Like a thief in the night

You know how I made that post about this whole space ship game that I'm working on? Well that is sort of dead now. Let me explain.

The idea behind Spaceship is something I like but the more real point of doing this side project is to work on my design skills (and occasionally sharpen my programmer skills). The more I tried to figure out Ship the more I realized I simply wasn't that passionate about playing the game I aimed to make. So for now I'm tabling it.

While taking a break I started playing some shooter games and internally I started complaining about how the game was lacking clear focus for certain weapons/skills. It then hit me: I care a lot about that stuff. I'm a huge combat mechanics fan. I have a lot of ideas and things I want to see done. This is the idea that I should be doing! Oh past Naveen - you are so naive.

So here is a quick overview of what I'm trying to achieve with a project I'm just calling "Arena"

  • Short, hand designed levels that last 5-10 minutes
  • Small set of player abilities that force a distinct play style (think Overwatch in terms of numbers of abilities)
  • Melee oriented combat - swinging wildly will achieve little or cost a lot from the player so using the abilities to take out enemies is critical. To be clear not Dark Souls style melee you just won't have a gun
While a very limited list this still presents a lot of challenges for me. I have never really been skilled at making enemy behaviors and this whole idea terrifies me but I know I have to overcome this hurdle. So here is a breakdown of the first play style I'm focusing on:
  • Thief
  • Fast moving character
  • Low Health
  • Stealth - able to use movement (double jump, slide) to have enemies lose sight of him momentarily
  • Backstab - has a weak frontal attack that does very little damage but does huge amounts of enemies are hit from behind 
This is all I got so far. I have a bunch of basics put in but the game is so far from being even remotely fun. I'm currently working on basic enemy behavior. The first enemy is just a grunt that chases you and swipes. Nothing fancy but like I mentioned before I've always been lousy at enemy AI and I'm seeking to improve that. I've been tweaking it while working with the backstab ability. The player needs to move in a way that causes the enemy to expose their back. This is working through the idea of detection rating the player keeps modifying. The enemy only gets the latest position of the player when the detection rating is above a certain threshold. So when you slide, the detection rating goes way down and they keep going after your old position. While this is cool right now it creates a little side effect of them huddling up around nothing or when you slide directly backwards they stop chasing when you are clearly in front of them. This detection rating is a good start but needs some more assistance. I think they need to measure how much in view you are and add your detection rating to come up with a total.

What I'm really learning with this project is that you just have to keep chipping away. What I have looks ugly and kind of embarrassing. I keep looking at it and saying "this will never be anything to be proud of." In these moments it is important to remember that greatness comes form patience and persistance. Keep trying. Keep chipping away.

I got a Spaceship

I have no idea if anyone read this blog when I was more active on it but in the end it is really for me. With that in mind I'm happy to say I finally started doing some at hobby game dev work! So why did this take so long? Why did I just stop after working on this stuff so much?

Well in the end it was because I had found a job where I was being challenged constantly and found that trying to do stuff at home was just murdering my brain pan. I decided to not do any more hobby stuff. So that lasted for about 5 years.

Now we are here. Nothing is different at work - well I'm more comfortable and more confident then I was five years ago but it is still a challenge and I love it. What really changed was needing a creative outlet outside of work that was not just playing more games. I wanted something I had full control over (again my situation at work is just fine). I also wanted to challenge myself and after watching Neil Degrasse Tyson perform a lecture here in Austin I was motivated to learn.

The exciting thing about visiting hobby dev with all my professional experience is to approach things in a leaner and meaner way. I want to get the idea of the game across faster then I have done before. I don't want to build the most robust systems (even though the student programmer in me is screaming ROBUST ROBUST). What I need to do is make game. MAKE. GAME. So I spent some time the last two weekends doing just that. Here is a video of what I made!