GGJ Archives 2009-2012

Saturday 6am-11pm


Global major game theme: Deception
Global minor game themes: a MAN, a PLAN, and a CANAL

It occurs to me that it was relatively easy last year to design a game based around a theme in the form of a phrase. (Last year's was "As long as we're together, we'll never run out of problems.") When you only have singular keywords for both major and minor themes, it's a lot harder to fit those themes because keywords too vague on their own without a more complex context.

By Saturday morning, the ideal design of the game was solidified, ideal being the key word there. Many parts of the game's design, including some of the aspects that made it fit the themes requested, would end up removed from the final product.

Panda Commando would be a top-down puzzle game with a tile-based character movement system for the player character. You can freely move around in a mine cart the track of which circles the play area. Evil snakes would come out of the hole in the middle of the play area and throw blocks into the water to clog up the docks. You would clear the blocks by throwing oranges at them. You could also prevent the blocks from being thrown into the water by running down the snakes with your mine cart. The blocks themselves would cause the oranges you throw at them to bounce off in another direction dependent on an arrow which is visible on the top of the block. Making bounce combos would be how you acquire score. Game over would occur when any dock overflows.

In this ideal design, we wanted to have a snake AI (Theme: MAN) that would draw the player away from one area of the field so that another snake could run in and throw their block before the player could catch up (Theme: DECEPTION). Enemies went out the window pretty quick. Path-finding AI is not something easily built in less than 48hrs, and making enemies move randomly would be silly in this context.

Since we no longer had enemy units (or their spawner) it was determined that restricting the player's movements to just the mine cart track was pointless. The mine cart was removed, an all art assets that featured it had to be changed to exclude it.

Even though the snakes were gone, the blocks still needed to spawn somehow. Our writer said we could explain that away as the blocks being dropped by enemy bombers.

In the ideal design, the blocks rolled when hit to reveal different arrows on top. The arrangement of arrows on the blocks needed to be consistent so the player could plan exactly where they should throw their oranges. To facilitate this, we added different colors to each side of the blocks so that given the color and arrow direction of the top face of the block the player could determine what arrow would appear once the block rolls (this would also allow is to implement a color-matching game mechanic if desired). To do this, the blocks would have to be treated in the physics of the game as 3D cubes that roll when struck with an orange. A significant amount of time was put into changing the blocks to cubes while remaining in a 2D sprite perspective. The plan was to finalize this aspect of the gameplay early Sunday morning.

- An inked drawing of the "ideal" gameplay (minus the arrows, player, and enemies)

Ideal Gameplay (inked)
Ideal Gameplay (inked)286.89 KB


All rights reserved 2012-2013, Global Game Jam