Gaming Your Way

May contain nuts.

Sometimes your babies suck.

I've been meaning to post this for well over a week now, but a new project has sucked up my time.

Anyway after DN8 was in bidding but still not quite finished I thought I'd be all good and proactive and start the next game. Physics games are such a popular genre and what with Nape looking so sexy it felt right to start one. A nice quick physics game ( You know that sentence is dripping in irony don't you ).


"Smash 'em Up". A wrecking ball knocking down buildings. Felt fun in my head. Move the crane ( Which is still a twinkle in the art packages' eye ), drag the ball back with the mouse and let it go. What could go wrong ?

Between me and you, I don't really like physics games. I've done a fair few, even going back as far as a Flade powered one ( Remember that kids ? ) but having no knowledge of physics means development is a painful hit and miss affair, which is getting slightly less painful each time but never what I could describe as fun. Worse though, as a genre, they don't really do anything for me. There are a handful I like, but I think most of those are by friends, so I'm predisposed to play them more and I guess they grow on me.

So I'm making a game that I'm not loving, and the ideas just dried up. Yeah it's great fun knocking over walls, but there's no real skill as such, it's more a case of trial and error figuring out where to launch the ball from, and I don't find any fun in failing at a game until I get exactly what the designer wanted. Yep, Angry Birds leaves me cold.

Want to see it ? There's no preloader and I think it's just over a meg. Here you go, Smash'em Up.

Back to the drawing board. I know there's something there, it's almost fun, so I tried to look at what was missing. Killing things is always fun, so maybe that was it, smashing walls isn't enough on it's own.


I came up with some soft body baddies. They worked really well and it was quite straight forward in Nape ( Which is a real joy to use ).

Now, how to weave them into a story. Ok, a physics game doesn't need an accompanying novella, but I have to justify things a little.
How about this. So many games focus on the alien invasion, but what about the aftermath ? There must have been a hell of a clean up operation after Independence Day. Someone has to make the damaged buildings safe. So this takes place after your favourite invasion themed game.
We all know aliens are sly sods, so they deposited their jelly like spores around the city, so lets kill two birds with one stone, take out the unsafe buildings and kill those pesky spores who will grow up to bite your face off.

In terms of the game, this meant re-skinning it, from the nice city scape we have in v1, to a burning hell on earth. I really enjoy doing pixel art, I'm far from good at it, but I do enjoy it. When I feel like doing it. Which is in very short bursts, usually until I find something I've done looks crap ( eg, those trees ), and then I'm bored of it, because I'm frustrated at not being as good as I want.

Let's review. There's a ton of pixel art which needs re-doing, 17 or so levels that need designing, the pass / fail condition for the game needs changing, those post level stars just don't work anymore and I don't really like physics games.

Fuck it.

There's still a good game in there struggling to get out, but not now. I do my own stuff because I enjoy it, if I didn't I'd be doing agency work and never have to worry about money again. I'm not enjoying working on this, and I won't until I have a big break through so it's on hold for now. Possibly forever.

Here's Smash'em Up: End of the world mix

I thought I'd do this post as we're developers, and as such we have hits and misses, and learning from the misses is just as important as basking in the warm glow of a good game being well received.
It's not a complete loss, the burning ember particles are nice and I'm sure those will be used elsewhere, and I've got a nice wrapper class for Nape so if I ever crack and do "Destroy Every Car" we've got a nice foundation to start with.


Comments (3) -

  • Scarybug

    5/19/2011 12:05:25 AM |

    I too have tried and failed to make a fun wrecking-ball physics game.

  • charlie

    5/19/2011 9:38:01 AM |

    Ahhh, unfinished physics games, a subject close to my own heart. I'm now at the point where I can decide whether these things are worth finishing or not (i.e. no 'helpful' advice from me.)
    Still, wrecking stuff (as demonstrated by DAC/DMC) seems like a winner...
    (And, is Nape > B2d?)

  • Squize

    5/19/2011 1:36:54 PM |

    @SB, there's def something with it as a mechanism, it feels satisfying smashing things down, it's just the lack of scope for adding more depth to it.

    There's a reason there are so many projectile firing physics games, and so few wrecking ball ones :)

    @Charlie, nape is a lot easier to use, and in terms of performance it "Feels" as good as the alchemy version of box2D. I'm using it in the current game ( Which weirdly enough isn't a physics game ) and it's performing a treat.

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