Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Death Race

On my drive home from basketball, I had a revelation about a new game mode.

It’s been something I’d had kicking around in my noggin for a while, but something just kind of crystallized and it reached a tipping point where I thought it would be worth doing.

Here goes:

The mode is called “Death Race”.
A bunch of characters start out lined up along the left side of the screen.
Each player controls a single character.  The rest are NPCs.
At the right side of the screen is a finish line.
Players can move their character to the right by pushing “A” to walk, or “Y” to run.
The NPCs move randomly to the right, starting and stopping randomly, but always moving directly right (think lanes on a racetrack).
NPCs always walk.  They never run.
The first character to reach the finish line wins!

So why not just run from the start?

Each player also controls an aiming cross hair.  Pushing up or down on the Dpad will select the next character in the race.  (You don’t need to aim, you just select the character by their lane, and the aiming is done for you).
Pulling the trigger will kill the selected character (either NPC or player).
Players only get one shot.

So, here’s how I picture it going:

The game starts, and the players and NPCs start inching forward.  Everyone wants to get to the end first, but no one wants to stand out from the crowd and risk getting shot.  However, everyone KNOWS that no one wants to do that, so actually doing that might not be a bad idea.  Someone starts to take too big a lead, and a player shoots them dead.  As people get closer to the finish line, someone makes a break for it by sprinting, but is quickly shot down.  All of a sudden, it’s a mad dash to cross the finish line first, and laughter and pandemonium ensues.

Friday, September 23, 2011


When I released my last game, my old high school friend Aileen contacted me.  She said that her husband is a musician that has been trying to break into the video game business, and to let her know if I make another game.  I’ve met her husband once at our high school reunion, and knew that he did actual music for actual TV shows.  Way out of my league.

Anyways, now that I’m actually getting some work done and getting closer to creating a finished product, I emailed Aileen.  I made no bones about what kind of project this is (amateur), and exactly how much I was willing to pay ($0).  There’s plenty of “good enough” music out there that can be had for free.  And I’m all about “good enough”.  Really, the only reason he’d want to participate is if he wanted to be able to tell someone “I made music for a game that a couple hundred people played.”  A pretty raw deal, for sure.

Aileen forwarded the email to her husband, who we’ll call “Jim” (because that’s his name).  He wrote back and said that composing music was his sole source of income, and he wasn’t able to provide any original music for free.  Totally expected.  He normally does paid work for TV shows and commercials and stuff.  Fine, I fully understand.  No worries.  But then he goes and says “But here’s my WHOLE CATALOG OF 28 HOURS worth of music of all kinds of genres… go ahead and choose whatever you want for your game and use it for free.”



I’ve only had the chance to peruse a bit, but I don’t think I’ll have any problems finding some great stuff.  I’ve already downloaded some likely choices and used them as stand-in music, and it’s great.  It’s amazing how music can really set the mood of a scene.

So, a bit thank you to my new best friend Jim.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I had a couple playtests this weekend, and things generally went well.

The first night, it was just me and Mike.  We played through each game mode a couple times.

Ninja Party seemed to work really well.  I think aside from adding some scoring, it’s basically good to go.

Catch A Thief was ok.  Seems like it needs some tuning.

Assassin, for some reason, was better.  I had a hell of a time when I was Sniper, but Mike seemed to have no problem picking me off when the situation was reversed.

Knights vs. Ninjas didn’t seem to work well at all, but that was ok, since it was just added that morning and still pretty rough.

Then, on Sunday evening, I got the chance to play with Mike and Iwan and Justin for a full four-person session.

Again, Ninja Party worked well.  Catch a Thief, again, was just kind of ok.  Assassin was ok.  Knights vs. Ninjas was surprising good.

In general, I just wanted to get some feedback that I was on the right track, and that the game mechanics (once they are figured out) would actually work, and I think I’m on that track.  So that was pretty satisfying.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Hidden in Plain Sight...

In a burst of inspiration, I've put the broad strokes on a new game.  Actually, I have so much reusable framework stuff in place, it really didn't take too long to put something together.

The working title is "Hidden in Plain Sight", and it is a game (actually a couple of different game modes) that revolve around the theme of accomplishing goals while trying to remain hidden.  The original impetus was learning about SpyParty, by Chris Hecker.  That is a 3D game which pits one person (the Spy) against another person (the Sniper).  The Spy wanders around a cocktail party, trying to accomplish goals, but he tries to ACT like he's a computer controlled character.  The Sniper watches carefully, and tries to figure out who the Spy is and kill him.

In my own mind, I questioned if the complicated 3D'ness of the game was necessary.  Could the game be boiled down to its essentials, and be a simple 2D game?  I whipped up a quick prototype (which I called "SpyParty2D", and thought it worked pretty well.  I showed it to Andy Schatz (of Monaco fame), and passed it on to Chris Hecker himself, who thought the idea was pretty cool (I don't think he ever actually played it).  Andy, however, did play it with his wife, and thought it was a lot of fun, and encouraged me to make a full game of it.

So after some time off, I've decided to press forward with a similar game.

There are three game modes.  All of them are local multiplayer (that is, all players are in the same room watching the same TV).

Ninja Party

This is a free-for-all multiplayer.  There are a bunch of ninjas in a room.  Most are controlled by the computer (aka "non player characters" or NPCs).  They just wander around aimlessly.  Each player also controls a ninja, but at the beginning, they don't know who they control.  So the first part of the game is trying to figure out who your guy is.

Each ninja can do an attack, which will knock down anyone who is in front of them.  NPC ninjas will stand back up again after a few seconds, but player controlled ninjas will die.  So the object of the game is to figure out who the other players are and kill them, while trying to not be detected and killed yourself.

This is a pretty straight rip off of a flash game called "Puji".

Catch A Thief

In this game mode, players are either a Sniper or a Guest.  In the game, there is a room full of characters (not all ninjas this time, but lots of random character types).  There are also little coins strewn all around the room.

When a Guest walks over a coin, a sound is played, but the coin doesn't immediately disappear (that would make it obvious who was picking them up).  However, when the Sniper moves his crosshair over a coin that has already been collected, it fades from view.

The object of the game is for the player controlled Guest to wander around and collect the coins.  The Sniper (who is just an aiming crosshair), is looking around and trying to figure out who the thief is.


Like "Catch a Thief", again, there is a room full of guests, some of whom are controlled by players.  Also, there is one or more Sniper (controlling an aiming crosshair), who is trying to figure out who the player-Guests are and shooting them.

This time, however, the Guests are able to kill other computer controlled Guests.  They do this by walking over them and pressing the attack button.  A small sound is heard, but the victim doesn't immediately die.  Instead, the victim dies only when seen by the Sniper (think of it like a slow acting poison).

So, the Guest is trying to kill as many people as possible, while the Sniper is trying to figure out who the killer is.  Kind of like the game "Mafia".

Like I said, the broad strokes are all laid out, and each game mode is playable, but it needs to be refined.  There are no win/lose conditions coded in yet, nor any scores or countdown timer or anything.  But it's in a state that I'd like to get some playtesting and feedback.  Let me know if you're a Creators Club member and interested in giving it a shot.