uDevGame concept: Maelstrom + Scrabble?

Post: #1
Let me explain before the title of the post starts corroding your brain.

(working title: "GhostFighter")

You're in a ship a la Maelstrom, EV, or any other 2D space shooter. You're pegging the opponent's ship with your dinky little blaster. You're popping asteroids all over. Except... they're not asteroids. They're letters. And they're everywhere.

When a letter-oid hits your ship, it gets added to a queue of letters you've collided with. So long as the queue forms the beginning of a valid English word, you're safe. But...

1) If the wrong letter hits you and your queue turns into nonsense, the letters you've stored up explode, taking away your health much faster than being attacked by the opponent.

2) If, on the other hand, you complete a valid word, you automatically spin to face your opponent and launch the letters at them at high velocity, *in reverse order*. Booyah.

But if you've made a word like "STAR" that also makes a word in reverse, watch out - when he throws it back at you again you won't get another rebound!)

You get points for shooting letters and pulling off word combos, but the game only ends when you or the opponent (AI or another player) gets blowed up.

Power-ups might be in the form of other floating particles, or might be selected from a menu before beginning a level; in any case, new powerups will be unlocked by forming special words. "FIREBALL" or "LASER" might unlock a new weapon option, for instance. And who's to say how many there are to collect?

Would anyone be interested in doing some art or sound work for this game? I'd also like to hear suggestions for other features. I have plenty of ideas for powerups and some other gameplay items but I'm glad to hear more. I'm also trying to think of a ridiculous backstory to the concept. ("In a world where consonants kill...")

One thing I'm toying with is how the word launcher should work. Maybe words that start with certain letters should heal your damage instead of firing at the enemy.

I don't remember how I got this idea but I'm glad I did. It just seems to click in a way most of my other game ideas haven't. Last year I tried to write an ultimate frisbee sim that was going well until I realized how much it needed to be 3D to work; this seems manageable but plenty fun.

- Chris Doucette
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Post: #2
I apologise: I'm going to completely hijack this. You've hugely inspired me. This is the similar game I'd like to make:

Letteroids, players, as above. Crystal Quest controls, 2 mice. Really weedy blasters that can't hurt your opponent, and takes a few shots to take out a letteroid, but give a hefty shove to whatever they hit so you can direct letters a bit rather than just destroying them.

Your ship can trail letteroids, which follow behind your ship with the most recent letteroid nearest the ship. Whenever you are trailing three(?) or more letteroids, they must spell a valid word (reading towards the ship); if at any stage they do not, they explode and damage your ship's propulsion systems, giving you less acceleration to manoeuvre with. Once your propulsion is completely gone, the next explosion will finish you off.

As you pick letteroids up, the power of the potential explosion increases; but you can release this pent-up energy with a single keypress. It will shoot directly toward your opponent, and if it hits him it damages his systems in a similar way, added to the explosion of his own blast. You should be able to take a few small blasts before becoming too vulnerable, but the possibility of one-hit-kills should not be discounted...

Trail length is limited; if you pick up a letter when your trail is full, the furthest letteroid disappears and adds a bit to your blast power as the new letter is added. The resulting word must still be valid, otherwise you take explosion damage as above as above. However, if it is still a valid word you get a lot of extra blast power. And more still, perhaps, if the letter would still have made a valid word if the trail length was longer.

An example, with a length-3 trail:

I pick up the letters F, O and R. Something flashes or something to tell me that picking up another letter is potentially dangerous - if I pick up Z, the F drops off and powers up my blast a bit, but now I spell ORZ. Kaboom. On the other hand, I pick up a C, I now spell ORC. This is cool, so I get some extra blast power. On the other hand, I'm stuck here - I can't think of any 3-letter words beginning with RC.

Now suppose I pick up F, O, R, and then E. ORE is a word, so I get my extra blast power, but FORE is also a word, so I get still more. In addition, I can get a bit of extra power by picking up a D next to make me RED. And now I'm stuck - I have to launch my blast before I pick up another letter.

And, oh god, I've got to get up for work.
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Post: #3
Hmm... interesting. I like the idea of being able to deflect the letters as well as blast them away. And maybe having some control over when your word turns into an attack is better than just automatically firing as soon as a word is made (there are arguments for each; different strategies are required in each case - it's a matter of logic strategy vs. risk-taking strategy).

The queue acting as a fixed-length reading frame is a pretty cool idea. Again, it changes the strategy you use. Ideally the game could have multiple playing modes, using the same engine with different rules for how the queue behaves. (More unlockable features!)

If you're really interested, we could collaborate on this... Wonder Twin powers, activate!

- Chris
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Post: #4
My heart says I'd love to collaborate, but my head tells me I'm simply too damn busy at the moment to make any sort of actual commitment... however much I like the idea. The thing is, I'd still like to help as much as I can without being on the "team", basically - I have my own uDG plans. So, anyway, back to the game...

I'm definitely thinking multiple play modes with differing rules; and now I think about it more, I possibly prefer your idea of the letters only needing to spell the beginning of a word (at least in some play modes).

Part of the idea of restricting word length is to limit the amount of dictionary-searching that's needed; something arcade-flavoured like this really doesn't want to be stuttering when people pick letters up.

Letteroids will have to respawn; you'd be able to get interestingly different levels by varying the initial letter distributions - and perhaps if more "difficult" letters like Xs spawned more and more as time went by, it could provoke an interesting race for the nice letters later on in a game. If we give letters "blast" points like the point values of scrabble letters, that would also be interesting. After all, QUIRK really ought to do more damage than EATEN...

I'm thinking rare-ish power-ups like "Double Letter Blast" or "Double Word Blast", etc.

and oh god again, I've got to go back to work Wink.
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Posts: 1,141
Joined: 2002.04
Post: #5
Go with the name "AlphaFighter", as in alphabet, unless it is taken, or use something Alpha-

I like your idea, and it would be appealing to the kids.

Suppose the game was split screen, like Puyo-puyo, where special letters you collected were released into the other player's play zone, like "missile" and that made some homing missile chase the other player... Or did you already say that in yoru doc design.

Anyhow, I really recommend you find someone to help you with this idea for uDG. Good game for schools and what not.

Carlos A. Camacho,
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Post: #6
The letters can be pasted on cylindrical objects that'll combine to be pieces of the missle... Hence they'll (at launch) come out of the ship assemble/snap together then home in on the nearest baddie.

For bosses you chould have to spell/put together specific words (large ones) in a decently crowded place.

The enemies shoudl also have the same objective of either dodging letters and spelling words so that they can also get the upperhand.

Interesting - I'll be emailing you to see what are the specifics of the art that you are looking for in the art - to see if i take care of that for ya!

On a sidenote, this will be my second "letter" game (check my site for the Kids game titled "Kit's ABC Adventure") - I'm going to have to make something particularly evil/violent to cleanse myself from so much educational support! >Smile

<<EDIT>> It looks like I can't email you through the forum, so I'll ask a few questions here.

What experience do you have in programming? What size would you need the sprites? Will there be 8bit alpha or are you looking for more of an SNES style for the sprites?

I think that'll do for now. Feel free to email me! Smile
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Post: #7

I tried emailing you through the forums a few weeks back when I realized you were waiting for a response. Never heard back from you. Are you still interested in doing art? I'm close to starting programming work on the game.

- Chris
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Post: #8
I'm sorry for the delay - been busy with my own stuff. Even though I'm kinda busy - I'd still like to see if I can help (most likely I'll be able to squeeze in a little work on graphics for ya). Send me a description of what you're looking for and I'll see what I can do for ya! Stuff like what style, what format you'd like - what frames of animation you'd need and what/how may characters (ships I'd guess).
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