Over the Ludum Dare weekend, I completely neglected studying for AP tests and decided to participate at full throttle, only getting 5 hours of sleep over the course of 48 hours. Despite the fact I was unable to finish and made some bad mistakes, I had a great time!
The game I conjured in 48 hours is called Eminence; a game based around Micromanagement. In the game, you take control of an all powerfull enemy boss (pictured above) and must aim its weapons to avoid hitting the orbiting planets (your team). The concept is quite original, which made it hard to find a proper balance and direction for the game. This was one major issue, as design flaws ran rampant throughout the game. After the first day I had made excellent progress, and this led to another fatal mistake. Rather than polishing and expanding on the core mechanics driving the game, I decided to add planet abilities the player can also use during the frantic experience. This only obfuscated the concept, confused players, and made the game increasingly difficult.
I learned a ton of valuable lessons, and additionally, laid out the ground work for a decent game. With various insightful comments for the Ludum community in addition to self realizations, I have devised a plan to fix and properly implement the seemly broken mechanics in Eminence. Over the next few weeks I will do so; the project is being kept at a small scale and will not shift its focus to far.
Here are some key features and changes that will greatly improve the game:
- Everything will be controlled with the mouse. This eliminates an immense amount of confusion and allows better and more effective micromanagement. Chrisp led me to this realization through his comment, “I think making the game entirely controllable with the mouse would help; e.g. click-and-drag to point the weapons. This would allow an arbitrarily high turning speed, but I think that’s fine given that the game is about management; the challenge isn’t in the slow turning speed, it’s in selecting and prioritising actions to perform under time pressure. ” Since then I have implemented this, and the game is 300% better. It fixed numerous problems. It was a great solution that I was blind to due to my instant repulsion of the arbitrarily high turning speeds; however these proved to add to the game rather than take away.
- A slight shift in focus; the goal is to kill the boss. This may sound like i’m removing my original concept from the game, but I’m not. The planet abilities will now be focused on attacking the boss; this will also control the speed of progression. It will also create an “end” to the battle.
- Separate Research Icons and Ability Icons: researching and actually using an ability will be in separate icons. Additionally, the game will pause when the player attempts to spend research points (of have the option of pausing) This will allow readers to get a since of what is going on, and read and understand planet abilities.
- A better UI. The planet ability icons will movable around the screen, with two default options being in a circle around the boss for efficiency, or directly above the progress bad at the bottom of the screen. This will allow the player to more efficiently utilize these abilities.
- Random Bosses. Although you can now defeat a boss, there will be no progression in the game. Each time you play, you face a random boss based on the selected difficulty. Each boss has a unique look and attack sequences to micro. Each new boss will arose new strategy and new research directions for the planets attacks and abilities.
So that’s my current plan for the game. I will be posting updates and screen shots as it progresses. You can play the current (brokenish) version here:http://www.ludumdare.com/compo/ludum-dare-20/?action=rate&uid=2359
If you decided to give it a try (which I slightly recommend?) please give me additional feedback to my plan above for improving the game!