greatly improved version of BlastZone 1, but that probably isn’t what people have been asking for. Now, everyone can experience the original game in its original form! Keep in mind, the original game was built for the TI-85 and TI-86 graphing calculators back in the 1990’s, so it is very crude by today’s standards. Also, this release is a faithful recreation of BlastZone 1 and not a precise emulation of the original code. There are a few improvements over the original TI-85/86 version, including higher resolution ASCII characters and improved control responsiveness. Also, a few of the menus have been consolidated and combined together to streamline the experience. Despite these changes, it still maintains a very faithful experience to the original to give everyone an idea of what the game was like back then. The final version number for the TI-85/86 is v1.1, so I incremented this release to v1.2 to differentiate it.

To play BlastZone 1, make sure you have the v1.24.0.0 BlastZone 2 update or higher, then start up BlastZone 2 and select the top “BlastZone 1” main menu option. Any questions and feedback are welcome in the forums or via email. Check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. Enjoy!

To coincide with this release, I’m also releasing an open source version of the original TI-85/86 BlastZone! Anyone who has TI-85 or TI-86 hardware can upload this to your device to play. Installation instructions are included with the game for reference. If there are any questions about this, let me know. Download the game HERE . Enjoy!



6/15/17 – Critical Android bug fixed for bluetooth multiplayer mission bosses (v1.24.0.0)

 

Just a quick note that the v1.24.0.0 update released for Android also includes a fix for a critical bug that broke bosses when playing Bluetooth Multiplayer in Mission mode. This update is now available on the Google Play Store and Amazon App Store. I apologize for the inconvenience.



6/10/17 – Android update 1.23.0.0 and known issue PSA

 

Shortly after the big v1.23.0.0 PC release, the same update was brought over to the Android version as well. This brings over the new online lobby screen for use with Bluetooth multiplayer games, as well as net code improvements and a number of other bug fixes and improvements.

I also want everyone to know that there is a known issue with the Android version when playing Bluetooth Mission multiplayer that breaks the big boss battle in Area 2 for the client player. This also breaks level progression after that point. Please note that all the other game modes (Classic A/B, Survival, Blitz) all work just fine and aren’t affected by the bug. I apologize for the inconvenience and I’m currently working on fixing it. I do not have an ETA on the fix for this bug, but will do my best to address it soon. This bug doesn’t affect the Steam/PC version.

**6/13/17 UPDATE** The bluetooth Mission multiplayer boss bug mentioned here has been fixed in an internal build and will be released with the next Android update. This will most likely be within the next few days as of this writing. I apologize for the inconvenience.



6/9/17 – Steam/PC update 1.23.1.0; More multithreading improvements

 

A new update has been released for the Steam/PC version of BlastZone 2! The main focus of this update is a follow up to the v1.23.0.0 technical improvements, making further improvements to multithreading. This further improves performance, load times, and reduces hitching in specific areas, such as leaderboard communication. For full release notes, check out the Steam announcement HERE or the release notes HERE. Enjoy!



6/2/17 – Huge new update for Steam/PC! Includes a new online lobby screen and many technical improvements (v1.23.0.0)

 

A huge new update has been released for the Steam version of BlastZone 2! The two main areas improved in this update are the online multiplayer lobby screen and numerous technical improvements to the underlying engine. The online lobby screen has now been brought up to the same level of polish and information as the other ship selection screens in the game. This includes ship model displays, stat bars, names, and loadout description categories.

As for the many underlying engine improvements, these include improving framerate cap selection so that any value ranging from 20-240 in 1 fps increments can be used and improving frame pacing consistency down to within 0.02ms or lower. This improves support for high refresh rate and adaptive-sync displays such as g-sync and freesync. Also, the core engine logic has been revamped to run the main game update and render operations in separate threads, significantly improving multicore performance for the game. This allows the game to support the use of up to 6 cpu cores if available and makes better use of existing cores for dual and quad core cpus. Also, the online multiplayer netcode has been greatly improved to be more robust and tolerate much higher packet loss, allowing for up to constant 75% packet loss and occasional spikes greater than that.

There are many other updates in this release, including a number of bug fixes for the game and improvements for the config program. Be sure to check out the full release notes HERE and the Steam announcement HERE. Since this is such a big update, I would appreciate feedback, including bug reports, in the forums or via email. Thanks and enjoy!



4/18/17 – Antivirus issue fix and new item drop design spec for Steam/PC (v1.22.6.0)

 

A new update has been released for the Steam/PC version of BlastZone 2! This address a critical issue that some antivirus software were falsely detecting BlastZone 2 as a virus. I can assure everyone that these were false positives and they were caused by BlastZone 2 using a hidden cmd window to execute cURL commands to upload and download leaderboard data. This was addressed by migrating to a completely internal solution that uploads and downloads leaderboard data directly within the game without the use of a hidden command prompt window. This will prevent any antivirus software from flagging BlastZone 2 in the future. For anyone who has already experienced this issue, it is completely safe to remove BlastZone 2 from your antivirus blacklist and play as normal.

Improvements in this update include a new enemy definition property for level editing, and particle rendering optimizations for extreme situations among other improvements and fixes.

For full details, check out the Steam announcement HERE or the release notes HERE. Enjoy!



4/18/17 – Recent updates released for Android (up to v1.22.4.11)

 

A few smaller updates have recently been released for the Android version of BlastZone 2 to bring all applicable bug fixes over from the Steam/PC version. This does also include the critical multiplayer wave progression fix, which applies to Bluetooth multiplayer on Android.

The version number is deviating a bit from the Steam/PC version for now since some of the bigger Steam/PC updates don’t apply to the Android version, such as the multithreading improvements and scripting updates. However, I am working on some Android-specific bug fixes and looking into adding a few Android-exclusive features in the near future. I can’t comment on any specifics yet, but more announcements are coming soon!

A full list of the recent updates can viewed on the Google Play store page HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!



4/12/17 – Online multiplayer bugfix and new debug data displays for Steam/PC (v1.22.5.1)

 

A new update has been released for the Steam/PC version of BlastZone 2! This update focuses on a critical bugfix for online multiplayer that broke wave progression for the client in survival multiplayer games. Other general improvements to packet loss tolerance have been made for online multiplayer as well. Also, this update includes new process time displays for each of the game systems that can be enabled by pressing F1 multiple times in game.

For full details, check out the Steam announcement HERE or the release notes HERE. Enjoy!



4/7/17 – Multithreading improvements, Bug fixes, and code maintenance for Steam/PC (v1.22.5.0)

 

A new update has been released for Steam/PC! The focus of this update is to greatly improve multithreading, which among other things results in up to a 25% reduction in overall cpu usage and smoother animations from improved thread timing. Also, this update fixes a critical Direct IP multiplayer bug that broke client side communication. A number of warnings in the codebase that were found by Cpp Check have also been fixed to prevent potential undiscovered bugs. A few other bug fixes and tweaks round out the update.

For full details, check out the Steam announcement HERE or the release notes HERE. Enjoy!



3/22/17 – Addon pack update and data loss prevention update (Steam:v1.22.4.8; Android:v1.22.4.7)

 

An addon pack update has been released for the Steam version of Blastzone 2. This eliminates the “PackRegistry.dat” file requirement for the for the game to detect addon packs. All addon packs are now automatically detected in the LevelPacks directory. This also eliminates issues that would arise when future official addon packs are released when local unofficial packs are applied, which would reset the registry file. This was done as a convenience measure as well, eliminating one of the points of failure when creating new addon packs. This update only applies to the Steam/PC version and doesn’t affect the Android version.

Another update included is to prevent data loss. Now there are data saves at a few key points in the game to ensure that a crash or improper close of the game doesn’t lose any data. Previously, the only save operation would be done on application close. This update has been released for both the Steam/PC and Android versions.


This update is now available on Steam and Android. For the full list of changes, check out the Steam announcement HERE, the release notes HERE, the Google Play store page HERE, or the Amazon App store HERE



3/15/17 – Library updates for Steam/PC version (v1.22.4.7)

 

A new update has been released for the Steam version of BlastZone 2! The main focus of this release is to update many of the third party libraries BlastZone 2 makes use of. This is to take advantage of all the latest optimizations, bug fixes, security fixes, and general improvements that affect several areas of the game. Some of the libraries were years out of date, so these updates were long overdue. The updated libraries include libPNG, zLib, cURL, and FreeType. These handle PNG loading, compression, leaderboard communication, and font generation respectively.

For full details, check out the Steam announcement HERE or the release notes HERE. Enjoy!



3/4/17 – New bugfix update for addon packs released for both PC/Steam and Android! Also includes 2 new stress test level packs (v1.22.4.6)

 

A new update has been released for both the PC/Steam and Android versions of BlastZone 2! The main focus of this update is to fix a number of bugs with level addon packs. This includes fixing a crash bug when attempting to spawn an undefined enemy as well as a few bugs managing the quick charge ability.

This update also adds 2 new stress test addon level packs. The first one "stress_test" is a moderate test that spawns a large amount of slow moving enemies that gradually fill the screen. The second pack is "stress_test_2" that spawns an extreme amount of enemies for further testing. All special weapons have been unlocked for these to test destroying many enemies at once and test a large amount of particles on screen. A framerate display can be enabled by pressing F1 any time during the game. The existing "test_pack_1" has also been modified to include a new enemy type for demonstration

This update is in preparation for level editing documentation that will be released in the near future. I apologize for the delay in releasing this information, but I hope everyone will enjoy experimenting with making content for BlastZone 2!

For full details, check out the Steam announcement HERE or the release notes HERE. The new version update is also available in the Google Play Store HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!



2/24/17 – The Android version now has local multiplayer support! (v1.22.4.5)

 

A huge new update has been released for the Android version of BlastZone 2! This adds local multiplayer support for all Android devices, with the only requirement being that 2 gamepads are connected. This can be used for any phone, but is ideal for the recently added support for TV devices such as the Amazon Fire TV and Android TV. Gamepad vendor mixing is supported as well, including Moga gamepads, bluetooth gamepads, xbox gamepads, generic gamepads, and more! It is also worth noting that this update takes advantage of the new local multiplayer ship selection screen made possible through the recent 1.22.x code migration update. Both players can select their ship simultaneously for a streamlined local multiplayer experience!

The new version update is now available on the Google Play Store HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!



2/13/17 – BlastZone 2 startup crash fixed for the Steam/PC version (v1.22.4.4)

 

A new update has been relased for the Steam/PC version! The most important part of this update is a fix for an occasional startup crash that affected a number of users. This issue was around for a while and tracking it down was very difficult because of the random nature of it. I would like to thank the contributors in the Steam forum who first reported this issue and continued to give feedback about it.

This update also includes a difficulty selection fix for level addon packs and optimizations to the startup loading screen. For full details, check out the Steam announcement HERE or the release notes HERE. Enjoy!



2/13/17 – The Android version has now fully migrated to the 1.22.x engine codebase from the Steam/PC version! (v1.22.4.4)

 

This brings the Android version up to parity with the Steam/PC version as v1.22.4.4. The biggest improvement included is a completely revamped level loading system that adds support for addon level packs. This opens the door to adding new content to BlastZone 2 in the future. A small sample level pack has been included in the full version of the game to demonstrate this new functionality.

It is also worth noting that the new local multiplayer ship selection screen has been brought over from the PC version, as it requires the 1.22.x codebase to function correctly. However, this new screen is currently going unused in the Android version since local multiplayer isn’t currently supported on that platform. I have received requests to add local multiplayer to the Android version, so I’m considering it but can’t guarantee anything yet. The recently greatly improved gamepad support for the Android version and support for the Amazon Fire TV and other settop boxes would facilitate this well.

One last thing I want to mention is that other than the two features listed above, all other fixes and improvements have always been in parity between the Android and PC versions, despite the version numbers being quite different before now. This should resolve any concerns that the Android version has been greatly behind the PC version. The reason why the 1.22.x code migration hasn’t been done before now was because it required drastic changes to the codebase for features that weren’t high priority for the Android version.

The new version update is now available on the Google Play Store HERE and the Amazon App Store HERE. Enjoy!



1/24/17 – New exploder and cluster bomb weapon improvements! (Steam-v1.22.4.3 Android-v1.21.3.8)

 

Announcing a new update for BlastZone 2! This greatly improves all exploder and cluster bomb weapons in the game so they explode on impact instead of only being timer-based. This makes these weapons very effective at close range in addition to the medium range spread they already had. This also eliminates the need for perfect timing to hit a group of enemies effectively, as enemies will now crash into the bombardment of explosions instead of often flying right through. There is a small amount of bonus damage done to enemies that impact an un-exploded shot as well. When the new improved cluster bomb is used against bosses at close range, it is very effective at concentrating the damage for devastating effect! The ships affected by these new weapon changes are the B1(Phalanx), B2(Behemoth), and AB1(Devastator) ships, so try them out and experiment for yourself!

To ensure you have this update, start the game and check the lower left corner of the title screen for "v1.22.4.3"(Steam) or "v1.21.3.8"(Android) or higher, enjoy!

Other recent updates include fixing the missing ship type column for local Blitz mode highscores. Also, Moga gamepad support has been fixed for Android.

This update is now available on Steam and Android. For the full list of changes, check out the Steam announcement HERE, the release notes HERE, the Google Play store page HERE, or the Amazon App store HERE



1/13/17 – BlastZone 2 update released for Android!(v1.21.3.5)

 

A new update has been released for the Android version of BlastZone 2! This includes a number of improvements brought over from the recent Steam release, including improved Blitz mode difficulty balancing, bug fixes, and optimizations.

This update (v1.21.3.5) is now available on the Google Play Store and Amazon App Store. Enjoy!



1/13/17 – BlastZone 2 Steam version update released with Leaderboard popup fix (v1.22.4.1)

 

As a quick followup to the previous Steam release, a new update has been released to fix the Leaderboard popup issue. This issue would breifly bring up a command prompt box when submitting a score or downloading the latest scores and would be rather jarring. This issue was fixed for many users a while back, but seemed to persist for most users. Now, a complete fix for all users has been implemented. Make sure you have version 1.22.4.1 or later.(located on the lower left corner of the title screen) Enjoy!


1/12/17 – BlastZone 2 Steam/PC version updated with improved local multiplayer support!(v1.22.4.0)

 

A new update has been released for the Steam/PC version of BlastZone 2! The standout feature of this update is a new local multiplayer ship selection screen. This allows both players to select their ship simultaneously for a more streamlined experience. Previously, each player would select their ship sequentially, which slowed down the experience and made it less engaging. However, this new screen is only used if the second or both players are using gamepads. If the second player is using a mouse, the old sequential ship selection will be used since there isn't an interface for a mouse to select a ship.

Other changes in this update include doubling the points required for extra lives in Blitz mode to improve difficulty balancing. After receiving some feedback and doing additional playtesting, I concluded that the player had too many lives in the late game for this mode and it reduced the urgency to hold onto every life. Reducing the extra lives awarded made Blitz mode more fun to play and I hope everyone will agree. Feel free to send me more feedback about this.

A few small optimizations, bug fixes, and a new Steam API update round out the rest of the update.

This update is now available on Steam. For the full list of changes, check out the Steam announcement for the v1.22.4.0 update HERE or the release notes HERE



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