I had a concept for a game that I thought would be quick to make, taking about a month using Construct 2 and Flash for the graphics. The concept was to make a vertical shooter, but with player and AI roles reversed. The AI would control a single ship or a handful of much more powerful ships. The player on the other hand would be able to spawn waves of weaker ships that come with a variety of abilities. This game would be made with mobile devices as target systems.
I decided the player’s civilization would be called the Space Vikingz, which is also what I named the prototype. In the game, your enemies are the Fronir, a race of disco beings with afros. They are attacking your because you have stolen their sacred disco music.
The prototype ended up taking about 2 months to complete and can be seen here. I entered it into a Construct 2 contest on Newgrounds. The prototype had about 80% of the planned features at the time, missing only the AI Bosses and the inter-level screen that allowed players to upgrade ships and select missions. Unfortunately, I did not win the contest, but I did get some useful feedback.
Many players seemed to be confused about how to play. Admittedly, the only instructions were short descriptions of your various ships on the title screen which was thrown together at the last minute for the contest. Of the players that did understand the instructions, a common complaint was that they did not feel they had enough input over their own ships and they felt more like spectators.
Another common complaint were the graphics and animations. This is not surprising since I am terrible at visual art. However, it is something I feel I can improve on, especially if I practice a style long enough to get good at it. A problem I noticed, on mobile devices, Space Vikingz lagged and was unplayable on some. I am hoping CocoonJS can counteract much of the performance problems.
A few people were confused why there was disco music in the game since I never mentioned anything about the plot within the game, only in the description on Newgrounds. This is something I feel really must be addressed as I think the atmosphere of a game is important. The theme needs to be more apparent with or without supporting text.
A note about comments on games. Some commentators will give you well thought out criticisms, while others will give you a one sentence insult. I feel even negative, poorly written comments can be helpful. If you read between the lines you can find common themes that may need to be addressed.
To address the theme, the full game will have much more supporting text that explains the setting. I also renamed the game Disco Wars. I feel may help the setting, but also opens it up to make more playable civilizations if I ever make a sequel.
The prototype was made quick and had little thought put into mission design and only had 5 missions all together. As a result the mission tended to have a steep learning curve. I plan to lessen the learning curve and help players learn the skills at a much slower pace. I plan to introduce the player’s unit options slowly and have tutorials for each one.
To address lack of interactivity and add another layer of player strategy, I will be adding new Asgard class ships. Asgard ships will only be spawnable through having various combinations of regular units on the field. Once the player does have the required units on the field, they can combine them and thus create an Asgard class ship.
Asgard class ships will come in several varieties, each with different abilities. Asgard ships will be directly controlled by the player. Movement will be controlled by tilting the devices or using arrow keys if on a desktop. Each Asgard ship has a sort of mini-game to reload weapons and firing will also be manually aimed by the player. I will explain more on the various mini-games later.
For graphics and animations, I decided to go with a more simplistic style. Instead of trying to make a more realistic style that I cannot pull off, I feel a simplistic style will look better and may make it easier to implement the disco theme.
The image on the left above is the original Beserker unit. The one on the right is the redesigned Beserker. This may not be the final draft of the Beserker, but I feel it is an improvement. I will also be restricting colors for both the Vikingz and Fronir to a separate color pallete. I feel this will further set them apart visually. The Vikingz will have more muted colors, such as dark red and white along with more rounded, smooth edges with a few points.
The Fronir units will have a yet undetermined color pallete and will have more angular and pointy ships.
With my current timeline, I expect to finish Disco Wars around the first half of October.