Welcome to the first proper blog post on dTap Games, having previously only made games to compete in game jams such as Ludum Dare and Bacon Game Jam we have decided to have a go at making some more. Instead of starting too big and inevitably not completing any of the games that we concept we chose a different strategy.
I created a table with a list of potential game themes or starting points for cool and different game ideas. Then each week we roll a dice to get our theme for the week (obviously re-rolling if we get a repeat). After we have generated our theme, we have an evening of brainstorming how we want to the game to be. Eventually we have a usable game at the end of the week. If not we just stop there and debrief on what we did and what we can learn for next time.
So moving on to last week and the first game that we attempted. The theme we generated was “Mathematical”; one of the broader themes on the list. We had a long think on what aspect of maths we wanted to focus on for the game. As well as how the maths side of things was going to be implemented we also thought about what style the game could fall into.
After much discussion we settled on a 1v1 fighting game, where the players would have to complete maths problems in order to strike their opponent. Each player would have their own list of sums to answer, with correct answers in a row allowing them to build up devastating combo attacks. The equations would be generated randomly as they were needed to fill the space in the queue.
As well as using sums to be aggressive there would also be the option to be a little more defensive. We had an idea for a “Block” equation which would be a little more complex than the attacking questions and would provide your character with a temporary damage reduction on the next incoming attacks. Blocking continuously seemed like it could be overpowered so we concluded that it should have a period of time when it wasn’t active or have an answerable problem ( the skill would be on cool-down).
The players would have health bars that would deplete as they took damage from the opposition and if they completely ran out of health they would lose that round. As well as there being a “KO” mechanism we also planned for a timer in game to limit how long the games would go on for and if the timer expired then the player with the most remaining health would be the victor.
To control the game the players would play on the same machine on a single keyboard. Player 1 would be on the left-hand side of the screen and use the number keys along the top of the letter keys. Consequently player 2 would be on the right-hand side of the screen and use the number pad keys to answer his/her equations. You would have to answer the equations in order as they fall down their respective problem boxes and the game would automatically pick up if they answered the block question from the numbers they input.
The trickiest part of the coding for Adam on this game was to create the randomly generated equations along with the answers. Once we had a working equation generator the rest of the game should have been simpler finish up just have to make sure that it all worked properly and that it was well balanced.
He did manage to complete the generator however we ran out of time and that’s as far as he got. The picture below shows the randomly generated equations that he was able to produce.
This game was quite daunting to me from an art point of view. There would have to be 2 distinguishable player characters, with a huge range of animations to make. Considering that the only art/animation I have done has been for the games we have made I wasn’t too sure where to start on the characters. So I sidelined the characters for the start and decided to focus on other aspects.
For the style I decided to stay close to the pixel art that we have leaned towards for all of our games. I just feel more comfortable working with small canvases and working on individual pixels. Then beyond that I went for a robotic/cyborg theme, choosing neon-blue and grey as lead colours.
In the gallery you can see the art that I completed by the end of the week. You can see the blocking timer as well as the block question slate. Below that you can see the attacking question slates as they spawn in and move down then track and to the right of that is the animation of the colour transition if you get a problem wrong.
Lastly is the UI for the top of the screen, with the player health bars, the scoreboard and space for the game timer to fit. The bottom three images show what it looks like as the players win rounds, the different lights turn on with each won round, eventually a player will activate all three lights and win the game.
As you can tell we didn’t manage to finish the game, unfortunately we were both away all weekend so lost two whole days of game development which really hampered progress. The game we felt had a bit of potential to be good fun and challenging as well as being within theme. However we now know the amount of work that we are going to need to produce in order to complete a polished/playable game in the time-frame.
The artwork needs to be produced quicker and more focus put on the intensive parts like characters and their animations before trying to beautify the areas that can remain simple.
For the coding, it needs to also be produced quicker. Nevertheless Adam is still trying to fully learn the language.
Overall even though we didn’t produce a fully-fledged game there is hope for this project to eventually produce some decent games. Alongside our own learning of the game development process and all the aspects that go with it.
P.S. we were “away” watching TI4 – Adam