What I did:
After a brief hiatus I’ve made another prototype in Game Maker. The basic idea is to create a puzzle game which is based on teleporting a character between two points, as in the video below.
I had the idea of dropping anchors (hence the game’s title; Matter Anchor) which the player could then quickly teleport back to. Different anchors could each have different properties. For example, in the two videos below, you can see the Duplicator and the Exploder.
What I learnt:
I learnt, again, the value of Game Maker as a prototyping tool (which is not to discount its value as a game making tool). I was able to get the basic
Besides this I picked up a bit more GML and worked out a number of solutions for reducing the amount of individual objects I need to create (through tiling etc).
I had the feeling reinforced, every time I did a testing pass on the prototype, that this type of game would live and die on how fun the character was to move and control. If the character was mobile and agile, and teleporting added to that mobility, then there would be something for players to enjoy. The current prototype, with its sluggish movement, was not fun to play. The puzzles might have felt good to solve, but the whole think felt sluggish.
Finally, I learnt that I need to make friends with more artists. I’m starting to get fed up with freebie art that comes with Game Maker. It would be nice to get some visual polish on what I put on YouTube (though, for a prototype, it’s not strictly necessary).
What to do next:
This quick prototype is a semi-top down perspective. The aim was always to do a 2D platformer, but I wanted to get the anchor scripting working first before tinkering with the controls of a 2D platformer. Now the anchors work, the immediate next step is to get the game running as a 2D platformer. Moving to 2D platformer should help add the sense of nimbleness and quickness that the game needs to have.
The shift to platformer allows me to introduce an additional variable into my puzzles; gravity. At the moment, all my puzzles and teleporters allow you to cheat time. This type of puzzle alone is not interesting enough to sustain a whole game. The introduction of gravity opens up the possibility of creating new teleporters. These teleporters could allow the player to manipulate space. I have a number of ideas:
Springboard – Shoots the player up in the air above the teleport anchor. This could function as a way to get into previous inaccessible spaces, but could also function as a double jump if the player drops an anchor then teleports through it instantly.
Hover – The player hovers above the anchor momentarily. Could be used to dodge projectiles or to put the player in place to reach a higher area. This could stack with the springboard to reach incredible heights.
Dash – Retains the players momentum and shoots them a short distance in the direction they were moving before they teleported.
Phase – Like dash, retains the player’s momentum (will shoot them in the direction they were running at the moment of teleport) but briefly allows them to pass through solid objects.
A further extension I will try is throwing the anchors. Rather than just dropping the anchors behind me, it would be interesting to throw the anchors out. Maybe only some anchors can be thrown, and some might be dropped. Maybe some characters only drop anchors, some only throw and some do both. An interesting decision, but further down the design road.