Our Next Game...

Our next game

While it’s too early to reveal the name, this post will serve as the first “dev diary” entry for our upcoming Beebe Games title.

As you can see in the (somewhat tiny) screenshot, the game bares a resemblance to other games that use the PlanetCute Graphics Set—such as Base 2’s Walkabout—but we are actually not using Danc’s popular graphics set for this game.

When we came across the PlanetCute graphics on Danc’s website, we thought the style would match our game perfectly, so instead, Biffy created our graphics from scratch, using the “cutesy block style” of PlanetCute as inspiration.

Inspired Game Mechanics

When I was first introduced to the world of computers as a child, one of my favorite games that came pre-installed on our (I think it was Packard Bell?) Windows PC was Chip’s Challenge, a tile-based puzzle game that put you in control of a character named Chip.

Your goal was to collect all the “chips” and make it to the exit. The challenge was that you had to collect keys, push things around, and get through various obstacles to complete each level.

I’m not a big puzzle-game fan, but this game was different for some reason. It was one of my favorite games, and is still way up there in my book, despite it’s—admittedly ugly—graphical style (hey, it’s Microsoft, what can you expect in terms of style? heheh).

Another one of my favorites—which I discovered way later on—was a 1999 shareware hit called Dweep, which you’ve probably never heard of. It was similar to Chip’s Challenge in that you had to get from point A to B by figuring out how to get around all the obstacles in between, but the challenge’s were different enough that it really was a completely different game—but it gave me the same “feeling” that the older classic did, so for me, it was another winner.

You’ve probably already guessed that the two games above served as my source of inspiration for our next Beebe Games title. However, before beginning any development, I searched the App Store long and hard to see if there were any other games like the two I described above. Unsurprisingly, there’s quite a few.

I downloaded a bunch of them and while there are definitely some promising titles (many great games), none of them really gave me the same “feeling” as Chip’s Challenge or Dweep, which both had this strange ability to keep me engrossed in the game, even when I was ready to pull my hair out.

So while our upcoming game won’t be a clone of either of the games I mentioned (and is completely original in terms of the obstacles, maps, objects, storyline, etc.), I want to give credit to the two games that heavily inspired me because it’s likely that I might not even be a game developer if it weren’t for the enjoyment I got from those two games!

Sadly, both games are no longer on sale and are slowly but surely being forgotten.

UPDATE: Here’s a extremely good article about creativity (and touches on game design) written in 2006 by the creator of Dweep.

Development Status

So far, I have created a screen management script, simple 2D tile engine (using spritesheets), most of the game’s objects, and an internal map editor which uses the Corona simulator—all from scratch—so development is definitely progressing at a great pace.

My greatest challenge is going to be the level-design process. While my internal map editor helps with level-creation, design is a completely different story.

I have to figure out a way to introduce each item into the game at just the right pace so that the game can maintain a low learning curve, while keeping the game progression at a good enough pace so that it doesn’t get boring.

The next challenge is map difficulty. I have to make each level feel like the first, so that the player doesn’t get overwhelmed, but continue to ramp up the difficulty so that the player is constantly being challenged. With games like this, it’s very easy to make levels either way too easy, or way too difficult. Striking that perfect balance is absolutely essential if I want to capture the “feel” of old classics such as Chip’s Challenge and Dweep.

The last development challenge will be weeding out any flaws on each level. It’s easy to get so focused on creating the perfect map, that an obvious shortcut ends up right in front of my face, completely unnoticed.

I plan on overcoming ALL of these challenges by taking my time, taking a step back every now and then, re-visiting already-created levels, and doing some extensive beta-testing before final public release.

Excited? I think so…

Overall, to say that I’m very excited about releasing this game—even more-so than any of our other past launches—is a gross understatement. So far, the game’s turning out to be really great, and I think if you like a good challenge, you’re really going to enjoy playing ________.

And that’s it for the first dev diary entry for this game. Perhaps next time, I’ll be able to reveal the name and storyline (which will loosely tie into the “world” of another one of our games), so stay tuned.

Oh, and one last thing before I end this entry… we plan on releasing this game for free :-)

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