Fox Game (Dev Blog #1)

Hello again! It’s been a while since I’ve done anything on this site as the amount of free time I’ve had has been really quite restricted lately. Nevertheless, I’ve had an idea and I want to document my progress in bringing it to life. I’ve already outlined the tools I use for game design in my previous post here, so I’m just going to launch straight into this with no faffing about. Here’s my idea:

Concept

You are an arctic fox. Most of you will have seen the clips on nature documentaries or Youtube or your social media of choice. I was watching some such clips the other day and I realised that the thing that really intrigues me about arctic foxes are the way that they find food: They stand there on top of who knows how many feet of snow and listen. They listen and listen and listen… And BAM! They leap up, dive down headfirst and submerge half of their body in the snow, reaching down to the source of the telltale sounds of scurryings and scratchings of delicious lemmings.

I’m imagining a 2D side-scrolling game where you are a fox wandering the arctic in search of food. The primary loop of the game, or your goal from second to second, is to listen for, locate and dive for food while evading predators. You’ll accomplish this with the help of your extraordinary sense of hearing – In gameplay terms, the slower you’re moving, the more obscured the visuals of the game will become but the more you’ll be able to block out the background noise of the tundra and hone in on the sounds of your prey, which will be highlighted visually under the snow, perhaps with the help of a highlighted circle that lets you know generally where the sound is coming from. This circle will be quite large at first, meaning you may come up empty…mouthed, but it will decrease in size as you catch more and more food and hone your skills. You’ll need to search carefully however, as polar bears may wander along to ruin your day, in which case you’ll receive a visual and audible alert telling you that you’ll need to run.

The secondary loop, or your goal from minute to minute, is to find enough food to keep yourself and your pups alive. The game will end once you’ve found enough food to keep everyone well fed, whereupon you’ll find yourself back at your den feeding the pups. The feel-good story of the year.

It won’t be a long game, or a complicated game, but as I’ve said before, my goal is still to keep things simple. I’ve made a single game so far, an arcadey sort of chaotic football simulator named Player Power which took me 2 weeks to make and so far 6 sodding months to publish to Steam. But “Fox Game” (Hit me up with a better title because I just can’t think of one at the minute) will be a significant step up on that game already in terms of difficulty to program, once you factor in all of the moving pieces.

The Plan

So far I’ve done a hell of a lot of thinking. Thinking over the structure, the features I’d want etc and I feel like the above paragraphs completely sum the game up, which is a testament to just how much I’ve restricted myself. It’ll just be the fox protagonist, a bear that can appear, some food that will appear, some kids to give it to and a shit load of snow.

Programming-wise, I don’t think there’s anything there that I haven’t already done at some point. I’ve done platforming tutorials that involved the intricacies of moving sideways and jumping and got about half way through “Flight of the Bluebird” which involved several much more complicated enemy spawners that had to create enemies on the beat of whatever song happened to be playing. Ridiculous idea for a rookie to take on in hindsight. Spawning food at random locations under the snow shouldn’t be too much trouble either, although the dive mechanic will take a bit of working out I’m sure. What I’m trying to get around to is the fact that the programming should be fine given some free time and some elbow grease. The real challenge is going to be in the art. Ridiculous hypocrite that I am, I’m planning on ignoring my own advice to keep things simple and instead trying to make this game look as pretty as possible. It just seems like the right thing to do, focusing on designing an excellent protagonist who’s animated well, to liven up the bleak, plain landscape that is the frozen tundra. If I try and get away with a shit 16 x 16 pixel sprite that vaguely resembles a dog, this isn’t going to be a nice game to look at at all.

So yes, that’s the plan. I’ll create the project in GMS2 first and work out what kind of resolution I want to work with, then I’ll start trying to get my art skills up to scratch. I’ve sort of started already actually, as you can see below. That is a 256 x 256 sprite I’ve made that could someday become the titular fox. I’m not sure if I want to commit myself to drawings that detailed and might scale back down to 128 x 128 but I’ll work all that out later.

As always, thoughts and advice are welcome, because I am shit at this (But getting better šŸ™‚ )

Cheers,

Franjo

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