Shape Struggle postmortem

Posted by (twitter: @csanyk)
April 18th, 2016 8:52 am

I started out wanting to make an Asteroids-like game, where your spaceship changes its shape according to its state — elongating when accelerating, turning into a square or some other rugged shape when shields are on, etc.  I quickly built a demo Friday night, but it didn’t feel special to me, so I abandoned the effort and started fresh the next morning.

Partly, I was irritated because I was working on my brand spanking new VERY EXPENSIVE laptop, and discovered that the keyboard has a low rollover (certain key combinations block signals from other keys from being registered) which makes playing games via keyboard really sub-optimal.  Tired, I went to bed wondering what to do about that, and figured the best thing would be to try a game that was designed for play with a gamepad.

I woke up Saturday morning thinking about Robotron 2084, one of my all time favorite games.  I thought about making a twin-stick shooter.  I decided to try it, and incorporate the theme by making the different enemy objects be different geometric shapes, and give each shape a distinctive behavior, and have a hierarchy of shapes, with the higher level shapes shifting into lower level shapes when shot.

For point values, I started out simply by making the 0-shape (Lines) worth 10 pts., then multiplied each previous value by the number of sides of the next shape.  So, Trigons are worth 30 pts., Squares are worth 120 pts., pentagons are worth 600 pts., and hexagons are worth 3600 pts.  I liked the mathematical pattern the points progression created, it’s similar in concept to the Fibonacci sequence, in that it bases it’s value on the previous values in the series.  I have no idea if the point progression matches the relative difficulty of the shapes — probably not.

What I ended up with was more a Geometry Wars clone than I had originally wanted, but I think it plays pretty well with a XBox 360 gamepad.  There’s a few things that I’d like to do with it if i do a post-compo release:  some sparkly eye candy when enemies spawn, animated transitions when a “higher” shape turns into a “lower” shape, better spawning placement, make the early part of the challenge curve a little less gentle, a few additional sound effects.

I’d also like to come up with something more original/innovative, but I’m pretty happy with how the implementation of this went and how it came together.

 

Play Shape Struggle!

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