Spacecrash: designing a one-week game

So we’re going to make a game from scratch in one week. We better define our goals quite well beforehand, or we will waste the time allotment just making up our minds. Also, the scope better be limited, or there is no way we will get it done in such a short timeframe. But if we really focus, and we use every trick in the book, it’s likely we can do something pretty cool.

Goals and constraints

Here are the main driving factors when thinking up what to do:

  • This is not a toy example. The game has to be cool enough to play and show around. We need interesting gameplay, a few effects and some polish.
  • We only have one week. A week passes by fast. So: few variations of enemies/puzzles/skills if any, no complex physics or behavior. No time to do detailed level design, so go for simple procedural content generation, tweaked to provide some sense of progress.
  • We don’t have a graphics artist for this project. I am collaborating with a great artist in a project I’m working on, but I don’t want to abuse his time. So we’ll have to either use abstract programmer art, or get some graphics available online.
  • We’re trying to keep things simple for instructional purposes. Try to use a simple set of techniques.

Apart from these constraints, there are a couple of extra things I want to contemplate:

  • Mobile-ready: although we’re going to develop the game to run on desktop systems, I’d probably like to port it to mobile later on. This means I have to be careful about some things. For example, the size of the screen (classic iPhone aspect ratio is 2:3, Android is all over the place). But mainly, the game controls and experience should consider mobile: short sessions, small touchscreen, no keys… Many modern mobile games amazingly only use a single control (“push anywhere on the screen”). Some games go even as far as merging the two main actions into one, such that a single screen tap will do both: fly & shoot (Jetpack Joyride), or jump and punch (PunchQuest). We are not going to do something so ultra-focused, but let’s keep this kind of thing in mind.
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