Bomb Blast ~ WGD ‘Spooky 2017’ Jam

For the first two game jams of the year, Warwick Game Design Society usually opts for simple themes to help ease newcomers into the society and get existing members warmed up. The past few years, those themes have been ‘Retro’ and ‘Spooky’, for Halloween, and this year was no different. However, this year not a single game shown off for ‘Spooky’ had a skeleton in sight! Maybe that’s the spookiest thing about it.

Again: ignore the fact I made this game in Term 1. Just ignore it. I post on this blog promptly and suggesting anything contradictory to that is slander.

I didn’t have a lot of time free to make something, but I gave it my best shot and built a competitive 4-player game in about 6 hours on barely any sleep. Ignoring the infinite-jump bug (the game does not check if you are grounded before letting you jump), it worked surprisingly well! To make it a bit more interesting, I hooked up the Joy-cons and Pro Controller from my Nintendo Switch to act as players 1-3, while player 4 is a keyboard/mouse user.

What I found most interesting is that each individual Joy-con is classed as an entirely separate controller, even when both ‘halves’ are connected at the same time. The axis and button numbers somewhat follow those of a conventional Xbox controller, but with the obvious additions of the SL and SR buttons. Unfortunately, Unity has no built-in way to retrieve gyroscope or NFC data and can’t activate HD rumble, and I had no time to perform any hackery to get all that working, else I would’ve at least added some cool rumble effects.

bomb_blast_02

You’re a kid now, you’re a squid n– oh, wait, wrong game…

The game itself is somewhat based on the Crash Bash minigame Space Bash, with four players on a destructible grid trying to blow each other up. However, I only had time to implement players dropping bombs onto their own position and pushing them at others. Bombs will destroy any floor around them and decimate any players in their blast radius. I also twisted things a little so the aim of the game is to paint as much of the floor in your own colour by walking over it, earning a couple of comparisons with Splatoon 2.

The game could do with a bit of a graphical overhaul, as I only had time for Placeholder characters and the most basic 16×16 sprites imaginable. As it stands, the bright green character especially is hard on the eyes. The stage might also be more interesting if it were larger, with a dynamic camera that zooms in and out, with perhaps more verticality, but it also needs to be easier to judge depth when jumping to the higher level.

In all, I think the experiments with using the Joy-cons as controllers were successful, although the game clearly needs more work in the fun department. Some powerups, some sound and a better control scheme would all be welcomed. But most importantly, I did manage to sneak in my guilty pleasure: screenshake.

Verdict: Bombed.

You can find the source code for this game on my Github.

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