I alluded to this above, but I’ve got an idea for a way to construct a game that I’m going to use this month/jam/thingy as an opportunity to explore.
So I’ve got a pretty solid Game Maker Studio-based toolkit that I’ve written and added to over the years that I called the 121 Engine. It provides a core set of objects, controllers, UI, systems, and environment elements that has become very modular and flexible. It underpins games I’ve made from massive projects like Caverns of Khron (started for the January 2012 bakedown at old SB!) and Explobers to smaller, quicker projects like Temple of the Wumpus and Monster Hug from last year, and elements of it are used in almost all my projects, including the visual novel I’m working on right now. (Its namesake 121 is from when I converted the games I made for a September 2011 Vector the Crocodile jam at Glorious Trainwrecks into a moddable platformer toolkit in November 2011. 11x11 = 121.)
So anyway! My idea is that I’m going to start with basically nothing. I’ll create a player character and a central area (might be a home, a dungeon, a field) and then each of the next four weeks I’ll build a branch off that area, making it up as I go along. Each branch will be distinctive, and I’ll design objects, mechanics, visuals, etc. for whatever whim strikes me that particular week. Connections and crossover mechanics/items will be possible as I keep building.
I don’t know what this game will have. Will it have weapons? Will it have puzzles? Will it have boss(es)? Will it have NPCs to talk to? I don’t know! I won’t know until I sit down and make it happen, and won’t really know till the end of the month.
I could end up with four variations on a similar game/level design theme. I could end up with four levels that feel like they basically belong to different games. It may feel like a Metroidvania or a Mega Man game. I don’t know!
I’ve been thinking about trying something like this recently after making Temple of the Wumpus last year. I designed the overall layout of that game’s temple on a big sheet of graph paper, but then constructed the insides of the different wings of the temple in a linear order that reflected the diegetic history of the temple’s construction. I want to try something like that with this, but more improvisational.
Anyway, I still have to put the finishing touches on my NaNoRenO visual novel from March, “Scales of Love” (which is based on an old screenplay of mine), since some last minute freelance work ate my free time last week (and I’s gots to get paid). But I’m hoping to get going on this by mid-week!