Back on the ZX Spectrum, in my very early days of coding in BASIC, I made a little game where a fella was being made to walk the plank with a pirate asking multiplication questions. If you got it wrong, you got prodded one step closer to the inevitable game over splash. The idea behind that early game has bounced around inside my head ever since, picking up a whole load of various inspirations from my love of RPGs and other genres throughout the years. If I could figure out how to work an RTS, FPS or driving angle in there too, I totally would!
While we want to aim at a younger audience as they will stand to gain most from the maths based elements while at school, we are following our standard modus operandi at Infinite State Games and making games we ourselves also want to play. So the mechanics will be rich enough to satisfy the older gamer, while we will refrain from severed body parts and other non-child friendly themes that tend to accompany bladed melee based combat in order to keep our age rating down.
Any mental skill is just like a physical one – the more you practise it, the better you get. Maths is no different. And you’d be amazed at how much you use mental arithmetic in every day life, even if you don’t realise it… From working out if that shop keeper just short changed you, to working out how many times you can hit snooze before you absolutely have to get out of bed!
A little secret: I’m pretty rubbish at maths! Certainly relative to some of the guys I’ve worked with over the years. But to be honest, you don’t need great maths skills to be a great programmer, unless you want to get into hardcore graphics programming or make it big in the finance trading platforms world. Programming is more about logical thinking and getting a good overall picture of what you are trying to achieve in your head.
I wish! No, we had nothing like this when I was a kid, except my simple Speccy based prototype. My maths classes just followed the tried and tested methods of working through dusty old text books. However, in my later years of school, I was required to get a fancy calculator that let you write simple programs. So I then spent most of my maths lessons sitting at that back writing really basic games.
The game is pretty playable already, although it only has one environment prototyped so far. The combat model is largely in place, and so are the exploration mechanics. I’m a big fan of random map generation, because it adds to replayability. Especially in a game like this where exploring and looting are core components. But random map generation is a tricky thing to get right, so that is where most of the time has gone so far, and I’m pretty happy with where the geography generation is right now. There is still some work to do around environment specific generation, but the hardest part is done. Next up is loot though, then all the core components are in place so we can start building little ideas on the game’s main foundations while we tweak and add assets.
And of course, we’re just using place holder art currently. We’re planning on having a very illustrated hand-drawn look to the finished product. We’ll talk more about that in another dev diary post.
The random map generation was the part I was most dreading, mainly because I had a vague notion about how it would work, but hadn’t quite ironed out the actual nuts and bolts of it in my head. However I like to tackle the hardest problems first with any project, so I spent a few solid days getting the map generation outlined and am pleased with how it’s working now. There will probably be a few tweaks over the course of the project, but the hard part is done.
And with the hard part done, it means we can just focus on adding fun things which is what I most love about making games – the tweaking and the little touches that you always ad lib outside any official design document. They, to me, are what makes developing games so great.
Damn straight, man. Cheers, Charlie that was awesome.