I thought it would be cool if sometime in the 80s there had been a (Pike and)shooter arcade game where you controlled a formation of 16th century, early gunpowder era mercenaries. So then I started making one.
Pike 'n Shot is heavy inspired by both the Gameboy game Mercenary Force as well as the battlefield part of the NES/Amiga game North & South. Screen shots of these games I saw in magazines really grabbed my imagination as a kid and I was dying to play them. Then I actually did and unfortunately they proved to be a combination of awkward and unsatisfying.
But my idea of what they might have been like still excited me and so I set about making Pike 'n Shot: my attempt to make a good game out of that inspiration. The result is a fast paced, real-time renaissance battle that is a lot more streamlined and plays sort of like a shoot'em up.
Devlog | TIGSource
Latest Version | download (windows only)
A game for two cowboy show-offs (local 2 player) locked in a duel for glory. I made this game during a gamejam for the Ottatron (the Dirty Rectangles' take on the Winnitron). Local Ottawa artist Darren Bird was kind enough to do all of the artwork for this game. If you want to play it properly, you'll need two xbox controllers and a monitor you can lay down flat on a table or something.
Controls | Xbox Controller
Left Stick - move hand
X - close hand
Y - throw gun
A - press while holding gun with X to enter "firing mode"
Once you're in firing mode, fire your gun by first cocking the hammer by moving left stick from up to left and then pull the trigger by moving the stick to the left again.
Back - Quit
There's a scifi story that I want to write that tells a time travel story, but takes the opposite approach that traditional ones always seem to: instead of ignoring or explaining away all the contradictions and paradoxes, it embraces them--at least to a degree.
For instance, in my story, every mission that people go on to change the past is always the first one they hope will succeed as only failed missions exist in the record. It is theorized that any successful mission would remove the need for a mission in the first place and therefore doesn't exist anymore, leaving no trace. How space time resolves the effect of a successful mission--leaving the effect of the mission in place or erasing it and leaving time unchanged--is unknown, but the time travelers still go on missions because what is at stake is important enough that it's worth trying.
One of the other big concepts is the idea that a traveller ever existing in the first place once they have gone into the past is a very fragile reality. Forget whether or not their parents ended up conceiving them period, there's the problem of the conception happening on a different day, or even at a different second than originally. If this happens the different sperm impregnating that egg will cause them to not be themselves anymore, they will be their previously unborn, potential brother or sister. As a result the "time corps" or whatever, generates agents in a contained environment from an algorithmically chosen donor set of sperm and egg. Agents sent back in this way are still vulnerable to a butterfly-effect causing them to have never been born or have been sent on the mission they are on, but they are much less existentially fragile than normally born people. However, while their conception and their maturation are still vulnerable to slight deviations causing them to not be the same person, since they are assigned missions by algorithm, someone created by that same sperm and egg will still be sent on the mission. Simon Kane becomes Simone Kane. This allows them to "survive" minor butterfly-effects and finish their mission. When one happens they will suddenly fluctuate from their former self, to other "brothers and sisters" who end up going on the same mission. If I write this as a comic or twine, the reader will see the fluctuations when stuff like that happens, but the characters in the story will be oblivious. To them, that person they were looking at, was always that person. But Travelers know the reality of time travel and occasionally say prayers to their no longer existing brothers and sisters whenever they sense they just had a close call.
I like the idea of a traveler shooting someone they were sent back to kill while saying, "I'm sorry I have to do this. But then, I was never here..."
A traveler dives to catch someone who is about to fall off of something and they change into many slightly different people while that person's fate is undetermined, the alterations ceasing once they catch them. I can't think of a good one liner for them to say after that one though.
I would also love to tell this story in a medium where whenever a change happens, you can look back at the rest of the story you've read before and the change is propagated. At the end of the final act, the story will cease to exist replaced somewhat comedically by a website or whatever of something from the story that has the same name as the title of the story and you won't be able to go back to read any of it.
- J. E. S.
When I was on vacation last week, I went fishing a bunch for the first time in a long time. It was fun and got me thinking about a fishing game idea of mine that has been swimming around in my head ever since I got interested in making mobile games. Back in those Blackberry and Nokia cellphone days, I wanted to make a mobile platform, fantasy world angling game where the game world is based on the real geography of our planet Earth, but where the land and sea are swapped with eachother. The usual terrestrial places you walk, drive or bus around, now replaced with weedy lakebeds, bridges replaced with fast moving streams.
Through listening to The Legacy Music Hour podcast I was introduced to a manga/anime about fishing called Grander Musashi RV. There was a gameboy game made for the seriies and it came with a reel peripheral that attached onto your gameboy. Cranking on the reel would press the A button repeatedly and reel in your line in game. This series is hilarious to me. It's very Pokémon/Yugioh/digimon style which when put in a freshwater fishing context delights me. Everybody in it has some sort of super anime, sailor moon style sequence of getting their rod out and casting with it that has that mix of scifi and fantasy that you only really see in anime that much. Rods have grandiose embelishments like dragon-head shaped reels or rod handles with hand guards. The title character has a rod that materializes out of the end of the handle like a lightsaber blade, the laser flash slowly fading away until it looks like a physical rod. It's all very over-dramatic and silly.
Amongst the predictably tacky and over the top aspects of this children's show though, are some concepts that I think are very inspiring and creative. For instance, I really like the way casting is presented in it. When characters cast with their rods the camera is focused on them while they do some elaborate cast motion, but then the camera follows their lure as it zooms over the water. It flies over the water, towards the horizon with the camera following its flight at a very low angle. The waves often part before the might of this amazing event, a fishing lure being cast. They of course have lures that look like a digimon or something got turned into a fishing lure and the lure faces the direction it's been thrown in as it flies over the water like it's a fighter plane or something. Then it finally dives down into the water. At the start when it's first cast it looks like a glowing orb of light with a light tail and that fades away to reveal the lure.
I love this presentation and the amount of focus given to the actual motion of the lure while it's being cast, rather than focusing on the fisherman. It's fun and exciting and I think something like that, but dialed down a little from an 11 of ridiculousness would add an element the casting part of the procedure of fishing in a fishing game. It would make casting your lure to the spot you want it seem more important and make you feel good when you got it to land in just the right spot.
An other thing I think about is how in a lot of fishing games, the action part of the flow of the game, when you get to actually see the fish in the water is always after you hook them. The battle is all about reeling them in. To take it back to reality for a second, this is true for salt water fishing. The old Blue Marlin games had this right, the exciting part is landing this huge fish you've hooked that fights the whole time and is revealed to be huge once you pull it out of the water. Until you have a bite, you're just driving around in a boat, trawling. However I feel that river and lake fishing which is what most fishing games are trying to depict, isn't like this at all. It's not usually that hard to land even the biggest bass you're ever going to find unless you are using the wrong equipment for doing so. It would have to be some really monsterous fish before that was ever the hard part of catching it. Watch fishing shows, they never make a big deal out of reeling in a fish, it's just business as usual most of the time once they set the hook in the fish's mouth. The exciting part of freshwater angling is getting the fish to take the bait in the first place; finding the fish and then attacting a big one to actually strike. The act of presenting a jig just right, dancing it around until it's irresistable, that's the fun part.
In a video game, you can show what's actually happening in the water during this part, so I'd like to put more focus on this while giving players what fishermen have almost never had (until the recent advent of electronic fishing equipment and go-pro style cameras), a fish-eye view of the action. Your camera would be with your lure and you this would allow you to look around, explore everything that was going on in the water around it. You would move your lure around to try and get fishes' attention, try to figure out what scares certain ones away or makes them uninterested and what gets them to slowly, curiously come over, check out your lure and then strike. There would be cool camera reveals, swelling music, and entrances for super special fish when they happen by your lure like something out of Shadow of the Colossus.
I want to do entirely made up fish and lake creatures that are fantastical in nature like squids, eels, deepones, lots of Zelda-y looking things, parodies of aquatic enemies in popular games, etc. Also, if you want to use bait rather than lures you can look for bait and catch it. You could find insect nymphs and stuff like that with a net, look under rocks for earth worms and such. But I really want to do crazier stuff inspired by this video I saw of South Africans catching beach worms for fishing.
- J. E. S.
RPGs often require the player to train their characters over the course of their adventure to grow stronger but the implementation of this is very abstract and often illogical. Their characters grow exponentially stronger over the course of an adventure and are universally better at fighting any creature they encounter due to how many others they have defeated.
But in real life, training, especially for combat does not really mirror this. A boxer training for a fight is not trying to get exponentially more powerful to combat a series of predictably tougher foes. Typically he has a number of objectives. A boxer wants to be as fit and as strong as he can be so that he can last as long in the ring as possible while fighting as intensly as possible without tiring and so that he can inflict as much injury on his opponent as possible. He also needs his body to be a certain weight without going over and he wants its make up to be as beneficial as possible while weighing that much. Mentally and physically, he isn't necessarily striving to be the best boxer in the world, he is striving to become the best boxer for defeating his opponent. He needs to know who he is up against and prepare himself to best them. Unlike an RPG character, his training is less about constant growth - although a boxer does hopefully become better over time. It is more about making himself as optimal as he can within his physical and mental limits, to face the situation at hand.
I think it would be interesting to make a boxing/fighting/whatever game that tried to represent this sort of mindset and idea of training rather than the standard experience points and levels based system that is used in so many RPGs and - as we called them in the 90s - "games with RPG elements". The game would be about time and making the most of that time. You have n months to prepare to face x. This concept is not totally unlike various time management, simy games like Princess Maker or the Sims, but in those games your goal or target you are trying to reach is largely up to you; do you want your daughter to become a famous dragon slayer or enthral and marry the handsome prince. I envision a game where your targets are set, but how you rise to meet them is largely up to you. Finding out the best ways to prepare would be the game more so than just choosing different combinations of options from a list. Also, in the ideal implementation of this idea, you would actually have to fight and win against your opponent. You'd need to actually perform and seal the deal when the time came, not just be ready for it.
I think the most interesting aspect of it would be that you don't have infinite resources. You would be like Rocky in the first movie, a working class bum who wants to train for this big fight, but who needs to earn money to keep himself fed and provide any money needed for the equipment or resources he thinks he requires for training. Working isn't the only way to aquire this, you can also lean on the support of people who care about you, but for that to be possible, you need to have people who care about you. Their support would have other mental benefits in addition to monetary ones.
I would prefer this to be something a little more interesting that just a boxing game. Some kind of made up combative or solo competitive sport would be more interesting to me, perhaps in a unique or creative setting. The Neo Geo game Windjammers springs to mind.
- J. E. S.