Midnight Flash Game Design #1: Taking Stock And Narrowing Scope

So I just finished my latest installment of of a ridiculously long history of Atari, and it ended with predictable results.   It went over with a resounding ‘thud’, and not only that, but I got a bunch of facts wrong.  I could go back and fix them, but I’ve decided not to.   Instead, I’ve decided to abandon the Atari stuff for awhile, and continue working on the thing that I love most, making games.

To test out the Wii Browser, I created this little program a few months back.  It’s a simple “fireworks” creator.  It allows a user to click the mouse to launch a random firework shell.   It was based on an earlier demo I created last year that simulated a firework show .   I’ve decided to take this later program and create a game out of it.  I’ve given myself a deadline of  July 1st to finish some sort of game.

Knowing that I have only 27 more working days to make a game, and knowing that this translates into roughly 27 hours of programming time (roughly 1 hour a night after the kids have gone to bed) , I really have to narrow the scope of my game design to make something that is playable. First, I need to take a stock of what I already have.

  • Particle Engine: I created this myself, and it work reasonably well. I must be careful to optimize it where ever possible, because since it does not use a bitmap engine, it will be take up a lot of cycles with vector animation. I don’t have the time in my 27 hours to re-write the whole thing, so I’m stuck with it
  • Interface: The interface is very simple. Click the mouse button to fire a shell. The shell explodes where where the mouse is clicked. However, there are problems with this. If I want the game to allow the player to choose a shell color to launch, this simple interface might not work. Also, there is a bug that makes the shells fired lower take the same number of frames to reach their target. This makes the lowest fired ones crawl up the screen. This will need to also be fixed.
  • Many different FX and colors: There are literally billions of different colors and shell combinations. This is not always a great feature. I will need to narrow down the colors to make a workable game.

So, knowing the above, right now I think a workable game design might be:

  • Fireworks are launching in the background in a fireworks show. They are all “orange” like basic fireworks.
  • Your job is to add “flair” to the show.
  • Areas of the screen light-up with a particular color.
  • You much launch a firework to that area by pressing the correct [KEY]. It will launch to where the mouse x,y
  • You get points for how accurate your shots are, with the right colors.
  • Attaining certain point levels gets to a “bonus” shell that you can use at any time for maximum points.

I will start working on this tomorrow night. I’ll report back soon on how much of this “scope” is attainable to July 1st.

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