No one gets a game right the first time. Why? Because what you envision to be fun is often quite dull. The difference between good and great designers is the willingness to let go of the original vision and iterate again and again for the good of the game.
For the past three weeks, I’ve been working on a top-down shooter using UDK. Though the main premise of the game – the fact that it’s top-down and that you shoot things – remains intact, pretty much every other factor has been changed and rechanged. Here are some of the various changes the game has gone through:
In this version, you control a colored circle and must shoot circles of other colors. You can collide with other circles of your own color. Some circles are one solid color, and others have a different colored core. If you collide with circle whose outer ring matches your color, you change into their core color. For example, if you’re green, and you collide with a circle that’s green on the outside and yellow on the inside, you become yellow.
In the previous version, the game goal was unclear, so in this version, the addition of navigation toward a certain location adds elements of strategy. Along your path, there will be obstacles of certain colors. Thus, you must ensure that your circle is a certain color at certain times. For example, you would have to become blue to go through a blue tunnel.
Instead of navigational obstacles, make the colored circles themselves the obstacles. The game is now a run-forever in which you must shoot and evade colored circles. In order to shoot them, you must lure them to a floor tile of the same color. For example, if you want to shoot a red circle, you must lure it to a red floor tile to shoot it.
You can also collide with multi-colored circles to change the color of your circle so that you can then change floor tile colors.
Luring is boring. It’s hard to lure and shoot. Sometimes you have to go way out of the way to get them to follow you properly, and then you have just a very short window of time to shoot. If too many are following you, they clump up. New plan: everyone can get shot on any color. If a circle gets shot on a floor tile of the same color, everyone explodes.
You can now shoot in multiple directions. Left mouse lets you shoot forward and back, and right mouse lets you shoot left and right. Go crazy!
Version 5 and Beyond
No game ever reaches perfection. You can only do what you can with the time and resources you have and hope that people will get a moderate level of entertainment out of it. I have one week left to keep iterating on this game, and I’m sure there will be at least another version or two to come. Stay tuned!