Devlog 2 - Mechanically Speaking
Hi, hello, welcome! Day 2 is over so let's look at some more progress on my entry for the Game Dev Fanatics Jam.
Yesterday I ended up with grid based movement, fire, water, and level loading. At the start of Day 2 I worked on making the fire spread across the level tiles. Additionally, each fire has three 'strengths' until it spreads. Originally the fire would grow or spread every time the player moved kind of like a turn based game, but it was quickly obvious that the fire was growing way too fast and causing it to overtake the level before the player made any progress. Also, the water mechanic was built as a pickup that required the player to 'touch' the fire to apply the water, meaning by the time you made your move over to the fire it had already grown large enough that a single drop of water barely affected it. I changed the fire mechanics to grow/spread every two moves and it felt much better. The following GIF is the original sample of fire spreading.
At this point I was faced with a design problem: Fire is spreading too fast for the water to be effective enough against. I had to step back from the game for a few minutes and think of all different types of ways to solve it. Some ideas included: water pickups filling a bucket of X number of slots that can be applied multiple times to fire, or a static 'well' in the level that allowed the player to constantly refill their water at but required moving back and forth to access. While I liked the well idea, something that was still stuck in my mind was something a coworker said to me earlier in the day. I don't remember the specifics now, but the word I remembered was 'Line'. At the time, I remember thinking a cool secondary mechanic would be something that shoots a line in a direction the player chose. After thinking how I could use that with the water problem, I combined the two to see how it worked.
Even in the simple second level I built, this 'water gun' mechanic provided a really interesting tactic as well as solving my design issue! The water gun allows the player to get ahead of the fire without moving by creating a line that 1) puts out fire in it's path, and 2) provides a safe path for the player where fire won't spread. However, the water is removed by walking over it, making it a safe zone only temporarily. I think it gives the player more control over the fire and adds a slight risk/reward mechanic.
While I was taking my break to solve my design issue, I also conceptualized a few other secondary mechanics that I thought seemed interesting. I had been thinking about other ways of making ground tiles prevent the spread of fire, perhaps by 'digging' them or removing the grass. However, this seemed very similar to the water considering it was a pickup that the player collected and deployed at a position to prevent the fire from moving. But then I realized all the player was doing was trying to prevent the fire from spreading, and the fire really didn't impact anything except movement space. What if the player wanted to 'harness' the fire and use it to progress? That's where bombs and stones come in.
In the above GIF, the grey box represents a Stone, the pink circle represents a Bomb, and the darkened tile after the bomb is gone represents a Dirt Tile (or ditch). In this simple level, the player is moving to increase the fire, which spreads to the bomb tile, and explodes to destroy the stone. The bomb tile then becomes a Dirt tile, which prevents fire spreading like the water, but is not temporary. Now, the fire is actually useful for something and is essential for progressing to the next level!
There are two more mechanics to the Stone and Bomb I want to add next. First, a stone should prevent the water line from being applied past it (blocking it). Second, the bomb should be moveable by the player. Another consideration I've had is that maybe the bomb should destroy fires nearby, that might be a good way of providing a fire control mechanic in levels where water isn't provided. Once these are implemented I think it'll be really interesting to start building levels where the bomb must be moved by the player to blow up a stone, while the fire is held back by a water line!
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