This is the work-in-progress of Super Critter Kill, a game knocked up in a few days for a competition. The name is a working title that I’m not particularly fond of (it was originally called Fur Cry, but I changed that before posting here to prevent getting sued).
It’s lacking in many many areas, and obviously absolutely everything should be considered really early placeholder work, but it’s available to download and play for PC via the link at the bottom of this page. It was created in XNA so a link is provided for the runtime files it needs.
As mentioned, this was made in a very short time for a competition – the theme of which was Procedural Generation. The original intent was to procedurally generate an island, and make a 3rd person exploration game along the lines of Strange Adventures in Infinite Space, or The Wager – a typical island is shown opposite.
However, with just a few days left I realised I was nowhere near getting anything I could call a game out of that, so needed to come up with something else instead.
As an aside this original game went on to be my primary project (now on hold), and it’s one I’d dearly love to return to – but it’s massive. The basic premise is that the player is a Victorian-era explorer on a mysterious fantasy island populated by all manner of tribes and NPCs. The gameplay was intended to be almost entirely decision making with all manner of interesting consequences occurring based on the player’s actions. I do hope to return to this one in future, because it’s perhaps my favourite thing that I’ve worked on. (In the image below Branston is the players hapless manservant). At the very least I may cover it in a future WIP.
Returning to SCK and the problem of the impending deadline – I’d always wanted to try making a first-person shooter, and knew the beauty of working in 3D is that a quick camera change gets you a different genre cheaply. So I quickly moved the camera down to eye-level and placed it at the player’s position and it worked a treat. I then changed the control method to move the camera around, and added mouse control for looking around
Then I knocked up a quick arm and gun model, and positioned it just below the camera (the picture shows it with the camera pulled a little further back). Finally I added a bullet and got shooting in the game.
With that done I needed enemies, and with the art style and the time constraints I plumped for cartoon critters. Throughout my career as a game designer my stock response to the question “how do we improve this game?” is the answer “bears” so that’s the first thing I made, and added to the game.
Next up I needed to be able to shoot the bear so I hacked in some collision. Collision is a real weakness for me (hence there being no landscape collision in the game yet), so I fell back on trusty old spherical collision. I know just enough maths to transform a line of spheres to create approximate sausage-shaped collision which was good enough (and incredibly fast).
Having made the switch from XNA to Unity now, collision really isn’t an issue. I could probably even go the extra mile and not have completely flat landscape.
With that in place though I now needed to add behaviours to the bears. I kept this simple and created a set of states for them to be in.
- Spawning: I didn’t have time to spawn them out of sight of the player, so decided to be silly and drop them in from the sky. I later added balloons and parachutes to them. (One of my favourite bits of advice for making games – if you’ve got a weakness try to make it a feature. Don’t try to hide it – stick it front and centre and make it work for you if possible.)
- Mooching: When the bears land they start mooching if the player isn’t close. They pick a random location a short distance away, move to it, wait for a short while then repeat.
- Following: If the player gets close turn to face and head toward them.
- Angry: If the player shoots them, then they follow faster.
- Dead: When hit points are zero keel over and wait to be skinned.
- Skinned: Wait for a little while then disappear.
I then set up a simple set of timers to populate bears. There’s an upper limit of bears in the world at any one time, and the game spawns bears periodically until it’s reached. The maximum number of bears then also goes up over time so the game gets harder and harder.
With that in place I’ve almost got a game. I just need player death. This is handled really crudely – if a bear gets close enough you’re dead. It’s so harsh I put a warning alarm in when they get near, but it’s not a good solution.
However there was just enough game there that I decided to spend the remaining time creating new art assets – a swamp landscape type, and the panda and tiger models (largely recoloured bears). Perhaps the time would have been better spent adding scenery collision, route-finding for the critters or gameplay design that aspired to be better than the bare-minimum possible to call it playable.
So this is how it entered the competition – unsurprisingly it didn’t win. Afterwards I added the balloons/parachutes to the bears, and for release on this WIP I added the bear trap and crate pickup to make it slightly more worth a download.
So that’s largely where this prototype stands – the barest semblance of a game but bags of potential I reckon. If I was to resume this project the plan going forward would be as follows:
- Decent collision – should be dead easy with Unity.
- Level design – I’d probably remove the procedural map, and replace it with something nicely designed. The procedural island was a benefit to the original exploration game, but I’m not sure it brings much here. TBD.
- Weapons: I need to replace that basic pistol with a range of cool and unusual weaponry (the beartrap is a nice aaddition and I’d already started work on a blunderbuss).
- Vertical mouse look – omitted purely for lack of time – it’ll allow flying critters, and short ones.
- Critters – more of them, the more taboo the better.
- Animation – I’d rather not do animation, so I’ll either pull their legs off and rotate them to make a run cycle, rotate the whole animal in a kind of loping gait, or maybe create posed frames and swap the models. The benefit of being cartoony is that this is another weakness that could be turned into a plus point perhaps…
- Animal behaviour – what’s there sucks, so this needs to be better and needs to be varied. Maybe getting more natural stuff in there – predators and prey doing their thing, herds, charging/stampeding etc.
- Design: Add small details like a goal, a game structure etc. Is it a hunting game with animals sticking to habitats, or is it just a frenzied shooter, or something else entirely? TBD…
- Name: Find a better one, or learn to live with this one.
The game is available to download below. Simply unzip it somewhere and double-click the exe to play. One warning though – the video at the top of the page shows pretty much everything that’s in the game – it’s fun to pootle around in, but there’s not much in the way of gameplay beyond shooting endless critters.
Finally, I’d love to hear any feedback for this game, so please feel free to post in the comments below.