Game Design and Gameplay

One thing is for sure, you'll be spending a big chunk of your valuable time with your next game project. So with that in mind, better make sure this is a game you will like playing yourself. Hopefully, you'll start enjoying it right away...that way you'll have an incentive to continue until the end. They say the last 20% of a coding project takes 80% of the time. I would correct this for games programming, and say the last 10% takes 90% of the time! Of course, this is usually because the last 10% usually involves coding the high-score tables, demo modes, instructions and bug-fixing!

The first thing we need to do is get out a pad and pencil, and sketch out how you want your game to work, a process called storyboarding. For our simple game this will be quite easy, probably just a single page will do. Be prepared to be flexible. If you get halfway though your project and realise the control method sucks, better backtrack and rethink it. Chances are if you think it sucks, so will everyone else. A bad control method can ruin a great idea, or conversely turn a mediocre game into a something special just by doing a few tweaks here and there.

As an example, take Super Sweep. This is a scrolling game where the cart drives around a track. The design specification stated that the cart is static, in the centre of the screen, with the map scrolling around. This is fine, but I modified this slightly to move the cart to the opposite side of the screen, always facing the centre. Using this interface, the player will always get a good view of the track ahead. Now you get something a lot more dynamic, with the screen panning like crazy, but feels natural because your eyes are drawn to watching what will be coming next. So back to our game...

So, the idea will be to catch the little guy by means of a trampoline controlled by the player. He's going to bounce up the screen and explode the balloons. Lose a life if the trampoline misses the guy (just like real life). The game gets harder because the little guy moves quicker. I'm tempted to call our little guy "Otto" after the character "Evil Otto" in the old arcade game Bezerk.

The balloons will float across the screen, you'll be able to aim the guy depending on where you catch the trampoline. Basically that's the game...we can add to it later if we feel the need.

The next thing we need to do is fire up Macromedia Flash, and create a new Flash project, and get some coding done.

Next: Creating the graphics and start screen



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