Now that my desk has been delivered and I’ve got an office set-up in the new place, it’s time to get back into the grit of game development and learning Godot. My next project was a top down shooter.
Ideas. I got ’em. I keep having to reign the scope back because I really want to make something very basic for the explicit purpose of getting a feel of how much time and effort go into making the bare-bones shooter. I want something simple but complete so that it’s fun enough for a quick play but doesn’t require me to spend time developing elements that wouldn’t be present in any game in the genre.
Of course that leaves me to develop the game’s form and function.
The earliest shooters – Space Invaders, Gorf, Galaga, and the like – were fixed screen games. The player shot at enemies moving in fixed – if variable – patterns.
Then you have the scrolling shooters like Gradius and R-Type. There are even multidirectional shooters like Bosconian and Gauntlet.
All of the above are themed as spaceship games except for Gauntlet, and there are others like Commando or the Ikari Warriors series that also count as shooters with military themes.
But again, we want simple. Elementary. Let’s go with a top down scrolling shooter, without any bells or whistles. No power-ups, no chaining, no bosses – just a minimum viable product that counts as a complete game, start to finish.
But what are we and what’s shooting at us? I didn’t know, so I started out with simple boxes firing smaller boxes at bigger boxes. I added some rudimentary AI – the enemy boxes would aim to fly directly above the player to shoot down at him, but not if it meant crashing into one another.
It seemed to work out well so I sent a prototype to a buddy of mine to get his opinion on how it felt to play, without the distraction of fancy graphics or sound.
His first comment was on the way the enemy AI seemed to wiggle in frustration when flying in formation, wanting to veer towards the player but restricted from flying too close to their squad-mates. He said it looked almost biological.
Bingo. I had my theme.
While I could have smoothed it out, instead I decided that they looked insectile, and thus the space-menace of the Cosmonoptera were born.
There you have it. With theme in hand I adapted my ship designs to look like space bugs and added a hive-like scrolling backdrop.
In the end I ended up going a bit above and beyond my desire for simplicity – the game has a health bar, power ups, bosses, and three waves of increasingly difficult enemy formations. None of this added too much development time, however, and I finished the whole thing up in just over three weeks.
You can, should you desire, download Extreminator:
What’s next? I’m thinking some kind of platformer. Maybe with goblins?