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Pete Michaud

Modular Growing Character

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I'm having some trouble coming up with a smooth way to implement the art for this idea: The character in this game is modular, like a robot. You start with a chassis, and through exploration, you find new "parts" to attach to yourself via sockets on the chassis. Each part can potentially have additional sockets, so that you can continue to add new parts. For example, you might find a leg attachment that allows you jump higher or move faster, but it has no additional sockets. Instead the player might choose to use a leg attachment that isn't quite as good, but has additional sockets that he can use to attach a new gun or something. The idea is to allow the robot to grow from a little RC Car sort of thing, to a giant, planet destroying thing by adding more and more parts. The issue is that I'm not sure how I can show that transition from small to very large. If I have a series of small attachments, it'll turn into a jumble, not to mention the processing requirements of having thousands of little parts without merging them at some point. But if I create artificial barriers that force you to upgrade to a larger chassis occasionally or something like that, then it'll ruin the organic character growth I have in mind. So how can I stay visually consistent as the robot grows without artificially constraining the growth?

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Well, this is kind of funny because I was working on something like this in flash a while back. I think you can solve your problem by simply analyzing some real-world restraints you would have here. First off, lets say we have weight or balance. Would it make sense that the player chain 1 million items together on one side and not the other? Then we have things like power consumption. Ok, so you can chain these suckers like crazy, but if your core and alternator only provides so much power output.... will it run?

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Actually, we talked about those very things yesterday -- weight, balance, and power consumption.

They didn't seem to help that much to force the player to grow, just to constrain the types of parts they can use. How would you go about making those factors play into physical growth over time?

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I agree with Paul, I haven't had a chance to implement any rules based approaches yet (need to find a game dev job instead of making embedded apps...) but it looks to me that setting up the proper rules (real life can be a rough guide) allows a lot of proper limitations without having to prevent every possible misuse.

Like being able to pick up an object, why make a pick-up-able class when you can just limit what the character can pick up based on its weight and size?

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How about each attachment requires a certain slot, and small chassis only have type A slots, medium ones have As and Bs, large ones have Cs, etc. Maybe make it so a slot can take any attachment its level or lower.

Or a bit more organically: the chassis size is measured in some base unit, which is equal to the slot for the smallest attachment. You can increase the base units, allowing you to use lots of small attachments if you want to, but you can also get converters, which convert 4 or maybe 10 base units into one higher class slot.

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I present to you,
">Tumiki Fighters (crazy Japanese rock is unfortunately not included in the game) as well as a similar game
">BlastWorks. They are both side-scrolling shooters that do just as you wanted - whenever you shoot down an enemy vehicle, you can attach yourself to it to make yourself larger and larger, as well as being able to use all of the weapon systems provided by that enemy vehicle.

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Your idea reminds me a lot of Katamari Damacy, in which you form an ever growing ball of random junk that starts out being just inches in radius that grows to being miles in radius.

General principles you can glean from Katamari Damacy's design include allowing the connecting of larger classes of parts only once you have already reached a sufficient size, and allowing navigation of new areas of play when you reach larger sizes. Larger models don't necessarily have to be complicated, just larger -- in this fashion as the size scales, the complexity doesn't have to; you simply think in terms of the size bracket you're currently at, and worry less about smaller size brackets.

To handle the processing requirements of becoming larger and larger, I am pretty sure that they have distinct LOD models for objects in Katamari. There's a noticeable "weird" effect when you grow between certain sizes, and I think that's meant to hide the LOD change. Applying a similar technique, with some sort of snazzy "power up" effect to hide the LOD change would, I'm sure, be plenty acceptable by the players.

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Quote:
Original post by Tangireon
I present to you,
">Tumiki Fighters
(crazy Japanese rock is unfortunately not included in the game) as well as a similar game
">BlastWorks
. They are both side-scrolling shooters that do just as you wanted - whenever you shoot down an enemy vehicle, you can attach yourself to it to make yourself larger and larger, as well as being able to use all of the weapon systems provided by that enemy vehicle.


Both Tumiki Fighters and Blast Works (sorta a sequel) were developed by Kenta Cho's ABA Games studio (its a lonewolf operation). He is a well known Japanese Dojin software developer (Dojin technicaly means "hobbiest", but in western terms this basicly means "independant").

You can download Tumiki Fighters for free here.


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