Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WPI Game Jam D09

This past Saturday, WPI GDC held its D-term Game Jam. This term's theme was "3 Things". The idea is to incorporate 3 things - an image (a pineapple), a phrase ("TOO MANY GHOSTS!"), and a sound (a .wav of a young woman making a train noise) - into a game. Pretty simple, right? These games are going to be presents at Wednesday's GDC meeting, and will be judged and awarded prizes. And while prizes are nice, I participated for another chance to make a game for the sheer fun of it.

I took these items and went with a fairly free-flow game design, making up parts of the game as I went. The basic idea is that the player goes around collecting pineapples strewn around the screen. But there are ghosts around, who love pineapple, and rush toward the player when he collects the pineapples. After a short time, the ghosts aren't as urgent, but will still persue the player as long as he holds pineapple.

The player can deposit the pineapple into a train (unofficially dubbed the "Pineapple Express" - a stupid and not entirely clever name, and certainly nothing to do with the movie...not that the movie had anything to do with pineapples or expresses, as far as I know). Once the train is full, it moves off to exit the screen, and once there the game ends and you win! Plus, there's a timer, for added "challenge" (yes, I know it's an artificial challenge and not a terrible original one, but hey, it's a game jam game).

However, collecting pineapples cause ghosts to appear. If a ghost touches the player, it either steals a pineapple and stops moving, or takes some of the player's health. Health gone, game over. And, if there are too many ghosts, the train can't leave. So, there's a random chance a machine part will also appear, which are brought to The Machine. Enough parts, and The Machine revvs up, causing the ghosts to disappear.

One interesting idea came to me during the development. At first I slapped together the usual "use the cursor keys to move" on the player, but I remembered I did this for my 38 Studios MGC game, so I thought I'd try something a little different. So, the player clicks the mouse, and the character moves toward the pointer.

The game still needs some tweaking. Values need to be adjusted for gameplay and challenge, and I need more sound effects and perhaps a little more art (right now, it's just bitmaps hastily drawn in Game Maker's sprite editor). I was also tinkering with the idea of the ghosts running after the train to prevent it from leaving. And perhaps little extra things of that nature, we'll see. Plus, a background would be nice (it's a boring flat gray background).

I'll see about putting it up on the website sometime after Wednesday...or perhaps after I've messed around with it a bit more.