Background Two years is a long time to spend on a game. That's how long it took to make both the platform iterations of Cute Things Dying Violently, a game that was very popular on XBLIG and much less so on PC. Various promotions have done little to budge the meter on Greenlight, and so 24 months later I find myself in possession of an IP with dwindling interest. Time to do something else!
Updates and a sequel to the XBLIG version are both quite managable as a side project, but by now I'm ready to sink my teeth into a new concept. And boy, do I have one. But, seeing as how I'm a very busy person that holds down a day job, the question is if another plodding dev cycle will see me to success, or to yet another indie game retread that will enter the ranks of anonymity.
So: how's a world-sculpting, weather simulating, resource-gathering, craftalike, creature-destroying Tower Defense game strike you?
Project Coriolis Yeah, uh, that kind of sums it up. If that sounds complicated, it's meant to. In designing my previous games, I usually found that I'd polish off the gameplay quickly and then spent far more time slaving over support systems. Although I doubt I can defeat the 80/20 rule by my lonesome, the Coriolis concept allows me to concentrate almost entirely on gameplay systems and minimize the involvement from outside systems.
The game would flow as such:
Each level starts as an empty 24x24 grid. Overlaid on the grid is a depiction of the world's Prevailing Winds.
During a design phase, the player populates the grid with their own pattern of Land or Water cells.
The game then uses the Prevailing Winds to simulate global weather and cloud movement.
Using an evapotranspiration system and gaining moisture from Water cells, the weather terraforms the Land cells, creating different biomes and climates based upon precipitation and latitude.
The game then goes into Defense mode, wherein:
Resources according to each biome type and its amount of surface area are periodically doled out
The player uses those resources on a Crafting Bar in various combinations to create different types of magical spells
The player casts those spells at waves of monsters that threaten to overrun the world
The player can also case permanent spells as Towers for the game to take on a Tower Defense style roll
A few parting thoughts:
The weather system Complicated though it sounds, I got a prototype up and running inside of two weeks. It's cheap to simulate and fairly accurate. It also adheres to certain real-life weather situations, such as Rain Shadows, high pressure zones, low pressure zones, and what have you. Since it's reliable and predictable, a key feature of the game would be casting spells to try and disrupt local climates to meet the player's defense or resource needs.
Spellcasting I've gamed out about 140 discreet spells at this point. There's a healthy share of damaging spells (e.g. fireballs) and crowd control/physics spells (e.g. wind), but a goodly portion of them are unique spells for bending rules, be they weather-related, terrain-related, or gameplay-related. I think there's some promise there.
Tower Defense Like a typical TD game, monsters would pour through portals and advance along paths... paths which prefer land routes and thus are determined by the player's land placement. Additionally, players could set up various Tower types instead of constantly casting spells. Towers would be more expensive to cast but are permanent (until destroyed), so there would be an optimal combination of spell-casting versus TD.
Viability? Lord knows how long this would take me to do. As I said earlier, both versions of CTDV took me two years, and by the time I was done, the already-saturated physics platformer market was a denser environment than Manhattan. Whoops.
Intriguing weather simulators are few and far between, which is to my advantage. However, the Tower Defense market is flooded, as is the Craftalike market. There's also the fact that monsters creeping along lanes is also very well represented in the MOBA market.
Say, do you like FUN? And FREE THINGS? Well, I've just released a demo of Cute Things Dying Violently which features 10 levels of gameplay, 4 unlockable achievements, and lots and lots of hectoring to buy the full thing.
My fellow Americans (and incidental non-Americans), it is high time that I announce that Cute Things Dying Violently has been released on Windows and is running for President of Indie Games Released on July 17 That Coincidentally Start with the Letter C.
(Pause for cheering)
These are difficult times. Jobs are scarce, terrorism still looms large, and the nation's strategic reserve of Cute Things has tragically remained untouched for many years. But that all changes today! Today, I give you hope. I give you pride. I give you fire, buzzsaws, and some psychotic messed up robot with a bucket on its head that misquotes Lady Gaga. I give you change. Violent change. Ruthless, kicking-and-screaming change.
Now, my esteemed opponent, Senator Fatass McWaddle-plop, will argue that we do not need this change, that we can't even afford it. And to him, I say: how can we not afford it? This nation desperately craves the sight of Cute Things impaled on spikes or electrocuted in midair, their blackened skulls hissing acrid smoke. And I intend to give them these sights, while conducting an honorable, civilized, and issues-oriented campaign. Plus, the good Senator is a mailbox-raping alcoholic that wraps bunnies in American flags and sets them on fire with French cigarettes. Just saying.
My fellow Americans, this July, you'll have a choice. A choice between doing things the old way (which will end in your imminent death because terrorists and e coli-infected lettuce are coming to kill you and your children), and the new way, the right way, wherein you kill millions of Cute Things and are successfully distracted from far more important issues that - let's face it - I do not have a prayer in hellof solving.
This July, elect Cute Things. Elect them for America.