Dev Log - Week 4: Setting a Course
Welcome back everybody! We didn’t post a log last week due to a lack of progress. I had to take some time to figure out what sort of gameplay would work best with the idea in my head. You see, when I set out to make Dog Eat Dog, the extent of the design was “It would be cool if there were animals with complex AI that simulated a mini-ecosystem.” I quickly found out that it’s fairly difficult to just staple a genre onto that idea. This week, I’ll be able to show what I came up with as well as some actual results as the game has changed.
My first step was to start a game design document. In the spirit of open development, here’s the actual document on Google Drive. If you’re from the future and the doc has changed, here’s a pdf of the document as of this writing. It’s not meant to be a formal document. More of a way to have a conversation with myself and argue over what would work and what wouldn’t. Don’t feel as if it’s important to read it yourself, however. I plan to summarize the changes to the design document in these logs as well as the changes to the actual game.
I began the document by identifying the special features of the game that made it stand out in my mind and made me decide to make it in the first place. There were three features I identified: First, that there would be animals who acted based on their needs. Second, the animals would evolve over time. Third, there is also plant-life that grows and spreads throughout the map:
Once I identified those features, I came to the problem that lead me to starting a design document in the first place: gameplay. I identified several different options. I could’ve made the game more like a rogue-like, or perhaps I could make it into a 4x game such as Civilization. Of the ideas I came up with, I decided that a 4x game would be the most possible. It’s fairly easy to substitute in evolution as the tech tree that those games usually contained, and the turn-based nature would’ve allowed the player to manage their own species of creatures rather than a nation. However, after a day, I came up with a better idea.
In a sudden burst of inspiration, I saw a bizarre mixture of ideas in my head: A God-Game, a Life Simulator, and a Card Game all combined together. It may sound convoluted, but the basic idea is fairly easy to understand. You and your opponent are both gods, and you both have a little group of animals. The animals act outside of your control, as they’re controlled by the same AI I’ve been working on these past few weeks. Instead, you affect them by playing cards that can change their environment or evolve them. You can also affect your opponents animals with things like diseases or harsh weather.
The exact specifications of this idea are still foggy, but I knew enough to start working on the game again. So I set about implementing some of the ideas that I had come up with to see how they played together.
This week, I didn’t get particularly far with those ideas, unfortunately. In the most recent build of the game, you’ll find that I’ve implemented some simple RTS-style camera movement where you can move your mouse to the edges of the screen to pan the camera. I’ve also implemented a simple energy system (think mana in other card games) to play cards, as well as some cards that you can play, but don’t currently do anything.
That’s essentially all I’ve accomplished since last time. Other, smaller achievements include a nice little sound effect that plays when you click buttons on the menu. I’ve also done a little bit on setting up a deck editor, but it doesn’t currently do anything of note, so I’ve left it out.
That’s all for this week, but I do have some other announcements to make. First of all, I’ve closed our Patreon account for the time being. My initial plan was to offer Patreon as a sort-of backstage pass that would allow you to learn more about the development of our games. However, the only thing I could offer to patrons was the game I was currently working on. This made it seem like less of a backstage pass and more like buying the game on a subscription or something like that.
With Patreon gone, that means I had to distribute the game in some other way, and I have done exactly that. From now on, each build of Dog Eat Dog will be available for free on both Itch.io and Gamejolt. All devlogs, starting with this one, will also be available through those websites.
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