Thursday 22 December 2011

Glitch Tank

Released a game for iPad: Glitch Tank (app store)
(edit: now on iphone also, but ipad recommended)

It's a competitive two-player game, made with the same constraints and aesthetic as Exuberant Struggle (160*100 resolution, 8 colours, 2 players, arrow-keys only as input*, minimalist real-time strategy, high randomness).

It's somewhat inspired by RoboRally, but takes things in a different direction. You have a hand of four random actions which are replaced when you play them, and have to try to use them to destroy the other player. Basically I made up a list of all the things I could think of that tanks do and made them be actions in the game: drive around, lay minefields, fire lasers, jump, reproduce. The twist comes from that last one: you end up with multiple tanks, and the same commands are given to all of them.

* Since I've put it on iPad the control restriction doesn't apply anymore, but it influenced the design.

Something that came up when playtesting this was that sometimes people would spam actions as fast as they could instead of trying to pick what was best to do. This didn't turn out to be a good strategy - you're more likely to kill yourself than your opponent - but it tended to dominate the game if someone did it; their opponent couldn't effectively do much more than wait for them to kill themselves. So I added an "overheating" effect, where your tank will lock up for several seconds if you press actions too quickly. It feels like a bit of a hack since it wasn't a viable strategy, but since players were doing it anyway and not enjoying it something had to be done. (I may need to adjust the parameters for when this happens - let me know if you're finding games dominated by button-mashing.)

At some point I'll release a PC version, but probably not on its own - it just doesn't work as well on PC, because there's an extra layer of indirection in the controls. Will probably do a telephone build as well, although the screen does seems too small for it to be very natural with two players; I'll have to get hold of one to test.

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