A spooky n' suburban1v1 online shooter. One player starts upstairs in a suburban home, the other at one of the entrances along the ground floor. Who is hunting whom?
Solo effort for the 7-Day FPS Jam, November 2014 - then worked on intermittently for another few weeks afterwards
Three things I like:
- When the idea for the game came to me, shortly after watching the 7DFPS keynote that kicked off the game jam, I knew exactly the kind of atmosphere I was going to create and the rough idea for an art style. This is pretty unusual for me, a programmer by nature, but I had fun with the world and aesthetic building and I think it pays off with a pretty creepy vibe. My specific inspirations were in Steve Gaynor's suggestions from the keynote, where he urged people to focus on first encounters, which are always much more intense because of the unfamiliarity. This 'encounter scenario' combined with me having watched the first two Halloween movies for the millionth time a week previous led me to create a dark and spooky game where every encounter is fraught with danger. In my limited playtesting of the game that bears out, almost like each time you see the other player you get a bit of a jump scare!
- Because I had such a specific design in mind, I knew I needed to set up some rough networking and match-making in order for players to play. I had previously experimented with the Photon Networking plugin on a previous Unity3D project so I was familiar with it, though I hadn't ever shipped anything using it. And while using a plugin is probably about a million times easier than setting up a server and writing new network code, it was still pretty tough to get everything working smoothly and I am fairly proud of the results. There are of course a lot of features that could be in the game, some of which aren't in there by design, but just to get networking at all on a solo project is pretty dang cool.
- The design of the game, with loud and messy and violent encounters, is pretty far from what I usually like to design or work on, but I am nevertheless quite happy with what I was able to do. Sure, versions of this have probably been done through mods and what not, but this is a cohesive vision of one small thing taken to some pretty far extremes. If I did want to work on this more as a full title with professional art and sound, I could definitely find more corners of the game design to develop further to bring out the game's thick creepiness and excitement. I'd surely want to go back to the drawing board on a lot of systems but the core idea is represented well in this prototype.
Three things I don't like:
- Like I said above, this was originally for the 7DFPS 2014 game jam. Unfortunately, I didn't watch the keynote or start the game until 3 days of the jam had already passed. I busted my ass to build Inveigher as quickly as possible and did indeed get the majority of the initial design implemented in the remaining 4 days, but I made the ill-fated choice of continuing to develop the prototype without setting a real or artificial deadline to stop working. This led to another few days of serious development, a couple weeks of on-and-off development, and a three week break. I think the prototype is too good to not release so here I am dusting it off and spit-shining it over the holidays.
- The scary thing is that I do still want to keep working on it but I've made a commitment to put it aside, at least until I can make a plan and find the time to properly build it smartly. I think I made a bit of a mistake in wanting to work so much on the art, with the reality that this was always going to be a prototype or game jam game. I suppose it provides a good reference point if and when I do start 'version 3' but I also wonder if so much extra effort was worth it. Did I mention that I built and tested this game for Windows, Mac, and Linux? Did I mention this was my first time building for Linux? Great plan!
- My tools sort of bit me in the ass a bit while working on this. I didn't really think my workflow through to start with, and instead just plowed ahead with SketchUp. Now I'm no artist, but even if I was I think SketchUp would still be the right tool for building up a simple 'ticky tacky' house for Unity. But that software choice led to a bunch of problems in terms of editing and fine tuning the final model. For instance, I had separate particles for when the bullets hit the glass instead of the walls or players, but the entire house is one uninterrupted model. Perhaps it's just a matter of re-processing the model more thoroughly in Maya but that sounds like a real pain. Maybe this would be a perfect place for BSP's in a more traditional FPS engine. Something like UE4 perhaps...