Making a Start

So this is the first of hopefully many (but not too many) blogs regarding building Dungeon Golf (not to self - insert Play Store link here in 2022 (update in 2022 - ha!)). These will probably be fortnightly, but my time’s not fully my own so I can’t be 100% certain of that.

The idea for this sprang, indirectly, from the last game jam I attended - the Global Game Jam 2019. As I’m not great at coming up with different, weird-yet-wonderful, game jam-friendly games and am instead more of an Ubisoft when it comes to ideas (“what should we do with this IP? Open-world where you have to climb things to unlock the map”. “how about this one?”, “open-world where you have to climb things to unlock the map”, “and this one?”, “open-world, but with a twist - you have to use lootboxes to unlock the map”), I decided that for about 2 weeks before and after the game jam I recorded every idea I had for a game which lead to a long list of mainly unplayable, mainly unfun games.

Some of those ideas were focused on different control methods for games. One thing I really dislike in the few mobile games I’ve played is a really bad interface. In particular, trying to replicate an entire gamepad on mobile screens. Not only do you obscure the game while playing it, but you’ve no haptic perception of the control system. Instead, I like to try and come up with UIs that are more suited to having your fingers on the game itself.

This is where this idea originally sprang from - how can you make a mobile UI for a dungeon-based RPG without making the control system horrible. Turn-based helps by getting rid of a lot of the complexity (and fits quite well with a D&D feel), but if I just made a grid-based game using normal RPG rules then it’d be ok, but probably not interesting for me to finish it (and I’d probably need a load of artwork that’d take me decades to do and still look crappy).

Instead I started thinking about Angry Birds-esque control systems and thought that catapulting your players along could be quite fun, and if you instead had more of a very angry golf game, you could create a challenge mode around par, eagles, birdies, etc.

The first prototype of this can be found in the video below. Despite not having any form of UI or gameplay, or even anything remotely resembling a game, it’s a start., and it’s already quite fun to control. The version’s using a simple mouse click and drag to ping your character around the arena to bounce off of enemies.

A lot of the time on this was spent getting the bounce to feel good. The early versions felt quite floaty and meant your character bounced around for ages. This would mean that every battle could be dealt with by firing your characters at full speed, knowing that sheer dumb luck would result in a lot of damage.

Instead, I tweaked the physics to try and make it feel more weighty, and to limit the pinball effects. It’s also got an artificial damper on low speeds, purely to speed up gameplay, as watching a ball move very, very, very slowly isn’t exactly fun.

Next up I want to get touch controls working in Unity. This is being coded on a Surface Pro, so for the early experiments I can use the built-in touch available and worry about mobile a bit later on.