Live from Komodo (broadcast delayed)

I’ve been back from my international vacation for a couple days, but because of a combination of jetlag and a nasty cold we brought back from abroad, I haven’t had it in me to do any meaningful work. But I’m back, and ready to start crushing this noise. Here is a picture of me chilling next to a sea turtle about 50 feet underwater.

Turtles tear the shit out of reefs and nobody calls them on it

Turtles tear the shit out of reefs and nobody calls them on it

I spent quite a bit of time during this trip relaxing, doing nothing more than thinking. And a lot of the time, I was thinking about the game. For really the first time, I was thinking about not just how I would implement various features, but about how the game world would fit together, and how the lock-and-key semantics that are crucial to the genre will function in that world. To that end, I finalized the list of upgrades the player will collect in the world and assembled a rough map of the major game areas:

The biome / robot manufactory might be combined. We'll see.

The biome / robot manufactory might be combined. We’ll see.

Having this rough plan, and understanding roughly where to create various game areas and what collectible items will allow access to them, will enable me to start building the world map in a serious fashion. I plan to do so using some very basic tiles I found, just to differentiate the various moods and themes of the game world without any attempt at graphical detail. This way I can let my wonderful artistic collaborators catch up to me.

Lots of little bricks make for quick and dirty level design.

Lots of little bricks make for quick and dirty level design.

The biggest surprise (to me, anyway) is abandoning the traditional “missile” weapon upgrade. You’ll still get a couple firepower upgrades to make your basic weapon more powerful, but unlike in Super Metroid (for example), you won’t have a supply of secondary projectiles (missiles, super missiles, ice missiles, etc.) at your disposal. Instead, I opted for a very powerful but very short-lived beam weapon which travels instantaneously and absolutely liquefies anything in its path, but takes ammo that is very scarce. The weapon fires continuously, and each ammo upgrade will enable it to fire for an additional fraction of a second. By the end of the game, if you manage to find all the upgrades, you’ll be able to shoot it non-stop for a few seconds. Of course, if you’re more judicious with it, it will go a lot farther. To me, this is a lot more interesting of a play dynamic than “just another projectile weapon.”

My proximate goal is to enable player death. I have a prototype of that working, but there are some kinks to iron out. After that, I’ll be crafting the first mini-boss encounter. Hopefully at some point someone volunteers to create some better enemy art for me; it’s gonna look pretty kindergarten-level in the meantime.

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