A little while ago I made a first draft of a game called Defense Brigade which you can play here. While making it, I started publishing dev diaries as a way to track my progress and mention things that might have tripped me up.
Well, I decided to turn it into a real full fledged game to be ported to a store. I knew this was going to be a rather large task, there’s a million ways to improve what I had made from the original Defense Brigade. Here were some thoughts.
- While geometric games are awesome (lookin’ at you Super Hexagon), I needed to update the art and add a story to my game. It’s awesome that I already had the mechanics, so I just needed to re-frame it.
- I had only a lose condition, not a win condition. I guess there’s some appeal to high scores but only if you’re playing with others. Actually writing this gave me a great idea to modify the mechanics to turn it into a networked multiplayer game. A project for later.
- After you got comfortable with the controls the game became boring. I needed some enemy AI or level design to make things interesting. Right now the enemies just target the “weak character” infinitely.
Seems like I got my work cut out for me.
While I am a person of many talents, art is not one of them. So far everything I’ve done has used open game art and I wanted something a little more custom. The first thing I did was talk to a good artist friend of mine, Dominic D’Andrea, as their art is multi stylistic. We collaborated on art and story, and I had decided I wanted to go for a Tim Burton-esque creepy vibe. They took my notes and ran with it. Here’s an example of the assets created.
Before I sat down to address some of the issues above, I realized I would also need to animate the art assets. While animation is a much lower priority than game mechanics, it was crucial that I understand enough about the process to give enough direction to my artist before they drew the assets. For example, I knew I would need to animate the different sections of the cat doll so I requested that the file sent to me be not of the cat doll pictured above, but rather have the limbs and body be spread out next to each other for me to animate individually.
I also composed my own music for this game. I know that’s a little unusual since not every developer also composes their own music so I figured I’d go into a little more detail. I had never composed music for a video game before. In fact, most of my background was in making a capella arrangements. But I have a musical background and played piano for a number of years so I thought I would take a shot at it. I bought the mini synthesizer you see below, which came with a version of Ableton Light. While Ableton is an awesome program, I was pressed for time so I used GarageBand instead since I’ve used it before. (If I had the money to spend on Logic Pro I would much rather use that tbh). But GarageBand worked for what I needed and I ended up creating two tracks for the game which are featured here. Let me know in the comments or on twitter if you’d like to hear more about composition for non composers.
I will go into more detail about game mechanics in the next post.
That’s all for now!