The Andrew Braybrook c64 game diaries in Zzap 64 (here and here ) were what got me interested in making games. I couldn’t wait for each new edition to appear and poured over every detail. I felt like I was getting an insight into some magical other world and I knew there and then that’s what I wanted to do.
This (if I keep it going) would be the first game diary I’ve ever done. I’ve started a few but never kept them going because the actual making of the game took precedent over writing about it. But seeing I’m starting afresh with lots of things this year, I thought why not try and do something I’ve not done before, a game diary.
So let’s have at it.
I’m going to make a game. And that concludes part 1 of the diary.
Ok I jest, this far out, the final version is still a bit murky. I know roughly what I want in it. Here’s a list in no particular order..
- Pixel art (high quality)
- Lots of stuff destructible
- Lots of cool graphic pixel effects.
That’s it so far. I say murky but there are some very clear elements I do want in the game. I want the player to be able to manipulate the environment and use that environment to make spells, which can then be cast to do cool things. This exact game play mechanic I’ve had in my mind for many years but it’s only now that I’m going to try and realise it.
The elements that are not that clear are these..
- Scrolling or non-scrolling
- Single player or single player/local multiplayer
- The exact pixel art style
Scrolling or non-scrolling
This for numerous reasons is a big decision. From a technical point of view, as long as the map/tile code is working the right way then there’s no real performance hit as even with a scroller the tiles that are visible are more or less just the ones on the screen. Obviously you have to bring new tiles on, and there’s the issue of various layers of parallax scrolling, but the setup will be similar to a non-scrolling tiled game anyway. Scrolling or non-scrolling is more a game design issue. You have the issue of much larger level design and that might even be endless meaning you have to create your levels procedurally. They are also 2 different game types, single screen means the player see’s and can plan based upon them being privy to the entire environment, whereas scrolling is more about exploring, which is why single screen is more about battling/fighting and scrolling more about adventure (even though both types of games can incorporate those elements).
Right now I’m still working out the core game mechanic, and that’s what’s going to guide me in regards to the above question.
Single player or single player/local multiplayer
Having seen Crawl and Broforce both offer local multiplayer this is something it would be great to do, but at this early stage it’s hard to say if a) I’ll have time to include it in the first version and b) whether the game mechanic will fit with it. But it’s certainly something I would like to have.
The exact pixel art style
Again Broforce and Crawl are inspirations when it comes to the exact pixel style. I’ll probably end up with something which is somewhere between the 2. I’ve created a few frames of a basic wizard character and I’ll be animating him soon which will give me a feel for things. I know I want the graphics to be fairly bright, but I’m still trying a few things out. At this stage it’s important to be open to letting the design go where it goes.
Brave new world
The last week I’ve been trying to immerse myself in the world of Unity/Steam and specifically pixel art games on Steam. So I’ve reading game blogs, watching tutorials and emailing people back and forth. Being a game developer these days is also (unfortunately) about being a businessman/woman. If you make a game in seclusion for a year, and then try to figure out how to sell it there’s a chance it might succeed but that chance would be similar to winning the lottery, i.e it’s not going to happen.
I must admit I’ve been inspired by the guys/girls behind Crawl and Broforce. Both games look great, visually and gameplay wise, and importantly they are getting positive critical and audience reception which tells me there’s a market for quality/fun/great looking retro pixel art games on Steam. This also happens to be exactly the kinds of games I want to make so that’s good.
I’ve written previously about why I have dropped mobile for now and switched to Steam. Since then I’ve had views from people I know for and against that position. I’ve had views that mobile is basically a dead end for indie developers these days, and I’ve had views that the same is now true of Steam (mostly because of the recent change to most popular being on the front screen).
I’m sticking with my decision because I think my earlier reasoning is still true. 12000+ games launched on the App store each month, how many are launched on Steam each month? It’s true to say that quality counts and if you do a quality game there’s a chance it will be featured by Apple and that gives you a boost, but still there are so many games launched monthly on the App store, and with no quality curation it’s all about ad spend to get your game noticed. I’ve heard the latest changes to Steam have made getting lots of sales difficult. This on top of getting your game Greenlit in the first place means it’s also not an easy place to earn from your hard work, however, if you do get your game green lit, and if you do make a quality game, then at least on Steam you have a audience who is willing to pay for your game. So you know that if you make it over a few hurdles your game stands a good chance of making some revenue. Of course how much does come down to how well you promote your game, but that’s just par for the course these days.
Lastly my decision to switch to Unity, a decision I should of made years ago. There’s so much learning material for Unity it’s not even funny, there’s forums, there’s a question board, there’s videos everywhere to do anything. The tool itself I’m finding interesting, but I’m still at that early stage where it’s like looking at the dashboard of the Space shuttle (remember them?). I should say I’m also having to use a completely new language, C#. So far my experience with AS3/Obj-c seems to be coming in useful as a lot of things seem familiar to me.
Hopefully over the coming weeks I will be more comfortable with it and actually start coding.
That’s it for this first game diary. I’m pretty excited about this project, everything so far just feels right.
Next time there will be some mock up screen shots…