Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dungeon Smashers, a design document

A few days ago after playing a few hands of Magic, I loaded up Smash TV and decided to take some actual notes, in the past I have just been observing the gameplay, one mechanic at a time. I needed to know the types of enemies in each arena for each level. I'm starting with Level 1 just to keep things simple. Level 1 is my favorite level of Smash TV. What's interesting is that I like each subsequent level less and less. To be fair the game was designed to eat quarters lol. I can't imagine how many quarters the game required to get past level 3. Perhaps I will record the number of continues on my next few playthroughs.

Level 1 of Smash TV contains these enemy types, my corresponding enemy type is listed to the right.

Clubbers                          Orcs
Fast Clubbers                   Fast Orcs
Bombers                          Goblins
Tanks                               Wizards
Wall Shooters                   Dwarves
Moving Blobs                   Moving Clouds

There is also the boss who shall remain secret.

I drew the layout on a piece of paper, then started to layout my level in TorqueX. I had to try a few different methods for moving the camera and the player around the arenas. I'm also going to create an arena selector component which can be attached to any enemy and the component will tell them how to act depending on the arena they are in.

Every Arena is going to look a little different than the others of course, I just haven't thought about what kind of differences there will be. I'm still seeing if a pixel artist would like to help with the project. Maybe after Level 1 is released onto the web an artist will decide to join. The next step for me is to populate the arenas with their respective enemys, and then send this level to the game's audio designers and see what crazy things come back.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Travel back in time to the prohibition era and use old timey spreadsheets to manage your liquor empire.

Moonshine is an implementation of the turn based stock simulator, one of the oldest and possibly most satisfying types of games. Who doesn't like to accrue ridiculous amounts of virtual currency, all while reclining comfortably on your couch?

In Moonshine, currently available via the Xbox Live Indie Games Channel, the stocks are replaced with various forms of liquor, the manufacture of which was illegal back in the 1920's. The boxart above depicts a remote shack where a few enterprising individuals would come together and produce Moonshine, or the hard stuff.

Indeed, Moonshine starts you off in a simple shack, represented on the screen by a wrinkled page with scrawlings depicting the rise and fall of liqour prices,

If you buy a storehouse, you can afford decent paper

Buy low and sell high, the trader's mantra. I quite enjoy these types of games, even though in real life I tend to give everything away. Go figure.

Every day you can check the local paper for anything that might affect the day's liqour prices,
I pity the fool that plays this on a SDTV

Then you click over to your spreadsheet and buy and sell. Although I don't know why the developer felt an extra screen was needed to actually purchase the liqour, why not enable this from within the spreadsheet? After that there's another screen where you can upgrade your storage facilites, and a few other things. Then you end your day and do it again. Pretty basic stuff.

The news items are pretty interesting, a mix of the real and the surreal. The game features a collection of music that obviously took some thought to put together, and the game has quite possibly the greatest credits screen on the indie channel so far, but I feel as though there is something lacking here.

Perhaps it is the lack of variation at the game's core, On the first day buy Moonshine for 10, then wait 3 days, and sell. Look for a liqour that is low then buy and wait for it to rise. I bombed past the dev's high score table in Quickplay mode pretty quickly doing this.

Quickplay only lasts 30 days and I don't think it has the police raid option turned on. I'm going to try a longer game soon, you can set the game to last up to 365 days, and adjust the frequencies of  raids. Although in Moonshine, a raid is simply a loss of a portion of your liquor stores.

The game is currently on the top downloads list so there is some interest in the game, hopefully it is enough to spur the developer into working on Moonshine V2.0


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sunday Drivers

Video kart racing has a long lineage with many pretenders to the Mario Kart Throne. I've been playing Mario Kart since version 1 and I really found its latest incarnation on the Wii with the motion sensitive controller to be quite relaxing. A lot of us video drivers are hoping that the Microsoft developed Xbox Avatar Kart Racer Joy Ride is going to be controllable via the much hyped Nataller. Just a few more months!!

While we wait for any Joyride related news, presumably we will get an announcement at this years E3 next month, We bide our time with a few decent Kart Racers Available and Soon To Be Available on the Xbox Indie Channel.

First up, and Available NOW!!

I've been playing RaceDrome for a few days now, it's currently high on the indie channel top downloads list and I've been able to quickly find some decent online matches. Did I mention that we love kart racing? RaceDrome isn't a kart racer in the classical sense though, there's no powerups or speed boosts :(

But, as it's the only Avatar Kart Racing Game currently available on the Xbox Indie Channel, and as Xbox Indie Games are the only games I play, (besides the occasional round of MTG or Smash TV) I must play this one. 

The game features a single player mode which I have yet to play, honestly I think the dev could have omitted this mode, Kart Racing is a social experience. Whether its splitscreen in the same room or via the network and up against the world. Luckily the game does have an online mode. Unfortunately collisions are turned off when you play online, I assume its due to network bandwidth issues.

But then again, for 80 points the game is quite fun. And should probably hold us over until we can play,

I like my karts to be cartoony

The screenshot above is from a work in progress game from Gustav Olsson

He's also got a video up, it's from a PC build of the game though and the Avatars aren't rendered. Still, the Game does look promising,

Racing Game Gameplay from Gustav Olsson on Vimeo.

This game is going to feature online multiplayer as well and looks very nice, including collisions. I don't know about powerups though, but maybe if we ask the devs real nicely they'll add them in. The future of kart racing on the indie channel is a short one though, once Joyride is released I can't imagine anyone will be playing either of these games.

There's also a neat looking Stunt Kart Racer which will probably be available on the Indie Channel shortly,

It doesn't look like this one has any racing modes though, just some fun Avatar Stunt Driving.

Have fun on the virtual tracks!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dungeon Smashers

Here's the latest video of my work in progress. Dungeon Smashers,

I think the game is coming along nicely :) If you can't tell I'm basically cloning Smash TV. I plan to implement an upgrade system, whereby you use the gold you collect to purchase more health, faster guns, quicker shoes. Although I have been thinking that using the decapitated heads of the enemies for the upgrades might be a better way to go. I thought of this idea after a bugged out particle effect left a bunch of orc heads strewn across the room!

If you're a fan of Smash TV, who isnt? You know that my exploding goblins are similar to those enemies in Smash TV that walk around the edges of the screen and then explode! The goblins have a slightly modified version of the playerchase component which I have called the edgewalker component. An early version of this component had the goblins shooting off gobbo parts in a 360 degree arc, I did this to ensure enough gobbo parts flew across the screen before smashing into the walls.

This sometimes resulted in quite a few gobbo parts and sometimes very few. I loaded up Smash TV to better understand how the game's exploding enemies worked. I noticed that before the enemies exploded they turned to face the center of the arena, and then they exploded. Always shooting off five pieces of shrapnel. I copied this mechanic.

I'm also writing a tutorial series detailing the creation of Dungeon Smashers you can view the tutorials here,

I plan to release this game onto the Xbox Indie Channel, but that won't be for a year at least.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Another relativistic space game? Or is this a simple asteroids clone? It is both, and it is neither, and yet I can't stop playing.

I've been trying just about every game to appear on the xbox indie channel as of late, much like the folks over at Xnplay. But where they deem every game worthy of at least an incomplete sentence, I can go months without sparing a word for anything. At any rate, Singularity has affected me enough to make a new post.

A simple splash screen tells us that we are trapped, along with our mothership, in orbit around a black hole. Then the game begins. Asteroids start flying in form the corners of the grid, shoot them! No wait, conserve your ammo and let them drop into the singularity. We should only destroy them if they are a menace. My mothership circles the other side of the blackness unprotected. One impact, then another, and finally she explodes. I take a look at my fuel gauge, pretty good for awhile. But what hope is there, in the emptiness of deep space. A warning klaxon breaks the silence, oxygen levels critical. I wait as long as I can, but the oxygen eventually runs out. A short burst of the thrusters and we drop into the depths.

Docking Maneuvers

Singularity boils down all the complexities of a physics based space maneuvering game into an easily playable experience. No complex HUD, no ridiculous tutorials, just play. And then die, but at least you get to post your time to a scoreboard to keep track of how long you lasted.

One thing I did find odd though, after docking with your mothership for refueling you are soon ejected back into space. I couldn't understand the reasoning behind this. The mothership doesn't have any cannons, so I guess that might be it. But seriously, why would you design a mothership with no offensive capabilities?

If you enjoy the calmness that only deep space can provide, occasionally punctuated by an exploding asteroid or two, then why not,