One of the things I’ve had to give up in order to have some development time at night is gaming. It’s something I refused to admit for years but I’ve just had to face the facts. I’m no longer a gamer. I just don’t have hours and hours of free time to pour into gaming and when I do have hours and hours of free time I want to pour them into game development.
That doesn’t mean I don’t game at all! I play games pretty much every day. It just means I’ve moved more into the casual game realm. It’s all I have time for when juggling priorities in my life. That means that games like Gears of War 2 sit shrink wrapped on my shelf and although I popped Dragon Age into my Xbox 360 one time, I barely made it through the opening sequence and haven’t had time to sit down and play again.
Instead I’m playing short games like Jamestown, Atom Zombie Smasher, Fortix or if I have time to jump in and play a few rounds maybe some Monday Night Combat or Team Fortress 2. These are games I can instantly get into and play for just a short period of time and then walk away.
Breath of Death VII saved my life:
Back in the day (way, way back in the day) I used to be a pretty big RPG fan. Not big by a lot of RPG gamers' standards (most of the RPGs RPG fans about I’ve never heard of) but I used to LOVE to play them on the NES, SNES and Genesis and considered that my genre. Final Fantasy, Shining in the Darkness, Bard’s Tale, Faxanadu, Shadowrun, Ultima, Dragon Warrior, Chrono Trigger, Phantasy Star, Shining Force and well the list could go on but those are the ones I remember off the top of my head. I loved playing RPGs and they were my games of choice.
After my first son was born (this was just about 12 years ago), I tried to continue playing RPGs and purchased games like Baldur’s Gate I & II, Neverwinter Nights, Fable, then a few of the Final Fantasy’s then Kingdom Hearts. I kept buying these games and then only playing for about fifteen minutes and never getting back to them.
I still loved RPGs but they just no longer fit into my life (I still haven’t accepted that since I still purchased Dragon Age II for some reason and convinced myself I’d find the time). Adding three more sons to the mix (that’s 4 total) didn’t help much to finding more RPG time (except for Breath of Death VII and other XBLIG RPG titles, thanks guys!)
All work and no RPG:
A few months ago as I was sitting thinking about the lack of RPGs in my life and talking to my wife about why I wish RPGs were different and easier for a dad like me to get into. She seemed like she was listening, so I started listing all the things that made them impossible for me to play.
Here’s a short list I came up with.
- They take 15 billion hours to complete
- I have a few minutes at a time I can grab to play them if I want to have time to code.
- At that rate it would take me 9 trillion years to beat just one RPG.
- There’s such long spans of times between when I can play them I forget what I was even doing so I have to spend most of the playtime I have just figuring that out and then my play time is over. Repeat.
- I’ll never finish one and since it takes so long to get to the fun part in an RPG, I’m never having fun.
- RPGs aren’t fun if you don’t have hours to play them at a time.
As you can see based on my science and math, RPGs aren’t fun for me any more.
From there my brain started toying around with ideas of RPGs that would work for me. They would have to be a short RPG, you know one you could beat in a single play session. A dad sized play session. I started thinking, wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a fifteen minute RPG?
That got me laughing and I took that as a good sign that it sounded fun and so I thought about it a little more. I immediately discarded the idea of doing a real RPG. I’m sure a short RPG like that could be done but it wasn’t the vibe that I had in my head. No this was going to be something that just had the core essence of an RPG. In reality what I’d be making would be more of an arcade style game. One with high scores and lots of crazy action on the screen. And that’s when it hit me. It would be a speed run RPG.
That’s the basics of the game I’m working on.
The Elevator Pitch:
It’s a 2D top down RPG themed arcade game focused on speed. It sounds like an RPG, smells like an RPG but it’s merely emulating an RPG. The game is focused on fun and mayhem in RPG form with players leveling up in seconds instead of hours and rushing to finish quests as quickly as possible because they’ve only got fifteen minutes before EVIL overtakes the world. If the player takes longer than fifteen minutes, it’s game over man.
One to four player co-operative play to really see just how fast players can level up and beat the game. Gamers will compete on leaderboards for bragging rights for fastest 1, 2, 3, and 4 player speed runs, lowest leveled characters to beat the game, highest leveled characters to beat the game and so on.
Times will be tracked for everything from how long a player sat distributing stats, equipping items, talking to NPCs to running around the level. These stats will be shown at the end of each quest/level so the players can work on improving their speed run for that part of the game next time around.
It’s the perfect RPG for those of us who only have fifteen minutes of game time!
Where I’m at:
I’m still at the prototyping stage attempting to but all the basic framework pieces in place that will at minimum give me one level to rush through. I’ve been working on this prototype for about a month now though so I’m going to have to step it up a bit or I’m not going to get finished in time (remember I’ve only got 85 days left!)
Lots of the game code is in place (although pretty sloppy) but I still can’t play through that first quest/level just yet. That’s my goal to finish up by the end of next Sunday (3/25/2012).
You can all hold me to that and cheer me on or heckle me throughout the week. Either way that should help me stay a bit more motivated and focused. In my head this feels like it’s going to be a fun game so I’m looking forward to seeing how it actually plays!