It’s been over a year since my last update. I wonder if I’m the only one left here now…
Okay, time to cram a year’s worth of updates into a single post! Here we go. Firstly, I no longer live in London. I will miss that city and its people. I’m in Australia now, and I absolutely love it here. It’s perfect! There seems to be some joke about how everything in Australia is out to kill you. Now I guess people will have more reasons to assume I’m dead every two weeks. Ha!
I started Sonny 3 a long time ago with FlashDevelop and AS3, but then as mentioned in my previous post – I’ve decided to learn Unity as my main platform instead. The powerful engine and the ability to export to any device was too good to pass up. Now fast forward a year, and I’m more comfortable in Unity with C# than I ever was in Flash. I’ve learnt a ton of new tricks along the way. Now in order to learn Unity, I wanted to make a game that was easy. I didn’t want to make Sonny 3 right away, because I want to be 100% capable before starting the project. So I opted for a Shoot-Em-Up, which is in my opinion, the easiest kind of game to make. This game was called Invasion at first, but now it’s changed to…
Now, this was originally planned as a 2 month project. Just quickly make a highscore game, and then move on to Sonny which is what everyone wanted. That was the plan, and if I had followed it, this game would have been finished with Star Strike a long time ago. But when the highscore game was ready, I wasn’t happy with it. The game was missing something. But more importantly, I felt I hadn’t learnt enough. So I went back to the drawing board – redrafting, redesigning. I drew up a list of all the similar games I’ve enjoyed before – Raiden, Lylat Wars, FTL. Trying to find some inspiration that I could use. I ended up transforming the game quite a lot. Instead of a high score game, now there are 100 Sectors to fight through. There are bosses that fly around you, and you need to hit their weak spots. The ship has RPG stats, and can be equipped with up to four different items. The items are procedurally generated like in Diablo, with special powers – some add stun to your weapon, some shield you when you reach critical damage, or add extra missiles to your attack. There’s even special missions to dodge through an asteroid field, or sneak through an enemy base, with avoidance gameplay.
There was a lot of things in Star Strike that I developed as a precursor to Sonny 3. Things like the networking system and the friends list – the daily challenges you can login to do. I needed to test it out first before I dare build the game around it. I wanted to test out my ideas for procedural level and item generation. This is why I had to put Sonny on hold – I would jump in right away, but there were tools I had to learn, and ideas I had to test. The game is almost done now. I’m cleaning up the code and testing the game. It will be release for free on iOS (and possibly Android later on).
Meanwhile I’ve also been working on another puzzle-RPG with the guys who did Flight! for iOS – WarSpark. I really enjoyed some games before that combined a Match-3 style of play with RPG. Namely, there was one called “10000000” that I really liked, and so I wanted to design one of my own. The concept is such: you have to match an element, and then your character attacks based on what elements you unleashed. The character can level up and equip items and spells. Spells need a specific color to cast – so if you wanted to cast a Fireball, you would need to match 4x of the red gems, for example. But I think the most impactful mechanic in the game is that you share the same puzzle grid as the enemy. So when it’s their turn, the grid will lock, and they will make a move. This means you need to plan one step ahead – you can’t always go for the biggest chain if that leaves you open to be counter-attacked by an even stronger chain. Or sometimes, you can see that an enemy is using only red spells, so you need to move to deny him the red gems. It’s actually quite fun! And it was nice to work on a game that anyone could pick up and play for once. Here’s a concept screen:
Okay, since this is what everyone is always asking about – here is a small update! I have prototyped a few different ideas and have decided to go with the Mutagen design after all. I think it’s really fun to be able to pull apart the DNA of your dead enemies and absorb their abilities – but also to be able to mix them and create your own combinations. Some fundamental changes will be made to the game. First, the buffs are going to be a lot simpler. There are just too many buffs in Sonny 2, because the gameplay relied on them too strongly. Now we’ll have much more interesting mechanics, and so buffs can take a back seat. On the other hand, I found a fun way to deal with elements and ability builds. Inspired from card games, each spell will add or gain some kind of bonus based on how many spells of the same element you have in the ability grid. So maybe Toxic Spit gains +15% damage for each Green Mutagen you equip. Meaning you can get stronger power by sticking to one element, but each element will have its own strengths and weaknesses.