FlatRedBall game engine

In speaking with Joel Martinez about my most recent game project, we got to the point of talking about finishing a game, and he mentioned something about animation. A friend of mine had developed part of a game engine I had always planned to use which had a pretty intuitive and well laid out library. When I mentioned that to him, he pointed me toward FlatRedBall.com.

I was blown away.

This game engine / framework has it all:

At first I was feeling a bit like using this type of thing would mean that I was giving up something, like I had lost that “cool” factor or some form of virtual street cred. Developing with flatredball would be nothing more than using some tool where you drag and drop a bunch of things and make a game and claim you’re an indie dev; however, I’ve been reading the wiki a little bit here and there today, and I have to say I am over that hump… Joel said it best:

… I felt exactly like that in 2010 … then I got over it and released 3 games last year 🙂

Ok… I’m sold. now to start playing, or finding the time to play!

Update: I’m having a bit of trouble creating a project with “Glue” at the moment, so we’ll see how it pans out.

New game I’ve been working on

Back in the MS-DOS era, I was a PC gamer. One of my favorites was a cult classic called UFO: Enemy Unknown, which introduced the entire X-COM series. I still play it to this day… it has major replay value. The graphics are cheesy, the plot line is vague at best, but the gameplay is so amazing that it keeps me and many fans coming back for more.

I do not want to “remake” the X-COM games at all… I simply love the idea of their gameplay model: geoscape/battlescape. Basically, as described from the Wikipedia page:

The game takes place within two main views: the Geoscape and the Battlescape.[4] Gameplay begins on January 1, 1999, with the player choosing a location for their first base on the Geoscape screen: a global view representation of Earth as seen from space (displaying X-COM bases and aircraft, detected UFOs, alien bases, and sites of alien activity). The player can view the X-COM bases, make changes to them, equip fighter aircraft, order supplies and personnel (soldiers, scientists and engineers), direct research efforts, schedule manufacturing of advanced equipment, sell alien artifacts to raise money, and deploy X-COM aircraft to either patrol designated locations, intercept UFOs, or send X-COM ground troops to a mission (using transport aircraft)….

Gameplay switches to its tactical combat phase whenever X-COM ground forces come in contact with aliens.[4] In the Battlescape screen the player commands his soldiers against the aliens in an isometricturn-based battle. One of three outcomes is possible: either the X-COM forces are eliminated, the alien forces are neutralised, or the player chooses to withdraw. The mission is scored based on the number of X-COM units lost, civilians saved or lost, aliens killed or captured, and the number and quality of alien artifacts obtained. Troops may also increase in rank or abilities, if they made successful use of their primary attributes (e.g. killing enemies). Instead of experience points, the combatants gain points in skills like Psi or Accuracy, a semi-random amount depending on how much of the action they participated in. In addition to personnel, the player may use unmanned ground vehicles, outfitted with heavy weapons and armour but not gaining experience. Recovered alien artifacts can then be researched and possibly reproduced. Captured live aliens may produce information, possibly leading to new technology including psionic warfare.

I am taking this type of game play and introducing a few different concepts (subject to change):

  1. Class specialization – The type of specialization you see in RPG games, referred to sometimes as the “holy trinity” in MMORPG games such as World of Warcraft. In this scenario, you would have something like the following classes:
    • Defender – Charges into combat, drawing the attention of attackers away from others and absorbing attacks. (your tank)
    • Sniper – Fires from a safe distance doing massive amounts of damage by targeting vital spots (ranged dps)
    • Combat Medic – I haven’t figured out how this guy will heal from a distance and make sense. Psionics perhaps? (healer)
  2. Experience points – As missions are completed, experience points are awarded and soldiers will gain levels.
  3. Talent trees – Enhance natural abilities as you progress in levels, choosing to further specialize. Combat medic specializing in close proximity and self preservation, or a tank who wants to go high damage because you’ve hired two medics.

I have always wanted to be able to play X-COM style games on a portable device, so I am targetting Windows Phone 7, but I am doing all development in a PC screen, and abstracting all platform specific elements so it should be fairly easy to market it as a PC game if there is any interest.

I have a history of unfinished prototypes. I don’t want to do that anymore, which is why my 2012 new year’s resolution is to finish this thing. This is one game idea that should hold my attention. There is plenty to do, and I have a solid vision for how the game mechanics will work, give or take a few features. Please leave a comment if you are interested!