Re: [stella] Game concept and brainstorming

Subject: Re: [stella] Game concept and brainstorming
From: Thomas Jentzsch <tjentzsch@xxxxxx>
Date: Tue, 22 Jan 2002 09:40:25 +0100
Tim Snider wrote:
> I'm hard at work trying to get a half-way working BIN together to post here
> for critiquing. 

Nice to hear, that you are still continuing this task :-)

> I'm a fan of the "overhead shooter" (Venture, Robotron 2084, Berzerk,
> etc.) - hence the basic concept of my game. The game takes place on one
> screen - that of a walled-in cemetary. There are a few gravestones scattered
> here and there to act as barriers/obstacles/shields the player must
> move/shoot around. 

Here you could add gravestones which replace killed zombies (like in Glenn's current Death Derby project). This will make shooting and manouevering much harder, the more zombies have to be killed. And the player could also be able to destroy those stones by shooting at them.

> At the beginning of the game (and each round thereafter), the player begins
> in the center of the playfield. 

Whiy don't you let him enter from one side, so that his first task is to find a good place for that round?

> Zombies begin to enter the playfield from
> the edges. I'd like to have them "track" the player, but I can see it being
> too easy to just stand in the center and pick them off as they approach. On
> the other hand, having them randomly bounce around lacks a certain appeal.
> That's my first gameplay problem. Suggestions?

You could design different characters of zombies, which attack in different patterns (slow stupid, evasive, fast directly, randomly, from behind ...). And perhaps some of them could need more than one hit to be killed (the "key-keeper") or have to be hit in the back. And those characters should be introduced and mixed in different rounds, so the player will have different gameplays with every round.

> Each "wave" of zombies lasts for 6 zombies times the number of the level
> you're at. (EX: At Level 2, you must shoot 12 zombies to complete the level.
> Level 3, 18 zombies. Level 4, 24 zombies. Etc.) Whenever a zombie is shot,
> another one enters the playfield from the edge to take its place. In other
> words, the zombies keep coming. 

What about limited ammo, based on the number of zombies. And perhaps some chances to get extra ammo which is lying somewhere around like the key (or under a gravestone)

> (I see no more than 3 or 4 on-screen at any
> one time. Even then, I see a lot of flicker about to happen.)

You definitely need an inteligent flicker routine here, or your zombies will look like the Pac Man ghosts. Or you could use missiles for the zombies, like Glenn is trying.

> When the player shoots the number of zombies needed to complete the wave, a
> key (sprite) will randomly appear somewhere on the playfield (Obviously, one
> of the zombie sprites will be deleted and replaced with this new item.)

So it will look like he carried the key, correct?

> However, zombies keep appearing even after the key appears. The player must
> pick up that key to unlock one of the gates to escape. However, only ONE gate
> will open, so a player might have to race to the opposite side to leave the
> playfield. 

Perhaps you could create up to four gates, that would make the escape sequence a bit harder.

And then you could change gameplay from a round based shooter to an adventure style game, where all the graveyards are linked together and you find keys for gates in different graveyards.

> The scoring system is pretty simple too. To give it a "survival" game feel,
> the player only gets points for zombies counted towards completing the
> Level. On Level 1, the player must shoot 6 zombies before the key appears.
> The player gets a point for each of these zombies (6 points scored).
> However, once the key appears, the player gets NO POINTS for more kills.
> This keeps the player from just sitting there, racking up points. To
> increase the score further, the player must grab the key and make his escape
> to the next level. Completing Level 2 successfully means that the player
> would have a total of 18 points (6+12). Level 3 completed would mean 36
> points (6+12+18).

I would give him some extra points for getting the key, reaching the exit and perhaps for the remaining ammo. 
E.g. 2 points for a killed zombie, 1 point for each remaining bullet, (which would allow you to let the player score some more points after the key appears) and some more points (fixed, or better: based on the level) for the key and the reached exit. 

> This scoring system would force the player to move on to the next level if
> he or she wants to rack up more points. However, moving on to the next level
> will be difficult seeing as how the player must manuver across the playfield
> while the enemies are still just as numerous and just as aggressive.

Perhaps even more aggressive (like in the next wave), because the "key-keeper" has been killed.

> I was hoping to have a workable BIN by the first of the year, but I'm still
> working on it. I hope to have something for you guys to look at by the end
> of the month. In fact, at the end of the month, I'll post it regardless of
> condition. I just wanted to have something that worked before I revealed it
> to the masses.

It should at least compile and show something on the screen. And, if you want help for the code, some comments and full cycle counting in the kernel would be very good.

Have fun!
Thomas Jentzsch         | *** Every bit is sacred ! ***
tjentzsch at web dot de |

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