As I had a particularly busy week this week, I wanted to create a simple/minimalistic game. I began thinking about an astroids-style game where your ship remains stationary (other than rotation), which led me down the path of exploring games whose main mechanic is rotation. Inspired a lot by Duet and Revolvengarde, I settled on a game where you would shoot enemies and protect yourself while only being able to rotate your weapon.
Throughout the game, you gain various colored bullets, which only affect enemies of the same color. In addition, the player would be able to switch between the aforementioned offensive mode as well as a defensive mode. For defensive mode, the player could pulse with the currently selected color, which would deflect any similarly colored enemies that were within range.
What went right
The game turned out simple and fun. It becomes more chaotic as more colors are added to the gameplay, but it never feels overly chaotic. All in all, exactly what I was going for with this.
What went wrong
I didn’t get to experiment with the defensive mode. Ultimately, I think the game is better with only having an offensive play-style (to keep to the minimalistic ideal), but as I didn’t actually play around with the pulsing mechanic, I can’t say for sure.
The game can also feel a bit too easy at parts. I didn’t balance the difficulty curve as well as I would have liked, and this is mostly due to lack of time. I didn’t have a chance to allow for any play-testing before finalizing things, and this forced me to make a lot of decisions based on nothing.
What I learned
Controlling rotation with directional arrows leads to a funny thing in a person’s head. When creating the controls for the game, I equated the arrow keys to how a car’s steering wheel and turn indicator light work. When you indicate right, your hands move the wheel in a clockwise motion – and when you indicate left, your hands move the wheel anti-clockwise. To me (and probably the majority of people who drive cars), this is an intuitive sounding control scheme, however I still found myself getting confused in times of panic. I’m not sure of a good way to solve this particular problem (or even IF there is a good way to solve it), but it’s nice to be aware that even the most intuitive seeming controls can fall apart when under pressure.