Prototyping Something New

After the demise of my previous project I've taken some time off from active game development. I've been doing a little soul searching, a little research and as much learning as I can squeeze into an already packed schedule. 

Feeling like I had an idea worth exploring, I've spent the last few weeks working to prototype a new game idea. It's an idea that I've had bouncing around for a few years and is heavily inspired by one of the first online games I ever played. And no. This new game will not have multiplayer - I've learned that lesson (I hope).

With my last project I was nearly a year into it and still didn't have a real working prototype - I had built prototypes of systems but that was it. So this time around I was determined to do things differently. I wanted something that I could prototype in a few weeks, maybe a couple months at most (real life can get in the way). 

Despite looking like a folded protein structure, it's a bunch of star systems with mapped out connections.

Despite looking like a folded protein structure, it's a bunch of star systems with mapped out connections.

So... Where is it at now?

In a about ten days, I was able to code the "procedural" generation of the world. It's not perfect, but it works. And that's all a prototype needs.

A few days later I had the player's navigation working along with some ugly but functional and relevant UI. 

The project was checking lots of boxes and doing so quickly.

The game will be a "space" game. You know planets, stars, laser beams and plenty of spaceships flying around.

So the next chunk I wanted to implement was shipbuilding. I want the player to customize their ship and design it around their desired play style.  A few days later while sticking to primitive shapes (programmer art) I had the basic code functioning. Even spent some time working on visual feedback...

Prototype of the ship building function - the camera auto centers over center of mass.

That was a few hours work that didn't move the prototype forward. Oops.

I'm pretty happy with the results. It's simple and not as smooth and polished as it needs to be, but it works. Again it's everything the prototype needs (and just a few bits more). 

With the ship building complete I had two major features that were going to need work. The game is going to be based on trading and combat (shocking I know). So I needed an inventory and shop system. 

Nothing much to see with the shop system and it's probably the part of the prototype that I'm the least happy with. But! It works. I need to revisit it, to make it "feel" good as it will likely be a central part of many player's experiences. That will come later in the production.

As much as I dreamt of making a "violence free" game with my last project, I can't imagine this game without some lasers, a healthy dose of explosions and maybe a few space pirates. Which means the last piece to build was a combat system.

I know. I know. It's a masterpiece!

I know. I know. It's a masterpiece!

The combat will be very stylized. You're won't be piloting your ship dodging asteroids or incoming missiles. Rather you'll be creating a strategy to counter a single opposing ship. You'll be able to pause the game, think, plan, act and then watch it unfold. And yes, the system is pretty heavily inspired by a  popular rogue-like minus the parts that I didn't like and hopefully with at least a few new ideas. 

Even for a prototype, the beginnings were pretty rough.

Once the code was functional I wanted maybe even needed to make this part of the game "feel" good. If I can't make this feel good, then I may need to re-evaluate the design?

I spent a few hours on the UI, a bit on the visuals and a few more on some basic AI. The results? They aren't horrible.

Clearly, there is more work to be done. 

So is this my new game? 

Maybe it is. Maybe it's not. But I'm getting close to committing.