Hello! I'm Tom. I designed a game called Gunpoint, about rewiring things and punching people, and now I'm working on a new one called Heat Signature, about sneaking aboard randomly generated spaceships. Here's some more info on all the games I've worked on, here's the podcast I do, here are the videos I make on YouTube, here are some of the articles I wrote for PC Gamer, and here are two short stories I wrote for the Machine of Death collections.
Two surprising things have happened: firstly, I’ve made a game that works already. There’s no point in playing it yet, since it does nothing interesting, but that was all I hoped to achieve today. This’ll give me time to make it interesting today, and make it good tomorrow.
Secondly, now that I’ve made enough of it to see what it’s going to be like, I realise it has almost nothing to do with the theme. The angry deathbots you meet aren’t randomised yet, but even once they are I think running into them is just going to feel like encountering enemies in an arena. It technically is discovery, but because they’re simply off-screen rather than visibly obfuscated, it’s not going to feel like it.
I’m not going to worry about that too much yet – my priority order is to make it interesting, then make it good, then make it fit the theme. Here’s what it looks like now:
The blue circles are shields: I didn’t fancy putting a bunch of work in just to recreate the conventional hitpoint bar or health meter on your interface, so I went for something more visual and in-fiction. Right now each shield takes one hit, but as you can see that makes you impractically large for not much health, so I’ll probably tighten their size and thickness before I’m done, and perhaps make them come back online a while after they’re taken out.
The enemy will have these as well, and they’re one of the things that’ll be randomised, so it’ll be very obvious when you’re facing something tough. Not sure if I’ll also have big hulls – that’d mean introducing an armour system as well, which may defeat the point of the shields.
I do plan to have large engines/tracks for fast bots, and a large turret or power core of some kind for things with a lot of firepower. Basically, if I can have at least three functionally important metrics that enemies can vary in, and make each one visually readable at a glance without any interface, I’ll be close to what I want.
Challenges right now:
Title ideas: Sighs of the Snowbots? Snowbot Snores?
More Game Jams
FlyingSquirrel: I vote for a play on a classic Christmas story or carol or something. Snowbots Came Upon the Midnight Clear; Carol of the Snowbots; A Snowbot Christmas Carol; Snowbot Night; etc etc
Lorc: You could kill two birds with one stone re: "discovery" and enemy behaviour.
Every enemy has an invulnerable shield. They also have a different set of rules describing their movement and how you can get past their shield, which you need to figure out Zendo-style.
The green enemies' shield visibly doesn't cover their rear 90 degree arc. They try to move continuously towards you and run you over but have a wide turning circle.
Red enemies are blind and fire in a set direction every second or so. They are invulnerable except for their forward 45 degree arc. Whenever you fire a shot, they turn to face the source of the noise.
And so on.
Tom Francis: Ha, I like it. I'm having lots of fun trying to get behind bots at the moment - I've made them scarily tenacious once they spot you.
Haven't decided yet, but if possible I'd like a Discovery element where I don't have to hand-make all the things you can discover, so bespoke mechanics might be too expensive.
Wilco T.: A little idea for the control scheme. How about holding the mouse button to make the bot chase the cursor, and it accelerates. Once you let go the momentum and speed carry the bot in the same direction, giving you a chance to shoot where you want well the bot "slides". It'd be a little more involved then the "click go here" thing, and a little more unique.
Quasar: So, will having a larger shield mean that you can't enter smaller areas?
Nonomu198: Oh, I have some ideas!
Have the player's robot (snowbot?) shoot constantly. Right click accelerates the bot across the slippery snow (which suspiciously acts like ice) while left click sets the firing direction, which in turn circles the bot around itself (therefore also changing its movement direction due to friction) in order to shoot at said direction, which is by now no longer the point in which you first clicked if you moved. Sounds complicated, I hope it isn't during gameplay.
You could also color-code the shield rings; from one color to another (for example: innermost is yellow while the outer ring is blue) or a different color every ring (ex. even rings are red, odd rings blue). This way you can make the rings smaller and people will still notice the health meter!
Hope I helped.
(Again, Tom, are you still working on that detective game?)
Tom Francis: Nice! Like the colour coding idea, I wouldn't have thought of that. Like everything, I'll try it out if I have time.
Don't think I want the snowbot firing constantly - might make it more arcadey than I'm going for. But the basic idea could work: you could click one button to set the turret's direction, and use the other to move. It could then shoot anything hostile in range and firing arc.
Right now, though, I think I've got the current controls working better - there's now a marker where you clicked, so you can see how long you've got to concentrate on firing before you have to deal with movement again. It's not the most elegant system in the world, but to me the difficulties that stem from it don't feel cheap, it's about as hard as it actually would be to aim the other way while running, say.
Haven't given up on Gunpoint, but I do seem to have slowed down. One of the reasons I'm doing Ludum Dare is to refresh my enthusiasm for it, finish something easier first like I probably should have done when everyone told me to at the start of Gunpoint's development. The two day limit means this can't distract from Gunpoint any longer than I intended.
Delacroix: I'm liking this idea immensely. Brace yourself for "Whose botprints are these?" in regards to your random movement idea and the fact that bot lines of sight are represented by triangles.