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Lost Vikings-style update?

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I got a great idea for a game! I''ve been trying to think of a good project to do to help me get a good handle on c++ and couldn''t really decide on anything. I knew I wanted to do something simple on graphics (like really small cute character sprites) with some innovation in gameplay to keep me interested throughout development. I finally settled on a one-big-level platformer requiring powerups to advance and go to different places. But that wasn''t quite interesting enough to me to begin, its just a metroid/castlevania rip off. Then I played lost vikings again. For those who don''t remember, lost vikings was one of Blizzard''s earlier games where you have 3 different characters who you have to get to the end of the level. To progress, you have to switch between them to use each viking''s unique powers. It was focused on puzzles with some action in how to actually carry out your battle plan. What made it stand out was it''s multiplayer mode. Nearly every platformer in existence, that includes a 2-player mode, does so by way of turns. One player goes, then when they die or beat the level, it is the next person''s turn. Donkey kong was a little better in that the turns could switch mid-level. But platformers where you can actually both play at the same time are extremely rare. The only one I know of is lost vikings. It''s entertaining, because you can do things like turn on the air to make the other player rise, then when he''s almost ready to get out of the air stream onto the next platform turn the air off and watch him come tumbling down! You have to have very good teamwork to be able to play this mode. So for my project, I''m going to make some sort of platformer based around simultaneous multiplayer. Probably have some elements of acquiring new powers as you go along, such as in metroid. Definately have the different characters have unique traits that are more varied than just different speeds or health. I''d like to keep the game all one world, although maybe sometimes you''ll go in a room that is almost like a seperate level. I want to eventually expand it to a persistant world, because a massively multiplayer platformer just sounds like a lot of fun to me. Here''s my plan: Make 1-player simple platformer engine: started writing this with allegro. Simple stuff, such as physics, displaying graphics, and collisions Once that is finished, I''ll add 2 player, then multiplayer, then persistant world multiplayer. I want to make a 2 player at least on one computer, but it should have lan and internet play too. Along the way I do need to come up with some content though. I can''t really decide on a time period, characters, or some of the powers. Anyone have any ideas on different powers that could be useful in a platformer, but also able to differentiate characters really well? For the persistant world, I also have some additional ideas, but I wont be thinking about this mode for a while yet. *Private zones - meet up at the entrance to it, then accept to go in and you''ll be alone in a traditional platformer level, probably with some reward at the end. Some of these zones could be puzzle oriented, others could be more action oriented. If you die in a private zone, you can watch the other players until they all die then you get booted out, you can choose to exit a private zone at any time. If you have a save spot (inventory item) you can drop it down and return to it if you come back to the private zone. Otherwise you have to start at the begining again. *Power trading - Being able to trade powers might be cool, but I wouldn''t want anyone to be able to have too many powers and become too useful. So there would have to be a limit on how many powers you have, and you wouldn''t be able to store powers your not using anywhere. *Villages - Villages where you meet up with other players, get directions to private zones, stock up on health packs or save points, and maybe get quests from npc''s. *Huge world, restricted access - The world should be pretty large, think "below the root" - BIG. But at first there aren''t very many places to go. Private zones must be completed to open up access to more of the world, and players must find more powers in order to solve puzzles that open up other areas. So, mostly, I''m not asking you guys if this is a good idea (it''s a good enough idea for me ), but does anyone have anything to add, any ideas for character abilities, or setting possibilities?

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This sounds like an excellent project, at least it did until you mentioned massively multiplayer...

Multiplayer co-operative is a little used idea, and in terms of a platformer could be good. Expanding this to the idea of mmo is just simply a bad idea, not every game has to be mmo, and especially not a platform game!


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Well, I wasn''t planning mmo for a while yet, any ideas for the near future? Just because you don''t like mmo doesn''t mean you can''t help out with the first few incarnations And for the record, I don''t like current mmo games, but I do like the idea of it, and I think maybe a platformer would be the way to go. Then again maybe not. But I don''t want to focus on this aspect of it right now. I do want to have players be able to choose different abilities, being able to complete the game with 1 player, 2 players, or more, no matter what players choose. The problem with this is it makes it hard to design puzzles.

I have a few ideas for abilities, but I''d like more, and an idea on choosing abilities or if its a bad idea (more like lost vikings, each player has set abilities and you need them all):
Jump - not all players can jump
Maybe split that up into jump up or jump over
Mid air move - you know how in mario style games you can still move left/right in mid-air. In this game that''s considered a special ability
Close combat weapon - strong but you have to fight up close
Ranged weapon - weak but works from distance. Can also push in switches or knock things down far away
Duck - could be useful
Climb walls - oh yeah
Grappling hook - like climb walls only you have to have something to grapple onto, but you can grapple onto something and swing accross chasms in mid air. Might be hard to balance both this ability and climb walls
Camoflauge - blend in with the background
Shield - enemies cant hurt you or move past you, can put it up for someone to stand on
Throw - can throw another player up to ledges

I guess it''s a good start. I''m not sure the interface for the abilities, or how customizable it will be. I''m thinking have several categories of powers and you can''t have more than one power from a category. Then I could limit it more by only letting you have 3 abilities at a time.

I''m worried about puzzle design though Don''t want a situation where it''s impossible to complete with the current players'' abilities. Maybe I''ll make it require all players, when combined, have all abilities? But then it''s kind of pointless to play multiplayer since it''s easier to complete one player.

So confusing. I''ll just ignore it all and work on the engine

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Jazz Jackrabbit, Sonic II are 2 other platform games I''ve played that have multiplayer support. Heck, Jazz even had capture the flag!

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Co-op platforming is a quality idea, although I too would be wary of the MMO element. I know it''s becoming a dirty word around here but I think it is with good reason.

Here''s a few thoughts...

- I''d be pissed off if I played a platformer and I couldn''t jump or move in the air. Thats a foundation of platformers. Leave it in.

- Giving people set powers, just like Vikings, is cool. Maybe you can choose one and with each success you get more experienced at it. Once mastered you can choose another to slowly develop into an uber player.

- As for setting, I like the idea of an Indiana Jones theme. This would allow for some great traps / puzzles etc. On top of this, it would be about collecing artifacts to trade with. I''m really liking the thought of that. I''m not saying you use the Indiana Jones IP, just the archaeologist theme.

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With mmo, I just feel that in a platformer, there would be very limited scope for player interaction. Also, there would have to be loads of instances of each private zone for every group connected to that private zone. Unless of course you mean a private zone is just like an individual level that hundreds of people could play on, in which case it would be silly.

Either way, here are some contributions to powers:

Don''t have jump as being a power, everyone should be able to jump. Everyone can jump (unless they have some form of disability), so all the players in your game should be able to as well. What should set them appart, is the height which they can jump (the length of there jump of course being decided by their speed). This means that you can get people that can jump higher to places that others can''t.

As for having mid air movement whilst jumping, either everyone should have it or no one should. It doesn''t add much to solving puzzles to progress through the level. All it does is add slightly more work for you to do, and it means that people changing between characters might die accidentally because they forgot they couldn''t change directions.

Swimming: Have some characters able to swim, and lengths of time they can hold their breath. This introduces a way of getting smoe characters to places that others can''t, to help through some sort of goal.

Technical ability: Assuming a futuristic setting, you could have technical ability, and then have certain doors that require to be hacked, that only certain characters could do.

Heights: make the characters different heights, so that tall characters can''t access some places.

Metal: make one character have metal bones, or be a robot or something, then you can use magnetic fields to move this character to where you want

Saluk: Of your ideas, I really like grapple hook, climbing walls, shield (to show the ideas that lost vikings brought to the table) and throw.

I also like your suggestion for ranged and close combat weapons/attacks, because this means that you can have a variety of strategies between the characters for combat.

Anyway, there are loads of powers that could be dreamed up, and I think this is an excellent idea for a game! I would love to see it created, when you starting development saluk? And IMO I hope that you don''t make mmo, cooperative network play would be good, but I don''t think a persistant world would work well at all for a platformer, and I think potential fans of the game might lose respect for it if you developed it into a persistent world!


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Alright, I'll ditch the mmo idea for now, but coop through a fairly large connected world would be awesome. Thanks for the input, most of my ideas above are brainstorming only

I have started development already actually, I have an animated sprite that just cycles through the same animation continuously, and you can move it up/down/left and right. It's movement is based on force, so when you hold a direction, it basically applies a force, and as you let go the force of friction slows it down. Only collision detection so far is with the edges of the screen, colliding with other objects will be added once I have a level format figured out. I am trying to make the engine fairly generic, saving the platform-game specific stuff for the end. So I need sprites, collision detection, gravity, etc. I think I will use a tile engine, but have the ability to have full backdrops as well, some areas might need to be more detailed I don't know. I don't want to limit myself to tiles only, or have any of the game specific stuff be based around tiles.

Actually, a few of the ideas I had for mmo, I think should be incorporated into the main game. Such as private zones. This would liek an entrance to a more traditional platform style level, and if you die you get kicked back out of it. At the end of the level you get some sort of reward that helps you progress in the main game. Got to have some old school thrown in there
Trading abilities might be necesary because there might be situations that require two or more abilities at once, so if you don't have the right combination it might be dificult. Abilities based on items are much easier to work in trading than otherwise though And I definately want to keep some kind of progression, where the world is big but you don't find out until you play more. So at the begining there aren't many places to go, but as you gain more access, it gets really huge. But I want to keep backtracking down, unless it's really easy to go back to other areas without endless walking...

Maybe in one-player mode I could incorporate player switching such as in lost vikings, so that I don't have to make seperate puzzles for if you only have one player. I don't want anyone to ever be able to be uber-platforming dude, with full powers in all areas, but pick a few skills and stick with them improving them throughout the game, acquiring new items as you go allowing more of the world to open up.

Also, what about multiple players on one computer? My idea is to make it full screen when all the characters are together and split screen when they seperate, but that might be too confusing. Other options are full-screen only (don't let players go any further if someone will end up off-screen) or split-screen only (too darn small in my opinion). I like the idea of getting together with some friends on a single computer and just going at it.

Futuristic I think offers a bit more possibility, cause you can have weird things like time warp or having players do a mind meld and trade abilities, or hover boots (that can run out of gas, but you have to get an oil can to carry the gas accross a chasm because the character with the hover boots is such a weak jumper he can't cross it, so the character with good jumping abiliy has to go get it), but definately indiana jones style would have a better feel I think. Way too many futuristic gaqmes out there. So here's what I'll do -

Indiana jones style, but finding ruins of advanced civilizations! Crazy tech, old-school traps, spikes under pits, balls rolling at you, strange creatures, odd switch puzzles to gain entrance to the underground city, etc. I can keep my one-world motif with this as well, your excavation team starts above-ground, maybe solving puzzles to get supplies, your base is attacked by rival excavators or theives so you have to get your tools back to start digging. Then you find caves and go deeper and deeper until you find the ancient city, and you have to figure out who lived there and stuff. Maybe the cave collapses at some point, so you can't get back up and have to find a way back up.

Hmm, I can't wait to get to work

Thanks for your input, gave me tOns of ideas!

[edited by - saluk on June 20, 2003 5:44:47 PM]

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