This Week’s GameAWeek entry is a time travel adventure game called “Time Enough To Travel” (a slight reference to the twilight zone episode Time enough at last)
Game #2 Time Enough to Travel.
Following the idea that I had to make reusable parts for my games, this week’s GameAWeek was centered around an Event Queue. Lots of simulation games use event queues or can be replicated with them (Oregon Trail, Game Dev story, Spent, etc). The idea is you have a list of objects with each object representing an event. When the game decides it’s the next time step (say the next hour, the next day, etc) the system checks the list for the next event that is scheduled to occur at that time and executes it. This system gives me a lot of flexibility because once I design a few events I can arrange them in several ways to make unique gaming experience. For example, if I make the events “Player catches Dysentery”, “Broken Axel Wheel”, “Lost Oxen”, “Snake Bite” I can create several unique playthroughs:
Day 1 – “Game Start”
Day 2 – “Player catches Dysentery”
Day 3 – “Broken Axel Wheel”
Day 4 – “Game End”
Day 1 – “Game Start”
Day 2 – “Lost Oxen”
Day 3 – “Player catches Dysentery”
Day 4 – “Broken Axel Wheel”
Day 5 – “Snake bite”
Day 6 – “Game End”
I got a simple version of it working and then started thinking: “Hey, I can also go back and forth through time with this.” So, I ditched the Oregon Trail idea and decided to do a Time Travel based game.
What went right
I finished, but ran about two hours over time. The event queue worked well and I think I’ll be able to reuse this system a lot. Thanks to Mark’s suggestion from last week I also picked up PyxelEdit which proved to be tremendously helpful when creating my art assets. I also ended up with a lot of simple triggers that I might be able to reuse in other games such as the speech balloons that pop up if you’re close to an NPC.
What went wrong
In the end, I wasn’t able to animate the Success or Failure events. I relied heavily on text because I simply didn’t have the time to insert new objects and have them move/animate in a way that conveys what’s going on in the scene. This is too bad cause most of the art was already done:
if I had more time, I would probably render a static Success or Failure screen for every level so at least players can see what happened to them.
I added a Pause option to be triggered when I showed a message (so that time wouldn’t keep marching forward when you’re reading a prompt). In the end, it worked for most events, but for some weird reason didn’t work for Success screens. This is weird and something I would like to get to the bottom of, but for now just included another variable bool successScreen that paused the game. Ugly, yes, but sometimes you just need it to work. I rationalized my hacky code towards the end of the project by thinking that the Event Queue code was reusable so it didn’t matter if the other parts can’t be.
LAYERS! I didn’t have enough time to get layering done. As a result, sometimes the main character just kinda floats through things. If I had had more time, I would have translated z coordinates as a function of y (The lower you go on screen, the further you pop out). Instead, I had an NPC draw attention to it as a byproduct of time travel.
No music this week either. Sad.
What I learned
It’s not easy to change direction halfway through the challenge. If I would have stuck with the Oregon Trail Idea I probably would have finished earlier and would have cause my self less grief. Then again, I didn’t really think of an interesting “trail” idea and the time travel idea was cooler giving me more incentive to push through.
Also, art takes suuuuuper long. In the future I should probably abstract as much of my components as possible (maybe using cubes like Thomas is alone) or check out open game art.
Other Games from Week Two
Anastasia created a very atmospheric game called My Town which instantly brought to mind movies like Memento where you piece the narrative together along with the protagonist. This is a story told through the eyes of a woman with Dementia and left me feeling very vulnerable.
Melissa made a crafting/puzzle game called Solution which shows a lot of promise as a way to teach chemical reactions while being fun and engaging.
Mark uploaded a photo of a card game he’s working on. Can’t wait to hear more about it.
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