Thursday, December 5, 2013

TriGrid's Original Concept

     Back in May I was doodling in MS Paint and trying to think up a game that would be easier to make than Fish Feaster which proved to be too much for me. I needed an idea for a game that took place in single location with some sort of randomized layout. After considering multiple themes like spiders and zombies in the spirit of Halloween (the expected release date) I decided on making a game where you played as a ghost and went around spooking trespassers in your garden by avoiding their flashlight beams and touching them. After making placeholders, I forgot the idea and just went with neon shapes...

     The spider idea died pretty quickly and the zombie one almost came through but fell short on a few things. The spider game had players move a spider around a maze pouncing on flies from behind. Problems came when I realized I couldn't draw a decent spider in MS Paint and started thinking of other ideas.

     With the zombie game I was going to give the player 3 hearts (decorated like decaying hearts, pulsing and covered in fungus) and have the enemies shoot if the player was spotted. Red enemies would be truckers wielding bats, Blue men (resembling the protagonist from The Walking Dead games)  would carry pistols, and Yellow chicks would walk around with shotguns. You limp around a graveyard and sneak up behind them to eat them. Eating someone alerted the others who find their way over to investigate while you munch away and replenish hearts.

     It sounded alright mechanically but made no sense thematically.Who walks around a graveyard hunting for one zombie? Where is this taking place, a hedge-maze? Wouldn't a giant spider lurking in tunnels make a better game? How will I be able to make recognizable sprites that are 20x20px (to show decent sized map)? Would an Atari style game work? I also found the vision cones very annoying to program logically. I needed to think up a new theme. That's when I came up with the ghost idea. But then I ran into the problem with the sprite sizes again. I wanted to just scrap everything and make a prototype to mess with first and foremost.

     I made placeholder triangles and made mock-ups with them on a green grid representing a hedge-maze. Those placeholders grew on me pretty fast. I started thinking about making the game with the art style of Geometry Wars. I had no idea how to make the effects and sprites I needed to do that but added those problems to my list of things to learn. It definitely paid of with how comfy I am with Gimp now.


      My game started taking shape. I was calling it Piercion at the time and I wanted randomly generating maps, and endless mode, and a survival mode. I later wanted to increase the addictiveness by adding a sense of progression. I came up with tiny cubes called power cells to collect in order to unlock specially made levels and new avatar colors and shapes (the player object was originally a green dot). To make it noticeable, I made a white arrow to act as the avatar. It helped me see if the direction programming was working. Once again the prototype grew on me and I wanted to keep it. You really gotta watch out for that.

    Later on I came up with the name. I simply asked friends on Facebook which of my prototype names sounded best: Piercion, Turbo Triangles, NeoMaze, TriGrid, or TriMaze. TriGrid won by a landslide so I went with it.

    Little by little I chipped away at this while maintaining a busy part-time job to save up for the Yotes Games Trademarks. This game became my summer project and taught me how to make 2D games with Unity. A process that's simple enough once you know what all the buttons do.

     I learned firsthand that game concepts can change dramatically from start to finish and I learned that prototypes can end up being the final design if you get attached. So from now on, I'll be making attractive prototypes in case I find myself polishing my first draft.

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