Not as much to talk about in terms of decisions this week. I did play around with how “succession” works, whether it should be through direct descendent only or through the broader family. In other words, should a “sister” or “aunt” of the queen be selected as the next queen. I’m strongly leaning towards direct descendent only, on account of how long a game might take if you had to kill every member of every team. I’ve also considered doing some kind of possible team splitting when a queen dies, but that would mean that I’d have to plan for quite a few more different colored sprites (which is probably less work than I’m making it out to be, but I hate doing sprites).
I had a meeting with my professor this week to review the game. We mostly talked about introducing additional levels of ecology and environment. This is something I was kinda wanting to do as well. I think of SimAnt, its predatory spider and, to a lesser extent, the lawn-mowing humans that were environmental hazards for the player to cope with. I would also like to see an organism on the level below our intrepid colony creatures. Ones that would have an effect on the resources available(a la pollination), or possibly become a resource themselves. I’m supposed to meet with another professor to talk about what they did for their dissertation project (as it relates to ecology) , hopefully that happens and proves to be productive.
He was also really getting into the idea of different environment conditions occurring in the game, and the idea of revealing deeper systems in the game to the player. I’m totally down for trying a sort of Don’t Starve style environment system that slowly changes length-of-day, temperature, snow/rain-fall. I don’t think that’s necessarily what he was talking about, but it’s something I think could work.
I’m going to try to update roughly every week with progress on my capstone project, Gather. But more importantly, I want to outline design decisions I’ve made and why I made them.
Since I haven’t done so already, I’ll outline the basics. The core of the game is playing with the idea of a colony-type organism that is competing with other members of its species, a la SimAnt; or you know, actual ants. I started out thinking of colony insects that generally build some kind of home enclosure, where they store resources and breed. One of the aspects of these creatures that I really wanted to experiment with, was the idea of all the different workers and soldiers behaving autonomously but still doing really cool things because they all follow patterns. My early prototypes (which might still be up on this site) focused a little too much on having all the drones function without the player, and it resulted in an interesting simulation, but not much of a game. Thus, my new version seeks to give the player more interesting choices and make them a larger participant in the game world.
Some of the main points in the new game are: that the home-base aspect is essentially gone, players can actually direct their drones to move to general areas, and the player can spawn daughter units. The home base has been replaced, so far, with the idea of a home “turf”. This makes the game more about conquering and holding down different regions. And since the base is now the mobile queen, it ultimately makes the gameplay more dynamic as players now have to move their main unit into the frontline. To help hold down regions, players can spawn new queens that produce their own drones. These “princess” units will also take their queen’s position into account when moving, so as the player moves their queen, a slight horde effect happens as the rest of the colony slowly follows. The princesses also serves as the source of re-spawning the player after death. And obviously, players having control of where they send units is a big change. I decided to make the ordering of workers and the movement of the player be the same action, since it reinforces the concept that drones work with the queen and not necessarily for the queen. It also adds a layer of strategy to picking where to eat, because you send yourself into enemy territory when you graze in their area.
I think that’s it for the basics. There are probably some other parts I’m forgetting to explain, but that always happens when I’m really engrossed in a project.
So, it’s been about 6 months since I last did any serious game development outside of school or made any posts here. The week school ended though (last week), I decided to dust off Gather and remake it in Game Maker with all the new ideas I wanted to try out. The result is that I’m much happier with how the game is turning out now. To be clear, this new game is different in a lot of fundamental ways from the older Construct prototypes. But I think they’re close enough in spirit that it’s basically a continuation of the same general idea, just down a slightly different path.
The game revolves around playing as the queen of a hive-based organism, where the queen is the hive. The player controls two different types of drones, gatherers and soldiers, by placing beacons that the drones will move to and work around. In turn, the drones control the queen by directing where she moves to in the world; as gatherers bring back food, they relay where they found it to the queen, and she moves to the midpoint of the most recent finds. The queen can also have daughters that produce their own drones and follow the same movement pattern as mum. The game is mostly about competing against other “colonies” for food and territory;
Anyways, this is the executable file. WASD moves the camera around, Q creates gatherers, E creates Soldiers, R creates daughters. Left-mouse button places the gather flag, right-mouse button places the attack flag. Clicking on the flags removes them.
I sorta became bored with Gather, and broke it in to two parts. My thoughts on it were taking me further into simulating things, which is mildly interesting to see the result of, but not much to play. My decision is to go one step further with
ripping off paying homage to SimAnt, and include a player avatar that imitates one of the worker roles. This will allow players to lead some units into direct conflict by rounding up a posse. There might be some other homages to the Maxis classic coming.
So, that’s where Gather might go if I actually do work on it again. Separate from that, I think I want to do another game that’s closer to a traditional RTS that uses some of the concepts that I came up with for Gather This came about because a lot of what I was doing in Gather was based on RTS principles, but at the same time I wanted to have a very simple control scheme (in the end I was aiming for too simple). So, my thought now is to just embrace the traditional mouse and keyboard ‘drag and select’ style RTS controls. Therefore, direct control over all units.
Harvest will be more about developing fields of different resources located around strategic waterholes, these resources can confer different attributes to units which will ultimately help you topple your enemy. The resources are farmed until maturity and vulnerable until then. The game is about controlling as much of the map as possible and using the mixture of attributes to boost troops as necessary.
We’ll see which one gets worked on.
I’ve managed put together some very basic aspects of Control Room already. So far, there’s
line-of-sight cones that draw around objects
turrets look within a limited angle.
doors that can be oriented(edit: kinda)
Guards have pathfinding and can return to their regular patrol after chasing an enemy
Players can create a selection box with the mouse to select multiple guards, and can order them around.
I’ve never been able to do any of those things before, so I’m pretty happy. I’ll go ahead and give out proper credit too: An excellent Vision Cone example, and an RTS example. I haven’t used the RTS example much yet, except for unit selection.
If I knew how, I would post something playable. Until then, here’s the Game Maker Studio project file.
Gather – WASD to move the camera around, the two big buttons in the top left build bots.
I’ve been working on getting the bots to “talk” to each other more; so that 1 bot can tell another where he found some ore, for example. And attack bots now try to pursue enemies carrying dead bots. the added base component, the “stomach”, is just a cosmetic change to show available Ore reserves. And of course, I expanded the size of some sprites because they were tiny.