Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Specifically Interesting Enemies

Gabes Game

There have been countless platformers made. In many of those, there are a wide variety of enemies. So if you couldn't count the number of platformers made, you really can't count the number of side scrolling enemies in existence. So while you're not counting, how do you find originality? 

You don't. You find what makes your specific game fun, then you push the player to experience that. I've found that the coolest moments in my game, are when I'm doing sweet air combos. Jumping from one enemy to another, or sending one enemy flying into his buddy. Essentially, the game is most fun when the player isn't touching the ground.

First things first, I needed an enemy to teach the player that wall jumping is your primary weapon. So I made this little frog guy, he has a spiky kill zone on his head and occasionally hops (the final character will have clear anticipation before jumping). The idea here is that the only method of killing this guy is a wall jump.

This is sort of accomplishing my goal. In practice, the enemies are pretty fun. But, they are hard to combo and don't keep me in the air as long as I'd like. These frogs create an interesting issue. Having kill zones on their heads doesn't encourage vertically, it makes falling downward a threat.

Instead of trying to stay in the air, I'm waiting on the ground to time my jumps, so I don't land on one of them. I decided to move forward by creating an enemy that is the least threatening while you are in the air. 

This little dude shoots a giant laser to keep himself afloat (again in the final game the laser blast will have an anticipation animations so you can see it coming). When the player is on the ground, they have no choice but to run from this enemy but, when in the air, the enemy poses no threat.

Coooomboooos! The final bit there, where I jump from the frog to the laser thing, was crazy satisfying to play. That's the stuff that will make my game stand out from the hoards of platformers. 

Next, I needed an enemy that would provide the player with plenty of platforms to use to stay airborne. Now, this is actually one of the first enemies I designed for the game. It shoots rockets at the player, the rockets don't deal damage but will crush you against walls or other enemies. As long as your touching the ground, these rockets are threatening you.

Oh hey, it doubles as a general platforming tool! Though this same thing could be accomplished with a static cannon and has been done before. 

These two make for a challenging pair. The enemy shooting rockets is constantly pushing you into the laser enemy's laser. You may also notice that just adding a static square block makes this fight dramatically more interesting. It's worth keeping in mind that enemies are only a portion of the gameplay, interesting environments with dynamic props will work wonders for the experience. 

I have early code for an enemy that slams the ground creating a deadly shock wave and a larger mech that shoots walls of rockets at you. Progress is slow, so I didn't have them at a place where I can show them just yet. Hopefully, these gifs are enough to peak some interest. Displaying my game as a unique experience, even at these early stages. 

Art is soon to come... 

William's Comment: I'm digging what I'm seeing, and have to say: I didn't expect combat to take that form.  When you showed one of the earliest combat gifs, I was expecting that enemies would be mostly slow, deliberately moving challenges that the player would need to actively strategize against to find their Achilles's heel.  Kinda like the first Kirby game, Kirby's Dreamland
If Whispy Woods were to stop dropping apples, he would be invincible.
 Judging by your blue enemy that shoots deflectable projectiles at you that you can also kill just by jumping off of, the player is going to be way more free to approach combat how it suits them.  Kinda like every Kirby game AFTER the first one.
Kirby doesn't need your stinkin' apples!
 This is bound to create a more fun experience for a broader audience, which is probably the best possible thing since games with unique gimmicks that are too particular about how to use the gimmicks are way crummier than games that let people have fun with gimmicks.  It's funny, because I would almost certainly have opted to make something more like I had imagined if I were to handle your idea instead of you.
This is going to be great in two other fields as well.  The first is that, with combat as approachable as it is shown, any combination of enemy types and obstacles can be interesting instead of dreadful.  The second is that every battle can be approached in different ways, and enemies can be cleared out in different orders or even used as projectiles to clear each other out.  I don't know about you, but I can see this being extremely attractive to the speed running community as the battle routing possibilities feel nearly endless.

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