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Postcard from Sweden: 4E5!

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Trapper Zoid

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I wasn't planning on dusting off my journal until I arrived back in Australia - I'm still in Europe, presently in Stockholm learning new things about robotics - but since 4E5 has started I've been lured back to GameDev.Net, so I might as well officially kick off my 4E5 project with a journal entry. I've been waiting for this for a while; not only will this be lot of fun it's nice to have a fixed deadline to force you to kick your arse into gear. It also fits in nicely with the schedule for game development that I've planned (which I hoped for). So unless something drastic forces me to retire from the competition, I'll definitely submit something for this year's Four Elements competition.

Given my present record of solo game development, which has somewhat languished this year, I'd already decided my best option is to make a really simple game, whip up a prototype to test it, then spend a few months extending with extra features and polishing until it gleams. Since I can't properly start work until July, I'd planned on a playable prototype by August, an alpha version by September, beta by October, final version in November. With that goal, I'm hoping on making something arcade or puzzle like, along the lines of Tetris, Tetris Attack, Bomberman, Magical Drop, Worms, maybe Lemmings, etc.

Unfortunately, I've had a devil of a time trying to properly incorporate the Elements for this year's competition. They're really good if you wish to make a story based game, but for something simple the gameplay is pretty much everything. Thus I'm forced to think of a way of incorporating all four elements in the gameplay without making the whole thing fall apart from the weight.

The idea I'm probably going to go with is based heavily around Economics and Europe, with only moderate amounts of Emotion and Emblem (still have to find a good way to fit that Emblem in!). The basic idea is sort of a weird cross between a bunch of board games I used to play as a kid with the frantic energy of Magical Drop. I've still got a lot of details to figure out, but I also have a thirty hour flight with multiple stop-overs back to Australia coming up in a fortnight, so at least now I've got something to kill the time with.

And for those of you who are also planning on participating, I'm also looking forward to seeing your games develop!
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