The thing is, a great motivation for me to do development is when my nearly 30 years of computer game playing results in a complete an utter failure of everyone in the world I heard about to produce a game that the least bit interest me to play.
Thus, that motivation became fleeting when two extremely fabulous gems dropped out of the sky this week, the significance of such being as though the Gods had descended from on high to apologize for that whole "casual friendly" butchering of the gaming medium and make up for it by heralding a new golden era of PC gaming.
The first was Terraria, a procedurally generated world that allows you to live vicariously in glorious side-scroling 2D-o-vision. It features a digging and building mechanic very similar to Minecraft but, unlike Minecraft, Terraria actually feels like a game. A large part of that has to do with a subtle switch in balance and content:
- In Minecraft, you spend days digging hoping to find a diamond block or a chest with a record in it. The greatest thing to do in Minecraft is to build elaborate 3D fortresses out of blocks, and the occasional creeper is just a speed bump.
- In Terraria, you can build a little city inhabited by various merchant NPCs that come if you fulfill certain conditions, meanwhile straying far from home in search of rare materials, defeating an endless procession of increasingly difficult monsters, and encountering cool artifacts that grant you special powers, heart containers for more health, fallen stars for more mana, and so on.
Space Pirates and Zombies is almost the game I've been waiting for my entire life. I say "almost" because my dream game would be more in the vein of a procedurally-generated Starflight meets Sentinel Worlds, but I guess if that's what I want I'll have to make it myself sometime.
Like Terraria, the unfortunately acronymed S.P.A.Z. features a procedurally generated world (universe) in which you can live vicariously in 2D, but that's about where the similarities end. It's actually an open-ended top-down action space combat adventure game, sort of in the vein of Escape Velocity Nova but significantly different in several key facets:
- You control several ships which you can switch between on the fly while the rest are controlled by autopilot.
- The combat is a lot tighter feeling, an extremely fluid action game with just enough depth to make you think.
- There's less emphasis on trade. Instead of having to muddle through hundreds of components and hulls, all you need to buy is technology blueprints and your mothership fabricates ships on the fly.
- Destruction of your ships is common and they're replaced easily as long as you've enough REZ on hand.
Perhaps the best thing about both Terraria and S.P.A.Z. is that they're both fully playable works in progress. So, in addition to be fairly awesome in the present, there's a lingering promise they will be even more awesome in the future.
I'm aware that getting distracted is hardly in the spirit of the Get Something Done Challenge, to which I'm fully apologetic, but honestly there's so little left to do on my GSDC'11 project that I'm not too worried. Add weapons, add AI-players, and at that point there's nothing left to do but tweak it (which can be a prolonged process). A week should be plenty of time.