I find that the mechanics of the shooter puzzle game are simple enough to be addictive and provide a fun way to waste some time while you’re on the toilet, waiting for the train, or if you’re a girl and alone and outside and don’t want to be accosted by weird guys who feel entitled to your time and attention. I feel like the Lovecraftian element of the game really works–the gothic-esque horror and cosmicism set the game apart from other horror or high fantasy games. I started the process wanting to create a game centred around iZombie’s heroine, Gwen, but despite her interesting character, I decided to go ahead with the main antagonist Xitalu. Starting with the enemy and working backwards really helped in developing my game, from the theme to the mechanics.
What doesn’t work
Stepping away from the actual design and mechanics of the game, I find that my expectations are making this project harder than it has to be for me. I possess very little coding skill and not much more than a plucky perfectionist attitude who thought “yeah, I can totally make a mobile game in less than 12 weeks! Coding? Who needs it?” I downloaded (read: spent far too much money) several programs that were way above my skill and were pretty useless to me and my tutorial skipping ways. As a consequence, my game has been simplified so much that I feel like I may have sacrificed entertainment and substance in order to impress people with my mad Game Designer Girl™ skillz. Then again, Beyond: Two Souls exists, so substance doesn’t always equal a good game.
I came to the conclusion that combining a bubble shooter a la Bubble Witch with an ordinary shooter like Space Invaders makes the game feel too busy. Everyone loves a shooter game, so I’ve decided to stick with my original idea of a Lovecraftian shooter. Trying to create a story in the game also felt too clunky and busy– in my opinion, not every game needs a nuanced story or larger message behind it. Sometimes, we play games just for the sake of playing a game; casual games in particular. Like art for art’s sake, some games are just fun for fun’s sake.
Obtaining the rights to a comic/ TV show such as iZombie is a very difficult and expensive thing to do. While I will continue to research copyright and adaptations, creating a game based off Warner Bros. property isn’t a very viable option. If I were to make such a game, manufacturing and distribution would be delayed and no doubt be subject to Warner Bros. wishes. As such, perhaps a broader Lovecraftian themed game would be more achievable and impose less limitations on the development and distribution of the game– because who doesn’t love shooting oozy omnipresent aliens?
I do understand your dilemma because that is defiantly what I am at the moment of over thinking things. Take it simple and step by step, I believe you can do it! But good on you for going out looking for the programs and trying to understand it because that is sadly the process we all have to face when it comes to programming. (Literally a gamer girl here that knows nothing about coding and leaves anything technical to her boyfriend) But I do believe with the amount you have cut out it is needed for a mobile game because they are normally on the go and have to be simple and continuous to play. Just get a piece of paper, maybe draw out what you want it to look like and slowly just work on what you want it to be. Hope this helps but keep going!
Expectations are always hard to beat! But it’s great to aim high so it keeps you going! Coding is always hard, and each project is always completely different because trying to program different tasks is almost like picking up an entirely new skill set. I think keeping it simple will still yield great results! Especially if you can document your learning and programming advances!
I feel like a lot of people, in these late stages are reaching this same problem of over thinking and over complicating their games. This is sometimes good, and leads to ambitious, interesting ideas. However it’s good to remember that some of the most simple games are the most successful (think flappy bird). So its good to see you are focusing in on one element. I feel this will definitely help you not only complete your project but complete it more successfully.
The fact that you are finding a lot of negatives in your work and how you are going about the project is showing that you are really thinking about it and through constant trial and error and a determination that it seems you have I have no doubt that your game will work out. The concept sounds extremely interesting and I think simplifying your games mechanics would be the best way to make it achievable. Sticking to a fun game for funs sake is an amazing idea that has produced some amazing games like Tetris and Minecraft what they are.
I feel like you are talking DIRECTLY TO ME! I also am making a game for wasting time, I also spent waaaaaaaaay too much time pretending I could learn to hectic code a game from scratch, with no idea, in twelve weeks, it’s been my biggest limitation, by far. I’m very impressed by how far you’ve come and how rationally you’re breaking it all down though, I tended to just avoid the coding part and stress about it 😛
Your limitation is a very real one, and unfortunately only something a (lot!) of money can fix. Although based around board game licensing, a lot of the issues you’re facing a thoughtfully broken down here http://www.shutupandsitdown.com/blog/post/some-actual-journalism-license-bill/ if you wanted to take a look. Although I love your original idea, as I’m a big iZombie fan, I think a more generalised, original character would work fine and take nothing away from your game at all.
It’s so easy to get carried away with fun ideas and then end up super stressed, I’m having a great time yes. Thank you so much for that link, it looks really helpful!!
I 100% can relate to you with having expectations way too high for how you want the final product to turn out. I agree with you that simplifying the game mechanics really lowers the anxiety levels of being able to have better time management and will lead to a great end result that I’m looking forward to seeing. It’s something that I have found that has really helped me once I finally learned to just let go. “Fun for fun’s sake” — great quote right there that I definitely take on board when thinking simplifying my own game design.
Even though it may be difficult to secure the rights to major IP, you don’t necessarily have to use names and likeness to have a character that is of similar traits which works within your game. It’s the well known quote of “good artists steal, great artists get away with it” so maybe see the inspiration of iZombie as a launching point for your own characters. The lovecraft element alone should be enough of a twist for you to release your game unscathed by legal troubles.