The next step: a mini-game

Now that a demo of the map editor is complete, I can start working on a playable version of the game. That’s really what people want. Making maps is fun but if you can’t do anything with the maps, what’s the point? It’s like making a car but not having any gas to power the car. There’s only so much enjoyment you can get out of staring at a car. What you really want to do is *drive* the car. 

I needed to build the map editor because it assists me greatly with the development process, but now that it’s done, I can start building the fun stuff. I’ve already completed most of the core game mechanics like pathfinding and basic unit attack AI. Although I’ve not showcased it anywhere, all of the units have attack and death animations. It needs major tweaking, but the foundation is there.

Instead of working towards the full completed version of the game, I’ve decided to aim for a smaller, easier and more realistic target first. My plan is to start working on a tower defense mini game, which I will release by mid-October. The mini-game serves a few purposes:

  • It will help to promote the game before the full version is released.
  • It greatly reduces the scope of creating a ‘playable’ version. The mini-game will not have multiplayer and all of the art assets used will be existing assets already implemented in the game. It also won’t have a lot of the components the full game needs to have, such as player coloring, tech trees, unit balancing and all the bells and whistles. Every component of the game, including core game mechanics, will be greatly simplified to reduce the scope. I want to get something playable out to you guys as soon as possible. 
  • It serves as an introduction to core game mechanics. Believe it or not, RTS is not considered a mainstream genre. Or, if it is, It’s considerably less popular than the Tower Defense genre. This is because RTS games have a huge learning curve. By making a Tower Defense mini-game with lots of RTS mechanics mixed in, it gives non-RTS players a watered-down version to serve as an introduction to the genre. It’s RTS-light. Players can familiarize themselves with the controls and core mechanics, and when the full version is released, they won’t be so overwhelmed. They will know how to move a group of units from one location to another. They will understand the basic concept of a player economy and how to use those resources for buildings and units. 

Here’s a basic outline of what the mini-game will be:

  • On the map, is a small town and on the opposite side of the map is a forest.
  • A 2-minute timer begins. You have some resources starting out and can use those resources to build walls, towers and units. 
  • The units are spawned from buildings surrounding your village. You can change the rally points for where the units will run to after spawning. 
  • Once the timer runs out, enemy units begin spawning out of the forest. I haven’t decided yet what these enemy units will be. Possibly goblins or zombies? I don’t know yet. But these enemy units will try to break down your walls and make their way to your villagers. It’s your job to kill as many of them as you can. 
  • The more enemies you kill, the more resources you gain and with those resources, you can build additional defensive structures and units to defend your town. 
  • The enemy units will come in progressive waves (sort of like nazi zombies) and once they kill all your villagers, the game is over. 

That’s the basic outline. I’ll likely run contests to see who can get the best time. 

So, those are my plans for the immediate future. A Tower Defense mini-game, then possibly a kickstarter, then the full version. I think it would be foolish to go straight for the full game as I am just one guy. Instead I’m breaking up the development process into tiny pieces (map editor, mini-game, beta, full release, etc) not only for my own sanity but so that I’ll have something to show for every step in the process.

If you have any questions/advice/feedback, I’m all-ears!