It’s been awhile since my last project Mamore, almost two and a half months in fact, but during this time I haven’t just been playing through my Steam back catalogue whilst refreshing the Fallout 4 countdown timer(even though I may have a couple of times), instead I’ve been busy working on my next project. In fact you may have already seen some of the early screenshots and concept art for the game that I’ve been posting over the last month. Now today, I’m happy to officially announce my new project TaO-VARG.
TaO-VARG is a challenging action puzzle game where your goal as the player is to guide a Ballistic Acceleration ellipse(BALL for short) to the goal by using two special gravity particles: Thrusts and Orbits. Further, in order to successfully complete a level, not only must the BALL reach the goal, but it must do so within certain limits, these limits are imposed on the number of respective particles that can be used each level, with three pass marks(bronze, silver and gold) associated with how few(or many) the player uses. If the player reaches the goal but uses too many of a particular particle then they must try again.
In total there are currently 40 levels to beat, with the later levels becoming more and more challenging for the player(though some of the early levels can be a challenge as well). The levels start simple, but as the player progresses through the game they will encounter a variety of obstacles, ranging from turrets to lasers.
The game is currently still in alpha, though it is finished for the most part(I’ll list the things I want to possibly add to the game at the end of this post, along with download links). But the game does need some fine tweaking. This is where I’d like you, the reader, to come in. Unfortunately I’m a bit too familiar with the game(having made it and all), so it’s hard to tell if some levels are a bit too hard. Therefore, I need some more widespread playtesting and feedback on the levels, so that I can put the finishing touches on the game. Basically, I’d like you to just play the game; if you finish it that would be awesome but its not a requirement, and hopefully whether you finish or not you have some fun doing so. And if you want to give me some feedback on the experience that would be awesome too, all constructive criticisms are welcomed.
Below you will find a link to a windows installer along with a standard Unity standalone package.
A few weeks back, around the time I was finishing off Balloon pop, I was visiting HumbleBundle, if you haven’t heard of this site you should seriously check it out, games + charity = Awesome, to check out their new main bundle, what I found was a bundle dedicated to making games, specifically, a bundle supporting the Indie Games Maker Contest 2015 (IGMC2015).
I wanted to find out more about this contest, and as I didn’t know much about IGMC I decided to investigate further. I headed over to the site and had a quick look through the rules and guidelines. At the time I thought it would be interesting to enter, but felt that I wanted to concentrate on finishing my then current project.
After I finally wrapped up balloon Pop, I started thinking about my next project and what I wanted to do both in scale and type. I wanted my next project to be another simple-ish project but to be slightly larger in scale, a tad more ambitious.
It was then that I remembered the competition and thought it might be an idea to make a game that follows the rules and guidelines, that way if I finish it before the cutoff date, and I think it is good enough, I could enter it into the competition. And so I decided to investigate the competition a bit more. I headed back over to the site and reread the rules and guidelines, making note of the twist growth. At this point the competition had already been running for almost a week, leaving me about three weeks to make a game, which aligned nicely with the amount of time I wanted to dedicate to my next project.
After rereading the rules and guidelines, I started brainstorming ideas for projects that were somewhat simple and incorporated growth. I played around with a couple ideas, including a platformer where you must grow a central beanstalk to reach higher levels, but I felt this would take longer than 3 weeks to make. I wanted something simple both graphically and mechanically but still had some depth, whilst also adhering to the theme of growth. Eventually I settled on an idea where the aim of the game was to protect a central block from a growing number of incoming blocks, and where these incoming blocks could also grow in size. I created a few concepts, settling on a style I liked before starting work on the prototype.
For most of the development from prototype to finished game not much really changed in terms of core gameplay and graphical style. Not to say things didn’t change, in fact as a game starts to flesh out you find somethings just don’t work or could be done differently. For example, initially there was going to be a health bar at the top of the screen to represent the health of the block the player must defend. But early in development I decided I didn’t want the top of the screen obscured, so I came up with the idea to use the block itself to take on the role of the health bar, changing colour as it loses, or gains, energy; along with the introduction of a two stage size increase as the energy drops/rises; I also felt this was a nice nod to growth. But for the most part the core remained the same.
The majority of development time was probably spent on the enemy blocks, as not only do they add variety to the game, but also because I wanted each block to be slightly different. With different characteristics such as speed or its behavior once it got close to the target.
The last thing to really get added, other than last minute particle effects, was the inclusion of turrets and block traps. These were in fact in the initial design outline, but I felt I should leave them until last in case I didn’t have enough time to implement them properly, as the game was still fully playable without them. Thankfully this wasn’t the case however, and I feel they add a nice element of strategy and resource management to the overall feel of the game.
I realise the game is far from perfect, with plenty of areas for improvements, such as difficulty balance and different game types etc, but I feel that it’s a good improvement, even an increment on my last project, and was completed in roughly the same amount of time.
Overall I’m pleased with how the game turned out and glad that I stuck to the time window so that I could enter the competition, and most of all I had a lot of fun making it.
Yesterday I finished Click ‘n’ PoP, my first Unity Project. Below is an overview of the game along with a link to play it in browser, with a standalone download version coming very soon.
About Click ‘n’ PoP
The goal of Click ‘n’ PoP is to simply click on a certain number of balloons of a given colour before time runs out. Each balloon popped gives the player a little bit more time along with increasing their score.
However, as the game progresses it gets harder by increasing the number of balloons on screen, increasing the number of balloons needed to be popped and reduces the time gained from popping a balloon.
You can play Click’n’PoP in supported browsers here.