When I came up with the convept for Squeebles I wanted something fast, fairly intense and at the same time a have a bit of silliness about it. The game would be something that you’d play in bursts with each increasingly challenging level being a test of your timing and reactions. It would be the sort of game where you try, fail, try, fail, try, fail, try, fail, try, fail, try and then feel proud to finally complete the level.
Unfortunately the prototype didn’t quite capture the idea that I had. However I’m reasonably confident that I understand many of the reasons why it just wasn’t what I was hoping for and know, at least from a design perspective, where I want to go next.
First of all, the game lacked pace. Okay it was reasonably quick but it was hardly exactly Sonic. Given the key part of the game concept was the speed at which the character moved, this is obviously a failing. Not only was the standard movement slow but it was also quite “floaty” when jumping over objects & gaps. I found that you needed to start the jump well before the thing you were looking to leap over. Usually in a platform game you find that you die because you jumped too early but in the Squeebles prototype you often died or got muddled because you overshot, making it harder for the next jump. This limited level design because the levels needed to be fairly forgiving, especially as you can’t really stop and line yourself up for the next jump. The jumping needs speeding up whilst ensuring that the longer and higher jumps are still possible. I think the best approach would be to have two jump buttons with one being quick hop and the second being a leap. This would provide a quick fire jumping mechanism that makes you go “arghhhh” whilst frantically jumping whilst also providing scope for jumping up a few levels or over a large gap.
The second issue was that the levels are all square. The character doesn’t get sent flying through the air or whizzing down a hill because everything is made out of blocks. Unfortunately with the collision engine that I currently have, this won’t be an easy fix and will require a fair amount of learning… but that is part of why I’m doing these projects, to learn how to do them. I want to be challenging myself. However I do have a few other ideas to sent the player soaring through the air!
The third problem with the game is that I think it lacks coins, rings or some other collectable. This provides two functions. The first and most obvious is it is a reward and by placing them along say a harder route you are challenging players. Secondly it can be used as timing guidance to the player, after all you’d have to be a real arsehole to have an arc of coins leading straight into a trap… (hmm!). Rather than just sticking in coins I’ll want to consider whether I want to go down the 100 objects per level or 3 hard to reach ones, probably the 100, and more importantly come up with a context for the object, wether its coins, rings or gooseberries. I’d certaintly want something a little quirky that can work with a Fun Fact.
Ah yes, Fun Facts. These are the one aspect of the current prototype that I’d really like to do more of. At the end of each level, after dying or any other time that the game is stopped there is a short “Fun Fact” about the Squeebles, ranging from what they taste like (brussel sprouts, ewww) to their hobbies. There’s also a few references to folk on my Twitter account. I plan to add a few more but with well known game developers although the emphasis will remain on just plain daft “Fun Facts”. I’m also really keen to hear suggestions as well! Send them to @OxygenAddictUK on Twitter. Character limit is roughly the same as Twitter’s.
Something not present in the prototype is how I’d like to deal with the issue of defeating enemies. I don’t want to have the player killing enemies, instead it would be capturing them. In order to keep the controls to an absolute minimum (and we’ve TWO jump buttons now) it won’t be a button and I’m sticking to contact = death so instead it’ll be a case of activiting a trigger by say jumping on a pressue pad, crashing into a switch or similar to activate a trap. I’m thinking that limiting this to the boss fights would be the best way. Boss fights aren’t in the prototype and would be at the end of the various zones. I’m thinking that these will involve jumping and bouncing about the level, avoiding the boss and their attacks whilst trying to hit the triggers. Keep it simple but by using different styles of bosses, for example one shooting fireballs, one that is just a swarm of enemies and one that is huge (but slow) should maintain some diversity. Of course all this will evolve as I make it. 🙂
Well I hope that you quite like the sound of that. I may try to make a few tweaks to the prototype at some point but at the end of the day… it is a prototype. I don’t expect it to be awesome. Squeebles is up for consideration as my next game so if you’d like to see it get fully developed, vote for it!
Next up will be Invertical.