Saturday, April 14, 2007

A few months ago I posted about a transportation mini-game I had started. What happened to it?

I've been a bit distracted and haven't worked on it much. I did learn some Flash, and posted about command line tools for Flash, and then I went to the Game Developer's Conference, which made me think about what kind of game I was working on.

The first comparison that came to mind was Lemmings. In Lemmings, a stream of lemmings is coming into the world, and your goal is to give a few lemmings a job. Jobs include digging through the ground, floating through the air, building steps, turning other lemmings around, etc. The lemmings with jobs affect how the rest of the lemmings move through the world. In the transportation mini-game, there is a stream of packages coming into the warehouse and your goal is to direct them to their goal. You place objects like conveyor belts to change the flow of packages. As with lemming jobs, there are a variety of objects you can use. However you don't use the packages themselves to do this, and there's no terrain to modify.

More recently I ran across a series of “tower defense” games, in which a stream of monsters is walking by and your goal is to shoot them. Just as there are many types of lemming jobs, there are a variety of guns that you can place on towers. The most interesting of these games is Desktop TD, in which the monsters have to walk around the towers you build. This adds a layer of strategy: where you place your towers matters a great deal because if affects how the monsters walk around them, and where the monsters walk affects where your towers should be. In this YouTube video, you can see an example of how you can arrange towers into a maze to force the monsters to take a convoluted path to their goal:

Desktop TD is a lot of fun. It combines a building game with a shooting game. The monsters have a pathfinding algorithm controlling them, and you have to think about how your buildings will affect the results of that algorithm. You also have to think about different kinds of monsters, different kinds of towers, and whether to upgrade existing towers or build new ones.

Unfortunately after playing it for many, many hours it made me less interested in my transportation mini-game. It satisfied my desire to play a game with flowing objects. I'd still like to work on this game but I've been busy with other projects and don't know when I'll get back to it. Maybe someone working on a tower defense clone will incorporate aspects of the transportation mini-game instead, and then I can spend many hours playing their game. ;)