Platformer Project: Plans vs Reality

I’ve been fleshing out an idea for an action-platformer over the past couple of months.

I may have made a mistake in planning too much before I even have a working engine prototype. My ideas seem fairly solid in my head and in my graphical mockups, but that don’t mean nothin’ until I can come up with tangible examples. The only way to truly find out if my plans can stand up is to make it real.

Part of the holdup has been down to me reading up on Python and doing the Python Codecademy course, and testing some different media frameworks and game engines. (Of course, procrastination, laziness, playing other video games, sometimes actually being busy, and occasionally just getting sick of the project are also playing their part.)

I’ve decided to commit to a free and cross-platform framework called LÖVE (or love2d) because it’s easy to dive into and the API is well-documented. It’s really impressive software that fills the 2D game / rapid prototyping / game jam niche very well.  My initial tests on Fedora 23 are very good, and I’m hoping to check out the Raspberry Pi port and see if I can get NTSC composite output for my game — it would be pretty awesome to actually support NTSC 4:3 on a real CRT, and not just the typical scanline shader effects that some retro games use. In any case, major kudos to the developers of LÖVE for making a solid product.

Before venturing too far into development, I need to read up on Lua, the language and embedded VM environment that LÖVE provides for game logic.

Some of my fears while fleshing out this idea:

  • It’s a retro pixel art platformer, and everyone is vehemently sick of those now. I find the format easy to work with and to do mockups in.
  • I want a very narrow set of actions and attacks, and to explore them in various ways. With the exception of health extensions, what you start with is essentially what you end with. I could see players rejecting this as a lack of features.
  • I can probably handle SFX, but I have no music resources.
  • From a long-term perspective, this is probably a bad self-investment because it’s likely not going to take me anywhere. But I can’t get the idea out of my head. I want this thing to be a reality.

Well, enough with the gloom. I’ll post some more about the project once I have something tangible to report. In the meantime, I’m drafting up some articles about some different platformers, but these will take some time to produce as I want to take screenshots and make some animations to illustrate certain points.