Diary of a Game
Let's Make a Monster Part 8
And to in the eighth month did the Apex Boyz say, "Let Monsterland teem with monsters." And thus did the genesis of a classic game continue...
It's time for a population explosion in Monsterland. We've already started designing the monsters, so now we've got to stick 'em in the levels. But we have to take the technical capabilities of the 64 into account. It's one thing to fantasise about 20 squillion monsters per level but there's no way the trusty 64 has the memory or the horsepower to achieve this.
So we've got to limit the number of baddies we use - but not by too much. If we only include a sprinkle of enemies in the game, it'll become too background-orientated. That's to say that the obstructions come mainly from the background and not the monsters, giving an empty feel. We have to tread a fine line between a possible level and a playable level.
JOHN: Unbelievable as it may seem, I spent a few days this week tweaking Mayhem's control system (...again). You're probably wondering how Mayhem's control can possibly be improved anymore - it seems that every month I say that there's no way it can be enhanced any further. Basically that's why original games differ from conversions; the game structure is constantly evolving and changing. I find that if I sit and play with it for half an hour or so I always notice something that could do with improving. So now if Mayhem charges into a wall at full speed (which is pretty darned fast) he gets a puff of smoke in his face (well it was either that or a nosebleed). If he falls from a hefty distance he gets another puff of smoke under his feet (look I like smoke, okay?). I've also given him the ability to charge through invincible monsters if he's got a shield bonus. All these features give MIM an even greater sense of chaotic frenzy.
STEVE: At the end of last month I came up with an idea for a brand new level, which has big mountains (as tall as the screen) in the background. This is the level I'm working on now using some other discarded ideas I had a few months ago (when I was designing other levels). In particular I had another sketch of a tree with a big smiley face and arm-like branches resting on his trunk. This adds loads of character and makes it look like a 'tree with an attitude' (like that famous rapper Ice-Tree, then - Dave).
At the moment the tree is the only piece of vegetation on the level, so I need to be careful now - the rest of the level has to be in a style that fits in with this tree. I can't add lots of shiny platforms and background graphics because they'll look just a bit too, well, nice. So what I'll do is add some platforms with vegetation, and maybe some more natural background graphics until the level is populated enough with 'green stuff' (to use the technical term). This level has been christened Rockland - until I can think of something more suitable (er, like Treeland perhaps? - Ed).
JOHN: Yo! I'm working on the monsters again (the little darlings have missed me). Instead of having to kill a monster to reveal a bonus, I've made it possible for bonuses to be placed on platforms, ready to be collected. I've also added some bonus modification routines, which physically alter the game according to the bonus Mayhem has picked up. These include the 'change set' and 'score multiplier' routines.
Once Mayhem has picked up the charge bonus he can charge at full speed around Monsterland. As he never loses this ability, the bonus will never reappear. But shields and score-multipliers can be picked up over and over again. If Mayhem has a shield and picks up
If you have any idea what should go in this box, please let me know! :)