Over the last week, I took a break from Dana and wrote a Geometry Wars-style action game. The main idea the game explores is virtuosity. Essentially there is so much to control that our puny human brains cannot comprehend it all for a long time; the game is engineered to have a very long learning curve.
Here are some examples of gameplay dynamics:
- “Bomb enemies” (more precisely, enemies with a bomb component) explode in a few units radius, and if you are nearby, you die. On the other hand, any other enemies nearby also die, and because you control the spawn location of new enemies (they always spawn opposite the direction you are shooting), you can use this to your advantage.
- “Strong enemies” take three hits to kill, so generally you don’t want them around. However, if you have the prism gun, then the strong enemies refract and split your bullets, making many more of them. So there is incentive to keep the strong enemies around to use to your advantage if you pick up a prism gun.
- Usually there is too much going on to keep it all under control. So you can shoot “time rings” (ripped off from Braid) which slow down the world around them, to keep the part you are not currently dealing with from evolving too fast. Using it effectively requires foresight and a good idea of what’s going on on the entire screen, in addition to the “micro dynamics” of shooting and dodging.
Each of the enemies’ sound effects layer together rhythmically to create the music for the game.
I’m pretty happy with this game. It is fun and addictive, and like Geometry Wars has an affinity for inducing flow states and causing you to do things you didn’t know you were capable of. Be warned though — this game is not for the faint of heart: it is very difficult. If you feel like devoting a few hours to a game to learn it well enough not to die in the first 30 seconds, this is the game for you :-). That is, after all, the point. (Geometry Wars players will have an easier time, because the basic mechanic is the same, so they can start on the second layer) My high score is 2715, consider that a challenge to beat it! :-)
Best played with an XBox 360 controller. There is a keyboard and mouse mode (keys: wasd, 123, spacebar), but I have not playtested it very much in that mode, because I’m developing on a laptop with a touchpad. Gross. To use the keyboard and mouse mode, you need to enable that control scheme in the options.
The game was developed in C# using Microsoft’s XNA game toolkit.