Hi there! Today I’m going to spew a little consciousness stream on maybe Project Prophecy‘s most exciting feature, but also perhaps it’s most challenging from a design perspective: the battles. Oh and here’s some relevant art I knocked out over the last few days!
A bit of fun concept art. A wounded battle-mage prepares a fire spell in the hope of avoiding a fatal defeat.
I’m no artist really but had fun with this – makes a change from the more functional work!
So: battles. Bread-and-butter of everything that comes from the fantasy RPG mold: and after all, Prophecy is supposed to capture that feel while offering the player a different perspective on events. You are the head of a school: you will carefully guide these plucky students through their training, but when the time for battle comes they are on their own…
This presents an obvious challenge. People like to “play” games, right? How much fun could watching a game play itself be? I haven’t truly come to a solution on this yet, but my hope is it won’t be as much of a problem as it seems. If I can ensure the player engages with these little guys and gals as deeply as possible through guiding and customising their development and learning why they are each individual, then I hope the pleasure derived from seeing your charges flinging themselves at enemies will be worthwhile in itself. This is the gaming emotion of naches (i.e. the “Pleasure or pride at the accomplishment of a child or mentee.” – XEOdesign pdf “Why We Play Games”) and I think it can be a very powerful thing.
But I feel that this alone still leaves the risk of losing a player’s engagement. I plan this to be a mobile/tablet game (in the first instance, at least) and want it to be playable in small bursts. If the player has to sit through a 2 minute battle with nothing to do – however much naches is running through their veins – it might not be enough. I’m toying with the idea of having a timing-based critical hit micro-game accompanying student attacks. Something that isn’t essential but is there to keep you engaged in the event unfolding. I guess I’ll just have to try some stuff out and see how it feels.
Finally, on a different note, the weekend after this is Ludum Dare! Once again I intend to enter: the contents of this site probably give away my fondness for the competition. And it will be good to have a little break from thinking about my little students! Till then! x
Alright, it’s getting high time I said something about my latest and current attempt to make a real game that takes more than 48 hours to make and I could maybe even sell and stuff. So having closed out my first “milestone” leaving me with a functioning prototype, I’ll take this chance to summarise what it is and where it came from.
The original “Prophecy” for LD19
As 2010 drew to a close Ludum Dare 19 happened bringing into existence lots of little games along the rather vague theme of “Discovery”. This was the second event I entered. I made a game called Prophecy that I will freely admit was nigh-on unplayable due to a pretty awful key-driven, list-heavy interface. Yet the core idea felt sound: you “discover” the latent talents in a group of young, unskilled students before sending them out to battle great evils. One fellow entrant actually dug into my code to find how to win it (it was comically difficult to win unless you know what exactly to do).
So it was a bit of a failure, but it was the best kind of failure. It had obvious issues but yet a certain charm and promise still found a way to shine through. Fast-forward to this year and I sit down and think about how I would do it with hindsight and more time. This is what I’m referring to here as Project Prophecy.
First look at “Project Prophecy” with placeholder art
I like this idea as a mobile game. I’m quite a fan of Kairosoft’s mobile sim games (there are some parallels here with Dungeon Village in particular, perhaps) and think they really work on that platform: although I see Prophecy as something markedly more considered and complex, the idea of putting in short bursts of play appeals. I’m developing this with my new favourite thing Unity, which will allow me to dump it onto Android and iOS with relatively little hassle. Hurray! I’m testing it on my Galaxy S2 as I go, and so far so good!
Naturally I still have a lot of work to do on this, presently it is really only a prototype for a more fully-featured game; but things are going in the right direction. I do have a day job so I’m making no promises on dates but the scope of this game is deliberately small so I might even finish it before we have hovercars. Here’s hoping “milestone 2″ will come to me without much resistance!
I will attempt to update this blog with more information and thoughts as the project progresses, otherwise I continue to mutter about this and anything else that occurs to me over on Twitter.
Unbelievably the Ludum Dare 48-hour games competition has been knocking around for all of ten years now, though I’ve only been involved for the last couple of those. The near-exponential growth of games continues: 1000 entries was inevitably broken in the competition itself and the total finished just over 1400 including the Jam. Incredible. At this rate by LD 30 there’ll be more entries than stars in the sky.
Anyway! This time I went wild and made… a pixel-arted platformer! So cliché, I know, but it’s actually the first game of this kind I’ve personally put out there. The theme “Tiny World” once again didn’t fill me with delight, but here’s what I came up with: giants are threatening the Tiny Kingdom beneath them and you, as Jack, must defeat them! Obviously this is deriving from Jack the Giant Killer/Jack and the Beanstalk etc. It has a silly sense of humour, no less than 3 pieces of music I somehow found time to compose and can be finished in less than a minute.
And of course here is the timelapse. Ooh look, Windows 7!
I think it’s a great idea: everyone spends a weekend (or whatever) banging out a stream of miniature slices of gaming; rough, bug-riddled fragments of joy. Unfortunately, the weekend in question happened to fall shortly before my imminent adventure to Seoul. Net result: way too distracted, and honestly my heart just wasn’t really in it this time.
Nevertheless, I forced my way through three of these “games” before finally giving up. They live on my PC/Mac game page in one handy collection with a silly name belying the rather plain contents.
The games then:
- Flip On – An ode to a primitive 90s puzzle toy
- Balance – Balance blocks on a precarious beam (thanks Unity rigid bodies!)
- Goals, I Do Adore – A challenge to “score goals” with the kind of controls and physics likely to make you a little bit angry
I set out to make these in Unity, and stuck to it. But absolutely, for games intended to take at most two hours, I wouldn’t do the same again. I just want something to put pixels on a screen in that time.
Download Paul’s Premier Pirate Kart Krap Kollection over here
After a busy Christmas and New Year of doing things entirely apart from game development, I decided to throw myself into another 48-hour Ludum Dare effort. This was Mini LD #31, and I saw it as an opportunity to redeem myself for what I saw as a somewhat disappointing entry into the main competition last month. This time I would make something more ambitious…
The result is a Unity game titled Three Colours: DEATH (thanks to a friend for the excellent suggestion), but this time delievering a full 3D experience (In 48 hours! Unity really is something). I called it a “first-person survival puzzle game” on submission at the Ludum Dare site.
The concept is that the world is made of three colours (red, blue, green) and that the player can acquire the ability to phase through one or more of these colours – walls, enemies, the lot. It is also purposefully creepy, complete with a whispered rhyming narrative from yours truly. Maybe the weirdest thing I’ve released, but I think one of the most worthwhile.
Download Three Colours: DEATH on my new PC/Mac game page!
P.S. The tower can be climbed! There is an “end” (of sorts) at the top.
I did it again – that makes 5 successful Ludum Dare entries (including one Mini LD). And one year on from making a clunky game with RPG leanings in a fantasy setting, I have made another clunky game with RPG leanings in a fantasy setting!
The theme this time around was “Alone” and once again I wasn’t immediately struck with inspiration. I eventually decided to approach the theme from the “fighting alone against many enemies” angle, arriving at a scenario where the player must guide a baby in a fight alone against numerous monstrosities. I’d already decided to use the competition to go through the motions of making a game with Unity, having always used Flash and Flixel before; and in that regard I’m really pleased with how it went. Unity has taken a lot of getting used to for someone much more used to traditional programming projects but I feel like I may have now made the breakthrough. I’ll definitely be returning to Unity in the near future.
Admittedly, the game itself – “Tower of Abominations” – was a mixed success. Possibly due to spending a little more time on art than I could afford, combined with my relative uncertainty with Unity, resulted in me struggling for time. The game needs usability improvements: particularly I realise dumping the player back to the beginning for failing at any of the floors is unnecessarily cruel for a game that requires trial and error to complete. But all-in-all a great experience once again, and one to build on in future I have no doubt!
Play “Tower of Abominations”
And once again, just like last time, I ran a timelapse of my screen during the whole sordid thing.
Ludum Dare’s 21st 48-hour game development competition has just come and gone (with the 72-hour “jam” part entering its final hours as I write), and it has smashed all previous turnouts for participation. Over 500 games were made for the competition this weekend. Wow. It’s no real surprise that the site suffered server issues throughout.
And for me personally, outside of the maelstrom of attention centred on Notch’s entry, this was surely my most satisfying Ludum Dare completion yet. The theme was “Escape”, which was fine but didn’t give me an “I’VE GOT IT” moment. I ended up with this game set in a maze of interconnecting rooms in which you must escape to the exit while evading ever-increasing numbers of mysterious hostile humanoids.
The most pleasing thing was the fact I got the features finished to the point I could actually tweak and polish the game. The background rendering effect was a very late addition that I would normally have not had time for, but I think it really helps the aesthetic.
Play “Southward Lies Escape”
Additionally, I ran Chronolapse as I worked allowing for this fascinating insight into just how long I can shift lines of code around without really getting anywhere:
So my latest adventure in panic-developing a small game idea was provoked by the most recent Ludum Dare event – this time it was MiniLD 27. The theme was “All talk”, encouraging an emphasis on dialogue and conversation. I do have this habit of fancying myself as a writer at times, so it seemed a good fit for me to explore something a bit different.
The game that came out of it is really very short (on a 2 minute timer, in fact), and concerns a small conversation you might have with a fellow commuter on a train. There is branching dialogue, an “approval” system for the target of your chat and a bunch of achievements to provide a little purpose.
Play “Chance Encounter”
Hello weary internet traveler! So I’ve had a WordPress.com blog for a little while now but the latest Mini-Ludum Dare competition reminded me how much I desired to have somewhere under my control to host flash games and the like. So here it is! Maybe I’ll even post more often, but no promises there.
I will be following up with a little post about my entry into the aforementioned competition soon. The ups, the downs, the Red Bull. Will be nice to not have to link away to megaSwf/SwfCabin and the like any more!
So I thought I’d throw up something I spent my Christmas playing with. Yes, that’s right – as I sat in the bedroom of my childhood in my parent’s house, having filled myself with more turkey than would ever really be necessary, I spanked out some ActionScript and drew some vague imagery in GIMP. I love GIMP.
The intention was to make a little game, but I decided to let myself be driven by visual goals (a bit unusual for me). As such it never got remotely close to being a game, but ended up as a little experiment in making rainfall with good ol’ Flixel.
I wasn't clinically depressed. Honest.
It was interesting to see how quickly the raindrop collisions started racking up the time for each update iteration on my laptop. I’d still like to make it into a game somehow, but haven’t got the faintest idea how really. It wasn’t envisioned as a game, so maybe that just isn’t to be.
Anyway, here’s a link to the swf (it has a menu screen, but for no reason other than I always start with a “menu” and “game” state with these Flixel projects). One more thing: it features a fairly heavy handed use of FlxG.Flash, meaning the screen flashes white, potentially quite frequently. If that’s likely to bother your eyes, steer clear.