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The Curse of Pargo Devlog 1: defining the basics

Hi there! I’ve been pretty busy for the past few weeks. After finally killing this, I took some time off of development. Coding is what I do for a living, so sometimes is difficult for me to find the inspiration and the will to go back to coding. It’s easier to relax, watch some Netflix or play a game.

But the thing is that, the few weeks I took off I couldn’t stop thinking about what project to start next. I had a few ideas and I finally decided to work on a puzzle game. This time I wanted to do things a bit better than last time> To do so, I created a little document defining the main aspects of the game. Last time I didn’t do anything like this, so I was working without direction. That’s a really bad idea, specially when you have tendency to lose focus easily like me.

The first thing I did was to do a brief description of the game and what I pretend to achieve with it. I came up with this:

Puzzle-adventure game. It takes elements from Captain Toad, Bomberman and Minecraft. Every level is a puzzle that combines different mechanics like breaking blocks, recollecting materials and keys and fight enemies. It’s a slow-pace game focused on combining the different mechanics. The goal on every level is to reach the final treasure chest.

With this on paper I started to describe the controls of the player:

  1. Movement: 8 direction based control, camera based. That means that the directions of the character will be modified with the movement of the camera. The character moving and turning has to be fast, smooth and precise so the player can react quickly to level events. Though the game won’t have much action there will be some enemies, and elements that can kill the player.
  2. Bomb: bombs are not planted on the ground but thrown slightly forward. Could we thrown further if the player leaves the fire button pressed?
  3. Action: activate buttons or push boxes.
  4. Structure: build and place a structure based on a recipe we collected before. Each recipe needs materials.

I also defined different types of objects and interactions that would be seen through out the game:

  1. Bombs: the player can throw them to break blocks or attack enemies.
  2. Destructible blocks: player can throw a bomb next to a block and destroy them with the explosion.
  3. Bounce pads: Sonic-like platforms that impulse the player up in the air.
  4. Collectible objects:
    • Doubloons: like coins in Super Mario or rings in Sonic. Collect 100 to get a life.
    • Keys: colored keys that open specific doors, like in Doom and other games.
    • Construction blocks: every time you break a destructible block you’ll be able to collect a construction block. Use it later to construct structure that help you finish the level.
    • Recipes: recipes will let you construct different structures to solve the puzzles.
  5. Wall and floor buttons: used to activate mobile platforms or open doors.
  6. Boxes: like in a lot of adventure games, you will be able to move boxes to help you reach a part of the level otherwise unreachable or activate floor buttons.
  7. Structures: when the player has acquired a recipe and enough construction blocks, he’ll be able to create structures that help him solve the levels.

Lastly, I wrote some lines regarding tone, setting and visual style:

The game will aim for a relaxed, fun style. The game is not child oriented so there can be swearing and violence. Something along the lines of LucasArts/DoubleFine games.

And:

Very colorful, cartoon-like. I feel something close to Sea of Thieves or Fable Legends characters could work really well. The environment will be pirate-like and probably should use Monkey Island as main inspiration.

As you see, I decided to place the game on a pirate setting. I guess I’ve seen too much Black Sails and too many videos of Sea of Thieves 😛 Anyway, is something I quite like and I thing it’ll fit well with the little story (more like an outline) that I have in mind.

Technology-wise I’m gonna keep working on with Unity. My previous project had a lot of fighting with the engine, but now I feel I know how to solve deal with a lot of things. This time I want to focus more on the design and create a polished gameplay experience, and if I have to start from scratch with another game engine that won’t happen.

Also I’m making the move to Maya LT. This version of the software is aimed to indie devs and, as far as I know, has all the features I might need. On the audio front I’m undecided about what to do. It’s an unexplored area for me, but this time I would like to do something better, make some music, sounds effects, etc. We’ll see how that goes.

On the following weeks I’ll keep talking about the process I’m following with this game. I hope you enjoy this kind of content, let me know what you think!

Note: the main picture is by Glenn Carstens-Peters, see his work here.

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  1. That’s a nice genre to jump onto after the shmup! My only advice here is that I feel like you’re overscopping a little. Seems to have a lot of elements and I see this project taking many months, and I wouldn’t like to see you discouraged.
    Maybe you could plan the design in layers? As in… first trying to achieve a prototype that is fun with just the bomb mechanics, then see how to or even IF to keep adding elements. Because if you don’t get the basic gameplay right, just adding crafting or sokoban on top isn’t gonna make it better, but just patch/cover its weaknesses and make it more complex.
    From the player’s experience perspective you’re gonna have to present each mechanic one by one, anyway (to have them learn them and master them before adding more complexity to the levels.) – so how about trying a kishōtenketsu with the mechanic you’re more fond of in this idea?
    http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2015-03-17-how-nintendos-best-mario-levels-were-structured-using-chinese-poetry

    • Wow, that was fast xD. I’m gonna have to investigate some of the words you’re saying here because TBH I have no idea what you’re talking about. Anyway, I have to say that this post comes with a few weeks of delay and the game has mutated already a little bit, almost removing completely the bomberman-like part, but I wanted to document the process properly. Also maybe the crafting is not really like that, is way more simple that it seems and of course nothing close to minecraft&co. Probably you could fit the game on that sokoban sub-genre that you were talking about. Thanks for the comments Jordi, it always makes me happy to see the views of a pro 😉

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