[stella] Game concept and brainstorming

Subject: [stella] Game concept and brainstorming
From: "timchrissnider" <timchrissnider@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2002 21:25:52 -0500
Howdy gang,

I'm hard at work trying to get a half-way working BIN together to post here
for critiquing. (Playfield seems to work, but crashes once I start getting
sprites on-screen.) Anyway, while I try to puzzle this out, I thought I'd
bounce my game idea off of you all and ask for a little bit of advice on
"tweaking" gameplay.

As many of you probably know, I'm working on, what I laughingly refer to as,
"the first survival horror game for the Atari 2600." The name of the game is
"They're Risen" or "The Ravenous Dead," depending on what day it is and what
mood I'm in. ;) Basically, it's a "you versus legions of the undead" game.
(Here's a real simple website with a bit of info:
www.geocities.com/gameagain_2000/risen.html ) .

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. At either end of the playfield are closed gates (sprites
acting as "doors."). These are the exits to the next level that, for now,
remain closed.

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

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. (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.)

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.)
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
will open, so a player might have to race to the opposite side to leave the
playfield. When the player exits the playfield, that Level ends and the next
Level is ready to begin.

Every other level (Level 3, 5, 7, etc.), the speed of the zombies will
increase. Since the number you must shoot increases as well, in later
levels, you'll have to shoot quite a few incredibly fast zombies to escape.

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).

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.

Bells and whistles I'd like to eventually add: I'd like for the enemies to
have some simple animation, rotating between two sprites. I'd like to add a
title screen (probably not with the huge titles I've come up with) or a
simple horror-movie-organ dirge at the beginning (very likely). Part of me
would like to do a "super-sprite" animation for the "End of the Game" ala
Frankenstein's Monster. (After the last life is lost, maybe just one big
zombie sprite gnashing its' teeth at the player.) This is, of course,
looking way, way ahead.

Anyway, I wanted to get some feedback before I committed to a particular
gameplay pattern. I like my concept, but I can see the game getting kinda
repetitive, and I'd like to flesh it out while it's still early. I'd
appreciate any input anyone may have posted to this list.

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.

Thanks for your help and advice,
Tim Snider
"Eating aspirin like Pez for his 6502-induced headache"

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