Something exploding

Look at any forum for game developers, and the first piece of advice anyone will give a newbie looking to make their first game is “don’t write your own engine.”  Building a game engine is an entirely separate discipline from writing an actual game, and there are so many free options out there that unless your game has very specific needs, and you have the technical chops to provide them, starting from brass tacks will drastically reduce your chances of ever finishing.

I knew all that, of course. But that didn’t stop me from doing it anyway.

Mainly it was for nothing more than the joy of coding and implementing a design that I felt was, if not perfect, then at least well-considered.  Written in Java, WUGL (for Washing-Up Game Engine) was intended for 2D games only. Shootah was the first project to actually use it. It was an abstract top-down old-school shmup with glowy-vector graphics.

I worked on it for a while, but gradually began to feel that it would be more at home on mobile. I didn’t think that WUGL would port easily to Android or iOS, and the voices saying “don’t build your own engine” were ringing louder and louder in my head, so in the end I decided to bite the bullet and recreate it in Unity instead, with a less-stupid name. An so Shootah became STR-1.

In any case, if you’re so inclined you can try the Java prototype below. It might even work. You should probably read the license, but to summarize: Don’t sell it. Don’t change it and pass it around as your own work. Don’t complain if it breaks, or if it makes your computer explode, or emails your porn collection to your mother. It probably won’t, but no promises…

Shootah requires Java version 6 or greater. If you don’t already have it, you can download it from


shootah.exe (70kb) Simply drop it anywhere you like, and double-click to run. Note: Some users may find that their browser reports this file as being potentially malicious. I promise: it’s not. This is a known issue with certain browsers (Particularly IE and Chrome) and will hopefully be resolved once Google/Bing spider this site and scan the .exe. You may continue to download the file, regardless.

OS X (45kb) Unzip it and place the “Shootah” application in your “Applications” folder. Double-click to run. If you get an error telling you that the application is damaged, it’s likely due to OS X Gatekeeper. Shootah isn’t signed or registered with Gatekeeper at the moment. Please follow these instructions to allow Shootah to run.

shootah.jar (42kb) This is an executable jar. Depending on how your system is set up, you may be able to simply double-click it. Otherwise, calling “java -jar shootah.jar” from the command-line should do the trick.

Something exploding An XBox 360 controller is recommended, though other controllers should work. Use the D-pad or left-stick to move, A to fire, B to fire your superweapon (if you have enough energy). Press “start” to pause.

If you don’t have a controller, you can use the cursors on your keyboard to move, left-ctrl to fire, space for the superweapon and escape to pause.

F1 Toggles the framerate display
F2 Toggles the “glow” effect. It is on by default, but disabling it may improve performance. If you launch the game and just get a blank screen, you can try disabling the effect altogether by passing the “-noglow” command-line argument.


  1. izb

    Funky 🙂

    Frame rate was a stead 66/67 (Monitor refresh is 60) and all the controls/sounds worked fine.

    Only problem I noticed was that eventually the explosions stopped making sounds and there were far, far fewer sparks. Dunno if that was a result of randomly toggling the glow and pausing a lot, but it seemed to recover when I restarted it.

    1. alexmcchesney (Post author)

      Cheers dude. The dummy level just loops, but the enemies take one more hit to kill each time. When they take a hit that doesn’t kill them a few sparks are released but there’s no sound effect. Is that what you’re seeing? Do they still explode after a couple of hits?


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