Game Prototype: COMBATIVE

combative
Cross-post from my Patreon account.

I signed up for #1GAM, to motivate myself to be as productive as possible. The challenge is to present 1 Game a Month, at least a prototype – which I wanted to do in 2016 anyway. It was almost as if it was meant to be!

My January entry is COMBATIVE. I wanted to do a take on classic turn-based fighting games. You have a champion, you go fight three rounds at a time, earn currency (which you presently can’t spend on anything), maybe get a power-up, and slowly progress your warrior’s level.

Play COMBATIVE in your browser.

Features

  • Basic attack – available any time.
  • Special attack – more damage, but you can only use it so often.
  • Healing – returns some health, but can only be used once in a while.
  • Upgrade between battles, if you have enough gold.

The trick is to time it so you use the right ability, at the right time, compared to your health and that of your opponent, while taking into consideration how many rounds of fighting you have left. It’s worth noting here, that the 3rd fight is always harder.

Between fighting, you can use and Bandages you may have to heal your champion. The higher level you are, the more health you get. Press the grey/black button at your own risk, as it resets your champion to a 1st level n00b.

Missing things, I will likely add: sound and music [DONE], and a way to spend gold on upgrades [DONE] of some kind.

I had a lot of fun with this prototype, and have a million ideas for building on it. From adding more power-ups and ways to spend gold, maybe allowing for multiple champions in your collections, and so on, but I am pretty happy with what I ended up with.

There will be a separate Patreon-only post, containing a downloadable version of the game for Windows/Android.

Inspiration and Game Prototyping

TL;DR: Get feedback on your projects, right from the prototype stage, and listen to inspiration when it presents itself.

I was watching The Walking Dead, when I had the idea for a game, where you are surrounded by increasingly large mobs of zombies, and you have to move around them, and take them out as they come at you. I imagined it as a top down game with a square level, kind of like Pac Manm, but in an industrial lot, or something along those lines. The idea flashed as a brief image in my mind, so not exactly a fully fleshed out game.

Sudden inspiration like this is something that should not be ignored. Even if the idea is simple. It might grow, after you plant it. So, the next day I made a prototype.

It’s simple enough. You use a mouse. Left click to move, right click to fire your gun (hold it down for continuous firing). You will die in the end, so it’s really just a matter of how big of a score you can get before you do. Explosive barrels can be used for extra points. There are occasional power-ups that spawn in, that may also help.

I call it “Don’t Touch”, because even a single bit of damage will immediately end the game. So stay alert!

The game made the rounds at the day job office, where a few coworkers “tested it” and gave me the best feedback ever: they went back for more, all on their own.

When people like something you make to the point where they want to keep playing it, and voluntarily offer up ideas of their own, that will feed even more inspiration.

When an inspirational feedback loop is created, and as a creative person, your job is to listen and take away all you can. Because most of the time, creative work is not done based on inspiration alone. In fact, the inspiration part has very little to do with writing a novel, recording an album, or creating a video game. It’s hard work, and if you want to finish your project, you can’t just sit around and wait for inspiration to strike.

So when it does strike, pay attention. I am sure you are busy, I certainly am, and I really don’t have time to work on another game. Unless I carve a little extra time, I’d otherwise spend on playing Fallout 4.

Yesterday, fueled by the reactions I’d gotten, I added a new power-up mode that gives you a temporary boost in rate of fire. Like equipping a machine gun with limited ammo. Shred those zombies hard, 10 seconds at a time! I also added something I’d not yet tried implementing in a game – a killing spree bonus based on a timer. If you kill 3+ zombies in a row, you get bonus points. If you take too long, it resets.

I like adding things and tweaking other things, based on the feedback I get, plus throwing in a challenge for myself, like adding the killing spree.

I am not sure where this particular prototype will go. I’m fine with it entertaining myself and a few friends for a few minutes here and there. You can play it too, of course. Maybe when Torgar’s Quest is done and launced, I will turn it into something more.

Procrastinating a Milestone

IMG_1403.JPGDo you ever put off finishing something, because finishing means that it’s over? That’s kind of where I am right now. It is an exciting place to be, because it feels like I am accomplishing something.

It is also frustrating as hell.

In this case, the project is my game Torgar’s Quest. I’ve been working on it for several months, slowly developing and implementing all the features I thought it should have. Even many that I didn’t think I could figure out how to code or design, because it was new and scary.

Now, it’s nearly all there, maybe not fully polished or balanced – but at least it’s in there – yet I find myself procrastinating the last few details as if to prolong the process in some act of self sabotage. I have seen this symptom before, and it can be a killer if you let it take root. Like the writer I know, who has several unfinished novels on his hard drive, or the musician I know, who has hundreds of unfinished songs stored away.

There is still a LOT of work to do, don’t get me wrong. Making a video game is a lot like writing a book. You start with an idea and turn it into a rough outline (alpha), which then forms the basis for your first draft (beta). That’s me, now, with Torgar. What follows next is editing and making it nice, before I can finally unleash it on the world in its full, pixelicious glory.

Still to do: more balancing and testing and tweaking and, did I mention balancing? Polishing an endless list of detail, localization and somehow finding time to also promote the game.

So I have to kick myself into gear and add those last few features on my list, so I can start testing and balancing for real. Even if part of me is enjoying that feeling of almost being done with the first draft.

First up, no more writing blog posts about procrastination, as an act of procrastination! Instead, I should start getting ready for beta testing. If you want to be part of the beta testing, let me know.