Robot portrait - ink on Post-it
Right now I’m reading City and the City by China Miéville. The book tells the story of two cities that live ignoring each other even when their streets cross all the time. Yes, they’re actually in the same place but they’re two separated states even with different language and all. Citizens are forbidden to “see” the other city, including all that’s in it, people, buildings, etc; and they are prosecuted if they break this law (this crime is so called breach). As you can imagine fighting crime in such a place is not an easy task. But if you want to know more just grab a copy of the book.
Back to games, I got this idea for a crosshair arcade in the vein of Empire Crime ( a game I used to play in arcades when I was a kid ) but with the limitations that the cities impose on their law enforcement officers.
So in this (yet to be named) shooter you control a couple of cops, one from each city, that have to team up to deal only with the mobs from (or in) their own city and avoid any interaction with criminals from the foreign city. Otherwise it would mean incurring in breach and bosses don’t want that.
The book describes how the citizens from the cities wear different colors, hats and designs that are forbidden in the opposite city. Making those design will be pretty fun.
This is a screenshot from the rough (I’m being indulgent with myself, here) prototype as of now. Red stuff is in Besźel and Green is in Ul Quoma. There’s a gun reload control and a switch to select which cop is shooting. I did this on a tablet, so you have to drag the crosshair with your finger to shoot. I still don’t know if that kind of controls will work.
A lot more work to do to get something decent, though it’s a start.
Mockup for a game with a bat exploring a cave to swallow some delicious bugs. One button to control flying and mouse or touch to trigger the sonar in that direction.
You must avoid the walls and try to swallow as many bugs as possible. By default you’re completely blind, screen is pitch black, but you can shoot your sonar to make stuff (walls and bugs) “visible”, for a while.
In the mockup I’ve tried to show one pilar that’s solidifying because sonar is directed towards that direction (on the top) and another one that’s fading away form a previous sonar shoot.
The themes for #GPCv18 are still wandering in my head. Probably I’m not doing any game but I made this hobo tile. The original is 32x32.
Game mechanics Robot Memory are quite simple, there’s not much explanation needed in a match-2 game. But as soon as I completed some new games for the Classic mode, implementing a tutorial became an urgent matter. Nobody could understand how Rescue and Detective mode worked without some hints.
Then I set myself two goals regarding this topic:
- Using a minimum number of assets, nothing new when possible.
- As few text as possible. If you don’t depend on texts localization turns out easier and the barriers for the younger players is still down (that’s important in a simple game like Robot Memory).
As of now, I’m failing horribly in both aspects because I’m relaying on text banners to teach about some aspects of the game (like the mechanics on classic games) and I added a tutorial that’s completely hand drawn.
The slide show
I’m a big fan of introductory or tutorial levels, for that’s really the best way to show every aspect of the game but I was unable to come up with a way to use that idea in Robot Memory. There are no levels per se so I decided that the best would be a slide show.
This is one screenshot from the tutorial for arcade mode.
In other areas of the game the explanations must be compressed to barely a couple of lines of text that hopefully will be enough for the player to understand what’s going on. In that cases I have implemented this scrolling banners to print some instructions on screen.
The banner scrolls from the left side, off the screen. Stays for a while in the center, where it’s visible over all the elements of the game and then goes away.
I’m targeting a Universal app (that’s iPad & iPhone in the same package) so a hand drawn tutorial means that I need to include the bitmaps for both versions in the package with the resulting increase of weight. To optimize this I could render the tutorial with the game engine but without a scripting this would consume too much of my precious time. Well, at least it could be optimized easily.
Another problem with hand drawn tutorials is that they become outdated when other elements in the game change and the artist (poor creature) must rework it.
So children listen to my words: don’t use slide show tutorials. They suck!