April’s theme was NEGATIVE SPACE, and this is the game I made. I actually had several ideas and I sketched up four in my grid paper booklet (with my usual miniature-esk scribblings). I had an idea about a marine on mars (Doom, I know :)) who always has to navigate in hazardous environments with limited sight until a little puzzle is solved and has to shoot his way through hordes of aliens. One with moveable platforms, where a creature walks forward, and the player has to make a safe path to the exit. One similar to it, only top view with moveable tiles. And one where two players (or one, but both character can be controlled separatelly) has to navigate, working together to the exit. The white character could move only in black space, and can only shrink its own space by placing white tiles. The black character could move only in white space, and also can only shrink its own space, but with this mechanic they actually can open paths for the other. I made a prototype for this one but couldn’t come up with tasks to do (well besides the obvious ones). And so I made a helicopter game with C=64 aesthetics as the basic idea came from Fort Apocalypse and Choplifter from the 8-bit era.
The story takes place on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn, where a strange dark matter fungus grows. A small example environmentalist saying in it, as this fungus grows very fast if it’s removed from Titan’s ice and of course, the mining company does not stop excavating the moon’s resources. But at least takes steps to save personnel if trouble hits the fan and this is where the player cames to play (literally).
After the little intro and starting cinematic the player controls this little helicopter, and manuvers within obstacles and buildings to pick up people stuck behind ever growing Shroom. Technically the black stuff grows only in invisible boxes I put out on the levels and in given time interval. I made it so I can control the growth rate, so populating a place can happen in one frame, or less then a second. But upon destroying part of it in every two seconds it starts to regrow within the invisible boxes. And here’s the theme, at least I think it fits a little: as you shoot paths in the Shroom, it quickly grows back, making harder to navigate, and starts to eat away the hull of your chopper.
The player has to keep an eye on the GUI as well, there are several indicators showing important things. From left to right: Lives, Hull HP, Fuel, Ammo, Personnel aboard (under it how many people to save in total, and how many VIP still not saved or found), and the money the player collected by saving people. The depleeting resources can be replenished: blue suit engineers will fix your helicopter before boarding. Fuel and ammo stations not just can load you up but also have some upgrades to unlock – should you have enough money.
As usual, I made some new stuff for this game. The full system controlling the helicopter and when and what happens to it was a long development. Also, I expanded on the text writer function with the emerging computer messages. The possibility of upgrade, and the behavior of Shroom was another new type of task. And finally I made a new pause function for the menu and pause and this one works almost perfectly. All in all I am quite proud how this game turned out. Only two levels to play on for this demo/prototype, not really balanced, but still fun and show the potential of this idea. I think, should the opportunity arise I could make it a full project. Of course it needs rework: expand on how the helicopter behaves/flies, more functionality for personnel, and this game sure could use a minimap or radar.