Invert is a twist with a unique puzzle platformer. Or is it the other way round? The game features standard platforming actions such as running and jumping, but also the ability to warp through walls and invert the level. In other words, the player can transition to playing in the negative space of the level. You’ll notice that a couple of these screenshots are both of the same level. In another super-definitely-original platformer twist, the game also features differing gravity directions. I think this concept could have legs as a puzzle platformer. Someone should make that.
How about a mobile game where you get to be Mother Earth? Dino island has you herding precious, innocent dinosaurs around to protect them from the scourge of blood thirsty cavemen. Aside from swiping around frantically, you’ve also got a handful of natural powers to help control (or spread) the chaos of the island, including:
- Volcanoes that create mountains, new land and fires.
- Meteors that destroy things and start fires.
- Earthquakes that cause rocks to fall from mountains and cliffs to sink into the sea.
- Tidal waves that flood beaches.
- Rain storms that extinguish fires and re-grow vegetation.
Interestingly enough (I guess?), this was one of the first games I made in Unity.
Checkmate is a turn-based strategy game akin to Advance Wars. Players must build units, construct buildings and fight to capture their opponents castle. The game’s unique twist is the way that it uses turns and moves. In a single turn a player has a certain number of moves to distribute how they please. Instead of each unit being able to move once, the player could spend all the moves moving a single unit multiple times. Or the player could build, or increase production instead of moving any units at all. The player could also spend resources to purchase additional moves (which is often useful for buying your way out of a pickle). This presents an interesting trade-off between having more, and using what you have already.
Strings is a physics based puzzler where the player must strategically place various types of ropes, chains and wires to guide a ball (happy) to the goal (cheezburger). Some strings are loose, while others are elastic and springy. Some strings will be cut by sharp objects, others are unbreakable chains and some are magical and won’t collide with anything at all. Basically, this is The Incredible Machine, but with just different types of strings. This is the first pure puzzle game that I like enough to design 20+ levels for. Physics sandboxes aren’t really the best for these types of puzzle games (it’s hard to make hypotheses and test them when the physics is unpredictable), but I really like this game nonetheless. It’s a goodie.
This was my third year games project at UCT. Tile Defence is a weird crossover between a shooter, a tile-sliding puzzle and a tower defence game. The player must battle for survival in an environment consisting of various blocks on a grid. Players can slide the blocks around to rearrange the level and gain combat bonuses by matching similar blocks. These powerups range from restoring health and ammo to slowing time and unlocking mew weapons and upgrades. Some block types will create mobile turrets that will slow or damage enemies and can be slid around themselves. The game supports up to four players in local co-op and also runs on Xbox 360.
Another varsity assignment, this time Bomberman on the Xbox360 using XNA! And I did a pretty good job of it if I do say so myself. Up to five players can battle it out, placing bombs, blowing up walls and staying alive until the timer runs out and the level starts collapsing in on itself. Good old fashioned local multiplayer Bomberman fun. This was really fun to make. Console games are easy!
This was another varsity project, this time for the purpose of forcing us to go through the pain of building a 2D game engine. The brief was to build a top-down survival game with various technical requirements. This game attempted nothing creative at all (not even in the name!). Just a standard top-down shooter with 3 or 4 weapons and 3 or 4 enemy types that chase you until they finally finished you off or you die of boredom. At least I can say I’ve written a 2D engine in Java that has pixel-perfect collision detection I guess? Nerd credit is almost as good as fun right?
Tasked with a varsity assignment to combine tower defence with another game; as the name suggests, I chose Tetris. The player uses their keyboard to play a game of Tetris on the right hand side of the screen, whilst using their mouse to place and upgrade towers to defend against the incoming waves of enemies. Every time a Tetris block settles, a tower of that shape could be placed on the map. And every time a line of blocks is cleared, you are awarded points to spend upgrading towers. I made this game because the fun part of tower defence games has always been designing clever mazes. I thought a good way to maximise maze designing was to force players to constantly be using randomly shaped towers and placing them in an irregular twisty corridor. Turns out having them also play Tetris at the same time, was obviously a bad idea.
A Global Game Jam game by myself, Rodain Joubert and Danny Day. The theme was extinction and we made a game about losing letters of the alphabet; Lextinction, if you will. The game has players mutating and breeding words together in order to try and form new legitimate English words. As the game progresses the less useful letters will inevitably slip out of the gene pool until you’re left without nothing but a pile of ‘E’s loitering about. The game is also a powerful metaphor for prevalent global and social issues such as global warming, cheese rights and moss poaching.
One of several football or climbing related games I have attempted over the years. Flick Soccer is a seven-a-side soccer game where flicking the analog stick kicks the ball, with bigger flicks resulting in harder kicks and so on. You could also use the stick to shuffle the ball around the perimeter of the player, allowing you to dribble and hold off opposition players. AI (amongst other things) lets this game down, but I still have a lot of fantasies about making digital versions of my physical hobbies. Watch this space.