Thinking about the Theme

Posted by (twitter: @caranha)
December 14th, 2012 8:03 pm

“You are the enemy” is an amazing theme, but not necessarily one that is easy to do.

The simple way to do it is to simply create a game where your character is the bad guy. This sort of “theme as dressing” can work if you are very good at designing a theme and a feel to go around it. But if you aren’t, it will just look boring: Packman with a goth, furious pacman? Karateca with an bloody evil karateka?

A second way is to design your game around the concept of evilness. “Infectionator” of ludum dare fame, or “dungeon keeper” are two such examples. Your game becomes a bit more complex this way though.

A third and harder way is to take a common game, and change it so that you control the enemies, instead of controlling the hero. Space invaders, where you actually control the invaders, or pacman where you actually control the ghosts. This can be very interesting, but like all interesting things, can be hard. The big problem is that most games are designed so that the player has many choices, and has to rely on his skill and decision making, while the enemies often rely on numbers, so making the player control the enemies in an interesting way, and making the computer controlled hero behave in a challenging way can be quite difficult.

With all this in mind, the first thing that I thought for the theme was to make a “reverse-QIX”. In this reverse QIX, you control the QIX, and the computer controls the spaceship trying to fence you in. Since QIX has one enemy and one player, it makes sense to switch them around. However, making a competent AI for a QIX ship seems like a hard programming challenge.

The QIX game, if you can't remember it.

Since my initial idea for this LD was “a simple action game”, I have to think of a few more things. One thing that immediately springs to my head is a “You’re a shark and you have to eat people”. This is a great idea, but has already been done before.

Another idea would be a “reverse missile command”, where you can throw missiles at a city protected by turrets. This time, the challenge would be A) making the gameplay interesting to the player, and B) balancing the turret AI (it is very easy to make a super strong AI in this game).

Missile Command Game

I will go cut my hair, make a decision, and begin coding… so far I’m favoring the reverse QIX game.

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