DUNGEONEERING (WIP Title) And Other Ramblings on GGJ14

TL;DR – Damon and I made a board game. It’s a little clunky, but definitely fun and playable. Click here to download the current version.

This was my second year participating in Global Game Jam, and I was all sorts of stoked for it. We were hosting the local jam at Buffalo Game Space (UB held it last year), and we had a pretty solid turnout! Coming off the heels of our own jam as well, everyone was pretty amped to be making more games.

The theme, revealed Friday night, was “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” This lead to a biiiiiiig discussion full of ideas for different games.

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The BGS whiteboard, covered with all the ideas from Friday night of GGJ ’14.

We ended up all settling on two separate projects, one video game and one board game. From the get-go I was planning on making some sort of board game, partly because I didn’t want to lug my rig back and forth again, and partly because I just really wanted to make another fun print-and-play game. And I think we (myself and and Damon McKernan, co-developer) succeeded in doing just that.

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Our game is (tentatively) titled “Dungeoneering“. It’s a sort of dungeon crawler, where two to four players have to complete randomly assigned objectives; the first to finish their objectives wins the game. The initial gameplay involves players constructing the board from a set of map cards (each a 4×4 tile grid), and populates it with item tokens that function similarly to the item boxes in Mario Kart. Each player starts at the “Spawn” tile, with one objective card and one item card. Items can be shown to other players, but objectives should be kept secret (tying in with the theme of “seeing things as you see yourself” while not seeing everything as it is).

The main gameplay consists of trying to complete your objective. Players take turns rolling a die to determine how many AP (Action Points) they have for that turn. AP can be used for moving (1 AP per tile) or using items. Items, represented by cards in your hand, can be weapons, spells, traps, or “use” items. Most, but not all, items have an AP cost associated with them. Some items also require a second roll to see if they succeed in whatever action they conduct, and some are also restricted to a certain range in tiles. Here’s an example turn:

  • I roll for AP, and get a 4
  • My objective is to kill the player to my left, and they’re three spaces away from me, so I move two spaces to get closer to them. This leaves me with 2 AP this turn.
  • In my items I’m carrying a Spear, which has a range of two. This means the player I’m targeting is just within range. I make clear I’m attacking the player by telling them and showing my spear card to prove I actually have it
  • The Spear has a check roll to see if I can actually hit my target, which I use a second die to roll for. If I roll a 5 or a 6 I hit; otherwise the attack failed. I rolled a 5, so I succeeded in killing the player!
  • When a player is killed, you can take an item from their inventory. The player shows me the backs of all their cards, and I pick one at random. They then return to their starting point at the Spawn tile.
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The Dungeoneering map, populated with item tokens and player pieces.

If that was all my objective was, then I get a point, play my objective card face up on the table, return to my spawn point, discard my inventory, and take another objective card and an item card.

And I’m sure by this point you’re probably incredibly confused as to how to play at all. It’s way easier than it sounds though, and the next iteration of it will be even easier to play. There’s a way to pick up more items while playing, but the current mechanic is super sloppy and tedious. We’ve come up with a way to make it infinitely easier, so that’s why I’m not getting into that right now. Traps are another element that really spice the game up, but it’d be easier to show once we’ve got some better graphics for it.

All in all, I’d call GGJ14 a huge success for Damon and myself. While I probably didn’t do a good job of describing the game, we’ve got a very solid core game built that was a lot of fun for everyone to play. Naturally it’s a jam game, so it needs a bit of polishing and tweaking. Fortunately we want to do just that, and eventually make it into a full-fleged, well tested, exceptionally fun game. Expect more updates on it soon!

7DFPS – DAY 4/5/6 AND BEYOND

I know, I know. I’m lazy. But still working on stuff! If you go to 7dfps.hellocld.com, you’ll see.

So I’ve been slacking on the blog a bit, and that’s because I’ve been getting a little burnt out working on this project for the last few days. Surprisingly enough my vacation time started seeming much more appealing as vacation time than project time, but I powered through and still got a little bit more done. I really shouldn’t be surprised, but most everything in this project has taken longer than I expected. Granted, I went into it thinking I could make something comparable to a smaller scale version of Quake, so that’s probably part of it. So what took lots more time?

CODE CODE CODE
My goodness, the code. Realistically there isn’t a whole lot of it going on, but still. Instead of just following some standard cookie-cutter tutorials on how to do this or that I wanted to come up with some magical stuff from scratch. And I gotta say, I’m pretty pleased with what little I wrote. A fairly flexible weapons system, some decent enemy AI (that ended up getting scrapped, but still), projectile shenanigans, and even rocket jumping and explosions and stuff. All things I wanted to do when I started, and so I guess I succeeded. It was still exasperating though, because naturally the problems I spent hours trying to solve ended up getting worked out in minutes. But hey, those are hours I won’t have to spend again next time.

SHINY STUFF
Okay, here’s where I feel I really dropped the ball. I tend to think I’ve got a decent visual eye as a designer during the day, and though the stuff I like isn’t for everyone, I still think it’s easily described as “good”. So to say I’m disappointed by the visuals I cranked out would be a mild understatement. It looks like shit. I know I only had so much time to work on it and I spent more time working on code and mechanics because they’re important, but even with that I could’ve put more time into at least making it kinda visually appealing. Fortunately, I think I’m going to keep working on it weekends to make it more into an actual game, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

THE BIG LESSON
This isn’t really THE big lesson, just A big lesson. And that lesson is: plan better. The things I left out of that horrid design doc are embarrassing. Who leaves a “win condition” out of a design document for a shooter? Menus? Scope? Influential materials? Kinda important stuff there. So yeah, I need to up my game in the planning department. Also, more pen and paper stuff. All this doodling on the computer crap seems to result in nothing but garbage. I should draw more.

A lot of this probably makes it sound like this was a miserable experience for me, but I don’t actually feel that way. On the contrary, I though the whole thing was ridiculously educational. I learned more about Unity in the last week than I have the previous three months. And I think I got a little bit of my creative spark back, which is something I’m going to have to try to keep lit. With what I started on here for 7DFPS, I think I can keep at it and make it into a full-fledged game of some kind. It’s still got a long, long, long, long, long way to go, but it’s still a start. And with a good deal more planning, designing, and pen-and-paper shenanigans, it’ll turn into a complete game someday. And that’s pretty damn exciting. At the very least I’ll put a few hours into it every weekend until it’s done, so at the latest expect a shiny new post on the 24th.

7DFPS – DAY 3

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Whoo! Talk about madness and mayhem. In case you don’t want to read up on what I worked on/accomplished today and would rather just shoot some stuff and do a bit of rocket jumping, hit up 7dfps.hellocld.com and play my current prototype, complete with a weapon pickup that turns a rocket launcher into a shotgun, a mini health pack, and some very dumb enemies.┬áHere’s the controls:

  • W/A/S/D – Move forward/left/backward/right
  • SPACE – Jump (hold for a higher jump)
  • MOUSE – Look around
  • LEFT CLICK – fire weapon

MOVING THE ENEMIES
So I spent a good part of yesterday afternoon and this morning trying very hard to craft a sort of controller for all the enemy and player movement. The main reason behind this was I needed a way to apply a force from an exploding rocket to all enemies within the vicinity. As far as I could see, the CharacterController object couldn’t take forces like a rigidbody, so I started trying to figure out how to simulate simple forces on them. I’d venture to say I tried a good twenty or so variants on the code, but nothing seemed to work. Finally, after getting sick and tired of it, and almost eliminating rockets and explosives from the game, I decided to take one last look at the CharacterMotor provided by Unity for the character controller templates. GUESS WHAT IT CAN DO. So yeah, hours spent trying to find a solution to something that already worked, and worked better than I could craft.

ITEMS
The code for the weapons was designed to be as flexible as possible. Tweak a couple variables, and suddenly a pistol becomes a shotgun becomes an uzi becomes a rocket launcher. This worked very much in my favor, as I wanted to be able to modify the weapons via items, or powerups, similar to “Contra”. And just as I had hoped, it worked like a charm. A simple script modifies the weapon’s specs when the player collides with the item box, and presto! A new weapon. After that, I did a much simpler implementation on health items, and can have medkits of any size in the game as well.

WHAT’S NEXT
One thing that’s going to need a rework is the enemy AI. Fortunately the setup I landed on today seems to be pretty straightforward, so implementing a few different AI scripts should be pretty simple. Outside of coding, tomorrow I’m going to start working on some sketches for enemy and level designs, and create a few new level kits. If all goes well (hint: it probably won’t) there should be a much prettier build to play with tomorrow night. Who knows, I might even get lucky and come up with some decent sound effects too!

Click here to play the current prototype of my game for 7DFPS!