Godot is a free and open-source game engine and the current focus of my game development efforts. While I’ve achieved some proficiency with Unity, I find that Godot is lighter-weight and their node-based design philosophy clicks well with the way I design.
To that end I’ve been making a series of short games to teach myself the ins and outs of the engine. While none of them are going to be very complex in scope, I’m focused on making them complete enough to share as finished projects.
Space Junk was my first foray into the engine, and the first game for which I created all the pixel-art. It’s a relatively simple arcade-style game inspired by Atari’s 1973 Space Race with a simple goal – evade the junk floating past your ship – and even simpler controls – hold the button down to provide thrust, let up to stop.
Where’s the race? Space Race was a two player game, with each ship trying to evade asteroids on their way to the top of the screen, trying to get the higher score before the timer counted down. I could have implemented that fairly easily, but chose to keep the game simple as a first foray.
One point of innovation I provided here was in the three types of space debris present; when each is spawned it is given one of three different sprites configurations. I thought myself quite clever at the time.
Next I decided to try a clone of Taito’s 1974 Speed Race. Another race game? Top down race games are simple, and a good starting point. Speed Race provides a few innovations over Space Race, including other cars and a track that – while straight – seems to widen and narrow.
This time I decided to reskin the game. Instead of an overhead racer, it’s a side-view of a demon falling down through a pit and trying to avoid other falling creatures. The walls create the illusion of a shaft that widens and narrows by moving towards or away from the center as you fall, and use a scrolling texture that keys to your speed.
Again, all of the game art was created by yours truly – I went with a four-color monochromatic pallet and screen resolution to mimic Nintendo’s Gameboy. Only, you know, red instead of green.
You can play Demon Descent in your browser.
I think I’ve learned all the basics I can glean from vertical falling-racing games. While I could revisit either of the above and make them a bit fancier with more enemies, powerups, or more robust gameplay, I think that sort of thing would be better postponed until I’ve got a few more of these small-scope games under my belt.
To that end I’m going to continue working on small rapidly-prototyped projects just to see how long it takes me to come up with a minimum viable product. Space Junk was about a day’s effort, Demon Descent took me a week.
Next up, I think I’ll work on a top-down shooter.