Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Go With the Flow

Sorry for the lack of posts recently, I have been busy with my review(!) copy of Dawn of War 2. You can read my review here.

Anyway, I had a game idea a while back that I think has some potential. Building on the success of many rhythm games and combining it with one of my favourite genres, I came up with: "Go with the Flow".

You start off with a simple platformer. In this platformer, the map is constantly moving and you must use your 4 commands to avoid obstacles. These four commands are jump, duck (slide if you keep it held down) spin and moues grind (I'll explain in a second). Once you have built this, speed up the movement of the map so it is unplayable without lengthy memorization of the entire course, sounds terrible doesn't it?

Then, you add the music. In theory it should work for any song. You craft the map around the song. The map is moving to fast for the players to play it blind, or deaf in this case. Instead, they must get in to the rhythm of the music and predict what they are going to have to do.

This is probably the tripping point of the game. It is all very well if the programmer knows why he put such a block in, but the game will become very frustrating if you have to keep repeating the level to learn its foibles.

The solution, at least in theory, is to stick to a logical implementation. If the note goes up, jump, if it is a low note, use down. Spin on beats .

However, the second problem comes in two forms. Firstly, if you picture a jump animation, can you see the character landing before the next beat? And what if it is more extreme, with continuous variation?

That is where the mouse grinding comes in. With continuous change in pitch, such as during a guitar solo, the user would use the mouse to keep the character in a broad path (that would rise and fall with pitch)

Obviously, the best way to see if this idea would work (and be fun) is to implement a level. This is what I aim to do if I get time during the next month. The problem is, the platformer element needs to be really smooth. Having played Guitar Hero, there is nothing more frustrating that when the game lets you down. The last thing you want is some dodgy hit testing!

In the mean time, I will post this idea on Gamedev.net and see what they think about it. Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments below.

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