Battlesuit Dev Diary #1Submitted by Earok on Sun, 01/15/2012 - 14:40
Apologies in advance, this is going to be a rambling post with no discernible point or structure.
I haven't successfully kept a dev diary since 2008. And I haven't successfully released a full length game since then, either. I do really want to make significant progress on the Battlesuit project this year (to the point of releasing a "Shareware" version before the year's out) but I'm lacking anything resembling creative drive. So maybe at least talking about the project on the blog on a regular schedule, and getting feedback and peer pressure might actually help.
So, as I think I said last time, there isn't a line of code yet. I did a couple of experiments in Monkey, but I think I'll begin prototypical development in Blitz3D before moving to a more modern platform (I've actually been considering XNA, perhaps with a Monkey codebase).
Almost everything that's been done for the game exists in a Zim wiki, comprising a few story drafts (including last year's ScriptFrenzy entry), character and vehicle profiles. Not all of it's entirely textual, Anthony's done some sketches of the mecha designs (12 distinct models with several variants) and I used the Anime Face Maker to whip up some prototypical character portraits.
The game is going to be a mecha first-person shooter, I briefly entertained the idea of making it a 'Sin and Punishment' esque third person shooter but have since dropped the idea. Battlesuit will have a gentle learning curve geared towards accessibility over complexity, but will nonetheless incorporate tactical thinking rather than relying entirely on reflex.
I played through 'Shogo' as research for the project (also because it's a good game) but it didn't closely resemble what I had in mind. I really enjoyed Shogo's accessibility (controlling the mecha is more or less identical to standard FPS controls), and I do want to have highly accessible controls in Battlesuit (something I pride myself on) but I don't think it really had a good "mecha" feel. The mecha's don't have a "weighty" sensation to them, they're not hugely different to each other and the GUI is almost featureless. Mecha-to-mecha combat didn't really feel right either, you could easily plow through dozens of enemy units one after the other so it I never had the illusion that they were piloted by intelligent foes. The story was also a bit hard to follow at places and I never got that interested in the characters.
Even though it's a "flight" (I use the term in the loosest sense) simulator, the 'Wing Commander' series might be a better analogy to what I have in mind. Although the various craft fly with no regard for Newtonian physics, they somehow "feel" right and distinct from each other. The cockpits are highly detailed and add a great deal to the atmosphere, especially when they begin to be damaged. And the enemies were never a pushover; in fact, even though the enemy craft have inferior performance to those enjoyed by the player, sometimes a single one-on-one dogfight with an Ace pilot was a challenge. While the plotting was a bit weak in the first game (vastly improved in the sequels), the story was always well presented and extremely easy to follow. Another thing I liked about the game was how the levels were generally short but quite difficult, although not quite to the extent of Super Meat Boy this was nonetheless addictive.
500 words, enough rambling for now, I'll do some more next weekend.