We must make the games we wish to play in the world

We must make the games we wish to play in the world – Auntie Pixelante

Those crystals are toast

I’ve been playing a lot of Hero Academy lately, for the past 2 years, really, and even started a rather in depth blog, Oh My Void Monks, about the strategies and tactics in the game.

There’s just one thing that Hero Academy lacks, though, and that’s fireballs. What? Fireballs? Yes, fireballs.

Back on the day, street fighter and it’s cousins from SNK were a revelation in two player head to head competitive games, and one of the reasons why the game was interesting was the fireball. There have been many articles written about the fireball, and what it brought to fighting games, but the two main features I think are interesting are their ability to control space, and the way they make the opponent deal with two threats at once.

in for a world of hurt

You have to avoid the fireball, block the fireball, counter with a fireball of your own, or most interestingly, take advantage of the fireballers’ moment of vulnerability when throwing the fireball, and jump over the fireball for a big punish.

Tactical games also rely on the mechanic of controlling space and creating multiple threats to force your opponent into accepting bad trades, from chess all the way to Final Fantasy Tactics. But the way in which you control space is by relying on the implicit threat that a piece will be captured on your opponents next turn by an action taken by the opponent.

L shape? two up, one across? Nobody knows.

For example, when we say that a knight in chess controls the space around it, we mean that the knight influences the game by being able to capture pieces that stay on squares surrounding it. Still, that knight is an agent – if the knight does not choose to capture that piece that next turn, then the piece is not captured.

No tactical games on the other hand have a fireball equivalent, where fireball patterns can be set up that force a player into a corner and take damage, not being able to escape, or by artfully dodging a fireball and countering in the fireballer’s vulnerable state. For that matter, no tactical games exist that aren’t squad based.

BotArena A mockup that I did in an hour or so. It looks terrible, doesn’t it? Needs about 3 years of polish. The amount of UI is something which I probably will have to work through…

I want to make that game. The game of tactical fireballs.

It’s crazy ambitious, though, for a guy starting from ground zero learning c# and networking and art (even if it’s just crappy sprite art) and databases and SQL and php and all the millions of things you have to know to get a game like that working. And there’s no guarantee that people will want to play the game – an inherent downside to multiplayer games, you need to have a critical mass for it to really work. So maybe I need to learn ai too.

And after prototyping the image on the right? That looks terrible! Maybe the reason why nobody’s made such a game is that it’s not very fun to play at all. And that’s fine, I’ve got other games I want to make as well.

That’s a lot to chew! But to make this a reality, I know it’s not going to be short term. It might take years, especially since I’m just doing this on the side and not full time (that honor goes to the job of being a daddy). Every journey begins with a tiny step though. 🙂

Let’s go!

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