February 2, 2009


EDIT: Halcyon has been renamed "Azure".

I hit a brick wall in the development of the full version of Maestro, so I'm taking a break on that. Of course, I know that the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it bad enough, so I plan to return and conquer that one some other day, but for the time being, I'm working on a game that I started developing in parallel with Maestro.

A Dartmouth professor, teaching a class called Intro to New Media, opined that a digital game could not escape from a Western mindset since it was built on numbers; the point would always be to make more or less of something, or at least to get to the next level. I thought that was silly, and I took it as a challenge.

Halcyon is a simple game with the simple goal of catching all of the motes that appear on screen by mousing over them. I may have already failed the aforementioned challenge, since "eat up all the dots" sure seems to fall under the broad label of "Western", but I'm hoping that I can get away with it by representing it as "absorbing" or even "merging with" the motes. I hope to do this by having them change color based on proximity to the player's collecting hand, such that they are of equal color when they meet.

One interesting feature of Halcyon is a mechanic governing player movement: if the player moves too quickly, motes are discharged in the player's path. You have to move slowly and smoothly in order to reach a winning state.

Note the phrasing of "winning state". You don't win the game for good, but you've accomplished your goal. The new goal is to retain this winning state. The green dots are emitters, and they regularly send out new motes. You have to stay on top of them at the right times in order to keep the screen clear.

The prototype for Halcyon was completed fairly quickly, and I've made good progress on the main game. It's the smallest game I've made since Forces, way back in high school, but I'm satisfied with how it's turning out. I'm glad to be making a game that's at least trying to be more than "kill all the enemies". It gets embarrassing to explain to my parents and acquaintances that I've been spending all my free time making yet another space combat game. Halcyon's a nice change of pace.

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