Let’s get this style train a-rollin’!

Posted by (twitter: @Gjarble)
October 3rd, 2011 5:18 pm

Anxious to finish an actually polished game for once, I’m definitely entering the October Challenge.  My target platform is Kongregate, for two reasons. The first: I’m working in Unity this time, and since I lack a business, my own website, or any mobile device worth playing games on, Kong’s definitely the easiest way to get exposure.  The second: Having hosted things there before, I’ve seen how much a game makes in ad revenue, so the $1 itself looks like it’ll be a simple task.

My personal goal is to make a game that gets more players than the few hundred you get within the first 24 hours of posting any game on a web portal, and actually keeps a few of them coming back.  Basically, I’d like a jumping-off point to start a reputation.  Maybe, if all goes well, I can use the revenue to buy some decent hosting/domain registration and finally put up a website for my development projects.

The project I’ll be working on for the Challenge is a game I’ve been making on and off since the summer.  The theme is disorientation.  To this end, it’s an abstract first person shooter set in a 3D maze in zero gravity.  The most important part, however, is what happens when you manage to shoot an enemy.  Basically, this is an entire game’s worth of Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy.  I’d like to have several different effects that could be randomly activated in order to give the game a more chaotic feel- think Treadmillasaurus Rex. The range of screen effects I can use is rather limited, considering most of them are exclusive to Unity Pro, but I think I’ve got some good, feasible ideas.

This is what the game looks like so far:

It’s not much to look at right now, (and yes, that’s a Mandrill Maze shout-out lining the walls), but it’s functional. It randomly generates a maze of any size made out of cubic rooms, you can fly through it, you can shoot at things, things can shoot at you (the only enemies so far are those red squares on some of the walls- at the bottom is a bullet barely missing me), and you can reach a goal.  Now that I’ve done the basics of the game, I’m ready to test the visual effects that will form the main draw of the game.  Maybe I’ll do some basic lighting while I’m at it; it looks kinda dark at the moment. >_>  For the art, I’m thinking of doing something in the style of M.C. Escher, as that’d add a lot to the theme of disorientation (although I know it won’t be the first Escher-inspired video game).

I think the biggest design challenge for me will be balancing the difficulty.  I’ve noticed that, in games that gradually increase the difficulty of the game by adding speed, enemies, or chaos (like the aforementioned Treadmillasaurus Rex), if the difficulty ramps up too quickly, the player gets frustrated and leaves.  If the difficulty ramps up too slowly, the player gets bored and leaves.  If a game is balanced between the two, by the time the player gets overwhelmed, they’re hooked and will want to see if they can beat their previous level of endurance. I’ll probably have different difficulty levels to make this job easier, but it helps to be thinking about this.  I’ll not only have to balance the intensity of the visual effects for this purpose, but the frequency/strength of the enemies.  If either obstacle overpowers the other, the player becomes more focused on that one, which takes away from the chaos.

The working title is “Get Lost!”. Whaddya think?

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