The competition ended last weekend. I hoped to have something done since I managed to produce stuff I was fairly happy with for the last two I entered, but this time it just didn't happen. I think the biggest reason was just a lack of motivation - I just wasn't feeling the contest this time round. That said, I think I also made some mistakes in terms of my ideas.
The first thing I came up with was a game concept I've toyed with before (going for a board game style feeling) where you control a team whose job it is to smuggle goods across a country in a semi-futuristic police state. The unconventional weapon aspect would be that of the information you're smuggling, or perhaps that you're moving WMDs or some such to their target locations. For gameplay, the idea was that you'd have to choose methods of transportation, whether to risk passing through greater security in larger cities or take slower back routes, and make use of some special abilities of each character - stuff like being able to pilot planes or boats, or making better quality false documents. I still like the concept, but it's a bad idea for a 48 hour game jam. I got as far as making some road/sea lanes and basic movement for some characters, but there were so many little features needed before it would be playable, and the UI requirements would be substantial. My games are never pretty, but rushed UI is a special kind of ugly.
So I gave up on that, took a break (as I said, I wasn't really feeling very motivated that weekend), and eventually came back with another idea. It was based on some flash game I remember playing ages ago, but couldn't find when I searched for it. The concept is that you play the boss in an arcade style shooter - the other game was pretty basic, though fun, and I wanted to allow players to really customize their boss in a way that would be familiar to how bosses work in games - e.g. often slow, somewhat clunky, with lots of weapons that are really ineffective against single ships. Now, you'll notice that this sounds like it might just require... rushed UI elements. I guess I kinda overlooked this because it was an idea I had some enthusiasm for and I think I only had about 36 or so hours left at that point.
I managed to get some basics together - a couple of different weapon types (regular laser bolts in small + large sizes, and plasma bolts which explode into spreads of smaller bullets), the ability to switch them between different activation keys or the mouse, and power levels to limit how much you can shoot. Your control was to be limited to a few buttons, so you'd have to attach multiple weapons to each button, making something like the patterns you'd see from real bosses. It also meant I could put a special lower power meter on any weapon which was aimed via the mouse - I wanted to allow players to shoot weapons with mouse aiming, but there had to be a downside or you'd just put all your most powerful weapons on the mouse. I also had a basic AI fighter ship, which just went back and forth, firing constantly, adjusting position up and down a bit sometimes. I tried to add evasion code so it would dodge bullets, but couldn't really come up with anything amazing - GameMaker includes a movement function to avoid specific objects (mp_potential_step_object) which worked all right, but it's not designed to deal with masses of small bullets, which I figured was essential for that proper boss feeling.
So that's where I was at around 16 or so hours to go, and though I was having some fun setting up different ships and seeing how many heroes I could kill before being destroyed (I also added a destruction system where chunks of your ship get destroyed, disabling any weapons in them which worked well), but I decided there was too far left to go before I had a game I'd be happy with releasing. If I'd been feeling more motivated I think I could have put something out there (nothing great, but something), but I decided to call it quits instead.
I still think the concept is decent, but it would need a lot of work to make it actually interesting to play. You'd need different types of heroes with special abilities to prevent one build style defeating everything. Like one hero has a shield which only takes damage from heavy bullets, or another always comes in with three nuke powerups which they use at the start to blast at your most dangerous weapons, or another one has a Jamestown style vaunt which they use to clear out bullets around them and become extra powerful if they're surrounded by too many projectiles. Then the gameplay would be in picking the right weapons, the right balance of systems between armour, power, weapons and engines, and the correct move patterns. Later on you could even unlock things like the ability to become a multi-stage boss where you switch to a second (or third/fourth/fifth) form after dying. And every now and then you'd face a conventional fleet of larger ships, to be effortlessly annihilated with your ridiculous weaponry. I reckon that would be fun.
What's All this then?
I like making and writing about PC games - mostly strategy games. Expect after action reports, thoughts about design and gameplay, and maybe even a few prototypes.