I am not really sure this qualifies as an October challenge for me, as I worked on it through the summer off and on.
I started with my LD21 entry escape from cube mountain, which was a game about making a run to the edge of the map with big crazy cubes chasing you, and ported it to the xbox for the indie games channel.
I took the basic perlin style terrain square and made a better fractal style terrain with an atlas of several different types of ground and rock, texturing on steepness and elevation. I do a distance from center based vertical falloff with a sharp edge at the sides to give it an island look, and then do a soft particle cloud layer based on elevation in the shaders.
Shadows turned out to be a big pain. With the soft particles and the main view I had very little EDRam left for the rendertargets. The xbox only has 10 megs, so I had to make the shadow targets small, which can make the shadows quite blocky if the onscreen stuff is very spread out. I have two best fit targets for objects and enemies and one fixed size for the avatar.
Also there are no custom shaders for the avatars, so I used some wacky stencil buffer tricks to get it to work with the shadows and soft particle cloud layer.
To fight back a bit I added magic spells bound to the ABXY buttons and usable items bound to the shoulders and dpad. The items are researched sort of xcom style, and then once known can be manufactured and used up. Most of them are consumed on use.
For spells I had this whole big story and a bunch of extra needed art and animation that I ultimately ended up cutting. But I kept in the idea that you are at a magical school, and you learn a new spell every semester. As soon as I put the magic in though the game just became too easy. It was missing the original feel and I wanted to stay true to the original game.
I ended up making a big blue obelisk that covers the island with an anti-magic field. If you can find it and knock it over, magic is on and you can go nuts with spells. If you never run across it though you have to rely on your feet and any items you might have. This turned out to be VERY confusing to people when I was going through reviews, so I will do an update soon to put some onscreen help for it. Nobody reads the how-to-play or loading screens.
For traditional “Gear” I instead had a wacky idea of putting bonuses on items in your dorm room. I didn’t think of it at the time but it sort of turned it into a consumerist rpg. Furniture and microwaves and tvs all give you bonuses to stats. There’s no hidden meaning or deep thought behind it, It just sort of accidentally happened.
Here’s a shot of the dorm:
There’s a whole bunch of stuff you can collect, this is just the basic stuff. And there’s a menu option to change the colors of everything so you can make it look however you want. As a programmer I think I didn’t do a very good job on the art here. It is very difficult to make a scene match the xbox avatar’s look. In the Island gameplay it is so distant that it doesn’t really clash but in a close up scene, it needs to have the same style.
It went up on the indie channel tonight after languishing forever in reviews. The most difficult part of this whole process was not having any feedback, but I got plenty when the reviews started. I really hope that the future consoles will allow some form of early build testing for normal users.
Here’s a gameplay trailer. Since I made it I’ve made a few changes to controls and made all the on ground stuff much bigger, all based on review feedback.
And here’s a link to the marketplace:
Hope you guys like it! Cube mountain is my lowest rated Ludum Dare entry, but my favorite of the lot.