A couple months ago I started playing with Flash and Chevy Ray’s FlashPunk. It was much easier to get into than I imagined, in part because of the great folks at FlashPunk.net and the active forum. Flashpunk, Abel Toy’s skeleton, and code from the forums helped me lower the learning curve without having to start at the ground floor, and perhaps giving up before seeing any real progress.
One of the projects I started is a side-scrolling platformer. I originally worked with my own code based from Abel Toy’s skeleton and learned quite a bit. I knew I was reinventing the wheel, and eventually moved to Noel’s APE – Advanced Platform Engine and Matt Thorson’s OGMO Editor. I’ve had a game idea running through my head for the past few weeks and have been thinking about moving forward with an implementation. This is where the Ludum Dare October Challenge comes in.
The October Challenge is a great motivational tool. Watching everyone come up with ideas, suffer through problems, make progress and come out the other end is great.
My goal for the month is to finish the game and put it online. I don’t plan on making any money from it, however it won’t hurt to shoot for that $1 goal, so I’ll throw some ads on the page. If I am happy with what I make, and it passes a gauntlet of my friends, perhaps I’ll submit it to a game portal.
The idea is something akin to Master Blaster meets The Legend of Zelda meets Mega Man. The player has just docked with a large capital ship after suffering some damage to his own little freighter/fighter. The larger ship, however, has just been attacked by aliens and what was originally supposed to be a simple repair and depart turns into a quest to find and collect parts, solve puzzles and save the capital ship from the invaders. Before the end, the player will have gone from the docking bay to the holds to the bridge to the depths of engineering, and everything in between..
So far, I already have some modifications to APE. The first one I did was to create an alpha layer customized for each level so I can make some of them dark, like deep within the capital ship where the worst problems live. The follow up modification was to create light objects to attack the darkness and create ambiance. The second modification to APE was to give the doors a target. By default, APE goes from level 1 to level 2, etc. My doors have a target world and door, and when you go through them it loads that world and automatically puts the character to the matching door. This allows the player to visit the world in a non-linear fashion.
I have a little art done. Most of it is borrowed from my previous platform attempt and has a different theme, so it won’t make it past the art phase at most, and should be replaced bit-by-bit as I work on each of those type of objects. I want the style of the game to not be very cartoony, but of course, with 32 pixel by 32 pixel tiles, it’s not going to be anything close to real, so we’ll see how it ends up. I think I will end up being the artist, as I have no idea the extent of what will be required at this point and it’s hard to direct an artist without proper concept art and art design docs. If I do feel like I can bring an artist on board, I have a friend who I think will do nicely.
I expect to be challenged in regards to time. There may be some technological issues, I’m sure, but I think it will always come down to time. If things get tight, I may have to scale back on the size of the capital ship. I hope by the time I start feeling the pressure, I will have already completed a majority of the game engine.
October officially starts in a few hours. My first steps from here are to add more player abilities, like running and crouching. The basics of the gameplay need to be completed in the first two weeks, if not sooner, so I can start spending time working on level design and art.
So now I get back to FlashDevelop and the project code-named ‘Ship.’