I was actually eyeing GameMaker before it went on sale in the Humble Bundle, as I do have a knack for coding and a love for video games. So when it came up, I knew I had to get it, if only to play around with. I think I have a game that I want to try and make for it, so I figured I would outline it here, half for myself, and half for the community. Part 1 (of hopefully many, we'll se how long motivation lasts) will outline my plans for the game. As I make milestones, I want to share with the community, and hopefully post a pre alpha kind of deal to get feedback!
I was thinking about mechanics that are almost never fun in games, and how you could work around them. Like, how can you twist an escort mission or a time limit into something that would be more entertaining than they are as presented in other games. I think my initial thought was something to do with lives or suicide enemies, but it got me thinking about what I now consider to be my ‘dream game’ to build.
In short, I would like to build something like Contra x Dark Souls. The Dark Souls only sort of fits, but it’s the kind of feel I am going for. I want to go with a side scrolling shooting game with powerups and platforming and the like.
Like that but less homoerotic...or maybe...more?
The Hook: Every time you ‘die’, you get flipped to the other state of a stage. The only fail state is surrender.
So basically, each level would have a night side and a day side. Then I started thinking a little bit more about this, and thought that it would be cool if everything flipped sides. If you kill an enemy on the day side, it turns into its night side where you killed it, and vice versa. If you use a powerup on the day side, the powerup appears on the night side - or maybe even a power down? Whenever you lose health on the day side, a health pick up appears on the night side. Consumable ammo is conserved between the two levels.
So let’s jump back to the enemies - if you kill an enemy in the day side, it goes to the night side. So what if you kill each enemy on the day side, go to the night side, then suicide? It would be trivial (except maybe platforming) to get to the end of the level. So I needed a fix for that. Bosses. And not just any normal bosses, but bosses with power that scales inversely to the number of enemies remaining on their side of the world. Assume 100 enemies, 50 on the day side, and 50 on the night side. If you kill all of the enemies then fight the boss, it is at its weakest state - it’s powered by blood magic or a psychic link to the minions. If you kill all of the enemies, then suicide to the other state, there are no enemies, but the boss would be in its strongest form. I wanted to take this a step further and actually have 3 bosses per level: the neutral route, the pacifist route, and the murderer route. Neutral would give a scaling boss, but pacifist and murderer would give an alternate, even harder boss as a ‘reward’. To facilitate this idea further, I would include a door right before the boss door that allows you to effectively kill yourself.
All of this creates dynamic difficulty: if you want an easier boss, you can kill most of the enemies. If you want a harder boss, you have to navigate all of the enemies without hurting them, then kill the boss. In addition, I was thinking that you could start with 3 ‘hearts’ of health. When you take a hit, a heart drops where you died in the other world. You would respawn with 3 hearts, making it so you could have a max of 6 hearts. I was thinking the normal hearts could have a gold outline to indicate that they are the original for the stage, and would lose that if you picked up an additional health, so you could even do gold heart runs. Thinking about it, you can probably be able to shoot all pickups to move them to the other world, perhaps with some health so you don't accidentally nuke your health.
I have almost no talent for pixel art, so I was going to rip a bunch of sprites as placeholder art until I figure out how to solve that problem. I do have a friend who is a fairly good artist, so I may utilize him. I was thinking of using Samus as the placeholder for the main character, which drew some inspiration: I want to be able to aim diagonally, up, and forward. Then I was thinking of a special ‘alt fire’ weapon, as something that would wrap to the other screen and hey, she uses missiles, so I could as well. It occurred to me that if I am using two sides to a level, I could have a night powerup and a day powerup as well. Something like a missile in the day that deals heavy single target damage, but a screen wiping blast at night that hits for a small amount of damage. I feel like this would add even more variety to the game, as it could make day sections easier/harder than their counterpart, adding in another layer of complexity.
So full disclosure: I am not sure how to make half this work in the engine. On the other hand, I have only started watching tutorials a few days ago, and it seems like there is plenty of information out there. Just from watching tutorials on collision, I recognize that even making one level of this will be a large undertaking, so I think that is where I want to start. Build level one, and get all the features I have detailed above included (plus a pause screen, a GUI for enemies remaining/boss strength, and a map of powerups on each side of the world). I am looking forward to the challenge because, hey, I like coding stuff!
So what do you think? Would that be something that would grab your attention if you saw it on Steam? Any suggestions/feedback?