Vertical Epic Slice

On publishing – I’m thinking that I need a demo, and if that demo falls down, I need to be able to throw out another pitch. So I need 2 games, possibly more. At least, that’s what a screenwriter does, and that’s the best and most useful information I’ve got in terms of trying to convince somebody that you’re as good as you think you are. In any event, I do need a demo. The industry parlance refers to this as a “Vertical Slice” or “Razor Slice” depending on who you ask. In effect, you need 10-15 minutes of the game finished and working, and here’s the important bit, as it will be when it is finished. So a tech demo isn’t it. I suppose you could get green-lit (I think that’s the term – again screenwriting concepts) with a tech demo, but that seems less likely to happen today given the number of prebuilt engine “solutions” in play.
Right then, it seems that the team is well on our way to that just as we’re scheduled. The first level art is coming along (I think) and the animations are popping along. The thing is, there are a lot of things that are end of development cycle stuff that we’d have to get done now for a vertical slice to work. The cinematics come to mind as do background animations and all of that. So, actually creating said slice may be quite a bit of work that would have to be done out of order which increases our chances of throwing something out later. I’ll see what the team thinks the next time we meet.
What I can do, is come up with some of those B options. Or rather, put to paper some of the ideas that are floating for codenames Knight and Physics Block MetroidVania. “What’s that? Thief doesn’t fit with your current publishing portfolio? We’ll how about these equally awesome ideas? Now in Design Doc form with art.”

-Speaking of brain work, I’ve been busy mulling the combat system. Not to sound like a pretentious douche, but it’s part of my “Process.” I start with a goal, and let the idea just gestate for a while and periodically come back to it and talk myself through it. I find the car is a good place for this since I’m being stimulated and if people see me talking to myself they just assume I’m talking on a cell phone they can’t see. As a side effect, I’ve come up with:
-Enemy reactions to the environment, including collision. This also includes the ability for enemies to jump, chase, fall down/ off of things to be defeated and at least in one occasion – wall run. This is going in and now The Princess with be that much scarier to fight.
-Multiple Enemy AI system. Basically, by abstracting the code for the AI and using “states” like The Thief has, the enemies and their information can be saved into an array (oh how I do love those). Then the array can be poured into the AI functions like Pachinko balls, and voila – multiple enemies. Of course, I still only want 1 enemy per screen in Thief. It’s a design decision. The other ideas, they’ll use this. Knight will extensively.
Right then. So the new combat system is rolling along. The biggest issue I’m having was trying to consider “Priority.” In that, if somebody attacks, and somebody else attacks in response, what happens? For example, I considered having the attacks cancel each other out, but that would lead to the attack being used as a defensive mechanic, and I don’t want that. Same with a kind of “Clash” where buttons would have to be mashed. The solution that I’ll prototype is that the first attack, wins by default. So whoever threw first will knock the other out of their attack.
To counter the natural want to rush down the enemies and button mash, I’m adding the following:
– High/Low Blocks for enemies that stun The Thief out of his attacks if he throws the matching attack.
-High/Low attacks of The Thief – see above.
-Invincible State for enemies after they get knocked down. Possibly following a series of blows. I’m still polishing the concept in my brain.
-Staggered State for enemies after they get hit. Variations dependent on the kind of enemies.(maybe – see below)
-Defensive moves for enemies based on a random modifier. So if you hit them, they may jump back, pull a block, change their block or throw a counter. So even when you’re wailing on the enemies, you still have to pay attention.
-Special moves both offensive and defensive based on the enemy type. So Knights will have huge shields you can’t attack from the front, the Skeletons will be able to frighten The Thief and stun him, The General may have a super powerful jumping attack and The Princess may have an acrobatic unblockable and an Auto-Counter.
Add to this the extra movement abilities of the enemy AI, and the combat becomes a little more tricky, and certainly more interesting.

– I’m also going back to school. I needs loans and I needs grants. I could go without these, but I would rather my life not suck. The battle of my Pride versus my Pragmatism has come out differently than it usually does. Either way, using some of that grant and loan money to pay my bills would be sweet. I’m also considering applying for a campus job. Then I’d be able to work a funny schedule and still go to on hour classes. Of course, my concepts of what said jobs pay may be a little optimistic. At the least I expect that a college student would be able to live off said monies.

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