Sure, that 40 hours happened to take 5 months to get through(!), but I’ll leave that for another blog post and will focus on the game for now (yes, I’m going to make a more concerted effort with blogging again – promise!).
So first off we have the name. I really wanted something that had some relevance to the style of the game, and eventually hit on the name Stark, as in minimal, striking and distinct. It seems to fit pretty well, is nice and short, and doesn’t seem to be used much in the gaming space so I’m happy with that.
Then we have the game contents. In classic style I realised about 75% of the way through development that I’d bitten off way more than I could chew, and while I initially wanted to create 7 levels of depth to complete the game (a total 27 stages with the branching gameplay) with lots of different mechanic tweaks, I decided to scale it right back to just 3 levels in depth (9 stages in total). Why? Well from the initial game I’ve come up with some great ideas with help from my sons, and we’re going to use the same environment and name to create something much bigger. It therefore made sense to ship this one as it stands, and of course that meant that I could hit my target dev time as well. :-p
Proving to myself
Stepping right back I realised that my very first question had been: could I still cut it as a games programmer? After all it had been a good 7 years since I’d last written any game code, and I had some doubts on that front, especially picking up a new language. So it’s been great to feel it all coming back, especially specifics such as the maths and shaders. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by how compilers had moved on, with built-in intellisense and compiling while you’re coding. That impressed me, as compilers had barely seemed to move forwards at all during the previous 10 years!
So now that I am happily wearing a +5 Cloak of Programming Confidence I feel more able to embrace bolder game ideas to develop, ones that might actually be good enough for some decent press coverage. Sure I’ll have to actually do a lot of marketing as well, but I’m ok with that. So all in all this I think this is basically me (and the boys) getting a bit more serious about this game development – we’ve got the bug and we’ll be back for more
Anyway. I’ll probably do more of a retrospective as a seperate post at some point, but for now let’s focus on the current release.
Stark: Score Quest available now for FREE download!
IndieCity’s Underground is now Live which means anyone can go there, sign up and grab a copy of Stark: Score Quest to check it out. Here are some screens of the final game:
And here’s the all important link to get Stark: Score Quest from IndieCity:
And what can you expect to find in the game? Well it has the following features:
- FPS maze puzzler: As per out initial goal we have implemented a game similar to Splat on the speccy but in first-person. So you have to find your way through the maze, but the shifting barrier constrains you to only certain parts of it at any one time.
- Branching gameplay and difficulty: You can choose which path to take at the end of each level, and how difficult to make it for yourself.
- Positional audio for barrier: I initially had arrows appearing on the screen to show the nearest barrier, which became a deeper red the closer it was. However I received feedback from some people that it felt like they were getting shot, since that visual is used so often in FPS games! I therefore ditched that and rely instead on positional sound for the barrier. It was a bit of a headache to write (converting from world to collision/player space), so hopefully it isn’t buggy!
- Leaderboard integration: If you complete the game your score will be logged with an IndieCity leaderboard (if you’re online). I genuinely have no idea what the maximum possible score is, and look forward to seeing what can be achieved
- No frontend: If you’ve read my previous posts you’ll know that I ditched the idea of having a frontend as it created a disconnect with the game world, and so little set up was needed that I could simply display it on the walls of the first corridors.
- Levels by me and Charlie: Some of the levels were either created by my 8 year old outright, or were started by him and I’ve balanced them a bit. We’ve had a great time making the game, and it’s almost entirely taken over as our conversation topic on the walk to school. He’s also got the game-making bug now, and has started teaching himself Scratch – /proud Dad
I think that about sums up what the game is about and its features. Please everyone with a Windows PC check it out and let me know what you think. Feedback will be very useful as I start planning the bigger game, and I’ll begin revealing more info on that one very soon.
But to finish: It looks like I can *still* code, and we now have a game out! Huzzah!