Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SWAT vs Kaiju (and other Playcrafter news)

My latest game on Playcrafter is "SWAT vs Kaiju"

In the game you play a police helicopter, battling against various big ugly monsters of the sort you'd expect to see in a Godzilla movie. Each has a weak point you must shoot to destroy them - random body shots typically accomplishes nothing. They wave their claws at you, spit atomic fireballs, etc. It's kinda short, and not that great of a game, but it was fun making the custom graphics and setting monsters loose on downtown Seattle. It's worth taking a peek at and blowing up few levels just so you can see my monster designs. The two-headed spider-lizard is pretty neat.

The "Attack Choppa" player piece is incredibly hard to build good games for on playcrafter. This was my third attempt, the other two games were so bad I never even published them.

The problem is lack of enemies. There's only one flying bad guy on playcrafter's default piece set - the UFO. It flies randomly. It's aim is horrible, with short range and a bullet that's hard to see. If you put more than one on the level, they'll probably kill each other before getting in range to kill you. Other enemies behave in completely non-airborne ways. Most are land-bound, so they're no threat to the Choppa. Those that are a threat generally out-gun the choppa, so level design becomes very trying. Unless you supply custom graphics, most bad guys seem out of scale with the choppa - such as spear-carrying giants that are bigger than the helicopter. Those that are essentially in-scale are top-view enemies, where the choppa is side-view. And then there's little oddities like the choppa can't turn around, only shoots forward, and is so wide you can't make a good maze for it. As I said, it's a really tough piece to build for, and I know because I tried three times and failed miserably twice.

In hindsight, I should have made simpler monsters in SWAT vs Kaiju, and put some work into making custom city and population pieces. Killing the monsters is rather formulaic and unexciting once you figure out a couple of simple tricks. On most levels, you can stay pretty much out of harm's way and take pot-shots at your leisure. Someday, perhaps I'll make a sequel where you have to kill the monsters before they collapse buildings and kill innocent civilians. That'd be more exciting, and thus make for a better game.

In other PlayCrafter news, they just trimmed down the Staff Picks list. It was well over 500 (I think it was over 900, but don't quote me on that), and is now down to just 140. So, at least 75% of the previous picks were purged. I'm assuming this means they've raised the bar on what it takes to get picked. Three of my four previous games made the list before, and all three are still on the list post-purge. My work makes up 2.14% of the list. Needless to say, I'm feelin' pretty good about that. It's a nice little ego boost. Thanks, PlayCrafter!

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