Ludum Dare #29 took place on the weekend of April 25th – 27th, 2014. An event where anyone can attempt to create a game around a theme in 48 hours. It’s a bit different from the Global Game Jam, where they encourage you to work in teams.
With a theme of “Beneath the Surface”, I tried to create a game with a giant monster that hides in the depths of its environment. Much like sandworms from the great novel “Dune” by Frank Herbert that I was currently reading. Or, you know, Moby Dick.
I began with a seafaring game, the player would sail around and collect capsules drifting on the water. Other boats would attack you, while the monster would try to swallow you whole.
On Saturday afternoon I had most of the game working roughly.
Since I began working late on Saturday afternoon, it became clear that I had to cut features and focus more on the theme of the game.
After removing enemy boats and weapons, the collectables became survivors adrift with safety buoys. Meanwhile, the monster stalks the player until a chance arises to swallow it with as many survivors as possible. Why does the monster favor the ship over the survivors? Ships have more fiber.
To prevent the player from wandering too far and getting lost, or reaching the boundaries of the game world, I added a fuel mechanic. The fuel tank would refill when returning home (e.g. to drop off rescued survivors).
Sunday night the game took shape with colourful graphics.
I finished the game around 3 AM on Monday morning, just in time before the deadline, and I’m happy with it. There are a few minor bugs; gameplay features that I could improve, but it is what it is, a game made in a day and a half.
I spent a few days prototyping a turn-based tactical role-playing game. This is a genre that I’ve grown to love as I get older. While XCOM: Terror From the Deep had me hooked when I was young, it wasn’t until later that I started to appreciate them. It’s neat to see them making a come back with great titles such as The Banner Saga and XCOM: Enemy Unknown!
Don’t mind the placeholder graphics, my initial prototype was pretty rough.
As a true turn-based tactical game, players can carefully decide their actions during their turn, such as moving around or attacking enemies. During the AI turn, it will determine which of its enemies are closest and move in to attack. The battle is won if all your enemies are defeated.
The tried and true design method is often grid-based, so that’s where I started. Roughly making some terrain in Blender with tiles; the actual grid used for visualization and pathfinding is determined at runtime while loading the level. By calculating the bounds of the map we have an area that we can divide into a grid. Each node on the grid is initialized at the top of the map bounds, high up in the sky. From there we cast a ray downwards, when we hit a surface on the map, we’ve found where to place the node.
I had updated the character art here too, with walk and attack animations.
The grid provides a large foundation for the rest of the game logic. Finding which path to traverse on the grid using the A* pathfinding algorithm, or determining whether you can attack by checking occupied grid nodes around you.
If I have some time next week, I’d love to create some graphics and add more features. For now, this is just a prototype.